Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Montauk Half Ironman

Montauk half Ironman

With a full summer of road racing at the pro level in me I had nerves of steel, strong lungs and arms that resemble a 14 yr old girl. I hadn’t run since January for any length of time, let alone for 13 miles. It was easy to say I was biting off more than I could chew, and some did say that. I had some very, serious strengths going into this race but as with every strength there are weaknesses. And mine were huge.

Stats: Time: 4:56.00, 2nd age group, 24th overall
Swim: 31’ (36th)
Bike: 2:30 (12th)
Run: 1:50 (66th)
Ave Hr. for entire race: 169 (max 200, bike threshold 185)

I had four weeks. three after I recovered from my last stage race. I looked at the calendar and figured what would be ideal. It was then up to the body to tell me if it would be possible or not. After a few trips to Walden pond I realized that the swim wasn’t going as bad as I thought it might be. Running went slow at first just trying to get some tech. work in. with 2 weeks to race time I was able to run for 1 hr. Some long, hard riding, one brick and I was wasted from a hard week of training. With 1 week to go I was kept busy with work and life but I managed to get in 2 shorts runs and started to feel pretty good.

Race day:
The run had me worried the most. 13 miles! And there were hills everywhere. I was improving every day all I had to do now is play on my strengths and hope for the best. Early rise and I was wide awake. I laphed with my fellow races about my dream of missing the start, running out off T2 with my helmet on etc.. Funny yes but it could all come very true.

Swim: I felt good, hydrated, feed and ready to go. The gun went off right after my buddies goggles broke. I wanted to help but there wasn’t much I could do. I was hoping to draft off him as he was a little faster than me in training. With in one minute I was in full panic mode, water in my mouth gasping for breath, and trying dodge flaying arms and feet. I went into a side stroke and tried to relax. I got some breaths, attempted to gain what rhythm I had and went back to work. By the ½ mile mark I was pretty much alone. Two or three guys were right in front of me who I tried to stay with. I was swimming a good line or so it seamed and as I rounded the second buoy with ½ mile to go I started to really push. I could see what I thought was the whole world out in front by a ways. The shore came faster than I thought and I was very grateful. Lots of cheering as I came into T1. as I tried to change out of my wet suit and into my skin suit. I quickly realized that I couldn’t feel my hands, they were useless, and my arms were worse. Totally swollen, they felt like pieces of wood. After that struggle I did a double check to make sure I had everything and headed out for the bike.
Bike: After .5 miles on the bike you hit a hill. Not huge but with the panic of the swim still in my head, water in my ears and the blood still in my arms my HR shot up to 185 pretty fast. Or just stayed there from the swim. I took some deep breaths on the decent and tried to find my rhythm. It wasn’t long before I past a few competitors and then one slowly one passed me. What?! I couldn’t believe someone was passing me and so soon!? I picked up the pace slowly being sure not to push to hard to soon. After a few minutes the passer was caught and dropped, but I was feeling the effort. I tried to keep time checks on the leader to see if I was holding him, gaining time or losing ground. there were 3 or 4 out and backs so this was possible in a few places. I wasn’t long before I realized that I wasn’t that far down. I figured I would be mid pack after the swim but there wasn’t that many people in front of me. My fueling plan worked perfectly. In the last 10 miles or so I slowly caught a smooth and fast competitor. We rode shoulder to shoulder for what seemed like a long time he would pull ahead sometimes on the flats, me on the hills. In the last 5 miles I was going so hard I thought for sure not finish the race. I was now passing more people and quickly. The last few hills bit into my whole body but pushed the only way I know how. All out. Coming into T2 I was very concerned. I was worried about the run to begin with but the bike felt forced and my average speed was slower than I had hoped. 22.5 or so. Was I on my way to coming completely unglued?

Run: In T2 a friend yells to me how great I was doing. “Ek your doing awesome, your kicking but! You rock, blah blah b… your in the top 20!” what! I stopped dead stood straight up and looked her, “no I’m not.” “yes you are!” she said. I couldn’t believe it. Not knowing where I was out of the swim I thought I had a bad bike because I wasn’t passing that many people. I know that I didn’t feel great on the bike but top 20!? I grabbed my secret gu flask and tock off.
Mr. hammer time from the bike was right behind me and caught up fast. “nice riding man” he said with an honest tone and no glance. He soon drifted away up the road but no one else. No one was passing me? I felt as I was going very slow but not that much slower than others. I kept my steady pace breathed deeply and took in water. No cramps, in the legs or stomach. My legs were tired but I felt good. Energy to burn and I would need it all.
¾ through the first 6 mile lap I was mentally starting to fade. So long I thought, I have to do this again. A few people passed me. The bonk was coming. I could feel it. I tock half on my gu flask. 70 kcals maybe, as I came through the finish area I grabbed a big cup of water and cytomax, walked, as I did on every hill, and drank it all. Picking up the pace again I grabbed a gel at the next feed and I was going good now. With a good blue print of the run course burned into my head I attacked the second lap and last 6 miles of the race. Before the hill bit again I tock the last of my flask and dug deep. Around this turn up that hill and I was on the finishing straight, I glanced out over the swim course and thought I swam today? It seamed so long ago. A passed a few people before the finish and as I turned into the finish area erupting in cheers I was in disbelief to see that I had broken 5 hr. on the drive home I realized that every thing had worked perfectly. My training my nutrition, my training, and the way I attacked the race with my strengths and used them again to get through my weaknesses.