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Race Result

Racer: Jose Torres
Race: IRONMAN 70.3 San Juan
Date: Sunday, March 18, 2012
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico, --
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 6:22:00
Overall Place: 677 / 1107
Age Group Place: 134 / 195
Comment: My first 70.3, not exactly as scripted.

Race Report:

The tale of two races.

About a year ago I read a column written in a sports magazine that compared how a race you’re participating in evolves and how that compares to an author preparing to write a book. Everyone knows to write a good book or even a decent essay you need to start with a basic outline or script. The outline should provide guidance for how the story will start and end. But as with most stories, the final product almost never follows the original script, as was the case for my first 70.3.

I’m sure the 3 tubes we all heard explode in the transition area right before the race was to begin was not included in anyone’s person script. Also I sure the guy who blew his rear tire 100 yards out of T1 had a different script for how his race would start. Lastly, the poor person who forgot their goggles in their transition bag right before the swim start, surely they had a different start to the day. BTW, the swim start was about 1 mile away from the transition area.

With this said, just as if I were preparing to write a book, my race was scripted with great detail. 5 hours, 30 minutes was my goal for my first ever Half Ironman. My longest triathlon prior to this was about 22.5 miles long. Also, last time I had raced in October 750 meters was my longest swim and I finished that swim gasping for air and near cardiac arrest. But I was not about to let these past limitations interfere with my perfect outline. For the last 3.5 months I have been training like a mad man. I made it to 1.2 miles in the pool numerous times and road and ran and road and ran. I was ready!

I arrived in Puerto Rico 4 days before the race. I knew I needed to run a little over a quarter mile from the swim finish into T1, therefore I did a lot of walking around barefooted since my domesticated feet were very smooth and sensitive. By race day I was well rested and actually had some calluses on my feet.
My goal for this race was simple; “Make it through the swim with as little stress as possible. Ride with as little muscle tension as possible. Exit T2 as close as possible to 3.5 hours, giving me 2 hours to complete the 13.1 run and accomplish my goal of 5 hours & 30 minutes.”

Well to my surprise the swim went just as planned, I got off course a couple of times, but still finished within 3 minutes of my goal to be under 40 minutes. Swim was 43:20. Keep in mind I had never swam more than 750 meters. I exited the water and was surprised that I was not breathing heavy nor was my heart rate elevated. So far everything was going to script.

The run into T1 also went as planned, even though the street was full of pebbles I felt fine running such a long distance barefooted. I arrived in T1 in great shape; I put on cycling gloves, my helmet and glasses, and then headed out of T1.

The bike course was fast and flat for the most part. I’ve never ridden over 19 miles in a race, so I was not sure how I would feel after 25 miles or so. My average cadence was 96 rpm’s and my starting heart rate was about 175 BPM. As the ride developed I noticed my heart rate dropped to about 160 and I finished with an average of 168 BPM. Both of these numbers were in my script. In the past my average cadence for a race was around 75 rpm’s and my heart rate would be higher and stay high. So I was pleased so far my body was cooperating with my script. I finished the bike in 2:42 minutes. I did the first 20 miles at 23.15 mph the next 16 miles at 20.49 mph and the last 20 miles at 18.54 mph for an average of 20.63 mph.

T2 was uneventful and I started my run at about 3 hours and 33 minutes into the race. Right on schedule, it could be said that I could not have scripted a better race so far, the day was going perfectly. Prior to race day I had this reoccurring dream that I would start the run with my legs feeling fresh and not stressed. Well just as my race had followed script so far, my dream also seemed to come true, I left T2 with a comfortable heart rate, I was breathing comfortable and my legs did not feel the discomfort associated with running a low cadence. I was pumped!

Well this is the point in the story that the script and my great time and experience starts to turn into a nightmare. Per my script, I was supposed to run the 13.1 in about 2 hours to meet my goal. I had ran two half marathons this off season and completed both under 1 hour 47 minutes comfortably. Granted I didn’t ride a bike for 56 miles before hand and both races had start time temperatures below 40 degree’s. By the time I hit the run course the temperature was already over 80 degrees. The air temperature was not bothering me as much as the radiant heat on my head and shoulders. As I reached mile marker 1 in less than 10 minutes which was OK, I began to notice that my legs were not responding to my attempt to hold a constant pace between 9 and 10 minutes per mile. Very soon after that I noticed I was very uncomfortable holding any kind of constant pace and then the hills started. I really thought this was some sort of practical joke when I saw the first series of hill we need to run up. Shortly after the first turn around the practical joke continued and I was met by more nasty hills.

To be very honest at this point I was so overheated from the sun and demoralized about my inability to hold a pace that I wanted to quit. But as I march up this nasty hill I saw this wheelchair competitor who needed to go up this steep incline backwards and he was literally going inch by inch by inch up this nasty cobblestone hill. I started thinking, “what the hell is going to be my excuse for not finishing.” I wanted to help him so bad, but we’re not allowed to provide assistance. He was all the inspiration I needed for the rest of the day.

My focus changed from meeting my goal to finishing. The rest of the 13.1 really sucked, I simply had no energy in my legs to push a constant pace. It really bothered me when I passed the 5 hour 30 minute mark, but I had no response to the frustration except to continue on. I stopped at every aid station and grabbed as much ice as I could to try and stay cool. After more than 2 hours and 40 minutes I finally was approaching the finish line. With about 300 yards to go I noticed a guy I had been trading places with and noticed he was in my age group. He was about 25 yards ahead of me on the final climb before the chute to the finish line. I said “what the hell, let’s at least pass him and run strong into the chute.” So I did manage harness the remaining drops of energy to chase him down, he tried to respond but he was unable to sustain the short chase. Even though it was a little thing, at least this put a little smile on my face as I approached the finish line.

6 hours 22 minutes later I finished my first 70.3 and the final product does not resemble my well thought out script. But I did meet 66% of my goals and I did finish the race. I look forward now to preparing for another 70.3 and since I’ve never done an international distances race, I plan to do one of those as well. I would also like to try and figure out what the heck happened to me on the run and how I can prepare in the future so it does not happen again.

Just as a note my nutrition included 3 bottle of water and one bottle of Gatorade on the bike. I had Nuun with each bottle of water. I also had 3 Tangerine Powerbar Gels and one Stinger Waffle. I consumed one more gel on the way out of T2. On the run if you want to call it a run I had only water and some orange quarters.