Firmman Half Iron – would it make or break me?

Firmman Half Iron – would it make or break me?

We will just call the above picture “Hit dat sh!t”. More on that later.

This was a big weekend for me, It was the final race of the Gran Prix series and it is a Half Ironman. Im sure your thinking that what’s the big deal, it’s only a half and I should be able to do this in my sleep. It’s not that easy, Rewind 1 year ago today. I was swimming and biking a lot and couldn’t run much because of the knee surgery. I even had one of my best swims and bike times, but my run was pathetic. i walked for the first 2 miles (because of muscle spasms) and ran/walked the half marathon in just under 2 hours. My total time was about 4 hours and 57 minutes. So I took the winter off from biking and started having success with doing triathlons without any leg issues. So for a year i have had this run weighing on my mind and needed to see if I could have a good run at this years half Ironman.

Fast forward to this year. Kelly, Laura and I packed the truck on Saturday and headed to Narragansett for packet pick up and some beach time. the closer we got to the beach, the hotter it got. I think we saw temps of 86 and not a cloud in the sky. After a few hours of beach time it was time to do a short swim. Tom, Dan, Lisa and I did a small loop in the ocean and then we met up with Paul and Little Steve for the run course preview on the bicycles. We then packed it up and met everyone at Charlie O’s for dinner. We get to the restaurant and let them know that we have 12 people (they don’t take reservations). 2 HOUR WAIT. Fortunately we have a case of Dos Equis ( XX ), Corona’s, limes and Amish bread that Kelly’s mom had made for us. So we made the best of the long wait and had a little party in the parking lot. The time went by fast and before you know it we got our table. We had great meal and then headed off to the Coast Guard house for a night cap. We get there and they want 2 types of ID and we just say “let’s go somewhere else”. We head to Tom and Patty’s hotel bar and the waitress aren’t working this late and the bar is packed. No one is in the mood to wait and we all call it a night.

5AM comes quick and it’s off to Dunkin Donuts for Coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Im in no rush this morning because i am the last swim wave (40-49 year old guys). Kelly is hung over and is having trouble making the mile long walk to the swim start. The water is fairly calm and it is windy. The sun is out and it is a beautiful day (the forecast was rainy and in the 60’s).

The Swim:

Nothing exciting, we had the current at times and at times it felt like you were fighting it. I finish the swim in 32 minutes (about 3 minutes slower than last year). Im happy with that.

The Bike:

I head off on the bike and I can tell that this is going to be a challenging ride with the windy conditions. At times I had a great tailwind on Rt. 1 and then there was a slight headwind (weird). I don’t have the horsepower to fight it and I just put it into cruise control. The vacation and moving took a toll on my bike training and then the rainy weekends put the brakes on any chance of a long ride for the last month. So today I knew not to push to hard on the bike. i finished the bike portion in 2:35. Not bad, but slower than last year. now Im thinking, even if i have a good run, I might not beat last years time. But Im not going to let that bother me and I put the running shoes on and head out for a sunny 13.1 mile run.

The Run:

I go out on the run just ahead of Win and Dan (I saw Dan franticly running around transition looking for his bib number). The begging of the run is where I locked up last year and I couldn’t even start jogging till mile 2. This year I am having a good start and Im running a good pace. Just after mile 1, Win comes by me and I have to keep the pace Im running and just let him go (plus I know that Win is a better runner than i am). The first few miles go good and then my middle toe starts acting up. It hurts when it bends each time I push off. So I stopped, ripped my shoe off and cracked my toe backwards (I get a good crack out of it). Now Im thinking, will I have to turn around and quit, or do i walk the rest of the race (10 miles to go). I put the shoe back on and start jogging and the pain starts to go away, WEIRD! This is the mental crap that you go through on an endurance event that will make or break you. Im keeping a good pace and the sun feels really hot, but not to hot (the lack of clouds made the temps feel hotter than it was).

The second out and back section is good place to see how your doing. You get to see the people who are ahead of you and they get to see that you are coming (this can really freak people out). As I approach the turn around, I see Win and it seems like I have gained some ground on him. then about a mile up the road I catch him at a water stop and he yells “wait up”. I know he is joking and I have a feeling he will be passing me back soon. At this point I just stay in the zone and continue passing people. I keep a good pace up the hill after the bridge and continue through mile 11 and 12. there is a little hill at mile 12 and I open it up at the top. My plan is to run hard from the top of the hill to the begging of the beach run. The reason is I don’t want to be fighting for position during the quarter mile run on the beach (Yes, on the beach sand). As I approach the beach I glance back and there is nobody behind me, NICE! I start the run on the beach and this point I don’t know my run time, but I have feeling that I have run a sub 1:50 half marathon. I also am psyched that the run felt good and I had no muscle cramps and my knee was rock solid. I see Brian Donoghue (and his peeps) with his camera as I approach the finish chute and give him the “hit dat shit” pose. It felt good to get the monkey off my back.

After the race I checked the results and my run time was 1:41. This is a great sign that I will be back in the 1:30’s like the old days. My total time was 4:53. About 4 minutes faster than last year.

  This was a crucial piece of the Road to 007 Ironman. Dos Equis anyone?