What We Have in Store

Nick and I are excited to announce – We launched our Online Store!

CajunMile Online Store

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (okay, maybe months ago), we’ve decided to sell a few swim, bike, and run-related items.  We have decals – for your vehicle, helmet, bike, or wherever you’d like – and clothing.  Below are a few examples of what we have available.  We can customize, too!  So please let us know if there’s something special you’d like.

CajunMile Store Items

Wanna Watch Me Go Crazy

Let’s do another fun post! What do you say we talk a little about the madness that is caused by training indoors.

Living in Wisconsin and training for triathlon has presented some really interesting challenges.  For one, training outdoors is near impossible from late October until, well, about now.  I just started running outside again.  I’m still a little afraid to ride outside because I feel like the windchill will likely kill me.

Anyway, this winter while training inside, I found lots of new fun things to do while I was on the bike. First, it started as dancing on the treadmill while I ran.  I would get to a song that really made me happy and I would start bopping my head, followed by running side to side with the music and ending up dancing on the treadmill.  Odd strike patterns, running on my toes, running sideways . . . It was all fun and all caused by the madness of training inside so much.

Then, as you can see in the video above, I started getting bored on the bike.  During our training sessions, we would be on the bike for hours listening to music.  I started singing along or lip syncing the songs, then it turned into a really fun ideas to start recording myself doing so.

Seriously, how do people deal with this and not go totally insane?

Hope you enjoy my ridiculousness!

Ironman Texas 70.3 Race Report

Hi Everyone!

Galveston went very well.

Galveston Finisher's Medal

Thursday morning, we left from Chicago and headed towards San Antonio.  But on the ground we went through lots of fun delays.  First, was something about paperwork.  Then, out of nowhere it started snowing and the pilot let us know that we would need to wait 15 to 20 minutes for the airport to come and de-ice the plane.  We waited for at least that long and the sun came out.  That must have been their cue to let us go, because we pushed back and went on our way.

The flight down was uneventful, I watched the Force Awakens and it was just as good the fourth time as it was the first.

Once in San Antonio, my sister in law picked us up and we went to the house.  My mom was there and we did some chatting before I decided to put my bike together.  It is a little more difficult to do without a stand, but it was relatively easy to accomplish.

Friday, we took a trip to a local bike shop for some quick last-minute needs.  I got a bike pump and flat repair kit (just in case).  The pump served us well over the weekend and it was something that Emily and I decided we would do at any race we traveled for going forward.  In this case, we left it with my brother, but our intention is to just pass it around and let whoever lands with it at the end keep it.

That afternoon we drove to Pearland and spent the night there.  It was a longish drive and we loaded in to the rooms and then got dinner.  Nothing special, but a nice night to sit with family and talk about the weekend to come.

Saturday morning, my brother, Emily and I took off for Galveston around 8:00 so that we could get down to check in and get that done.  It was an easy enough drive and we were able to check in relatively quickly (with the exception that I stood in a line for 10 minutes that I didn’t have to – READ THE SIGNS).  With check in out of the way we proceeded to grab my brother’s bike and take it to a mechanic.  He had noticed a ticking when he rode the day before and as it turns out . . . his wheel was out of true.  Quick fix and we were on our way.  But, bike check in couldn’t be done until later in the day, so we took the bikes with us.

Our Support Crew

Our Support Crew

We met up with the rest of the family for lunch at Saltgrass.  Emily’s friend from Houston met us there as well and spent the rest of the day with us.  While they hung out at the hotel and chatted, my brother (Andy) and I went to drop off the bikes and run the final errand (water).

Bikes were dropped off quickly and we stopped by Walmart for a couple of gallons of water, then it was back to the hotel.  I took a nap and assume Andy did as well before waking up and figuring out what was for dinner.  We landed on Mcalister’s for sandwiches and potatoes.  The problem, they were out of potatoes.  Too many athletes in town and they ran out of them. I settled for a Ceasar Chicken Wrap.

After dinner, Andy and I walked through his race bag, I checked mine and I was off to bed.  It still took me a couple hours to fall asleep because I was so excited.

RACE MORNING – SUNDAY

Andy, Emily and I were out the door at 4:35.  Emily was volunteering and I am a nervous race morning person, so it worked out.  In transition, I hung out with Andy while he got stuff together and he asked questions.  He was really well composed for his first race.  With all of his stuff coming together, I walked over to my bike and got my spot figured out.  While Andy was lucky enough to be at the end of a rack and have people around him not show up, I was next to the toilets and had a clear marker for where I was going to be.  With all my bottles filled and my bike and run gear all laid out, I was off to the bathroom.  I was far less nervous this time around and more excited.

I talked to Emily for a minute while she marked people coming in to transition and then went back to Andy to talk for a few minutes.  Around 6:30, Andy and I left transition and headed over to the swim start!

In the past this is where I start to fall apart a little.  In Austin I was able to gain my composure, but this time I was ok.  Excited.  All I really wanted to do was start.  With about 15 minutes before my wave started, I ditched my morning clothes, put on my wetsuit, said bye to my brother and headed down to get in line.

Galveston is an interesting race.  We lined up by our cap color, walked out onto the pier and then jumped in the water.  It was in this line that I met a couple of really nice guys who were first timers.  They were very nervous but both seemed quite ready for the challenge.

Nick Galveston SwimJumping in the water was a shock.  The water was colder than I expected.  They called out the minute warning.  When they signaled the start, my wave was off.  I had a relatively straight start and I was pretty happy with my performance into the first turn.  Just after the first turn is when my left goggle lens started to fill with water.  It was annoying and I tried to fix it, but to no avail.  I left it alone and just dealt with it the best I could.  My swim became a bit zig zaggy until the next turn.  During this time, I took on a lot of salt water and gagged pretty frequently.  After the last turn, I cooked into the swim out paying close attention to continue swimming until the exit since they told me to due to the oyster beds.

My swim was great, and from Austin to Galveston I was 4M37S faster for a final swim time of 47:53.

T1 was a bitch.  I tried to pull on my arm coolers, but it wasn’t happening.  I put on my shoes and walked out of transition.  Mistake one was not trying to get the sleeves on during training while I was wet.  Mistake two was putting shoes on and walking out of transition.  I should have had them on the bike and put them on in the first couple hundred yards.  Lesson learned.  T1 time was 5:25

On to the bike.  This is such a great course.  It’s quick and painless.  Just a few turns and you are out onto the seawall and headed straight.  There was so much great support out there.  Police holding cars back and volunteers did an excellent job.  I held to my power number the best that I could and I had a great time.  For the first half of the bike, I felt like I was passing all kinds of people.  This was a totally different experience from Austin.

In Austin, I can remember people passing me and not having anyone around for minutes at a time.  This time I was always in a group of some sort.

Nick Galveston BikeAlso, unlike Austin, the roads were awesome.  The only place where roads were slightly worse than perfect was getting on and off San Luis pass.  It was there that I witnessed the great bike bottle massacre of 2016.  They were everywhere and it was as if no one had ever cared for them.

As I closed out the bike course I was still feeling great (thanks coach for making me stick to the plan).  With about 1/10 of a mile to go, I pulled my feet out of my shoes and road on top of them until the dismount line.  I had finished 3 bottles of tailwind, 1 bottle of water and 3 Clif gels.  I was in good shape.  Final time on the bike was 3:13:49.

Into T2, I was feeling good.  I ran in so fast that I completely passed my rack and had to throw myself into reverse.  I took a few steps back and found my spot, racked my bike, tossed my helmet and tied my running shoes as quickly as I could.  I tossed on my visor and off I went, stopping only for sunscreen on the way out (I should Nick Galveston Runhave stopped longer).  Final time in T2 was 2:23.

During the first mile of the run, I felt OK and I was running.  I was running close to a 10 minute mile and kept telling myself to slow down or I was going to burn out.  And there it was.  Around the one mile mark, I started to fade quickly.  I walked a little and ran a little.

Since the course is a bunch of out and backs, I was constantly seeing the same people.  Since I was walking, I was able to hang with all of the other walkers.  I tried to keep my pace below 13 minutes and I was able to do that until the second lap.  On the second lap, I started walking full miles.  I stopped at an aid station and ate a banana and felt mildly better, so I continued to eat bananas at every station.

By the last lap of the course, I was worn out.  I ran when I could and finished the last two miles at a 13 minute pace.  I saw Emily, my mom and my brother’s family with just over 2/10 of a mile remaining and from there ran in as hard as I could.  It felt good to finish my second race and I feel like my time was a great achievement.  My run time was 2:54:11 (not great).

My overall time for this race was 7:03:41.  This accounts for a 1H10M reduction in my time between Austin and Galveston.  I know that the argument can be made that they are 2 totally different courses, but I am proud to have cut this kind of time off of my race.

Final Thoughts

1. I truly appreciate the support of Emily, my mom, and my brother’s family (as well as my brother).  It is amazing to have people there to cheer you on.  I believe it makes a huge difference in morale.

2. Sunscreen and more sunscreen.  I put some on before the bike and had the volunteer cover my arms when I started the run.  This wasn’t enough.  I should have really doused myself before I went for the run.  The only place I wasn’t totally burned is the exact spot where the volunteer first hit me with the sunscreen.  My head, arms and shoulders are completely burned.Tanlines

3. This is a great course and a well organized race.  The only problem I had was that when I finished, there wasn’t any pizza available. I was hangry and didn’t want to wait.

4. This was my brother’s first race and I was super excited to see him cross the finish line.  It is a huge accomplishment to start racing this distance and he really did a great job.

Nick & Andy Galveston

5. Grease your pits for the swim.  I had some serious chaffing under my arms.  Next time I will be using some Vaseline.

Pre-race Jitters Galveston 70.3

I am now 2 weeks away from my first 2016 race.  I am ready, though nerves are getting me a little bit at the moment.  So, what is it?

For the last three months, I have been getting my workouts in.  (My coach is reading this, so I have to admit to missing a full week for illness and I did cut a few short here and there.)  But, for the most part workouts have been completed.  I have my nutrition down far better than I did for Austin, and I have changed over to gels from bars.  I have added new data that I believe will help me get through the bike portion without burning myself out.  I have been swimming with a lot more ease lately, even getting to the point of being comfortable in the water (even though the gym keeps the pool at a balmy 70 degrees).

Again, why the nerves?  I am at the point now where I believe the nerves are a symptom of not getting a lot of time with the open water swim.  OWS isn’t totally natural and so doing it is a bit of a stretch.  Biking for a long time and running a long distance isn’t as crazy.

With just 9 days left until race day, I am really excited!

Race number is 1232 if you are interested in tracking.

Defeated by Steelhead 70.3 – Emily’s Story

In August, Nick and I set out for our first 70.3 race.  Nick wrote his race report a month after the race.   I, on the other hand, couldn’t muster the courage to write mine.  We’ve always said we would tell you the successes and failures, but failures are hard to write about.  I believe it’s important to admit that I will not always succeed, but I will overcome it.  Although we are now over six months after the race, I give you my race report.

2015 Ironman Steelhead 70.3Race Weekend
We left Friday afternoon and made our way to Indiana, sleeping there for the evening.  We ate dinner at Lone Start restaurant, and began the carb loading.

Saturday morning, we left the hotel early, grabbed a bite at Starbucks, and went straight to check-in at the race site.  I was happy we didn’t plan n getting there later in the afternoon, as we crossed a timezone thus arriving an hour later than anticipated.

We checked in, attended the race briefing, and racked our bikes.  We left the race site, ate lunch at Panera, then drove the bike course.  As we scoped the course, we noted a few climbs, but the rest seemed pretty tolerable and nice scenery.

2015 Ironman Steelhead 70.3 Bike                2015 Ironman Steelhead 70.3 Bike

Next we went to the grocery to pick up some items needed for race day including couple of gallons of water, some fruit, granola bars, chapstick, and a huge permanent marker to re-do our race numbers.

Race Day

We woke up very early the next morning.  I remained calm as we started getting ready.  I tried to eat breakfast, but wasn’t able to get it all down.  We left the hotel and head to the race site.  We were in traffic for a few minutes, before we were able to park.  With my tai-bags on my back, carrying a grocery bag full of water bottles and accessories, and a gallon of water in tow, we began walking to the transition area.  Not too far beyond the parking lot, the front of my flipflop caught an unloved piece of concrete, bending it down beneath my foot, causing my big toe to catch the protruding piece of concrete.  My world unfolded in slow motion before me.  I began falling forward. The weight of the loaded transition bag on my back along with the gallon jugs in my hands, tipped my upper body forward, causing my feet to scramble underneath me.  I tried like hell to balance out, stammering loudly across the sidewalk in my flipflops, my feet not gaining much ground on my upper half.  I could see people watching me as the spectacle unfolded.  My upper body tilting forward more and more, my feet slapping the ground, desperately trying to even the playing field.  I took about twenty steps, then I finally fell to the ground.  I heard a gasp as the onlookers, who just knew I could pull through and recover, watched the gallon jugs crash down, my palms and knees dig into the concrete, and the water bottles fly across the ground.  I rolled into the grass, sat up, and cried.  People were trying not to stare, as I sat there, defeated.

Nick helped me gather my things, and I wiped off the loose gravel in my hands and legs and continued on our way.  The walk from the car to transition was about a mile.  As we made the last turn, I realized I no longer had my keys.  I began to freak out.  We turned around in search of my car keys, both knowing where we would find them, but not sure how long it would take given it was still dark out.  We looked along the sidewalk, and searched the grass until we finally found the keys near the huge water spot on the sidewalk.  With keys in hand, we walked back toward the transition area.

Steelhead Beach Emily and NickWe arrived in transition and each set up our transition areas.  We then put on our wetsuits and headed to the beach for a quick swim before the race.  The water was cool and there were a few waves, but I felt good.  We hung around the beach until the race began.

My wave was before Nick’s, so I hung out with him until the last possible moment.  Then it was time to say our goodbyes.  I began to get nervous.

The Swim 

Next thing I knew, it was my wave, and we were in the water.  As we stood there, waiting for the sound of the horn, I had my game plan.  I hung back for a little while, letting the much faster, more experienced swimmers get in the water first.

After several yards, I began swimming.  I was trampled by a few girls, and began to swim a little further away from the buoys.  I swam, watching each buoy in front of me. When I got to the first turn, I looked up, and was headed toward one of the jet skis.  I began treading water, the nice lady asked if I was okay.  I told her I was fine, I just needed to catch my breath and sight.  I checked my watch, and saw that I was making pretty good time.  I began swimming back toward the buoys, when one of the waves caught up to me.  The start of the pack trampled over me.  I began to swim further away from the buoys to get out of their way.

I hit the halfway mark and realize my pace had slowed.  Getting out wasn’t an option, so I pressed on.  I winced as each wave passed me, and would swim away from the buoy to avoid being trampled again. I finally made it to the last turn.  I looked at my watch and knew I had to really push myself to make the time cutoff.

With only a few buoys left, I began to feel ill.  I stopped swimming for a second, feeling like I was going to throw up.  Before I could even think that was impossible, I found out it was possible to tread water while puking.  I spotted a nearby kayak, waved my hand to catch his attention, and swam to him.  I grabbed the side of the kayak, and got sick again.  The nice young man asked, “What’s wrong?”  I couldn’t answer because I was sick again.  He repeated the question, and I told him I wasn’t feeling well, and got sick again.  He asked if I was going to finish the race.  I told him I wasn’t sure, as I had already passed the cutoff time, and it didn’t really matter at this point.  He encouraged me, saying I was almost there, and I looked to see that I was only about 400 yds from the swim out.  I told him I would finish the swim.  All told, I was on the side of the kayak for about 3 minutes, then I took a deep breath and began swimming again.

As I was emerging out of the water, I heard my name.  I looked around and saw Nick standing there.  I talked to him for a moment, and he told me he had been pulled from the race.  I told Nick I didn’t know what to do, I had been sick in the water, missed the cutoff time, and wasn’t sure if I could finish the race.  I crossed the timing mat and went to my bike.  I noticed there were only a few bikes left in transition.  I sat at my bike, trying to decide if I could continue.  The little bit of breakfast I was able to stomach, was now in Lake Michigan; which meant my nutrition was shot for the day.  My hands were shaking, my stomach was unsettled, and I was rattled.

After sitting next to my bike for about 10 minutes, I handed in my timing chip.  I packed my bag, grabbed my bike, and walked out of transition.  I was defeated.

Nick and I walked to the car, neither of us successful in completing our first 70.3.  The rest of the day was gloomy and painful (both mentally and physically – my hands and knees were bleeding from the fall earlier that day).

The rest of the trip was a blur.  I remember going back to the hotel and contacting our coach for a plan of redemption.  Steelhead Swim Emily

Swim Time – 01:25:02 (4:24/100)

Just a note:  The swim time includes my time hanging out on the kayak, as well as my chat with Nick.  Also, according to Garmin, I swam 2800 yds (nearly 1.6 miles); this is well over the 1.2 miles that everyone else swam.

What went wrong?

Sighting.  I never practiced sighting.  It’s hard to get through an open water swim without properly sighting.

Open water swimming.  Truth be told, this was only my second time ever swimming in open water.  My first time was my first triathlon.  The waves were rough, at least that’s what I hear.

Training.  While trying to decide if I could continue the race, I knew my training efforts leading up to the race were dismal.  Had I been confident in my training, I would have continued the race, regardless of my swim time.

Going Forward

I hired a coach to help with training, and he has been a life saver.

Steelhead was a great experience, even if I didn’t cross the finish line.

Keeping With It

Last year was a tough year for me.  Running over the past several years, I had never been challenged to the point of quitting or being pulled out of a race.  The challenge of racing became more difficult as Swim and Bike were added to the mix.  Leading up to Elkhart Lake, I was concerned that I would have issues.  I had done some brick workouts and I had swam the distance, but I had never gotten in a lake with several hundred other people.  This scared me to death.  When I finished this race, I was anxious to do more, even though there were parts of the race that were difficult.

Taking on Steelhead

After a semi-successful race at Elkhart, Steelhead was the next challenge (and the only other one on the calendar for the year).  I prepared as I saw fit.  I skipped workouts, I didn’t challenge myself to be better, I made do with my current level of fitness.  When we got to Benton Harbor and it became real, I kept thinking to myself that it was all achievable.  If I could make it out of the water, I might have to bike slow, and I might have to walk a bit, but I could do it.  As I have posted about before, I was kicked in the water and ultimately pulled from the race.  I can admit that I wasn’t prepared and that if not for the kick, I still don’t know that I would have finished the swim.  I had never finished that distance before (even in the pool).  I was a mess about it.  There wasn’t anything that I could blame other than myself.  It made me question my ability to compete in triathlon, at least at the longer distances.  But the desire to cross the finish line at a full Ironman distance race was strong.  After the race, I told myself I was going to wait to make a decision about racing again, and the truth at the time is that I didn’t know that I was going to.

Mustering the Courage to Race Austin

With Emily behind the idea, we picked up a coach and discussed our ability to train for and race Austin.  I was worried, but had enough confidence in myself that I could do the work and make it happen.  Our coach believed it too.  He put me through the ringer and gave me workouts that made me uncomfortable.  He challenged me to be a better athlete (a bigger challenge than he thinks it is).  The trip to Austin had me nervous.  I still felt unprepared.  Ultimately, I finished the race and the best part of it, time wise, was the swim.  That was surprising to me.

Why I Wrote This

I think it is important to have confidence in yourself and admit where you lack.  In 2015, I lacked motivation and I lacked the will to do the work.  So far in 2016, I am taking the workouts seriously and making sure that I meet my goals.  My first race this year is another Texas race and I am very excited that I will be racing with my brother.  I can’t wait to see him at the finish line and congratulate him on his first 70.3, as he did for me in Austin.  Over the summer, I have a few shorter races and will be volunteering for the Door County 70.3 so that I can help support Emily in her quest for her first 70.3 finish.  But the pinnacle this year will be finishing in Chattanooga and earning the title Ironman.

Ironman Austin 70.3

Ironman 70.3 Austin

The long road is over.  The last 6 months were hard fought, though admittedly more hard since working with a coach, and I have now completed a 70.3.  Hopefully you are interested enough to read this long-winded writeup of my weekend and the race.

On Thursday afternoon, we headed to the airport.  While we were checking in, I took a conference call and was a little aggravated with it, but I let that go pretty quickly.  Once in the terminal, Emily and I walked around a bit and chatted with a few people when we saw a plane out on the runway with several (dozen?) emergency vehicles surrounding it. I didn’t think much about this plane, but we would later find out that this caused the airport to be shut down for 15 minutes.  This almost caused our plane to be rerouted to Chicago and would have been a significant delay.  As it worked out, our plane ran just a few minutes late, but once in the air had to dodge the storms so a two-hour flight stretched to three.

Our connection in Houston was going to be tough.  We would only have 15 or 20 minutes to make it to the plane.  We rushed through the airport and made it without any issue.  The flight was delayed, though none of the boards showed that.  Once we boarded the plane everything was great, right?  Wrong.  We sat on the runway waiting to take off for a full hour.  We landed in San Antonio just before midnight.  Our bikes came out at midnight and we met my brother outside for our ride.  That night we hung out and talked for a bit, but ultimately went to bed shortly after arriving at my brother’s house.

Friday morning we woke up and hung out with family for a while.  My brother left for work and it became time to re-assemble the bikes.  I removed everything from my bag and had a relatively easy time getting my bike back together with the exception of the front fork.  During its trip, somehow something got knocked around and the bearing had come loose and a cover had gotten stuck.  Not being a bike mechanic, I chose the only option I knew.  I took the bike to a local (ish) shop.  They were able to quickly correct the issue and didn’t charge me an arm and a leg for it. (Thank you to Sergio at Sun and Ski in San Antonio).  That evening we hung out and drank some beers, had some hamburgers, and watched a bit of a movie.

Saturday is when everything became more real for me.  That morning we woke up and packed the truck my brother was letting us use.  After our bags and our bikes were in it, we spent a few minutes with my family before heading up to Austin.  The drive was just under two hours, so we had plenty of time to discuss the race and our plans.  At this point we were kind of letting out how we were feeling about the race day.  On the way our coach called, he was racing also, and he asked if we wanted to get lunch on the way in.  We had another friend in town that we were meeting for lunch too, so we found a place and drove there instead of check in.

I have some big nervousness about these races.  I get wound up about ridiculous things.  In this case, I was totally fine until we showed up at check in.  When we got there, I started to freak out.  The line was long and the race briefing was about 30 minutes away.  I didn’t think we were going to make it, and this race had split transitions.  T1 and T2 were in different places and the finish was in yet another location.  I needed the race briefing to tell me what to do.  The line moved a little at a time and ultimately we made it through quickly and we were able to make the race briefing at 2, which was moved back to accommodate the Ironkids race (really cool of them to put these on and have hundreds of people cheering for the kids).

The race briefing cleared everything up for me and once we were finished we were on our way back to theTransition truck.  From there we needed to drop off our bikes, mandatory drop off on Saturday.  T1 was especially busy when we got there.  Cars were parked everywhere and people were walking down the road since there was nowhere else to walk.  We found the first available place to put the truck and parked, unloaded the bikes and headed to transition.  IT WAS A MESS!  Mud was everywhere and it filled my Crocs when I walked through.  Finally, I was at my rack and put my bike up.  There wasn’t much else to do, so I met up with Em and walked out.

Now it was time to get moving to a more relaxed spot.  We drove to the hotel.  We checked in and asked for the closest Walmart, it was just a mile or so down the road so we didn’t take our bags to the room, we just went there.  At Walmart, we picked up sweat pants (to battle the cold the following morning), electrical tape (to hold nutrition and tire repair to my bike), water (to fill bottles), and a few apples.  Now it was time to get back to the hotel.

In the room, I packed my morning bag (swim stuff to put on when I got there), my bike bag (helmet, shoes, and bike stuff), and my run bag (running shoes, hat, and race belt).  I took a shower and put on my race number.  I should mention that I purchased my numbers from TriTats and they worked out great.  I really liked it.  I understand that this costs money and that the Sharpie does the same thing, but this is what I chose and I like it.  After all of this was done, we walked to a sushi restaurant for dinner.  It was awesome.

Back to the hotel and sleep.

Sunday – Race Day

Rise and shine at 3:45.

Ate some oatmeal and got dressed, then left for the race site.

Sunrise Austin 70.3On site, I checked my run bag.  We ran into our coach there and walked with him to the bus for the ride to T1.  Once at transition, it was time to set up my bike and get ready.  I had pumped my tires the day before, but decided to check the pressure anyway.  The little pump we had sucked, but it would work, right?  Wrong.  I checked the front tires and it was fine.  Then I checked the back and put a little air in it.  When I unscrewed the presta adapter, it pulled my valve extender out with it and flattened the tire completely.  So I screwed it back in and had to start again.  The little pump took forever.  Then I unscrewed the adapter and, guess what, it pulled the valve extender again.  FUCK! (sorry for the profanity).  I put the valve extender back in and my coach saw that I was freaking out.  He borrowed a pump from someone else and I was able to get it back to pressure with no more issues.  At this point I could settle a little.  I used the port o potty and then it was time to put on my wetsuit and ditch my morning clothes.

Bike Set and Ready to Go

It was 6:45 and my swim wave was scheduled to go off at 8:25.  At this point I was going to have to stand around for almost 2 hours just waiting. That’s what we did.  We stood around and waited.  Freezing, shivering, talking and watching as other athletes went in the water.  I ran into a Regis Alum and talked to him for a few minutes.  It was really odd.  I can’t say that I have ever run into another alum outside of Colorado.

The waiting was coming to an end and Emily was having some nervousness.  I’ll let her tell you about that.  My nervousness was at a minimum, but definitely there.  I just kept telling myself that I had done it before and the swim was nothing to worry about.  It worked . . . a little.  My coach was in the wave before me so we split up.  I got in line with my wave and prepared to get in the water.

SWIM

Getting in the water and out of the 50 degree weather, it felt warm.  But only momentarily.  Once I was in the water for a few seconds it started to feel cold.  My worry and nervousness was in full swing.  I took in the back of the pack and told myself, “just stay at the back and on the outside, you’re fine”.  And that is what I did.  The horn sounded and we were off.  The first 2 hundred yards were tough.  I was cold.  My arms didn’t want to work.  Even the outside was crowded.  I ran into a few people.  A few people ran into me.  By the second buoy though, it had cleared up and I was in the clear.  I felt good.  I wasn’t looking at my watch, but I didn’t feel like I was making time.  I had conversations with myself about it.

“just stop, it’s not worth it if you aren’t going to make the cut off”

“keep going, force them to pull you out”

Ultimately I chose the second and kept going.  At the half way point I looked at my watch and I was at 22 minutes.  I was ahead of schedule!  By the second turn I was feeling strong and knew I was going to finish.  I wasn’t going to look at my watch anymore.  Just go.  With 4 buoys left to go, my left leg cramped, bad.  I couldn’t move it.  I through my arms up for help and it didn’t come quickly.  I freaked out.  Another athlete stopped and helped me out.  I wish I knew who it was so that I could thank him, it was awesome of him to stop to help.  The kayak came over and I held on until I could work the cramp out, then I was on my way again.  I got a little off course as the current took me inside the buoys.  The volunteers yelled at me to get back on course and I did.  As I got to the finish, I knew I had finished the hardest part of the course for me and I was excited to get on the bike.Swim Out

Swim time – 52:30 (8 minutes slower than I knew I could do, 8 minutes faster than my prediction)

T1

I jog/walked to transition, pulled the top of my wetsuit down and let the wetsuit peelers do the rest.

Once in transition, I stopped to pee.  It must have been all the water I drank on the swim. After 3 minutes of that, I was off to the bike.  I put on my helmet, arm warmers and shoes and headed out.  I stopped ahead of the mount line to take off my cleat covers (I was trying to protected them from the mud).  The volunteers yelled at me not to mount my bike, which I wasn’t, but I understand where they were coming from.

BIKE

I mounted the bike and readied myself for an easy first half.  The profile for this race showed a net downhill for the first half of the race, but for the first five miles I felt like I was just going up.  Up and Up and Up and never down.  I must have misread it, I thought.  I just kept going.  I wasn’t being passed a whole lot and I wasn’t passing a lot of people.  By mile 10 I had convinced myself that I misread the profile and that the back half would be a net downhill.  I was hurting bad.  I rode near another athlete for a bit who kept riding on the left.  I finally passed him and asked him to ride on the right so people could pass him.  He caught up to me and asked what I said, so I explained and he seemed to be ok with that.

I tried to eat like I had planned, but I had a hard time chewing and getting the food down.  Not sure what to do, I started eating when I felt I could rather than at my planned intervals.  (My coach won’t like this.)  I kept going and the internal conversation started again.  This time though, it was all about how I was going to make them pull me out.  Eventually we got some downhills, but every time that we did, we also had a reciprocating uphill.  No problem, just build speed on the down and let that carry you for some of the up.  It didn’t quite work like that, though.  Due to the road conditions, I had to slow down a lot at the base before I could start the up.  I was consistently on the small ring and my easiest gear to make it up the hills.

Bike no

At mile 40 I witnessed another athlete collapse off the bike.  I stopped with her.  I don’t quite know how long I was there, but eventually there were two of us there and I decided to ride on to find help.  2 miles later, I found an officer with a radio.  I stopped and told him what happened and where the athlete was.  I was really excited when I saw her on the run later in the day.  Glad she was able to walk/ride it off and keep going.

I was in the back half of the ride and thought there was no way there could be any more giant hills.  But that would be wrong.  My brother has a saying “what goes up . . . can always go up again”.  And that is how it felt.  I kept going up hills.  On the last hill (I didn’t know that at the time), I was going so slow I had to dismount my bike and walk up.  That sucked.  With just 6 miles to go, I decided that I just needed to keep going.

Finally, I could see transition and my watch said I was at 55.5 miles.  But transition was further than a 1/2 mile.  It freaked me out.  I must have missed a turn.  There was another rider with me and I asked him.  He said we were on track and the last couple turns were ahead.

Getting My Feet Out of My Shoes

Bike Time – 4:17 (this was 45 minutes longer than my prediction and I expended a lot more energy than I wanted to)

T2

Getting to the dismount line, I pulled my feet out of my shoes and kept pedaling.  I got off at the dismount line and was off to my run back.  When I racked my bike it seemed like I had to have been the last person in.  I pulled open my run bag, grabbed my long sleeve shirt (I was still really cold) and my body glide (which I generously used on my arms that felt very chaffed).  I pulled on socks and shoes and was off.  I ran, too fast.

RUN

This is where the race was going poorly.  I cooked at the beginning, but I couldn’t keep it up.  By mile 2 I was running 1/10 of a mile and walking a 1/4 mile.  When I got to the park for the first time, I didn’t think I would make the third loop cut off, but I kept going.  My family from San Antonio was supposed to come up, but I hadn’t seen them yet and there was very little support on the course by way of spectators.  I came back to the turn around for lap two and I was feeling terrible.  The crowds cheered my name and told me to keep going, so I did, but I still didn’t feel well.

I caught my coach during my first lap and he looked good.  He yelled at me.  I don’t remember what he said, but I recall seeing him.

Run 1

Every time I ran, my stomach hurt.  I wanted to finish and got back to my conversation.  MAKE THEM PULL YOU OUT.

At this point, I was coming up a hill for the first lap turn around and my brother yelled my name.  I saw him and my niece.  I was ecstatic.  I was so happy to see someone I knew.  He took a few pictures and as I passed I asked him to check on Emily.  I couldn’t wait to find out, I needed to keep moving, but I would find out on the second lap.

Re-energized, I kept moving.  One lap at a time is what I thought about.  Just finish this lap.

At the park again, the volunteers were good.  They were playing music and other athletes were encouraging as well.  I made my way out of the park and back to the arena on lap two mostly excited to see my family again.  When I ran through the crowd, they cheered my name again and made some jokes.  It made me feel better.  By the time I got to my brother again, the family had grown.  It was now my sister-in-law and my nephew as well.

I knew at this point I would finish, it was just a matter of how strong it would be.  My brother told me that Emily didn’t have a bike split and I told him to text her.  If she dropped or was pulled out, certainly she had her phone by now.

I had one lap left and I was going to push as hard as I could, which wasn’t much at this point.  I ran, I walked.  I slowed down to talk to another athlete.  He told me that he had been missed the swim cut-off, but wanted to finish anyway.  I was encouraged that he was motivated to finish even though he wouldn’t get a time for the race.  I pushed on.  I hit the final aid station.  I filled my water bottle and drank most of it.

When I hit the loop for the last time, I got to turn right instead of left.  I cruised around the arena and then started inside.

I ran in and made it to the finish line.  I saw my wife and my coach near the finish and my brother and his family in the stands.  I was done.


Run Time – 2:51 (terrible, but I finished.  13:04/mile, way slower than normal)

Nick Austin 70.3 Finish Line
Finish Line

My brother brought me a beer and my coach congratulated me, as did Emily.  I saw Fireman Rob at the finish line as well, and he congratulated me and I him.  While I was very happy to be done for the day, I am also very excited to race again.

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