Brief recap –this was my first half Ironman distance tri and I was brutalized, but finished in 6.06:16, just missing my goal of a sub-six hour effort.
Long version, or lessons and impressions……..
Timed perfectly at the start of the race a storm front came through Palo. Temp was in the low 60’s, wind at 25+ mph and heavy rain. Prior to the start they announced the water temp was 76 – wetsuit legal. Hmmm, my wetsuit is at home! Surely the water temp in late August will be above the legal limit I thought! Lesson #1 – come prepared for every type of weather – bring the wetsuit Johnny!!
Entering the water we swam perpendicular to the wind which was coming from our right on the first leg. Hmmm, I can really only breath on my right. Tough to inhale water and it tastes terrible! Lesson #2 – practice bilateral breathing! After the first leg and a hard right turn I finally got into a rhythm and was comfortable, but slow, the rest of the swim. Considering I had never swam a mile I was thrilled with my new personal best distance.
Into a washed out T-1 to find my shoes, socks, everything full of water and a heavy rain still falling. I had made a last minute decision to use a different pair of shorts for the race, the ones without a chamois but more comfortable for the run. But I was looking forward to the ride – my best event. I had even stolen Madi’s HED wheels – I have no shame. The ride was brutal – continued high wind and heavy rain. I thought of Dave Delperdan and laughed out loud as I was wishing I had arm warmers, and leg warmers for that matter, and I knew Dave would have been prepared. See lesson #1.
During the ride I was able to make up some time from my swim. I was cold, I was wet and 56 miles without a chamois was not as bad as I thought it might be but I won’t do it again. Lesson #3 – don’t be modest with the Body Glide! Put it everywhere and put on a lot!
I entered T-2 to find, you got it, wet running shoes, wet cap and my stuff blown all over. Where is my bottle of energy drink for the run?!?!? Everything had blown all over! Lesson #4 – if windy keep your stuff in your bag dummy! Oh well, I knew they had food at the water stops. After a quick stop at the Porta-john I was on my way.
Legs felt good, really good. I was surprised. I hit mile 1 way too fast and had to remind myself it was a long run and to slow down and keep my heart rate under control. I ran past the first water stop. Lesson #5 – drink whenever you get the chance!
I made it to the halfway point and started back. I was under my time plan and knew I would beat 6 hours. Mile 7 and the first twinge of knee pain. Mile 8 – now a LOT of knee pain. Heart rate is climbing and I am slowing down. Mile 9 and it was getting hard to run. Mile 10 water stop must have been moved! Why would they move a water stop in the middle of the race? Based upon my time I should be there! That makes no sense! Hmmm – see Lesson #5. I finally reach the mile 10 water stop and feel like I have been drinking….a lot of alcohol. I’m having a hard time running in a straight line. I start thinking about my water intake during the ride and run and realize I am way, way below my planned intake of 20 – 24 ounces an hour. The cool weather fooled me into not thinking about drinking. I grab one water for my head and two to drink, and I drink them all as I walk away. I start shuffling towards mile 11. Yes, I said shuffling! It was the most I could manage at that point as this is where the long up hill section starts. At mile 11 I repeat with extra water and a Hammer gel and start shuffling home. More water at mile 12 and I can see the finish area. I suddenly realize I am not going to beat 6 hours but can’t believe I ran / shuffled that dang slow. Lesson #6 – “Run Forest, run!” You can’t do too much run training for an event like this and I need to do more, much more.
The final mile was made easier by numerous yelling spectators and many cowbells. I realized I was going to finish and that was my real goal. I managed a moderate run to the finish and was rewarded by Team Johnson yelling for Dad.
Will I do another half Ironman? You bet! I still have to beat 6 hours and if I pay attention to what I learned in this race I can accomplish that goal.