How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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Better late than never – Ironman Augusta 70.3 Recap

Better late than never – Ironman Augusta 70.3 Recap

Obviously, Ironman Augusta 70.3 is one of my favorite races, since this is the third year in a row I competed in it.  Why?

  • The 1.2 mile swim heads downstream giving those of us that are not great swimmers a little push.
  • There are two main sporting events in Augusta.  The little golf tournament called “The Masters”, and the Ironman, so the whole city seems to show up to support it.  The Ironman doesn’t have near the amount athletes or the out-of-town spectators, but it doesn’t seem like that when you are competing.
  • The 56 mile bike course is beautifully scenic with rolling hills which makes it somewhat challenging and a lot of fun.
  • The run course is two-loops around the center of town which is loaded with spectators that are cheering and holding signs with sayings like “If Triathlon was easy they would call it football.”  It gives the competitors continuous motivation through a the 13.1 mile completion to the challenge which depending on the temperature could be grueling.
  • The volunteers, all three years I have competed, have always been amazing.  There are aid stations every 10 miles on the bike and every mile on the run, so there are a huge amount of volunteers that are there for a very long time.
  • The expo and check-in have always been run very professionally and smooth.  It is probably one of the best run expos I have took part in.

The weekend started off with a caravan of amazing people up to Augusta caravan crewincluding my buddy Pete, Kari, Jaime, Kat, Chris, Kate, Matt, Jeff & Miranda.  All of them great people and athletes.

The ride up was uneventful with one stop at Cracker Barrel to fuel up and a couple of minute stops for gas and essentials.  We went right to check-in and surprise, surprise, the Marriott opened their new convention center so there was so much more space for check-in and the expo than last year.  In the past everything was in a series of rooms, now it was in one great big room that allowed for more vendors and more space to move around.  There had to be at least 50% more vendors than last year.  It was amazing.  Of course my favorite part, as always, is the atmosphere.  Super charged with excitement and enthusiasm.

After getting settled in are hotels, Chris, Jaime, Kat and I had dinner at this little restaurant of an old hotel called the Partridge Inn.  The meal was incredible, and for the first time I got to try Shrimp & Grits, which of course Jaime was astounded I had never tried.  It was really amazing.  Paleo?  Not in the least, but it was delicious.  We ended up splitting our dinners, of which mine was a 16oz prime rib that was cooked to perfection.  It was an amazing choice, indeed.   (Patrons of the hotel had much less to say of the hotel though.)

pre-transitionThe next day consisted of quick workouts, bike check-in, race prep and another awesome dinner at Charlie-O’s Steak House.  We had a much larger crowd for dinner which not only included the caravan gang, but some members of Tri-Psych as well.  It was the perfect crowd to spend the evening before the race.  Everybody was calm, cool and collected on the outside, but some pre-race anxiety seemed to be looming over all of us.

I was surprised at how well I slept that night.  I usually never sleep the night before a race.  Of course I still didn’t get eight hours, but the 6 I did was a very hard sleep.  I woke up even more refreshed than I thought.   I had the opportunity to dress, eat and be ready with time to chill out and motivate myself.

The transition area was crowding fast as usual, and since last year I had a very early start, this year I ended up more in the middle waves, so there was plenty of time, to relax and get my bike and gear ready, without feeling rushed.  As always there were plenty of people who caught up with me either from, home, past races, social media, or my blog.  It was awesome.  Race morning has to be one of my favorite times of the race, just because of the excitement and the convening with friends and acquaintances.  Those of you podium placers probably are in your own little world at this point, and it makes sense, but to a lotkat and me of us just trying to beat our past times and finish comfortably, this is a great time of the morning.

The shuttle took us to the host hotel, and as it was in the lower 50s at the time, we decided to grab some coffee and hangout in the lobby.  Finally, it was time to head over to the start, drop my “morning clothes” bag in the truck and enter my corral for the start.  I found Jaime, which calmed my nerves a bit.  He races with Team RWB of whom I am honored to call myself a part of as well, but he is much faster than I.  Usually about 20-30 minutes faster.  He is an amazing athlete, motivator and all-around person.  We only catch each other at races, but he always is able to motivate just that little bit extra.

The time came and they moved us to the dock, the

Jaime and I

gun went off and we jumped in and started swimming.  I have been working on my swimming so I adopted my rhythm as soon as possible, and found myself right with the majority of the pack the first 800m but then I fell short.  They swam past and I ended up, as usual, in the back.  Around the 1200m mark the pack behind me caught me and by time I finished, the fast women, two waves behind me, caught me.  I still ended up beating my swim time from the year before by a minute, but it was still slow.

I ran up the ramp to transition and without any incidents I grabbed my bike and headed out and just as I was about to leave transition, mother nature called and I made a quick decision to use the portlets.  I still ended up with a four-minute transition, but I was a little disappointed.  Around the three-mile mark I started to feel something new; quad burn.  I was astounded I was feeling this so soon.  Usually, it took 40 to 50 miles of hills before I felt it this bad.  I must have over-used them in the swim.  After another  fifteen minutes I took a Honey Stinger Gel prematurely and the burn subsided meaning that I must have depleted my glycogen levels just enough to feel it.  My cadence kicked up and I started passing people, and while I was still getting passed by the elite cyclists in the waves behind me, I was doing more passing than getting passed.  The hills were as I remembered and I didn’t have any issues with them until mother nature threw me a curve ball.  She added the wind.  I was thinking the whole time, I just wanted to average 20mph.  That would get me into T2 under 3 hours.  I did make it to T2 with that goal, but I fell short of my 20mph average at 19.44 mph.

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Unfortunately, because I wanted that 20 mph so bad and I had not accounted for the wind, I spent a little more energy than I wanted and I felt in on the run.  At first I felt a little tight, but I was used to that.  In my training it took till mile three to get my legs back, so I pushed through and bided my time until then, but at mile three, the tightness didn’t go away.  As a matter of fact, the tightness never went away.  I ended up doing a run/walk of 1 mile on and sixty seconds off.  It worked but I faltered on even doing as well as I did the year before.  I was under two hours in 2012, but this year I ended up 2:05 which is the exact amount I was off my over-all time: 5:42 off from 5:36.  I cared for a while, but I assessed what I learned and what I needed to take away in order to be successful at Ironman Florida which is the ultimate goal for the year.

0496_19703

I caught up with Pete around mile 11 and we ran into the finish chute together.  Of course we were passed by Master’s champion runner, Jeff Lessie who was doing the bike and run as part of a relay.  What made it really embarrassing, was that Jeff started an hour behind us and he still caught us.  He is an amazing athlete, and when he ran passed us we thought for sure he was just on his first loop, but when we saw him in the finish area, both of us looked at each other and then down at the ground.  After a couple of nanoseconds we lifted our heads, found him and gave him a hearty congrats.  We both still did pretty well and we knew it.

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On to the next challenge, for me, the Chicago Marathon, and for both of of us Ironman Florida, Panama City Beach.

Carpe Viam!!

 

Goof Race Recap – HITS Ocala

Goof Race Recap – HITS Ocala

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.  

bike2

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.

run2

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?

 

Carpe Viam!

 

Clearwater Halfathon: Race Report

The windows were open in my Mini Cooper Clubman as I drove down Rte 60 in order to take part in the Clearwater Running Festival’s Half Marathon. The cloudy and sixty-one degree temperature was preferable for me, but for some as the temperature was known to rise, it may have felt even a little warm. I was not sure about this race. I hadn’t run anything over four miles since Ragnar, and even the ten mile leg I did run was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. This race would turn out to be no different.

Interesting enough, if it was possible to rewind as little as two months, and I was asked about doing a race of 13.1 miles, I would have said, “A half marathon? No problem.” As the duration of my running workouts continued to be reduced due to my self-prescribed “off season”, I didn’t realize how fast my endurance would decrease as well. All the research I have read has indicated if endurance training is halted completely, only 10% of the capacity is lost at the end of the first week, but up to 35-45% is lost by the end of the second week. By the end of this race I could prove this theory personally.

Arriving at Coachman Park was easy, and parking was abundant. There was plenty of parking, packet and chip pick-up were well organized, and the announcements were clear and informative, not unlike every other event that race director Chris Lauber is involved with. The only drawback, as with every race, was the line at the porto-lets prior to the race. The irony is that it does seem to the best place to find runner friends also taking part.

Cheryl & I at the Start

The start line was filled with hugs and handshakes from friends, clients and acquaintances sharing the nervous energy common to most long endurance races. I was lucky to find my friend Cheryl who was attempting her first marathon, in order to wish her good luck and to enjoy the race. The Clearwater Running Festival included a total of four different races. A 5k, a 5-miler, a half marathon and a marathon, all of which started at the same time with the turn-around points specifically marked for each race. After a beautiful, operatic version of the Star Spangled banner, a cannon boomed signaling the start of all four races.

The first mile was light and easy and took the athletes through downtown Clearwater before making the way up and over the Clearwater Bridge. The advantage toward heading toward the beach was the grade on the bridge was slight, but long. As long as the runner bends from the ankles it is possible to push the hips into the bridge causing their momentum to be provided by gravity which is much more efficent. I coach what I personally do, so as I as fresh and pushing my hips into the bridge, it was very easy for me. The second and third mile led us through downtown Clearwater Beach which was gorgeous. It was slightly overcast, there was just a slight breeze coming over the water, the air was crisp and it was, well…perfect. Nothing changed as we trotted over the Sand key Bridge, which again, while running South the grade was slight and long. The aid station at mile 4 was my strategic walk station, so I grabbed a Honey Stinger Gel, from my belt, washed it down with a little Gatorade and kept going. Up to this point I was running right around 7:55 minute/miles and I was feeling really good.  Ahead of me was a friend of mine, and amazing runner, Pila Cadena and while I knew she had put in a lot more miles than I did running over the last couple of months, she turned out to be the mouse to my cat. We exchanged leads around Sand Key Park and then back south on Gulf Boulevard.

As we approached mile 7 which was the turn-around point, I started to worry about Cheryl and how she was doing, so while running north on Gulf Boulevard, I started looking at the runners traveling the opposite direction. The breeze had picked up a little but I didn’t really notice it because I was concentrating on finding Cheryl. I ended up noticing a bunch of other friends though, Teresa, Holly, Hugo, Nicole, and Bjorn, but I didn’t see Cheryl. Finally, as I was coming upon the 8 mile mark I noticed her running and chatting with a friend and she looked strong, so with that out of my mind I focused on the music in my ears and the last five miles. That was short lived when Parks came up behind me and struck up a conversation. To be totally honest, it kind of irked me a little. Parks is an amazing athlete, but he is a little older,  so of course my ego took a beating when he decided to pickup the pace. I already felt I was at max speed if I was going to finish the race with a little bit of energy left, so I let him go, even though my ego was saying the opposite. Pila was in front again, and as I was determined not to get “chicked”, by this four-foot-eleven, wonderful woman, whom also has a couple of years on me, I picked up the pace. First, the opposite side of the Sand Key Bridge, which graded much steeper than the front side. I increased the angle of my body and pushed my hips into the hill and my speed increased on my way up, however, for some reason the spring was gone in my step. I realigned myself, but it felt more like I was super speed walking than running. I was passing runners, which was fine, but I had no bound whatsoever. As momentum carried me over the top of the bridge, I tightened my core and let me legs go, which opened up my stride and on the way down my speed increased and it felt like my spring was back.

Pila was in my sights and started to close the gap. At mile 11 we could see the Clearwater Bridge coming up which meant the end of the race was just over the bridge, down the twisted ramp and across the finish. Prior to the beginning of the bridge two younger runners overtook me, and as I tried to keep up with them, I noticed for the first time, my legs were not cooperating. I wasn’t in pain, but my legs would just not take the messages I was giving them from my brain to pick up the cadence and move faster. The two gentlemen kept moving past me, but I had a weapon per say. The bridge was steep and no one is better on hills than me either running or biking. My legs while continuing to defy me still were consistent so again, all I had to do was tighten my core and my legs would continue in the consistent pace they were moving. I did just that and whizzed by both of the runners with the thought of putting enough distance between us in order for them not to catch me on the other side of the bridge. At the top I realigned myself, squeezed every last bit of strength I had left in my core and let my legs take me to the twisted ramp in order to finish the course. I hesitantly looked back and noticed both of them slowing on the backside, because the were putting on the brakes, while I was letting gravity take my legs to whatever stride they wanted. There was only Pila now in my sights.  As we hit the twisted ramp and I looked over the banister I saw her just below me, with Dawn just in front of her. Now I wanted Dawn too. I increased the angle and started to pick up speed, but of course just like most other runners, they saw the finish line too and increased their pace as well. The three of us hit the last tenth of mile, 1–2–3, but I could not make up the distance, and I saw Dawn cross, then Pila before I finally came to a halt across the finish line.

After crossing

I was officially “chicked” by about 20 seconds which is not necessarily a bad thing. While I could rationalize that our strategies were different as I walked through aid stations four, seven and nine, strategically, and Pila never even grabbed water, there is still no denying the results. Obviously, as Dawn and Pila were in different age groups, they both ended up on the podium, which made me feel a little better. I, on the other hand, ended up 14 out of 38, which left me at least in the top 50% which is normal for me. It wasn’t a PR, by a long shot, but it was a fun race.
Afterwards, I decided to hang out to see the awards for the Half Marathon because so many of my friends and acquaintances ended up on the podium. The presentations were nice with Suzanne Henslee on the microphone and Chris Lauber presenting the awards. It was great to see people I have trained with up on the podium.

Pila on the Podium

As the wind blew through the car on my way home, I recollected the race and how I felt. My body felt beat, but not in pain and my mind was racing on what the future would hold. There is a lot of training ahead of me with plenty of testing along the way with different races. There was one thing that was bothering me. Two years ago I decided to do a couple of races where I just didn’t care about my times or performance and those races were a lot of fun. I am obsessing more about my times lately which is a different kind of fun, but I wonder if that will be a means to an end. I have the knowledge and the experience to complete all of my training without, (or at least with minimal) injury, but will I sacrifice that to increase performance? At this point I would say no, but when push comes to shove, and I am participating in a race, will I let my ego takeover and increase my chances to DNF a future race? Only time will tell.

Whit and I 
Carpe Viam!

Bjorn and I after the race


Rev 3 Florida 70.3 Race Recap

Saturday was a phenomenal starting with watching a few of my girls PR at the Great Westchase 5k.  The night before I was contemplating going or not going, being that my race was the next day and I should really  just head to athlete check-in, get a little workout in and return to relax.  I couldn’t keep away though.  Just the thought of five of the ladies I coach at Fit2Run (my girls), having the ambition to run that morning, was enough that I just couldn’t stay away.  I really wanted to be there for them and cheer them on.

They all looked a little surprised when I arrived, but in a good way, at least I hope in a good way. I was shocked at the amount of people that showed up being that I barely ever heard of this race.  My girls, Sharon, Kim S., Molly, Sonja, and Donna were there and ready to rock and I even saw a few of them doing their prescribed warm-ups, which made me smile.  With my camera in tow, I was happy to grab a few shots, but I knew I shouldn’t run with them, but deep down I wanted to.

After the gun went off I grabbed a few action shots and raced over to the 1 mile mark, but I missed a few of them, so I just hung out about three-quarters-of-a mile from the finish and waited.  I grabbed photos of the women I saw, but I still ended up missing a couple.  When Sonja came a long I saw a certain, not pain, but concern on her face, so I decided to jump in and bring her across the finish line.  She is one of my projects, as she has been one of the few that continually asks questions, and genuinely wants to get better.  I have even put a personal plan together for her to run the Best Damn Race Half-Marathon.  She makes me so proud, as she continually gets better in more ways than one.  I brought her in, egging her to push just a little more and increase her cadence and speed.  She came across the line with a new PR and made this coach feel like the proudest papa ever.  To increase that feeling even more, I found that all of my girls PR’d and Sharon by more than four minutes which is HUGE!!

We hung around a bit and checked out the expo before I said my good-byes and started my journey south to Venice, Florida in order to Attend the Check-in for my own race.  The drive wasn’t bad from Oldsmar, around an hour-and-a-half, but it didn’t feel that long due to the radio blasting classic rock from 107.3 The Eagle.  I love that station.

When I arrived I was surprised at the organization of the check-in.  There were volunteers helping with everything to include parking.  After I received my packet and got my athlete bracelet I was told to go get my timing chip in the next shelter.  There stood two, large screen monitors with keyboards and little cameras at the top.  The staff member brought up the application where it asked for my bib number and then had all of my information loaded.  I verified it and then he coded a new chip and then took my picture.  I was curious and asked him what the picture was for and he informed me that as I would cross a mat about 200 yards from the finish, my picture would come up on a huge monitor above the finish line.  I was pleasantly surprised and excited about that.  I would probably not see it myself, but just the thought already started my heart pumping for the race.  I left that area and looked to my left and found a massage tent, and as I didn’t get a chance to see Lisa Jamison that week, I decided to check it out.  I again was surprised when I was told by the volunteer that a massage pre and post race were included in the registration.  They asked me what I was looking for and I told them I really just needed a good stretch and that is exactly what I got.  Three LMTs all took turns massaging and stretching my legs, arms and shoulders out.  This wasn’t some 20 minutes quicky rub down, this was a good 45 minute full-on stretch and it was awesome.

I caught up with Pete and Jaime after that and we all went over to get our SWAG bags, which by far was the best I had ever received.  A Headsweats visor, Blue-Seventy goggles, samples of Power bites and a new Powerbar and very little paper all tucked in a drawstring bag labeled with Muscle Milk.  The rest of the expo was pretty rudimentary, so we decided to head over to Sharkey’s for some lunch before the mandatory meeting.

The mandatory meeting brought on a surprise and a little fun.  The race director notified that due to the rough water, and the possible Red Tide warning, that it was possible that the swim would be cancelled or reversed.  What I haven’t mentioned as of yet, was that due to Hurricane Sandy, it was already very windy.  The waves in the ocean looked angry and rough.  One part of me was a little relieved, but it was outweighed by the side of me that was disappointed.  I mean I should have been excited due to the swim being my worst event, but it just wouldn’t, and later didn’t, feel like a true triathlon if the swim was cancelled.  I felt the last race of the season was going to be a huge disappointment without the swim, not to mention the high winds on the bike were also a concern.

At the end of the mandatory meeting there was a worst wet suit contest which was really entertaining.  Six athletes went onstage with really ugly wet suits, some worn, some bleached and one of the custom made was really terrible.  An athlete with this multi-colored, turquoise, purple, orange and black multicolored wet suit one by unanimous cheering and laughter by the athletes.  The top two ended up winning brand new wet suits provided by Blue-Seventy which was kinda cool for them.

I was continually impressed with Rev3 when I visited transition.  They didn’t have the rails that I was used to where the bike seat hooks underneath with just a little room to setup your bike and run gear, they had these wood boxes the ground that gave each athlete a sleeve where your bike tire was inserted allowing the bike to stand up on its own and the ease of removing it and returning it during the race, and a box for your gear and even more room between bikes.  Not to mention the little of added extra of personalizing your spot with your bib number and name printed on the box.

The rest of the night basically consisted of packing up my gear, changing an inner-tube on my bike and relaxing.  Oh, I will say one thing that the race provided that was really cool; race tattoos.  These are temp tattoos with my bib number for both arms and the back of my right hand and my age on the back of my right calf.  They looked extremely professional and were a lot easier to apply than  I thought.  Peel, stick, wet with a wash cloth and peel the back off.  Done.  I didn’t know how complicated it was going to be, so I applied them Saturday night and slept in them, and they looked just as good at 4 am when I awoke.

Pete, Jamie and I before the race

All of the athletes I knew had rented hotel rooms in Venice, but the ride was less than an hour, and I thought I would be better off sleeping in my own bed and having some solace time, prior to the race.  I was very happy I made that decision.  The ride down that early in the morning was easy and fast.  I had plenty of time to rack my bike in transition and lay out my shoes and stuff before the race.   As I walked up to transition I heard the announcer officially cancel the swim and proclaim the pros would have a 1.5 mile run prior to the bike but the age groupers would have a La Mond Time Trial start.  While the disappointment came over me I was also curious about this time trial start as I had never had that experience before.  Upon finishing I caught up with Pete and Jaime and socialized with them, Carola, Laurie, and some new friends we made.

Carola and I


Finally, after the pros finished their run and started on the bike the officials lined us up in bib order and started us at the Swim In as if we just came in from swim.  After the first athlete ran into transition they continued starting each athlete every 3 seconds.  I was bib 364 which gave me a good 5 minutes in line before I finally was started.  I ran to my bike, jumped into my shoes, put on my helmet, with clipping my chin strap, grabbed my bike and ran to the mount line.  I registered 1:37 for T1 which was ok, being that I was at the far end of my row and far from the bike out line.  The wind was howling the whole time on the bike, but luckily the first 25 miles or so had a great tail wind.  I was keeping speeds of 25-27 mph with medium effort and was feeling pretty good, even with some of the more experienced bikers passing me like I was standing still.  Even Pete caught me with his race wheels and flew by calling me to chase after him.  I kept him in sight for a good 5-6 miles until I lost him, which just at the point we turned into the wind.

It was brutal.  I never thought I could work so hard to reach speeds over 16 mph.  That is all I ended up thinking.  “No matter what I just can’t go below 16.”  It is such an arbitrary number but it sticks with me for some reason.  I just refused to go under it.  Later on this might had led to another problem, but I will get to that in a minute.  Around mile 40 there was relief of about four miles, but even that was quickly defeated by turning back into the 20 mph headwinds that plagued us all on the back half of the course.  After mile 20 I wasn’t really passed again, however I was doing my fair share of passing which was nice ego boost.  I caught up to Jaime who started 260 people in front of me and even Blaine who was ahead of me by 100 or so.  I was feeling pretty good in that arena, but I just couldn’t catch Pete.  I tried though.

When I got back into transition I was noticing a little pain in the arch of my right foot.  I never felt that before, so I just shrugged it off, but when I returned my bike it’s sleeve in transition, and donned my running shoes, I felt this sharp pain in my foot like I was running with a nail stuck in the ball of my right foot.  I seriously thought I somehow broke my foot.  I left transition within 90 seconds only to end up sitting on the curb howling in agony at the pain in my foot.  I took off my shoe, massaged it and started rolling it over the curb and the pain was so intense tears started welling up, and not just due to the actual pain, but for the brief thought I might DNF.  I said to myself, forget it, I am going to finish this thing if I have to hop the 13.1 miles and crawl across the finish line.  I put back on my shoe and started to run slowly.  I was so relieved when the pain started to disappear.  I didn’t quite have my legs after the bike, but at least my foot wasn’t broken and hopefully the pain would subside completely and soon.

Digressing back when I first entered transition, Pete yelled at me as he had just crossed the timing mat, to come and catch him.  Well, even after hanging out for a bit, I caught him before the first mile marker.  He was hurting pretty bad and I was hoping he was alright.  We stopped for a minute to stretch and then we walked and then ran for a bit.  Just about the first mile marker Pete cramped up really bad and he just shouted for me to go on and even after I doubled back to make sure he was all right, he shooed me away so I ended up back in familiar territory; alone or alone as one can be in a race with 500 athletes.

My legs were still a little stiff, but they slowly loosened up.  When I hit the second aid station, I grabbed some water, but at the third station I walked through it grabbing water and Pepsi washing down a Honey Stinger gel along with it.  Interestingly enough, I had just recently found that Coke or a cola of any kind, really helps during a triathlon run.  Not as much in a fresh run, but in a triathlon it sends a bolt of sugar right to the glycogen stores and seems to give me this little lift, just enough to make me feel like I can push a little harder.  Problem is, it is short lived, but combined with the right other source of sugar it can keep me going for at least a couple of miles until I hit another aid station.  That ended up being my strategy.  Walk through every other aid station grabbing water and coke(Pepsi) until I got to the last garbage can and they I started running again.

The run was two loops with this two mile, out-and-back concrete trail along a canal.  That was the part I wasn’t happy about.  First, it felt like it would go on forever and second it was concrete and I could feel the impact.  I adjusted the best I could by lifting my knees and landing as softly as possible, but it just wasn’t enough because I could feel it in my legs at times.  On the long canal trail I saw Jaime on my left after the turn-around, and it didn’t seem like she was that far behind me and then I passed by Blayne who was looking really strong.  They both inspired me to push a little harder.  I was feeling stronger at the start of the second loop so I started to lean from my ankles a little more and raise my cadence.  The second loop seemed a lot shorter than the first, not that I wasn’t terribly thrilled when I saw a sign “Half Mile to Go”.  I powered through that last 800 meters passing two other athletes in my age group.  About 100 meters prior to the finish line I heard in a huge booming voice, “And from Tampa Florida, Brad Minus coming down arms wide looking like a champ.”  I was ecstatic, exhausted and in a lot pain.  The pain in my legs was terrible.  I knew it was a soreness from the race, but it was a pain a little more intense than normal.   A handler walked me through as I was awarded my finisher medal and handed a Gatorade and a water, making sure I was stable.  After I assured him I was fine he took my chip, told me congratulations and pointed out the amenities for the finishing athletes.  I wanted to wait for Jaime, but I knew if I didn’t get someone to work on my legs before I cooled down entirely I was going to be in even more pain later, so I headed for the massage tent.

I didn’t have to wait long til I was lead to a table where a Chiropractic student named Marceia, worked me over.  In other races and even while watching some of the other volunteer massage therapists work over other athletes I usually see a cookie cutter approach to working on athletes.  Meaning, like an assembly line, athletes are brought in each one is worked on in the exact same way.  I only say Marceia work on the athlete prior to me and I was wondering if it was going to be the same way.  I was so delighted when it wasn’t.  She continued to ask me about my soreness and pain levels as she worked on me, and she was even using the same techniques that Lisa uses with me and even better, she did nothing to me that was even similar to the athlete prior to me.  This woman had instincts and they were good ones.  When I got off the table I was still a little sore but I felt 90% better.  Thank you Marceia wherever you are.

I heard Jaime cross while I was waiting and by the time I finished my massage I saw Pete from a distance come across, so we were all in at this point.  Chris and Fallon had come to watch and pleasantly surprised me by staying for the entire race.  I am so impressed with Revolution 3 and everything they had available.  It was actually possible to cross the finish line and walk right over to the results tent, type in your bib number and immediately check all of your splits, and since it was web based anyone who is tracking an athlete was able to receive real-time information.  The very second an athlete crosses a timing mat, anyone in the world could see the time if they are on the web page.  The last few Ironman races I have either watched or competed in, my followers have told me the lag could have been up to an hour after the split was crossed.

Jamie, Pete and I afterwards

After, some pics and some socializing we checked our times and awesomely found that Jaime had placed in her age group.  While looking at the computer it looked as though she had taken third, but when she was actually called for second place during the awards ceremony.  Congrats Jaime!

I ended up breaking the 5 hour mark at a final time of 4:59.13 with 2:49 bike and a 2:06 half marathon, so I was happy with my performance.  If there was a swim, I probably would have come in right around the same as Augusta, and I was glad for that.

This ends my triathlon season.  I am in the midst of planning my off season and I have already titled it, S3F.  Speed, Strength, Swim & Flexibility.  I plan on working on my speed on the bike and the run, adding some endurance strength especially in my back and arms in order to increase speed in the water, doing more work in the pool on my form to try and relax and reduce my time in the water and increase my flexibility to protect my back and lengthen my stride and stroke.  I am planning on competing in Tough Mudder in December with the A-Train, probably doing the Clearwater Marathon and maybe a couple of other short races just to keep my edge a little, before the first race of my season which at this point will be St. Anthony’s in April 2013.

Carpe Viam!

Albeit Augusta Part 2

I made it to the front of the dock where handlers had signs up with our ages and waves on them.  I found my wave with ease and merged in the rest of the 40-44 males whom had last names that started with the letters I – Q.  Now is when the nerves started to build up in my stomach and all the insecurities started to show their pretty little selves.  “Did I train enough?”  “Why didn’t I do more swim workouts?”  “Why can’t I use a pull buoy?”  “Should I really use a wet suit?” and the most famous insecurity that comes up before a race; “What makes you think you belong here with all these athletes?”  I never can shake that one.  (Read my “About” page to find out why.)

Before I knew it, we were starting to move toward the dock.  I pulled on my wet suit and with the help of another athlete got it zipped up and secured.  One thing about triathletes, we always help each other out and the real special ones may even give up some time on their race to help as well, but I digress.  We slowly moved to the dock where we jumped into the water.  The temp wasn’t bad at all and my wet suit was buoyant enough that my insecurities started to fold the minute I got into the water.  Maybe subconsciously I thought there was a chance I could die while I was in the water, I am not sure, but I felt a lot better.  I moved toward the starting buoys and noticed one thing.  The current was not nearly as strong as the previous year.  Last year I spent more energy trying not to cross the start line before the gun, because of the strength of the current.  This year, that was not the case.
The announcer was counting down and my heart rate started to rise.  3, 2, 1.. and the gun went off..bang!  I started my 1.2 mile survival journey that would be the swim portion of the Augusta Ironman 70.3.  I could swear I heard the announcer from the horse races in my head.  “AAANNNND There OFF!”, and we were. I kept two things in my head as the swim went on; my stroke count and how many reps of my stroke count did I do.  In other words, “1, 2, 3 bubble, breathe.   2, 2, 3, bubble, breathe”, all the way up to five when I would site the boat house right by the finish.  I was able to maintain it for about six hundred meters until my A.D.D. took over and my mind drifted.  Of course, I got a quick dose of reality when I looked up and right in front of me was a diver yelling at me “To the right!  To the right!”  It seems I may have drifted a little over to the left and was about to cross the line.  I don’t think it was a dis-qualifier or anything, but it did take me a little off course.  For a good amount of the time, I just kept my legs together and stuck my head down and as long as I used my roll to turn into my armpit I found that I was moving rather smoothly.  Slowly, but smoothly.  Right at the point I met the diver was when I realized that I was at the back of my wave, which was a lot better than last year when I ended up falling to the back the wave behind the wave behind me.  This year I was in the rear of my wave with the stragglers but at least the bulk of the wave immediately behind me was still back there.  Sure, the faster swimmers from that wave passed me and I expected that, but what I didn’t expect was to stay in front of that wave.  Score…2 points for my ego.  
When I sighted the finish line, I was ecstatic.  I surely was going to hit my goal of thirty minutes.  My only issue now was, that the finish line looked so close but it was like the opposite of a mirror on the driver side door of a car.  They should put a sign up…”Swim Finish is Farther than Appears”, because when I was about to turn for the finish, I realized that the finish buoys were actually another 30 meters ahead of me.  You mean, I have to continue swimming?  Son of a……uh…donkey?  (I didn’t really think that either.)  
Feeling pretty good after the swim
I finally was able to get to the ramp and out of the swim and started heading towards transition.  I glanced down at my watch as I pressed the button to move it from Swim Mode to transition 1 mode, I noticed that, gosh darnit (see the last set of parentheses), my time was the exact same as last year.  I couldn’t believe it.  Last year, I was all over the place.  I zig zagged, I swam breast stroke, side stroke, back stroke, but this year I consistantly swam freestyle the full 1.2 miles and I still was just as slow.  Seriously?  All that work and I still came in at 37:17.  One thing was different this year though.  I was actually running toward transition and they made it farther this year to get to the wet suit strippers.  My legs felt good, my breathing came back almost instantaneously and I was running, almost sprinting.  There was the difference.  While last year the current was stronger I still used a ton of energy to finish it, which only allowed me to walk to my bike in transition.  I remember even walking my bike to the mount line.  This year, ran to the strippers, dropped to my butt, a young chick grabbed my suit and yanked it off and handed it to me as I jumped up.  I ran to  my bike, slipped on my shoes while clipping my race belt, grabbed my helmet, clipped the chin strap and ran my bike to the mount line.  Four minutes and twenty-two seconds after I stepped out of the river I was mounted and rolling onto the bike course.  It took me less than half the time it took me last year and that was without the third-of -a-mile distance they added from the river to transition.  Sure, I think I could have taken even more time off, but I was ok with it.  
Starting out on the  bike
I rolled out with the sound of the spectators becoming more and more distant as I quickly got my cadence up to 90 RPM, which is what I strive to keep no matter what the terrain.  My coach, Amy Bennett Eck, had suggested I not take any fluids or food for about 15 minutes to allow my body to calm a little and luckily I remembered because I noticed I was hungry.  In February, I purchased the Garmin 910XT and it has been an absolute dream to train with.  I mainly use it for number of swim strokes per 100m, time and distance, bike cadence, time, speed, power, distance and heart rate, and run cadence, pace, distance and time.  In this auto multi-sport mode, there is the functionality to program the events you will be either racing or training and with one touch of button it will transition from one event to the other giving you a transition time in-between.  For example, when I came out of the swim, I pushed one button as I came across the timing mats and it started to capture the amount of time I spent in T1, as soon as I mounted the bike I pushed the same button and it automatically started capturing the data for the bike portion.  Obviously, it did the same when I completed the bike event and on to the run.  There is also a simultaneous alarm function that I programmed to go off every 15 minutes.  This is how I track my nutrition.  Every fifteen minutes, when I hear, or feel, the alarm I know I need to have taken in a quarter of a bottle of hydration.  Every three times that alarm goes off it is time to eat something.  For this race I chose Honey Stinger gel packets.  To me they taste like Jello brand pudding so they can also be a treat.  Since Amy suggested I hold off I knew I just had to wait for the first alarm to go off and I could start drinking for the speed bottle that is bracketed to the vertical frame tube beneath my seat, where a straw then is strung up the through my aerobars so I can sip on the bottle whenever I want.  I love it.
The first five miles of the course was relatively flat which allowed me to slow down my heart rate while picking up my cadence and moving my speed to around 21 mph.  The air was clean, the sky was overcast and the temperature was perfect.  Everything just kept feeling like it was coming together.  I had no physical issues, I was keeping to my game plan and even though I was getting passed, I was also passing athletes.  Around mile ten the hills started to come into play and I started to move through the initial pack of age groupers whom I was suspecting were the good swimmers and runners but not so good cyclists.  Sometimes you can tell experience from the way people ride.  Amy always has me keeping my cadence and not coming out of the saddle unless I really feel like I need to.  I keep my cadence where I need to and I just move the gears to keep it in that range whether going up hills, coming down, or riding flat.  Sometimes a hill is steep and long therefore I do come out of the saddle, but it takes a lot of energy to do that, and while I do notice a lot of experienced riders taking that strategy, I do not care to.  I also notice while I am expending the same amount of energy on hills as I do cycling on flat roads, I pass those whom are pedaling out of the saddle.  Personally, that is always my favorite.  It is a little fun passing people and saying hello while I am comfortable in the saddle and they are standing, mashing down on the pedals and panting. But, just a little.  It still doesn’t take away from those athletes that are trained to average 23-25 mph and fly right by like a jet plane.  That is when I come back to earth and realize I am still that un-athletic guy who took two years to get this far, while others were able harness their genes and progress much faster.
Mucking for the camera
Before I knew it mile 16 flew by and I was passing the very first aid station where the volunteers where hooting and hollering, handing out water bottles and Ironman Perform sports drink.  Last year I strayed from my nutrition plan and ended up having stomach issues on the run which slowed me way down.  This year I was determined to learn from my mistakes so every aid station I just passed up.  Everything I needed was either in my bento box, in my bottles or in my tri-top.  I refused to stray this year and later, that paid off.  
The hills were coming a little more fast and furious in the middle of the bike course.  I had programmed another alert from my watch that helped a little.  I had my Garmin give me 5 mile splits, so I could tell how I was doing.  I was hoping to average 20 mph minimally, so when the split alert sounded I should see 15 minutes or less.  I was shocked when the middle of my bike I was consistently getting 14:19, 14:40, 14:52.  Of course there were two laps of 5 miles when I was way over.  After mile 30 we ended up with these rolling hills that while were nothing huge I got caught in the wrong gear and had to come out of the saddle and of course was shocked to see that I was moving all of 8 mph.  Wow!  From 21 mph to 8 within just a few seconds.  Somehow I screwed up somewhere, probably due to my ADD, and wasn’t paying attention and got caught on a hill and now I had to mash down on the pedals like the novices just to make it.  Sir Isaac Newton gave me all the luck I needed when he proclaimed “What goes up?”…wait for it…wait for it…”Must come down.”  Even though I was behind time, I could make it up by continuing to pedal on the downhills and scream at 35, and even once for a short stint, 42 mph.  That helped quite a bit.  While the last ten miles were pretty flat I still was kind of shocked when I looked at my watch at mile 55, when the split time came up at 12:49.  That was the highlight of my event.  Five flat miles in 12 minutes, 49 seconds.  It was definitely a first for me.  
I mentioned earlier that Coach Amy had me practicing transitions prior to this race, well, it paid off at T2(bike-ro-run transition).  I slipped off the bike, surprising myself by continuing to run, slipped off my helmet, took off my cletes, changed my race belt to a the one that stored salt tabs and stinger gels, slid on my running shoes, grabbed my hat and ran out of transition in two minutes and forty-four seconds.  Well, below half of my T2 time last year.  What made it even more motivating and exciting was the race clock stated 4:05:32 as I ran out.  Remember, that my wave was at 8:00a, exactly 30 minutes after the start of the race, so this wasn’t my race time.  My race time was 30 minutes less; 3:35:32.  As I was running passed the aid station they had about a quarter of mile out of transition, it hit me.  I could possibly be 5:40 something.  I was hoping to come under 6 hours, but if I could run around a two-hour marathon I could really crush my time from last year.  A two-hour marathon should be easy for me.  I ran a 1:38 in a race last year, I should be able to conquer this goal.  So that’s what I set out to do.  
Unlike road races, long course triathlons usually have aid stations around every mile, which is nice.  When your body has been taking a beating for more than 3 hours, it might need a little extra hydration and nutrition.  My nutrition goal was to walk through every other aid station grabbing water and coke and then every 4 miles taking a gel packet.  
Starting the run

Before I knew it I was at mile 3 wondering where the miles went, especially when my watch had me doing under 9 minute miles.  Of course I expected that to change as my body became a little more tired and I started to walk through the aid stations.  The run in Augusta is two loops around the center of town around Broad street.  It was loaded with spectators and I enjoy it.  Sometimes there is even some great signs that people make.  I have seen some funny ones, like “Toe Nails are for sissies” and “Chuck Norris never did an Ironman”, but my favorite to this day is still “If triathlon was easy they would call it football.”  That one always cracks me up.  Not that it is true.  Take it from someone who has attempted both American football the other football we call soccer, they both have there different definitions of tough.  Triathlon is just the endurance tough because it doesn’t stop for numerous hours, where in the other kinds of football they usually only last 2-3 hours and they have these things called “timeouts”.  In triathlon we don’t have timeouts, the clock doesn’t stop because you have a foul or a penalty.  It just keeps going.

The first loop went around Augusta went very fast.  Before I knew it I was in back a couple of blocks to the west passing the split where a sign was posted to keep left for the first loop or turn right if it was your second loop.  I remembered last year really disliking that sign, but this year not so much.  
The last mile
 (took off my hat and
sunglasses for the picture…LOL)

The crowds seemed to have grown on my second loop and I kept my eye out for Jessica who was sporting her bright yellow tank top and green hair.  It was supposed to be yellow as well, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.  I never did see her the whole run, but nevertheless the crowd cheered everyone on.  A couple of little kids were on the side holding their hands out and cheering hoping we would run by and give them a high five.  There were families out just hoping to get a glimpse of their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers or fathers.  As I was running, my photographer’s eye kept seeing Norman Rockwell, paintings.  This really was a very clean, forthright city with an old soul.  I couldn’t help but smile a lot of the time, at least until mile nine.  I couldn’t believe it, the plan was working just fine but at that point, cramp, side stretch…ouch.  I forced myself to run until the mile 10 aid station where I walked and grabbed water and a cup of coke while breathing as deep as I could.  When the pain subsided a little, I started to run only to be struck down again by the pain.  I grabbed a gel packet and a salt tab hoping they would help and they did, for a short while until I arrived at the mile eleven aid station and ate an orange.  At this point, I didn’t care. I had 2.1 miles left and I wasn’t stopping.  If I had to leave my intestines on the sidewalk and pick them up later that’s what I was going to to.  I picked up my pace, blocked out everything and headed for the finish line.  I didn’t even see the mile twelve marker, but I felt the vibration of my watch which told me now I had just a little over a mile to go.  I kept looking down at my watch, 12.1, 12.24, 12.35.  I felt like this was the longest mile of my life, but I was wrong.  I finally made it to the split.  Left for the first lap and right to the finish and I was going right.  Here is what turned out to be the longest stretch of the run.  I had no idea that a quarter mile could feel like an eternity and when I finally did see the finish, I felt like I was in the movie; “The Shining”, when the little kid is looking down the hall and it keeps getting longer and longer?  That exactly what it felt like.  I looked down at my watch and noticed what it said 19:54.  Crud!  I wasn’t going to make it.  I lifted my legs and increased my cadence just hoping I could get one little ounce of speed and I got it, but just a little too late.  

I crossed the line with the race clock stating 6:06:54, so doing the math my race time ended up being 5:36:54.  While I didn’t hit my goal of a 2 hour half-marathon I still crushed my previous year’s time by over forty-two minutes.  I was on cloud nine.  I couldn’t help smiling.  This really was one of the greatest races I ever competed in.  I take that back.  It was the greatest performance I ever had in a race, period.  Unfortunately, being the oldest in my group I was the first person to cross the finish line, except for Russ who passed me at mile 5, so there was no one to share it with. 
Best race of my life!  

After receiving my medal, taking a couple of pictures and having my timing chipped removed from my ankle I  headed over to the refreshment tent a can of coke from this pool of ice and ran in to Russ.  He told me that he finished around 4:28.  This kid is a machine and that just proved it.  We congratulated each other and I went over and got a massage, but not before disposing of the first coke and grabbing a second.  While waiting I finished that can and by the time I finished up with Caroline, the LMT who took care of me, I felt like a million dollars.  With exception of a twinge in my back, which for me is normal due to my injury, I really felt good.  No pain, no soreness and due to the adrenaline still pumping from having such an awesome performance I felt like a rockstar, and I never really felt that way before.

Epilogue
I changed and called Amy and gabbed about the race.  She was proud of me.  The last two races she had trained me for didn’t turn out so well, so with this performance I felt like I validated myself in her eyes and in my own.  After hanging up I saw a text from Kim telling me how awesome I did and there was a voice mail from my Dad telling me congratulations as well.  I almost cried.  I felt the tears well up, but there was just too many guys around so I wasn’t about to let that happen.
Beth and I

As it turned out we all had a good race.  Celeste PR’d, Chris finished under 6 hours, Bruce beat me by one second, and as it turned out Russ actually took first place in his age group and was on his way to Las Vegas, but the story of the weekend was Beth.  Beth had gone through a lot just to get to the race.  Besides this being her first 70.3, she never biked really prior to this year, she had an injury that kept her from running for over 3 months, so she was very freaked coming into this.  Wouldn’t you know it, after having a goal of just finishing under 6:30:00, her official time was 5:47:16.  We were all really proud of her.  You can read all about her experiences on her blog Discom-BOB-ulated Running.

The rest is pretty boring.  We grabbed our bikes, and said our congratulations to the other athletes we knew as we walked out of transition  We packed up the cars, rode back to the hotel, cleaned ourselves up and headed out to Red Robin.  I don’t know if it was the race, or all the gel packets, electrolyte drinks, or just all the calories we burned, but I had a lettuce wrapped burger that I swear was the best I ever had.  Maybe I just felt like I actually earned it. 
What I can say is this; this had to be one of the best experiences of my life.  I cannot only attribute it to my performance in the race.  Every piece of the puzzle fit.  I couldn’t have done it without the training, my friends, my coaching, the group that I coach, my family and all of the positive people I choose to surround myself with.  With one piece out of sync, it would not have been the experience it was.