The day started out early, with the alarm going off at 2am and 3:15am. The 2am alarm was to wake up and consume some calories, then I went back to bed. I learned from numerous training information about waking up 5 hours before the start of the race to consume low glycemic index food to top off my fuel tank for the race. I have done it a couple of times in training and for my previous endurance races with success. I would not recommend attempting this for your first time before a race, you have to try it in training first to see if your stomach can handle waking up in the middle of the night, consuming 500+ calories, then falling back to sleep. At 2am, I consumed 3 bottles of Chocolate flavor Boost High Protein nutritional drinks.
The alarm went off at 3:15am again and I woke up for good this time. Should have spent the money one those expensive hotel by the race so I could have slept in some. I made my tradition tradition breakfast of Clif builder bar and toasted bagel with peanut butter, then we were on the road to head over to Orlando for the race. It rained for most of the night but it stopped raining until we made it over to the race. There was lighting in the distance and as soon as my truck was park, it started to rain.
We took the bus over to the race while the lighting seemed to pick up the intensity. I made my way over to body marking then into the transition area to set everything up.
I got into transition with about 45 minutes left before it closed but wasted a ton of time trying to strap my spare tubular tire onto my seat post. Because of all the rain, the Velcro to my saddle bag was wet and I could not get the Velcro to stick with my tire. When I heard the transition area was closing in 20 minutes, I said screw it and just strapped it on my top tube of my frame. Because it was still raining, I decided to keep all my gear I needed for the bike in a bag to keep dry. A decision which later bit me in the butt during the bike was not pumping up my tires to the normal 180 psi. Because of the rain, I left them under-inflated some so I could have more traction in the rain.
I made it out of the transition area just in time, before they started to kick people out. I went and took care of an appointment with the bathroom, before I headed down to the beach for the start. After my bathroom appointment, the weather started to clear up, and it stopped raining.
The swim wave start times were pushed back 20 minutes due to the weather, so I was able to see the start of the professional men and women’s waves.
The pro waves were crazy fast running out into the water and doing the dolphin swim when the water was too swallow to swim.
After a couple more waves, I said goodbye to my support staff of Rachel, and headed over to start of the swim. I typical use baby shampoo the night before to defog my goggles but forgot to do that last night, so I had to make some manmade defogging formula. The couple of waves ahead of mine were large but when I saw my wave was small, it helped my nerves some.
Next thing I know, my wave was next and I was about to embark on the toughest physical challenge of my life to date. I stayed in the back of the wave and took my time running out into the water. You can see my in the above picture with the red shorts on. I was nervous all week about freaking out during the swim, but when I put my head into the water I felt very comfortable. All the swim training and practice swims at Luckys Lake really paid off.
I started out drafting behind a small pack of people, than decided to start passing people one by one. The water visibility was only a couple of feet but there was a ton of floating vegetation in the water towards the beginning. I was covered in vegetation and I probably looked like a swamp monster swimming through the water. The beginning of the swim was not too crowed at all until I got close to the first turn, when I started to pass a lot of people from the waves before me. Passing people from the wave before me gave me a ton of confidence and made me push even harder during the swim. When I made the second turn to come back to the beach, the crowds of swimmers got even worse. I was weaving in and out of people ahead of me and I had swimmers from the waves behind me passing me. I was able to stay close to the buoys the whole time and did not add any distance to my swim.
The beach kept getting close and closer but my legs started to cramp up. At first, the arch of my right foot cramped up and I changed my kick some to uncramp my foot, when my calf muscle started to cramp. I was able to push though the cramps knowing the beach was getting closer. I caught up to a large group of people and decided to stay behind them for the last 100m while I tried not to kick with my legs. Next thing I know I was able to put my feet down and started to run out of the water. I looked down at my watch when I crossed the mat and was excited to see my time.
1.2 mile swim: 42:40 (2:02 per 100y, 65 out of 114 AG)
After running over 100 yards to the transition area, the transition from swim to bike took me forever. I had all my bike gear in a bag that I had get out and made the mistake trying to leave without my race number on. I had to run back to my rack to get my race number belt which wasted about a minute.
The first mile out was slow because the bike course was narrow wet paths though the park, but when I got on the main roads, I started to hammer it. With all the main roads being dry, I regretted not pumping up my tires all the way. The winds were coming from SW which made the first 10 miles a head wind, but we had a tail wind for the hard parts of the course through some rolling hills. The wind was coming from the opposite direction the test ride of the course a few weeks ago which made those rolling hills harder with the wind in my face.
The bike ride was pretty uneventful. The clouds disappeared and the sun started to bake us. Around mile 25 mile mark, I felt my left leg start to cramp up some, so I started to increase the amount of fluids intake. There were three aid stations along the course we were could ride by and grab water or Powerbar Ironman Perform sports drink, which is my favorite sports drink. I decided to grab a bottle of the sports drink at the second and third aid station. The first attempt to fill up my aero bottle resulted in me pouring half of the bottle all over my self because I did not take the yellow sponge out of the bottle. The second attempt at the last aid station was successful with not pouring the bottle all over my self. I did regret not having more solid food to consume during the bike ride. I only carried one 100 calorie granola bar, one pack of six shot blocks, and three gels to consume during the bike ride.
The course was pretty packed with riders, but I am proud to say I did not cheat and draft behind people during the ride. I did have two pace lines blatantly drafting pass me, but was happy to see people stopped at the penalty areas waiting out their time penalties for drafting. I kept counting down the miles and decided to drink the rest of my fluids around four miles to go so I would not have a belly full of water sloshing around when I started the run. I made the turn into the Fort Wilderness park and started to stretch out my legs some before I dismounted.
56 Mile Bike: 2:38:34 (21.2 mph, 38th out of 114 AG)
The transition from bike to run was better than my first transition. Put on my Garmin watch.
Put on my shoes.
Rachel getting a nice photo of my butt.
Toweled off some of my sweet, grabbed my shot blocks, and took a chug of my sports drink before I was off to my run.
The run course consisted of three loops with over a mile of the run through grass fields. With the adrenaline of the great bike split, I started to fly during the start of my run. I had to slow down some to ensure I could last to the end of the race. My first mile split was a blistering pace of 7:44. I continued to slow the pace some but my average pace for the first loop was still a blistering pace of 8:20 minute per mile.
The heat and the sun started to take it’s toll on me during the second loop. For more than 2/3 of the loop there was no shade to protect us from the sun, so I kept throwing water at the aid station on my face to cool down my body. Another issue was the orange flavor of the sport drink. For some reason I hate orange flavor sports drinks and it made me gag some when I tired to drink it. I decided to try and take a shot of soda every two miles for the sugars to help fuel my legs which felt dead.
I was still able to maintain a great pace of 8:40 for the second lap and planned on maintaining that pace for the last lap.
Me signaling only one lap to go and check out my calf muscle on my right leg in the picture below. I never knew my calf muscle was toned like that since it’s hard to see your calf muscle while you exercise.
The last lap felt like hell to me. My legs were in so much pain the the sun keep burning me up. My pace started to creep up to 10 minutes per mile and I continued to push through the pain. My right thigh muscle started to cramp up but I kept telling myself that I just exercised for 5 hours and the last 20 minutes should be nothing. The course started to crowd up and the aid stations were crazy busy. With a half mile left, I started to see the crowds of people heading into the finishing area and the adrenaline helped me pick up the pace some.
When I split off the loop to the finish, I could see the white finish arch in the distance. I started to run as hard as I could until I hit the finish line, doing a fist pump when I crossed the line. I planned on doing a running kick to show I just kicked that race’s ass, but I forgot.
After I crossed the finish line, I looked at my watches and was thrilled with the times I saw.
13.1 Mile Run: 1:54:50 (8:45 Minute per Mile, 48th out of 114 AG)
Total Time: 5:26:27 (459 out of 1817 Overall, 48th out of 114 AG)
After the finish line, I received fluids to replenish some of the 7 pounds of sweet I calculated I lost during the race, an awesome medal, and a surprise Half Ironman Florida hat. I meet up with Rachel and went back to rest in her chair.
As soon as I sat down to rest, my left thigh muscle started to cramp up, and I was in major pain. Luckily, I was able to work out the cramp in my leg and started to refuel with more liquids. There was a little kid in a stroller with a huge chocolate mickey mouse ice cream bar in front of me and I was trying to trade him a bottle of water for the ice cream bar. After some more liquids, and walking around, my legs started to feel better.
I posed for some photos to show off my new medal then changed out of my sweat soaked clothes.
We walked around a little bit and checked out the merchandise tent to buy an nice half ironman t-shirt and badge lanyard for work. My stomach was still not up for any solid food yet so I passed on their post race Papa John’s pizza. I went over to the transition area to pack up my stuff to head back home to rest and eat some pizza from my favorite local pizza restaurant.
I also made myself my own reward by writing on the new Bud Light Make Your Mark bottles. After some rest, I started to compare my goal I set before I started to train for this race on my first ever blog post, My First Blog Post “It’s Official” .
42 min Swim
4 min T1
2:40 Bike (21mph)
3 min T2
2:00 Run (9:10 pace)
42:30 min Swim
After comparing my results to each of my split goals, I was surprised to see that I did not beat my 5:20 total goal. Then I realized I could not do math back in January and when you add all my goal split times, my goal total race time should have been 5:29, not 5:20. It made me even more proud of my self for the accomplishment of finishing my first half ironman and also destroying my time goals.
I would like to thank everyone for all the good luck wishes and a special thanks to Rachel. She had to put of with me through all the months of long training days and I made her wake up at 3:15 the day of the race.