This was the toughest race I have had to date. YES, that is correct. Tougher than my first half ironman. I think that all of the training and mental prep for the Try Charleston 70.3 on top of the fact that is was not HOT as all get-out led to a great race for me there. This race on the other hand was all I could handle.
The truth is… I underestimated the distance, I was not mentally prepared, my nutrition was not right on, and those were just the variables that I COULD control. The heat snuck up on me as well.
So this is how it went down. My baby girl turned 7 on Saturday so I spent the day with her and the fam. No race would get in the way of that. This race was on a Sunday, however, and that is what made it possible for me to do it. My buddy Thomas III and I hit the road around 4:30 on Saturday afternoon after all of the festivities, which put us in Greenwood around 7:30. No time to scope the course OR grab our race packs. No race packs PLUS a double transition meant getting up at 4:15 on Sunday morning. T3 and I headed over to Lake Greenwood to get our race packs. When I was gave my ID to the woman checking us in, she said, “Oh. So YOU’RE the Hank Hanna?” I guess I’m more than internet famous now…
We set up our T1 and then got in the car and headed over to Uptown Greenwood where the bike finish and T2 were (about 20 miles away). Having to set up two transitions is a pain. It is even more so when you are coming from out of town, have a lack of sleep, and don’t really know where you are going. Luckily we found it without issue. We got set up and jumped on the bus that took us back to the start.
Once I got back over to the start, I ran into my boy Justin F. He is the Clyde who is leading the SC Triathlon Series rankings in our division right now. Totally cool guy and having him as competition makes it that much more fun. I knew that with him racing I would lose at least one spot in our division in this race (ohhhh the foreshadowing…)
I was feeling good, so I thought. I was ready to race.
Swim – 1500 meters – Open swim in Lake Greenwood
First and foremost, this was the coolest race start that I have ever seen. There is this stone stairway that leads right on down into the water. My wave was the second, just behind the elites, but basically it was every other male in the race minus the novice division so it was a large wave.
I had checked out the course that morning and I determined that it was a menacing distance visually. 1500 meters is about 9/10′s of a mile. When you see that stretched out in the water, it seems like a country mile for sure. But swimming seems to be my strength as of late, and so I just hopped in the water and got ready. The water temp that morning was 82 degrees and therefore NOT wetsuit legal. I really love it when it IS wetsuit legal. When the horn went off I didn’t sprint out the gate. I just started to swim. We were swimming directly into the sun and I think that was giving some folks some trouble. I was in the washing machine for the first few hundred meters but then I felt myself pulling away. I was wearing my smoke lens Aquasphere Kayenne goggles and I was having no issues seeing the first buoy. All of the sudden I realized that I was basically by myself in the water. I made the first turn and turned the gear up a bit. I felt great and my sighting was spot on. I never once got off course. Before I knew it I was rounding the last buoy and hitting the swim home stretch. I swam hard and pretty soon my feet found the boat landing. I jumped up and bolted for T1. I was feeling like it was my day. Irony.
Official swim time: 32:53 (1st in my division)
Transition One – Swim to Bike
Once again I find myself not quite rocking the transitions all that well. I cannot give up the socks just yet, especially at this distance. I think I will lose them in the next sprint, but I am not quite ready otherwise. It took me entirely too long to get my shoes on. Not to mention that I almost fell over and, shhhh, I accidentally knocked my neighbor’s bike off the rack. I caught it though and hung it back up and no one was the wiser…Not sure what else took so long, but it was not ideal. I am going to get this figured out.
Official T1 Time: 2:18
Bike – 26 Miles – Lake Greenwood to Uptown Greenwood
This was an interesting bike course to say the least. It was low traffic which was nice. It was relatively smooth minus a decent stretch of really bumpy road in which there was no reprieve. When you are a Clydesdale, this is rough on your bike and rough on your saddle bones. The course was a net uphill course which is also tough on us big boys. And it was HOT. HOT. HOT. I was not expecting it to be so hot. I knew something wasn’t right not too far out of the gate. I only had two bottles with me (and there were NO aid stations on the bike course.) One was a bottle of Roctane for energy and the other was Skratch Labs hydration. I drank half the bottle of Roctane before the 3rd mile. I started pacing my hydration bottle by taking small sips every 10 minutes or so. I was sweating up a storm. But somewhere around mile 15 or so, I reached down and grabbed my hydration bottle and it slipped right out of my hands and hit the ground. I was on a pretty decent downhill and I wasn’t about to stop. It was half full and all the way gone. I knew that it was going to be a problem. I only had about a quarter of a bottle of liquid and a good portion of the course left. My legs were also burning by that time. The Clemson Triathlon was up and down, up and down. But it seemed for every downhill section on this course there was a long and subtle uphill. I NEVER seemed to get up to my regular pace. There were even some sections that LOOKED like a slight downhill, but I was struggling to maintain 15 mph. It was tough. I was out of liquid with about 4 or 5 miles left and it sucked. It was about that time that I realized that I had eaten NOTHING. Not one thing. I thought about it when I first got on the bike. I had a couple of Honey Stinger wafers and some gels and Shot Blocs, but I didn’t eat ANY of it. That was stupid. I should have, even if I didn’t want to. I came tooling into Uptown Greenwood knowing that I had made some critical errors, but I had NO idea how critical…
Official Bike Time: 1:27:26
Transition Two – Bike to Run
When I got to the dismount line and got off my bike, my right quad was on fire. I hustled into T2 and pulled my shoes off and grabbed my Kinvaras, race belt and Chucktown Triathlete visor. I popped another bottle of Roctane that I had there and drank as much as I could but I think the damage was already done. I threw it down and started to run out of transition, but I knew I need more fluid and so I went back and finished off the bottle. That is why this transition took more time than I thought it would. I turned and headed out.
Official T2 Time: 1:42
Run – 6.2 miles – Uptown to the Heritage Trail and Back
Any other day… Any other day, this would have been one of the best running courses out there. There was about a quarter mile from the transition to the trail and most of the trail was shaded. But it was still really hot. I had just made it to the trail head when my right quad started cramping. That has never happened to me before and I really didn’t know why it was happening or what I should do. It hurt like the dickens. But I pushed on. My pace was WAY off. I made it to the first aid station about a mile in grabbed some water. I drank some and poured some on my head. That part felt good, but nothing else was. I limped out of the aid station at a trot and only made it about another half mile before I had to stop and walk. I tried stretching a bit and took long walking stride, but my quad was killing. I walked a bit and then ran a bit. Walked a bit and then ran a bit. The running bits started to get shorter though. Before I even got to the turn around I started thinking about quitting. By that time my left calf was cramping. I thought to myself, “If I fall over on the side of this path, I wonder who would be able to carry me out?” But I kept going. I hit the turn around and grabbed as much fluid as I could possible stomach, but it didn’t help. I can literally count on one hand the number of times I have thrown up in my life, and I thought that this day would see my moving that up to two hands. But I didn’t. I just kept going. I wanted to quit so bad. I was really worried that T3 and Coach Ian were going to come looking for me. I knew that my podium chances had flown out the window on this race. As I was hitting mile 5, both of my calves, my right quad AND my stomach were cramping. Imagine one of those late night charlie horses that you get every once in a while that you feel for the next couple of days. Yeah that. In both legs. I broke off the trail and back onto the road into Uptown and T3 was waiting there for me. He was yelling for me and cheering me until I told him what was happening. Then he just ran beside me encouraging me to finish. Every step was searing, but I saw the finish chute. I blocked the pain and pushed on. I saw the camera and put on the beast face. And I finished.
Official Run Time: 1:24:38
Official Greenwood Triathlon Time: 3:28:56
This was a tough race folks. I was not prepared and I underestimated the distance and I will not let that happen again. I know I can do better than this. (It felt good the next day when Trotta called me and was like, “Ok, I know something must have gone wrong when I saw your run split…”)
I cannot believe how sore I was after this race either. Well I guess I could. That proverbial charlie horse I talked about earlier leaves a bruise for days. I am still feeling off. But I did get a massage this week. And that warrants a post unto itself…
So this was my last race before the nativity of my next ankle biter. I’m sorry I couldn’t go into half-time with a better score, but I plan to hit the second half of the season pretty hard in late August. Keep your eyes hearing and your ears looking because it is going to be on like King Kong doing wrong in a thong.
Peace. Love. Hydrate. For the love of God, Hydrate.
UPDATE: I FORGOT TO MENTION HOW FRACKIN AWESOME THE WATERMELON WAS THAT WAS WAITING FOR ME IN THE COOLER AFTER THE RACE…
Beast Face out.