With apologies to Lorne, swim-bike-run posts today and Friday. We return to regular programming Monday, October 3rd.
Like Brett Farvah, came out of retirement to compete in the Black Diamond Half Iron last Saturday. The weather was ideal, calm, partially sunny, 60’s-lower 70’s.
Only my second half iron—1.2 mile swim/56 mile bike/13.1 mile run. Finished in 5:13+ in 2006 after cycling too hard for my fitness and unraveling on the run. Took me five years to recover.
The deets—30:42 swim, 3:12 T1, 2:42:54 bike, 1:52 T2, 1:40:09 run, 4:58:49. One of the athletic accomplishments I’m most proud of along with extricating myself from the top of my roof after getting spread eagled putting on Christmas lights and scoring five goals in a sophomore water polo game against Western High in Cypress, CA back in the typewriter era.
Went in with modest swim volume and three short runs off the bike. Hadn’t ran 13.1 in ages either. On the other hand, my cycling was really solid all summer, I’ve strengthened my core, and I’ve been churning out 30 mile running weeks. Despite being fit, I was nervous about going out too fast and then unraveling again. So the plan was to stay within myself, cruise/bilateral breathe throughout the swim, keep the cadence high on the bike, and run conservatively from start to finish.
Fog rolled in right as we were starting the swim. It was a two loop .6 mile diamond shaped course so the buoys were closer together than normal, but the fog got so thick it was hard to see them. I was sighting off the arms of a guy in front of me in a sleeveless wetsuit. Felt like I zigged and zagged a bit inside and outside the buoy-line which gives me a sponsorship idea.
The other problem with the swim was I couldn’t dial it back after going hard for the first 150 yards to get into some open water. I didn’t bilateral breathe once and swam harder than I had intended. Theme of the day. Decent time/start.
The bike course was nice, wide shoulders, smooth pavement, rolling. Just over 2k’ in elevation. And it was the cleanest race I’ve ever seen. A couple out and backs, two loop course so lots of opportunities to see others, and not one instance of drafting. With my road bike, pseudo-aero bars, and non-race wheels, I was outgunned in the hardware department, but I put up an admirable fight. I also road differently, like the roadie I am, standing on the climbs, coasting in a crouch on the descents, only aero maybe half of the time. Everyone else seemed like they were aero all the time, always seated, pedaling downhill, perfect spike-free wattage charts no doubt. My wattage chart would probably resemble that of a major earthquake.
Late in the ride, going pretty hard at over 20mph, I felt a wee bit of lactic acid forming. Internal dialogue. “How are you planning to run after this?” Again, couldn’t get out of my mod-hard groove. “We’ll, we’ll know whether we rode too hard by the two mile mark of the run.”
The run was on rural roads with a couple of out and backs, one ran twice. I liked it because again you could see where you were relative to the other competitors. Right out of T2, I exited stage left into a PortaPit. I’ve watched televised college football games that took less time than that whiz.
Once I started running in earnest, a 25 year old passed me like I was standing still. I figured that was a good sign that I hadn’t started too fast. Shortly afterwards, he cramped up and stopped. Eventually he recovered and later passed me, ultimately finishing about a minute ahead of me. Youthful exuberance, terrible pacing. Only dude to pass me during the run (because the burners outcycled me)*. I was cruising, thinking I was running my planned 8:00/minute miles, but my splits were crazy fast–7/7:20ish. What the hell? I had my legs and the turnover was there. I began picking off people, looking past the person in front of me to the one in front of them and then pulling them back. Only once got out of my comfort zone when I didn’t realize the road had kicked up a few degrees.
I was cruising so comfortably I was pre-writing this blog post in my head, not racing per se, just running within myself, not chasing people, just watching them come back to me. Then everything changed at mile 8. I decided my 7:20’s were suicidal and decided to sit on a guy I ran up on until mile 10. “Use him to slow down,” I told myself. Just about then, my hammies seized up as they often do when I ask too much from them. Did the straight legged walk a bit, managed to work it out enough to slowly jog to the aid station, downed some electrolyte drink, and then eased back into running. Too strong of a performance to succumb to walking. Now 43 (his age as noted on his right calf) was at least 100 meters up on me. Both hammies were on the edge, but I tentatively pressed on.
Between mile posts 10 and 11, I came back up on 43 and now 46 who he was sitting on. Pass or rest for the final two miles? I decided not to adjust my pace and made the pass. 43 said something like “Didn’t know if you were cramped up for good” and I assured both of them I was on the edge and my hammies could go at any minute especially on the downhills. Didn’t know if one or both would come with me, but neither was able to. Finished steadily over the last mile of trail around the lake. I was pleasantly surprised by my run and the day more generally.
Walked straight to the beach, stripped down to the bike shorts, and disappeared into the cold lake. Nothing speeds recovery like that. Well, besides a Big Tom’s chocolate shake.
* Except for John Brewer (47) of Kirkland. Check out his splits for a chuckle. I went to the race director to get a print out of the results so the mean lady guarding the age group awards would give me mine. Tangent—if I had known it was another very hokey (made in China) medal with nothing imprinted on it and not the cool clear/plexiglass engraved plaques for the winners, I wouldn’t have bothered. Anyways, I watched the Race Director spend fifteen minutes trying to explain to JB that he cut the course. He was incredulous. The Race Director drew a detailed map of the course and went over it and over it. Then afterwards his friend said “Yeah, I should have seen you here (pointing to an out and back on the hand drawn map) and I never did.” I would have been more direct than the Race Director. “You were 102nd in the swim, 78th in the bike, but somehow rallied to run the fifth fastest run split of the day?! Any relation to Rosie Ruiz?!”