Thursday, April 30, 2009

Test time. Let's see where I'm at.

This weekend I will have a real chance to see how my training is going as I prepare for the upcoming Ironman. I'll be heading down to the White Lake Half-Ironman Friday afternoon with my buddy Jerry. It was here in 2004 that Jerry and I first became friends. I had been a regular at the NCRC club meetings for a few years and had met Jerry but never really talked to him before. At the club meeting a few weeks before the race Jerry announced that the race needed volunteers for the Half-Ironman which is held the day before the sprint in which he would be doing his first open water swim. I was also doing the Sprint Tri on Sunday so I told Jerry I would volunteer to take my kayak and help with the swim on Saturday and then race on Sunday.

I learned as we made our plans that Jerry was late becoming a swimmer after having a near drowning experience in his youth so we decided that I would go with him with my kayak out to Falls Lake and let him practice while I paddled along beside for safety. These practices helped boost his confidence and afterwards we had a great trip together down to the races and have since become great friends sharing many marathon and triathlon trips over the years.

White Lake is a great venue for the events with a calm, clear sandy bottom lake for the swim and flat, lightly traveled roads for the bike and swim. My first race there was in 1999 and it was staged at Goldston Beach. My younger son Jeremy and I went and spent a great weekend there together and I did the sprint. The following year the race moved to the FFA camp on the other side of the lake where it has been held ever since. The camp makes it even more special and is one of the reasons for the races popularity. Many athletes and their familys make a weekend out of it staying on site.

I did the sprint again in 2000 and 2001 and then in 2002 I finally entered my first Half-Ironman. It was a real learning experience for me. I wore a wetsuit for the first time and had leg cramps early in the swim. It was also the longest swim I had ever done and I was so glad to finally get out of the water. I was struggling to get out of the wetsuit and as one of the young lady volunteers was trying to help pull it off my legs I cramped in both calves. Despite the troubles I still had a decent swim time and was right at my goal pace.

I efet good on the bike early and was cruising along at a better than expected pace but at 5 miles or so I reached for my flask of energy gel and noticed it had fallen off my bike. So for the next 51 miles I had no source of calories to replenish what I would be burning. I still pedaled along at a great pace, even better than I had hoped until the last 10 miles. Then the wheels seemed to become made of stone and I struggled as I began to bonk badly. My longest ride leading up to the race had been 30 miles and I had just ridden nearly twice that far and my body was depleted. I was soooo happy to finally get my butt off that bicycle seat and start the run. But again I had only missed my target time by 5 minutes so I was still hopeful I could reach my goal with a good run.

Unfortunately I didn't have a good run. My legs were dead from the bike and I was never able to recover from the glycogen depletion from having no calories in the first 4hours of the event. It was also very hot and humid so I had to do a run/walk the entire run portion and ended up with my slowest half marathon ever before or since. My goal had been 6 hours but due to the slow run I didn't even break 6:30, finishing in 6:30:47. I then decided that I never wanted to do an Ironman. I just didn't like riding the bike that far and going twice as far seemed like the last thing I would ever want to do. I also didn't care for being in the water that long. Maybe if I could run the 140.6? Anyway I continued to compete in shorter sprint and olympic distance tris for another 3 years until I quit to focus on my ultrarunning. Which brings us back to last summer when I began riding and swimming again for the first time in 3 years and in a momentary lapse of reason, signed up to do the Ironman this summer.

I look forward to the weekend. Bill And Margo will also be competing in the half so I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun no matter how the race turns out. I'm feeling good and confidnet I will do well even though I have not tapered for the event. It is just a stepppiong stone in my training for the big one but I still hope to do well. My training ids going ok. I'm confident on the swim and the running is going ok. I still have not ridden the bike nearly as much as I had hoped up to this point but I have been riding strong. Just not long.

Look for a report soon.

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