Florida Challenge Triathlon Countdown Clock

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mission Accomplished!

Well, race day has come & gone, and what a day it was! I went into the race pretty loose because I took all the pressure off myself as far as my finish time. If I didn't reach my goal it was ok, because I didn't train as much as I should have. It's not an excuse, it's reality! You don't just wake up and do a half ironman, it takes MONTHS of preparation & training.

With me working full time, being a personal trainer and trying to get my yoga certification, that took time away from tri training. Doing the "down dog" or "triangle pose" is great, but that don't really help me at mile 45 of the bike! lol

So I went into this loose relatively loose. The goal was to finish in 1 piece. The morning of the race I got my gear checked in early and felt at ease. I pretty much chilled and checked out the other athletes. I always look at them and wonder how they trained and eventually compare myself to them: Are they ready? Am I ready? But I was still pretty loose regardless.

Here I am getting set up at daybreak and after I got everything up & and ready. These pics are courtesy of my wife the Resident Photographer:

After a while it was time to head over to the swim start:

I'm still feeling pretty relaxed at this point, because I feel if I take my time I can finish the race. At 7:30am, the race starts,and we're off! Time to start the 1.2 mile swim:

I'm on the left, in front of the dude in the light blue shorts.

I'm not a fast swimmer, but the swim is the easiest part for me. Partly because it's so monotonous. I can swim pretty much the same speed for an hour or more if need be. My only concern is getting kicked in the face, because some people don't swim in a straight line!!!! I wear contacts, so getting kicked is NOT a good look! To minimize the chance of getting hurt, I start in the back on the left. That way I can see everyone in front of me, and pass people if I can as the swim goes on.

It took about 20 minutes to get into a good swimming rhythm. People were all over the place at the start of the swim, and I had to keep looking forward a lot because there was a lot of congestion in the water. One guy was swimming so close I could see the whites of his eyes thru his goggles as I breathed on my right side. Another guy swam at an angle & I could feel the water vibration from his feet kicking right up on my ear. That SUCKS!!! It's not like you can stop and say "WTF are you doing??" You gotta keep swimming! lol

After a while, people eventually got their own space and you had room to swim. I could swim comfortably, tried to swim using as little energy as possible, because I'd need it on the bike & run! Here I am finishing the swim:

I'm feeling pretty good at this point. My swim felt good and I wasn't tired at all. I'm saying "1 down, 2 to go!" at this point.

There's no resting once you finish the swim. No resting on your laurels cuz the clock is ticking! No time to catch your breath. Get your bike & go!

This is a VERY hilly course, and it starts going uphill soon as you get on the bike:

This is why I try use as little energy as possible on the swim. Why wear yourself out on the shortest part (and many times easiest part) of the race?

When I start the bike, my wife leaves and does her own thing: she goes back to the hotel to take a nap! Then she gets up and goes to Subway for lunch,then meets me to snap pics when I finish the bike portion of the race.

As for me, the bike started out easy enough. I rode at my own pace, passing some people then getting passed. I wasn't worried about how fast others were going, just riding my own race. But what DID worry me was the heat: The sun was coming out & it was starting to get hot out there! Luckily I had my electrolytes.

Two hours into the ride I start to feel a twinge in my left hamstring. NOT GOOD, because I still had another 20 or so miles to ride over rolling hills. I pop another electrolyte.

The hills are coming fast & furious, so I really try to pace myself going over the hills. I ride an easy tempo going uphill, then go fast as I can on the downhill to make up time. Sometimes I'd stand & stretch my legs on the downhill to try ease the discomfort and catch my breath.

2.5 hours into the ride I hit Sugarloaf Mountain. I thought I was ready for it, but my left leg was not! Halfway up the hill my leg cramps up and I have to jump off the bike or fall over. Dammit man!!! I had to walk up Sugarloaf. On the way up I pop another electrolyte pill. At this point I'm eating these things like they're Starburst or something...lol

I finally get up to the top of Sugarloaf and the leg cramp is gone. I think the walking actually helped me, but at the same time, I didn't want to walk. Oh well, what can you do?

The rest of the ride was uneventful. Here I am finishing the 56 mile ride:

I start the run pretty tired. The ride took 3.5 hours,and my legs were burning! It was really hot & humid too, so I knew it was gonna be a tough run.

I usually start the run slowly, to get my running legs together. Ever try run after riding a bike? Your legs feel like bricks! That's exactly how mine felt, but I knew if I finished the bike in 1 piece, I'd finish the race.

I start the run feeling as good as a person can feel running in 90 degree Florida heat. Basically I felt like crap! lol It was hot and I knew I had at least 2.5 hours of running to do... There were plenty people out cheering us on. Right before my wife took this pic, I told her I'd text her at mile 10 so she could come back to the race to watch me cross the line. Where was she going? Shopping of course! lol

My goal was to run the first 7 miles, then hold on for dear life, but by mile THREE I knew I was in trouble. Big trouble! I was starting to overheat. The heat was just too much. They had aid stations at every 2 miles on the run, and I grabbed as much ice & water I could. I poured ice down my suit (front & back) and put some in my cap. IT WAS HOT!!!!

At mile 4 I had to walk. I was in survival mode. This is where my lack of training/conditioning came into play. Mile 4 of the run is where I hit the wall, with 9 miles to go in the hot sun.

At this point I'm doing a run/walk: walk to an object, run to another. Run in the shady areas, walk in the sun. I did that over & over.

By mile 9 my feet are KILLING ME. I really wanted to quit at that point. But how could I? Four miles to go! Besides, I'd NEVER forgive myself if I did. I finally make it to mile 10 and send the text to my wife letting her know. I keep walking/running.

About 30 minutes later she sends the following text:

An athlete passed out. Ambulance here too hot out here!!

Wow. This is serious! I decide to shut it down & walk at that point. Eff that!!

I'm now at mile 12. At this point I reflect on the day, what it took to get here, and how I feel about it. Even though I hurt, i feel GOOD! I'm proud of myself. My time wasn't the best, but the encouragement from the other athletes makes me feel good. And I was able to complete the race, even though I felt I needed another month of training.

It's now mile 13 and I start to pick up my pace. I see the finish line & start a slow, painful jog:

Victory! I made it! God is Good! I survived this EXTREMELY tough day!

Now it's time to eat! Notice the limp and the broken sunglasses! LMAO

This race was TOUGH, but I gutted it out. I know it's crazy to do them, and sometimes dangerous, but I like to push myself to my limits to see what I can do. You only live once, why not make the best of it.

After the race it was time to shower and eat again:

Friendly's is the BEST! lol

I'm still pretty sore as I write this, but I feel good. I gave it my best shot,and have no regrets. There's something about crossing that finish line that can't be put into words. It's setting out to do something,after months of planning and preparation, and finally seeing your hard work pay off.

Triathlon is like life to me: You have many facets of it,and sometimes it doesn't go as planned. You may not get what you want when you want it, but if you keep working hard, you'll eventually reach your goal. It takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and determination. Many times you'll feel like giving up, but if you do, you'll probably regret that decision. But if you DO stay the course, the victory is just as sweet!

It's not about finshing a race for me. It's about testing my physical and mental limits. Trying to see how much I can take, and what I'm willing to do to complete the task at hand. I try use what I learn from this sport and incorporate it into my daily life:

The race is not always to the swift, but to those that keep running." Anonymous

That's my story! It was a tough day, but one I wouldn't change. I'm tired, but feel stronger for it. What's the next challenge? I'm ready! bring it on!

Till next time, Peace!