Sunday, September 7, 2008


It was bound to happen sooner or later. Better now than any later and at least it happened in a sport about which I'm still undecided.

Yes folks, today marks a first. This is the first event I Did Not Finish (DNF). So, as of today I still can't claim myself as a half Ironman. On the other hand, either can anyone else who did today's event since I found out this morning it actually isn't a true half Iron distance. The bike and run are both short. So really I don't feel like I lost anything.

So what happened? The swim went amazingly well. I stayed focused on form, making sure to glide and rotate and not use my legs to kick a lot. When I got done with the swim my heart rate was actually still in zone 2. It was amazing.

The bike was fine. It was 55 miles instead of my assumed 56 miles. Despite it being an amazingly challenging course with lots of steep hills I averaged nearly 20 mph. I have to credit those few hills where I got up to 38 mph on the bike while flying down them. That was FUN! But can you imagine the mess if I crashed? LOL

Speaking of mess, the bike is where it all started to collapse on me. On the second loop (we biked 2-27.5 mile loops), when I got far enough along to where it made no sense to turn around it started raining. One thing I've found out is I can swim in the rain and run in the rain. But biking in the rain? That's like mixing peanut butter with cow poop and making it into a sandwich. Two things which are not designed to go together. Ever. Under any circumstances. This started to get me a bit upset but I kept pushing the anger out because it was a mild rain and I wasn't racing. Just trying to finish.

Now for the run. The run was fun. I was running with a really cute gal who, as it turns out, works for UnitedHealth Group (across the street from me and the parent company to my organization). We had to part ways not long into the run because "nature was calling."

While we were running the rain picked up but it still wasn't that bad. And then we got to mile three. By that point it was a torrential downpour. My socks were soaked and squishing. To me that meant only one thing: blisters. Now, drenched socks I can live with. What I couldn't live with was the knowledge that everything I had in transition was getting completely soaked: my change of clothes, iPod, iPhone, new helmet and my friend's $4,000 bike. He's letting me borrow his bike for triathlons because I'm too cheap and poor to buy myself a proper bike.

With all that on my mind I couldn't go on any further. I flagged down a race vehicle and hitched a ride back to the start so I could pack up all my stuff as quickly as possible.

The moral of the story is I could have finished if I wanted to. Nothing broke down on me except my mind. I made the conscious decision to stop because I didn't want my friend's bike getting destroyed. Oh, and my iPhone too. I sort of like that thing.

I'll work on getting some maps up of the course but suffice it to say it was very hilly, very challenging, and very fun. I'd recommend you do a long course triathlon someday. Maybe not that particular one because it's not a complete half Ironman. But definitely do a half sometime. Maybe I'll catch you at my next attempt.


SteveQ said...

DNFs are hard, especially when you know it's just a mental block. You gotta get past that and you'll have some great races.

(If you want to know what a really bad race is like, check out my latest post - DNFed as well)

Randall said...

Jim, you were worried about a $4000 bike getting wet? A $4000 bike better be able to withstand a hurricane and swim by itself. That would have been the least of my worries. It was all in your head and once it gets there it is hard to remove it. I have done it before in a 32 degree freezing rain marathon. By mile 9 I was ready to quit, but I knew it was all in my head and I had to battle that, and it was no easy task. I just kept fighting it until I got to the finish, and then I won! You can do it in the most extreme circumstances, now that you know your enemy is only in your head.