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The previous post was a review of the FD3 Triathlon Series as if it was a product. Below you will find a more detailed account of my personal experiences during the race. Let me know in the comments section if you have any feedback on which you prefer or any relevant comments.
Idina Menzel was singing “Defying Gravity” when my alarm clock announced it was 4:15 a.m. and that it was indeed time to rise. It was the first time in a while, that I wished I could hit the snooze bar on race day. Usually, I wake up with a bounce in my step, but today was a little different. Not that I was not taking it seriously. If training with Jon Noland and Tribal Multisport has taught me anything is that you do not “toe the line” if you are not going for the win.
My coaching methodology is a little different, but I have made a lot of progress with Tribal, so I have stuck with this mentality for my own training. My coaching niche is very different as well. While I train newcomers, or returning clients to the sport, Tribal trains athletes. I have learned a lot in my time with Coach Jon Noland, and I find myself a better coach and athlete the more I do.
Nevertheless, the words were echoing in my head. “If you are not going to go all out when you toe the line, then don’t.” I knew once I got out there and saw my Tribal peeps I would be ready to go.
My head cleared after taking some calories from a pre-workout drink, and inhaling my vitamin supplements. I felt more like myself, so I quickly grabbed all my gear I prepared the night before, racked my bike, and headed out.
I tend to get a kick out of driving to a race. It’s my time to contemplate my strategy and lessons learned while being surrounded by my own environment.
The YouTube soundtrack to the Rise and Shine video was blaring over my radio speakers as I approached the parking lot. The full spectrum palette of colors were being displayed before me in tri-kits, helmets, and bikes as athletes were in all stages of preparation for their own challenges.
Check-in & Set-up
My preparation was completed prior to my arrival, so the only thing I did was grab my backpack from the trunk, remove my bike from my rack and stroll into the check-in area.
Triathlete’s tend to always worry about their bikes, and I am no exception. I have been privy to plenty of stories of cyclists colliding head first with other cyclists, inanimate objects and people, where the first words muttered upon becoming conscience were not, “I am hurt” or “Is the other person ok?”, but the fearful question; “Is my bike alright?!” It doesn’t matter if they have a broken arm, leg or collarbone the first question is the same.
With that kind of mentality it is obvious we all tend to be security conscious about our bikes, but I have to say I do not carry that fear with me at a race venue. I tend to believe two things; 1) the event planners have adequate security and 2) there are plenty more expensive bikes than mine around.
Multirace, as always, provided one rack at the entrance to the check-in area in order to allow the athletes to rack their bikes in order to keep the congestion down. Of course, due to the aforementioned insecurities, most of the local triathletes did not utilize the racks, therefore it was ended up quite crowded when I arrived around 6am.
There was a table with two volunteers checking-in athletes and I ended up in a line with approximately 15 people, so I waited about 10 minutes to receive my bib, bike and helmet stickers. However, the swag/t-shirt, body marking and chip distribution stations were less than a minute each, so overall it was a very smooth experience.
I had already bumped into a few other athletes I knew including my own client, Laura, whom would be defending her Age Group First Place finishes she earned in the first two events in this series.
Sweat already started rolling down my arms as I rolled my bike into it’s nesting place among the other carbon fiber speed machines in the transition area. I was fairly quick to set my bike and running shoes, towel, helmet, hat, sunglasses and race belt at the front tire of my bike, when the rest of the crew started to notice I arrived.
Miles and Ted, decked out in the same Tribal camouflage tri-kit, found me and as we started socializing, Rick, Laura, Nick and Coach Jon had also joined in just as a photographer was strolling by. We didn’t let that opportunity go to waste..
As we chatted on our way to the beach, the beginning of my race anxiety started to creep into my stomach. No matter how many races I do, no matter how densely populated the field is, the nerves always pop up right before showtime. The only difference is, I know to expect it now.
I jumped in the 83 degree Gulf of Mexico, to warm up and get a feel for the water. It was unusually calm with a low tide which would make the swim fast, but would also allow for some of the less experienced swimmers to walk over the shallow sand bar in the beginning and the end of the swim course. Sometimes, it could make it hard to swim around them. It is one thing to pass, or swim around another swimmer, but a walker is a like an immovable object.
The swim is not my strongest portion of triathlon, but I have really been putting an effort in to become more efficient. Three years ago, I would probably be one of the athletes overjoyed to have places in an 800-meter swim to be able to walk for a bit, but I have realized through my training, and as a coach, it is not efficient and could be detriment.
Running or walking in the water utilizes a great amount of quad and hamstring strength of which is needed more on the bike and run. While, some of the other athletes, including myself, might actually be faster running in the water, it would likely cause a slower bike and run split, therefore not very cost effective.
I turned back toward shore just as one of the volunteers started corralling us out of the water in order to start the festivities. The nerves were still there, but much less intense. Having the opportunity to be enveloped by the water, and feel the grade of tension on my forearm as it pulls through the water always calms me down prior to a start of a race. That feeling is a reminder to my psyche that says, “Yo…Brad…this is nothing you haven’t done a thousand times before, either in training or a race.”
Our Aussie announcer, gave his last instructions on the swim course, the first wave lined up and the triumphant siren of the air horn went off. First, was the open wave, then the under 40 age groups, and at 7:07 am that same horn saturated our ears to send me and the 40 and over age group out into the salty current.
Running out in to the surf was not as easy as jumping into the pool. Low tide kept the water even more shallow than usual, so duck running was all we could do until it was deep enough to dolphin dive and then finally start a good freestyle stroke.
I was able to swim to the first buoy pretty fast and it was smooth sailing from there. I have been working on a long reach with a two-beat kick then driving the hip down as I pull through. I will say it is probably the most efficient technique where I can stay relaxed, but it is far from fast.
During this race, I was surprised as I approached the second buoy and reached to find another foot there. My inner dialogue reacted with “What? I caught someone?”. I moved to the left and passed him. I continued swimming and reached and hit someone thigh. Now this was getting a little crazy. I don’t pass people on the swim, they pass me.
At the final buoy prior to turning to the beach, everything seemed to come to a halt, as people started walking because it was shallow. For a few steps I did the same just to get around some people, but I felt so good I actually wanted to swim. When I found clean water, I continued swimming towards the finish.
My goal was to cross the mat at 15 minutes flat. I came out of the water, crossed the mat and hit the button on my watch as it glowed 15:10. An audible, “Wow, I’ll take it.” came out of my mouth after recognizing how close to my goal. Last month at the FD3 #2, I walked out over 17 minutes, so I was pretty happy at that point.
Transition #1 (T-1)
I must have conquered my efficiency goals, because I had a ton energy to run into T1. Of course I passed my bike and had to double back, but that was only a few seconds. I put on my helmet as I slipped my bike shoes on and slid my bike back and under the bar as I headed to the mount line. I clicked my watch as I crossed the mat at 2:59. A different oral comment came blurting out which was a little negative compared to the first one since my goal was 2:30.
The ride started like a rocket. I was able to pick up speed fast and reach goal power within a few seconds of turning onto the main road. The course would be two loops around Fort DeSoto Park.
Last month, I just wanted a strong bike, and I went out completely on feel. This time I wanted to stay at between 85 and 90% of my FTP (Functional Threshold Power). FTP is the maximum power in watts that can be held for 1 hour, in my terms, from fresh to dead. Currently mine is calculated at 225, so I wanted to stay in-between 191-202 watts.
The wind is usually pretty intense at Ft. Desoto, but we were lucky the last two races of the series. The wind was mild for the previous race and at this point I could feel the cool air against my tri-kit causing that goosebumps sensation, but still not as intense as the last few training rides I participated in here.
I started passing people down my right side without any challengers coming behind me until I the roundabout, marking the end of the first loop, came into view. At that point the phrase “Good Job Brad, keep it up” came from a passing rider, crystal clear as if he was walking next to me. That rider was my coach, Jon Noland, screaming by on hit BMC Time Trial bike.
I kind of expected it. Jon was competing in the Sprint Distance, so he started about 10 minutes behind me and as he swims much faster , and he bikes at around 25 mph versus my speed of around 22, it was only a matter of time, but I was happy to have held him off for almost my first, and his only loop.
The second loop felt a little tougher, but the miles clicked by and I stuck to my game plan. I continued to pass riders, but I did get caught by one and I used him the last five miles as a motivator to push a touch harder.
As the dismount line came closer I loosened the straps of my bike shoes and started to slip my feet out. At the line, I left my shoes in the clips, dismounted and ran to my transition space. I hit the button on my watch as I crossed the mat, but didn’t look at the time, but it ended up 54:35 while my goal was to be under 55 minutes.
Transition #2 (T-2)
Again, I heard the sound of Jon telling me “Relax Brad. Smooth is fast” as I departed transition in 1:03 where my goal was 1:10. It was probably pretty clear my astonishment as “Yeah Baby!” came spitting out of my mouth as I crossed the timing mat.
My thoughts ventured to the last FD3 race. It was extremely hot and I ended up doing a little more walking then I wanted to, so this time even though I had a time goal, my inner monologue was telling me to just keep running. “If you keep running the time will take care of itself.”
The first mile is all on hard packed sand, which was even harder due to the rain experienced the night before. This made it a little easier to navigate, but the sun was really beating down, and the temperature was starting to rise. As I rounded the corner toward the asphalt path, my watch vibrated and chirped at the first mile. I looked and was happy to have run under a 9 minute mile which lined up with my goal o 55 minutes or under.
The first aid station, held out Hammer Heed, and water, which both were deliciously ice cold. I grabbed one of each, downed them and kept running.
My legs started to get heavy, but I knew it was more because I needed three miles for my legs to transition and gain my rhythm. At the 1.5 mile aid station I grabbed 2 cups of water which I downed one and poured the other down my back. That felt so good, as the water was still ice cold.
The turnaround brought me back to that aid station where I grabbed one more cup and doused myself. I could feel the sun heat my skin to an uncomfortable level. The sweat was starting to creep into my eyes, and the suffering started.
I ended up slowing down a bit, but I kept running. As I was passing the finish line in order to start my second loop, I could hear my friend Josh, yelling for me to get going as I walked through the water stop there to pick up some hydration. It was only a few seconds before I restarted on the beach path toward the fourth mile marker.
The second loop was more like the first, which was surprising. I expected to feel like I needed to slow down more, but I didn’t. I had more in me than I thought. When I passed the 5 mile sign, I was relieved, but felt like I even had more to give. I picked up the pace a bit in anticipation of the finish line and then I decided to progressively get faster as that last mile clicked on.
I looked at my watch, thinking 1.2 miles to go, then before I knew it I only had 0.7 to go, then 0.5 and when I could see the finish line, I picked it up. The only thing running through my head was Finish Strong, and the faster I get to the finish, the faster I am done.
I crossed the finish line and realized I was completely spent.
One volunteer gave me a medal, while another detached my timing chip from my ankle, and a third handed me a cold bottle of water.
As I stumbled to the back of the finish section, my client Laura found me. I asked how she did, and disappointingly she told me that she placed third. I was overjoyed, but she didn’t feel the same.
It was noticeable that this race was more populated than the last race, so I knew she would have more competition then the prior races. I asked about her time, and she told me she hadn’t looked yet, so I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her toward the timing table. The volunteers took our bib numbers and gave back slips with our times on them.
Laura PR’d again, and wouldn’t you know it, so did I, by 6 minutes. I couldn’t believe it.
I ended up finishing the run in 55:04 which was pretty much my goal time, and a final time of 2:08:47. That time put me in 8th place in my age group, which I was happy to be in the top 10. I wasn’t going to be standing on the podium, but I was happy with my performance and my PR.
I am not the fastest, but I continually strive to do better than I did the last time. In July I PR’d this race by over 15 minutes and in a month I PR’d again by another 6 minutes. While I did have time goals, of which I was a little off of, I did what I came out to do.
The best part was Laura and my Tribal buddies had a stellar day. Yelena picked up her second Female Over-all win. My former client and Tribal buddy Josh, picked up his Age Group win. Rick won the Masters division. Miles ended up with a 2nd place AG, and of course Jon again took the Overall win in the Sprint.
We did find out that since Laura took 1st in the first two races of the series and 3rd in the last, she won 1st place in her age group for the series. That was very cool and I am so proud of her for that accomplishment.
The rest of the time consisted of socializing, and eating as usual.
The experience of this race was stellar. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the Sprint or the International Distance triathlons. Just be prepared for the climate and the possibility of a windy bike and challenging swim.
What did you think of this format of a race review versus my first post? Do you have a favorite race that could be enjoyed by other triathletes or duathletes?
I would really appreciate your feedback in the comments below.
Carpe Vitam! (Seize Life!)
FD3 FLORIDA TRIATHLON INTRODUCTION
The event company Multirace, holds numerous running and Florida triathlon events, and recently has planned an event in Habana, Cuba. The Multirace Florida triathlon events, I have competed in, have not been hugely populated, but yet large enough to feel that there was some competition.
This third race in the FD3 Florida Triathlon series was no exception. The race is held at Fort DeSoto Park (hence the FD in the title) in Pinellas County, Florida, therefore it holds stunning views of white sand beaches and beautiful sunrises.
They offer three events;
- Sprint Triathlon – 1/4 mile Swim, 10 mile bike, 3.1 mile run
- International Triathlon – 1/2 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
- Duathlon – (1 mile run, 10 mile bike, 3.1 mile run)
The online and offline registration is very well-organized. Tables are set-up with the two volunteers checking names, identification and handling bibs while the second station hands out swag and t-shirts. Concluding the process is body marking and chip retrieval. Everything moves pretty smooth when the athletes are composed and listening.
There are bike racks at the entrance to the registration area, but when athlete’s decide not utilize them, the space becomes a little crowded causing some slow-down in the process.
The FD3 Florida triathlon swims take place in the Gulf of Mexico about a quarter-mile from
shore. Depending on the tide the water is estimated anywhere from three to fifteen feet deep across the total swim. Along with plenty of extra safety from paddle-boarders and kayakers, this really helps in the case of any first-time open water or nervous swimmers.
The bike is slightly short coming in around 9.69 miles per loop while the sprint triathlon and duathlon are one loop and the international triathlon is two. However, there plenty of marshals, spectators, volunteers and police
department volunteers spread throughout the closed course for safety purposes.
The run portions of the events consist of loops which are 3.1 miles long. Athletes start on the beach, on a hard packed sand trail for about a mile and continue
to an out-and-back course on an asphalt paved trail. When they reach the turnaround of the out-and-back, they are greeted with the actual Fort DeSoto for which the park is named. Most noteworthy for the first-timer is this humbling sight used during the Spanish-American War in 1900.
Three aid stations are on the run loop; at the entrance, mile 1 and mile 1.5. In addition, the mile 1 aid station then doubles as also the 2.5 mile aid station. Even with the abundance of water and sports drinks on the course, the dates of the race are in the three hottest and humid months of the year in Tampa. At temps averaging over 90 degrees and humidity over 60%, the wide open run course becomes tough on a lot of runners that are susceptible to the heat.
All three events utilize a transition area built by Multirace in the parking lot North Beach. The Swim and Bike entry are on the north side while the bike and run exit are on the south. It is the basic transition area with bars to hang your bike. Luckily the race is not huge, so there is plenty of room to set up without the risk of equipment being trampled or moved.
Finally, the finish line has plenty of spectators, photographers while the energetic announcer entertains. He always gives his best attempt to give everyone recognition as they cross the finish line.
- Great events for first-timers
- Safety is a priority
- USA Triathlon Sanctioned
- Closed bike course
- Not highly populated
- Gulf Swim close to shore
- Plenty of awards
- Florida triathlon dates are in the three hottest months in Tampa Bay
- Run course has no shade (see first point).
- The first mile, and possibly fourth mile, of the run is on packed sand
- The final and possible middle 2 miles of the run are on asphalt
This year I have completed two of the three Florida Triathlons and I really enjoyed them. They are flat, fun and the event staff really take care of the athletes. As a result, safety and an enjoyable experience seem to be at the top of Multirace’s priority list.
In our last episode (I always wanted to say that), I mentioned the mistakes I made with the Sarasota Half Marathon. I usually would never have a client race two weekends in a row and to tell you the truth I had no intention of racing either, but I did had a client who was supposedly running the Florida Beach Half Marathon as a training run, so my plan was to go and support.
At least, that is what I told myself the night before, but when the alarm went off and I found myself wide awake, I thought to myself.
“Self, I would really like to run today, but I want to support my client.”
“Brad, why don’t you just run with him. He is supposed to do an easy aerobic run anyway.”
“You know, Self, that isn’t a bad idea.” I then proceeded to get up, get dressed and head out the door.
Except for the long wait to park, it was pretty smooth sailing. I was able to sign-up, go back to the car and drop my SWAG and head back to the start.
I was also lucky enough to see Jessica Crate and Jessica Perez, my business partners, out there as well which only inspired me more. (More on the business thing in another post.)
I found my client, and another friend from TeamRWB, at the start and we decided on a 8:45 to 9 minute/mile pace. He had just finished the first two weeks of a grueling strength phase, so I wanted to make sure that this was just going to be a nice easy run. Right.
We started out and the energy took us, but I have to say we were talking the whole way. Even though I kept trying to slow us down, we couldn’t seem to run over an 8:30 pace.
As the miles went by I kept re-assessing, the pace and how we were feeling. The thing was, we were both talking comfortably without straining.
It was a little overcast and the temperature wasn’t bad, but the humidity was pretty high, so I just thought we will keep going and the minute the effort seems to increase we will slow down.
I accepted the fact, that maybe this was just our pace for the day.
Ft. Desoto while still a beach and it was a road I had been on many many times while training was beautiful that morning.
There were well over 2500 people racing and everyone seemed to be having a great time, so I felt lets just see how far this pace will take us.
The first ten miles we ended up averaging around 8:25 and we conversed the whole way, but then we passed the 10 mile mark, meaning there was only a 5k to go.
I think we both instinctively picked up the pace. He blamed me and I blamed him, but I think it was mutual.
We took the next three miles with negative splits, well under 7:50s. When the last 400 came up I took off and while I still felt fatigued, I had it in me.
We crossed 1:50 just a few seconds from each other. I had to cross first, right? I mean while I pledge myself as a triathlon coach, but I am a run coach first, so I had to set the example.
(I know it isn’t going to happen when I start training my Olympic athlete later this summer. For her I am going to have to ride a bike during road runs.)
I have to say, that it was a much more enjoyable race than Sarasota on the performance end. Could I have run faster? Yes, but even though it was an aerobic run, I beat my race time from the week before.
My client mentioned that he felt great on the run as well, and he was only 3 minutes off his PR.
Lesson learned and applied – Start easy and remain consistent. If the energy is available, start negative splits the last 5k. That is what seems to work for me.
Have you ever consciously applied some lessons from a previous race? Did you find you had a better race?
The First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon was 3 weeks ago. I completed this last year and ended up with a Personal Record(PR). Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the same this year, BUT….I had a great time and that is all that matters in the long run. (“long run”…pardon my punny sense of humor)
Last year the race was crowded, but it didn’t sell out till the last minute, this year it sold out a lot earlier, but thanks to a blogger friend of mine, Denise (deniseisrundmt.com), I ran this race for free. I just love my run blogging buddies.
This year the corral was so packed we couldn’t even move through the sea of runners to get to the section assigned to my pace. Luckily, I had Beth (Discombobulatedrunning.com) and Caitlyn (livesweatsleeprepeat.com) to share the chaos with.
It was great to hear a familiar voice over the loudspeaker this year, as it is the same voice I hear at every Ironman event I have been to. I am not sure, but I think his name is Mike Reilly. If I am wrong please leave me a comment and correct me.
I did make a mistake this year which cost me. I went out with Beth thinking
that I would just have a nice aerobic run and then things changed.
I got caught up in the beautiful views off the bridge and the architecture downtown, which didn’t hold well even though I was comfortable at that point.he energy.
We were about 4 miles in when she says to me, “You can go if you want to.”
” Nah, I would rather just stick with you and do this nice and easy” I replied.
Because our pace was faster than we were planning, she then exclaimed, “It sure looks like you want to.”
Something about that sentence tugged at me a bit, so I told her “ok” and took off.
I should have been a little bit concerned when the next four miles were a consistent 7:50 pace and I still ended up with 9:09 mile after waiting to go to the restroom at mile 8.
Of course at mile 9, things started to get heavy. I knew I wasn’t in-shape to run that fast, but I did it anyway and it cost me.
What was really embarrassing is getting chicked after mile 11 when I saw the multi-color Lululemon shorts of Beth pass me.
Really? Seriously? Did I really slow down that much?
I yelled to her and didn’t receive an answer, which she later told me she decided to negative splits.
Lesson re-learned – know thy pace, stay consistent, only commit to negative splits with 5k to go stick to the plan.
It was great to see my buddies Nick & Ben take First Overall in the Relay.
Actually Nick passed on the first bridge as we were going out and he was finishing his leg. He looked really strong.
Have you ever had a race where you made mistakes, even though you consciously knew better ?
Let me know in the comments below.
Flashback to 2012 when this blog and business started. I completed Ironman Florida in November of 2011 only to do the Goofy Challenge the first week in January. (Well, there were two half marathons, a 10k and a 12 mile obstacle run in between, but they didn’t contribute.) My friend Tara Belfi called me an Iron Goofy and I liked it, but because I wanted to associate it more with fun then a character I shortened it to IronGoof. This year mimicked that same experience, but with an added bonus. Instead of the Disney Goofy Challenge, which is a half-marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday, I added a 5k on Thursday and a 10k on Friday which made up the Inaugural Disney Dopey Challenge.
I have to put it out there that I personally am a fan of runDisney and the races they put on. Every athlete I have spoken to that has competed in Disney races seems to be black or white. They either love em’ or dislike em’. I personally really enjoy them. Can they still be improved upon? Sure, but not my much. The organization from expo to finish line is top notch and figuring that Disney brings in an extra 40,000+ runners for their Walt Disney Marathon Weekend it is no small feet.
I had a little issue this year. I started a job the end of November that made me a full time employee instead of contractor. It is the first time in eight years that I have been an employee and since I ended up already having to take time off, I didn’t really want to take the chance of blowing it, so I ended up doing a lot of driving back and forth the first few days. Wednesday was the only day that was open for me to pick up my Dopey packet, so I got on the Selmon Expressway right after work, took the brand new Rte 4 connector and drove directly to the ESPN Sports Complex to pick up my packet. Parking was easy with attendants, waiving their flags and lead me right to the perfect spot and then pointed me in the direction of the first building which held packet pickup. There were no lines and about 5 minutes after walking in I was walking out of the first building and on to the second building which held all the cool swag and vendor booths.
There was a quick stop at the new runDisney Instagram photo booth, but before I knew it I was walking to the far end of the Josten Feldhouse to pick up my t-shirts and swag. The excitement was high, the environment sparked with a combination of anxiety and the magic aura that can only come from Disney. One interesting experience was after I was handed my swag bag which I looked as though it already had all of the shirts, I was told to go and pick up my 5k shirt. What? I have no idea what happened but for challenge athletes the bag had every t-shirt, which in my case was 5 of them except for the first one. Oh well, it was only an extra few minutes to grab it All of the t-shirts where Champion Tech shirts except for…yep…you guessed it, the 5k shirt. That was cotton. No biggie, you can’t have it all…right? I bumped in to a few running buddies before hanging out with some of the Fit2Run gang. A side note, I found out later that Fit2Run opened a store in Downtown Disney. How cool!
After a little bit of looking around I headed to Coronado Springs to get some dinner and some sleep. 4am was going to come extremely fast. One thing I love about runners, they are the nicest people in the world and I think we end up with a sixth sense. I wasn’t carrying anything and I was still dressed in work clothes so there was nothing to distinguish me as a runner and yet I was singled out while getting dinner by a few different people. Kate and Kathleen from Chicago whom were running with TNT, Steven and Marta from Texas and another couple of girls from DC. Each of the groups started talking to me at different times about what races they were doing on top of the normal niceties. Maybe the magic of Disney gives runners a connection boost that allows us to sense other runners. It was fun though.
Coronado put me up in one of the business cabanas, so I was provided with access to the business lounges which had breakfast and snacks as well as coffee, soft drinks, beer and wine. Not to shabby since I didn’t have to pay extra for it. I slept pretty well that night. Go figure.
I woke up easy enough and headed for the bus stop where specialty coach buses were transporting athletes and spectathletes, to and from the race site at the Epcot Center parking lot. This experience was pretty much the same for all four races. I would get off the bus, walk with a group through bag check, stopped at the Team in Training tent and heard the Mission Moment, dropped gear off at bag check and met up with whomever I was going to start with that day and headed to the corral. For the 5k it was good friend and client Hugo Scavino and training buddies Holly Tripp and Teresa Gadient. We took a few pics and took our spots in corral A.
The official training partner for the Walt Disney Marathon Weekend this year was Jeff Galloway and he was there not only with a training group but also gave words of wisdom before the 5k. I saw him a few times on the course and chatted with him. He is a really nice guy.
With all the Disney flare, each wave is started with fireworks going off above the start line and we were off. The weather was a balmy 50 degrees that morning so it was a great morning to run. Since it was only a 5k I ended up leaving on a long sleeve running shirt, which ended up being too warm, but I could handle it for about 25 minutes which is what I ran the 5k in with a couple of stops for pictures and a slow first mile. I had three more events to run in, so I was not going all out for any of them. I was there to have a good time and that is exactly what I did. I crossed the finish line and was given a Pluto plastic medal, which was fine because it was billed as a Family Fun Run. They didn’t want any of those kids swinging real medals around and getting hurt. Chalk another one up for Disney.
After a couple of shots with friends it was easy to find the buses and head back to Coronado Springs. After a quick shower and a shave, I headed back to Tampa and was sitting at my desk by 8:30. Easy breezy.
Too keep this post a little shorter than usual, (I know, I know, “Too Late”) the 10k, while being the inaugural race was basically the repeat of the 5k except double the distance, and it ended with a metal medal instead of a plastic one. One little side note, each of the races are represented by a different character. The 5k is represented by Pluto, the 10k is Minnie Mouse, the Half Marathon is Donald Duck and of course the Marathon is represented by, yes, you guessed it, Mickey Mouse. They each are at the starting line and the finish line.
After crossing the finishliine around 49 minutes, again taking time during the race for pics, I found the bus, went back to the resort, took a shower, and headed back to Tampa and at my desk by 9am.
The routine adjusted slightly when I returned back to the resort that night, because I didn’t have to drive back to Tampa, because it was going to be Saturday. Yeah baby! Of course I had another event to run in so I did not get to sleep in, but who cares right? I was at Disney surrounded by 20,000 other athletes and spectathletes. To tell you the truth I couldn’t wait.
We had dinner in Downtown Disney at Bongos surrounded by my PKD cohorts, Tara Belfi, Patti Rowland and Amy Hackford. Every year since 2010 when we ran the Disney Half-Marathon for PKD we get together at least one night. These are some amazing women. Patti took on the Dopey and crushed it. Tara and Amy challenged Goofy and made me proud.
The other really nice thing was that my coach and really good friend Amy Eck was in town from Hawaii to run the Goofy Challenge, so I would get to spend the next couple of days running with her.
The Half Marathon and Full Marathon while still the same starting routine changed slightly. While I wasput in Corral A for the 5k and 10k for the final two I was assigned Corral C. Of course, the ladies I was running with were all assigned different corrals so we ended up deciding on Corral F. Each Corral starts what seemed like 5 minutes apart from each other. This is an attempt to keep the crowding issue at bay and it does to a point. Each corral seems to have thousands of people in it, so at first it feels daunting, but it does spread out a few miles into the course.
The half marathon runs through two parks and the marathon runs through all four plus ESPN all along the course there are characters to take pictures with, DJs playing music and motivating the crowd, cheerleaders, and marching bands. For the Half Marathon Aid stations are set up about every two miles and for the marathon after the first 5 miles it is almost every single mile.
For both the races I ran with Amy, Miranda Lessie, Llex Landreth and Amy Torguson joined us for the
half. It was my first time helping to pace at a much slower time than I would usually run. While it was very enjoyable to just run for fun and encourage along the way, it was much more difficult on my body than I ever imagined. The theory of “Time on Feet” gained it’s relevance to me during the marathon. After all I did the Chicago Marathon as a training run coming in at 3:53 and I walked some of that too. Here I was coming at slightly over 5 hours. I was surprised that I was hurting slightly throughout my legs.
I will put out one small item of criticism. Cliff is the nutrition vendor at Disney. At the 8 mile mark at the half marathon the aid station had Cliff Shot gels for the runners, which was fine, but for the marathon it didn’t start until mile 11. It could be more beneficial for the runners to have the Cliff shots at least every 4 miles from the start. For newer runners, glycogen stores are heavily depleted by mile 11 and it is very hard to fill these stores but it is easy to top them off. This is really my only criticism on the direction of the event.
After we finished and took our pictures, we hung out and drank some beer, stretched and talked with some of our friends. Jeff Lessie met us there after his 3 hour finish. I felt bad for him having to wait for us for two hours. All in all it was a really great time. I did not make the mistake of just heading back to the room and taking a nap. I stretched, rolled and continued to walk a bit and I believe that helped me recover quite a bit faster. I did not feel as tight or sore on Monday when I woke up and headed back to Tampa.
I walked ran a little 5k on the treadmill at home and that cleared some of the toxins in my legs and then rolled and used my lacrosse ball for most of Monday. By Tuesday I was feeling great. Of course I know my body enough that I had to make sure I was fully recovered, so it was a very easy week. Mostly I just did my P90X3 workouts being that they are all only 30 minutes and that seemed to do the trick.
I am one to very much recommend the Disney Races. The energy in the air, the support of the crowd and especially the other runners is infectious plus it’s Disney. It makes me feel like a kid again.
HITS is a fairly new triathlon series, with a unique concept. Their tag line is “A distance for everyone”, which really says it all. A HITS weekend consists of 70.3 (half-iron distance) and a 140.6(full-iron distance) on Saturday, and on Sunday, Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. It is a pretty cool concept, and they are really well-organized.
After having breakfast with the Team Foley after the Fight for Air Climb I headed out to Ocala with the hope of seeing at least Margie, Kari and Megan cross the finish line. I have to admit, while I have been training, it hasn’t been as focused as it should have. My “off-season” mentality didn’t quite transition into the race attitude just yet, but I thought I was at least in shape to do the Oly. In triathlon season, usually the first couple of months, is usually “Base” phase which just gets the wheels and legs rolling again, develop some strength and start gaining the endurance needed for race season. With that in mind, I figured an Olympic distance would be perfect to baseline where I am in my training. Imagine my surprise when I saw a lot of my friends out on Saturday competing in the 70.3. As I was watching competitors and friends cross the line there was a familiar itch developing in my heart. I didn’t quite notice what it was at the time.
The course for the 70.3 was pretty intense with loops that included a 1.2 mile swim in a 65 degree Lake Weir, 56 miles of rolling hills and wind of the bike, and an intense mixture of soft trails, and asphalt out-and-backs for the 13.1 mile run. I was too busy losing my lungs to catch any of the swim or bike, but I was happy to be around to see the finale of the run.
I had my first blog recognition, which was really nice. I was at the expo, grabbing a couple of Honey Stinger gels for my race the next day and I was chatting with the owner of Kickstart Endurance and she told me she followed IronGoof. I tried not to make a big deal out of it, but secretly I was really excited.
I missed Margie, but I was really happy to see Megan and Kari cross the finish. They both were finishing their first 70.3 along with some other members of the Tri Psych Club, so for them this was a huge accomplishment and deserved a celebration. That itch started to intensify at Chili’s that night as everyone’s conversation about their race surrounded me.
I really attempted to be nonchalant about this race. I kept telling myself, “Self, this is no big deal. You know you are not ready to race, this is a small race and this is going to tell you what you need to work on.” Unfortunately, waking up the next morning at 4:30a, and preparing my gear not only woke up my consciousness but the competition juices and anxiety levels as well. I showered, dressed, applied my TriTats, loaded the car and off I went.
As I mentioned before, the organization of this race was first-rate, from, staff organizing parking to the transition areas. Have I mentioned the transition area? In previous races I have barely glanced over the amenities of the transition areas, well except for the Rev3 Venice Beach. Let me put it this way, if the transition areas were cars, then every other race I have been in were Toyotas, the Rev3 was a Lexus, and the HITS series was a Bentley. Not only were there boxes that held gear and clamped a tire for easy removal of the bike, plenty of room for transition setup in-between the bikes, but each participant had their own personal stool with their number and last name on them. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is the little things that make an impression.
I headed down to the beach with my wet suit on halfway, goggles and swim cap in hand. The temperature outside was perfect with just a slight breeze and the sun was starting to slowly creep up over the horizon. I was incredibly grateful to see my friends down on the beach. Pete, Kari, Megan, Michael, Stan and a couple f others as it made me feel slightly less stressed. After the mandatory meeting, all of the males waded out a bit into the water for the start. My anxiety reared a little due to the fact, I was using my backup goggles because my regular goggles broke in transition and this was the coldest water I had ever swam in.
The whole beach counted off, “Three, Two, One…” and the horn blew. We all ran or dolphin dived toward the first buoy. The water was kind of shallow so I did have some time to start to get used to the water. I remembered my strategy and my stroke count and I started swimming. I started losing ground within the first 200m, which was normal for me. My new stroke technique is still relatively new, so I figured I wasn’t going to be fast immediately. When I reached the first buoy, I started feeling short of breath, even though I thought I was relatively relaxed. My chest started to feel compressed like I was being stepped on, and my arms were not moving as freely as I wanted them to. I moved to breast stoke to see if I could relax a bit, but it was to know avail, the compression would just not loosen. I have never had an issue with my wet suit. Except for getting out of it, I kinda like it. I feel more buoyant, warmer and protected from other things that may cause issues in open water. Now I just felt like it was python, strangling me. I kept going, but it was a combination of freestyle, side stroke, and breast stoke. When I reached the second buoy, my mind went into overdrive trying to get me to quit. The ideas popping in my head were asinine. I kept hearing, “You aren’t trained for this”, “You don’t belong here.”, “Just get out of the water. It is only a baseline remember?”. The thing was, I had another loop to do. I swam toward third buoy, and the water became very shallow, so we really didn’t have any choice but to run through it and start dolphin diving again. I forced myself to have the one thought that has gotten me through tough training, cold, wet and rainy workouts, and exhausting races; “The mind will quit one-hundred times before the body does.” I told myself, “Self, that is first and only time that is going to happen today.” I ran around the third buoy and headed out for my second loop.
The second loop felt a little better, but I was so happy to get out of that wet suit. I am still not quite certain why I felt that way. It wasn’t the size of the wet suit because when I bought it I was 25 pounds heavier. Either way I ran out of the water unzipping and getting out of it on my way to transition. One of the strippers told me to lay down and she yanked it off of me. I grabbed my helmet while I put on my shoes and crossed the mat in less than 3 minutes.
The bike course was actually pretty nice. Rolling hills, with well conditioned roads and plenty help by the Sheriff’s department. I wanted to make up sometime, so in my head I thought to just keep passing people. I only got passed twice during the first ten miles of the twenty-five mile course and I was happy with that. I played cat & mouse with a couple of them, and ended up passing them in during the last half of the course. Unfortunately, there was a storm on the horizon and the wind picked up quite a bit on on the second half, not to mention the hills were more abundant and steeper(at least for Florida). My speed, that I was holding quite consistent at 21 mph started to drop to 18, then 17 and at that point, I refused to go under 18 mph. I came into transition, averaging 19.1 and I was proud of that.
I racked my bike and sat on my stool to put on my socks and shoes. I got hung up a little bit, but was still out of there in less than 3 minutes, and it was off to the run. Pete yelled at me as I headed into the trees, “This is the fun part”. At first I agreed with him.
I decided to wear my Hoka One One Biondi Speed 2 running shoes with the large sole, because I wanted to test how they felt on a triathlon after being on the bike. Big mistake. At first the ground wasn’t very soft, and I was ok running about an 8:15 mile, but as I got further into the woods, the trail got softer and softer. With that big sole, not only was my foot pushing down on the sole, but then into the soft ground causing three times as much resistance as the a regular running shoe. I didn’t figure this out at first, but after one-and-a-half miles, I felt like I needed to stop, and that was not usual, not matter what kind of shape I was in. I walked at the aid station for about 200 yards and then I continued running but at a much slower pace. I had to do two loops of the run course as well, and I could feel the resistance ease off when I hit the asphalt again. All of the sudden I was lighter and faster, but I had to do a second loop into the woods again. I decided my strategy would be to walk a hundred yards at the aid station and 100 yards at the turn-around, but other than that I would let my legs do what could. It worked out well as my splits were faster on the second loop.
I ran out of the woods with Pete snapping shots and hearing cheers from Megan, Kari and a couple of others. As, I crossed the finish line it became clear to me, that I am not in the shape I was in for my last 70.3, but I would enjoy this moment as a victory. It was not a PR, but it this race let me know what I need to do over the next months in order to take on the rest of my race schedule.
After calming down a bit and chatting with Pete and a few other friends, Summer Bailey found me. She had competed in the 70.3 the day before. Summer lives in Georgia, so we really only see each other at races and occasionally chat on Facebook so it was really incredible to actually chat and catch up with her in person. She is an amazing woman and with a huge heart and ferocious determination. We both agreed that neither one of us had trained enough for our races, but it was good to have a race under our belt for the year. Chatting with her was encouraging, and I know we will be seeing each other again during the season. To be able to see and chat with her and some others that I do not get to train with allowed me to remember one of the greatest thing about triathlon and racing in general. It’s the friends and connections we make. Other than having a good race and crossing the finish line, it is the best part about it.
Besides crossing the finish line what are the best experiences you have competing?