Sunday, June 14, 2009
Ironman 70.3 Boise.
For about 6 months now I have been waiting for this race. I have been excited to finally try my hand at a Half Ironman for some time, and my chance was finally here. To my surprise I really was not too nervous leading into this race. Unlike my last race where I was putting my wetsuit on backwards, dropping everything in sight, and forgetting all the race gear I needed. This race I was pretty relaxed and calm. After driving down to Boise on Thursday I had a couple days to just relax and enjoy Boise. The one thing that stuck in my mind about Boise is the fact that everyone in that city rides bikes! Downtown is cluttered with bikes, and I think it is so cool that so many people commute on their bikes. Anyways back to racing.
Race morning....oh wait...... this race didn't start till 2pm, and my wave didn't start until around 3pm. So I had a little bit of time to kill. This was the point where I was a little nervous. Watching every single wave head out, added just a little bit to my nerves. It was at the point when they had us penned up like cattle at the edge of the water that my nerves were finally there, but nerves are a good thing for me. they keep me going. Just minutes before they let us into the water I ran into Adam Blalock, who lives in Moscow Idaho, and is an up and coming triathlete. Adams dad and my dad used to hammer each other into the ground in running races back in the days, so It was cool to see the younger generation competing in sports against each other. After a few friendly words with Adam we were off into the water.
Before the start we had to tread water for about 5 min. I placed myself in the front row of the swim start, and for some reason being in the water just relaxed me. I knew it would be a long day, but I really felt that I was ready for it. There was a countdown, and then came the horn. I was off in my first half Ironman. For starting in the front and not being that strong of a swimmer, I really did not get pounded at all. There was some small bumping but nothing too serious. The waves were kicking up pretty high, and the sky had turned black from clouds, but I felt really relaxed. The first turn came before I knew it. I felt that I carried a high cadence on this swim, and I felt very relaxed, scratch that super relaxed. Maybe I was a little too relaxed, and my swim time of 35+ min may show that, but I was happy with it. As I was swimming to the swim exit I felt like I could have kept going for another lap, but the swim was over and it was time to get on the bike.
So if you know me at all you probably know that I struggle a bit with transitions at times. And the thing that slows me down the most is getting my stupid wetsuit off. Its not stupid its just tight!(maybe time to upgrade from the XS). But I was overjoyed that this race had Strippers, But only the kind that helps you strip off your wetsuit. T1 went well :).
As I left T1 and did my first flying mount well leaving the shoes on my bike (yes!), I looked off of lucky peak down at the course I was about to ride, and saw quite the mass of people ahead of me on the bike. I guess that is what You get for being the last wave. I got a little caught up in passing this large clump of people that was right ahead of me. I took off down lucky peak very quickly! My bike could be summed up by the word, left! I screamed this about 200 times, as moved through the pack. I think I will learn the word left in 3 more languages so next time I will have my bases covered no matter who I come up on. The first 30 miles of the bike were very rapid. The rain was pouring/monsooning, and the stinging from the rain kind of made me forget about the pain in my legs. As the rain was still pouring down I came up on my first hard right hand turn. Yeah Remember, In rain your brakes don't work so swell. So as I headed straight towards the races only hand cyclist about to partake in a head on collision, I thought about this fact. Luckily I narrowly missed him and just made my turn. Next was the "climb" to the Birds of prey sanctuary, which wasn't really that much of a climb at all. It was still pouring rain, but I decided that I was going to take the decent and turns off of this climb fairly quick and take a risk. But It was a risk I was willing to take. As I started bombing down the hill, I was confronted with a sign that said "No Passing Zone", well didn't see that as I flew by 5 or 6 fellow age groupers going 10mph and clutching their brakes for dear life as they went down the hill. Shortly after the hill was when I ran into Adam again. I gave him a friendly yell and he yelled back, as I pushed up the hill. The rest of the bike I just tried to keep a steady rhythm and tried to stay in aero. I Kept drinking my water, and got plenty of hydration from the rain. I took my 3 gels of nutrition for the day on the bike, and was cruising along just fine. At about mile 40 Adam came back, we quickly chatted about our swims(which he killed me at :)), and he was off. I tried to stick with him, but just didn't have it at that point. I decide I was going to stay in a relaxed steady pace until the finish. My ride into downtown Boise was Sweet! It was just cool to come bombing down a long hill and into the city. I took my shoes off a little early, but hey who cares. I just finished the bike of my first half Iron, and it felt great!
T2 was well just another T2, It was not as fast as Tim Swanson's who is the nations leading T2 athlete :), but it was good for me. I was very nervous dropping off my T2 bag earlier that day because it was so empty compared to everyone else's. But as I opened my bag and had only socks and a pair of shoes to deal with, I realized it was a good thing. The person next to me had 3 wardrobes of clothes, and a buffet of food in their bag that they somehow had to put on in a quick manner and carry for 13 miles.
Running has always been a strength of mine and I was very happy to be on the run. I took off pretty quick. With the rain still pouring I felt that I never really left the swim on this day. The beginning of my run was fast and comfortable......but maybe a little too fast and not quite as comfortable as I should of taken it. My first loop I stormed into the lead of my age group, by mile 5.5. I was probably running between 5:18 and 5:28. I made my way to the end of the first loop and there was nothing but smiles on my face. I love this sport! I only had 6.4 miles to go and thought they would go by like a breeze. At mile 7 I felt something strange start to happen, but it was nothing too bad. I was a little queezy but it didn't really affect my pace.
This is where my nutrition plan from the bike came back to haunt me a bit. If you remember I only took in 3 gels on the bike and 1 bottle that had one scoop of perpetuem. I think next time I will take a little more than that with me, but we will get back to that later. Ok so we are at mile 7.5 of a 13.1 mile run and my wheels weren't coming off, they are on the ground. I found myself at mile 8 running 10min a mile, and doing everything I could to keep forward progress.
This is the point that made this race a life changer for me. I don't think I have ever worked so hard or been so determined to finish a race without walking. Things around me started getting very dark, I felt a bit hot(even with the rain pouring down), and people were yelling so loud! Its only five miles, you run that all the time! I kept telling myself. But each mile felt like a marathon. I was afraid to grab anything but water for fear of throwing up. Somehow I made the next two miles without walking and found myself at mile 10, with a 5k to go. Those last two miles both just felt like marathons, and I have a 5k to go. Hmm this could be a long day. At this point I found myself getting passed by everyone around me, two people in my age group had stormed back by me, and I was doing everything I could to stick on people as they ran past. I promised myself no matter what I would not walk. No matter what that just isn't an option. at this point I was at mile 12 and as I glanced over my shoulder, Adam was back! he was closing on me fast. We had traded the lead 3 times this day, and just like our dads used to we were battling for position. I had nothing left but fumes and I thoroughly burned them all the last mile. I barely held Adam off. I was done with my First half Iron!!
As I crossed the finishing line the volunteers had the look that death just rolled in. I wasn't feeling very good, but the fact that I finished my first half Iron had me pumped. They put a super sweet space blanket on me and the volunteers asked me where I was going. All I said was that way, without pointing in a direction or really knowing where I was going. I found my way to a chair where I sat, and was pretty much stuck in the chair for a bit of time. It took about 20 min for me to come around. But I was good. Ben recommended that I go get an IV, but 1. I hate needles, and 2. I was pretty much stuck in that chair and don't think I could have gotten up and gotten to the medical room.
As I sat in the car riding back to the hotel, Some thoughts rolled through my head. I had just gotten chewed up and spit out by my first half Ironman, but all I could think of was I can't wait for a chance to do that again! Overall my time was 4:29:22 and I was overjoyed with this. My goal for my first half Iron was to break 4:30:00 and I did it!! I was not going to let it beat me. And although my half marathon in this race was not my best performance, I am probably more proud of that than any other race I have ever done. I did not give up, and I persevered throughout one of the toughest physical and mental challenges I have ever completed.
I know the exact changes I need to make before my next race, and am very fired up for my next half Iron. Its not the competition I want to beat, its the race! We will see if my next half Ironman will bring me to a walk but so far the count is
Half Ironman-0 Josh-1
June 13th was a good day :)!