This race report is by one person I consider to be a good friend even if we have only known each other for a few months.  I met Greg via Twitter a few months ago and we met up at the Stonebridge Ranch Half-Marathon.  From that day we started training together and he truly helped push me to get faster in the water.  Now that we have both completed our first half-iron distance races we are looking to help each other to the 140.6 mile marker. I always enjoy our training sessions and the conversation.  He is a leader and a true inspiration and motivator.  Read this race report and find out what it takes to finish a half-ironman and get ready to laugh a bit. Thank you Greg for letting me post this.


Bruised and Battered but not Broken – Part 2

Posted on May 16, 2011 by @thelifeitri
STARTING MATTERS, BUT FINISHING COUNTS There were audible gasps as people saw my shoulder and realized I had crashed out on the course.  A couple of volunteers asked if I needed anything, but I wasn’t in the mood to explain so just gave a curt no and kept duck running to the transition area. My wife was ready to take a picture, but saw an unusual red color on my arm and quickly dropped the camera and started to follow me along the transition fence.  She asked if I was ok and I gave her the thumbs up and just yelled, “I’ll be fine.”  She knows me and the situation well enough to know that was the wrong time to probe so she just let it be.  I know she was worried, I would’ve been, but like the amazing woman she is, let me do my thing with her full support and now prayers, thoughts, and concerns. Typically T2 is a blur, but I took a moment or two extra to gather myself.  It helped that it hurt like hell to put on my shoes even with lock laces.  The fingers on my right hand had been chewed up pretty good in the wreck. Once I had put on my fuel belt and race belt (need to come up with a better system in the future) and started trotting out of transition, I knew this was not going to be the run I had intended to run.  My legs were dead, my left hip was sore, and I had a bruised/scraped area just above my hip that couldn’t hide from my fuel belt. Glancing at my watch I saw I had 1:36 and change to make my 5 hour mark.  I could do this, I could pull it together, I could run 7:15 miles for 13.1 and make it.  My mind raced around the idea, I took a deep breath, tried to pick up the pace and get a move on.   There were a couple of rabbits out ahead of me that I tried to laser in on, but everything just seemed heavy.  I slowed down to a walk for half a minute or so.  I knew that I just needed my legs to get under me.  Starting to run again felt a little better but now I needed to pee.  Finally!!!  I had been waiting and wondering when I would have to pee during this race fully expecting to have showered Gauchon a couple of times during the ride.  I had drank plenty before the race and finished between 40 and 50 oz of hydration on the ride, but nothing. Before the race I had made up my mind that no matter how “embarrassing” I was just going to pee on the run, but at this moment the port-a-potty was to close not to just step in for 30 seconds.  It was another welcome break just to get my mind and body right for the run. Coming out I grabbed a handful of sponges from a bucket nearby and began the cooling process; squeezing cold water on me then placing other sponges in the front and back of my jersey.  Every sponge offer from there on out was just a swap out of old and new.  Loved having those with me throughout the race. At mile 1 I was off pace with 8:09 minute mile thanks to my walking and bio-break.  Way off pace, but not bad with the stops.  Time to get a move-on and I did for the next two miles logging 6:48 and 7:07 min. miles bringing my average closer to where it needed to be, but that was where my speed ended.  I didn’t feel slow, but from there on out my miles were between 7:20 and 7:40. Instead of just running I was trying to pace, I was trying to calculate and it wasn’t working.  Some of the rabbits I had in my sight were long gone, others had appeared and I passed a few of them, but this was not my day to blister the run.  This was my day to put my best foot forward and push.  The 5 hour mark was still within reach, but slowly slipping away. Entering the St. Andrews National Park in between miles 5 and 6 was awesome and a welcome change of scenery from the homes and businesses we had been running through.  This was a “forested” beach front with white sand along the sides of the road.  It reminded me that we get to race in some pretty beautiful places.

St. Andrews State Park

I wanted my pace to quicken, but I my quads were burning.  With a tired, frustrated mind I confused that with lack of calories vs. water and electrolytes.  So I took another gel which was about 2 miles earlier than planned.  That would prove to be my undoing later. Coming out of the park I was reaching mile 7 and for as hard as it had been I had actually made a decent showing and had about 43 minutes left to make it in by 5 hours.  I did another calculation and knew I could run at the pace necessary to finish at or before my desired goal.  This was going to be my comeback, my “epic story”, I had wrecked but picked myself up to still hit my goal!  This wasn’t necessarily re-energizing, but I felt I could do it no matter how uncomfortable. A guy had just passed me and his pace seemed fast enough that if I just kept him within reach and with a good kick at the end I’d pull this off.  So off we went back into the businesses and homes of Panama City Beach. Passing mile marker 8 I had logged a 7:55 mile, way off pace from what I needed.  I did my best to dig deep.  I settled into an uncomfortably comfortable pace and just wanted to see mile marker 9.  There was an aid station coming up and I knew I needed some electrolytes, but didn’t want what I was carrying and decided to grab a coke instead…sugar & salt, right?  About 4 oz. and it tasted good.  I made up my mind I would grab sponges and coke the rest of the way in.  Hitting mile marker 9 I marked my time and had picked up :20 seconds. I started to tear up a little.  Four more miles holding or getting faster and I’d do it.  I was on pace and it was going to be close, but I was going to make this happen. The aid station just before mile marker 10 wasn’t paying much attention.  I yelled out for a coke, but it took to the end of the aid station for someone to finally give me something, but it was a full cup.  I took just a splash and dropped the cup to the ground.  This is when I made the worst mistake possible….I actually thought, “I need more calories so I can make a kick at 11.  Get ‘em in now, you’ll be glad you did!”  So I opened my gel and started to slowly draw a little in. I knew instantly that I was in trouble.  The gel tasted horrible and felt weird going down.  I discarded the gel as if it was a bad luck charm.  “Maybe if I don’t carry it with me it won’t have any effect on me.”  Ya, stupid!  Mile 10 came and went and my pace had slowed.  I lost :20 gain from mile 9. Somewhere between a .25 mile and .50 mile into mile 10 I felt the rumble.  I knew what the rumble “could” mean, but was hoping the gas bubble I was about to release would just be just that, gas!!! If only this were a wooded area, if only I was near a gas station, if only I saw a port-a-potty within spitting distance I might have had more confidence, but I was O-fer on all of those.  Peeing on the run was one thing.  Crapping myself was not something I was prepared to do, even to hit my time.  Maybe if a lot of money was on the line; but, it would have to be a hell of a lot of money. I clinched as tight as I could and tried to run.  That only made things worse!  Still clinching I started the old lady, heel first speed walk.  100 yards to a corner, but I was already looking for a bailout.  Whose front yard had the most shrubs?  Was someone in their driveway that I could plead with?  Literally, someone’s yard was about to get blasted. Just then I reached the corner, turned to my left and up another 50 yards was the aid station with A PORT-A-POTTY!  Now I had to figure out how I was going to make this happen.  I was wearing a cycling bib which had been great, but this might be my last race with the bibs.  I’m sure the aids were wondering what the hell I was doing. Walking up I was stripping off my jersey, taking off my fuel belt, and I’m sure I looked like death warmed over.  They asked if they could get me something.  “Nope, just need to sit down…in here,” as I was opening the door.  This time I didn’t lap my stop, wasn’t even thinking about it.  I was too busy destroying the port-a-potty.  Seriously it should have been marked condemned upon my departure. This wasn’t a welcome rest.  Not just for the GI reason, but I had stopped moving and sat down.  As I stood up my entire body tightened.  My left side became painful and my hip started to throb.  Trying to put on my jersey again was a joke, but I wasn’t about to cross the finish line in my bibs.  Fortunately a volunteer wasn’t “grossed out” by my sweaty back and helped me roll down the jersey. Grabbing sponges and a cold glass of water I tried to start again.  I didn’t even look down at my watch.  I just wanted to go.  My rabbit was gone, my 5 hour mark was approaching, and I still had around 2.5 miles.  I thought about just leaving my belt there and coming back for it.  It felt so heavy and was rubbing against a very sore hip, but I was stubborn and thought about having to drop another $50 if I didn’t get it back. Mile 11 I looked at my watch and saw 4:53:00.  It almost broke me.  5 hours was gone, not a chance, even with a “fresh” body at this point I couldn’t make that happen.  Never did it occur to me to just mail it in and not care how I finished.  My mantra is “Starting matters, but FINISHING counts.”  It was never so apparent and true as now.  Time for a new goal!  It became 5:10:00. That seemed more than possible in my head.  Only 8:30 miles; but, my body just wouldn’t listen.  I pushed and tried, but my legs would not pick up, my hips would not roll.  I was as limber as a petrified tree and as heavy footed as the tin man. Reaching mile 12 I was now at 5:04 after an 11:20 mile.  5:10:00 was now out of reach, but If I didn’t go for it I wouldn’t even make 5:15.  Last effort, last mile, time to finish!  Still petrified and heavy as ever I did all I could to go as fast as possible.  This was now about finishing and giving my body and mind the rest it thought it was getting back at mile 10. The final straight away was tough.  I knew I was accomplishing a great thing that I had trained and prepared for, but anger and disappointment were settling in.  This wasn’t how I had envisioned this moment or my body feeling.  When I got close enough to the finish line I started to pay attention to the clock praying I had kept accurate time and that my watch was in sync because I was tracking under the 5:15 goal I had set at mile 12.  But the clock said 5:43

Dazed and confused coming to the finish

as I was approaching.  I couldn’t believe it, how could I be so far off, I wasn’t even close to my original goal like I had thought.  Dazed and confused I crossed the line staring down at my watch, wondering how this was possible, my watch at 5:13:44 but the time at 5:43. As they took the chip off of me and started to walk me away from the line pointing out the medical tent it started to make sense.  The timing had started a half hour before my start time.  Indeed I had finished in the time my watch was showing.  I had finished as strong as possible.  I had made the best of the hand that the race had dealt me.  I had just finished an amazing race that I could hang my hat on for future races.  Unfortunately I wouldn’t realize this for another week.


One week and a couple of days removed I am very happy with my race overall.  I am still going to grade each discipline and write about the lessons learned, but I endured, I pushed, and I literally left it all on the road that day.  Couldn’t have made that finish count any better than I did!  Now, it’s time to get ready for The Redman Triathlon – Ironman in September.  Here we go…

Only possible because of Angel!

Published in Race Reports

I can't recall how Rebecca and I got introduced on Twitter but I believe it had to do with a Pukie from BDD.  Since then we have exchanged tweets and she is a true inspiration.  Running 10 miles at 4am.  Telling me she has never seen the sunrise on a run because she is DONE by then.  How incredible is that?  Well that is only the beginning.  Rebecca completed her first half-Ironman at the 70.3 Ironman California like I did.  I wish we had been able to meet at the race because it would have been awesome to be able to race with a friend and root each other on.

I recently read her race report and asked if I could post it on my site and she agreed.  So here is Rebecca's race report.  Enjoy it then head over to her site and start following her because she is an incredible person, let alone triathlete and Mom.  

Giving 100% to be Half an Ironman

By Rebecca Korb

  So about 6 years ago I decided it was time to start taking better care of my body.   I had had two children,  was approaching 30, and knew that if I didn’t start doing something now I would never get back to what I felt like before. This led to running. Not a lot of running. It just started with running home from the park. Then out around the neighborhood.  And then eventually I got into it.  Did my first half marathon which of course led to a marathon and that was it. I was hooked for life. But then I had a chat with my dentist.  He was a marathon runner and said how he had been doing triathlons recently.  I thought, “Well, I can run OK, and I swam in high school.  How hard can biking be?”  And that is how I got into triathlons just a little under a year ago.  I did a sprint and olympic last summer but wanted to train for the big one. A full Ironman! But I needed more time to work up to that so this summer it is all about 70.3! I signed up almost 9 months ago for the Oceanside 70.3.  It fills up quick so you have to sign up way in advance.  But finally the day of the race had arrived. I had been working hard for 4 months in preparation of the race. And the day was finally here. We (husband came along for support) got to the race around 5:30 AM. I got all my stuff set up, went to the mechanics tent and had them pump my tires, ate some food, and eventually got my wet suit on. I was the 17th wave of 23. I lined up with my corral and waited.  I have never been to a race of this size or with this many big time triathletes  competing.  It was pretty cool to watch them start and know that I was going to do the same course that they were! So it is finally our turn. The start here works by you swimming out to a couple of buoys and the starting from there, rather than running in from the beach.  I really liked this!  It gave me a good chance to get acclimated to the water before I had to swim.  I am a strong swimmer so this time I lined myself right up front! The horn went off and we were off!  It was a very protected swim so we didn’t have much in the way of waves to contend with until you got out to the turn around.  And even then it wasn’t that bad.  I just focused on swimming strong and trying to pass as many different color caps as I could. I felt good the whole swim.  But I was very happy to get to the exit.  1.2 miles, 33:53 for the swim.  15th out of my age group (122 in age group at start of race). Since this was a big race that meant the transition area was big so you had to run pretty far from the swim exit to your bike. Got in transition, got wetsuit off, got bike stuff on, grabbed a bite, and got the heck out of there. The bike was my biggest concern.  It was the last discipline I picked up and it is one of the hardest ones to find the time to train properly.  But I have worked hard on my cycling and just needed to have a little confidence in myself that I could do this.  And guess what? I did! The first 20 miles went great average close to 20 mph (very good for me).  My back started to get a little sore but there was nothing I could do about it. I knew I had some climbing in my future.  And at mile 30 it began. And the first one was short but a doozy! I heard it was a 9% grade. Many people were off their bikes walking it. I vowed I would not get off my bike.  And I didn’t!  After that climb we had about 16 more miles of climbing to go. Nothing as bad as the first one, but still some hills to deal to get up and over.  At least for all of the hills you could see the summit and knew when they would end.  We were also contending with a head wind but I just kept counting down the miles till I could get off the bike.  My back and neck were very sore at this point but the only way to make them better was to get done with the bike ASAP! SO after finishing the hills, riding 10 more relatively flat miles into a head wind, I was done with the bike. 56 miles, 3:20:42. Back at transition again.  I was in a little bit of a daze but happy to get the run started.  I got my bike stuff off and my run stuff on, thought about using the bathroom, but just wanted to be done! I started running and felt so slow. The miles had never felt so long.  So it was to my great surprise when I would look at my mile splits and see that I was running sub 9 minute miles. Exactly what I wanted to run! My training had really paid off.  I was also extremely hungry at this point so I made sure to eat to oranges at every aid station.  The run was an out and back that you did twice.  Sounds kind of boring but it was nice to run past familiar terrain and people during the run so it didn’t feel quite so long.  I even saw one of my training friends late in the run which was really encouraging.  My husband was able to find a good spot and catch me running by a few times.  My splits were pretty consistent and luckily I got a little second wind for the last half.  With all that I had done that day I was so excited to be in control of my race and feeling strong.  Yes I was tired, but I still felt strong. After 13.1 miles in 1:56:46 for the run, I finally made it to the finish!  34 out of over 100 that finished in my age group (I lost a few spots during the ride; next time I won’t!) I was shaking! I only cried a little as I was approaching the finish but I was so relieved and proud to have finished this race that you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!  I got my medal, and my hat and I went into the medical tent for some ibuprofen for my back.  Once I did that I made my way to get some food and found my training buddy again.  He asked what my time was.  I had no idea at that point.  I wasn’t timing myself from start to finish.  I had asked someone on the course what time it was while I was running since I knew I had started at 7:30 AM. By doing the math in my head I knew I was close to finishing to my ultimate goal time which was 6 hours.  But I was second guessing the math and I wasn’t quite sure.  After I had gathered all my stuff and made my way to exit I saw a table where they were printing results for you.  5:59:41!!!!!  I screamed I was so happy.  I wanted to do 6 hours so bad but really didn’t think I could for my first one.  It was amazing.  I have never been so proud of an accomplishment! In closing the day was magical.  The support from the marines, to the spectators, to my twitter friends, to my family, and to my husband was absolutely amazing.  I couldn’t have done this without so many people cheering me on. Now…Just four more months until Vineman 70.3 in Sonoma California.  Think I will start training tomorrow!  
Published in Race Reports
Monday, 04 April 2011 14:35

70.3 Ironman California Race Report

[caption id="attachment_1623" align="alignleft" width="224" caption="First Sign You See To Let You Know You Are Racing 70.3 IMCA"][/caption] Before I start discussing the event I want to again say Thank You to everybody who helped support me in my journey to my first half-ironman.  It was a lot of work.  There was a lot of sweat, blood and even tears but in the end there was a lot more laughter and fun during this training.  I woke up inspired and motivated each day by all of you, my Angels and Ninjas.  Your support was invaluable and you will never know how much it helped me during this past year. I am going to break down this race report into each part of the race, which will include pre and post race.  I am going to give myself a grade for each event and then also list out the items I have learned and how I need to apply them to the next race.


I began my packing early in the week with a few items here and there, but the majority was done on Wednesday night.  I went through my bags as if I were in the race.  I envisioned my pre-race regiment in terms of eating and making sure my tri-bag was packed.  I then went through each section of the race from swim to transition to bike to transition to run to finish.  Making sure that each piece I needed was packed.  I could always buy a pair of shorts had I forgotten that, but I would not have been comfortable buying a new helmet had I forgotten that. Karen and I flew into San Diego on Thursday morning and this was a great idea.  We went and had lunch in Old Town San Diego and were able to let our legs relax as well as our mind and body.  From eating we went to the hotel and unpacked.  Everything but the bike.  Left El Diablo packed up. We went down to the beach and I went swimming in my wetsuit.  Looking to get used to the salt water and buoyancy.  The riptide was rough and at points I felt like I was swimming in place.  I hoped then that the swim would not be as rough. Friday morning Karen went for a run and I attempted to put El Diablo back together.  I could not figure out how to get the seat post into the bike and began to get very frustrated.  Not really relaxing at this point.  Karen left for a run and immediately I googled assembly and got the bike together easily.  Took a 10 minute ride to make sure all was working well.  After that we met Karen's sister out and toured San Diego.  I stayed off my feet quite a bit and even got in a nap on the car ride around town.  After being dropped off Karen and I went back to the expo to get final instructions on what I needed to do and where I needed to be.  Had a dinner with some great friends and in bed by 9pm.

Grade:  B+


I was in Wave 21 which started at 7:42am or 1 hour after the pros started.  Not to mention that I was in the transition area at 5am, up at 3am, and so I would have spent almost three hours at the course before even started.  Remarkably the time flew by.  Between setting up your transition area and going to the bathroom there was hardly any waiting. The swim line was like being in a corral.  Being moved back and forth and swimmers not lining up in time so they were  running past you to get to their wave. I wound up talking with the guys near me and they were all very pleasant.  Once our wave was up and I put my feet in the water for the first time I knew it was time to have fun and put my work into practice. I swam out to the starting line and waded for about 2 minutes.  I put myself right in the front of the pack and figured it was going to be crazy and I wanted to experience it all.  The gun went off and as typical it was a white wash.  Lots of getting hit and pushed but swimming was going on.  I wound up swimming over people and hitting feet and at one point got kicked square in the eye.  My goggles did not fall off and so I just kept on going. I found a nice little spot toward the outside and just put myself in the pool at this point.  Swam buoy to buoy but my sighting needed help.  I wound up very far to the right and had to swim all the way back toward the rest of the group.  Once there the current got stronger as we exited the inlet to make the turn.  At the turn the chop got a little rough but nothing horrible.  At this point I started seeing caps from other waves.  There were white, yellow, green and blue caps getting passed and I thought I am doing very well. Made the turn to head in and the current helps a tad.  At this point I said to myself that it was time to put my head down and start swimming hard and fast.  I did not feel like I was pushing my effort and it just felt right.  I got to the exit area and was pulled up by a volunteer.  Once out of the water and running toward transition I was removing my wetsuit and passing people on the run.  I did not understand what they were doing but then again this was my race and I could not concern myself with them. Once in transition the wetsuit was completely off.  I put my socks on, then race belt, sunglasses and helmet.  Before de-racking I took my fig bar out and placed it on the seat (Thanks KC.)  On the run out of transition I consumed my fig bar.  Got to the mount line and onto the bike and ride. Goal Time: 40 minutes Actual Time: 40 minutes 37 seconds Grade: A -- I was able to control my heart rate and stayed focused on what needed to be done.  One area of improvement that I need to work on is sighting.


The bike was essentially three bike rides in one.  The first portion was flat and fast.  We had a tail wind going with us and did not need to exert much energy to be cruising along. [caption id="attachment_1629" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Getting To Ride Through Camp Pendleton"][/caption] I was given a lot of advice about controlling myself on the bike at the outset.  I was told that I would be getting passed left and right but to let them go. Eventually they would blow out and I would still have energy and be able to pass them.  Sure enough it happened as riders were flying by me, and I was going faster than 20 mph at this point. I was enjoying myself and talking to other riders and smiling and laughing.  At one point I passed a woman and gave her a big 'Way To Go.  You look GREAT!'  She responded in kind and then started chanting my name (my race bib was to my back and had my name on it.)  I cannot tell you how much that fired me up. Once you get past mile 25, then the second of the three portions starts.  This is a series of three climbs that are not easy.  Just before we hit the first climb the rider next to me says 'Is it too late to drop out now?'  My response was that this is what separates us from the rest of the world. I buried my head and started chanting my coach's mantra:  Those who can't quit and those who can do.  I got out of the saddle and just kept the legs churning.  At one point I looked down and I was going 6 mph.  YUP, 6 MPH.  I did not stop churning and I did not walk the bike.  There were quite a few people walking.  I just kept pushing as you know what goes up must come down.  Get over the crest and you are in good shape. Once past that pass I did not think it could get any harder, until it did.  At this point I hooked onto Miguel.  I was going to go as hard as Miguel went and push myself to his level.  Again, I chanted the mantra and put my head down and churned.  My thighs were burning but in a good way.  I was smiling and thinking to myself that I was about to become a member of a select group. Get through that pass and onto a third.  More chanting and more hooking onto Miguel.  After the pass though I lost Miguel.  He fell behind me and I had to find another carrot.  Fortunately the course is littered with people that you could latch onto. [caption id="attachment_1627" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Elevation Of Bike Course"][/caption] After the three passes you are back to flat, but not fast.  Now you are heading back and looking at a headwind.  Again, it was not easy.  It tested your mental strength (hours on the trainer), your biking ability (hours outside) and your will to survive (training in general.)  You just had to keep pushing and pushing. Then all the sudden there was a familiar area and you knew you were heading home. At this point my smile was huge as I knew that 66% of the events were about to end.  I was on my way to completing this event. I got my feet out of my shoes and rode down into transition which was very narrow and could have been a recipe for disaster if more than one or two other riders were with you. In transition I heard my friends yelling for me and it was great.  I took my helmet off.  Grabbed my shoes and almost put my visor on my feet then realized that wasn't going to work.  Shoes were on, gels in the back of my jersey and water flask in hand and off I went. Goal Time: 3 hours Actual Time: 3 hours 6 minutes Grade: B  -- I stayed true to my game plan which was a huge benefit.  I need to improve on hill climbing (which means trips to Austin.)  I also need to be cognizant of liquid nutrition/hydration.  I had no issues eating my PowerBar nutrition every 15 minutes, but need to take in more liquids than I did.  I had about 20 oz of Accelerade in my SpeedFil and probably had about 15 oz left when I was done.  


Somebody should have told me to hold back on the run as well because I went out too hard for sure.  I dropped a sub-7 minute mile for mile 1.  I scared myself half to death with that and pulled back quite a bit.  The run itself is a two loop course so you knew that you were in for a run that would test you on the 2nd loop because of the boredom of having seen it, done that and wishing you were finished. The run is my strong suit and so I knew once on the run course I would be good, but that did not happen exactly that way.  The run wound up being harder than I thought it would be and I think that is because I have never run a half-marathon after swimming 1.2 miles and biking for 56 miles.  The legs felt a tad heavy after mile 2 and it became a battle of attrition. On the way out I ended up with a runner named Christie who had a huge fan club.  I would substitute her name with my name when they chanted and it helped push me along.  There were aid stations just about every mile and so it became a matter of running aid station to aid station.  There were a couple of small hills to navigate but all in all it was a flat run course. I had the opportunity to run past my friends four times and that helped a tremendous amount, but not as much as when I exited the transition area and saw Karen.  I blew her kisses, told her I loved her and ran (maybe that is why I dropped a sub-7.)  Having a support group there was tremendous and it really helped me. I was also inspired by all the spectators and other runners around me.  I kept checking my watch at every mile marker and for the first half I was in the 7:57/mile range and felt great.  By the second loop the legs started to get more and more heavy.  Each mile felt longer than the last, but I just kept chanting my mantra.  I took sponges and dropped the water on my head.  Every 2 miles I drank my gel infused water from my flask and at Mile 6 and Mile 12 I took a HoneyStinger to help with my calorie count and carbs replacement. Once I hit the Mile 12 marker I turned it on knowing that there was not going to be any blowouts at this point.  Once you turn to head down the finisher's shoot all the hard work and pain you just endured goes away.  I fist pumped like the old Tiger and smiled wide and knew I was done when the announcer butchered my name just like any other race. I crossed that finish line and was given a medal and a hat.  I received tons of congratulations and I could not have been happier. Goal Time: 1 hour 40 minutes Actual Time: 1 hour 48 minutes Grade: B  -- The run was harder than I imagined.  I typically only use two gels in a water flask, but was lucky enough to put two HoneyStinger gels in my jersey and take them during the run.  I would like to get faster on the run portion and that will come in due time with more hard work.  


After the race Karen, our friends and I went to a bar to have pizza and beer.  I practically ate an entire pie on my own.  It was a greek pizza with red onions, olives, pepperoncinis and feta cheese.  The crust was thin as well and it was all washed down with my first beers since October of 2010. From there we headed over to a tattoo parlor.  I had told myself that I was getting one after the race and when we walked in and the artist started drawing the tattoo I got more and more excited.  He did a great job and allowed me to have some space to place the 140.6 once I complete that distance. On Sunday Karen and I had all to spend in San Diego before our flight and we did just that.  My legs were sore but not uncomfortable at all.  The most pain came from the throbbing of the tattoo and not from the race. It was an epic weekend that not only culminated in my first half-ironman completed race but also in the signing up for another race.   [caption id="attachment_1626" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A Honu (turtle) with my distances in the fins and a space for 140.6 in the shell. The star represents the US, Puerto Rico and Texas."][/caption] It is with great pleasure that I announce that I am going to be racing March 19, 2012 in Puerto Rico. [caption id="attachment_1620" align="aligncenter" width="252" caption="Ironman San Juan, Puerto Rico"][/caption]


Published in Race Reports
Continuing our race report feature on Saturday's we present to you the Tipperary Hill Race Report by Molly of I'm A Sleeper Baker.  I was on Twitter and saw that she had posted this race report and I asked if I could use it on the CTER site and she gracefully agreed to allow me to use her report.  Thank you Molly. BTW - I have a sort of close feeling toward Molly because of the fact that she lived in NYC and now lives in Central New York.....both of those happen to be the old stomping grounds for CTER. Here is Molly's race report.  Please read it fully and then comment here and go to Molly's blog and comment there and follow her as well.

Tipperary Hill 4 Mile Shamrock Run

Wow, it's snowing today. Big Surprise. But I guess I can be grateful for the fact that it wasn't like this yesterday.  Yesterday it was just rainy and chilly, with some crazy wind gusts.  But I'm happy with how my race went, as well as the time we spent post-race.
My only plan was to beat my time from last year, and to run strong.  The organizers changed the course a bit, and my fellow runners agreed, they made it harder.  The course starts off with a long stretch of downhill, goes up one hill, then down, up a second hill, with a steep downhill.  The last mile is pretty much ALL uphill, and its a doozy. I set G-unit to alert me if my pace went above 8:45. Right from the start I knew I was going too fast, and I was wasting energy trying to get around people because it was crowded, we were running city streets, but they weren't very wide, and there were cars parked along the sides as well.  It was really windy at times, several people lost their hats! This part is gross, at one point I really had to spit, so I went toward the side, and let it go......right up into a gust of wind....and into the guy running behind me!  I said "sorry Dude" then I sped up. I kept up the pace, up until about mile 2.5, which was a bit of a hill.  I was getting tired.  During the two training runs I did for this, I ran a 9:30 pace the whole time, so when I got to the end, I had enough in me to sail up the last part.  I had about .90 miles left, and G-unit said 27:00! I couldn't believe it, but I was getting tired.  Plus it was windy, and I felt myself slowing down.  For a split second I even felt like stopping, but I was like, "are you kidding me?? you've never stopped on this course, why would you do it now?!?"  So I just kept my head down, kept moving, I even chicked some younger guys (love doing that). When I saw the Stop sign at the top, I knew the worst was over, and but I had one more slightly uphill loop around the park until I got to the finish. I was so glad to be done. I looked at G-unit, and I knew I made my goal of finishing sooner than last year.  G-unit said 38:19, which matched my chip time.   The funny thing is, it's exactly one minute faster than my time for 2010.  One minute PR? I'll take it.
We headed on to Coleman's, where the husbands had scored some great real estate at the bar.  It was nice to be out, during the day no less, with the kids back home with the sitter.  We chatted away, and my friend Heather and I decided to do our own Biggest Loser Challenge.  We both want to drop a few pounds before our next race, the Mountain Goat 10 miler in May.  I think we're going to start on Wednesday, since it's Lent, and this year I decided to give up chocolate.  We have to work out the details, but I think it should be a good competition. I'm also going to do the Cupcake Challenge, over on Jason's blog.  I signed up to run 26.2 miles between March 14 and the 26th, so that should also help get me in a weight loss mode.  You can still sign up, check it out here if you'd like.  There are some great prizes, such as GU and a SPI Belt, with the big prize being cupcakes!  Which kind of defeats the weight loss purpose, but I can't say no to a fun race like that!
Have a happy week!
  Do you want to be featured in our Race Report Saturday?  If so, contact me and let me know.
Published in Race Reports
In a continuing effort to highlight those around the country that are racing we at CTER are running race reports and hopefully motivating you to get moving.  If you would like to be the featured athlete please use the Contact Me form and submit your race report.  Right now the reports are being posted on Saturday mornings and will continue to do so for the forseeable future as there has been great success in having the readers read them with their breakfast and cup of coffee. The following race report is by Kristie Concepcion of 140 Point 6 Miles of Awesome! and that is not a lie.  She is awesome.  I have exchanged emails and tweets with KC and she has helped me quite a bit.  Her biggest contribution has been to my nutrition between the swim and the bike and the bike to the run.  What is that contribution you are asking?  How about FIG BARS.  Yes FIG BARS.  And if she wins the Cupcake Marathon then Elisabeth of Sugared Bakery has offered to make her fig cupcakes. Enjoy the race report.

Gasparilla Half-Marathon Race Report by Kristin Concepcion

all smiles at mile 4
Half marathon race result breakdown
Chip Time: 1:37:42 (garmin said 1:37:39)
Clock Time: 1:37:50
Overall: 267/4827
Gender: 50/2500
AG: 9/391
Last years race report and results can be found HERE.
There used to be a 26.2 tied in with this event, but last year, the organizers decided that 2010 was the last year for the marathon. Thankfully, they decided to keep doing the half marathon, so guess what happened this year? all of those runners that would have done a marathon had no other choice but to do the half so I noticed it was a little more crowded, but no big deal. It made for more competition that's for sure. I also want to point out that the 40-44 female age group is more fierce than the 35-39! just sayin'. Raise your hand if you agree?
mile 9 and feeling the heat ...and my legs are really pissed off at me
The weather was great for cycling but a little warm for running. Even though the race started at 6am, while it was still dark, I could feel it heating up around mile 4. I promise i'm not whining here. I train in this heat and I'm used to it but I don't LOVE running it. I do LOVE cycling and swimming in it way more. 
one of the best race sherpa's around, Angie (aka: Bella)
we pulled a McGiver and set the camera on timer and used a bike seat as a tripod

race bling - front
race bling - back
I was really surprised how well my legs felt after beating them down the day before with a 71 mile ride in the hills ...that is until around mile 10 when my legs started to feel like lead. My race sherpa, was on her mountain bike shadowing me and i told her that maybe the ride in the hills the day before wasn't such a great idea afterall. I told her I felt like I was running 10 minute miles, even though my slowest mile was mile 12 at a pace of 7:42. I focused on my music like my sherpa told me to do and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Overall, I am very happy with how i ran and I am chalking it up as a great training weekend in preparation for the Gator Half-iron distance triathlon coming up March 20th. Mission accomplished! As usual, I am VERY sore today. My quads, hammies, and left glute (never the right) are sore but a good sore not an injured sore. needless to say, no running for me today and probably not tomorrow. I did hit the weights and the bike this morning but sitting all day at work made me get even more sore, so tomorrow it looks like a great day to swim and bike. Can you believe? February is OVER! only 249 days til IMFL. Much love and peace out!
Published in Race Reports
Saturday, 26 February 2011 14:22

Rocky Raccoon Race Report by David Carder

[caption id="attachment_979" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Did you know that EMZ has a belt buckle too?"][/caption] If you are an avid (or just show up every now and again) reader of this site you know that I have been looking for race reports to post.  The reason I am looking for race reports is that the title of this blog is Cook Train Eat RACE and I tend to race 12 times per year so that would mean it would be Cook Train Eat race.  So with that being said I had the opportunity to meet David Carder at a Starbuck's to discuss ultra-marathons, trail racing and blogging.  We discussed eating and how to fuel your body for an ultra and his belief on food.  David considers himself a flexetarian in that he will eat meat on occasion but it is not just any meat.  He chooses grass-fed meat that is organic.  He has a true passion for healthy living and giving back to the earth as well as the running community. Don't know about the Rocky Raccoon 100 well it is a 100 mile run that takes place in Huntsville, Texas.  There is also a 50 mile choice and the events must be completed in a time of 30 hours (100mi) or 29 hours (50mi.) This year's Rocky Racoon 100 featured a new course record set by Ian Sharman.  His finishing time was 12:44:33 or a pace of 7:38/mile.  The race also featured big names such as Anton Krupicka, Karl Metzler and Scott Jurek. Enjoy reading David's recount of the 2011 version of the Rocky Racoon. ---------------------------------------- WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2011 Rocky Raccoon Race Report: A Tale of Records and Revelations   What an incredible weekend in the world of Ultramarathons and I got be right in the middle of the whole thing as it unfolds.  The adventure starts with a very challenging drive from Dallas, 200 miles down I-45 to Huntsville.  Icy roads were now covered with 4-6 inches of snow.  I was carpooling with Deborah Sexton, a fellow NTTR runner, and she had me drive her 4x4.  We fare better than most while making steady progress down the ice and snow covered road.  Once again, all the overconfident impatient idiots in pick-up trucks dominated the vehicles crashed into guardrails and stuck in ditches.  The trip only takes us an extra 1-1.5 hours and we hit town in good shape. On the way down my “allergies” seem to be kicking up.  Deborah points out that most allergens are not active when it is 20 degrees out.  At our pit stop at Buccee’s in Madisonville I pick-up some cold medicine just to be safe.  After checking into the hotel I take a great two-hour nap.  When I wake up I am in a little bit of a fog and have a pressing sinus headache.  I drink another 1.5 liters of water and take 1,000mg of vitamin C. From there we are off to drop supplies at the Damnation aid station run by NTTR.  What can I say about the volunteers who give up an entire weekend to help others pursue their endeavors?  Lynn Ballard heads up an all-star crew again this year.  Volunteering at these races is a gift given to all the runners on the course.  It is definitely way past due for my time to return this gift.  I will be volunteering at a race near you soon!   Next on the agenda is packet pick-up and I have still have to register.  There is a limit of 750 runners between the 100-mile and 50-mile races.  Early in the week there were still 80 spots and looming bad weather gives me confidence this would not be an issue.  As it turns out almost 200 people will fail to start.  With runners from 35 states and 8 countries many have difficulties with flights and other travel arrangements. Now it is on to dinner with my pacers and dear friends, Craig and Carla Vining.  I love these guys!  It means a great deal to me that they brave the elements just to get here as well as run with me through a very cold and dark Saturday night.  Pacing for a runner is another very special gift similar to what the volunteers offer the runner on the trail.  It comes in the form of very vocal and direct physical support during the race and even more of an impact is made by just knowing they are there for you supporting your heart and soul as you put it all on the line that day.  I have been on both sides of this equation and it is a beautiful thing and it is not dissimilar to surviving a combat situation with someone.  Many strong bonds and lasting friendships have been built between strangers over these weekends. After dinner it is off to bed and early to rise at 4am in advance of the 6am start.  One more proactive dose of cold medicine and I quickly drift off to sleep.  Upon awaking I take a hot shower to get everything warmed-up and try to clear my congested head as much as possible.  I readjust some of my strategies for layers and clothing and we head towards the course.  The check-in and and starting line are abuzz with energy despite the frigid temperature of 20 degrees.  There is definitely extra energy in the air this year with a world-class field in the men’s race.  Anton Krupicka, Scott Jurek, Zach Gingerich, Hal Koerner, Karl Metzler, and some dude named Ian. My plan for the day is simple.  Run 4-hour loops in a very steady fashion all day long and into the night.  That is a 12:00/mile pace.  This is very conservative on this flat course, but will allow me to pursue a strong 20-hour finish.  The first few miles tick by easily and the body welcomes the latent heat now being generated.  I am careful to moderate my effort to stay on pace and not to sweat too much in the early morning freezing temps.  I hit my marks on the button all the way around the course during the first loop and come into the start/finish at 3:58. My fuel and hydration strategy for the day is quite simple.  With my improved metabolic efficiency I am going to consume around 150 calories an hour and hydrate heavily with Nuun from my hydration pack.  The first loop I fall behind a bit on hydration due the tube to the mouth piece freezing solid.  Food for the day is organic, vegan Bonk Buster bar.  I also supplement with Endurolytes to make sure my electrolytes stay topped off.  I will not fall victim to GI distress today. I start the second loop just as I did the first.  Steady and even.  All systems are go through the first aid station.  On the way to Dam Road I notice my sweat rate is picking up quite a bit.  I feel flashes of warmth not in a good way in the still cool morning.  Now that the hydration tube has thawed I redouble efforts to stay on top of my fluid intake.  I am hoping I can flush whatever is ailing me with liquids and a healthy sweat.  The leaders on the course are smoking it.  At one point I come around a corner and there is an apparition otherwise known as Anton floating effortlessly over the trail towards me.  Hal is right behind him with a big smile and a friendly hello. A few minutes later and here comes Scott Jurek.  I pinch myself to see if I am dreaming.  Maybe a dream within a dream?  I just watched Inception for the first time so I reach for my talisman to insure myself this is real.  On the way back to Dam road I actually get to run WITH Scott Jurek for a few minutes.  He has a minor injury that was bothering him so he had already decided to stop after his 3rd loop.  He is chatting with everyone.  It is very cool to be treading through the single track on a beautiful morning in the forest right behind Scott.  When he gets back to Damnation he stays for over 10 minutes and visits with everyone, takes pictures, etc.  He is the real deal and a total class act.  I leave the aid station to move on and it is not long before he co bmesy me again.  He is really moving this time.  He offers a friendly “looking good” and continues gliding forward. How can it be that I am in trail running heaven and dealing with this stupid cold?  The second half of this loop I find myself falling off this very easy pace I have been running even after the inspiration of all the great runners I am getting to share the trail with this morning.  With almost 4,000 miles of training last year, the fatigue I am starting to feel is not due to lack of preparation.  By the time I reach the start/finish I have given an hour back to the course and finish the second loop in 5 hours. Craig and Carla are there again to help me transition to the next loop.  I talk about some of my struggles and my strategy.  Even though this is their first time to crew, they seemed to instinctively know to keep pressing me forward and talk about nothing other than working the plan.    At this point I am nine hours into the effort.  My body feels like it is 19.  Body aches in my upper torso and places that usually do not ache from a 40-mile effort.  At this point my legs and my heart tell me to just keep moving forward and to not think about the time.  Despite the motivation of my spirit, my head starts doing calculations on pace and time.  I am 9 hours in with 3 loops to go.  It will probably take me 5.5 hours to do loop 3 unless I am able to rally significantly.  Loops 4 and 5 will be in total darkness and in falling temperatures below freezing.  6 hours each for these loops.  That makes 9 hours plus another 17.5 hours to go at these paces.  26.5 hours to complete the 100 miles.  This sounds doable under fairly “normal” ultra conditions.  Not a great time, but any finish is a victory in itself regardless of the time. On many courses on any given day this is what it can boil down to.  Do you have the mental toughness and determination to endure..... the rest of David's Race Report [HERE]  
Published in Race Reports
Please continue to submit your race reports through our Contact Me form and we will schedule the post and inform you of when the post will go live.  We have had some great responses so far and we would like to continue that success. This race report is from Jim Weatherly of 50 after 40.  If you have never been to Jim's blog you are truly missing out and I don't say that lightly.  Each and every time I go to Jim's site it inspires me to be better today than I was yesterday and even better tomorrow than I was today.  His signature line is BE GREAT TODAY!  There is nothing better than that. Please enjoy Jim's reports.  One is an overall review of the race and the other is a personal review of his race.  Thank you to Jim for submitting his race report. --------------------------------------------

Race Review ...

20th Annual LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon

February 20, 2011
Austin, Texas Overall Rating ... 5 out of 5 Longhorns
Spoiler Alert...
  • I loved this race ... my favorite to date!
  • Great Expo - Dick Beardsley, Bart Yasso, and former marathon WR holder Steve Jones as guest speakers
  • Lance Armstrong ran the Half-Marathon in 1:22
  • Challenging, but manageable course - aprx 300ft climbs at miles 3-6 and 9-19
  • Start & Finish area close to everything downtown at the Texas State Capital Building
  • Great SWAG, medal, and t-shirt
  • Best organized race I've ran to date
  • Great tour of the city including run through University of Texas campus
  • Local couple got married at mile 22.5
  • A little warm ... 65 degrees/85% humidity, 10-15mph wind
Finisher Medal and T-shirt... [caption id="attachment_1140" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Finishers Medal"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1141" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Race Shirt"][/caption]
Race Expo...
[caption id="attachment_1143" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Race Expo Floor"][/caption]
What an am amazingly well organized packet pick-up and race expo for an event with 20,000 runners.  It was held at the Palmer Events Center in Austin, TX, and there were knowledgeable volunteers everywhere waiting to point you in the right direction with friendly words of encouragement and well wishes.  The expo featured fantastic guest speakers including former marathon World Record holder Steve Jones, Runner's World writer Bart Yasso, and running legend Dick Beardsley.  All of these gentlemen offered great insight and expertise from their marathon experience.
[caption id="attachment_1142" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Bart Yasso and I"][/caption]
Steve Jones offered tips about the course with race director John Conley.  He also shared stories from the 1984 Chicago Marathon, where he set the former marathon World Record at 2:08:05. Bart Yasso shared information about the his Yasso 800's, a popular running workout named after him for his mid-week speed work. He also talked a lot about his world travels, including races on all 7 continents, and a naked race he ran in Washington.  He was a very funny and entertaining speaker.

[caption id="attachment_1144" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Dick Beardsley and I"][/caption] Dick Beardsley was my favorite, telling the inspirational story of the 1982 Boston Marathon.  His second place finish to Alberto Salazar is detailed in the book "Duel In The Sun" by John Brant.  He also had a lot of inspirational advice about the marathon, and life in general.  It's simply a great opportunity any time you can hear world champion caliber runners speak, and this event had three of them.  I took a lot of great advice away from each of them.    
[caption id="attachment_1145" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Swag"][/caption] To go along with the great guest speaker list, this was one of the best race packets I've received for a marathon.  The SWAG included a great commemorative LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon Messenger Bag, Spibelt Small Personal Item Belt (given to the first few expo attendees), yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet, Stinger Protein Bar, Gear Check bag, and official race booklet.  The entry fee was $100, which is a little high, but overall the event was very well organized and supported, and the "give-aways" in the race bag were a nice bonus for the price. This was the largest race expo I've experienced.  There were about ten rows - all fifty yards long, of back to back vendors promoting new products and upcoming races.   My favorite was the KISS guy who was handing out flyers for the upcoming race called "Hell Run" in Austin, TX later this year.  I usually don't stick around at most expos, opting for resting in my hotel room, but I hung out at this one for quite a while.  It was a great opportunity to look over new products, meet other runners, and listen to a few great speakers.  The only negative about the expo was the $7 to park at the event center, with no validation inside. For $100, I think they should cover the parking, but that's just me being a tight-wad. All in all, it was a GREAT expo!
Austin, TX
Although I lived in Killeen, TX as a baby when my father was stationed at Fort Hood, I had only been to Texas one other time, and never to Austin.  In a word, it was fantastic!
[caption id="attachment_1146" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Austin Skyline"][/caption]
Austin is obviously the capital city of Texas, and the home of the University of Texas Longhorns, but there were so many other great things about the city that I experienced in the few days that I was there.

Mission Accomplished!

Performance Review...
      I'm not a marathon veteran by any stretch, but you would think with 8 of them under my belt, I would have the whole marathon day thing figured out a little better than I do.  With the exception of the Top Of Utah Marathon, where I BQ'd, I have always left the race feeling somewhat dissatisfied.  The main problem being, I've ran out of gas and had to walk every time ... every time! The number one reason has been starting too fast.  I haven't been super disappointed with my finish times - it's just that as many miles as I run, "bonking" should not happen as often as it does.   (For example, I was in great shape for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon last fall.  Conditions were great and I felt really strong.  I ran miles 5-20 at a 7:15 pace, and was eyeing a PR of 3:15-3:17.  But at mile 22 I hit the wall big time and had to walk on and off for the last 3 miles.  It killed my race and I finished at 3:29:11.  (I'm NOT trying to get an "awwwwww" from anyone, I know a lot of people would gladly take that time.)  My point is, I ran a horrible race.  It wasn't that the middle miles were too fast for me, I had trained at below 7:00 for most of my runs, it was just that I started too fast and let the race control me, as opposed to the other way around.   Fast forward to last Sunday in Austin, TX. I was a little afraid of the hilly course going in and VOWED to "not injure myself" stay healthy for Boston (edit courtesy Chris K).  I had prepped with a few 85 mile weeks, and put in quite a bit of hill training, but with the memory of recent "hitting the wall" episodes fresh in my mind, I was very apprehensive.  I told myself START SLOW and just get through it somewhere in the 3:30's.  But most of all, enjoy the experience, smile, and have a good time!

prior, and didn't run at all either day, only stretching twice each day.  I tried to keep moving and not lay around too much, but one of those days was a 12 hour car ride.  I had been a little tired and heavy-legged the week before with all the training, so I think the extra day of rest really helped me.  There was a P.F. Chang's across the street from my hotel, so I ate my pre-race big meal there.  Since I've started blogging, I take pic's of everything.  At this race, I learned that if you're sitting alone at a bar in a crowded restaurant, people think it's a little weird when you take pictures of your food.
  When race day rolled around, I went through my typical routine for a 7AM start time. Up at 4AM. "Read the paper" at 4:15AM. Eat a banana and protein bar at 4:30AM. Stretch, watch the clock, relax, watch the clock, drink a little Gatorade, and watch the clock. When 5:50 rolls around, I head out the door to the gear check tent with my bladder starting to fill. After I drop my gear, I usually spend the remainder of the time before the race reclining, stretching, and relaxed listening to my iPod, trying to focus on pace and tempo.  (Yes, I'm an iPod runner ... sue me.) I lined up in the 3:30 pace group, and when the gun sounded I soon realized that if a race has 20,000 runners, your pace is going to be much slower than planned at the start.  My first two miles were 9:02 and 8:51 as I tried to navigate my way through the crowd.  I felt like I was already two minutes behind my target time before we had even hit the first hill.  It was warm, 65 degrees, with 85% humidity ... about 40 degrees warmer than I had been training in all winter in Missouri.  And I started sweating a lot immediately.  But throughout the race I just tried to keep water on my head and neck and the temps & humidity didn't really bother me too much.  The biggest challenge was the 10-15mph head wind on most of the back half of the race.  It almost blew my hat off a couple of times, and made the final hills seem a little tougher. As shown on the elevation chart, the Texas Hill Country soon came into play.  There was an initial incline of 300ft from mile 3 to mile 6.  But the most challenging portion of the track was miles 9 through 20.  It featured a 350ft, 11 mile gradual incline.  My legs were really fresh and I didn't really notice the first hills, but everyone felt the second group. I took both sets slow and controlled.  I wanted to make sure I held back a little and didn't spend too much energy in the early portion as had been my trend in previous races.  This would serve me well in the final 6 miles. Leaving so much time on the clock in the first two miles really put me in a different mindset.  I reaffirmed to myself that I was there to have fun and enjoy the experience.  I wanted a solid race, but with this course, weather conditions, and the volume of runners - there was definitely not going to be a PR.  And I was okay with that. I took 2 bathroom breaks in the first 10 miles and didn't really try to kill myself making up time.  I just enjoyed the course at a little under an 8:00/mile. I utilize three mental check points in a race.  I do an internal evaluation at miles 12, 18, and 22 - to base how the race is going.  I remember thinking each time that I analyzed myself that I had tons of energy.  Maybe there was something to this starting slow business.  And the slower start was reflected in my huge negative split.  My 13.1 time was 1:46:58 ... but I sped up a lot on the second half running 1:43:04 ... a difference of about 4 minutes.  It seemed like I had energy to burn throughout the race. At mile 20 I put the pedal down a little.  I felt great, and the 10 mile stretch of tough hills were behind us.  I began picking up my pace, running my fastest mile of the race thus far at 7:23.  I've ran faster at mile 20 before, but I have NEVER felt this good doing it.  I couldn't believe how much energy I had! As I hit my 22 mile check-point, I knew that I had a strong finish in me.  I kept my pace around 7:30 and was breezing by people left and right.  FOR ONCE I was the one passing runners, and not the poor exhausted soul walking slowly up the final few hills. And when I approached mile 24, I knew it was "my day".  It was not a PR.  It wasn't blazing fast.  But I felt stronger than ever before ... it was time to kick it in gear. I kept a 7:33 pace for mile 25.  And at mile 26 with the crowds cheering and the finish line in site, I pushed for a 7:18 pace ... my fastest mile of the day.  I literally sprinted the last 100 yards and flew by the finish line. I had finally done it.  I had ran a nice, comfortable, controlled race.  I had ran a race where I wasn't dying at the end or barely able to walk.  I had managed my pace and enjoyed every step of Austin. As I reviewed my list personal objectives for the race, I couldn't have been more satisfied: A. Stay healthy for Boston in 2 months ... Check! B. Run the whole time ... Check! (I didn't walk at all!) C. Finish somwhere in the 3:30's ... Check! (3:29:02) D. Enjoy the experience ... Check! After the race I went through my typical post-run refuel with a bagels, oranges, an energy bar, and plenty of water.  But later that night I also snuck in a Double Cheeseburger, fries, and large Coke from Fran's Hamburgers.  I think I literal heard one of my arteries close up, but it was one of the best burgers ever! Hundreds of runners crossed the finish line before me in Austin, but I doubt that many experienced the pure joy of the race like I did that day. Finally, running a marathon was a total blast ... and not a leg breaking chore.  I probably won't start many races with two 9 minute miles again, but I will definitely start slower from now on and control my pace a little better.  Hopefully there are many more enjoyable races like the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon still to come.

... be great today!

Published in Race Reports
Sunday, 13 February 2011 10:00

Ironman Cozumel Race Report by Jeff Bennett

I have been asking around to get some race reports onto the site and a friend of mine has obliged.  Jeff Bennett is an Ironman who also happens to be a friend of my wife and I.  We typically turn to him with questions and really at the end of the day for laughs.  He might be the funniest guy on the planet.  Jeff recently raced Ironman Cozumel and was happy to provide me with his race report so that I can post it on the Cook Train Eat Race site for you to read.  Thank you to Jeff and I hope you enjoy his report.

If you want your race report included on the Cook Train Eat Race site please contact me.


[caption id="attachment_651" align="alignleft" width="254" caption="Ironman Cozumel"][/caption]

Ironman Cozumel Race Report



by Jeff Bennett

I’m flying on my bike. Averaging over 23 mph with ease during the first lap of three around the island, I'm about 13 miles into the 112 mile bike leg. I'm passing cyclists every few seconds. Ahead of me are two cyclists riding side by side. Another cyclist is slowly passing me on my left. I make the decision to be conservative and wait for the faster cyclist to pass me and then pass the two riding abreast. I come up out of my aero bars, catch some wind to slow down, I'm waiting for the faster cyclist to pass these guys when a referee rides up beside and gives me a 4 minute penalty for drafting. My heart sank. A four minute penalty didn't mean as much to me being accused of cheating. I felt that my integrity had been unjustly compromised. This was the worst moment of the race.   But the rest of the experience was fantastic for me! I just had to get that part out of the way. For me, Ironman Cozumel was a shot at redemption. I had trained all last winter and spring in the cold wet, prolonged winter of 2009-2010. But when I finished Ironman St George on May 1st, my time of 11:04 was a disappointing 30 minutes slower than my goal. I had no Ironman planned for the rest of 2010 or 2011, but I saw that Ironman Cozumel was still open for this year. I felt burned out on triathlon training, but the need to have a good race had me signing up for Cozumel still six months away.  I raced the Cap Tex Olympic and the Buffalo Springs half, but decided that I needed a break before starting Ironman training again. I completed the 262 mile Texas Water Safari canoe race and the 21 mile Leadville Burro race before getting back into triathlon training in Aug. By early November I felt tired, but knew that I had a chance for a good race. My taper was 4 weeks long so that I could get my legs back.  We arrived in Mexico on Tuesday the week of Thanksgiving. The race was on the following Sunday. We stayed at the all-inclusive Park Royal. I highly recommend it. I put my bike together and went out for a ride that evening. Riding south the sun was setting and the rain clouds were passing through the area. Big raindrops fell as the sun was setting. Maybe because I was excited and riding in a beautiful place, but the raindrops tasted strangely delicious. They had such a rich, robust rain flavor as they hit my face that I thought it must be the best tasting rain I've ever had. I was a singular instant of excitement, happiness, and being truly present in the moment. On Wednesday morning, I swam in the calm, clear water of the Caribbean with tropical fish and a few other people who would be racing on Sunday. Apparently the little stings I felt were jelly fish that were too small to see when you're just swimming along.  Wednesday afternoon, I rode the course with Scott Williams. We went easy and noticed that the pavement was smooth, the wind on the East side was gusty, but that the course was flat and fast. You could feel the sea spray as you rode on the East side of the island. It was a beautiful course. The windward side of the island had lots of buzzards eating what washed up on shore. They served as a reminder for me to be conservative on the bike when I’m riding in the wind. Each meal I feasted like a king. Meats, fish, pasta, breads, salads, fruits, and desserts. It is a flat course so an extra pound of two on my 180 lb frame would not be an issue. By Saturday, I was rested, well-fed, and itching to race. My prolonged taper has renewed my strength and motivation. I had swam each day for a short time, but little else. Mostly I ate, lay around the beach, and rode around town on my moped. 

 Race Day

  Scott Williams came by in his cab and gave me a ride to the swim start south of town. The pro's bikes were at exit of the transition area. My bike was two rights and a left in the wild maze of Transition 1. Only in Mexico would T1 be a rat maze. 


Christie Beiker and I dropped off our special needs bags together. We met up with Scott again at the pier when the pros started. When we went to jump off the pier I no longer saw anyone I knew and I treaded water with strangers around me. I would take a breath and dip below the surface, resting. Underwater I saw bodies squirming and legs kicking with nervous energy all waiting for the cannon to fire signaling the start of the race. After several minutes, the cannon fired and the water churned with arms thrashing, legs kicking, and everywhere I reached or kicked was a person who was also thrashing. For several minutes I would be crashing up against someone, then someone would crawl over me and I would crawl over someone else. I saw a diver resting on the bottom watching us swim over. Once in a while I would see that I am in an open spot among the 2200 athletes on the swim course. The course was a counter clock-wise rectangle and at the first left was a massive log jam of bodies all trying to turn next to the buoy. I swung out right and took a wider turn on the next buoy which allowed me to keep my rhythm. On the long stretch going south I went wide to get away from the pack. I still ran into a few like-minded swimmers, but it was easier to keep a rhythm going now that we were more spread out. After the third buoy, we swam past the submarine. I didn’t notice if anyone was looking out the windows. Finally I got to where we climbed out of the water and ran down the wooden dock to T1. I looked up at the clock as I ran and saw 1:06. My first race goal had been accomplished. A sub 1:10 swim! I ran into the changing tent, put on shoes, helmet, sunglasses, and ran out into the maze of T1. I’m sometimes paranoid about my stuff being messed with but my Cliff Bars, gels, and Shark Salts were all in place on my bike. I ran out of the transition area feeling great about the race so far.


Leaving the transition area I stay below what my real race-effort will be on the bike. I pass people about every 15 to 30 seconds. As I rounded the south end of the island to start heading northeast, I notice that I’m averaging 23 mph. I’m about 12 or 14 miles in when I come up on the guys riding side by side and get penalized. Being penalized made me reconsider my race strategy. The penalty tent was about 3 miles ahead of me so I sped up and passed a lot of people before rolling to the tent and reporting my number to the official. I had four minutes of penalty time to think. The first thing I did was tell myself to calm down. With 4 minutes added to my overall time, that puts my swim at 1:10 and that’s still in the window of where I wanted to be. I drank all of my water, got two fresh bottles of water, and ate two cliff bars while trying to calm down and telling myself to not go nuts on the bike when I left the tent. At four minutes, the ref let me go and I started riding at my race effort. There are three loops around the island to make it 112 miles. When heading from the east side into town on the west side, there are growing crowds of people as you get closer to town. By the time you get into town, the crowd on both sides of the street are thick with people yelling for you. There are drums pounding, horns blowing, and pot and pans banging. Once there was an old guy dancing in the street who was pulled off the road as I was heading his way. In Cozumel, all the businesses shut down to watch and celebrate the race. Everyone is partying. Everyone, that is, but the athletes who are racing. There are a few turns in town that you have to line up just right or you will be braking before going into them. Right before the last turn in town, you hit the hotels and tourists. They are just as crazy and loud as the locals who are all cheering in the center of town. Heading south out of town the crowds thin out and there are just pockets of supporters along the way. I took Gu packets every 40 minutes. I took Shark Salts (electrolytes) every hour. I drank a ton of water from the bottles that were handed to us by volunteers as we ride past them.  Twice I saw a large blue butterfly. It was on the Northeast side of the Island in a area sheltered from the wind. I saw it on my first two loops. I enjoyed watching the waves crash against the rocks as I rode on the east side of the island. One east side bar had a skeleton riding a bike out front. Another bar had a tall iguana wearing a hat and smoking a cigar. The toughest thing about a three loop course is knowing you still have 2 more laps, then one more lap. It seems like a long time. It’s a mental thing. By the end of the ride I was out of Gu packets and Shark Salts. My pace was beginning to slow. As I rolled into the transition area, I saw that I had averaged close to 22 mph. However, the 4 minute penalty seems to have put me at 21.7 mph. My bike time was under 5:15 so I was still on target for my race goal. A volunteer took my bike and I charged like an 88 year old bowlegged man into the changing tent on legs that had not stopped pedaling for nearly 5 hours. In the changing tent, I found the Shark Salts and Gu packets I had stuffed into my shoes. A volunteer slathered sun screen on me as I put on my visor, shoes, and turned my race belt to show the number in front. I ran out of the tent feeling great about how the race had gone so far. The crowd was great. They cheered and high fived me as I ran onto the street and started my game of passing whoever was in front of me.


As I loosened up my legs for the run, I felt like I might have started a little too fast. I was too excited about catching people in my age group who were in front of me.  Since I had run out of Gu packets on the bike, I took two at the beginning of the run. Then I grabbed several extras from volunteers just as insurance against running out. At this point, I knew fueling and hydration were the difference between a strong finish and a miserably slow finish. I had 3 Gu packets in one hand. In the other hand I had a Ziploc baggie with two Shark Salts and one Gu packet. Hording my nutrition, clutched in both hands, I ran down the brick street in Downtown Cozumel trying to catch the competition. When I ran by the clock in town on the side of the building, it was about 15 minutes until 2:00pm. I had been swimming, biking, and running hard since 7:00am so my math skills were more sub-par than usual, but I figured out that I had a good shot at finishing before 5:00pm, which would be a sub 10 hour race. I told myself to settle in and find a pace I could maintain. Of course I didn’t listen, but instead kept closing in on whoever was in front of me. At the first aid station, I asked for water as I ran close. The volunteer handed me a plastic baggie. It was long and narrow. It looked like something you would freeze to make a popsicle. I assumed it was something to help me cool down, but I wanted water. A took a cup of Gatorade and threw down the water thing. About a mile later, I saw volunteers handing them to athletes again. This time I took it and bit off the top corner. The water squirted up but I got the bad into my mouth and it tasted wonderful. I got another one and drank it the same way. This was a new way to drink water for me. Bite the bag then put it in your mouth. Water still goes everywhere like it does when you drink from a cup while you’re running, but you get more water in you this way. I ran around the turnaround realizing that I had taken 4 gels before the first 5 miles. Going back, I had the sun in my face and I had to slow down a little bit because my stomach was telling me I had overdone it on the gels. I had been under an 8 minute per mile pace and I slowed it down until my stomach felt better. After about 10 minutes, I found about an 8 minute pace and held it back into town. Approaching town, the crowds get bigger, louder, and crazier. Just as you are about ¼ mile from the turnaround (or the finish once you’ve completed 3 laps) the crowd is in the street going crazy. People are high fiving me with my hands full of gels. A drum line is so loud you can feel the percussion of the air. Music is blasting from somewhere else and the crowd is screaming like it’s the Super bowl. I’m racing well, I feel good, and it is moments like this that are the reason for doing these races. The energy and adrenaline rush mixed with the endorphins that are flowing make a feeling that compares to nothing else I’ve ever experienced. I complete the first lap and headed back through town for lap number two. At this point, I’ve been racing hard for over seven hours and I see the clock on the building in downtown Cozumel again. But I don’t remember what time it was on my second lap. I do remember trying to do math and thinking I was still on pace to break 10 hours. I concentrated on a steady turnover rate, drinking lots of water, and taking a gel about every 2 to 3 miles. I watched for the huge iguana (real, not a fake one smoking a cigar) that I had seen earlier in the week on the out-of-town part of the course. But I think the large numbers of runners kept him in the jungle instead of by the road where I had seen him a few days earlier. I could feel the muscles in my quadriceps seeming to separate like meat on an over-cooked brisket. It wasn’t an injury pain, but a pain of exertion beyond what my body was accustomed to handling. It occurs in every Ironman I race. I called out for my special needs bag to get more Shark Salts, but the volunteers were so busy that they couldn’t find it before I ran by. I made the decision to run the last 11 miles without my electrolytes, rather than wait for what could be several minutes while they find my bag. Approaching the town again, the crowds, the music, and overall excitement kept me going. I was reveling in the feeling of almost completing my second lap when I saw two mimes. They were just standing in the crowd, next to the road looking sad. I averted my eyes, but they had somehow sucked a precious little bit of energy from me. How could they be standing in all this loud craziness and look so sad? I high-fived several spectators and removed the mimes from my mind. Rounding the turnaround and heading out for my final lap I was feeling my pace begin to slow down. I conceded some speed in order to continue a little more than 8 more miles. My biceps were sore from the small additional weight of carrying the gels. When I looked at the town clock, I saw that I was still on track to beat 10 hours. I knew I was running slower than I had started out, but I was still keeping a pace that would get me to the finish before 5pm if I didn’t slow down. At the turnaround, I was starting to cramp. One spectator there told me he would see me next year as he knew this was my third lap. The spectators at this race were fantastic. The sun was finally below some of the hotels and the heat (about 80 degrees F) didn’t seem quite as bad in the shade. But each time I tried to pick up the pace to run a little harder, my hamstrings would cramp up. Several times I had to slow down. But after slowing, I was able to find a pace that I could hold without cramping. The third time back into town I must have given at least 999 high-fives going in. I made the left down the finisher’s chute and they called my name over the loudspeakers. Crossing the finish line while the clock was still on the 9th hour, made my finish even more satisfying for me. My official time was 9:55:43.

Lessons Learned: 

  1. Pay closer attention to nutrition on the bike. I ran out of gels and my ride suffered in the final miles.
  2. Never underestimate the power of the mind to fight through pain and find ways to keep you going.
  3. A long taper when you are close to burnout is a good thing.
  4. A fast/flat course is a lot of fun if all you’ve been racing have been hilly courses
Published in Race Reports
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