That pretty much sums up my feelings of the Florida Half Ironman. Obligatory stats:
Swim: 40:32 T1: 3:39 Bike : 2:34:18 T2: 1:30 Run : a pathetic 1:50:03 for a total of exactly 5:10:00.
Things just didn't go according to plan and I mentally gave up. Here's some of the details if you care to read on.
I flew into Orlando Friday afternoon and my friend Orion picked me up. We were both excited as this was going to be his first half Ironman plus really the longest event he's ever done and farthest he's ever ran. We got some early dinner and went to bed to start banking some additional sleep.
Saturday, we drove to the race site to register and rack our bikes. I got some rental race wheels from Race Day Wheels. They were unorganized so it took quite awhile to get the wheels in place. I gave them a test spin and they felt nice and fast as compared to my bombproof training wheels with heavy flat proof Amardillo tires. I also did a small 15 minute run to work out the kinks. I immediately noticed the heat. This was not a good sign. Curse you lame cold DC spring weather. I also tested out what I was calling our "Pulp Fiction" shower in the parking lot. Basically, 2 gallon jugs of water, towel and shampoo for post run and race cleanup.
On Sunday, we awoke at 2:45 AM to drive back to Disneyworld. We arrived in good spirits at 4:15 just in time to catch the first bus to transition. We proceeded to set up our gear and start what would be many nervous bathroom trips. It was already 70 degrees which was good so we didn't have to worry about being cold waiting for the non-wetsuit swim.
Before we knew the pro men started and then it was just a matter of time. Luckily Orion and I were in the same wave. My plan was to draft off him as much as possible and let him clear a path in the water. We hoped to come out of the water at the same time so we could wrestle each other all the way through transition for fun.
I had to make a google choice and I chose wrong. I went with the clear goggles as I thought the sun wouldn't crest over the tree line til late in my wave. These are my favorite and preferred goggles but I should've went with the tinted ones because the sun was well over the trees. It wasn't horrible but definitely noticeable.
Swim: The horn sounded and we were off. I saw Orion for like 10 strokes then he was gone. My right goggle filled with water immediately but my left was clear. It was just lake water so not too bad just a little stinging here and there. I was trying to swim as fast as possible but I didn't feel fast. My new found technique is crooked. I swam pretty crooked the entire way so I had to sight a lot more than Canada. I was trying to use the pack to sight off but there really wasn't a mass of swimmers. On top of that a bunch of times I'd look and all I would see was a wave of water. It was strange. This never happened at Canada. Every time I sighted I also picked some clean water. I had a pretty uneventful swim. Only a couple of bumps here and there. I finally got to shore winded as I really was pushing pretty hard the entire swim and clicked my watch, 40 something. OUCH!! I knew during the swim that 35 was out due to all my sighting but I thought maybe I'd hit 38. Wrong! Oh well, I thought to myself this is still faster than 42 last year and I can make up those minutes if the rest of the day goes well. A post race note is a lot of people have commented that they swam slower than last year and even slower than they expected. This is leading to the thoughts that course was maybe 100 to 200 meters long. I don't really buy this until one of the pros also mentions that they thought the course was long.
T1: I was able to motor up into transition pretty good this year as there wasn't much of a crowd. I could feel my stomach being a little upset but nothing too big to worry about. Most of my bike rack was gone. Not a good sign but lots of room to maneuver. I went as fast as I could. I got my tri jersey on without much effort, helmet, glasses, shoes and I was off. Similar time to last year but I really wasn't clicking my watch splits accurately.
Bike: The bike started good. I got clipped in after awhile and was motoring pretty good passing people constantly and also being passed as well. I started drinking a half gatorade half water concoction to get some calories and some liquid in as the sun was out and it was going to be high 80s for the day. The best thing about Florida is the bike course. It's as smooth as glass. You can really go. Everything was clicking along but my stomach just wasn't feeling too great. I kept trying to find the magic to stay hydrated and carbed up without too much stomach distress. At one point during the ride, I almost puked just because my stomach was feeling great. It finally went away for a bit but never really felt good. This seems to be a common theme with my bike segments. For a lot of the bike course we had a nice tailwind so the miles were clicking off quite fast. I rode a bunch of 24+ without much effort. I knew though at some point during the course we would PAY. The section was the last 15 miles of the course. Uh-oh. I managed to use the legal draft of some bigger guys to help conserve energy and keep an okay pace at the end. I finally looked at my time as we were nearing the end and I knew I'd be pretty damn close to my 2:30 goal. I wasn't exactly on it but I slowed down at the end to spin out the legs a little and undo the shoes for dismount. I was pleased and ready to rock the run.
T2: I was in and out of transition like a bolt of lightening. This was the first time I didn't have to make a portopottie stop before the run. Good sign or bad sign not sure.
Run: This where I was going to rock or so I thought. Boy I was so wrong. Things went well at the start. I clicked off a 6:04 first mile which I still think is officially short with little effort. I hit the trail and rattled off a 6:30 and 6:45 miles. My last trail mile on the first loop was 6:55. At this time I was a little worried. My legs just didn't feel good. I knew they weren't going to carry me. Mile 5 was a full pavement mile and I hit it at 6:40 and then it happened. I got this horrible side stitch. CRAP!! I haven't had a side stitch on a run in like forever. It's been so long I haven't even done side stretches before training runs this entire season. The last time I had one that felt like this one was in a high school 3k track event. I ran through that one but pulled my side muscle during it and was in serious pain for over a week. I had 8 miles to go and side stitch. I could gut and continue to run or stop and see if I could stretch it out. I opted to start walking and stretch it out. I'd stretch and then try running and within a few steps no change. Repeat for the entire 6th mile. 10:46. OH GOD, my race is officially over. This is what ran through my mind along with a bunch of "I suck", "I'm pathetic". Being an eternal pessimist when things go wrong in races, it's really cataclysmic for me. The 10:46 basically put a 1:25 out of reach for sure so I knew a top 10 was surely gone with my slower swim and therefore a chance at a Clearwater spot. In the end, I was happy that most of the top 20 in my age group all ran nice low 1:30s for their run split and all were under 4:30 overall. Anyway, back to my pathetic run. So after mile 6 I basically gave up mentally. I finally got the side stitch under control but my legs liked walking too much so it was hard to get and keep them going. I'd run to the aid station and take in fluids while walking then start running again after a bit and this continued. On top of this my actual run pace really wasn't what I consider running. It was a slow shuffle because this felt the best for my side rather than a full stride. I continued to curse myself the rest of the entire race and was just glad to be done. I did run the entire last mile but overall it was just a pathetic performance. At mile 6 I basically decided since the 1:25 or just a little slower was out of the question that the rest of the race didn't matter. I maybe could've gutted a sub 5 but it really didn't matter.
The funniest thing was Orion suffered like a dog on the run course because of his bad hamstring. On top of that he had tons of cramps but kept going no matter what. He finished and was so happy. He loved the whole race. What a guy! He's a stud.
We picked up our gear and got prepared for dinner at the Wilderness Lodge Whispering Canyon. I was going to drown my sorrows in bottomless milkshakes and all you can eat ribs, pulled pork, brisket and chicken. We both ate a fair amount but were pretty tired.
Some additional notes, I got sunburned which again shows how crappy DC's spring has been this year. Last year, no sunburn at all. Also my legs felt fine. I could walk easily without pain. This is how bad my run was as I'm more tired after training runs than this race. Sad!
My week in Florida continues with lots of eating going on. Last night(Monday), we went to all you can eat pizza. It was a little training for a pizza challenge that we might do someday. Anyway, I polished off 28 slices of pizza in about an hour. The slices weren't super big or anything as the pizzas were 12" with 8 slices per. We think the pizza challenge is doable but will be tough. Of course, I could barely move and had hoped to do 30 slices but had to stop at 28. I also ran 5 miles on Monday afternoon and it wasn't too bad except I still had a side ache.
Orion tells me he wants the Florida Half to be a yearly thing and is already thinking about how he can improve next year. I'm thinking about just not doing anything and becoming a shut-in while he's already planning on training for next year.
I guess when I really look at my run I can't be too upset. I hadn't been able to put in any running miles from the end of January til mid March. I had 8 weeks to go from ground zero on running in order to prepare. Who knows maybe this will allow me to do great things at the Olympic distance event on the 21st of June. I did not feel my sore knee yesterday after my 5 mile run so that's good.
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