Well I knew it was coming, and it is here! After racing the Rage Triathlon in Las Vegas and prior to IMSG the marketing department at Zappos asked me if I had any pictures of me racing, and it just so happen that I had mine from the Rage triathlon. It happened to work for what they needed and badda bing badda bang, you have the above ad that can be found in the July 2012 issue of Triathlete magazine. Let me know what you think!
4:45 AM the alarm goes off, this is one that I don’t want to wake up for. I signed up for the Amica 19.7 Series Half Marathon. The reason for this crazy decision was solely to improve my running. Since Ironman St. George, I have worked on my flexibility and core strength through Yoga, and have begun to run again. If you have been following my posts you know the reason for the title of my blog was that running is my weak sport of the three disciplines. I needed to get back on the saddle after getting injured at IMSG, so what did I do? I signed up for a half marathon in Las Vegas NV, on June 2nd when the peak heat of the day was supposed to be 110 degrees.
After fueling up at home and getting into my car, I noticed first thing in the morning that it was not cool outside, instead it was warm, and it was 5:15 am. I looked at my temperature gauge on my car and noticed that it was already 82 degrees outside, probably not a good thing when you are about to run 13.1 miles of hills. by the time I got to the race it had warmed up to a nice cool 89 degrees (the sun had come out). I got out of my truck in the parking structure at Lake Las Vegas and look around at my competitors, I should have just been looking at my reflection in the mirror. This was to be truly my first real Half Marathon. I had run half marathons at my Ironman 70.3 events, but never by itself, again, running is not my favorite past time. I just wanted to stretch it out and have a nice pace. I wanted to prove to myself and my body that I was a runner, or at least could be a runner. I got to the race start and got ready, stretched and looked around, it was a beautiful day, it was just going to be a hot one. The race announcer gets on the speaker and says “please everyone come to the start line for announcements and the National Anthem.” I made my way up the small hill to the start and found my way to the back of the group. This was not a big race, maybe 200 people, and that was between a 10k and a 1/2 marathon. We went through the pre-race info, course, rules, etc. heard the National Anthem and then with a pathetic little horn that had lived its useful life prior to our race, they started us off.
At the beginning of the race I was feeling great. I passed all kinds of people, I made sure that I was not pushing myself too hard, but I did feel really good. We began our first ascent, and prior to the race I told myself to drink water every time I passed a aide station. The first aide station was coming up, I drank but because I did not walk for two steps to suck it down, I only ended up with about two drops in my mouth and the rest on my face and on my shirt. we continued to climb, it had to be at least a 150 foot initial climb. At the top once we crested the hill we hit the second mile, I stretched my legs out a bit and got ready for some nice down hill. I was in the front of the pack, I did not want to look behind me for fear of two things, first I did not want to see how many people were about to pass me and two I was afraid of tripping and falling, that was the last thing I needed, a bit of road rash.
I came to the bottom of the hill and began to make the nice 2 mile ascent to the turn around, by this time the temperature had to be about 92 degrees. It was really hot! I continued to keep my pace up even through the hills, and then made the turn and headed back down the hill. I was at about mile 6 and feeling great, I thought to myself “I am going to make good time with this,” but I spoke a little too soon. We switched the way that we went over the hill from the beginning of the race and now it was an even steeper longer climb to the top. I strode it out and passed some racers and felt tired, but good. I realized at this point that I should have a gel, so I popped open a peanut butter GU and ate it as I passed the aide station. That was the first time I had a peanut butter GU, not the smartest time to try something new, but it was mostly a training race anyway.
As I got back to the bottom of the hill, that is where I really felt fatigue, by this time I had been running over an hour, and the heat was just getting hotter and hotter, it had to be around 95 degrees at this point. The racers I paced on the hill now passed me, I did not care, I was still doing great. as I got back to the long hill to the turn around I had to walk for a couple of minutes. It was so freaking hot at this point. The aide station provided wet cold towels which I put over my head and began to run again. as I turned around and headed back down the hill to the finish I was tired, but I was almost there. As I passed the 13 mile marker I could see the finish, I was so happy, there was no one standing around, but I ran through the finish and I was relieved to be done. They gave me my medal and I took a seat in the shade. Shortly thereafter I found out that I actually won my age group! I am pretty sure there were not many people in my age group, but I won regardless!
I learned some things from this race, I need better running shorts, don’t run in 99 degree weather (that is what it was when I finished the race), and I need to run more. I think I am starting to get a hold of this running thing, but I do need to spend more time doing it.
Summer is here…well it feels like it in Las Vegas, we hit 102 the other day and I can only wish that this was the peak of it, however it is only May. The good thing about living in this heat and training for Triathlon is that your body acclimates to the temperature fairly quickly and anything less than the heat hear feels amazing, so racing in Cali this year is going to be great!
How do I train during this time of year? Well I have the answer for you. I love my sleep, however I also love training for triathlons, I probably like sleep more, but in order to avoid a bulging gut I have discovered that training for three sports at once keeps me in line. Back to the sleep thing, I am not the best at going to bed at a reasonable hour, but in order to beat the blistering heat of the day, I have to wake up at around 5am and be out of the house 30 min later to get a good workout in. Towards the end of the week with this schedule I am pretty beat. Sundays tend to be my rest day no matter what, and it is a tradition in our household to take a Sunday afternoon nap (if nothing else is going on), the nap is pretty important.
Running and biking are the two disciplines that I have to ensure I get in early in the morning, because even at night it is so hot outside that it almost makes it unbearable to be outside. My swim sessions tend to be at lunch in the heat of the day, with a lot of sunscreen of course. Swimming is my strongest event, and I have learned that 2 to 3 hours a week keeps me in the top 5 percent of the race. That being said, biking and running are really important, so I have to spend the majority of my time doing these to disciplines so waking up early is required.
When I wake up early in the morning to work out, the first thing that I do is get a good breakfast in, that consists of a piece of fruit, a bowl of oatmeal, possibly some nuts and then a energy gel prior to lift off. I have learned over the years that starting off with a full stomach greatly increases my stamina. In the past, when I was only trying to lose weight, I would leave without eating and pretty quickly would be fatigued. Throughout my rides I will have gels, 1-2 an hour, and drink recovery drinks for the protein. For a run it is pretty much the same thing.
Since I work a regular 9-5 job, I have to time getting home around 8am and then shower and out the door pretty quickly thereafter. One thing I make sure to do is drink a recovery drink, my preference is muscle milk, for every pre-made drink there are 20 grams of protein which seem to help for recovery and get me ready for my next day, or that afternoons work out.
Working out in the desert is hard, but if you plan right and eat right it can be very productive and help for the races to come!
I am going to compare this “Journey” to that of a boxing match, I am a lowly triathlete while my opponent is the big, hairy, Ironman.
Now grab a Diet Coke, a regular Coke, or a Beer if that is what you prefer and sit down for a minute because you are not going to want to miss the ending of this story.
At 4am I awoke from a half sleep aware that I was about to step into the ring with the Ironman (IM). Not only was I battling IM, I was doing IM St. George, this was a feared course and said to be one of the hardest in the country due to the biking portion, the run had since been changed to be flatter. I however, had moved up to IMSGs weight class with all my preparation and was ready for the fight. I ate my yogurt parfait, a banana, an orange, and drank a bottle of orange juice all while sitting in the bathroom trying not to wake my family asleep in the hotel room. I sat there for a minute just pondering the day to come. Paula (my wife) and I were going to have to load up the kids and drop me off at the drop off point for athletes so I could ride the bus to T1 and the swim start. It was dark, and it was surprisingly chilly. I got to the center of town, kissed my family good bye and told them I would see them at the finish. I got a text from my Triathlon buddy Norbinn saying he would meet me at the buses. I had to drop off my special needs bags so that I had extra food on the bike and run portions. Athletes were everywhere, but mostly funneling to the buses that were waiting to take us to the race start.
I met up with Norbinn and we made our way to the buses. Now, I served in the Marine Corps, and one other time I have ridden a bus with the same atmosphere as I felt on this bus ride, it was the bus ride to Boot Camp in San Diego. As I entered the bus we were among the last to get in. I walked to the back and sat down. I was preparing for the big fight mentally at this point, and by the silence that could be found inside that packed bus so was everyone else, or they were trying to sleep, I assume the former is more accurate. We left, it was like being shipped off to war, bus load after bus load of athletes left for the battle that was about to ensue.
When we pulled up to the familar T1 we exited the bus in a similar fashion to to what we did in Boot Camp, although this time there was not a screaming Drill Instructor telling us to stand on yellow footprints. I exited the bus, a line of volunteers were waiting to brand us for our individual fights, I was number 652. Norbinn and I walked into transition and found our bike gear bags and prepared for round 1, we wrapped our hands, or in this case put on our wetsuits, made sure our tires were pumped up, that we had enough water in our water bottles and I said a little prayer. Round 1 was about to begin, the announcer came on the speaker and told all Athletes to make their way to the start. A sea of wetsuits, green caps, and pink caps. Norbinn and I were pumped, we could not wait to get this under way, we had trained like crazy now it was time to put it all together. BOOM! The pros were off, we had 15 minutes till we needed to start but we were about to enter the water. I remember looking around and thinking the weather is pretty nice, the announcer had just given us a weather update 87 degrees and 11 mph winds, not a bad day! Norbinn and I jumped in and I pulled Norbinn along with me to the front of the race. We were now in the boxing ring with IM! We looked around and seas of spectators were watching us and cheering us on, athletes continued to enter the water, the race was about to start! I look to Norbinn “Here we go man!” and then it happened at 7am sharp, BOOM! the cannon fired and that was it were were swimming!
I am not used to swimming in a huge group of people like that, elbows were flying, feet kicking, people on my legs, me on other peoples legs, it was a mess. I feel more comfortable at the front by myself. I just kept swimming, I made the first left turn, and then just like that the race change from and Ironman to and Ironbeast. If I had not been there myself I would not have believed it, I don’t even think that spectators can understand the severity of what happened. Waves were crashing over the top of us coming from my left, I thought “maybe this is because I am close to shore” but I also knew the wind must have picked up. I weathered through it and though that once I made the second left turn it would surely get better as I moved from shore. Growing up in SoCal surfing, to get from the beach to the surf you had to swim through the waves to get to the sweet spot. But eventually the hassle of the waves ended. That second turn I realized when I stopped and popped my head up that there was no end in sight, in fact I later learned that there was a swell of 4-5 foot waves. Again, had I not been there, I would not have believed it, but I was and I grew up in Orange County surfing almost daily and this was crazy! Round 1 was getting insane, IM had taken off the gloves and just to laugh in our faces started open hand slapping us. I never felt fear of being in that water, I was more annoyed because I knew I was not going to hit my goal of under an hour on the swim. I swam and swam and found myself all over the place, I constantly had to pop my head up to see where the buoys were and where other athletes were. I made sure I kept every buoy on my left shoulder and come up past the island where I knew on the other side I would make my final left turn and then into transition. All the sudden I came across a kayaker who was there to save us or guide us, however this guy had capsized and looked like he needed help. for a second I almost went to help him then I realized he had a life jacket on so I kept going, he would be okay. I came to the last red buoy and made the turn, I was home free. I tried to use the waves as much as I could so I could ride them towards shore, I did not get that much help. I got to the boat ramp and got out of the water, 1 hour 5 min. I was 5th in my age group and 92nd overall. Not too bad with a field of 1500+ athletes. Round 1 was a tie.
I ran to transition and there was my Uncle Max and Aunt Maria holding my transition bag, these two turned out to be Angels for the race and for me. I grabbed my bag gave uncle a hug and ran into the changing tent. I changed and stuffed a Bonk Breaker energy/protein bar down my gullet. Then…I stepped out into the wind, into the arms of women! I know what you are thinking, but it was just them waiting with gloves on to lather me up with sunscreen, I mean who are we kidding, I was planning on being on the bike for the better portion of 6.5 hours. While they put the sunscreen on me I looked around, “what the heck happened while we were in the water” I said. The wind was howling, dust was everywhere, people were screaming, bikes were in transition waiting for their respective athletes, little did they know 20% of them would not actually make it onto the road, at least not sanctioned. A volunteer grabbed my bike and handed it to me, my worst nightmare was here, the winds turned out to be 30-40 mph from the North, or in other words, in our face for approximately 80 out of the 112 miles we were about to ride, fun.
Round 2 of my bout with IM begins. I got on my bike and began to ride, at this point the wind was at my back, but only for about 500 yards. I then turned 180 degrees into the wind and got hammered. From what I heard the winner of the race actually got blown off his bike at one point, could be a rumor, but I like to talk about it like it is true. athletes in front of me could be seen riding at an angle so the wind would not blow them over, then I realized I was doing the same thing. I was riding about 12 mph, that is slow, I was planning on averaging about 19 for the course, so much for that, now it was just getting to T2 before 5:30pm. I started riding and people were everywhere cheering us on, it was amazing, the volunteers made the athletes feel like pros, the $650 that we paid to be in this race was worth it, except for the damn wind. I got to the 22nd mile where the timing chip mat was and thought “okay now my wife knows that I am alive and well” I was told later that Irontrac as well as Ironmanlive was not working well that day, another nail in my coffin. I cruised for a while, I felt good, although I knew the wind was going to suck when I turned back into it. Mile 30 was a aide station, at this point I had lost my two water bottles… I still had my aero bottle so that was good but I was missing my bottles, luckily Ironman is awesome and they give you Powerbar drinks in bottles and bottles of water throughout the course. After the aide station We made a right turn into the belly of the beast, my boxing opponent IM was now laughing in my face, he slapped me around, when his hand got tired he switched to his left hand and then would slap me so hard that I would stop dead in my tracks. The hills were beginning, basically at this point it was approximately 25 miles up hill with the end being a hill termed “The Wall.”
A close friend who is an Ironman, Joel Grande told me prior to starting the race “just stay positive,” I had many conversations with myself, out loud mind you, about keeping a cool head and focusing on the goal. The wind was a kick in the pants, it sucked. By this point many bikers had passed me, not surprising, I am strong on the swim, somewhat strong on the bike, but weak on the run. I was saving my legs for the run to come. I got to the wall and finally the wind was at my back, I pedaled up the hill, it was long and steep but I made it, I also made it on TV while I was going up that hill. After “The Wall” the loop is pretty much down hill and with the wind at your back for about 14 miles. I saved my legs on this part and just tried to stay positive. I made the turn where at mile 30 there was a aide station, now I was at mile 70, and about to turn back into the belly of the beast. The wind had not died down, not even a little bit, IM was kicking my butt, but I did not need to knock out IM to win, I just needed to make it through the end of round 3. I repeated the loop and found myself on the downhill portion of the ride headed into T2. What a relief! I was beat, I had burned about 9000 calories at this point, I had spend about 1.5 hours more on the bike than I had expected, but apparently it was all relative, because I told my wife to expect me at transition when the pros were finishing their race. I actually made it through transition before the winner finished, Mother Nature was killing us today and IM was laughing at us.
I took my bike shoes off when I handed off my bike, I kind of felt like a pro as I did that but could not enjoy it because I was tired. I walked on the burning hot black top to grab my transition bag and then into the change tent. I drank a lot of water and complained about the wind to other competitors. I took my time and put my shoes on and drank more water. I stood at the door of the tent in the shade and walked out and then what happened next threw me for a loop, Norbinn says “Alex!” and there he is, dressed in a polo hair combed and looking good, I asked him what the HELL he was doing and he did not make the swim. Remember those 300 bikes that were not going to have their owners riding them? Unfortunately Norbinn was one of the victims of the water that day. I saw my sweet family watch and ringing cow bells for me, my buddy Joel and his fiance Jessica were there to cheer me on, what a awesome support team I had. I started running, kissed my daughter and jogged the first 2 miles. Round 3 was happening and I was now spitting in IMs face! But when it happened it all happened very fast. suddenly my body was exhausted, I began to walk which is when I noticed the incredibly sharp pain in my back. Imagine we are back in the boxing ring, my opponent IM is slugging away, and then all the sudden the referee cold cocks me in the face just to see what it would be like, that is what if felt like to me. I was already exhausted from everything and had a marathon to run, but then my back just went out. There is a history to my back problems, I thought it was fixed, but apparently not. The extra time I was on the saddle and then running cause my nerves to be smashed and the pain shooting down my legs. I walked for a long time in pain, trying to walk fast but it was not working. I could not eat anymore, I was in so much pain from my back. I turned the corner and there was my Aunt Sara and Uncle Max again, they had colored on the street in Chalk my name, that was so nice I wanted to run, i wanted to walk fast but I was in pain. Max wanted to walk with me to make sure I made it, but it was not happening, I was worried about permanently damaging my back an not being able to do more Ironman events in the future. I kept walking. I walked to about mile 7 and I could not take it anymore. I stopped and sat on the side of the road, my uncle used his body to shade me I wanted to keep going, I stood up to go but almost fell over. I was done, as much as it hurt me I was through for this race, I was heartbroken. IM had not beat me, the damn referee in the ring that took a cheap shot beat me. My back was messed up. I laid down in the grass and tears came to my eyes, I failed, I was fit, ready to go and my back went out on me. My wife came to pick me up, Norbinn walked over from his hotel and everyone was awesome.
What did I learn from this? The feeling of failure is not one that I want to feel again, I have seen multiple doctors 5x since I have been back with more to come next week and they have told me that the only way we can fix this is to strengthen my core and to stretch, i.e. yoga. I am going to beat this thing, my time in triathlon to date has been short, 1 year. This year along with next year I have big expectations for myself and I am going to kick the crap out of IM next time we step into the ring together.
Prior to doing Ironman St. George, I knew that I needed a tune up race. BBSCtri.com does a great job with setting up these races, and in fact, the Rage was my first ever triathlon in 2011, I did a Sprint and was hooked. This year I decided to do an Olympic and signed up for the race just two days prior to the race. One of the nice things about working for Zappos is that they pay for our races, this is a huge money saver, especially since the Ironman races are anywhere from $350 to $700 dollars a race, not a small fee. Danny Earl, Joel Grande, and Chris Marlin were doing this triathlon with me since it was so convenient for us at Lake Mead.
Thursday before the race, trust me I tried to avoid this, I had to peak in my running in preparation for Ironman St. George and did an 18 mile run. Since as the title of my blog explains, I am not the best runner, my legs were sore by the time Rage came up. My plan had been to run on the Monday before the race and all would have been good, but Mother Nature was not having a part of that and mad me move back my long bike ride and in turn my run. So on the morning of the race, I could feel the tiredness and soreness in my legs. No worries, the plan was just to put everything together and see how I felt out on the race course.
I met up with Chris Marlin on the way to park our cars, we were able to prep our stuff together and get to the transition area. One thing I learned from Ironman 70.3 Oceanside was that I should keep eating while prepping for the race. I continued to eat oranges, gels, etc right up until my race started. Since I was doing an Olympic distance race I was again towards the end of the race waves, Chris, Danny, and Joel all started a good 30-45 min before me. I was able to watch them come out from the swim and that was fun.
The race begins and I take off on my most comfortable part, the swim, all the while when I am swimming I keep thinking, just keep a good pace and don’t kill yourself, this is just training, but of course the competitive side of me comes out and I push just a little harder. I got the lead and kept it all the way out of the water. On this course, once you get out of the water the transition area is about .25-.5 miles up hill, so a little jog after a nice swim can be taxing on your body especially as you are getting ready to ride your bike 24 miles. I decided again that since this was a training race I would walk the transition, also because my legs were tired. I decided to walk too early and the guy that came in second on the swim ran past me and through the timing chip area 5 seconds before I walked through so the official time shows he was the fastest swimmer in my race distance, although, I know that I was, especially because the timing mat was a ways from the end of the swim. Lame.
I went into transition, grabbed my stuff, took off my wet-suit and jogged out to the bike mounting area. I think I was still in the top 5 when I started the bike, I could not tell anymore because we were starting to get mixed in with stragglers from the Sprint Distance. The bike course at Lake Mead is long, hot, and hilly. I knew what to expect as I have done this ride many times, it is definitely not my favorite, but I signed up for this so it was time to strap it on and go. I started of and of course did not push myself too hard, I was at about 80% and my legs were feeling good. I cruised through the hills, and then started getting some of the semi-pro guys from the open division come pass me, little did they know that I swam past them on the swim and they started 5 min before me. The weather was beginning to warm up and I knew that would make the run that much more difficult. As I came around a turn I saw Joel cruising by me going the opposite way in his Zappos jersey from last year and I called out to him, not sure if he heard me. I bit later going down a big hill I saw Danny coming up that same hill I was cruising down, I called to him and he said something back, but I could not hear him I am sure Danny would say it was really funny… I was almost to the halfway point on the ride when we hit this huge hill that I am not sure has a name. I climbed it with a nice even pace and the was able to turn around and start cruising back. Going back to the transition area on this ride is easier, it is more downhill than up although there are still some serious climbs. All in all this course was about 2k climbing in 24 miles, a pretty decent climb for this length of course. As I got back to the transition area there was Joel waiting and cheering me on. He ran over to me as I am in transition and gave me some words of encouragement, and then the run started…
My legs actually felt really good at that point, not tired but pretty strong. I started off by stretching my legs out for the first half a mile, again, this was a training race so i was not going to kill myself. I got into a good pace, but that first mile is in dirt with lots of rocks, I was really focusing on not rolling my ankle. I got out of that part and onto the blacktop and although that was better for footing, it was extremely hot. I only had to fun for a little while so I just kept pushing it out. The first half of the run out is pretty much up hill, I took my time but ran the entire portion, each time I came to an aide station I took three cups of water, two to drink and one to pour on my head. I got to the turn around and started the downhill back to the finish. There were lots of people on the course now, all Olympic distance. I felt good with my position especially because I was only at 80% of my max. I got back to the dirt portion and I was home free. I ran through the finish line with Danny, Lauren, and Joel all waiting for me. BBSC provided water bottles, a wet towel, and some food right at the end which is great, I took advantage of that and then we all decided to head into Boulder City for some lunch. As I was packing up my gear to head home, I noticed the people from the half distance coming in and heading out to their run, I felt bad for them, at this point the temperature was around 95 degrees (come to find out on the black top it topped off at 102 that day). A lady that was in transition next to me came in from her bike portion and she was doing olympic distance, I felt terrible for her, she was going to be out there for a while.
All in all it was a great race, I was happy with the result, 7th in my Age group, 1st in the swim, I was looking forward to IMSG.
I know that this post is a bit late, however, since I am just starting this blog, I figured I would start out with my first race for the year. Oceanside is a beautiful little town, at the North end of San Diego County, and in the midst of Camp Pendleton for the USMC. I had never been to Oceanside other than driving by it on my way to San Diego, and I spent my entire life in Southern California. In July of 2011 Norbinn and I signed up for this race, we had one other friend that also signed up but he shall remain nameless at this time…As the date got closer, so did the due date for my second child. It turns out that he was born on March 9th 2012 and the race was March 31st 2012, needless to say, my family did not make it down to Oceanside with me on this one. That was the first bad omen.
I arrived at Oceanside on the Friday before the race, the weather was beautiful and I was excited to put all my training to use. I checked into the race, got my t-shirt, bought a visor and was off to the hotel. That night i prepped everything and ate as much as I could prior to the race.
4am the next morning, I get a text from Norbinn that we would see each other at the race. I got in my car and drove down. It was packed, approximately 3000 people racing. I was excited, adrenalin pumping, I got my stuff together and headed to the transitions to set them up. For some reason I had a feeling that my back tire was not inflated enough, or that it was going to have problems during the race, but I thought I was just worried about nothing too, I tend to worry a lot.
At T1 I met up with Norbinn after getting my bike set up. We talked for a bit, I went to the bathroom twice, and then they were getting ready to close transition. The pros were about to start. Now, a problem that I realized afterwards was that there were 23 waves of the race, I was dead last. Norbinn was actually closer to the beginning. So I was literally waiting for 1.5 hours from the beginning of the race just to swim. By the time we got into the bay to swim, the pros were already 15-20 miles on the bike! As I entered the water, I saw Norbinn exiting and envied him at that point. The water was freezing, approximately 56 degrees. I swim in a sleeveless Zoot wetsuit, I prefer not to swim with sleeves because it affects my stroke, something from my days of surfing. The swim started with a bang, I got out in front and held that position, all the sudden at the first turn, I was coming up on people from waves in front of me. It was crazy, a sea of colored caps and the reason why so many people were still there is that the tide was changing. Tide was rolling out with a swell rolling in causing nice big waves, this created a frenzy and people did not look comfortable. I enjoyed it and cruised through, however I had to bob and weave just to get to the end. swimming around people definitely cost me time, but I can’t complain. I got out of the water around 31 min, not my fasted but not bad compared to everyone else. I was excited to get on my new bike and wheels to hit the road for a couple of hours. I ripped off my wetsuit and put on my bike shoes, my glasses and then… my helmet breaks! It was a brand new Giro Aero helmet, the side panel broke off and I could not get it seated correctly but I got it done enough to start the bike portion.
As I headed out of the bike transition, I couldn’t help but feeling I was in dead last, I guess it is because I was since I was in the last wave. I got going with a great pace, I entered Camp Pendelton and relived a bunch of my memories of boot camp and combat training, and after remembering how I felt then, I was sure glad to be doing a triathlon as a civilian rather than blocking traffic as a Marine! The weather was not the best, overcast and a bit chilly, the roads were wet but it was not completely unexpected. I cruised through the first 17 miles till I hit a big bump, apparently I lost my tool kit, and co2 nozel. I realized this too late but just prayed I would not get a flat, at mile 19 I got a flat. This sucked, I did not know what I was going to do. I started begging people on the side of the road for a CO2 nozel and finally a woman stopped and gave me her extra one. Whomever this lady was saved me, had she not stopped I am not sure I would have been able to complete the race. after about 30-40 min begging on the side of the road and then fixing my back tire I was back on the road. I obviously lost a lot of time and was passed by virtually everyone. I started going fast but the lactic acid build up was not helping the situation. I reentered Camp Pendleton and started up the climbing phases. Some of the hills were quite steep, more so than they said on the profile map, but I got through them. I was not feeling tip top anymore, and now I realize because I did not eat for 2 hours that was draining on me (1.5 hours waiting in transition to start, .5 hours trying to fix my bike). I kept thinking I just need to get to the run, however I did not want to run, I was exhausted. I got .25 miles from the transition when I realized I had another flat! I did not want to ruin my carbon wheels so I stopped and all the spectators said “PICK IT UP!” so I took off my shoes, picked up my bike and ran to the transition! I was beat, deflated and dirty from the grease. Andy Potts who I learned later won the race, popped up when I was in transition and tells me “Keep going man, you are doing great.” That made me feel better till I put my shoes on, then I realized I had to run a half marathon still.
I downed a 5hour energy, threw on my shoes used the bathroom and then ran out of transition. I was tired, I could tell I was not fueled enough, but at that point there was no getting anything down. The best thing I could do was hope I could run fast enough to beat the WALL. I did not want to bonk. I saw my friends as I ran passed them and that motivated me, but I was tired and annoyed at the situation. I ran for the first six miles, it was beautiful, right along the coast, I saw the surf and longed to be swimming in the freezing cold water, by this time I was hot. I ran almost the first loop and then my body started to retaliate against me. I did not feed it enough during that first transition, and probably during breakfast. It was hitting hard, I wanted more than anything to be done but would not quit. I had to run walk the last half of the race and ended up talking to a guy I started with. I got to the finish line and saw my dad standing there cheering me on. Poor guy did not move from that location the entire day even though he had VIP access, he could not find out where to go to get his bracelet. I finished, I got my finisher hat, knocked my sunglasses off my head, turned around to pick them up and they were gone! Someone within 30 seconds had picked up my Sunglasses, and walked off with them…that was the breaking point. I walked over and sat down and watched for anyone with my sunglasses for 30 min but could not locate them. I was done.
The course was beautiful, my swim was great, bike could use some improvement because of my flats, but my run needed work. I went back to the hotel and washed everything ate a nice dinner and then hit the rack. I loved the Ironman Event. It was very well put together, the course was amazing, I just had a bad time with it. Next year i will do it again.
On my way back to Vegas the next day, 11 miles outside of Barstow my car died…broken timing belt, it was through. My dad saved me and towed me to Vegas, I bought a new truck, my dream truck a Toyota Tacoma 4 door.
This was an experience that i will never forget, it is also something I do not want to repeat again, so I need to learn some lessons and move on.
I chose the title to this blog based on the languages spoken in my house, and how the three disciplines of triathlon relate to this title and to me:
Swim, this is my strength, just like English is my strength and first language, I have spent most of my life swimming, and now I take this it granted. I played water polo, swam on the swim team (not by choice) and surfed all throughout my childhood. Now swimming is like walking to me.
Qi, which means Bike in Chinese (don’t get caught up on the pronunciation, I know it sounds like Feng Qi, but different characters), and is the second language that i speak. Chinese is natural now, but sometimes I have to think about what I am going to say before I say it or else I might screw it up. Biking is similar, I love biking, I have done it for years now, there is a love hate relationship,but there are many ways I know I could improve my biking.
Carrera, this means Run or race in Spanish (at least that is what I am told). This is the first language of my wife, also coincidentally the first language of my father, however I was never taught it. My daughter and son will also speak it, but it just does not make sense to me. This is much like the run for me in Triathlon, as much as I try to love it, it just does not make sense to my body. I have to spend extra time learning this skill compared to that of swimming or biking.
I started Triathlon in April of 2011 and have never looked back. There is so much to train for, so much nutrition to keep in mind, and as a age grouper, or novice, I still have to balance all of this with the most important thing in m life my family, not to mention my means of caring for my family…work.
This is how I do it all.