I will start by saying it was a very good day at the office overall, but with any race you have to take the time to analyze and understand where you can get better so that you keep improving.
My second statement is a huge Thank You to all of you that sent text messages (I can’t believe I gave my number to so many of you…..ha!), Facebook and Twitter mentions. It was overwhelming and it helped me get through this race, in the good times and the bad.
Let’s jump right into this and I will try to keep it as short as possible.
Friday and Saturday
Karen and I left around 2pm on Friday to head to Austin so that we could just sit and relax. On the way down there Karen made the decision that we should head right to the Expo to get checked in and not have to worry about it on Saturday. Great idea. I walked right in and got all my stuff, then we shopped (spending around $150…..not bad!) On the way back to the hotel Karen searched for pizza near our hotel and found Little Deli and Pizza (click the link to find out what I thought of it.)
Head to the hotel and setup my bike for my trainer ride at 5am so that Karen could get to Town Lake Center and run 13 miles. Typical 3am wake-up call and I get on the trainer and it is LOUD. I did not want to wake Karen or the people below me so I got off and sat on the couch and before I know it I passed out. After Karen woke we headed down to Town Lake and we ran together for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I peeled off and Karen kept going. I went to Joe’s Coffee and sat on South Congress drinking my coffee enjoying the scenery and relaxation. Went back down to pick up Karen and up to Magnolia Cafe for breakfast.
After eating oatmeal and 2 banana-bluebrerry-pecan pancakes we headed back to the hotel. We needed to shower and head to the expo to check in El Diablo. In the middle of my shower the water turns off. What the F? I have shampoo in my hair and have not even put the bar of soap to my body. Karen calls the front desk and we find out that there is a leak in the pipe and no water service for who knows how long. Out of the shower and get dressed…..not happy!
Get to the expo again to check in the bike and find out what all these bags are for. What do you put in them and where do they go? Sat through the athletes meeting and find out that I can bring bags in the morning. Relief just came over me.
Check bike in and time to head back for more pizza and rest. The next day is game time.
3am wake-up call and into the shower I go…..yeah we have water. I eat my typical breakfast of a bowl of granola with almond milk and a smoothie. All bags are packed and I re-check them to make sure. I also pack up my small coolers with ice and load up my nutrition/hydration. It is 4:45am and it is time to head to the race.
Once at the race I bring my run gear bag in and put it on the floor. Almost everybody else hung their bag, and I could not understand why. You will have to untie the bag and pull it down then change and get going. Wasted time in my opinion so I just left the bag on the floor.
Get on the bus to Swim Start and T1. Bring bag into T1 and load up bike. This is a clean transition area so nothing can be on floor. I hang my shoes from the horns, helmet with race belt and sunglasses inside of the helmet. Speedfil A2 loaded with EFS Liquid Shot and down tube Speedfil with Herbalife Prolong. Put HoneyStinger waffle pieces on paper towel on saddle and head out to hang out with Karen and Juan.
Before I know it is 7:15a and we head down to the swim start. It was awesome to have Karen with me right up until 7:55a since she usually has to abandon the swim area long before the start of the race.
Our wave gets in the water and I position myself to the right of the group and in the third row. I feel this is the best spot for me as I can avoid the fray and swim across to the buoys. This should take me about 5 extra seconds but that is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
At 8am the air horn goes off, I hit start on my watch and it is time to plow forward. I had a goal of 36-37 minutes for this swim and there was no time like the present to get going. I hit that first swim stroke and it feels great. My heart rate did not spike, I was not hyperventilating and just swimming. I hit a few guys and a few guys hit me but I did not let it bother me.
I would sight every 5 right arm strokes. I would count to 5 and look up and I was swimming STRAIGHT. What is going on? I would adjust and am at a ridiculous angle to get to the buoys and when I would look again I would be headed to the right. I spent so much energy trying to get to the buoys that I just decided to swim straight where I was and eventually would work my way to the right.
Before I knew it the red turn buoy was there and I can tell you that I passed a few red caps and a couple of yellow caps from the waves before me. At the turn there was a bottle neck and a little more contact swimming but I was going to be aggressive on this day and I did not care. I swam right over one guy because he kept crossing my face.
After getting past him I spotted the yellow buoys and swam straight for them and started to lengthen my stroke and my sighting to every 10 strokes. This was working great as I was right on the buoys and moving through the water like a boat. I now saw green caps and more red and yellow caps. I felt like I was on cruise control at this point as the 2nd red buoy showed up.
Make the turn and know that I’m heading home. I look up and I see all these yellow buoys. What is going on? Then I realized that those were swim caps and the final stretch buoys are orange. I had to get that through my head because there were a lot of yellow caps out there. I decided now was the time to lay it all on the line and I kicked it in as fast as I could. Before I know it thought one guy hits my legs 3 times. In order to not slow down I kicked as hard as I could and I was not touched again by that guy.
Get to the swim out and I start pulling my wetsuit off of me and get to the strippers and my worst nightmare hit. First off the transition is a long run and also uphill in the grass. Not good times. I get to the strippers and I cannot get my sleeve over my watch. Finally I pull it off and flop on the ground. He yells that I need it below my waste so I just slip it down and he yanks it off the rest of the way.
Wetsuit in hand and run to T1. I know my row is where the electric pole is and of course I ran right past it.
I get my sunglasses on, race belt on, shoes on, helmet on and go to grab the HoneyStingers and they are not there. I look down and they are on the floor. I could care less as this is a part of my hydration/nutrition plan. I see two pieces on the ground and pick them up and start chewing as I de-rack El Diablo. I start running out of T1 and I see Karen. What a sight and a memory for me for the next three hours.
Having ridden this course twice this summer I knew it very well and my plan was to go fast from the outset and deal with the wind on Route 969 when it happened. My goal was to race this course at 20mph and in order for me to do that was to go out in the 21-22mph range and then hit that wind wall and probably ride at 17-18mph. How well did I execute my plan?
We get out on the road and I have my watch set to beep every 15 minutes to remind me to take in hydration/nutrition. If somebody knows how to work a Timex Ironman GPS watch please contact me because for the 2nd race in a row I hit the multi-sport button one too many times. I am now having to figure out my nutrition/hydration on my own. Quick calculation tells me that if I hold 20mph that every 5 mile marker I should drink.
I hit the 5 mile marker and take in the Prolong. I know that in another 15 minutes I’ll be taking in EFS Liquid Shot. I am riding hard and fast and we hit the first climb but its short and I cruise up this hill and am feeling great. The legs are turning over and no issues at all. We are all cruising and I can see the officials out there monitoring the riders. With the horrible cracks in the road you had to essentially ride to the left the entire ride but try to avoid getting a penalty.
At one point I pass, quite easily, the asshat triathlete. You know, from Jeff Irvin’s post, what this guy looks like. Disc wheel, high-flying bike, aero helmet WITH a visor. This guy has spent so much money on his gear, but forgot that he needs to train for the event and that you cannot buy speed. About 5 minutes later we go up a climb and over a bridge and head back downhill. At this point there are two riders that are going slower than I and I am passing them when another asshat triathlete passes me and decides to educate me on the rules. He yells that I need to only be on the left to pass. So I yell back at him….oh you mean like the two people that we just went by? Seriously dude focus on your ride and not me passing somebody.
At this point the race is non-descript but every 15 minutes my watch goes off and I can see how fast/slow I’m going. Every time I look I am at 20-21mph and I know I am hitting my plan dead on. That is until we come up on the one stretch that you are flying and have to make a 90* right turn. The day before Juan and I spoke of this turn and how we could see riders just going straight through into the pasture on the other side of the road.
Since I know the course I know I have to break well before hand. I start feathering my rear brakes but I am not slowing down one bit. I start to feather the front brakes as well. Uh-Oh! I am not stopping or slowing down AT ALL. What is going to happen? I pull the brakes this time and the wheels starts screeching. OK Jason get your body loose in case you tumble. A stiff body is going to cause more damage (TWSS) and so I got loose and began to get the bike to slow down but I cannot turn without having my wheels slide out from under me or crashing into other riders coming down.
I go right through the turn and into a ditch on the other side of the road, but I kept pedaling and turn the bike toward the course again. I get back to the road and unclip so that I can gain composure of my heart and make sure that I’m ok. I see racers coming flying and I am trying to get back on the course and after about 1 minute I get back out there. Lots of comments come flying like: Hey Lance, you ok? Hey this is not an Xterra event? I laughed at them and it helped me gain my composure.
The good thing about this is that I now have goals to catch the group I had been riding with and I start pedaling hard. This is Route 969 and is a wall of wind and you can feel it the entire stretch but I am passing riders left and right. I am feeling great and my legs are feeling good. Twice my watch showed a 15 minute stretch of 17mph but otherwise it was 19mph and I knew I was having a great ride.
As I pass mile 50 I calculate that if I am in T2 by 3:30 I have two hours to run a half-marathon and break 5:30 for the race. I am feeling really good as I turn into the final stretch. I dismount cleanly and head to my rack.
Bike racked and helmet off. Sneakers on, visor on and grab the HoneyStinger waffles and my two flasks that were in the tiny cooler. One is EFS Liquid Shot and the other is water. I eat two pieces of HoneyStinger and hit the run.
The run is a 3 loop course so I know I am going to see Karen at least 5 times before I get into the final chute and that makes me happy.
I hit the run course and I see Karen, Coach and her posse and they are all yelling and I start yelling back and I feel great. I hit the Mile 2 marker and the watch goes off for 15 minutes….Nice I’m running a 7:30/mi pace. I take in the liquid shot and some water. I grab sponges at every aid station and this proved to be the best idea I had all day.
After Mile 2 it seems that the run goes down hill fast. I realized that this run is nothing but ups and downs and I need to do it 3 times. I can also feel the heat start to turn up.
I get to Mile 4 and my pace is now 8:30/mi and I am struggling until you get near the turn around where all the fans are. They are going nuts and after I do the loop I see Karen again along with some other friends. I pass one tent and they are jamming and that gets me going again and I feel like dancing (I did!) and keep going.
At Mile 6 the idea of drinking liquid shot just about makes me puke. I just cannot stomach it anymore so I ditch it and change the game plan. I am going to drink coke at every other aid station, take sponges and water at every aid station. It was at this point that I decide to walk the aid stations. As I walk through the first one I look at my watch and start calculating.
Mile 8 gives me 5 more miles and at 9:00/mi I will cross at 5:27. I now have a focus to run at a 9:00/mi pace no matter what. I come up on a turn and our friend Jeff is there. Jeff is a bada** triathlete having competed at Kona and just recently ran the Boston Marathon in ~3:30 in a monkey suit. He high fives me and almost knocks me over because I’m spent.
I keep pushing and now know that I only have one more lap to go. I stick to my plan of coke and water and walking aid stations. I get to mile 11 and calculate that I am at a 5:28 pace if I stick to a 9:00/mi pace. About 0.5 miles past that sign I decide I can run as hard as I can for the next 1.5 miles and that is what I did. I ran as hard as I could and when I got to the final chute and saw 5:57 I knew I had it. I knew I was going to cross under 5:30.
After crossing the finish line I just about collapsed. I had my hands on my knees and the enormity of what I had just accomplished hit me.
As I was just over the line with my hands on my knees I could feel the tears well up in my eyes. I went from 5:42 in April at California to 5:28 in October. A 14 minute PR, but more than that I knew that all those hours of training paid off. All the email exchanges with Jeff, Jon, BDD, Patrick, Kevin, Matt and Greg paid off. I knew that I just created a donation of $70 to Shape Up America for a 14 minute PR.
The volunteer was incredible as she asked repeatedly if I need the medic tent. I told her no that I was just exhausted. She asked if I PR’d and I told her yes by 14 minutes. She then asked again if I wanted to the medic. I told her as best I could that I just needed to slump. I didn’t need a medic, or water, or coke, or a sandwich but just needed to slump.
I finally gathered myself and walked to Karen. I hugged and kissed her then slumped again and again the tears began to well up. This was a race that I put everything into and hit my goal time overall.
Swim: 40:08. Goal was 36-37 minutes with a PR of 40:37
Bike: 2:49:15. Goal was 2:50-2:55 with a PR of 3:06
Run: 1:53:32. Goal was 1:44-1:47 with a PR of 1:48
Overall: 5:28:06. Goal was 5:20-5:30 with a PR of 5:42.
I have a long way to go to be the triathlete I want to be but I will not stop until I get there. You should know that my training when it starts for Puerto Rico will be harder and more intense. I have bigger goals and I have places that I need to improve upon. I know this and later today my coach will know it as well.
Until then I will bask in the glory of hitting my goals for this race. I will smile knowing that there was nothing else I could have done on this day to get better. I know that with what the day gave me I have it all I had and came out on top of the course.
Thank you all for your support. It was a great race and I am thrilled with my accomplishments and I have all of you to thank. At some point on the course I chanted FAGRESSIVE (Jen), I took in all liquid nutrition/Hydration (Jeff), I left it on the course (Greg, Matt), I pushed my limits (Jon, BDD, Kevin) and so many other times out there that I cannot express it all. You all rock and thank you