Big Kahuna 2011, by Eric M.

BIG KAHUNA 70.3 Race Report

First let me say I am writing this on plane that left SFO at 6 am the day after the race, never a good idea!

Summary of times for those who don’t want to read (it is a long report):

Total 5:47:47 (Swim 33:35, T1: 6:06, Bike 2:53:40, T2: 1:10, Run 2:13:14)

Age Group 38th of 77 – Total 254th of 621

Pre race:
The day started at 4:30 am, as I wake up on my father-in-laws couch (he lives much closer to the race course), since the kids demanded to sleep in the bed with mommy, and since it was a double bed, this meant that daddy had to sleep on the couch. I had my standard pre-race breakfast: Trader Joes frozen oatmeal, banana, coffee, and a bagel with Butter for the road. The drive was quite and I was reflective, until a family of Deer jumped on the highway and I had to swerve hard to miss them, I was awake now and my heart was already in zone 4.

It was still dark when I parked in Santa Cruz. I was greeted by Rose of TRIMORE as she was parked next to me. Road my bike to transition, and saw Julie and Conrad of GGTC, they invited me to rack my bike on the GGTC rack (Thanks). I got all set up and made sure my fuel strategy was set. 1 Gu pre swim, 6 Gu’s on the bike, a Cliff bar and Cliff shots in my Bento box, 2 Accelerade bottles with double powder, and 1 Gu for the run. Total of 1700 Cals. With transition set, I walk down to the beach. It was great to be at a race with so many people I knew, especially since Mish and the kids could not make it.

Swim: – 33:35
The race was a beach start, and swim around the Santa Cruz pier, the water was very calm. I was in the 6th wave. I stood in the corral area as the sun was still rising and watched earlier waves trying to pick my line. I was clearly looking very serious since the announcer, while trying to engage us in worthless questions, made the comment “look at 417 he just wants me to shut up!” and I did. I had just had a very bad swim at Alcatraz and was therefore not in the best mental place about my swim skills.

The horn went off and ran into the water, taking a line closest to the pier. The swim started off bad, I tried to clam down and focus on my stroke, but it was just not working. I was hyperventilating, going way off line to the right, and mentally going to a bad place. My goggles were fog so I stop for a second and cleared them. I took a few deep breath re-sited and all the sudden I got really calm. Everything started to click. I was able to focus on my stroke and was killing it. I was passing person after person, and when I started to passing red, yellow and green cap from the waves in front I was feeling good. There were two guys in my wave that I was racing near the end and got out of the water before them, however they passes me on the run up the beach to the timing mate….. It is a swim the timing mate should be in the water….

What I would do different / Learning’s:
• Breathe on my right since breathing only on my left with the pier on the right made for tough sighting
• See a shrink and get all that self sabotage out of my head before the race
• Write to USAT to get the rules changed so that I do not loose two places on the swim because I am not a fast runner…..

T-1: 6:06
Getting to the bike was a 1/3 mile run from the beach. Thank you Tracey to suggesting flip flops, since there was glass everywhere. Running in to T-1 I saw Tracy and Marisa which gave me a boost. I did my normal clumsy transition, but not to bad. I looked at time and I am not sure the run was included, so I should have taken my wetsuit off before I got into transition. If I cut my time in half, I would have moved up 10 places.

Bike: 2:53:40
On the bike I had two goals 1) Go sub- 3 hours on the bike, 2) Hold off coach Neil for as long as possible (His swim wave started 15 min after me). The ride out went well, doing my best to eat and drink every 15 min. I was able to get my Gu down, but the Cliff bar would not stay down so I gave up. Hit the 10 mile marker in 29 min, way ahead of schedule. I was having a great time, and the TT bikes were not passing me at the pace I was accustom. I did see several bad accidents. It is a straight course, but there are several places you can move fast and the roads have some nasty ruts, so you must always pay attention. Hit 20 mile marker and in only 58 min, I was a feeling great, Sub 3 was looking easy, since everyone says going back is 15-20 min faster because of the tailwind.

Hit the turn around with a smile on my face, and then the officer on the road smiled at me and said “enjoy the HEADWIND, only half of the people have been blown backwards.” HEADWIND, I was just in a headwind!!!!!!!! It is supposed to be a tailwind! Not only was it a headwind, but it was blowing. Hit the 30 mile at 91 min and looked over as saw Coach Neil flying down the road. Now I was very worried I would not hit either of my goals. The smile was off my face and I pushing hard than I felt I should. Screw the Run, I want Sub 3 on the bike. Hit 40 mile at 127 min….. I have 16 mile to go and 53 min to get there. I knew that meant 18+mph. I put my head down and got a second wind! Either, the wind let up, the hill got smaller, or I got stronger, because achieved both goals… I finished Sub 3 and Coach Neil did not catch me!

What I would do different / Learning’s:
• RST Class work…. I spent more time in the studio than the road and it paid off…. Thank Coach Neil.
• Talking to people helps you keep going! (misery loves company)
• Be thankful I did not get a flat, I saw a lot of people changing tire on side of road
• Never count on a tailwind!

T-2: 1:10
Pulled in to Rose and Marisa cheering me on, that put a small smile on my face, but I was suffering. Put on shoes and visor, sprayed quick sunscreen, grabbed a Gu and ran out the wrong way. After the volunteer point me in the right direction I was off on my death march.

Run: 2:13:14
I knew the run was going to be painful. I had had foot issues leading up the race so I really cut back my running the last few months. My run training for the last 60 days was 2 mile transition runs after RST and a 7 mile run during the Alcatraz race. The start of the run course is beautiful right along the water, to bad my quads we cramping and I left my salt pills on the bike, so I could not enjoy. Hit aid station begging for anything with electrolytes, but no luck just water. Aid station 2 arrives and they had HEED drink and one person had a single salt pill, which helped. Hit the turn around suffering but still running around 10 min miles and on pace for a sub 6 hour race. Shortly after the turn I saw Coach Neil who said “see you soon!” I answered “I hope not”. Hit mile 7 and saw Marisa and John back to back, there encouragement kept me going. I think they were as shocked as I was that I was still on pace for a sub 6 hour race.

The run ended and the death march began at mile 8. The sun came out and my body knew it had not gone this far in a while. I had to force the negative thoughts out of my head and focus on the fact I had a real chance of going sub 6. Did my best to give shout out to Conrad and Julie as we passed each other, but mind was focused on keeping my feet moving. I drank at each aid station and ate anything they had, and just kept the mental talk positive or I would stop. I finally hit the beach and knew this was the end was near. The run on the beach seemed to go on forever, but I finally saw the crowd cheering. I finished to Tracey, Steph and Rose cheering me on, as I shuffled across the timing mat. When I hit my watch I was amazed that I was actually under 6 hours and that I was able to run at basically 10 min mile, it felt much slower!!!

What I would do different / Learning’s:
• Remember to carry salt!!! Two races in a row with quad cramps
• Get healthy so I can do a better job of run training
• Pain hole is now a phrase I understand
• Carry a bottle since you can’t count on the aid stations.
• See a shrink to get rid of the negative mental talk!

Overall/Final thoughts:
As soon as the race was done, I took off my shoes and stood in ocean to “ice” my legs. While in the water I cried, every time I do a race like this I cry. I do know why, but it just happens, I think I was proud, I think I was a physical wreck, and I think I missed my wife and kids. This race was only my second 70.3, and I achieved all my goals and then some. While I was still middle of the pack as I always am, I am still proud. Great way to finish the season but I am ready for a break!

• Biggest thank you to my wife Mish, you inspire me and keep me going!
• Thanks and Congrats to Tracey, Steph, Rose, Marisa, John, Julie, Conrad, and Coach Neil – your shouts made a difference!
• Thanks to Duckett, you being in the sport made me go to work outs I did not want to do (had to set a good example)!
• Thanks to my kids, for letting me train!
• Thanks to TCM… you guys make me remember that I can actually finish these silly races.


One Response to “ Big Kahuna 2011, by Eric M. ”

  1. jill siegel says:

    Eric You are strong in will, strong in heart, and I’m very proud of your efforts.

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