Ironman San Juan was an incredible experience (outside of getting home but even that was an experience) and one I cannot wait to repeat again next year. That is correct……I have plans to compete at Ironman San Juan next year. The venue was incredible, the people better than that and the food was top-notch. It did not hurt that this was like going home and one that I will cherish forever.
If you had been following my wife Karen through Twitteror Facebook you know that I missed my goal times but a hefty margin but after much contemplation and conversation with my coach the end product proves what a terrific race I had. I would be remise if I did not say Thank You to all of you for your support. It has proven to be invaluable and a tremendous source of inspiration and motivation.
Now let’s break this down Hubie Brown style…….
Having booked a room at the host hotel I did not have to wake up super early to travel to the race site. I set my alarm for 4:30am so that I could eat breakfast by 4:45am which was 3 hours prior to my wave start. Those three hours would provide me with enough time to go to the bathroom and clean out the system before the gun went off. Typical of race day my breakfast was granola with almond milk, one rice cake with peanut butter and 1/2 sliced banana and a Herbalife24 Carb-Smoothie with the other half of the banana. One cup of coffee would accompany this breakfast and help to get the system moving and functioning properly.
After breakfast I headed downstairs with Karen to make the 2 minute walk to Sixto Escobar Stadium where transition was setup. Once at my rack I laid out all my clothes and that is when the fireworks started going off. In the 45 minutes I was in transition I heard no less than 5 wheels blow from being over-inflated. It is hot in San Juan, hotter than normal this time of year, and thus the air was already expanded in the tires and when the athletes were trying to fit in 140 psi the tubes or clinchers would blow. The noise was loud and kept happening over and over again. My buddy Juan popped over to my rack with his bike pump and I filled up my tires, laid out my cycling shoes, running shoes, helmet, race belt, sunglasses, and HoneyStinger Waffles. Poured the Herbalife24 Prolong into my Speedfil and filled up the A2 with the liquified EFS Liquid Shot Vanilla. Placed my tiny cooler with my two handhelds of EFS and my recovery food of peanut butter and banana sandwich, an apple and a pear. All set up and grab Juan to walk out the stadium when we run into Richard. Photo opportunity taken and time to head back upstairs to relax before walking over to the swim start.
After laying down in the bed for about an hour it was time to head over to the swim which was a 10 minute slow walk. Karen and I took are time getting there and once there I figured I should do some warm-up swimming and tossed myself in the water for a few minutes. The water was warm but the swim felt good. I was ready for this day. As we walked across the street I found my wave and stood in line with the rest of the athletes, when I over heard the dreaded question: What are you shooting for? The question was not directed at me but the conversation broke down like this:
- I am hoping to be around 6 hours.
- Yeah, I want to do a 40 minute swim then hold 230 watts on the bike….blah, blah, blah
- Oh you race with watts. I use my hear rate.
- Dude, once you go watts you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. It is the best. Best since sliced bread. You know that sh*t that Samuel Jackson and John Travolta looked at in Pulp Fiction? Yeah, watts is even better than that. You thought the invention of the wheel was big……shoot WATTS is where it’s at (not exactly this way but it might as well have been.)
We move closer and closer and it is now our turn to get in the water.
I had made the determination to put myself in the middle of the front row and go for it. Swim all out for 200-300 meters to breakaway from the fray and then settle into a nice rithym. I stood on the beach until about 1 minute to go and then waded into the water and when the gun went off so did I. I swam as hard as I could without sighting because every time I turned to breathe there was a guy there. In addition to that I tend to swim to my right which in this case was a good thing as the buoys were all lined to the right and we were swimming in a clockwise motion.
After some feet slapping and quick kicking I settled in. I felt like I was cruising and trying to figure out if I wanted to push harder or save myself for the bike and run. I was never alone and felt that I was doing a good job of swimming at a good race pace. Before I knew it I was making the right hand turn at the red buoy when a few of the swimmers from the wave behind me started passing me. Around the second turn buoy and headed for home. I know I had 9 orange buoys before hitting the bridge and I started counting them off. The sighting was very good and eventually I was passing swim caps from two waves prior to the M35-39 age group.
Once I got to the bridge the sea floor rose quickly and was slightly disorienting. Through the bridge and we were in an area with a lot of chop. Being on the small side I was getting tossed around by the 1 foot to 2 foot swells. At this point I was swallowing so much water and pushed to get to the end. This is when I turned and saw the Hammer Nutrition race kit. I thought it might be Richard and as I got out of the water it turns out that it was Richard. I knew that he was a fast swimmer and thought to myself that getting out with him was a good thing. I looked down at my watch and saw 41:XX and felt the disappointment immediately.
I had to block it out because it was now a long run to the transition area. By long I mean long. Well over 500 yards to where my bike was stationed on the opposite end of transition. Trying to forget the swim and not trip on the way there were the only things on my mind.
- Goal: 35:00 – 37:00
- Actual: 41:37 (2:11/100m)
- Rank: 620 Overall; 129 M35-39
After mounting the bike I knew that I would be facing a very flat course and told myself to hold back a bit because I did not want to fry myself before the run. Having driven the course the day before I knew the way out would be the tailwind and then the way back would be the headwind so it made more sense to enjoy the out but conserve energy.
- Goal: 2:40 – 2:45
- Actual: 2:46:15 (20.21 mph)
- Rank: 433 Overall; 105 M35-39
After grabbing a handful of cold water out of my little cooler I slipped on my running shoes and grabbed my two handhelds of EFS and was ready to hit the run course. My goal was to try to negative split the run which meant going out slow and getting comfortable and then turning it on at the end.
- Goal: 1:40 – 1:45
- Actual: 1:57:00 (8:47/mi)
- Rank: 267 Overall; 67 M35-39
While my goal time was not met I am very proud of my race. I executed the plan to the T. I busted out of the gate in the swim, I held back on the bike and still managed 20 mph and did not fly out of T2 into the run and burn out. After talking with Coach there are a couple of tiny things I would change. First I would not go all out at the swim start but instead swim my race and find feet to draft off of. I know I can swim faster but burning that energy and going anaerobic may have cost me more than it saved me in time. On the bike and run I could have pushed slightly harder. On the second half of the bike I was at an HR of between 135 and 140bpm. I could push that to 145bpm for sure and not have wasted energy. From the run perspective I could have pushed harder on the second half as my HR stayed in the 150-155bpm range. These hear rates are great for an Ironman but for a Half-Ironman I can probably push just a tad harder. This is being nit-picky because that is how I am built, but all in all on a very hot day I executed a tremendous race. My nutrition and hydration were spot on and shows that I have learned how to pace for upcoming Ironman Texas.
- Goal: 5:03 – 5:13
- Actual: 5:29:35
- Top 25% Overall
I ate just about everything in sight. It was a hot day and I know I must have dropped close to 10 pounds out there. I ate oranges and bananas and pizza, then my recovery sandwich and fruit. If I could get my hands on it I ate it was pretty much how it went down. After spending some time gathering my thoughts of the day I went and retrieved my bike and made my way to the hotel room to lay down. This was short-lived as Karen was hungry and we decided to go to eat and early dinner with Juan and his wife at Cafe Berlin.