At 230 pounds, my pace is probably pretty good.
I'm a football player turned runner turned triathlete. This will be my third year doing tris and I'll see if I can drag myself across the Ironman Wisconsin Finish Line in September.
This was a race but, I had no intentions of actually racing it. The only thing I was interested in was getting in a long open water swim sans wetsuit and seeing how I felt after it.
The swim took place, last Sunday, about 90 minutes south of St. Louis at a YMCA Camp where the nurse used to be a camp counselor/lifeguard. We go down there, got registered and I decided to see how cold the water felt before the race. They said it was low to mid 70s and it felt pretty chilly.
Getting in for the start wasn't that bad but, I did notice the wind creating a pretty decent current against the direction of swimming. After floating around for a minute I was off and I was amazed at how soon I was all by myself. There weren't nearly as many people as a tri start so it was weird to not bump into anyone.
The swim course looked something like this:
The current was noticeable for the first and longest leg. Sometimes it feels like you fly by a buoy during a swim but I felt like I was barely moving around it. After the second buoy you'd think you'd still be swimming with the current but there was a cove and there was also a current into the cove. Lucky us. On the second loop things seemed to get worse. I felt like I was getting tossed around and had a ringing in my ear from the "waves" hitting it. This lake had some mini swells and I sort of felt like I was trying to time my breathing as if I were swimming in the ocean.
For some reason I had 58 minutes in my head but I knew that wasn't going to happen after I rounded the second buoy again. At this point I had no idea how slow I was going. I kept looking back while breathing just to make sure I was getting farther away from the last buoys. The last leg was somewhat of a struggle considering I was in a lake. Then after the last buoy it was 200-300 meters to shore. This part really proved how strong the current was. The "beach" was a 30 meter area between a tiny sailboat and a dock with a pontoon boat. I was sighting pretty far left of the sailboat and after 10 strokes I'd look again I I was headed straight for the pontoon. This went on for a few minutes until I noticed people standing on the boat pointing to my left. I kept thinking, "Yeah, yeah, I know. There's a current. I promise I don't swim this crooked."
I ended up not running into the boat and made it to shore in 1:14. I was a bit dizzy and it took about 5 minutes to recover. Not the time I was looking for but, in the results email the RD mentioned how bad things got after the first loop. So, I guess I did alright relative to the conditions. Then we showered and went to the lunch buffet at the lodge.
This turned out to be a good gauge on where my swimming stands. I definitely need to work on my longer swims. At least this went better than my first 2.4 mile swim. I had never swam more than 1600 meters and signed up for the swim. I made it through in something like 1:45 but was out of it for the rest of the day. Hopefully I can get in another continuous 2 mile OWS in about a month to see if things are any better.
I finally finished this thing. It was much longer than I thought it would be and was determined to write a post about it...unlike the Vino Fondo which I thought a post about that would be boring.
After a bit of down time, hoping I ate the right things and drank enough, I was about to do something that I've never done before and might never do again...in two ways. I would bet not many triathletes have done this either...(1st way) my second olympic in the same day and (2nd way) a bike, swim, run.
The start of this race was particularly brutal. Standing directly in the sun in transition while waiting for the TT bike start was not fun. Little did we know, we would be cooled off soon enough. I got a bit antsy and "jumped the line" when I saw people in the 300s.
The course was an out and back, down the hill which we would climb 4 times that weekend, out on some rolling hills which aren't really shown in the elevation profile, up one more short hill, then trying not to crash down a very steep hill and out on to a false flat. Again, I wondered why I was going so slow on the flats. After the turn around, I realized why. It wasn't flat.
3 miles later I reached the steep hill I had just come down and it started pouring. Of course it comes while I'm on the hill and can't take my sunglasses, which became more of a foggy prism due to the rain, off. The hill went on for 1.9 miles according to the map however, it did not seem that bad. I think I was distracted by the rain and forgot about the hill. No one realized it wasn't raining back in transition and we were all wondering if the swim would be cancelled. Nevertheless, I was back to transition in no time.
T1 was by far the most comical transition I've ever been in. If you ever get the chance to do a wetsuit legal bike, swim, run triathlon...do it. Do it for the sole purpose of listening to everyone laugh and complain about trying to get their wetsuits on. You know how Ironman has wetsuit strippers? This race had wetsuit helpers. I think it took a little over 5 minutes to get my wetsuit on.
The swim was refreshing and would have been more refreshing if it hadn't rained on the bike. Everyone took it slow and I kept wondering if I would cramp up like everyone said. At the end of the first loop I could feel my calves try to cramp up so, I swam the second loop without kicking.
I successfully made it out of the water and got my wetsuit off without cramping. I'm not sure if it was due to the race format or the fact that I had already done one race in the morning but, I could tell right away this run was going to be slow. I decided there would be no running uphill, except for the false flats. This strategy seemed to work well and then I got to mile 4.5 which turned out to be a repeat of mile 5.5 in the last race. The port-a-pottie was needed immediately. I suspect it was from the pizza the night before. After my short break it was mostly downhill and this time I crossed the finish feeling like I actually race an olympic. Not what I wanted to feel like.
The biggest downside for some people is, the slower you are, the less time you have to recover for the next race. We headed back to the hotel and I did not seem to be in the mood to be racing in the morning. A few hours later after eating I seemed to be OK with racing again the next day.
Race #4 - Half Iron
Swim: 1.2 miles (not really) Bike: 56 miles
Run: 13.1 miles
This morning would be a bit more pleasant. The nurse switched rooms at some point on Saturday because our AC wasn't working and we ended up with 2 double beds. The pup slept on his bed all night, for once in his life, between the 2 beds. I awoke somewhat ready to complete a half iron. Now that I think about it, for just about everyone, this weekend isn't full of races. It's full of events to complete. There wasn't much racing going on, for me at least. The first visit to the bathroom was not looking good as it looked like I had not had enough water the night before. I drank as much as I could but had no idea it would end up being as bad as it was.
So for the third time that weekend, stand on the beach and talk, take a group photo then blend into line when you got tired of waiting. The only difference would be the Little Smokies Half people starting a few minutes after everyone. They opted for about 1/3 of the torture and only signed up for the half.
The swim start went the same way all the others went, walk out to the first buoy and (today I could easily insert the word reluctantly) start to swim. Nothing to talk about here other than watching all the Little Smokies people fly by in the water. I was out of the water in just over 32 minutes...a 6 minute PR which is impossible. I would bet the course was short. The previous weekend I swam 2k (about 1.2 miles) in 35 minutes at a moderate pace in a wetsuit. This swim was at a less than moderate pace and unless I was going with a current both ways in a LAKE, there is no way this course was 1.2 miles. Not that I cared considering I still swam about 3 miles in 2 days.
The bike was a blast. I didn't care about all the people passing me and tried to take it easy. Sadly, around mile 18 or so, I slowly made my way downhill and around a corner to find about 50 people stopped with an ambulance in front of them. It was pretty clear that someone had crashed. Everyone stood around and ate and drank while we waited. We all agreed to space ourselves out when we started back up again. But, when the ambulance moved a couple douche bags in the back decided they didn't want to wait. Then some guy, who may or may not have been me, called them an A-hole and said something about God forbid they have to wait 5 minutes during a whole weekend of racing while they try to save someone's life. Seriously, they were a few minutes behind ME on the bike. I don't think they're going to be winning anything.
After starting again I saw our club president walking around and bike was off the road. I asked if he was alright and he said he was but a woman in our club was in the ambulance. I was pretty shocked and didn't think when I asked if she was alright...clearly she wasn't if she needed an ambulance. I suppose I should have asked if she is going to be alright. Either way, she is going to be fine. I was a tad bit scared, for her and for myself, the rest of the first loop.
I stopped for a few minutes to refill my bottles before heading out on the second loop and wished I had brought a spare bottle to leave on the table at the turn around. Even without the bottle I had 500 calories in my aero bottle mixed with 25 ounces of water and maybe 15 oz of water in the other compartment. I also refilled the 15 oz part twice on the first loop and finished it. So, I'm guessing I had 70 oz of fluids on the first loop. I also had 2 Gus and half a bonk breaker so around 850 calories for the first loop.
The second loop was not as much of a blast. It was a tad bit slower based on speed than the first but was faster considering I didn't stop. I played leapfrog with the same 5 people for most of the second loop as I would pass them on the hills and they would pass me on the downhills and false flats. This happened until I passed all of them on one of the flats. I thought this was a bit odd and figured I was having a hard time judging my effort. My heart rate didn't get above 140 very often so I figured this was good. I also managed to keep it below 150 on all the climbs. Some climbs in training I hit 165 or 166 which for me on the bike is about max heart rate and I'm barely keeping myself upright. I felt pretty good getting off the bike but was getting antsy the last 5 or 6 miles and may have gone a little faster than I should have. Now that I think about it I was slightly dripping sweat during the last 2 climbs.
That loop I took in 450 calories in fluids and 200 more in Gu. I think I had a little less water due to poor planning with my bottles. So, about 1500 calories for about a 4 hour ride. Better than Branson in time and fueling but I'm still not sure where I went wrong...I seriously doubt it was electrolytes since my mix had a decent amount of sodium and potassium. I've also heard several experts in the field say that electrolytes don't affect performance as has been proven in numerous tests during Ironman races.
The run started off great. I walked the steeper uphills, drank at least one cup of water every mile, took 2 gels and kept about a 12 min/mile pace. I finished the first loop in 1:19 and figured I would need to walk a bit more and planned for 1:30 for the second loop. As soon as I headed out on the second loop the sun got to me. I did more walking than the first loop and stuck to the same drinking routine. The only problem was I noticed my stomach getting bigger.
Just before the turn around I decided I would drink some Coke and see if that helped my stomach. In hindsight, I probably should have started drinking Coke earlier but who knows. I also had to go to the bathroom. This is the point where things went downhill pretty quickly. In the port a potty it was probably at least half blood with the rest being urine. I managed to get my sunglasses off to verify. Needless to say I was immediately scared.
I had this happen once before on a run and started walking and took the metro home. I chalked it up to having an empty bladder and my bladder rubbing together while running caused the bleeding, or whatever. I looked it up on my cell phone while walking. I did not think I had been running long and fast enough enough (7.5 miles) for it to be Rhabdomyolysis. Given what my body had been through over the weekend, I figured it could be worse this time.
I walked the last 3.25 miles and it was the longest hour of my life. I kept trying to drink water but my stomach just got a little more bloated. With 2 miles left to go I was not feeling good. I kept doing multiplication in my head in an attempt to gauge how well my brain was functioning. Between 2 and 1 miles left I wanted to sit on the side of the trail and cry. It (I) was hot and somewhat humid and it felt like a death march. I knew if I did this I would likely never get back up. At the water stop with 1 mile left I drank more water even though I knew my body wasn't doing anything with it. After that I was not very steady walking up the small hills and I felt a little light headed. My only goal was to make it off the trail, out of the woods and back to the road. Once I made it to the road I was about 90% sure I'd make it less than the half mile to the finish.
I saw the nurse and the pup. I think she was wondering why I didn't look too happy and she eventually figured it out. I told her I peed blood and was going to the med tent as soon as I crossed the finish. The pup was excited to see me and kept trying to jump on me and was worried he was going to knock me over. (Later I said, if he knocked me over I could see myself screaming at someone not to touch me if anyone tried to help me up since I was that close to the finish.)
I think I attempted to run the last 100 meters but I never asked anyone if it looked like I was running. When I crossed I got a shirt, noticed some people from the tri club cheering for me (no clue if I acknowledged them or not), handed my fuelbelt to the nurse and went to the med tent.
It's amazing how Fight or Flight works. My mental and physical capacities, if you were to graph them out, probably looked like a downhill with a 1-2% grade for the last couple miles. After the finish that downhill would probably have turned into a cliff and I think my body was ready to shut down. At the med tent I told them I peed blood and felt like I was going to pass out. Then I started feeling like I was going to throw up. I also got pretty mad that they didn't seem to be moving me into the tent to lay down very quickly considering what I just told them and that I was extremely pale.
Finally I was on a lounge chair and they were managed to find a vein to stick an IV in me and hooked me up to a liter of fluid. Some kid who you would not expect to be a doctor (the paramedic and the resident in the ER didn't know who he was) was telling me I probably have Rhabdomyolysis and wanted me to go to the hospital. Initially I just wanted to see what happened after I got the bag of fluid but decided to err on the side of caution and just go.
I felt fine after getting in the ambulance but ended up getting 2 more liters of fluids at the hospital. Then I peed like crazy and the second time it was mostly clear. After running some tests they said they didn't find much in my urine and were going to discharge me. When I got up from the bed, it was the best I had ever felt 2 hours after finishing a 70.3.
I need to figure out what keeps going wrong. I think this would have happened in both halfs last year if they were longer races since my stomach was definitely getting bigger during those races. The weather had been so cold lately during training that my body may have not been used to the heat. I think I did one long ride that didn't involve wearing a thermal jersey and that was the weekend before the race. Maybe I did push to hard on the bike and not take in enough water. Or it could have been the stress of the whole weekend.
Training wise, I definitely need to do longer brick sessions with at least 5 miles off a long bike ride for a 70.3. I have a 100 mile ride and 10 mile run brick scheduled for IM Wisconsin training. I'm probably going to end up saying goodbye to the clydesdale category since I'm weighing about 225 and plan on losing another 10-15 pounds. I imagine that would also help things. I never though I'd be able to get down to this low of a weight but I have stopped lifting weights all the time and I've lost a significant amount of muscle in my upper body.
I have the Route 66 Half Iron coming up at the end of July and it should be at least 90 by the run.
I'm hoping I can train well enough to make it through that race without any problems. Otherwise, I might need to seriously reconsider Wisconsin. I know that if I start the race it'll be tough to bring myself to DNF unless I'm laying on the ground and can't get up. After having our club member crash and me having to go to the hospital I think being alive and well is more important than being an Ironman.
And for anyone curious about race times, here they are: