2014 HITS Lake Havasu….140.6 miles to finish off the season.
On Nov 7 2014 I jumped in my loaded vehicle and made the 5.5 hour drive from Tucson to Lake Havasu. Upon arrival I hit the race venue and picked up my race packet, made a grocery stop to pick up dinner and breakfast supplies and then seeked refuge from the heat in my hotel room. I put the finishing touches on my equipment, watched a little television to unwind and then got an early start on sleep. I think I woke up about every hour and a half throughout the night but felt rested when my alarm went off at 4:30am. I consumed a banana, 2 berry bagels and a yogurt for breakfast, got dressed and loaded my race equipment and made the 10 minute drive to the venue. Transition spaces were assigned, each spot held your bikes front wheel and had a stool plus plenty of space to place your gear (one of the nicest transition setups I have seen). Large lights lit up the entire area to make early morning (pre-sun) set up easy. I made a quick trip to the porta-potties before the crowds arrived and then relaxed a bit. Before I knew it, it was time to get into my wetsuit and head down to the water. Water temp was in the mid 70s. I got in and warmed up for about 200 yards before they called all athletes out of the water for a pre-race meeting and the playing of the national anthem.
The start was a shore line start followed by two 1.2 mile laps . The start horn sounded and we were off. Sighting was near impossible with the sun low in the sky and in our eyes. The lack of buoys in between the turn buoys and the small size of the buoys only added to the difficulty. Fortunately I was not at the front and had the lead group to follow. At the end pf the first loop the half athletes headed off to T1 while those of us doing the full headed out for lap 2. I was suddenly on my own. luckily I could see the lead groups splashes and was able to follow until the buoys were in sight. I swam consistently through the entire swim. As I exited the water I was told I was in the top 10 (was 7th out of the water). Swim time…58:21.
A short uphill run from the water to T1…wetsuit, swim cap and goggles off…helmet on. Mounted my bike at the line, got up to speed and slipped into my bike shoes. T1 time…1:35.
I entered the bike course blind…I had not previewed the course but knew it was hilly from previously talking to friends. The course was 4 loops…112 miles. The plan was to take the first 2 laps relatively easy to save for the last 2 laps. I was quickly passing people trying to keep track of which race they were in (3300 numbers were the full). The first half of each lap was slightly rolling uphill. The far end of the course at the turn around area was where the fun begins…3 hills, each about 1/4 mile in length and 20+% grade followed by 30% grade downhills on the opposite sides. As I rode up the first time there were people from the half walking their bikes up! I powered up them. Only 3 more times to go! At about the 20 mile mark I was passed by another full distance athlete. I let him go and stuck to my pace. At mile 25 I had caught him again and made the pass. As I passed him I asked him if he knew how far ahead the leaders were. His response…you’re it! That motivated me a bit, but I still wasn’t 100% sure that there was no one else ahead. So I got back to business. Lap 2 was uneventful…those hills on the far end hurt just a little more. By now the heat had began to climb. What had started out in the morning as 60 degrees had now climbed into the upper 70s/low 80s and still climbing. Laps 3 and 4 dished out more of the same but now the wind decided to join the game. The far end of the course was blowing about 25-30 mph. By the 4th lap I was starting to feel some minor cramps in my legs. I had been getting in all my calories (a concentrated bottle of CarboPro and 3 root beer Gu’s) and fluids switching between the on course drink (HEED) and water but, the effort and heat were starting to get the best of me. So for the second half of the last lap I eased off the effort a bit, stretched my legs a little and massaged the cramping muscles. As I neared T2 I slipped my feet out of my shoes. I dismounted at the line and ran into transition. Bike time…5:38:46, the fastest of the day by 10 minutes.
As I entered T2 it was confirmed that I was the leader. I racked my bike, removed my helmet and put my running shoes on. I took a little extra time to stretch and massage my legs a little. T2…2:18.
The temps were now hitting 90. The run was 2 horseshoe shaped out and backs, 13.1 miles each (26.2 miles) of slight rolling terrain with a couple of short climbs. I knew this was going to be a tough run. I ran down through the park to the water front, under the London Bridge and then decided it would be a good idea to walk up the ramp that took us from the bottom of the bridge to the street level. By the time I hit the first aid station my legs were cramping. I started my fueling…coke and water. And more water over the head to try and cool down. I shuffled through the lakefront campground and up the uphill back to the main road. The cramps began to get more intense. By mile 3 I was shuffling and walking but continued to lead. When walking I told myself if I was going to walk, I was going to walk as fast as I could. Just past mile 6 at the turn around I was caught and passed. still in second I was determined to keep moving forward as fast as I could. By the end of the first lap I was still hanging on to 4th place. The 2nd lap started off with more walking than running. My legs would cramp up every time I began to run. At about mile 14 I caught up with another athlete who was on his 1st lap. He was having the same issues I was. We started working together. We would pick a spot up ahead and run to it…by then my cramps were usually in ouch mode, we would walk to another point and then repeat. We did this until about mile 18. I started cramping really bad then and he pull ahead of me up the road. By mile 19 the sun was setting and it had started to cool down. I then devised a plan. I started out small…run 30 steps, walk 20 steps. I was feeling okay doing this so I decided to up it…run 40 steps, walk 20. By mile 21 I had caught up to my old partner but he had been reduced to walking only. I was feeling okay so I decided that I was going to run until I couldn’t run any longer.To my surprise, with the cooler temps I was feeling pretty good. I maintained a steady run pace the last 4 miles all the way to the finish line…where I immediately cramped up. one of my worst ironman runs ever…5:28:01.
The day done, I was able to hold on for 10th place overall, 8th male and 2nd in the 50-54 agegroup. 12:09:03.
One of the hardest ironman distance race I have done. Tough course and tough conditions…heat, hills, and wind!
2014 season done!
Thank you to my sponsors…
Accelerate3 for making me fast
TriSports.com for having all the equipment to help me go fast
And a big thanks to my wife who tolerates this madness!