First of all, I am sold on EN’s training and race strategy. The week of and morning of the race I was more calm than I have been at any other race of any other distance. I felt prepared and ready. having grown up swimming in the ocean in Florida, the waves on race day did not worry me.
I seeded myself in the 1:30-1:40 area (which ended up spot on) and duck dived through the break close to shore. That first 400 was absolute chaos. I couldn’t get a full swim stroke even if I tried. I was kicked in the stomach, swam over, swam under, etc. I was eerily calm during this section and after a while decided to make my way to the outside. Once there I was able to get into a rhythm.
Following Coach Patrick’s advice at the 4 Keys talk, I tried to sight to the turn buoy. Once I reached it, the masses bottlenecked so I stayed 5-10 feet wide to stay out of the fray. Coming back on lap one I sighted off of the condo and quickly realized that I should sight just to the left of it. The swells were a bit challenging when I would sight in the trough. I just took a stroke or two and popped up again once I hit the crest of the wave. I came out of lap one and briskly walked down the beach after getting a quick sip of water.
Even though I had it in my mind to walk back to where we started, I got back in right around where the volunteers ended. The second lap allowed me to get more in a rhythm and my mantra was “swim only as fast as you can keep your form.” True to Coach Patrick’s prediction, my second lap was a bit slower than my first. I came out and quickly walked to the wet suit strippers. In my past two races (both 70.3’s) I had hamstring cramps that would take me down as I came out of the water. Even though I felt some twitching on the way back in, I would simply stop kicking for a while which seemed to calm things down.
The volunteers were awesome! The day before the race I was concerned about losing my Garmin in the swim since I have a quick release to put it on the bike. The morning of the race I had my Garmin in my backpack but failed to take it out and put it in the T! gear bag that morning. I didn’t realize this until I was swinging my leg over my bike after the mount line and realized it wasn’t there. Note to self: Put the Garmin on the bike or at least wear a watch to keep time.
I had about a 10 second pity party in my head until I said to myself, “Get in the box” and deal with what you have. Having trained almost exclusively on a trainer with power, I had a good feel for what my power output should feel like.
For the first 20-30 miles I rode JRA pace. After the turn to go down the loop, I picked it up a bit and started working. Now, Coach Patrick had said we should pee 2 times during the ride. I peed 12 times and learned how to pee on the bike, which is something I swore I never would do. I guess I’m hard core now?! Since I didn’t have a watch I was just guessing on when to take in nutrition/hydration. Obviously I did too much. Every time I would come up to a police officer or volunteer I would ask what time it was to get an approximation of my time.
If I had it to do over again, I would have just used the nutrition that was being provided. It was a real pain to use my mixture. At Coach Patrick’s instruction, I would unload my empty bottles and grab a water bottle (to rinse myself from peeing) and then Perform bottles, just in case. At the special needs stop I got my second round of my mixture. As I was pulling away, I realized I hadn’t stretched, so I pulled over and did so. The “rollers” on the back side of the loop suprised me and I wish I had pre-ridden the loop before race day. I made through though. All day I had people passing me and I just kept repeating to myself “It’s not mile 18.”
As I was running into the changing room a couple of the volunteers yelled “go team EN; get into the box; it’s not mile 18!” The volunteer was awesome and helped me get back out on course.
Felt great and tried to run “slow.” Without the Garmin it was a challenge and when I got back and saw my first split, I saw that I was a bit fast out of the gate. Back to the course, I kept repeating “wait to 18” and ran comfortably through the first lap. During the entire run I stopped at each aide station to get some quick nutrition and fluids. At special needs I dumped my race belt which was just getting in the way since I had decided to just use what was on course. Got to see my wife who ran with me for a little bit out from Alvin’s Island; she was a welcome sight. About 1/4 of the way through the second l started to feel a bit tired and would feel twinges of cramps. In those moments I would back it off just a bit or walk for 10 seconds the get back on it. Some of my slower splits were due to having to use the bathroom. When I hit mile 18 I just told myself, “it’s time to go!” I picked up the pace and ended up taking walking breaks at each mile marker (for 5-10 seconds) and also at aide stations. Throughout the day I kept seeing team EN members and it was awesome to high five and give each other shout outs. When I got to the last three miles I put it in my mind to run to the finish without stopping. I went through aid stations and only walked briefly at the last mile marker to remove my headlamp and adjust my hat for the photo. At that point, another EN team member came by me and yelled “don’t stop!” I quickly got back on it but wasn’t able to catch him. Just as I got to Alvin’s Island my wife ran beside me briefly. At that point I sprinted and passed at least 4-5 people who were running in the finishing chute.
It was a great day and the most fun I’ve had at any distance. Given that I had nothing but perceived effort (not even a clock of stopwatch) I was extremely pleased and sold on EN’s program!