Jun 9, 2009

Spirit of Morgantown 2008

A few weeks ago, I was trying to figure out whether it would be better to race the Olympic distance or the Half in Morgantown. I had never attempted a Half. At first, I had a lot of trouble deciding to attempt this distance so early in the season. But, I really want to race the Steelhead 70.3 hard. After getting some advice from Jody, I figured I would try the distance at Morgantown. I wasn't supposed to race hard. I was supposed to get a little taste of the distance and get back into training asap.I drove down to the race with Eriksen, Charlie (from Cleveland tri club) and my roommate Brendan. We got a sleazy motel room 5 min from the race start. After racking our bikes, we checked out the transition and the swim course, then headed over to an Italian restaurant for a big dinner. We met many people from the Cleveland tri club for dinner. They were all super nice, especially Rob Reddy (he kept giving us free tri club stuff). I order a huge 16in pizza and smashed as much as possible. After the dinner, we headed back to the motel. This summer has been tough because I've been traveling a bunch to races and it gets a little expensive. So, we stay in shit motels and scrape by...Well, this motel was worse than usual. It smelled horrible and it was invested with cockroaches and ants. Welcome to West Virginia.Even though I wasn't planning on racing too hard, I still had a few butterflies race morning. I always do. My warm up didn't get as well as it usually does...My stomach was a little upset... probably just nerves. We headed into the river for warm-up about ten minutes before the race started. I felt really strong in the water. My wave was the third wave and right before we jumped into the river, the pro field was swimming back towards us. They were swimming painfully slow. I couldn't figure it out. When I jumped into the river, I was immediately pulled downstream. The current was very strong. When the gun went off, we started flying. As we ripped through the first 300 meters, I had a wrestling match with another guy. He wouldn't let me have any position. After receiving a few kicks and friendly punches, I decided it wasn't worth it. I dropped behind him and caught a great draft. As we made the turn to head back upstream, I knew the next 1000 meters was going to be hard. Luckily I had caught a good draft, but we were still swimming slow. I tried to stay relaxed and conserve energy. When we started swimming with the current again, I lost the draft. It didn't matter though. I cruised the last 500 meters back. I got out of the water in a bout 29:00...not bad for strong current. We had a long run back to transition, about a quarter mile. I ran it pretty hard and passed a few people that had better swims than me. As I got on my bike, I had to keep telling myself to take it easy. I am so used to hammering the whole bike. The first loop of the bike didn't go so well. My IT band was really tight and my right leg was bothering me. All week before the race I had been dealing with a very angry IT band. As I started the second lap, I started feeling better. I had made contact with another rider and we seemed to hang onto each other the whole 56 miles. I felt much better the second lap, but the rain had begun and the roads were dangerous. Everyone had to slow down a little bit. Overall, the course was not too difficult and I help myself back well. My nutrition was decent, but I was tired of eating GU. It was all I had all day. Plus, the little bit of Heed I drank made me feel slightly ill. My bike split was 2:35:00. It was decently conservative.My T2 was quick and I happy to start running. I had grabbed another flask of gel and I wasn't looking forward to eating it. When we started running the rain stopped and it got hot and humid. I started to sweat.... a lot. That was a small probably because I didn't take any salt pills or drink any Heed. One bottle of Gatorade wouldn't do it. I averaged about 6:20 per mile for the first 5 miles. I felt decent and I was still holding back a little. Then we got to the 1.5 miles of hills. As I ran up Devil's Hill, I suddenly didn't want to be racing any more. I had never race/walked/hiked up such a large, steep hill. I was painful. I didn't even want to think about the second loop. After running a series of downhills, I got onto the second lap and my stomach went south.....not good. I lost my pace completely. I was struggling through 7:00 per mile and I needed to use the bathroom. After a quick pit stop, I was back cruising but my pace fell. I didn't feel good. My pace was slipping towards 8:00 per mile. I didn't have any energy and the heat was getting me. I wish I had drank more Heed or taken some salt pills. When I got back to Devil's Hill, my legs cramped. This last mile was going to be hard. I got pissed and ran hard up the second part of Devil's Hill..... bad idea. My legs cramped more and I began to walk. I walked a lot of the last 1.5 miles. It was hard and I didn't want to push myself. I wasn't supposed to be going through this much pain. I was just trying to finish a Half Ironman.... not race.When I hit the finishing chute, I was happy! Happier than I had even been at the end of a race. I clocked my race in a little over 4:49:00, not bad for the first time. But, I can't wait to get my nutrition down and race even faster in Michigan. Hopefully, I can race under 4:25...

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