Monday, June 8, 2009


70.3 miles. Those that do triathlon, and even some that don't, know that 70.3 is the mileage that a Half-Ironman distance triathlon covers. That's 1.2 miles of swim, 56 miles of bike, and 13.1 miles of run, one after another, without stopping. Or in my case without stopping much. Actually, I should give myself a little more credit than that. I never actually stopped. Slowed sometimes but never stopped. Always kept moving forward. And that's what I did on Sunday. My first 70.3.

The Rockman Long Course Triathlon, June 7th 2009. They can't actually call it a "Half-Ironman" because there is some legal mumbo-jumbo stuff on why you can and can't use "Half-Ironman". This is a semi-local race up by Rockford, IL that I signed up to do. For me I use the term "race" very loosely. Race to me means that you are trying to beat other people and finish as high in the standings as possible. For me at Rockman it meant finishing, feeling good about what I ahd done, and taking away some valuable lessons that I can use in the final push towards Ironman. BTW, Ironman = 140.6; which incidentally is 70.3 x 2; which is exactly double what I did yesterday.

Now for the "race" report. I will spare the boring day before details. No one really cares that I had a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatball, a huge pile of garlic bread, and like a gallon of water anyways. See aren't you glad I spared you those details.

4:45 AM wake up. Turned on the Weather Channel. The weather was supposed to be iffy so I was concerned. No reason to be concerned. Just a cell 75 miles or so away supposedly producing quarter-sized hail and heading our way. But anyway it looked calm and dry now. Real calm. Packed up and headed for the race. Got there a little later than I wanted. Long walk from car to transition. No biggie as I dropped my bike off the night before. got my gear ready for the transitions. Usually you organize you stuff in neat little organized piles that you can get on your body fast and make the transition from swim to bike and then bike to run faster and thoughtless. Some people are anal about this. Not me. In fact since it was going to mostly likely rain having dry gear was my main objective. So it was bike shit in this plastic bag, run shit in this plastic bag, and all the other shit I might need/want in this bigger plastic bag. Then a little socializing. BSed with some people from the tri club I belong to, met a few new people (or should I say friends) and joked a bit with some of my other training buddies. I like to joke and not to try to take any of this too seriously. It helps me keep doing stuff like this in perspective. It's a big part of my life but it doesn't define my extistence. Put my wetsuit on next. I love swimming in my wetsuit. It make swimming so easy. However, I hadn't had it on since last August and never really felt like I had it on the right way. It felt like I didn't have it pulled all the way up. It felt like it wass pulling down on my shoulders. Oh, well no time to fix it 1 minute until the start. Was in the water. some people were cold I actually was comfortable. A little chill but that's OK I wasn't swimming yet.

The Swim. The goal: 40 minutes.
I felt really confident going into the swim. I swam 2 - 3 times a week with my masters swim club and feel I really improved. However, that is in a pool, sharing a lane with 1 or 2 other people. This was in a lake. And a mass start at that. Now I've done some open water swimming. But I've never done this mass start thing. The mass start is where everyone is treading water and the race starts and everyone starts swimming. Now this isn't a big race but it still equates to swimming in a washing machine. And this is my first non-pool swim since August. It didn't start off very well either. Thought I was doing OK at first but my arms got tired really fast from trying to swim with my head out of the water too much. Plus it started raining. Not a big deal for the rain but it was dark and for whatever reason the people running the race though that using black/white/red markers would be a good idea. Maybe I'm being a baby about that but between the darkness and my fogged up goggles I could not sight them. This sent me off on anything but a straight line. Usually these things are bright orange and stick out well. To get the 1.2 miles the swim was 2 laps around these three mentioned markers arranged in a triangle shape. May first 3/4 lap was really bad. Then I ended up in cleaner water (no swimmers) and concentrated on just getting a swim groove on. Still got of couse a bit but the last lap was really pretty comfortable. Got to the beach and got out and headed for transition. They didn't have any race clocks set up anywhere (WTF!) so I asked someone on my way to transition what time it was. 7:50. 50 minutes in the water. YIKES! BAD! Oh, well at least I survived to bike which I think is my strongest of the 3 events. Into transition I went. A little disoriented from being in the water swimming for 50 minutes. Got to the bike and put on my dry socks and bike shoes. The plastic worked. Helmet, glasses (yellow lenses) and a bike jersey of my wet tri top. I wanted to make sure I started somewhat warm. out of transition.

The Bike. Goal: 20 mph. Too ambitious. YES.
Mounted the bike started the Garmin bike computer and off I went. I had a Powerbar, a couple of gels, an Aerobottle of water, a water bottle of blue Gatorade, and a 4 scoop MJ cocktail. For those of you wondering this is hammer Perpeteum and a couple of squirts of Hammer Gel. Today 4 scoops and 3 squits of gel in a water bottle fill with water and shake, shake, shake. This concoction is affectionately named in honor of a good friend of mine who gave me the recepie. Incidentally she was doing this race too. The MJ cockatil works real well for me on the bike. Decent taste and easy to digest. Plus it feels like I actually have something in my stomach The fist 10 - 12 miles of the bike it rained. Not hard but enough to get the roads I've never ridden on wet and make me nervous. Started feeling really good aboaut 5 miles in. Concentrated on water, coctail, water, gatorade, in no special order. And concentrated on picking the next person in front of me on the road and passing them. Passed lots. Got passed never. Plus I was able to manage staying in the aerobars probably 50 of the 56 miles. Mostly uneventful. I was, however, towards mile 50 actually looking forward to getting off the bike and doing some running. Got back to the transition. 56 miles without unclipping from the bike except for a short 30 seconds of so to take a much needed wizz. Racked my bike and took off my soaking wet bike shoes and soaking wet socks. Was going to wear my compression socks for the run. Run shit pastic bag -- NO SOCKS! WTF! There is no way I'm running a half Marathon without socks on. Finally after digging around in the miscelleneous shit bag found them. Oh, well only wasted 2 minutes doing that. Garmin Froerunner on and off on the run. Bike 18.9 mph. Happy with that.

The Run. Goal: It is what it is.
First of all I 've been suffering some kind of left calf "injury". I'll call it any injury because it's prevented me from running for 3 weeks. I'll leave it at that. Also I got a brand new pair of running shoes and this is the first run in them. So without know how I was going to fare I headed off. Almost immediately after setting out on the run the pro that won passed me heading in. By my calculations this put him well over 2 hours ahead of me. Cool to see that. This is the only sport where a total hobbiest participant could start the swim in the water with one of the best in the world. Very cool. My goal was to run easy and see how the leg felt. I want to finish first and foremost. Well going up on of the numerous hills my foot stuck the pavement kind of awkway and my calf felt it. I got worried. Real worried. But decided to stick with it. I started feeling better. Still sore but nothing that was going to stop me. The run course was awesome. Bike trails and abandoned fire roads through a state park. Very cool. Not very cool was that the run course was confusing enough and wasn't very well marked that sometimes I got confused. The aid stations had water, Heed (YUCK), oranges, bananas, and gel. The water and oranges were good, gel was starting to get old and it was really starting to get humid. One aid station had Pepsi which really was a pick me up. Ran into one of my training buddies on an out and back leg. I was going out and he was coming in. He told me he wasn't doing well. I was feeling better and just kept chugging along. I finally caught him a few miles later and he was walking. I was getting pretty tired at the time so I encouraged him to start running again. He did and I was glad. About 4 miles left and if we could just keep running together we would make it. Well 4 miles later we made it. Crossed the finish line. I had completed my fist 70.3! Craig was standing there with a cold beer and I said no. That's a first!

Total time: 6:41.

What a learning experience that was.

So what did I learn? Not necessarily in order.
  • As strong and confident of a swimmer that I think I am I still really lack the experience of the open water with other swimmers around.
  • 70.3 is harder than I expected.
  • I'm in pretty good bike shape. Maybe the best I've ever been in.
  • Overall I'm pretty happy with where I'm at fitness wise.
  • I got a lot more work to do.
  • My leg "injury" may be over. I think I'm going to start running again.
  • I really think I might be able to do Ironman.
  • I am enjoying the journey to get Iron.
  • I want it to be over.
  • I like beer. (I didn't learn that just thought I would remind y'all).
  • I'm really thankful for my supportive family and friends.
  • I meet a lot of really cool people doing this.
  • Kristy Swanson is hot. Really, she still is check her out.
So another first in my life.

Overall it was a great day. It was never intended to be my "A" race day but what it turned into was an "A" training day on the "The Road to 140.6". So in my book a success.

"You're the fighter you've got the fire
The spirit of a warrior, the champion's heart
You fight for your life because the fighter never quits
You make the most of the hand you're dealt
Because the quitter never wins

-- Dropkick Murphys, The Warrior's Code

Only 83 day 'till Ironman. Oh, shit! What a ride it's been so far!

1 comment:

Tom F. said...

Great job , Pat!