4am wake up call! I'd been so anxious to get to race day over the past week, but I slept surprisingly well. Brushed my teeth, had some coffee, a bagel and some peanut butter; and we were off. My dad, step-mom and girlfriend all came with me to the swim start. After I put air into the tires of the bike, I meandered around nervously, downed a bottle of water, ate a banana, used the bathroom and got my wetsuit on. I always get so nervous before the swim. You can DROWN, and there are things LIVING in the water.
My swim didn't go so well. I mean, I made it through--but I got beat up quite a bit. Kicked in the face a few times, run over a few times; and better than that--that bottle of water I had chugged before the race wasn't sitting very well in my stomach. I felt sea-sick the entire time! The water wasn't TERRIBLY choppy, but it was just enough to make me a little squeamish. Oh, and note to self: you take the time to lube your entire body so the wetsuit comes off easily--don't forget to lube your NECK. I've got a nice little cut/rash/burn where I should have put some body glide. Which is funny, because I've always heard this stressed and I haven't forgotten before. Anyways, I finished the sickly swim in 1:28:55 with my girlfriend and parents cheering me on :)
Transition was ok. Nothing really much to say. It just felt awesome to be out of that river. Cycling shoes, jersey, sunblock, etc. - 3:32
I knocked 10 minutes off of my bike time from last year. I was surprised with how good I felt on the bike this time around. Maybe it's because I was preparing myself for the worst. I was expecting boredom and waiting for the hurt to set in, but it never really came. I started to feel a little sluggish and ready to get off of the bike at around mile 90 or so, but I guess that's to be expected. The course was full of long lonely stretches of road. There wasn't a lot of vehicle traffic, and there really weren't that many other bikers around for the majority of the race either. It was a pretty small race. The wind was brutal in a few spots, but it really wasn't all that bad--what WAS bad was the HEAT. There was a complete lack of shade during the majority of the bike course and you could really feel the sun beating down. I knew the run wasn't going to be pleasant.
I'm pretty bad at nutrition, and I'm not very good at practicing with it either, so I tried to consume a GU every hour and I alternated between Gatorade and water (I also had two Powerbars at some point--the first at around mile 50, and the second around 80 or so). When I finally pulled up to T2 I saw an old friend of mine that I hadn't seen in years and years and years that I recently reconnected with on Facebook, and of course my girlfriend jumping all around waving her arms and cheering - 6:25:23
Transition 2 - Dudes laying on the ground in the change tent trying to get themselves back together. Lots of complaints about heat. "We just have to bang-out a 6 hour marathon now, right?" I couldn't get my run gear bag untied. So glad to be out of the sun. Girlfriend screaming "Johnny, if you can hear me and you're in there; I LOVE YOU!" No water. No snacks. - 4:15
And on to the walk! I came barreling out of the change tent putting on a show for my friends and family. "It's hot as shit," I said to my step-mom as she told me to watch my hydration. As soon as I was out of sight of everyone I slowed to a walk. The sun was staring us down with absolutely no shade. The run was a three loop out-and-back course down one road. The road had a few houses on it, but it was mostly farmland to either side. I tried to run as much as I could, but it really wasn't going so well. I was so thirsty and I kept drinking; water and Gatorade--God I was tired of Gatorade. Every time I tried to run I felt sick, I wanted to throw-up. I wanted to throw-up, and I wanted to lay under a tree until the sun went down and THEN I could finish the run. I powered through the first loop thinking about my friends and family waiting to see me run by again. When I came back they had signs and silly hats and they were yelling my name--it was awesome.
The second loop. I swear it took me two hours. I can't even remember running any of this loop. My stomach was just done. I was so hot and so ready to be finished with this damned thing! When I made it back to where my fan club was, Sara (my gf) walked with me for a bit. I explained to her that it was going to take me a little while to finish and we might have to make other plans for the night (we had to drive two hours after the race to make it to DC by midnight). She didn't mind, but I apologized anyway and I left her to start the last lap. Thank the LORD the sun was going down. I'm pretty sure I ran more on that last loop than I had all day! - 5:33:51
Overall - 13:35:55 - 43/137
(S) - 1:28:55
(T1) - 3:32
(B) - 6:25:23
(T2) - 4:15
(R) - 5:33:51
Anyways, I finished! An hour slower than ironman last year, but I'll take it. It was a rough day. Here are some pictures!