By Jeremy Sipos
This was my fifth year doing NOLA 70.3 and in the previous four years I have had decent success. In the previous four years, I have been a top 3 overall amateur finisher every year winning my age group 3 times and having one second place finish in my age group to a fast guy that later turned pro. I was hoping to have another solid day to start off the 2013 race season but sometimes you can’t always get what you want. This year they changed the race course considerably so it felt like a new race. The swim course moved from the previous location in the beautiful Lake Pontchartrain where they’ve had to cancel the swim the last few years, to a modified M-shaped course within the walls of the South Shore Harbor Marina. It was a cold windy morning and the water was a little choppy in the harbor. Race officials said that if the swim were in the previous location it would have been cancelled again this year, so everyone was happy to have a full triathlon this year! This year was a time trial start and so with no swim warm up, we individually jumped into the brisk 60 degree water. After the shock of the cold water and after gasping for air for a couple seconds, I was off and trying to navigate the “M” shaped swim course. Sometime during the middle of the swim I decided to stop for coffee and beignets or that’s my story at least as it’s the only thing that could possibly explain my swim time.
The bike course was similar to the previous year’s bike courses and as windy as in years past. This year my wave started first so it was a bit lonely on the bike as I wasn’t passing people the entire time. It was nice to have a clear road.
Jeremy on the run
The run was similar to previous years, but the new race course added a decent sized draw bridge to run up and over within the first mile. I started the run at a nice solid pace clicking off sub 6 min miles as I have done in the past. Unfortunately, at about mile 6 I realized maybe I wasn’t quite in the same run shape as in the past and faded badly on the second half of the run. If it wasn’t for the thought of bar hopping in the French Quarter post race with my wife, I might have run even slower.
The race ended in Armstrong Park this year (named after the famous jazz musician not the infamous cyclist), so it was a much different energy level than ending in the heart of the crazy French Quarter as in years past. My 4:18 finish time wasn’t my best race time or placement…but not a terrible start to the season. Having no calf pain before, during or after the race, was also a good sign for the 2013 race season as I’ve been sidelined with calf injuries for the greater part of the last two triathlon seasons. As always, the best part of doing NOLA 70.3 is the post race party in the French Quarter which usually involves 3 for 1 beers, crawfish, and live music.
By Elaine Sipos
Jeremy has done this race every year it has been going, and I’ve done it a few times myself. You can read his race report here. We always enjoy starting the season off in New Orleans…it’s crazy and fun. We stayed at a great place where we could walk out the door to all the restaurants, bars, shops, entertainment, etc. They seemed surprised that we wanted to take our bikes to our room vs. locking them up to a flimsy wooden stair rail in an outdoor garden/atrium, so I think it’s a place that doesn’t tend to have racers stay there.
The swim has been cancelled the last few years, which is sweet music to my ears…but not Jeremy’s. Even though swimming is our weakness and we lose a lot of time to others in the swim, he wants that legit 70.3 race. For that reason, we were glad the swim course changed to the South Shore Harbor Marina this year.
I wasn’t ready to race a 70.3, so I opted to play the role of Sherpa this year. I’m always torn on this…the one side of me wishes I was out there racing, while the other side of me is so thankful to be in warm/dry clothes with a hot coffee in hand. I still always get nervous for Jeremy and all the racers, but I have a lot of fun running around cheering and taking pictures. It was a cold and windy morning, so I layered all of the clothes Jeremy took off on top of mine. The M-shaped swim course looked a bit confusing to me. For those of us who get off course, it seemed there could be risk of head-on collisions. I’m sure it all looks different once you’re out there though. I wasn’t a big fan of the new finish location in Armstrong Park. It’s a nice park, but it used to be so fun to end in the heart of the French Quarter…much better people watching and entertainment not even related to the race!
Jeremy didn’t have the race he was expecting based on how well his training was going, but he still finished strong with the fastest bike split in his age group and one of the fastest of the day. I’m proud of him, and know his races will just get better and better all season! Even when he’s disappointed with his race, he has a great attitude about it and never lets it mess up our fun for the rest of the trip. I know that’s not easy to do! We had a great time that afternoon/evening in the French Quarter, enjoying what turned out to be a nice day, watching street entertainers, store browsing, listening to some great Jazz bands, eating great seafood, and of course some adult beverages!
Jeremy headed out to the bike
It was exciting to be there as our local, newly turned Pro, Haley won the race! It was also great to see two of Jeremy’s Coach’s athletes finish 2nd Male Pro (by 5 sec) and 2nd Female Pro (after 9 min lost to a flat). I guess he’s got a pretty good Coach!
I think I really like this Sherpa gig…I’ll be back for more!
By Adam Coy
The main reason I decided to do this race as my qualifier for Age Group Duathlon Worlds is they are in Ottawa this year.
I knew that coming into this race I would not be in very good shape and not super competitive, especially on the bike. The past 4 months before the race included clinical rotations for medical school, studying for board exams and vacationing in Japan. I knew that the bike would be my limiting factor but and probably hurt my second run.
Pre-race, ready to go
The first run was 2 laps. The start of the course was straight uphill for about a ½ mile. Quite a few people took off way too hard, but I held back because I figured they would fade pretty fast (they did). By the time the 2nd lap started, there was a group of about 6 of us all running together at the front. We stayed together until the turnaround. With about 800m to transition, I was running with 2 other people who decided to really push the pace. I decided to not hang with them because I knew I would have a fast transition and catch them. Coming into T1 I was in 4th place with a total time of 40:16 (which included transition). I am pretty happy with the time based on course conditions.
Finishing run 1
By the time I mounted the bike I was in 3rd overall. I quickly worked my way to second. The bike course was an out and back two lap course and pretty hilly. At the turnaround, I saw that I had not made any time on the guy in 1st. At the start of the 2nd lap I was passed by a guy who I tried to hang with for a while but was dropped after a few miles. My legs felt significantly weaker during the 2nd lap which I had expected. I came into T2 sitting in 3rd place overall.
At the bike turnaround
Looking behind me as I came out of transition there was no one behind me which was a good thing because my legs felt terrible. The course was in the reverse direction of the first run. It was a nice way to start the run because there was no steep hill like at the start of the race. By the time I got to the turn around, I saw that the two leaders were about a 1:30 in front of me. I knew that if I could just keep a decent pace, I would finish in 3rd place. By the time I got to the long down hill I had all but shut down and jogged into the finish.
Heading down the long hill to the finish
After the race, I saw I had received a two minute penalty for an illegal pass I made on the right on the bike. I thought back to it and knew I was guilty.
I ended up losing one place overall because of the penalty. I qualified for Duathlon Worlds and had a good overall race. I also know for next time to not pass on the right. I have to thank my wife for being a great race Sherpa and race photographer. Also a thanks goes out to Podium and Team Podium for all of their support!
Tips for balancing training, work, and kids
By Michael McGinniss
There was a time when the only effort needed to coordinate a good spousal training day was a chat over morning coffee about where we should go and what we should do.
Ah, but times have changed. We are now a multi-child, multi-job, multi-pet, multi-sport household. Coordinating training, racing, work, and family looks a bit like trying to figure out how to train for a decathlon in a single day.
We’ve all read those articles that appear periodically in our favorite training mag about pros who are married to each other and manage to train and eat a 100% paleo-vegan-gluten free diet (is that redundant??) made of foods they grew in a terrarium that travels with them in the RV they take on the race circuit. They win major international races AND remain blissfully married with a loving and adorable pet named “Kona”. They train hard and we train hard; therefore; I can do that too!
But then we look at our life. Our real life. The one where we have full-time jobs, a cat, a dog, and, most importantly, three amazing girls: ages 3.5, 8, and 10.
The laundry piles up, the girls need to go to soccer/gymnastics/swimming/school/singing/school/school/school, dinner needs to be cooked, the lawn needs to be mowed, oh yeah, and two adults need to work in sufficient time for training while still getting adequate sleep so that no one dozes at the office in the middle of a meeting. We wonder: why is this so hard for us??
What’s the amateur, multi-sport, multi-child, multi-tasking married couple to do?! Why isn’t there an instruction manual for the triathlete family? For us, a lot of it came down to 3 things: compromise, scheduling, and flexibility….oh, and more than a little trial and error. But we have finally come to a point where it all seems to be working – most of the time. So, consider the following the Cliff Notes version of the instruction manual:
Tip 1: Remember: you are NOT a pro! This will save everything. No one is paying you to race. You do it because you love the challenge.
Tip 2: Divvy up the week. Pick weekly training rides/runs/swims for each of you and do what you can to stick to your schedule. One does the Tuesday night ride while one does the Thursday night ride. One does Saturday while the other does Sunday. Everybody ends up trained and happy.
Tip 3: Be flexible. Sometimes the carefully planned and highly desired training week just doesn’t work out. The cat gets sick. The kid needs you. The car decides to start making that weird rrrrRRRRRHHHH-gggghhhh-fftt-ffttth noise again. Maybe this is the week where you just don’t get that long run in. Or maybe this is the week where you trade your Wednesday ride for the other’s Thursday ride.
Tip 4: Lunchtime training is your friend. Getting out of work for an hour at lunch to run, swim, or hit the gym almost feels like I am cheating the system. I was able to get in my workout and didn’t have to plan out the families activities while I am gone in order to do so?. Eating is over-rated. It just makes you fat. (Unless, of course, you’re eating your own paleo-vegan-gluten free food that you grew in your RV.)
Tip 5: Don’t be afraid of the trainer/treadmill. If you can’t get outside to run/ride, do it in your living room. (Ok, truth be told, most people despise the trainer and avoid it at all cost, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of riding really fast to get nowhere in your living room while watching Iron Man or Hell Boy at full volume for the 25th time.)
Tip F: This tip got sidetracked when the 3 year old came over with a cheerio up the nose. So moving on to the next one.
Tip G: Accept that your training time will be limited and set your goals accordingly. Don’t compare what you could do pre-kids to what you can do now. Now is now.
Tip H: Sit down before the beginning of the season and coordinate your race schedules. We have a specific Google calendar set up for races. (You can tell we are frighteningly type-a because it is color-coded.) Nothing worse than suddenly discovering a week out that you both plan to race the following weekend and you haven’t made arrangements for someone to care for the kids. Doh!
Tip I: Make races a family event when you can. Not every race. Pick one. Bring your kids. Bring the dog. Bring a picnic. Bring sunscreen for the kids. Really, don’t forget the sunscreen.
What do you want more than another $5 plaque commemorating 1st in your age group? You want your kids to love riding, running, swimming as much as you do. Showing them what a great time you’re having at your race is better than a thousand commands to “go play outside!” Besides, there really isn’t anything better than having your child greet you at the finish line.
The seventh annual running of the Georgia Marathon and half Marathon occurred on March 17, 2013. To many Atlanta area runners, this is very much a hometown race: running through neighborhoods you know and having many friends out there on the race course with you. It is also a very challenging course with many hills along the way.
That being said, several Team Podium members were, of course, out there amongst the crowds. And like so many runners out there, the reasons for running the race varied: to win; because it is a great, hometown race; for a PR; as a part of training for something else; to continue as a streaker; or to win a bet. Regardless of why, several Team Podium members were present and accounted for at the Publix half and full marathon. The following is a brief overview of team members’ races and their thoughts. Go Team Podium!
Quote: I did the full marathon and finished in 4:24, well off what I had expected. You can read about all the gory details in my race report. It was great to hear shouts of “Go Team Podium!” as I passed spectators who were cheering me on.
Publix Half Marathon:
Quote: Love this race!
Time: 1:22:45 (3rd overall female!)
Quote: I went out too fast, but ended up holding it together for a podium finish to win some cash and post race VIP treatment. Tough race, tough course, great support and good times with other Team Podium racers.
Kathleen at the finish getting her award
Quote: I wish I could say that I had a positive race, but I didn’t. I got sick about 3 days before and was actually still fighting with the persistent cough.
Feverishly (literally 101) I consumed my pre-race “meal” which consisted of 2 BC, Sudafed, Mucinex, Aleve, Claritin and a banana before heading out on my bike to get to the start of the race. My only reason for even attempting this race now was the fact that I had a $100 bet with my cousin, who had come down from Delaware, and if I was going to lose the bet then it wasn’t because I didn’t try. Luckily I ran just fast enough to win the bet and keep my $100 even though I was far from my pre-sick targeted time.
Quote: Everything was going great!….then the last 5k happened
Quote: This was more of a training day for me as I rode long Saturday evening to work on my back half speed. I nailed my training plan by going out conservatively at about 7:55 pace for the first 7 miles then pushed the final 6.2 at about 7:27 per mile.
Quote: This was a personal best for me and my first race since hurting my back last summer. This event was a lot of fun, as always!
Quote: After battling injuries over the last year, it felt like a victory just towing the line. Finishing without pain was icing on the cake.
By: Jorge Perez
Last year, 2012, was my first year doing triathlons. I completed an Olympic in May (Peachtree International), an Ironman in July (Lake Placid) and a 70.3 in September (Augusta). My objective at each race was straightforward as goals go: to finish and have a positive experience. Outside of triathlon, I rode my first century and ran my first road race.
As I reflect on 2012 and plan for 2013, I want to set new goals while keeping my perspectives on training and racing fresh. This season, I am going to focus on a single race at the half-Ironman distance. Since I have raced Augusta before, it’s a known quantity that I can measure myself against, and it will be my A-race for 2013. The advantage to learning what I did about myself in 2012 is that I was able to identify my strengths and weaknesses in both training and in racing.
While swimming is sometimes treated as an afterthought in triathlon racing – it is after all only about 10% of any given race – it’s where I am devoting a lot of my effort in 2013. Not only do I have the opportunity to gain time in my swim split, but I also stand to gain throughout the race because I will not have to exert myself in the water to the extent I did in the past. Keeping my heart rate low, and staying calm and controlled, will enable me to have better transitions (especially T1) and engage the bike in a different way. No complaints, by the way, that the swim in Augusta is downhill.
For the bike, since I am not racing a full, I will be able to pull back from the long distances that I needed to prepare for Lake Placid. I teach two indoor cycling classes a week and do one outdoor training ride every weekend. I’m considering complementing that with more indoor training on a CompuTrainer.
I’m finally feeling better about running. The back and leg pain that has plagued me in the past has gone away, mainly because of a slow build-up in distance to my usual training distance of 6 miles. I also do weight training to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the knees. I’m feeling good and comfortable on runs, and I plan to keep gradually increasing distance until I’m in a good place to race off the bike in Augusta.
Last season was exciting and featured some satisfying first-year accomplishments. I’m equally excited about being able to target a specific race and do what it takes over the course of a year to have a better result on a familiar course. Wish me luck, and see you in Augusta in September 2013!
Jorge riding in Ironman Lake Placid
By: Casey Hannan
The Albany Marathon on March 2, 2013 was my second marathon. The first was San Francisco in 1984, nearly 29 years earlier. It had been so long that I had to completely relearn the focus and dedication required by this classic running distance. I was excited. And nervous. My goal was to qualify for the Boston marathon in 2014, needing a 3:30 or better to do so. My running fitness was better than it had ever been (in my adult life) having just PR’d by four minutes (1:26) at the Warner Robins half marathon in January. Yet, as many already know, a full marathon is a much different beast than a half marathon. So I kept reminding myself to stay humble and to “respect the race,” a frequent refrain of mine when training for big events.
My goal time was 3:15. Turned out to be a good choice because it was a late entry to the list of supported pace groups. The weather on race morning was cold and clear, about 36*. The frigid 10-15 mph wind out of the northeast provided an additional variable for me to angst about in terms of what to wear.
The race commenced with the firing of a cannon — a real one apparently, on loan from the local Marine Corps base. They warned it would be loud, but they failed to appreciate I am not a combat veteran so loud to me is a car horn. This was the kind of loud that knocks you off balance and leaves your ears ringing. Thanks guys, next year you need to provide runners with protective ear wear. Seriously.
My plan was to start very easy, about 15-30 seconds per mile slower than my race pace, for the first 3-5 miles, settling into to race pace until mile 20, and then to see how much is left in the gas tank for last 10k. The 3:15 pace group took off quickly. I was content to see them run faster than I cared to for the first few miles, while being careful to not lose sight of them. I reconnected with the group around mile 4 and enjoyed their friendly banter and natural wind breaking services until mile 20. The pace group leader was a class act — friendly and supportive, and literally nailing the 3:15 race pace at every mile marker.
As expected, I was feeling great at around miles 10-12. My stride was smooth and my breathing was relaxed and comfortable. What I didn’t expect — because I had forgotten this about marathon racing — is the great temptation to believe you are capable of running faster at this point in the race. My self-talk sounded something like this, “C’mon Casey, you got this. This pace is too easy for you. Time to step it up and potentially go sub 3:10. Let’s do this!” Whoa boy, the mixture of great running fitness and mid-race endorphins is very intoxicating, and I was literally “this close” to doing something very stupid. Not sure how or why, but my Coach Casey voice won out, saying “Calm down, tough guy, and stick to your race plan.”
By mile 18, fatigue was beginning to set in, but nothing more than anticipated. At mile 20, we were right on our 3:15 pace and I was ready to step up my pace. I wanted to see if I could run the last 10k under 45 minutes, as a way to ensure a negative split for the back half of the race. “What could it hurt?” I mused. Well, it can hurt a lot, as I found out just past mile 21 where I smacked into the proverbial “wall.” I was pretty much done at this point. My physical and mental energy were nil. I had to force myself to keep taking in calories. I was getting chills from the weather (it never got above 40* during the race). My stride was getting short and ragged. And the temptation to start walking was profound. “No wonder it’s been 28 years since my last marathon,” I uttered to myself.
I had prepared for this part of the race, or so I had thought. I was beginning to pass the occasional runner-turned-walker, all of them looking pained and distressed. Usually, I get a lift from passing competitors, but today was different. This was a marathon, not a 10k. The walking marathoners seemed to exert a gravitational pull, making the perceived exertion to keep running even harder. I was reaching deep and running out of (note the pun!) coping resources. I had forgotten how hard it is to think clearly at this point in the race.
I found the resolve to keep running by focusing on memories of my dad (he died 35 years earlier on this date) and my gratitude list (my wife, three sons, health, job, friends). A final saving grace came just before mile 25, where a good friend and training partner rode her bike beside me to the finish line. I crossed the line at 3:14:14, very tired and very thankful.
It was a great day for me. I qualified for Beantown in 2014 and finished on the podium (3rd) in my age group. I finished in the top 10% of all marathon finishers and in the top 15% of all male finishers. My pace per mile at the 10 mile, half marathon, 20 mile and finish varied by only one second. And, I improved my marathon time by nine minutes compared to the 1984 race. Who says things don’t get better with age?!?!
To be sure, running hard for 26.2 miles is no joke, and I have a deep and renewed respect for marathoners. That said, I am looking forward to another great season of triathlons with the support of Podium MS and TP!
By: Katie Aguilar
Work hard, play hard. It is a motto amongst many groups, and Team Podium is no exception. After a terrific showing at the Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon, as well as many other early season races going on from January through now, Team Podium had an informal get together at the Family Dog. Synopsis: a local team hanging out at a local bar. Life just doesn’t get any better than this!
We had a pretty good turnout of about 15 team members and a couple of SO’s. Not too shabby. And, unusually, no workout gear as worn!
We learned that Capricorns dominated the table (four in all), and, as often learned in Atlanta, we come from all over. Michigan was well represented, complete with a Yooper!, as well as two U of M (that’d be University of Michigan!) grads. Woo hoo! And yes, these are elements that represent something to this author, thus the recall!
Is anybody listening to me?
Apparently we are a group that likes to talk, and no one really listens!
Always hard to study at a bar
An (almost) group shot!
By: Jeremy Sipos
“My mind is telling me YES, but my body, my body … is telling me NO!!!” Not only does that sound like an R. Kelly song but that somewhat describes my 2011 and 2012 triathlon racing seasons. If you race and train long enough, chances are unfortunately good that you will eventually end up with small or large injuries. After suffering a bike crash with a dog years ago, I’ve had issues with my calves. Both were strained pretty badly in that incident and I’ve continued to have nagging issues. My 2011 and 2012 races seasons started pretty much the same. I was in great shape to start the year, raced a decent 70.3 to start both seasons in April, and then BAM ended up at the next race unable to run let alone walk to the finish with a major calf strain. There is no worse feeling for an athlete than being a couple miles from the finish after hours of hard racing and then unable to complete the race. It’s hard to accept but sometimes the best option is NOT finishing. As an athlete, I think it’s important to understand the difference between being tough and gutting it out and being tough and seriously hurting yourself by trying to continue. There are times when your body will say “no, I’m tired” or “no, this pace is too fast” which are times when you should just ignore what your body is saying. But when your body says “NO!!!, you should listen. Unless of course you are about to win Hawaii Ironman or win the gold medal at the Olympics, this advice doesn’t apply to you.
The best advice I can give to anyone dealing with an injury is to get healed as quickly as you can. Sometimes this means doing nothing or very little until you are healed. For most athletes this is the hard part, but it’s much better to take six weeks off now than to take four weeks off and then re-injure yourself and have to take another 6 weeks off. The past two summers I have had to take 6 weeks or so off from running completely due to my calf strains, but both seasons I was able to return to racing by the end of the year. So, here’s to an injury free 2013 and another great year for Team Podium.
By: Andy Lowe
What can I get you hun?”
“Mountain Dew…that sounds like a good start”…
“How about a blanket and an ice pack for your neck?”…
“Here you go sweetie. Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll get you some chicken broth.”
You just can’t put a price tag on the wonderful volunteers that support our racing efforts. Especially those who arrive in that dark span of time between the finish line and post race recovery. In the warming tent of the PPD Beach2Battleship half iron, I find myself in good hands and finally able to reflect on the race.
We rolled into Wilmington on Thursday afternoon under cloudy skies. Our first stop was the downtown convention center for packet pickup. The parking garage was completely full for the first four levels and almost every vehicle had some sort of bike transport connected to it. This did not bode well for the quick check-in we were hoping for. Once inside however, we were pleased to find a smooth and efficient flow. A few minutes later we had wristbands, timing chips, and race numbers in hand. All that was left was to avoid buying over priced race merchandise…check.
Friday morning started with a short swim in the channel. It closes off for race day but it was open to traffic the day before. Fortunately, I was able to get out there before things got busy and at least get a feel of the current. By now the clouds had moved in and rain was on the way so, I decided to get in a short run and postpone the bike until after the mandatory athlete meeting at noon. The day before a race is a time I like to spend mostly off my feet and relaxing. That said, B2B is a great venue but it does make for a bit more running around than I would prefer. We chose to stay out on Wrightsville Beach about halfway between the swim start and T1 in order to avoid having to take a shuttle from downtown on race morning. The trade was that we had to travel downtown for the athlete meeting and T2 drop off. This was my first experience with T1 and T2 not being in the same spot. It wasn’t that it was that far away but Wilmington gets a bit congested so getting around takes a little extra time. All in all, we managed to drive the bike course, ride the run course, and get all of our gear checked in.
Race morning went smooth. We began with a trip over to T1 to inflate tires and drop off fluids and gels. Then we headed back to the condo for a good greasing before donning our neoprene fashion apparel. Since the full started up stream ahead of us and there was a current to the channel, we decided to skip trying for a swim warm-up and instead use the ¾ mi walk to the start instead. The full was a mass start but the half was a wave start and my group was the second to go. As we took off, I made my first tactical error. Instead of getting in a draft in the center of the channel, I decided to set up on the far right to get a better angle on the first turn buoy. Adding to my poor positioning decision was the fogging of my goggles. Despite my anti fogging application efforts, I was now using the ‘force’ more than my vision. Other than losing the draft, the first turn was not a problem. It was one huge orange buoy in the middle of the channel. The next turn was easy too as the whole channel made a right had turn. This was where not surveying the course the day before would cost me time. Through my foggy goggles I spotted a large green course buoy and set my heading directly for it. As I drew closer to it, I noticed that there were no longer very many swimmers near me. I pulled up and lifted my goggles to see the crowd swimming towards yet another green buoy to my far left and realized I had made tactical mistake #2. I adjusted course and swam hard for the exit. (31:25)
Next up was a ¼ mi run thru a paved lot and across the highway from the dock to the grassy field of a local park that housed T1. I felt good coming in despite the prior navigation mistakes. I found my bike and got moving quickly. I was a little nervous as this was my first time leaving T1 with my shoes already clipped in. Crossing the line I hopped over the seat and landed perfectly on my pedals. A few turns of the crank and I had enough momentum to slip my feet into the shoes and I was off. (3:23)
I spent the first few miles warming up the legs and settling into the ride. As we rode north out of town, I locked into my bars and began a steady push that I intended to keep for the remainder of the day. It was hard to tell how I was doing at this point as the course contained participants from the full and half distance. What I did know was that I felt strong and I was in my box racing my race. For nutrition, I brought 5 gels, a bottle of water, and an aero drink filled with Perform. The plan was one gel every 30 minutes and Perform every 10 minutes in between. If everything went as it should, I wouldn’t have to stop at any aid stations along the way. About mile 35, the half distance course turned to begin the loop back into town. Riders at this point became sparse and for the first time I began to think I might be doing pretty well. Turning back towards town I made my final push. Up in the distance I could see the causeway that would take me back into transition. Large rubber mats were provided to make the ride across the metal grates of the bridge safer and easier. That’s the closest I came to crashing all day. Coming into T2, I got my feet out and on top of my shoes. Stepping over my bike, I had a perfect dismount and headed into the convention center. (2:29:15)
Volunteers took my bike and directed me to the racks that housed all the gear bags. A bright blue survey ribbon signaled which one was mine. Socks and shoes went on first. I took my own gels and sodium tabs so those went in my pockets next. Finally I threw on two patella straps and a visor. With that, I was on my way out the door. (2:57)
The start of the run was pretty quiet. There were very few spectators on the back side of the convention center as most were up front greeting racers coming into T2 and I could only see two other runners nearby. It was time to get back into my race box. At the first mile, I checked my pace and it seemed a little hot. Rather than slow down though, I trusted that my body was giving me the right signals and I was fine. The most difficult piece to manage at this point was getting enough fluid at the aid stations because for whatever reason, the cups only contained about a shot glass worth of liquid. You work with what you have and adapt. I went back to my strategy of walking the aid stations and instead of taking a lone cup from a volunteer, I just made my way to the actual table where I could grab several at once. With hydration under control, it was now just a matter of staying relaxed without compromising pace. Nearing the turnaround, I had begun to see a few runners making the return trip in. In all honesty, I wasn’t even thinking about counting them or seeing how far back I might be. Rather, it simply again occurred to me that I might be doing pretty well overall. My original goal had been to shoot for sub 5 hours and at the turn I found that goal well in hand. Doing the quick math I figured I could slow things down to 9 min/mi pace and still make it. But I didn’t want to just make it. I wanted to finish what I had started. Coming back into town I felt the physical exhaustion began to give way to the adrenaline surge. The crowd is cheering and I’m yelling right back at them. I see my wife as I reach the finish line and I don’t even need to see the clock. The expression on her face tells me I kicked some ass out here today. (1:43:11)
The final results for the day would show a finish time of 4:50:09, 23rd place overall (out of nearly 1000 entries), and 1st in the Men’s 40-44 AG.
“Think I could trouble you for that chicken broth now?”
“You betcha sweetie…coming right up.”