1st place AG, 4th overall
HITS Naples 140.6
January 11, 2014
1st place AG, 4th overall
HITS Naples 140.6
January 11, 2014
I woke up at 4:55 am and had a bagel with peanut butter, honey, and banana, along with a cup of coffee and water. I double checked my nutrition, filled my bottles, put on my chip, and we were out the door around 6 am to get to transition, which was 5 miles away.
The traffic leading up to transition was stopped, because it was one road leading to a parking garage and an outdoor lot. I got out of the car and walked with my stuff the last quarter mile or so. Actually, I jogged straight to the portapotty, and then into transition for body marking. I set up transition, which did not have racks for bikes; the bike tire gets racked in a low bin make out of wood. This makes for bins near the tires for extra items, which was great for putting my wetsuit in and out of the way during T1. I put my wetsuit on halfway, grabbed my goggles, cap and Aquaphor, and head towards the beach as they closed transition at 6:40 am. After a few more rest stops, I put my cap on, put Aquaphor on my neck, wrists, and ankles, and zipped up. The race director did the final speech, and we all went towards shore. The race was both half distance and full distance athletes starting at the same time: 70.3 did one loop of the swim, and 140.6 did two loops.
The Swim (1:15:00, 20th place)
My goggles are not great. I have not been able to find a goggle that fits my narrow face without sucking my eyeballs out. The ones I was using, TYR Nano, would have worked okay… but when I put them on I still have a bit of Aquaphor on my hand, which made it impossible to see out of the lenses. I calmly found a spectator in a t-shirt on the shore and asked him to clean them for me, as my wetsuit wasn’t going to help me much. Thank you, kind sir! I went into the water and popped down to get water in my suit. The water temperature was perfect both before and during the swim. Not too cold, but no overheating either. As I fixed my goggles, the gun went off and the race started. This was not at all concerning to me, as I am totally fine with taking off in the swim whenever. I’m finding that I don’t need to start as far back as typically have, but I do not need to be on the front line for a swim. I started off calmly and without problem.
This was, without question, my best swim ever. Lake Placid might be my favorite swim ever because of the underwater cord, but in terms of my physical and mental performance, this was my best. I did swim off course a bit, but I also did all of the swim alone, without drafting, as there just weren’t enough people. I did single side breathing most of the time, stayed in a comfortable breathing pattern, and switched sides occasionally, particularly when the sun came up on the second loop. After the first loop I had to run up on the sand (only about three feet) and go around the buoy. I wished for some water to drink after the first loop but there was none. After a few high fives, it was back in the water with myself and the other full athletes, and off again. I adjusted my goggles and got a few extra breaths in, and took off again. I was focused on kicking and pulling, and spent the swim focusing on my form.
I came out of the water alone and started running the quarter mile to transition as I stripped my wetsuit. Once near transition there were real wetsuit strippers. I ran into transition and saw a LOT of bikes. Usually about half are gone by the time I’m in, but most were still there. I knew I had a decent swim. I tried to put some spray sunblock on but could not get the nozzle to open, so I abandoned it quickly. I forgot a towel to dry my feet, so I used my morning shirt and then put my socks and shoes on. I put my race belt on backwards (on purpose), helmet on and clipped, sunglasses in my mouth, and ran out and across the street to mount my bike.
The bike (5:30:28, 4th fastest)
I had a solid plan: ride easy for the first 30 miles, more steady for the next 30, faster for 60-90, and easier for 90-112. In theory this is great, but I know that the 80 to 90 mile segment has historically felt like it was hours long, so it would be difficult to do. I started passing people within the first 5 miles of the ride, but some were 70.3 athletes, which I could tell from their race numbers.
At mile 5, I passed my wife, who wore an orange shirt (perfect for sighting!). I yelled to her for some sunblock on my way back, but I knew I would be fried by that time. She rang the cowbell and yelled, and I was gone. I passed more people from mile 10 to 28, where the half athletes turned around, until I was mostly alone. The wind was about 15 to 20 miles per hour, and switched direction frequently, which was confusing. I took in only water until mile 15, when I took an EFS shot.
My bike nutrition was three flasks of First Endurance EFS liquid shots (1200 calories), to be supplemented with on course drinks. The EFS shots worked very well for me in training, particularly on my Knighthood ride, and did not cause stomach distress, which had been a problem for me at Ironman Lake Place 2012. I had one bad drink at the first stop (they mixed the recovery drink instead of the electrolyte drink, noticeable to me by taste, so I tossed it) and I had one missed drink handoff before the halfway point. I did not finish the one bottle of their electrolyte drink, but I did finish my three flasks of First Endurance EFS shots. The final flask was a mixture of the EFS liquid shot and half serving of PreRace, to make a sort of rocket fuel for the run. I wanted to make sure my stomach would be okay before taking this. To my surprise, I felt great on the entire ride, despite the heat and excessive sweating. I did not make any bathroom stops, which was slightly concerning.
The course was an out and back, so I could see the leaders as I approached the halfway point. The 1, 2, and 3 guys were a good distance ahead and I knew I would not catch them. But I was surprised to count off 4, 5, 6, 7 and then the guy in front of me at the turn, putting me in 8th place at the halfway point. I passed 8 and 7 within a mile of the turnaround, and kept a steady pace. I kept repeating to myself that I had to “stay within myself,” meaning not exert any extra energy at this point, and that the goal was to put together a solid run after this, which helped me keep the cadence high and steady. I passed the number 6 guy about 28 miles out, and stayed in 5th place until T2.
T2 (1:28, fastest T2)
I knew I could chop huge chunks of time off my PR with faster transitions. I At mile 107 I passed my wife again and got sunscreen, so I had to put some on before the run. I dismounted, ran to my rack, swapped my shoes, squirted a ton of sunscreen in my hands and on my arms, and ran out dripping white. I rubbed it in as I ran.
The run (4:03:36, 4th fastest)
There were no clocks so I had no idea what my race time was at this point. I ran out steady, knowing that I have a tendency to run out too fast and slow down. I wanted an even pace for the race, and I knew that if I could keep running, I’d likely stay in the top 5 because it was so hot that most of the runners around me were walking and holding side cramps. This was the case with the number 4 guy, who I passed around mile 3. At the turn around at mile 6.55 I used the portapotty, and at the mile 7 rest stop I sat to put vasoline on my left foot, which developed a hot spot during the bike segment. At that time, a volunteer poured ice water on my head – it was wonderful, except that my left shoe got soaked. I ran away with a squish-squish-squish in my left shoe. I passed the two guys behind me around then, noting that they were about a mile back. It would have taken a very strong marathon effort to pass me, but I had to make sure to keep my pace up. I stopped again at mile 9 aid s
At the turnaround near the finish line, they told me I was in 5th place. I was confused because I was passing people on the run who I wasn’t sure was part of the full race. I was happy with 5th, and took off again. I chose not to do a special needs bag, but I would in the future put a pair of socks in there.tation to ring out my left sock and blot my left shoe to take up some of the water. I had one gel here, my first of the run.
The second half marathon was steady, and I focused on mile by mile progress. I didn’t walk at all, except the length of the tables at the aid stations. I drank a little coke at every other table. Around mile 14, my stomach started making a sloshy popping noise, so I backed off the liquid, even though my body said it wanted more. I think the heat – it was 85 degrees with no shade – was telling me I should continue to drink. I didn’t have any more until mile 20, when I had a second gel.
On the way back for my final 10K of the race, I kept a steady pace. At that point I knew the 1, 2, and 3 guys were too far ahead of me to catch. I was on track to finish just around my goal time of 11 hours, when I saw my wife about 2 miles out. I asked what time it was and she said 5:40, meaning I had 20 minutes to get there. I instantly picked up the pace to about sub 7 -minute miles and kept that pace through the final two miles. It actually felt great to open up my stride a bit from the iron shuffle I had been doing. I knew I could hold it for 2 miles, and then at one mile the finish line was close enough to really go in for it. I finished the final two miles in about 13:30, and crossed the line with a finish time of 10:53:26, blowing away my 11 hour goal.
At the line they announced me as 5th, and then told me I was actually 4th overall. The 5th place finisher arrived over 8 minutes later.
Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 was the HITS Naples 140.6 triathlon. Obviously my first race of this year, it was also my first triathlon since Ironman Lake Placid in July 2012, because I broke my collarbone before the start of my 2013 season and did not get to race last year, with the exception of one duathlon in April (in which I placed first in my age group, so my only race was a success, at least).
How I ended up in Naples
I was scheduled to do the HITS full distance triathlon in Hague, NY in June 2013. I broke my collarbone in a cycling accident (commuting home from work – another cyclist hit me from behind) in May and had surgery at the end of May, putting me out until September. As soon as the accident happened – before I got off the ground, even – I thought about missing my races and what this meant in terms of time and money invested into my racing. After surgery, I contacted HITS and told them what happened, and asked if there was anything I could do to not be out my entire entry fee. To my surprise, they told me I could choose any other race they had within the next year and if it was open, they would transfer my entry. WITHOUT FEES. Awesome customer service! So I chose Naples, which would allow me time to train once I got my surgeon’s approval to resume activity, and would give me a tangible (big) goal to motivate me through my recovery process. That was definitely helpful as I healed and watched all of my teammates get fitter, faster, and post race results through the summer and fall. However, it also left me to do a lot of late fall and winter training alone, as my teammates had entered their off seasons.
Training and taper
I felt good about my training, but I always enter a mindspace, usually during taper, of wondering if it was enough. I had done two 20+ mile runs, a few 100+ mile rides, and my 193 mile Knighthood ride leading up to the race. I had spent more time in the pool than I had for any race before this. I felt pretty ready, with the exception of some nagging hamstring/calf/hip flexibility issues I was experiencing in November and December. I had seen the folks at Finish Line Physical Therapy for some help on that and was feeling better, but not 100%.
I was also more nervous for this race than I had been for any other Ironman – even my first. For about 10 days before I was experiencing nerves. Part of it might have been due to shipping my bike and figuring out that process (different future post), and part of it might have been the first race back since surgery nerves. Anyone who has come back from a surgery will understand the slight hesitation, almost like I’m holding back a little bit, that I experienced after I returned.
I did about a one week taper, with some short bursts of speed in moderate workouts on Monday through Wednesday, nothing on Thursday, and a 10 minute ride on Friday. The last two days weren’t ideal, but I ended up feeling fine on race day.
Travel and pre-race
We arrived in Florida on Thursday night, after a full day of travel, including a four hour layover in O’Hare. PRO TIP: Do not fly Spirit Airlines if you can help it. What you might save in ticket cost, you’ll pay for later in extra fees, aggravation, and other inconveniences. But we made it, slept a solid night at an Air BnB location, and went out on Friday to get my assembled bike from Naples Cyclery. The crew there was very nice and everything was great (I was just annoyed about the need to ship my bike at all). After a quick test ride to make sure it was alright, we went to the race site for packet pickup and the pre-race meeting.
On Friday I felt dizzy and sluggish, which which was concerning. I paid special attention to my nutrition and hydration, and did a lot of visualization of the race. I dropped my bike off at transition, put my race stickers on the rest of my gear, and set out my items for the next day. I chose not to use my special needs bags for the run or the bike. In hindsight, I think I would put an extra pair of socks and shoes in the run bag. Otherwise, I was fine without them. I was in bed around 11:30 and up at 4:55 am feeling fine.
That’s the lead up. Actual race in next post.