Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pacific Crest Half Ironman!

Sorry for the delay! I've been on vacation with the family with VERY limited internet! Just got home tonight so I'll get right to it.

Friday morning I woke up after a mediocre sleep (thinking about the race) and went into Sunriver and hit packet pick-up. I got over there around 10 am and was a bit surprised to find that not many people were there! I kind of expected that with an event this size there would have been people swarming into town. Eh... no big deal. Picked up my packet and wandered around the various and sundry booths in the "Athlete's Village" trying to find free stuff... not too much luck no that front. Went back to the cabin and touched base with the family, picked up the bike, and met my buddy Jim to take our bikes out to T1... about a 25 minute drive from SR. Us 2 rookies had a great time freaking out and second-guessing our pacing strategies and nutrition plans for the race. Breezed in, got marked (TOTAL rookie move), found our assigned row for the bikes, set them up and drove back to SR. Met up with Drew and decided to take a ride with him out to the lake. When we got out there the wind was kicking up some pretty massive whitecaps on the lake. I knew the wind wouldn't be as aggressive at 9 am the next
morning so I didn't sweat it. As usual, Drew was good company and I took advantage of his ability to calm my nerves the day before the race. He had also heard from a fellow Triscooper named Scottie that was doing his first HIM at Pacific Crest as well. Drew's a good man and pretty level-headed... thanks for keeping it even keel Drew! The plan for tomorrow was to have my Father-In-Law take, myself, Drew, and Jim from T2 in the m0rning at about 6:30 am and drive us out to the lake.

Back to the cabin with the family. My Mother and Father-In-Law had arrived by that time and when I walked into the kitchen they came out shaking pom-poms and chanting, "Go Rob! Go Rob! Go Rob!" Freakin hilarious huh? I love those guys. Had a nice relaxing dinner and turned in around 9:30 pm... and proceeded not to sleep due to 1) Excitment, 2) Tom deciding that he's all of a sudden afraid of the dark, and 3) Lila needing to pee every 3 minutes! AH! The joy of fatherhood... the fun never ends!

Race day started with a 5 am wakeup. Ok ok... I know... a little early... but I just couldn't help it! YES! RACE DAY! WHOOP whoooooooop! Coffee, oatmeal, banana and a heavy coat of sunscreen... ready to go! Off to T2, meet Drew and Jim, get my stuff set-up and pile in the car to get to the lake. Got there around 7:30 am and had plenty of time to chill out and warm-up in the sun before out 9:05 am wave start. Drew was cool as usual... I think he actually took a nap under the big inflatable RedBull swim finish thing. I was feeling really really good! Confident, relaxed, centered, and just plain ready to get things going! Double checked my stuff... all set! Random thoughts flew through my mind, "Wow... that old chick is HOT! Skinny guys like me look bitchin in wetsuits! Alright big buff dude with attitude that just bumped into me and didn't say excuse me... OH... you're in my age group... I'm gonna smoke your bags dude." HELL YEAH! Ready to GO! Had a Hammer Gel and a couple of Endurolytes and walked on down to the water.

Waded into the water with Drew and did roughly 100 yards to warm-up a bit and get used to the water. Temp wasn't cold, surface looked glassy, Jim waded in looking a little freaked out. Some dude's zipper broke about 5 min from the start... he was holding it together pretty well but you could tell that inside he was freakin out... I know I would be! 9:00 am... first wave takes off! "WOW... this is freakin cool!" Alright... 5 min to go! Deep breaths! Keep it straight... flow... flow... flow... smooth... smooooooth. Gave Jim and Drew a high 5, "Have a good day guys!"


Head down, plowin through... not too many people around me... sighting sighting sighting... few bumps from either side... I'm NAILING my sightings! TOTALLY pumped about going straight! HEY! I feel awesome!
YES! Pull hard! I'm at the first buoy already! HOLY crap! Nice! Wait... those are caps from the first wave! YES... ok ok.. calm down... they're just slow. I feel good though... I'm actually going in a straight line and am exactly where I thought I'd be in terms of pacing. I was a bit timid in terms of pushing the pace... mostly I was afraid of putting out too much too early and not being able to hammer the bike. Next thing I know I'm out of the water and heading through the RedBull arch thingy. Check my watch... "Holy CRAP! I'm 2 minutes ahead of where I thought I'd be! YES!"

Into T1! Slow slow sloooooooow. "CRAP! Move move MOVE! COLD! Come ON Rob... get your wet suit off! Bah ha ha! This is GREAT! Woooo WHOOOOO! YES!" Crammed all my stuff into the bag that was provided to us. Helmet on. Glasses on. Shoes on. GO! Out the gate and off I go!

"Eeeeeeeasy... eeeeeeasy." I had to keep telling myself when I started out b/c I was SO jacked with adrenalin! I wanted to red-line immediately! A few people blew right by me early on, and it was really tough not to go with them. "Let 'em go... you'll see 'em later." So I let them go. Then I realized that I was freezing my ass off! The combination of the relatively cold water and my "fancy" (Lila's term) triathlon "outfit" still being wet, the chilly morning air, the wind chill, and my adrenalin pumping was making me shiver. "CRAP... where's the sun?! I'm freezin my balls off!" This passed soon enough. The scenery was awesome as I was peddling along. No one was passing me except for the occational super-fast dudes with disk wheels... I was ok with that. I was passing some people though... LOVED that! The course was rolling hills... nothing steep but some of the ups were large enough to slow me down to an average speed that I didn't really like... then again there were the downs... FUN! I think I topped out around 40mph on a couple! SWEET! I was sipping on my aero bottle every 10 minutes religiously... I had set my timer... feeling really good. I had decided early on not to look at my odometer until I was an hour and a half in... that was my predicted half-way mark. About an hour in I heard a bike coming up on my left, "Clank, Grind, CLANK, CRUNCH!" There's this guy on an old Trek just grinding away... he passed me on an uphill, I let him know that he was lookin good but his bike sounded aweful! He just said "Thanks" and motored on. "Ok... you can't let him and his noisey bike go". I held onto him and paced with him. I would pass him... he would pass me... it got to the point where we just laughed and smiled at one another every time it happened. Finally, I saw his cadence falter... I passed him one final time and never saw him again. I was a bit bummed... it would have been fun to push each other on the run as well. I hit the 1.5 hour mark and held my breath... looking down I cycled through the buttons on my computer... "Holy CRAP... I'm down 31.6 miles! I can finish sub 5 hours! HOLY CRAP! YES!" Such a great feeling! The rest of the ride was auto-pilot. I felt fantastic and just kept after it. No one was passing me and there was a huge gap between myself and the next guy... "Try to reel him in"... didn't happen but it kept me focused. About 2 miles out of T2 on the main road there was traffic backed up and I actually had to duck to avoid a huge truck's side-view mirror... freakin SCARY! Then on the final turn toward T2 the dude that was directing the traffic actually sent an SUV right in front of me! I had a few choice words for the cop and the driver! No harm... I was at T2 and completely blown away that I was there a full 25 minutes before I expected to be! NICE!

Into T2! "Holy CRAP! So that what it feels like to run after going hard for 56 miles! Eh... oh well." Coming in, a college buddy of mine that I rowed with and his wife were yellin for me, "Go Rob! Hey ROB! Lookin GOOD DUUUUUUDE!" I loved that! ALL smiles I parked my bike in the rack, helmet off, shoes off, race belt on, visor on, running shoes on, two Endurolytes, 3 gels in the waist band, GONE!

I was a bit shocked at how my legs felt. I don't exactly know what I was expecting... but I wasn't expecting to feel this tired. Plus... I was also FULL! I consumed a grand total of 32 oz of Perpetuem and one HammerGel on the bike... and I felt really FULL! I clocked my pace at just under 8 min at the first mile... I was ok with that thinking that I'd pick it up as the miles ticked off. Then this girl just BLEW by me, "Hey! She's haulin ASS! Speaking of ass... look at her's... its HUGE! There's no way a chick with a bootay like that can be that FAST! Uhhhh... hmmmm... check your ego Rob!" Yeah... that was crazy. Anyway... came up on a guy with an MDot on his calf... asked him where he got it... turns out he got it at IM Wisconsin last year... "You're hardcore dude! Have a good run!" Off I went. I kept my pace even. Every aid station I walked through and took in at least one water. I'm not entirely sure why I felt the need to walk each station... I guess it was just lack of experience that told me to be careful, take it easy, don't blow your wad too early. I warmed up pretty well by mile 3 and hit cruise control. My mind wandered a LOT. "Am I taking enough fluid? When do I take a gel? Gatorade at the next aid table? I wonder how K is doing with all 3 kids at the finish? Why does this dude sound like he's in labor?" Who knows man... I certainly didn't so I just plodded along. I was passing people for a while and then it just opened up... no one behind... no one in front... which sucked b/c I'm better when I have someone to chase. I started feeling a cramp come on at around mile 8... so I slammed a gel and started taking in one cup of Gatorade at every aid station... and guess what? It went away. At mile 11 I started my "kick"! YEAH... if that's what you call it. I looked at my watch and started to think about not quite being able to hit sub 5 hours. "Relax.. you're ok... you can make it... just don't slow down." The problem was that I spent the last 10 miles or so relaxing and walking aid stations... I think deep down I knew I couldn't make up the time lost... but I sure as hell was going to try. I felt surprisingly good... which pissed me off, "If you feel this good ROB... you should have pushed harder earlier! You SUCK dude! Wait a minute... knock it off! Dude... you're doing great... keep it smooth... kick it up a notch... look around you! It's GORGEOUS out here! Can you hear the crowd? YES! You're family is over there waiting for you! Have FUN for Christ's sake!" I really did hear the crowd... and they pulled me in! It was AWESOME! There was Kathryn and the kids and my Mother and Father-in-law screamin for me! It was GREAT! I was clapping for myself and yellin, "YES! WOOOOOO WHOOOOOO!!!! COME ON!" as I crossed the line... a VERY happy man!

So here's the final results:
  • Swim: 00:33:50
  • T1: 00:03:14
  • Bike: 02:35:18
  • T2: 00:02:12
  • Run: 01:47:35
  • Total: 05:02:10
  • Overall: 73 of 443
  • AG: 23 of 74
I'm pleased as punch with the overall results! Especially considering the fact that this is my first race at this distance and my 3rd triathlon ever! Here's the thing though... I know I can be faster! Bah ha ha! Isn't that classic? "Don't bask in it... put yourself down Rob... all the cool kids do it!" Seriously folks... I'm NOT happy with that run! I think I attribute my lack of speed mostly to lack of experience. Now I know... and I will go harder next time! Now the bike... I'm shocked and THRILLED with that! I'm so happy with it that every inch of my being is struggling to find something to put down about it... can't do it... I'm PUMPED about that bike! Swim was fine... REALLY happy with the sighting... BIG thanks to my buddy Mark for helping me with that!

I'm an overwhelmingly lucky guy. I have an amazing family that's extremely supportive of my "habit". I just feel incredibly blessed every single day and competing in events like this just make me appreciate all that I have even more. There's more training to be done and more races to be run...

this is just the beginning...



Drew Holmes said...

DUDE, I totally forgot about the zipper guy!!!! Yeah we were getting ready to roll into the wave start and this guys zipper on his wet suit completely broke......You would have freaked!!!!!!!!! he did handle it pretty cool though i must admit. Based on your time your new name is TRI-ROB-SANDBAGGER...............congrats

Scott Brown said...

Great Job Rob!! FAST FAST FAST!!!! Great Race Info.