Could I do a Half-Ironman?

Could I do a Half-Ironman?

I know what you are thinking. “he shouldn’t be pushing it” “Isn’t a half Ironman going to ruin your knee”. This is what i heard most over the last few weeks by many people who care so much, that they don’t want to see me out of commission again. I do agree with them and have even asked myself the same questions. But this was different, this was a challenge by me, for me. The challenge was to attempt to do the Chicopee Tri and then if I could run the whole 3.5 miles, then I would attempt to do the Firmman half Ironman 2 weeks later. So after a successful Chicopee Tri I had to rise to my personal challenge of doing the half. I know a half doesn’t sound like much, but! I haven’t even been running 13.1 miles per month. It would be similar to biking 56 miles a month (about 13-15 per week) and deciding to do a half ironman. Ya, it would be ugly! The good news is that the run is last and I have been swimming and biking a bunch. Plus I need to have a personal goal each year to keep myself from not getting fat or bored.

So let’s rewind back 6 days to the Holiday (last Monday). Kelly and I decide to tag along with Mark, Mikki, Steve, Rich, Amy, Tom and Patty for one of Mark’s Narragansett practice swims. Plus it was a good chance to catch some rays. We get there by 9AM and do the 1.2 mile swim right away. The swim goes well and everyone is ready to crash on the beach. I bring up the idea of doing an easy run and Tom is the only one who bites. Tom let’s me set the pace and we run the first part of the run course. We ran about 3 miles out and then turned back for a nice easy 6 miles. This was a long run for me and everything went well with the knees. Now, let’s fast forward to Friday (2 days before the race). Because of the Storm out to sea, the waves are huge (not like 2 years ago). Saturday morning we head down to the beach to do a swim. The waves have already chilled down and it should be perfect by tomorrow. Then we did a short bike and a 2 mile run. Hey, I think I can do this!

 

It’s 4AM Sunday morning and it’s time to get ready. I down a coffee and a chocolate boost to wake up. Now it’s off to the beach to set up for the start. Im praying for the sun to come up quick, It’s dark and 55 degrees. Great for racing, sucks for getting ready. I get the bike all set up and find out my computer isn’t working. No big deal, It didn’t work for most of last year. And I don’t wear a watch, so I will be doing this one on feel.

I put the wetsuit on to get ready for the swim (and to warm up). Then it’s the long walk down the beach to the start of the swim. The ocean has been calm all morning, until the start of the race. Now the waves are picking up and this is starting to make people nervous. The first group to go is the Elite wave. My wave is the 6th and is the final wave (40-49 year old males). I love going last! The swim starts and i get out to the first buoy in good shape and just get into a rhythm for the long stretch along the beach. I used the condo’s as a sighting and it got me fairly close to the final buoy. I turn the corner and swim in. I don’t know how fast it was but it felt good. I get to the bike and throw my gear on and hop on the bike for my favorite part of the race. The bike starts off going North for a quick 3 mile loop. While rounding the corner at mile 2, my bike slides in the sand and I almost went down. I didn’t panic or hit my brakes while both wheels slide for a split second and then grabbed. That would have sucked! I get back in the groove and my legs are feeling great. I feel so good that I am a little nervous that I might blow it for the final 16 miles of the bike. I get on Rt.1 and there is a nice tailwind. I decide to take advantage of it and to back off on the trip home in the headwind. I make it to the out and back area and start the long series of gradual climbs. This is were i caught several of my teamates, not knowing that im leaving it all on the line because Im not sure I will be able to run 13 miles (I know I can walk 13 miles). So I continue on and at about mile 30 i catch Mike Gay. He tells me that I am now the first 40 year old on the road. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, so i continue on. Back on Rt.1 for the final miles south to the turnaround. I chuck a bottle and grab a bottle of water from the check point. Now you get to see the people that are chasing you as you are heading back. I start to recognize most of the people, but no Mike Gay. That’s strange, I hope he didn’t flat. A few minutes later I get passed for the first time today. And guess who? It’s Mike! I let him go and I just stay in a groove as I battle the wind and a slight incline. As I crest the top I am able to catch and pass Mike and continue on. With only 10 miles left I am able to ride strong to the finish. I throw the bike on the rack and as Im putting on my sneakers, Mike pulls in (he was racked next to me) and I am off to the run. I get a hundred yards down the street and my legs don’t feel right. So I stop to walk. This is where my hamstring will start to lockup and wreak havoc on my knee. So I walk, thinking that I might be walking for 13.1 miles. At this point I don’t care. My goal is to finish this Half Ironman. Now I am getting a taste of what people feel like as I fly by on the bike (it’s all fair). At about a half mile in I try to run and my hamstring locks up. I have to stop and let it chill out. So it’s back to a medium walk (fast walking makes my hamstring fire). At about 1.5 miles I am able to do a shuffle. I am not going fast, but I will take it. At mile 3, I am able to jog. Running will be out of the question seeing I haven’t run 13 miles in over a year. Because there are 2 out and back, I get to see all my teamates who give me words of encouragement. I am not able to say much, but I can hear everything. At about mile 8 I start to pass some people who are struggling and that helps me continue on. Now I am at mile 12 and my leg muscles are twitching like crazy. I have to take it down a notch and just do the shuffle. Kevin Moloney catches me just before the beach and we run onto the sand together. The final quarter mile is on the beach sand and that’s good for me. I seem to run well in the sand, I even passed a few who were struggling big time. I turn the corner an cross the tape in 4:57ish. I am one hurting unit, but my soul is on cloud nine. I did it! My season is now complete. Now I can start looking forward to 2006.