Gulf Coast Triathlon Race Report by Greg Larsen

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.

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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.

Finished!

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!

 
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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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