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Jun 30, 2003, 12:49 PM
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Registered: Apr 3, 2002
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1/2 Ironman Report for those interested
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In preparation for the 2004 Californiaman (IM Distance), I figured I should knock out my 1/2 requirement well in advance. There were several reasons for this, the first being by nature I am a very worrisome individual. I could not stand the idea of having that large of a “requirement” hanging over my head for the next few months, but also I was concerned that my knees (long history of non-running related injuries) couldn’t stand the run after doing the bike. Furthermore, I have been training pretty hard over the last 3 months, and wanted to gauge my fitness against something that I knew would test my endurance. All of this leads to last Thursday where the family and I loaded up the minivan and motored off to Sunriver, Oregon.

Now let me start this section with a list of things I didn’t necessarily like and think you Oregonians should address immediately ;) :

#1: 45 mph Freeways???? At first I thought it was a joke, but literally, 2 lanes in each direction with a center divider and the speed limit is 45 mph? I’m all for safety but that is just ridiculous!

#2: People need to learn where the local banks are ;) I asked two different people (wife made me, I was game for driving around aimlessly for a few hours ;) ) and BOTH of them gave me incorrect directions! I finally found a Wells Fargo by doing what I do best…driving around aimlessly!

#3: Power outages on the night before a race can not, and will not be tolerated! :) I about had a heart attack when the power went out in our Bend hotel at 9 PM. Till 11PM (when it came back on) I was severely stressed that I would over sleep. Fortunately, order, errr.. I mean power was restored and I was able to sleep knowing that my alarm would in fact go off. I think lesson learned is to take a non-electric clock on race trips from now on.

OK! So now with the rants out of the way, we can progress the storyline! So we arrive in Bend Thursday night with enough time to check in, do the aimless wandering for a bank, and then drive out to Kao’s Roadside Steak House (or something like that). Pretty nice peanuts on the floor steakhouse. I ended up having a BBQ Chicken Sandwich with mashed potatoes, which was quite excellent. Back to the hotel for some sleep and my daughter’s (Megan who is 7 years old) first triathlon (50 yrd splash, 1/2 mile ride, 1/4 mile run).

Woke up and drove to the main area in Sunriver to sign her up, then decided to reverse drive the bike course to check out the swim area as well as place my bike in T1. The drive out was nerve racking in a sense as the magnitude of the race distances began to sink in. I have done a few 50+ mile rides for training, but to see this course set at over 4000 feet elevation, climbing to over 6000 feet going around Mt Bachelor, guarded by several miles of steep hills really seemed to drive that point home. There would be suffering to be found here in large quantities in less than 24 hours.

At the conclusion of the drive, we parked and I walked my bike into T1. I found my racking location, hooked my trusty steed up by the handle bars and walked down to the lake (Wickiup Resevoir). They had the course buoys up, and I couldn’t help myself from tracing the line from dock around the diamond arranged course. Once again the magnitude of the race began permeating through me. It was not that I was scared, but rather a sense that this would be a challenge at every level for me. I have limited open water swims in, and in addition, I would be swimming this race with my new ProMotion wetsuit I just bought. My race goggles were leaking during training leading up to the race but I was too scared to buy and use new ones (I would regret this later). Throw all this into a blender along with this being my longest “race swim” and hit MIX .

We drove back from the reservoir to T2 in the direct route so my wife could see the path she would take after I either completed the swim, or to follow the ambulance to the closest hospital ;) Got back in time, to put my daughters bike together and walk it over to the starting line of her race. They had the kids computer chipped and everything, which added an extra “excitement” to it for the kids. The race course consisted of running through 3 sections wading pools filled with 2-3” of water with a divider that needed hurdled between each section (~50 yards total). This end with a short loop to the bike transition then a circular bike 1/2 mile ride, followed by a quick out and back 1/4 mile run.

My wife and I brought our daughters Aqua socks because we figured Megan (my daughter) wouldn’t want to bike/run in wet shoes. I tried to talk to her into just doing the entire race in the aqua socks, but she said she wanted to change shoes at the bike transition. So the plan was I would watch her through the splash, run over to the bike transition and toss her shoes to her.

They ran the kids through in sets of two’s and the line was moving quickly. I could sense the nervousness of my daughter as she was acting giddier than normal. I wished her luck and gave her a kiss and got to a spot where I could see but also make a quick getaway to the bike T. She was paired up with a boy her age and they crossed the mats simultaneously. The boy got a quick jump on her during the first section, but he wiped out trying to jump over the first divider. My wife got a great snap shot of Megs jumping over the divider as the little boy wiped. He quickly recovered with a huge smile on his face so it was all good. Megs was in stride through the rest of the “splash” and I realized I better run to the Transition. I also realized that I should probably start breathing again since I was evidently holding my breath since the start :)

As she ran up to her bike she ripped off her aqua socks and grabbed her shoes. As she started to put on her socks she turn and looked right at me and said with absolute pure determination, “Forget the shoes, give me back my aqua socks and HURRY!” LOL, I will live with that memory for the rest of my life. My sweet little girl who is meek as a mouse normally, speaking in an authoritative “triathlete” voice of pure determination and excitement. I later told my wife I felt we should encourage Megs to do more as this is exactly the kind of thing I think she needs to help her become more confident in herself.

She put her Aqua Socks back on was running her bike out. Literally I had to fight back the tears welling up in my eyes I was so proud. Somehow she had gone from a 7 year old little girl to young athlete in the blink of an eye and through the course of an afternoon. My wife managed to get two different pictures of Megs at two different spots on the bike course (don’t ask me how, my wife =’s super mom). I ran down to the bike finish to make sure she got onto the run ok.

Before I knew it she came flying up the hill on her bike, hit the dismount line and vaulted off with more speed and grace than I could ever mustard, and then threw her bike down at her spot, ripped her helmet off, and flashed me a quick grin as she sprinted off. They had the kids finish through the main finish line that would also be used for the 1/2 IM, so it was awesome for the kids to see a line of parents on both sides of the finish cheering away as they ran in. At the conclusion, each kid got a water bottle and a medal. My wife was crying and I was doing my best to blink out a piece of dust that had somehow flew into my eye ;) when Megan crossed the line. She ran over to us and began saying how much fun it was and telling us about how she bumped into another rider on the bike course, said, “Sorry” and kept going. It was amazing to see her face a lit up like the little champion that she was. It was enough to make me the proudest dad in the whole world I can promise you that :)

After Megan’s event, the Friday night PastaFest for the 1/2 IM started, so we loaded up on pasta and listened to the pre-race speech. The race planner went over the course focusing at length on the bike coarse. His reason???? The forecasted temperature for race day… 90+ degrees. 90+ degrees at 4 to 6 thousand feet elevation is brutal. They warned everyone to be drinking up the liquids as things could get downright deadly out there. I have never used Succeed or any other kind of salt tablet before, but this was enough to scare me into it. I went to one of the tri vendors and bought a bottle for use the next day. The night ended with a one man band, and I knew that my emotions were starting to run rampant as I about burst into tears when he sang, “Desperado”. Enough was enough, I told my wife we better get back to the hotel before I flipped out.

Back to the hotel, only to find out that the power had gone out. OH MY GOD is what went through my head, but as stated above, the power eventually went back on. I was so amp’ed I decided to take two Tylenol PM. Yeah I know the horror, but when 12:30 AM hit and I was still laying there thrashing around with 1,000 thoughts running through my head, I decided I better do something otherwise I would get no sleep at all. I never saw 1 AM so they must have worked, but 5:30 AM rolled around pretty quickly.

I got up, stretched, showered, and then woke up the brood. We all got ready quickly and went down and had breakfast (free continental, yipeee :) ) Off we went to T2, where I set up my transition area with the standard large towel, running shoes, and a few extra PowerGel packs. I then got body marked, and was soon back in the car heading towards the start. I could feel my nerves thrashing in my stomach like a TJ Hotdog after a hard Friday night of partying, but it was too late to do anything about it. I was on a crash course with either finishing a 1/2 IM or most likely dieing from effort somewhere out on the course.

Hit T1, gave my wife, daughter and son (Max 1 and 1/2 yrs old) kisses and then headed into T1. I prepped up the rest of T1, biking shoes, socks, Camelback (yeah I used it and I loved it. Filled it full of ice and then topped it off with water, was pure pleasure to get ice cold water the whole way through the bike leg :) ), helmet, race number on belt, etc… Of course then I started the obligatory 1 million trips to the portapotties. Each one taking progressively longer as more people showed and they began to do the same thing. I did some more stretching, checked my bike over, etc…

Before I knew they were announcing that the first wave peeps (that would be me @ 30-34 M&F) should head down to the water. I stretched a little more, put on the suit, and headed down. My wife and kids were near the start so I leaned over and gave them one more round of kisses :) The announcer said water was 62 degrees, and it felt like it, but I think I am beginning to like the colder water. I did a quick warm up swim out to the first buoy and back and was feeling great…except for….fricking goggles. No matter what I tried I could not get them to stop leaking like a sieve! Both sides, I tried shortening the strap, lengthening, pushing them in, setting them lightly, nothing worked. I resigned myself to eyefuls of water during the race and that is exactly what I got.

I hit start button on my watch at about 5 secs during the 15 second countdown to start. Before I knew it, the horn/gun (don’t remember) went off and I was in the water along with the rest of the thrashing swimmers. I started of mid pack and stayed there for most of the time, eventually striking to the left so as to be away from masses. I know it meant less drafting, but the last thing I wanted at the start of my longest swim was to get kicked in the face. Right off the bat I noticed the difference in my swimming with the new wetsuit. Much less physical as compared to swimming in my surfing wetsuit, which I had used during my prior three tris. Another two things I noticed: #1 my goggles were still leaking and would completely fill with water within 100 yards of being emptied. This made for miserable sighting and I kept having to pull up and empty out at least one side to be able to see the buoys. This sucked as I had to do this during the entire swim. #2- I was swerving from side to side and was really veering to the left anytime I went head down for an extended period of time. This caused me to swim what I am sure amounted to a lot further of distance than I had too. Oh well two things I will do before next race: new goggles and More open water swims. My current TYR goggles are only about 4 months old, so they shouldn’t be wearing out by now should they? Oh well, I think this time I might go with one of them fancy “seal mask” or equivalent thingies :)

My goal for the swim was under 40 mins, and I just made it at 39:?? Something. Splits aren’t posted yes and I decided I wasn’t going to mess with my watch at all during the race. I caught a quick glance at it running up the ramp though. I ran straight up the ramp and into a porta-potty. Man I had to pee so bad is was insane. Probably from drinking too much lake water :)

I took my time at the transition as my goal was to finish and not do anything stupid. I could definitely cut some time out of T1 but I left relaxed. Walked the bike out across the mats, mounted up and was on my way. Now I have read over and over again how people say, “Go slow” at the start, so I really had to reign myself in as I had the overwhelming desire to put the hammer down. I did hold back…some…but still ended up passing people non-stop. After 15 mins, I popped a Succeed tablet (which I continued to do every 45 mins from that point on) and then at 45 mins I ate a Balance Bar (continued to eat every 45 mins). The course starts off relatively flat with some minor ups and downs and I was soon feeling good and cranking in circles. I found someone else in a blue shirt that was going about my same speed so I stuck by him. I was worried about drafting and penalties etc… so I was always cognizant of my position, probably spent too much time worrying about it.

The bike course was absolutely beautiful and I enjoyed every minute of it. From alpine meadows and lakes, to chunky lava flows, to high enough elevation that snow was still hanging around the base of trees and anywhere there was shade. The air was crisp and clean, and each breath made me fully aware that this was something I should take in and not just put my head down “to get through it”. Before I knew it, I was at mile 34ish. This is where the race director had told us the “fun” would start with a long gradual uphill for 2+ miles. I didn’t find it too bad and kept cranking away. After this stretch, a small break in a flat spot lead to the final steep 2 mile climb to the summit on the backside of Bachelor. This is where the suffering really did come into play and I am not ashamed to admit I went down to the granny ring. I think I probably hurt myself timewise here as I am still learning optimal gearing on my new bike (I have only had it a month or so) and there were a few times where I was spinning away much too easily only to finally shift up a bit and increase my speed by several mph with no real increase in effort. Oh well… lesson learned :)

Hit the summit and then down the backside where 50 mph was achieved (a first for me on the new bike). At this point, I started feeling a little bit of back pain, so I got out of the saddle on some of the flatter stretches leading to the home stretch. Ironically enough, my left knee started hurting here which is the exact opposite of what I expected pre-race. In training my right knee was the worrisome knee and I began to wonder if somehow I was overcompensating for the right knee which lead to the aggravation of the left??? Didn’t matter as it was too late since it was already hurting :(

The final 14 miles or so was more rolling hills with a slight tendency to downhill except for the last 2 or 3 miles. One thing of note that happened, while merging from one highway to the next, 2 state troopers tag teamed me to cause me a lot of worry during the run. As I approached the first cop, he yelled “LEFT”. I yelled back “LEFT?” because I wasn’t even to the intersection yet, but was approaching the merging opposite direction turn lane. As I started initiating my turn, he yelled, “At the next officer!” I then looked and saw further up another cop with his back turned to me. Unfortunately at 28 mph I had already started turning and there was no way I could correct my path to make it around the correct side of the second cop, so I ended up flying through the middle of the intersection in the gravel. The whole time from the rest of the race out I kept replaying it in my mind to try and remember if I crossed the double yellow and would be disqualified. The first cop really should have said, “go straight” and then second cop should have said “left” in addition they should have had that corner “coned” off so people could know where to go. It just sucked wondering for the rest of the race if I would hit the finish line only to see DQ’d on my card. Fortunately that did not happen as I would have went into an absolute rampage if I was DQ’d. I would have rode through a loopty loop if that’s where we were supposed to go. I just felt very frustrated at not knowing which way to go and receiving incorrect guidance from the first cop coupled with the second cop being faced away from me so I couldn’t even really tell who he was. Ate a Balance Bar on the way in towards T2. Took a glance at the watch as I dismounted, it was 2 PM which means I did the bike in ~ 3 hours which was about what I was hoping for. My wife was at the run into T2 and shot some pictures of me.

I hit my spot and hung up the bike and helmet. Loaded up more eating goodies and noticed my wife had placed a note in one of my shoes which was very encouraging and sweet :) I made a mistake here. I should have stretched my legs some, but instead I took off running. Right off the bat my left knee began throbbing and I knew it was going to be a long race, especially because I know my right knee starts hurting around 7-8 miles of running. At the first water station, I stretched my legs out a bit, which helped but with another 0.5 mile the left knee was hurting again and even worse. Thus began the long cycle of running water station to water station, stretching at every one. Without the stretching, I don’t know if I could have finished the run at all. I think it is my ITB but I am not sure as it feels like the pain is somewhere inside the knee, not on the outside, but it is definitely more towards the outside of the knee than center. My plan is to hit up a sports doc this week and have them take a look at it. By mile 8, I was forced to walk stretches of the run, not because of physical conditioning, but because every cadence on the left would send so much pain that I would physically wince. I was getting frustrated as I felt great aerobically when I ran, just the pain was INSANE.

By mile 9, my right knee started hurting too. I shook my fists at the sky and cursed my genetics (my mom who isn’t very athletic has had one knee surgery and I have two brother who have also had knee surgery). My resolution to myself as I plodded along in sever pain was to see a doc, get the POSE method of running book, and try to find some exercises that I can do to help strengthen my knees. I felt cheated that I had done so well (IMO for me) on both the swim and bike, only to have my body structure (not my fitness) let me down on the run :( By mile 10, people were passing me asking if I was ok as I was running something akin to the hunchback of Notre Dame. Every step was absolutely lancing pain. It became so bad, I started counting my steps as a means of motivation. 20 steps of walking, 50-100 steps of “shuffling” depending on how long I could take the pain. By mile 12, even the walking hurt. To generate enough momentum to start running in between walking, I had to actually grunt/groan in order to overcome the pain threshold.

As I closed in on mile 13, spectators started saying things like, “Almost there” and “only a few hundred yards to go”. Literally, every time it would bring tears to my eyes at the very thought of finishing. My resolve was to run at least the majority of the last mile and through the finish line. I did that and was rewarded at the end where my daughter ran with me across the finish line.

I chipped in at 06:29 and something, but you can clearly see the finish clock @ 6:25 ;) I felt fantastic and literally, I wasn’t even out of breath. It was wonderful to grab some fruit and head out to the family. My brother, who was on his way up to Washington state was a “hopeful” on being there, ended up making it on time to watch me finish. Brenda gave me a huge hug and kiss and Max and Megan were scrambling on top of one another trying to jump on me. It was one of those things that will stay with me forever that’s for sure. The race was fantastic and I felt a validation of my training by my performance aerobically during the race. Had I been able to avoid the knee troubles, I am not sure when I would have came in, but it would have been pretty damn sweet :) Oh well, I finished which was my ultimate goal and I now and worry free (other than the knee issues) going into Californiaman. This experience really helped me realize that physically I am on the right path for a full IM. At the end of the swim, I thought, “I could keep going.” At the end of the bike I thought, “I could do more.” However at the end of the run I thought……OUCH!!!! :)

The pain in the knees was the limiting factor by far. As further evidence of this, the next day and today, my legs are not sore at all, just my knees :( I will be calling the sports doc today to set up and appointment, as I need to get this knee thing under control ASAP as I plan on starting an IM training.

Thanks for reading and I know the length was insane. Congrats if you made it all the way through it!!


Jun 30, 2003, 12:52 PM
Post #2 of 5 (1754 views)

Registered: Jan 24, 2003
Posts: 3752

Re: 1/2 Ironman Report for those interested [In reply to]
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thanks for the report. phew!!!! i'm winded just reading it. that's a big task dude... good job


Jun 30, 2003, 1:06 PM
Post #3 of 5 (1754 views)

Registered: Jan 8, 2003
Posts: 7947

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My "Evolution Thread" posts must've been inspirational! Now go buy yourself some Glucosamine and keep the knees iced.



Jun 30, 2003, 5:12 PM
Post #4 of 5 (1754 views)

Registered: Apr 13, 2002
Posts: 6627

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Great post and great race. Take care of those knees. See a good doc they can tell you what it is and if it needs surgery or rehab. I've had to endure both. Good luvk to ya.


Jul 1, 2003, 2:47 AM
Post #5 of 5 (1754 views)

Registered: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 14120

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congrats for finishing.

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