Race Report: Ironman 70.3 California
Sunday, April 01, 2012
In this sport, there are going to be many days when you are not feeling up to snuff and your body is not giving you the type of energy and performance that you would prefer. Whether you’ve botched your taper, fallen ill, or tried to compete at a time when you physically should not (as in my case), the fact remains that a time will present itself where you simply have to suck it up and deal.
Welcome to my race at Ironman 70.3 California.
A sub-par swim, inadequate bike and marginal run left me outside the picture of competing for a spot on the podium…or even marginally close to the podium. In reality, I wasn’t in the mix at any point in time on race day. And in many ways, due to my recent struggles with my health, it would have been easy for me to simply pack it in, call it a day and move on to the next training block.
But there will come a time in everyone’s racing career where you need to call upon your body in a way in which it neither wants to be called upon nor thinks it can perform to the level to, and without suffering through bad days, you will never gain the mental fortitude and physical strength to do so in future endeavors.
And in that manner, I was pleased with my race at Oceanside. Not in terms of result – no, believe me, I stewed over my actual performance of the race for 48 hours before letting it go. But on that given day, there was only one thing in my control. It was not my health (which is far from within my control right now), nor was it how my legs felt. It was merely my effort. And I left every ounce of effort I had on that race course. It may not have left me with anything to show for it, but one day, those ounces of effort will be the difference between a victory and a defeat.
Race morning greeted me with the familiar feeling that I have had for the past 3 weeks since a change in medication upset my recovery – feeling as though I had spent a large part of the previous night in some sort of drinking contest. A hangover isn’t much fun to have after any evening’s festivities, but trust me, it’s much worse to have a hangover when you didn’t actually do anything fun the night before.
I woke up extra early in the hopes that just being awake for a period of time would assist in removing some of the cobwebs. I traveled down to the race site, went through a quick warm up and mental prep, then through on the new BlueSeventy Helix and headed down to the race start.
In my current state of energy, I knew that it would be best to avoid the initial rush that is the first 300-500 meters of the swim and instead conserve energy for the back half of the course. So from the gun, I simply held onto feet and waited for the lull in pace before moving myself into position.
Unfortunately, that was my big tactical error. This particular pro field was much larger than most that usually toe the start line, and by the time the pace started to settle down, I found myself completely boxed in. With numerous athletes in front, to the side and behind me, I could not find my way out of this group in order to pick up my pace. And by the time things split up enough to do so, I had lost the front pack. As a result, I was able to swim myself to the front and out of the group that I had been currently in, but I was then only able to dangle solo between the two groups from there. A big tactical mistake on my part.
I moved through T1 as best as possible and made my way onto the bike. My swim was horrifically poor, nearly 90 seconds worse than what I was expecting. So as I headed out onto the bike course and slipped in my shoes, I began the task of positive self-talk to regroup. With over three hours left to go in the race, anything could happen.
But despite my best efforts, my body simply decided not to join me on the day. Through the entirety of the bike and the run, I simply felt like a diesel engine with one gear. I moved consistently and didn’t seem to tire, but I was neither able to move particularly fast or change up my speeds. So I slogged on – in my mind, I appeared as if I were a three-toed sloth (for those who don’t know, one of the laziest creatures on the planet) trying his best to get through a race – and ultimately struggled home in 18th place…far out of the competitive picture.
It seems as if, in recent months, all I have been able to take away have been mere possibilities – what should have, could have or would have been. But the fact remains that the only thing that matters is what was. My performance was poor; no bones about it. I did not race well, perform well or showcase my level of fitness that I have displayed in training.
But my effort WAS there. And that, to me, indicates that throughout all of my trials and struggles over the past year and a half, there is still part of me that refuses to give up on this pursuit and that remains positive that my outcome will one day soon change. On some days, I have no idea how this particular component of me remains so optimistic. But I am sure glad that it does.
A big thank you once again to all of my sponsors: Cisco Systems, CEP Compression, BlueSeventy, First Endurance and Inside Out Sports. I know that it is difficult to back someone who cannot seem to find the magical mix of full physical health, but your support means even more as a result.
From here, all I can do is move forward. So we trek on…to Wildflower.