Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pigman the Destroyer

The 2010 Pigman Long Course Triathlon.

By John Johnson

The 2010 Pigman started off much better than the 2009 version as there was no rain, no wind and temps were in the high 60s. There was fog however which delayed the start approximately 45 minutes. Present from NI Spin along with me were Wade Busch and my daughter Madi.

My goal for the race was first and foremost to finish, second was to beat 6 hours.

I had a good swim and covered the 1.2 miles 38:40. A great time for me as I cut over 17 minutes from last year! Wade had a great swim at 34:40 and was already out of transition ahead of me. Madi was out of the water right behind me even though she stared almost 6 minutes after me! Youth! And that swim team thing.

By the time we were out of the water the temp had climbed into the 80’s. Thankfully the winds were still calm. The ride was hot and full of rolling hills. I had reminded Madi to drink a lot of fluids and was hoping she had listened. I made very good use of the water stations along the bike route and went through 5 water bottles on the 56 mile ride. During the bike segment the temp had climbed into the 90’s. On the way back from the turn-a-round I saw Madi and was afraid the heat was getting the best of her. Climbing the last hill to the park entrance I was feeling over heated and thought I might have to pull off the road to get sick. For the first time in a race I was debating whether I even wanted to attempt the run.

As I came into transition Wade was just getting ready to leave on the run so I decided to push on. I also realized that I had dropped time over last years bike segment – almost 10 minutes! All of a sudden I though that if I could suck it up I could be pushing 5:30 for the race. In my head I realized that if I simply ran 9:30 miles I would hit that mark. I thought ‘No problem’, my last training run of 15 miles I was at a 9:20 pace and heck, this was a race and two miles shorter!

At the ½ mile mark of the run I came up on a runner limping badly. When I came alongside I realized it was Wade and he was cramping. They had provided Hammer Endurolyte tablets in our race bag and Wade popped a few and kept moving to walk out the cramp. I pressed on – but not for long. The heat was oppressive, like running in a sauna and there is no shade on this course. I had difficulty making it to the first water station where I had ice water, HEED and ice which went in my cap and down the back of my jersey – anything to help bring down my core temperature. Heading out of the first station is a hill which killed me and forced me into the walk. I was pissed! Ever since last years race I had been running like I was training for a marathon. To be forced into walking was unthinkable and very discouraging. Then I noticed everyone else was doing the same and suffering just as much. This is also the point where thoughts of a 5:30 race went out the window and I was just hoping to finish.

My routine became ice water, HEED and ice in my hat and down my back at each aid station. There were aid stations each mile of the 13 mile run and there were only 4 segments that I was able to run the complete distance between stations. I saw several people simply give up and sit down in the shade of one of the vehicles at the aid stations.

At the turn-a-round I remembered Madi was on the course. I was praying that she had abandoned the race after the bike segment. When I hit the 10 mile mark I looked up and saw a pink suit coming my way. I slowed to talk with her and she did not look good. I told her it was okay to stop and asked her to turn around and come in with me. I simply got a shake of her head and she continued on.

At mile 11 the guy and gal from St. Paul whom I had been running with most of the race commented that their goal was to beat 6 hours. I had the same goal and we decided to push one another to the finish. At the aid station at mile 12 the guy grabbed a water but then ran to the side of the road and got sick. He waved at us to go on without him.

The last mile was actually kind of hazy. I don’t remember the last hill or turning the corner. All of a sudden I was crossing the finish line and being handed a cup of ice water. I looked at my watch and realized I beat my goal and finished with a time of 5:50:44! Then Joy was by my side and I heard Wade’s wife and sister ask if he was okay. I let them know he had been cramping but was right behind. Wade had been cramping on and off the entire run but somehow pushed through and finished in 6:11:03. I am still not sure how he finished.

It took me about 30 minutes to come out of my haze. Then I started to worry about Madi. Joy wanted me to get on my bike and go out on the course to make sure she was okay. I didn’t as I knew that would irritate her and I knew I could not physically do anything at that point. I also knew there were plenty of people on the course to help.

Finally, after 7:40 minutes she came walking around the corner but was holding the timing chip in her hand. At the mile 11 aid station she could not coherently answer questions so they pulled her off the course. It wasn’t until later that she got mad and thought she could have made it in. But I am truly thankful they pulled her off.

So, round two of the Pigman is in the history books. Although I beat my goal of 6:00 the Pig most definitely got the better of me. At the run turn-a-round I made the decision to abandon any plans to ever again do this race again or to every attempt a full Ironman and also to abandon my plans to run the Des Moines Marathon. I thought if I can’t run 13 miles why would I attempt 26? But it’s been over a week and I am rethinking my position. I know I can hit 5:30:00 and I need to beat this damn Pig! So……I will keep you posted.

An interesting side note. I started the race at approximately 8:15 am. During and after the race I estimate I consumed almost two gallons of fluids. There was not any output until after 8:00 that night. Did I mention that it was hot?

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