Let's start with the bad news.
As you may recall flushed by my short course Clydesdale victory in Chicago, I registered for the Harvest Moon Half Ironman triathlon as it is the long course Clydesdale & Athena National Championships. It was also a week after Ironman Wisconsin.
The bad news is that the wheels pretty much came off the cart at about mile 8 on the run. I got to a point yesterday when I had nothing in the tank.
Often times you'll hear people use that expression "nothing in the tank" to express a feeling of weakness and general fatigue. In fact, I believe I've used the expression myself when referring to my typical race bonk.
This felt nothing like that. I literally had nothing, no fumes, drips, no reserve left in the tank. I was completely on empty. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I was in the lead and a herd, pack, gaggle, school, or whatever you'd call a big group of Clydesdale's was running up my behind.
I know this because it was an out and back half marathon so it was pretty easy to know who was ahead, and more importantly, who was behind me.
With 5 miles left to go I was barely holding on to perhaps a 5 to 10 minute lead on the next big guy in my division.
The fact that the wheels came off my cart with such a slim lead on the run is part one of the the bad news.
The good news is that you guys were completely wrong about how much pain I'd feel doing half IM just a week a full IM. I can honestly say that I felt no more or less pain than a usual race. I guess I was lucky with the nutrition as this was not an issue.
Normally the worst pain comes when you get that part wrong because there really is nothing like heaving out your guts on mile two of a half or full marathon. Now that's a barrel of monkeys when it comes to sheer pain and endurance.
But yesterday for me, at least in terms of pain, was really no different than any other half IM I've ever raced. I had the same high and lows, the same struggle to keep running when I felt like I could not take another step, the same butt burn on the bike, and the same apprehension before the start as I waded into the chilly cold waters of the swim.
It was like any other race with one huge exception. I really had no top gear when I need one.
In other words, image that your body is like a car and you have 5 gears. You can think of them as 5 heart rate zones if this is easier to conceptualize. Normally when you race you tend to switch gears...sometimes on purpose and sometimes without your conscious knowledge.
For instance, you may switch to a higher gear at the start of the swim to get away from the flying arms and feet of the typical mass triathlon start. You may switch to a higher gear on the bike when climbing, you may switch to a lower gear when descending.
I often will switch into a higher gear at the end of the bike without really knowing it. You know, you can smell the hay in the barn and boy do you want to be in that barn (transition area).
On the run the same thing happens to many of us when we see and hear the finish line.
Yesterday, no matter how hard I tried I could not get past 3rd gear. Fourth and fifth gears were completely off the menu. My body would not shift into any higher gear past 3rd...period.
That's the bad news.
The good news is I felt really really comfortable in third gear. I think I could have gone all day in the water and on the bike in 3rd gear. And the really good news is that for 95 percent of the time in a long course triathlon you don't need the 4th or 5th gear.
The bad news is that when you do need them...like when you are at the end of the race and you are tied in a head to head battle for first in your division...they are good gears to have.
Yesterday was such a day. I was able to use third gear for almost the entire race and do really well. But when I needed those extra gears, I didn't have them so....
The really really good news is that I think I took second in my division.
I'm not sure as once again I was robbed of the awards ceremony and photo opportunity. This time the weather intervened. As is almost always the case they left the Clydesdale and Athena awards for last. By the time they got to us a massive thunder storm rolled in and all hell broke loose. The wind picked up, the rain came down in sheets, and the awards were canceled.
I asked the race director if I could have my award and he said no way we'll mail it to you.
And that was that.
Once again I left empty handed, plus cold, and wet.
Please don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. At least I was done with my race, and not out in the storm and cold with the many brave age-groupers still fighting to cross the finish line.
I'm only guessing that I took second in my division from my race, and as it looked that way from the results that were posted after the race. But these are not official, and as I write this the results have yet to be posted on the race web site.
So here I sit with what I know is a first place finish in Chicago and what I think is a second place finish yesterday with nothing to show for it except the knowledge that I raced as hard as I could have raced on both days.
And you know what...that's surprisingly enough. The folks at Crapi Events (sorry I meant Capri Events have yet to send me anything a full three weeks after the Chicago Triathlon, and I really don't have official notification of anything from yesterday's race.
I only have the knowledge that after an entire summer of training and training and training, I did the very best I could at the two races that meant the most to me.
There is no doubt in my mind that I could not have gone a smidgen faster yesterday. I went a few minutes over 6 hours.
There is no doubt in my mind that I could not have gone a smidgen faster at the Chicago tTriathlon.
In both races I raced as hard as I could have. I think for us age-groupers that's the ultimate prize for success. It is the personal victory that holds the most meaning. The knowledge that on race day we showed up and gave it our all.
Sure, sometimes life gets in the way of our training, or family and friends come well ahead of our amateur triathlon careers. Unlike the pros we don't get paid, and most of the time we certainly don't end up winning our age-groups. So that leaves us with the knowledge that we came and gave it our all.
And I'm really good with that.
BTW: I looked at my time from last year's Harvest Moon triathlon and it was about 15 minutes faster. But that's really meaningless as this year they changed the bike and run course in a very substantial way. They added a lot more hills to both so this year was much tougher.
It's a meaningless question as my results are what they are.
Would I recommend doing an Olympic, half IM, and a full Ironman in one month?
The everyman hat trick.
That's something I can't really say right now. The fact is that you can't perform at the top of your game in that many races in that short of a time.
You end up making some serious compromises and your performance suffers.
The good news is that you guys came along with me on this crazy journey. I thank you for sharing it with me.
But the really good news is that I'm done for this year, and now I get to dream about racing next year....oh yes and eat a really big lunch today.