Well, the big day came and went. I was very excited for the race because my buddy Rhett and I have been training since March for this half Ironman. It did not go as well as I would have liked but I learned a lot and I felt like I improved a lot in a few areas when compared to my first half Ironman. I felt very healthy and I had no nagging injuries or problems with my body for the race.
I got up at 5am after a pretty good night sleep considering I was racing the next morning and headed to the race. I had half a bowl of oatmeal and half a banana. I only forgot 1 thing and my awesome wife was nice enough to bring it to me. I owe her for that one. I hung out in the transition area for a while just talking with Rhett and a few other people and tried to keep my nerves in check. About 25 minutes before the swim was to start I put the wetsuit on and gathered what I needed and headed out to the beach. I was nervous, but not as nervous as I was for my first Half Ironman.
SWIM: 1.2 miles @ 30.13
It was a beach start so after the race director said a few words a mass of people headed out to the water. It was a mass start so EVERYONE doing the full and half distances started at the same time. The water was perfect and I really enjoyed the swim. I tried to stay on the outside of everyone so I did not get punched and kicked too much, but some of the areas of the swim were very crowded so there were a couple times it was tough to get some spacing. Overall I was very happy with my swim.
I thought I got out of the T1 faster than I did but I guess not. I was not impressed with my ability to get out of my wetsuit and get all the stuff I needed for the ride. This is an area I really need to improve on and get much faster. This is a small thing, but can make a big difference in the overall time. I was faster than last year, but not by much. I will work on this for next year. At T1 a took in a 5 hour energy and I think this could have contributed to problems later in the race. Next year, no 5 hour energy at any part of the race.
Bike: 56 miles @ 2:55:44
I felt really good on the bike and thankfully my bike worked great and had no mechanical problems. For most of the race I pretty much rode alone. There was nobody really by me most of the time. Most everyone I came by I passed pretty quickly. My legs felt really good up until about mile 48. At mile 48 I started to feel some sight tightness/cramping in my right quad. This was a bad sign of things to come. It really started when I went up the fist steep hill on the second loop. I decided I should try to let the legs relax just a little so I slowed my pace for the last 8 miles to try to let my legs recover. I think I could have been about 3-5 minutes faster had I not let my legs rest, but I figured I needed to save my legs for the run. I felt good with my effort on the bike and I actually was pretty far ahead of most of the people in my age group at this point.
By the time I got to T2 I had to pee really bad. I got my shoes on and took 3 endurolyte pills (I was very concerned about cramping on the run after what I felt on the bike) and used the restroom. Due to the bathroom break my T2 time was much slower than I would have liked. Looking back, I should have used the restroom right before I put on my wetsuit. Yet another lesson I learned with this race.
Run: 13.1 miles @ 2:18:55
This is where things went south for me. I started the first .5 miles well, but after a very steep part of the run my quads cramped up and boy did they cramp up. By this time I was very upset and I was actually worried about being able to finish the race. I stopped for about 2-3 minutes and sat down on the sidewalk. I got up and started running again and made it about another .25 miles before I started having signifigant pain and cramping. Again, I had to stop. A lady game me some salt sticks that I took to try to help with the cramps. After about 2-3 minutes for sitting on the curb again I got up and started to run again at a very slow pace. I made it to the first aid station and started to down HEED, water, and bananas. I sat down on a park bench for about 5 minutes and then started running again. I was able to run to the second aid station, with the exception of walking up a steep hill, where I took in more of the same stuff I had at the fist aid station. From there I basically was able to run from aid station to aid station. At each aid station I would stop and make sure I took in plenty of fluids and pretzels. My quads were cramping the whole time and it was very painful to run, but I was at least able to run which I was very thankful for. By about mile 12 my mind and legs were just use to the cramps so they did not hurt nearly as much and I was able to pick up the pace a little and finish the run portion of the race strong.
Race Summary: 5:53:44 (52 minutes faster than 2013 Pumpkin Man Half Ironman)
I was happy to finish and PR the race, but I was disappointed with the run. I learned a lot that I can use for my Half Ironman next year and I plan to train a little different. More brick workouts and more running longer distances when my legs are tired. I felt like my bike and swim improved a lot from a year ago, but my run was almost exactly the same as last year, and I mean within seconds. Without cramps I likely would have improved substantially on my run from last year and knowing that will bug me for the next year. Overall I had a great time and I can't wait to do it again next year.