It started off as a calm day. My first triathlon of the year and it’s the Eagleman Half Ironman 70.3. 2600 athletes. And a super-competitive field. I am not kidding you. The weather was not cooperative. By the time many of us were running, it was 101 degrees F. To say it was hot was a huge understatement.
The water was calm. I was excited about the swim and there were no jellies to worry about. The only thing off was the distance. It wound up being incorrectly measured. Judging from my time it was quite possibly 1.5 miles, instead of 1.2, because my time was 10 minutes slower than my last half-ironman. And I had trained harder and been swimming faster then years before. So I knew something was up. And so did all the other athletes. During the race I didn’t think too much about it. But after, when I saw my time, I knew it would of been the difference I needed to break 6 hours. So I was disappointed.
When I transitioned onto my bike, there was so much chaos and shouting by officials to get on your bike. I slipped clipping on and wound up landing on my frame. Yes, my crotch hit the frame of my bike with quite a bit of force. The lady in front of me completely wiped out, so I couldn’t complain. But when you’re on a bike for 56 miles, you kind of feel injuries like that. Especially when you hit bumps in the road. The bike route was flat, which was good and bad. While there are no hills, you have to power the whole time. There is no break and while I felt fine and strong, I know it’s an area I have to work more on. At times the crosswinds were strong. Which is typical for this area. My feet were burning near the end because it was close to 100 degrees F. I kept thinking, “why are my feet burning, why are they so hot?” I would adjust my shoes because I knew they were swelling and I wanted to get some feeling back before my run.
My transition from biking to running was smoother, but I took a little time to make sure I had some endurolytes and anti-fatigue caps before going. I knew it was going to be like running through Hell, literally, and I just felt my best defense to stay alive, was to be smart. And I have to say it was probably a life-saver. The temperature was 101 degree F on the roads. I was burnt at this point. I felt fine running. But the heat was so stifling, it wasn’t going to be possible for me to move as fast as I could. The route was not shaded. Any place there was a hose or sprinkler, I ran under it. Since the water stations were every mile, it became a goal to get there after some time. I would grab a cup of ice, a cup of gatorade and a cup of water. I would dump the water over my head. I would dump some of the ice down the front of my suit. And put the rest in the gatorade. I would sip that for about 1/2 a mile and then do the same thing over and over again. My feet were on fire and wet with the water I would dump on myself. I think by mile 5 I knew there were blisters on both feet. By mile 8 or 9, I was with a group of guys. Most were stopping and going. One would go and then wait for me and then run some of the way until the next water station. By this point I started to get the chills. I was so burnt and so hot, the finish line seemed like it would never come. I felt like a hamster stuck in a exercise wheel. By mile 12 I could see the finish line. I was running beside a guy and we stayed together just for sanity’s sake. By mile 13 I was there. I sprinted in because I was hoping to beat my previous time, which I didn’t. I wound up going a minute slower. Even though I should be happy, I am disappointed because I know the swim was off. Like I said, it would of been the difference I needed to have broken that 6 hour time.
After my race, I went and mixed myself a recovery drink and walked to the water. I sat in there and talked with some people. It felt so good to be done, even though I did not do as well as I had hoped. It became more about being smart than anything else. And I realize that. I am OK with that. I feel 100% better than I did after my marathon. I am not sore – just a little stiff in spots. My blisters aren’t bad. And I was hungry too.
My Ironman is at the end of September. It will be in the same place as this race was. I am a little intimidated thinking about it. While the swim and bike will be manageable, I have a lot of work to do before now and then. The run will be a marathon distance and I am nervous about this. Who knows what the weather will be like by then. September can be hot too. And those jellies. I am thinking they just might be there by then. And if they are, I’ll be ready. Because no matter how bad the conditions can be, I never give up. And that’s a pretty good quality.