Pre-race workouts went well. My trip to St. Anthony's triathlon and the indoor triathlon in March and April had kicked some of the rust off of my triathlon skills. My shoulder, re-built from a pretty bad September bike crash, is starting to emerge stronger than ever. Six days before the race, I went to sleep feeling great and being mostly packed for the race.
I woke to dizziness, weezing, elevated heart rate, sweating, and sinus pain. I picked something up at the Mother's day celebration with our family. The virus swept threw our whole family quickly. Whoever had it had told everyone that "it only lasts a week or so" - #$*%& - never mind that we have elderly aunts and uncles and a cancer patient in our family. I wish that person would have stayed home. Thankfully, my dad (cancer patient) did NOT get sick. Whew!
I tried everything. I even begged for a solution via "Book of Face" (America's great time waster). The only things that seemed to help: garlic - I ate six cloves (really), Niquil & Jack Daniels - shots every night, and fluids.
I flew to Orlando feeling miserable. I slept the entire 2:18 minute flight. Out cold. When we got to the hotel, more sleep. I went outside to sweat a little in the shade. It didn't feel that hot to me; looks like the heat acclimatization work I did paid off too.
The night before the race Lorrie got bit by a Yellow Fly - a nasty bug that inflated her hand over the next few days.
Race morning I woke up and sat on the edge of the bed. As usual, I woke 15 minutes before my alarm and just sat there wondering if I should start. This would be my seventh 1/2 at Walt Disney World (11th race overall), from what I hear, there are only a few of us who have done all of the half ironman races at Disney. I had my transition area set up quickly and was out of transition about 40 minutes before it closed. I hit the "secret" bathroom location, which apparently isn't a secret anymore. There were six people in line. Still better than the other bathrooms which all had LONG lines. Race management eliminated the port-a-lets on the beach this year which was a bummer. Not an issue here. I spoke to the doctor pre-race. He checked my lungs, BP, heart rate and gave me the thumbs up and reassurance that "you could always pull out of the race". I've never DNF'd a race and I didn't want to start here. However, for the first time, DNF sounded wise. I felt like crap.
The swim started very well. I was on the back of the lead group quickly. Even while trying to ease into the race. The race was chippy early. Guys were grabbing ankles, tri-suits, wrists and pulling anything that would give them an edge. I swam right through it all and stayed in the back of the FOP. About halfway to the first buoy I started to cough. The cough turned into heaves - dry heaves - about four or five. I slowed WAY down and the heaving seemed to stop. Now I had lost the FOP swim group and was re-caught by the grabby guys. Great. I swam on the far left, going buoy to buoy once I got back into the swim of things. I had one dude from an earlier wave nearly grab my junk as he flailed away and as I tried to swim threw two guys and a gal I got a handful of arse. I'm not sure if it was the dude or the chick - but it was definitely arse. I think it was the gal based on size of said cheek. Nobody freaked out... we just kept swimming. I "Cadillac-ed" 75% of the swim and went into preservation mode.
Out in 38:21. Slow, but home in in 81st place out of 348 guys in M40-44. Not bad for not swimming most of the winter. I'm looking forward to training more in the water starting the last week of May.
T1 went well. I just jogged on the path and did not pass many people which is normal there. I just got my legs under me and then passed a few people, but was conservative.
The bike started very well. At mile 20 I was at 57:21 on my watch - 20.92 mph. Good start. I was holding back big time on the bike. At mile 40, I was at 1:56:00 which is about 20.69 mph - I hadn't dropped off much and still was holding back a great deal. At mile 45 I started to feel the fatigue and heat. The wind was now in our face and I adjusted pace accordingly. I finished in 2:50:00 (19.8 mph) which wasn't too bad. 199th (not counting the DQs) of 348 - ok... bad. However, I did not draft.
There were a few team time trials going on. As usual, folks from Mexico, Brazil and other southern locations seemed to draft their way through the race. Having the rules in the race packet in Spanish and Portuguese would really help. It was NOT as bad as it had been in other years. There were two HUGE packs closing in on me at about mile 30. As I passed a woman I said, "I wonder when the peleton will catch us?" She said, "Yeah, that sucks." The catch NEVER came. Apparently, there were two MAJOR crashes in both groups. This sent 16 people to the hospital immediately and made the run a parade of bloody and broken runners. I saw one guy running with his arm in a cast and in a sling. I was disappointed when a marshal rode right past the guys drafting in front of me. I did enjoy seeing full penalty tents - a sign that someone was getting penalties. In fact FOUR men in front of me were DQ'd. I don't know what for, but it is HARD to get DQ'd. BTW - the aid stations on the bike were great.
The heat and humidity was normal for Orlando - upper 80s and rising with 77% humidity - I think the day ended at 96 F and 84% humidity. It felt like 100+ to me. I was very concerned about my need for fluids and the illness. I decided to drink like I was in an Ironman. I am a heavy sweater as confirmed by Gatorade Sports Science Institute studies in the heat. I need approximately 36 oz of fluid per hour of exercise. So for a six hour race, roughly 216 oz. of fluid - but you all know that would not be enough because a) I was not acclimatized to the heat b) I was sick. Race day, I drank nine and a half bottles of MotorTabs, Gatorade and water - ON THE BIKE. I did feel great after the bike - 228 oz. of fluid and calories will do that for you. I was determined NOT to go to the medical tent because of hydration stupidity.
The run at the FL 70.3 sucks. Disney limits race management to fire trail for most of the run. That means 9.8+ miles of hot, humid, no shade, Xterra-like trail where ankles go to break. I started the run with an "elimination" break in T2. I felt instantly better. Clear as well. Outstanding! I ran the first mile and was passing people in spite of what felt like 11 minute miles. I felt like I was jogging in place. Ugh! My back and hamstrings were locking up on mile one. Not a good sign. This was fatigue. It wasn't from the heat. I walked most of mile two. Then ran again. This repeated for the rest of the half marathon. When I could run, I was passing people and moving really well. The rest of the time I tried to pull my act together and run ASAP. No talking except to say "thank you" to volunteers as the aid stations were the best they've ever been. I saw Lorrie at the end of lap two (starting three) and waved that I was fine and that she should get a drink and some shade. At the finish, I tried to run the last 800 meters and I was catching a group of four at the finish. The legs locked up and I just finished. 2:56:30 - 13:29/mile - ouch babe. run rank: 280th of 348; more amazing, I beat someone.
So overall, 6:33:52 228th of 348 (65.5%)in my age group, 1259 of 2017 (62.4%)- Goals were to a) finish b) under 6 hrs. All things considered... I'll take it. As I type this (more than a week later) I am still coughing, wheezing and stuffed up (but better - thanks for asking).
Lessons learned from the race:
a) Swimming can put me up another 20-some places. Even if I swim a very average 31 minutes. I need to swim more.
b) Running, the run comeback has been much slower than I would like to admit. I have addressed this with my coach and I am starting a different training protocol which should make a difference.
c) Cycling was alright, however, I should train the entire winter with the PowerCranks. Power training was good for me, but it was missing some things. This will be addressed.
d) Weight, body weight needs to be much lower. Though I am down 30 some pounds, I am still too heavy to be a serious competitor. Let's be honest. See A and B above for some specifics on how to change this.
e) The strength training I've done this winter DID pay off in a big way. I could FEEL my core working and making a difference in my effort. Scary.
Post race - I must have gone to the bathroom about six times - all clear. Thankfully, the rain held off post race. Monday, it did rain pretty hard, however, Lor and I were napping in order to take advantage of the "extra magic" hours in the Disney parks. We stayed out to 1:30am - and shockingly... so did a lot of little kids. Ouch!
See you next year for FL 70.3 number eight. Thanks to MotorTabs for their great support of my racing!