2012 Ragnar Relay So Cal

HairForce in full effect before the start
Wow, what another amazing weekend with friends. This is the third year in a row "HairForce" has represented at The Ragnar Relay in SoCal. We have a lot of fun and we suffer a lot. For those of you that have no idea what Ragnar is, it's a 12 person, 200+ mile running relay race. For this particular race it's from Huntington Beach to Coronado, CA. There's two vans for each team where Runners 1-6 run - then pass off to Runners 7-12 in the next van. Repeat this 3 times and you finish together as a team at the finish line with beer awaiting you and plenty of war stories to tell. I was Runner #1 this year in Van 1 and I ended up covering just over 20 miles in total. I had my wife, some of my best friends and racing on tap - what is better than that??

Katy Perry & Bret Michaels...quiet the couple
Unfortunately the decision to race the week before at The Big Rock Triathlon was probably not a good idea as my sickness turned for the worse. I had already been sick the week after Oceanside 70.3 and just as I was getting better, I raced hard and paid for it the next day. I woke up with a sinus infection, my sore throat worsened and I was coughing up a lot of junk for the remainder of the week. To make matters worse I started running a fever the day before the race and hadn't exercised for 3 days straight. I fought through work that day, went over to one of my teammates - Kevin's place and went for an easy run to try and get a little life back into my legs. I struggled to keep 9 minute pace, but by the time we finished I started feeling slightly better. That night I woke up in the middle of the night in a puddle of sweat and broke my fever. By the time I woke up, I was feeling a lot better just in time to race later that day!!! sheesh.

Part of being on HairForce means dressing the part. Think hair bands both past and present. Ragnar has awards for many different categories and "best dressed" is part of that. We go all out every year and it's pretty funny seeing grown-ass men and women dressed up. I ended up going as Bret Michaels and Amy went as Katy Perry. Quite the couple... Others included James Hetfield, Ronnie James Dio, Michael Jackson, Richard Simmons, Carlos Santana, Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani, Siouxsie Sioux (from The Banchees), Tina Turner and Lady Gaga. We looked good...

Bret Michaels, James Hetfield and Ronnie James Dio!
Friday morning we picked up our vans and teammates and headed over for our 2pm start. In Ragnar, they send you off in waves depending on your pacing. Waves had started early that morning and we were one of the last waves to go off. There were already close to 600 teams and over 7000 people already racing before we even toed the line. A lot of people to pass!! We all kept it loose. The start is one of my favorite parts of this race because everyone is dressed and pretty much act in character. There was a ton of laughs and before I knew it - it was time to disrobe my sweet Bret Michaels giddy-up and get myself in race mode. I got in a quick warm up before I started the LOOONG day. I was sizing up my competitors at the start and I knew right away who would be my competition for this first leg. First it was time for intros...

Bringing it in...tough to lose that guy!
 Leg #1: 5.1 miles - 27:13 (5:26 pace)

As much energy as I was showcasing, I was feeling like crap on the warm-up...No biggie, time to have some fun. The gun went off and I settled in with the guy I knew would be fast and also a guy from the team "Post-Fontaine" who ended up being one of the co-ed teams that beat us. I looked over at the shirt-less dude and said, "can't get any better weather then this eh?" just trying to keep it loose and fun. Guy just stared me down and didn't say anything. wth? So I just left him. My legs felt pretty amazing after the first mile where I came through in 5:39. It was flat and right on the coast and after mile 2 in 5:42 we headed inland and the marine layer started wearing off and the heat started creeping in. I couldn't believe how easy the pace felt and I cranked out another 5:30 and went through 5k at 17:22. At this point I heard the shirtless guy creep up on me and he was struggling/laboring. It caught me off guard because I had thought that I left him. I turned around, waved my hand for him to come up with me and as soon as he came next to me I threw down a 5:18, he was still in contact so I put in a 5:04 last mile (best pace 4:23) and left him. After the race I thought my last mile was 5:18, but that ended up being my 4th mile split and I ended up almost going sub 5 to my surprise. Fitness is there. My garmin actually read 5 miles so it was about .1 short. It was definitely harder than I had wanted to start a long race with, but there was no way in hell I was going to bring in the baton in 2nd place! Plus, I wanted that guy to pay for being an a-hole! haha. I was happy with my fitness and my ability to change gears at the end of the race and finish strong. Especially with lack of training as of late!

Exchange zone 1...team awaiting...
Our team is made up of x-college All Americans, high school stars, moms, a musician, a crossfit stud and a soccer player - so we have a very diverse group and a fun one. Everyone took the race seriously but at the same time didn't and had a lot of fun. I felt like we had a good balance of that this year. There is one negative about having a faster team though. Less rest. By the time our van handed it to van #2, we only had to time to grab a quick bite/beer and next thing we know it's 10pm and I'm lining up to race my next leg! Something hadn't settled to well, so my stomach was not ready to run again - but regardless it was time and this leg would be my hardest of the day and through the worst area of the whole race! Lake Elsinore.

No pics of this leg since it was @night...
However, I was made fun of for looking like
an emo-Jared Leto here...
Leg #2: 10 miles - 1:08:37 (6:53 pace)

My second leg was a mostly-offroad leg at night through some really sketchy areas in Lake Elsinore. Sketchy as in passing local drug houses with strung out guys yelling at us and also as in running against traffic with a 1 foot shoulder, during drunk hour and cars screaming by you at 70 mph. Top if off with my mp3 player dying before the start, then my headlamp dimming the first mile and then eventually dying - so I couldn't even see! My paces were all over the place. At some points I was going 9 minute pace trying to secure footing down on river beds where it was pitch black and then there were other times where I was on the pavement rocking out sub 6 miles. My legs felt pretty good until about the last 2 miles. I had turned my ankle a few times, I was hungry and just over running at this point. I was happy to be done and be spectator/cheering squad for the next several hours.

One of my favorite parts of this race is doing it with my wife (not actually "doing it" but participating..). Since I'm no longer a "runner" now we tend to race separately throughout the year. She'll cheer me on at my triathlons and I'll do the same when she races local 5k and 10k's. Unfortunately she was sick too. Except she was like 5 days behind me when the sickness was at its worst. She barely got through her first leg and we were a bit worried about her and her coughing attacks if she'd be able to continue. However, before the second leg, her spirits were up and she ended up having a great run and I was a proud hubby. She rocked!

Heading out for my final leg...
Leg #3: 5.5 miles - 36:17 (6:34 pace)

The third leg is always the hardest...funny, I know (that was actually a team name) but it really is. You learn a lot about yourself on that final leg. It's when you are tested. You can't fake your fitness on the 3rd leg. Everything is exposed. No matter if you did 12 miles or 22 miles total, that last leg is when your legs are burning, your eyes are burning from no sleep and your stomach is a disaster. Being the first runner I found out is kind of nerve racking because we were all asleep for what seemed like 10 minutes when the phone went off with van 2 giving us the news that their last runner has departed. You wake up with a rush and slight panic as you gather all of your things, hit the bathroom and then your back in the pain cave before you know it. My last leg was hillier than I thought it was going to be. Just full of a bunch of rollers. My first 5k was sub 18, but then I started getting really bad sharp pains in my right knee. All of the pounding on the pavement had taken its toll. My legs were starting to give, so I backed waay off. I'm just starting my triathlon season and I had zero interest in making this overuse pain into an injury. I cruised it in and called it a day and to be honest I'm not sure how much faster I could have been if I would have stayed on it. I was spent.  I can't believe how much that last leg hurts...every single year, no matter how good of shape you are in you leave limping and just completely spent.

Van 1 passing if off for the last time to Irving (MJ)
It was hard to tell how we were doing at this point of the race. I felt like we were behind from last years results, but this years course was also a bit longer and waay hillier. I couldn't believe some of the hills that everyone in our van had to do. With the exception of my wife and I (I promise I didn't plan it that way!) everyone had these ridiculous 700+ft elevation climbs. Brutal! I could tell everyone's pep in their step was off on that last leg, even got a few middle fingers instead of fist pumps as we cheered our team mates on during the last part of the race. By the time we passed off for the last time to van #2 in La Jolla - we were ready to get some beers, eat, shower up at the hotel and get ready to meet up our other team mates for the finish line.

After meeting up with van 2 at the finish line and waiting on our last runner (Bryan) we figured out that it would be a very close finish to last years time. Next thing we know, he comes around the corner, we gather as a team and finish with him on our shoulders and then somehow he was sent flying through the air like we were pissed at him. Epic finish. We ended up finishing in 3rd place in the open co-ed division and 11th overall (out of 553 teams) with a time of 24hrs 18 mins (7:45 pace). We bettered our time by 14 minutes from last year and even moved up 2 spots - so overall I was very happy with our team and the effort. We took it all in at the finish line, hit the beer garden for some tasty Stone Brew and told our stories for the remainder of the day. Lots of fun and as much as I hated that race during certain parts, you always want to go back for more...Can't wait to do it all again next year!

A ton more photos:

The Start!

Passing it off to Hetfield
Van 2 recovering in between legs
Michael Jackson waving to a fan, face paint and all!
Decorating the vans
On our way into the finish
Final hand off
Michaels and Michael (sans face paint)
Cool shot of Kim amongst the chaos
Sabrina charging a rare downhill for her...She's a machine!
Bryan bringing it in!
And...my favorite pic of the whole weekend. We somehow
snapped a pic of Michael Jackson as a young child!

Big Rock Triathlon Race Report

So last week I decided (in the last minute) to jump in The Big Rock Triathlon which is an Olympic Distance held at Lake Perris. It's a really well done local race and I needed to redeem myself a bit to gain some confidence heading into Wildflower which is a short 2 1/2 weeks away. The idea was to "attack" the swim and leave it all in the water and rely on my fitness to get me through the bike and run. Every triathlon I've done, I've always approached the swim as just a warm up or an attitude of "just to get through it" type thing. I really wanted to be aggressive this time and see if what I have been doing in the pool can translate in the open water. The week leading up to the swim I also changed up my swim stroke a bit. I've always had long, smooth, gliding strokes through the water which come to find out doesn't work very well in the open water. So I worked on smaller/choppy strokes with my head up more instead of burying it in the water like I normally do.

To back up a bit after Oceanside I got pretty sick. Think congestion, cough, sore throat---A lot of that has been going around down here. So the week after I had pretty limited/unstructured training. Then last week I pretty much was in maintenance mode trying to get over the sickness and prepare for the race as best as I could. My coach suggested that I probably shouldn't race if I'm not 100%, but I made the call anyway. The day before the race I actually started making strides and feeling better. Even though I had only ran once that week I just went into the race more of in a training mode than a race mode. Just swim hard and survive the bike and run!

Ice cold day!
Race morning I had decided to head out solo because it was rainy and freezing all day on Friday and there was even a chance for rain that morning - not the best place for a 2 and 3 year old. As soon as I got there I blasted some of my favorite pre-race songs through my sweet H2O Audio headphones and stepped outside the car to the freezing air! However, the lake was glass which put a smile on my face. I chatted it up with Rick at The Bike Shop who had a booth there and then went to go check in and set up at transition. After setting up I got in a quick 1 mile jog with some pick ups, some light stretching - ran into fellow Wattie team mate Jake Steen and chatted it up a bit and before I knew it - it was time to throw the wetsuit on and head down to the start. The Sprint, Olympic and Off-Road races all went off at the same time and I was the first wave (39 and under). The water was about the same temperature as Oceanside was. Pretty cold, but actually a tad warmer than what it was outside as it was still freezing!

1500 meter swim - 24:56 (1:31/100 pace) *PR

Finally nailed an open water swim
The start got delayed by about 10 minutes so I was able to get in a good 200-300 meter warm up. However, I was shivering along with everyone else as we waited for the gun to go off. It was a beach start and I lined up towards the front and on the right side of the buoys (going counter-clockwise). The gun went off and I went HARD for the first 100 meters. I got in decent position, but huge packs swam away from me and I figured it was a lot of the sprint distance guys. I settled in after 200 meters and tried to keep my pace pretty uncomfortable. I've always swam comfortable which I think is the big reason why I get worked each and every swim. The course was 2 laps and I might have over-extended myself after the first lap because as soon as I started my 2nd I noticed myself slow down a bit. As soon as I made that last turn to head home I gunned it one more time to finish strong. I can say for the first time that I swam as hard as I could in my Xterra Vortex and I got a 9 minute swim PR because of it.

T1 - 3:06

After the swim we had about a 400 meter uphill jog in the sand to transition. I came out of the water gassed. Running up that hill I wheezing pretty good (from my sickness) and this was hands down the highest my heart rate got for the whole race! I charged up the hill and to my surprise I saw Amy and the kids cheering me on! It was very cool to see them and I literally ran right by them. Got to transition, custom Wattie Ink Kask helmet on, and I was outta there.

Bike 40k - 1:06:50 (22.3 mph)

I mounted, slipped on my shoes and started hitting it hard from the get-go. Right away there was a little climb. Got out of the saddle, hammered up and then hit the downhill as fast as I could go. I saw two guys about 1/2 mile ahead of me and I did my best to catch them quickly while sipping down some FLUID Perform. As I went by them I realized one of the guys I passed was someone I was chatting with in transition and he said he was a strong swimmer, so I knew I had a pretty good swim at this point. The course was 2 loops with a pretty nasty hill towards the end of each lap. I wouldn't call the course flat by any means. I felt slightly uncomfortable with my bike position still - something I need to tweak before Wildflower. It was hard to tell who was racing Olympic and who was racing the Sprint on the first lap. I passed a lot of guys that first lap and once we made the turn for lap #2 I didn't see anyone in front of me. At this point of the race I had no idea where I was. Since I could see pretty far ahead of me in some areas I thought I might even be in the lead. On the second lap I started fading. Lack of training and my sickness started taking its toll. I went up that last hill significantly slower the second time around and by the time I was finishing up heading into T2, I was ready to get this thing over!

T2: 1:15

Quickly threw on my KSwiss Kwiky Blade Lights which have quickly become my favorite racing flat I've ever owned. I was a bit slow because I took the extra time to put on socks as I didn't want blisters heading into the Ragnarly Relay this weekend. On my way out I got a crazy Oblique muscle cramp. Not a side stitch but an actual cramp...Yup, I swam hard.

Run 10k- 36:48 (5:55 pace)

Finishing up a tough day
The first mile was a sh*t show. Oblique cramp, hamstring cramp, I couldn't feel my feet because of numbness for the first 2 miles. Felt like I was carrying bricks...definitely colder than it was in Oceanside. The run is an out and back course. You run through all of the sprint and mountain bike triathlon traffic - so at this point I still had no idea where I was in the race. Once I passed the turn around for the sprint race I could finally see what place I was in. Right away I could see about 4 guys ahead of me, then when I passed the 2 mile mark I saw the eventual winner Kosuke Amano (San Diego triathlon stud and crazy fast swimmer) come flying by the other way! Holy crap, I'm 2 miles behind the leader...Thought I was in the race more than that. Time to do some work. I started knocking out 5:40's for the next 2-3 miles and worked my way up to 5th place. With about 1 1/2 miles to go, I knocked back a gel with a little bit of water from the aid station and then almost 1-2 minutes later my legs started locking up with cramps. I think I finally figured out the cramp issues. When you take in gels your body extracts water from places like your muscles so it can help digest the thick/sugary gel. This can often times cause cramps for some people. I am one of those people! I was just in survival mode the last mile and a half. I gave a peak behind me and didn't see 6th place anywhere near so I just cruised in. After looking back at results, two guys from the 40 year old division beat me so I actually ended up 7th. Props to those guys!

2:12:57 *PR 3rd in AG, 7th overall

Chatting it up with Rick and the boys...Scarlett by my side!
As soon as I finished I started having crazy cough attacks, blowing out snot and generally just grossing everyone out. I was spent. I was definitely not 100% that day, but I was happy with the effort and I was able to get another triathlon under my belt -something I need most right now. I had a 10 minute PR despite everything so I was happy and it gave me confidence going into Wildflower---again something I needed after the disaster in Oceanside. As I was cleaning up I ran into one of my readers of this blog, Matt Davis - who was actually one of the over 40 guys that beat me! He came up and introduced himself and said that he's followed my blog for awhile now and enjoyed it. It was really cool to hear that -as I put in quite a bit of time into this thing and for someone to actually tell me was cool. If you're reading Matt, nice race and I'm sure I'll see you around! We stuck around for awards, grabbed some food and then I was in bed the remainder of the day. Then woke up the next day and during my easy spin/ride I started getting crazy-intense pain in my head. Ended up being a sinus infection. Never had one before. They are painful! Felt a lot like a migraine, really intense. Racing sick has taken me out of commission for the past 3 days but today I'm finally starting to feel better. Of course I had to work out of town at a trade show so that didn't help with the healing process either.

Time to add Ragnar 2012 to that!
Time to get better and gear up for The Ragnar Relay this weekend. We are co-ed team "HairForce" and this is the 3rd year we've done it. We placed 5th last year and we are gunning for top 3 this year. This race is definitely one of my favorites of the year. Getting together, racing hard and partying hard with good friends for over 24 hours is a blast. Ragnar does a great job putting this race on. I highly recommend everybody do it sometime. You find out a lot about yourself when you are tired, lack sleep and you have to push yourself hard for your team mates. Tons of fun and I can't wait to do it all over again. Here's last year's tale.

A few more pics from the weekend:

That crazy run up to T1
Position still needs work
Coming down on the last lap into T2
Bringing it in
Kiddos being patient while daddy races

Wattie Team mate raced great with a bum knee!

Give all my medals to my kids!
Love that lil girl!
Hit the trails to spin out the legs and found a sinus infection!
Nothing beers with the wife can't fix. Cheers!


So leading up to Oceanside I basically had 5 months to visualize the race and prepare. Although this wasn't the biggest race of the year for me, it still was an "A" race for me so I gave plenty of attention and focus to it both physically and mentally. One of the ways I always prepare for my races is visualization. My high school coach during race week (for bigger races) taught me a lot about it. He'd bring us into a classroom have us all lay down, dim the lights, have us slowly relax and then talk us through the race. He was an old school coach, but he was actually way ahead of his time when it came to mentally preparing us for races. How many other coaches where doing this? Once we got to the starting line, we were totally prepared because we had played the scenario over and over it our heads. More often then not, the races unfolded just as we had visualized it.

One thing I know is that you don't learn much when you win a race. However, when you get your ass handed to you, I've found out that you learn a lot! I discovered something huge for me last week after thinking about my race. Triathlon (especially long course) is soo different from a Cross Country race or a track race. I make a lot of references to my hs and college days running because that is the closest thing I can relate to since I'm so new to the sport. When visualizing those kind of races, you are racing against competitors from the gun. It's very clear who is winning, who's making moves and what kind of race it's going to be. You can pretty much visualize every type of situation and be very mentally prepared come race day. I finally learned with triathlon, you can't focus on the outcome. You have to live in the moment and often times you are out there just pushing yourself. There aren't teammates racing along side you, you most likely have no idea what place you are in and you may not see another competitor for miles. Add to the fact that it's a 4-5 hour race and you have that much time to make mistakes....or you can look at it as 4-5 hours of opportunity to live in the moment and be your best. Because of this style of racing I often focused on numbers and outcomes. I visualized them only to find out that it helped lead me to my failure in this race.

A lot of post-race relaxing went on last week
Hopefully this makes sense, but last week was HUGE for me. I went through quite a bit of emotions through it all but the outcome made me a much better triathlete. My visualization for races has taken on a whole new re-haul and I'll be much better for it. Over the weekend I rode with a friend of mine, Mike Hebebrand and we were talking about the race. He's a Kona qualifier and has a lot of races under his belt. He mentioned to me, "You know when you line up for a 5k or 10k that your going to be competitive. You've been there done that and you know how to pace yourself. You've been doing it for years. Well the same goes with triathlon. Those fish that line up at the front have that confidence that you have for running. You need that same type of confidence." It's so true and after yesterdays swim where I did 20x100 at sub 1:30 pace - I really thought to myself that I CAN swim, but I have just approached the swim portion in races too conservatively. I go in almost too relaxed and look at it as a warm up for the bike/run portion. As I was doing my 100's I realized that I don't even touch that effort in a race but I do it every week in the pool! Time to change the mind-set going into these races. Instead of the relaxed/focused mind-set, it's time to Attack! Last week I wrote on my hands in bold letters "Focus" and "Recruit" as a constant reminder to Focus and to keep recruiting muscles throughout the race. It worked, but I think it made me a bit too relaxed.

This week, it's time to switch it up and have the words "Attack" and "Compete" in my mind. I jumped in last minute to do an Olympic distance triathlon at Lake Perris called Big Rock Triathlon. I thought it would be too close to Oceanside and the Ragnar Relay, but the way I have been recovering lately, I'm not worried about it at all. I'm excited to race and especially excited to "race" the swim. The plan is to leave it all out in the water, conserve nothing. I'm fit enough to be able to recover on the bike and still have a good leg. This will only be my second Olympic distance triathlon. I'm excited to get another one under my belt and practice racing in the open water as I build towards Wildflower which is only 3 weeks out!

As for the week's training, it was very unstructured. As in, train light and do whatever you want! Just a chance to mentally and physically get over the race. To be brutally honest, I was very unmotivated, border-line burnt out throughout the week, so it was great timing just to get over it all, gather my thoughts and spend some great quality time with family. By the time Saturday came, I felt refreshed and ready to dive back into training. I think I gained more last week then I did on my biggest week of training. I feel good and am excited to race the next two weekends. Going to be a lot of fun!

Here's a few more pics from the weekend:

Growing up fast!
Obsessed with the Chipmunks
Pool time!
Plenty of this throughout the week...Seriously gained 5 pounds last week...ha

Ironman California 70.3 Race Report

Finishing up a dissapointing day...
So I definitely needed a few days to take in everything that went down over the weekend. Lots of emotions; A lot of good things came from it, but also a lot of bad things...Unfortunately, one of the bad things was...well, my race. It goes to show, that no matter how confident you are, no matter how much training and prepared you are, no matter how much you visualize yourself at being successful, Ironman will humble you. I'm still in a bit of shock of my result - which I'll bare you the suspense...16th in my AG...166th overall. I really thought a top 5 was obtainable on a good day, and top 10 on a bad day; but my rookie-ness showed. Yes, I'm hard on myself -but I've always been and its a big reason why I keep getting better. I expect a lot out of myself; especially when I put in the time and work - this is no exception. However on a good note, I learned SO much from the race and now that I officially have my first 70.3 race under my belt, I feel way more prepared going into the next one. I just keep reminding myself that it's only March and this was really the "season opener." There are plenty of races ahead where I can redeem myself and not make the mistakes that I made....This is how it went down:

Chaos of T2
The week of the race James and I just put some final touches on fitness just to sharpen up. A few race pace efforts here and there, final tune ups and even a day off to get my body and mind ready to let it rip. There was a bit of a mis-hap during the week. Thursday was a really busy/stressful day at work which included a tradeshow all morning/afternoon, a quick run up to Oceanside to check in for the race during lunch, then back to Kearny Mesa to prepare/coordinate our Company wide BBQ event. This means cases and cases of beer to be lifted out of my car and into the ice chests. I was kind of in high speed mode and panic-ing a bit because of time constraints and usually I'm really good about not lifting with my back, but in this case I did and felt a tweak in my left lower back. Great...It bothered me the rest of the night, didn't sleep very well and when I woke up in the morning I could barely get out of bed...Seriously...a day before the race?? After struggling to brush my teeth and even go to the bathroom, I called up Dr. Brett over at the TRI Valley Chiropractic out of desperation and wanted to see if he could get me in there ASAP. As always, he came through. Dr. Brett is unique in that he is a professional Chiropractor and Massage Therapist. So he knows how to do athlete-specific ART (active release therapy) and adjustments. He's worked on a ton of professional athletes and I am very lucky to have him be a part of the Temecula Valley Tri Club network. He seriously worked his magic. He said it was very swollen and inflamed and as he put me in the pain cave rubbing that lactic acid out, he describes in detail what was going on down there. He made some adjustments, ice, stem and when I walked out there, it was night and day. It was sore, but I could actually bend over, he's the man!

Patiently awaiting...
Race Morning: We stayed the night at Amy's folks place so we could leave the kids with Grandma and Grandpa. I got up ~4:00am and got my stuff together, made one last adjustment to my bike fitting (1st mistake of the day), ate a sweet potato and a banana and then we headed down. On our way down it was drizzling and looked pretty nasty out. She dropped me off at T2 so I could set up my run transisiton (there were 2 this year). I then rode down to T1 and got set up. After getting body marking and chatting with James a bit, I walked down to scope out the swim course. The swim starts in the harbor but then swings out towards the ocean where it can be a bit choppy. It was pretty calm for the most part from what I could see, so I was not worried at all about the swim, I was ready! Since my wave was the 3rd to last one, I had an hour to kill before my race. Since they kicked us out of transisiton, I was able to find a chair next to a bfast stand and just hid from the wind and cold for a bit and watched the waves go off. This was the most relaxed I'd ever felt before the race. My body felt great, I already visualized the whole race and now it was just time to play it out. I did some light stretching and then eventually got into my wetsuit and got in line with the rest of my wave.

Getting ready for this cold swim!
Swim (1.2 miles): 37:04 (1:57/100 pace)- 76th out of the water

As we lined up in our waves, I focused on my game plan. Basically to line up in the front on the right side. Go out hard for 200 meters and then settle in. As I was in line I noticed the carnage already lining up from the previous waves. People literally doggie paddling, lying on their back, holding on to the lifeguard paddle board. I knew there was going to be a lot of traffic in the water. As we approached the water, I saw Rick from The Bike Shop which was really refreshing. He always has a way of lightening up the mood. He looked like he was having fun, it was now my turn. I splashed some water on my face to adjust to the cold and it actually wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Xterra Vegas last year ruined me on cold water - but also toughened me up because THAT water was cold, this was in upper 50's I believe...not too bad with my Xterra Votex wetsuit on.

My wave is off!
We got in about a 100 meter warm up and it was already time to go. The blow horn sounded and off we went. For the first 200 meters I felt smooth and fast in the water. Usually I'm knocking into a bunch of people, getting dunked which can really set off that heart rate. I put myself in good position though and I started smiling because this was EXACTLY how I invisioned it. After about 400 meters we already started running into previous wave traffic. I saw that I had already lost the front group, which was fine for me, I just wanted to make sure I stuck with the second....It didn't matter, the further we got into the swim, the more people I was running into, the more choppy the waves got and my pace slowed dramatically. I sighted ok, but I couldn't really just swim a straight shot because it was a washing machine of previous waves all up the middle so I would try to veer to the right to try and stay away from it all. This definitely had me swimming longer for the day, but I figured it would at least let me fall into a rythmn. As we neared the ocean, literally 5 foot swells had picked up. They weren't breaking because they were just coming into the harbor. I started feeling like I was lost at sea during certain points. I would look up to spot the bouy and all I would see is a huge wave coming at me! I literally just started laughing out loud, this is crazy! Felt like I was swimming up and down, up and down. I heard people yelling for help, paddle boarders paddling hard, people lying on their back...Seriously felt like chaos. I just stayed focused through it all though and did my best to navigate through a lot of swimmers, a lot of chop and tried my best to just get into a rythmn. I'm just really not used to swimming in waves/chop like that. We've swam at Vail before where the wind was howling and the chop was really nasty, but when you add in waves, darkness, sprinkling and hundreds of swimmers - you can't practice that!

T2: 3:43

As I got out of the water I saw the clock and was trying to do the math, but everything was a bit foggy. I knew I didn't have a great swim, but I also had the comfort that everyone in my wave went throught that same mess so I suspected all of the times would be slow...boy was I wrong. Props to them. I have a lot of work to do in the open water. T2 included a long I'm thinking 150 meter jog around the transistion area. I saw Amy and gave her a smile, I was having fun! At transistion I decided against the arm warmers because I figured the sun would come out eventually - 2nd mistake of the day. I threw on my new Kask Crono helmet and off I went. As I mounted, one of the volunteers yells out to me, "Cmon Wattie, Watties aren't slow..." stoked. Thanks for volunteering man, great encouraging words! I just laughed it off.

Right about where my awesome voluteer chatted with me
Time to go to work
Bike (56 miles): 2:43:13 (20.59mph) - 43rd off the bike

Since I was not running a power meter or a heart rate monitor, the goal was to just go off of RPE (Rate of Perceived Effort) and strategic points in the race. For the first 5 mins I just focused on calming down from the swim, getting in some nutrition and mentally preparing to hammer. As soon as those 5 mins were up, I started ramping up my speed. Then just 5 mins later my spare tube that I had only tied down with ONE rubber band under my seat fell off, landed and wrapped around my wheel well perfectly. Like, it literally seized my bike slowly. I quickly pulled over and thought I had a flat. It took me a minute to realize that my tube looked exactly like it did when you pull it out of a new box, only this time it was wrapped around my axle! Lesson #3 of the day, securing a spare tube to your bike....I tried to unwrap it from the wheel but no dice. I started panicing a bit, because I was worried there was nothing I could do. I even tried to muscle it tear the tube off...yea, good luck with that. I eventually took off my rear wheel and figured out a way to get it off, that sucker was on there. Relieved, I threw back on my wheel and hit the road again. All in all I think I lost ~5 mins here, maybe more. I wasn't too worried about it. As they say, expect 3 things to go wrong in a race - dunno if this was #2 (#1 being a sh*tty swim!), so I just let it go and raced my own race. I was worried about all of the traffic from previous waves, but it never came into play. There were a few guys for the first 20 miles where we would pass each other back and forth but eventually I dropped them and from then on out only one guy passed me for the remainder of the race....That is; except for the two times I had to stop and pee.

Cold rain was coming down around here
Peeing off of the bike was something I never really paid any attention to in this sport. I read about it in the different forums about "techniques" and when to do it and such. I just never figured I'd run into that problem. Why couldn't I just hold it for 4-5 hours? Well the good thing was, I was properly hydrated, the bad news was shortly after the big climb at mile 35 I had to go BAD. Like, it eventually took my focus off of the race, I had to go so bad. So on a few of the downhills I tried to let it rip with no luck. There was a lot of traffic from other waves, a lot of voluteers, marines from the base scattered everywhere, so it was pretty tough to find the right spot without getting a penalty or getting yelled at. I eventually just decided to pull over as I could't wait any longer. Of course I probably had the longest pee of my life as I watched everybody I worked so hard to pass, re-pass me. 40 minutes later, repeat. Lesson #4, learn to pee off of the bike. Despite the problems I had on the ride, I still nailed my nutrition. I felt good/strong the whole way. I climbed well, energy was up and for the most part I stayed focused. I think a few of the mistakes I made however was trying to make up for the lost time each time I had to stop (3 total). I would ramp up each time and then have like a 20 minute sufferfest before I settled back in. This probably hurt me more than it helped me. By the time I hit transistion I was ready to get off of the bike and try to get warm...

T2: 3:08

My transistion was money. Even with me putting on socks -it was probably one of my fastest transistions. Why doesn't the time show? Because I had to freakin pee again! This time I hit the porta pottie.


Run (13.1 miles) 1:23:29 (6:22 pace) - 16th place to finish

After the first 100 meters in my new K-Swiss Kwicky's I knew I was going to have a good run. First of all, I couldn't believe how great the shoes felt and how great it felt to get out and run. At this point of the run, I had no idea where I was at place wise. I knew I passed a bunch of people on the bike from my AG, but I still didn't know how I fared on the swim. So the plan was to just hit it from the get-go. First of all, the run course was a nightmare. With all of the traffic to weave in and out of, it really broke up my rythmn, often times I had to stop and wait for people to move, every 200 meters or so I would have to yell at people to move out of the way. I slammed head on into one guy when I tried to pass around the cones...Just a total mess of hundreds of people to pass on a bike lane when I'm going sub 6 pace and they are going sub 10 pace. This occurred for about 3 miles total for the run and the rest of the course opened up. It was a 2 lap course, so for my first lap the goal was to hammer, the 2nd lap - hang on! My legs and energy level felt great. I took gels, drinks, salt tabs and food at all of the right times which is usually uncommon for a newbie---so this is something I definitely am proud of about this race. My stomach felt great the whole race and even during the run, I was hungry and all of the food cooking in the background sounded really good, which is a great sign.

The only problem I occured during the run was my dreaded cramping. Now when I say cramps, I'm not talking about a side stitch or a little cramp like you get in your foot in the pool or something. These are the deep ones. The ones that can take you out of a race and make you sore for a week like it did for me at Soma. Everytime I would push the pace under 6 minutes I would start to feel them bite at me and slowly cramp - so I'd back off. I played this game with my muscles during the entirety of the run. I would push it just to the point it would start to grab and then back off. My foot stike, my cadence, my breathing, my form - everything was money. I felt like a compeltely different runner out there compared to my 1/2 marathon in January. I've come a long way. I just need to figure out my cramping issues, because you have to trust me when I say this -the way I felt on that run, I had a sub 1:20 in me. Get rid of the run traffic and I'm looking at a 1:16-17 I felt that good and strong. This was the one confidence booster I got out of this race was how hard I'm gonna be able to close in the future.

I look so fraile and broken!
It was awesome to see Amy, her folks, the kids and some friends out there cheering for me. Ironman indeed puts on an amazing event. It's not just your typical race, it's more like a production and they delivered! As I hit the second lap, I kept paying attention to everyone I was passing in my age group. This is when I started thinking I got worked. I can always tell when I'm up against someone fast just by the way they look, by their run form and just how they look physically. Everyone in my age group that I passed looked to be going ~8 min pace which told me right away that I'm waaay out of contention. I still had some hope though and pressed on - Maybe they were on their first lap??  Once I finished, I couldn't believe it was over. It seemed like we had just started and now it was over. I knew the stops on the bike cost me and my swim was slow, but I had no idea that I was flirting with the 5 hr mark. Honestly, once I found out my time - it crushed me. Even if you take off 10 mins of stoppage time off of the bike, I'm still OUT of the hunt. Slow swim, long transistions...a lot to work on!

4:50:37 16th in my AG (out of 250), 166th overall out of 3,000 competitors

Now that may not sound bad to some people, but when you put in the time, energy, work and effort I do - this really was a tough one to swallow. I sacrafice a lot to do this sport and although I love to swim, bike and run, I do it to compete and nothing else. I hate to lose and I really hate to get my ass handed to me. Not to mention I wanted to qualify for Vegas here. Now I'm gonna have to take the time off work, throw down another Ironman entry fee and spend more money to try and get a qualifying spot out in Boise or Kansas. Trust me, I know this sport is not easy and I can't expect to go into this event (as a first timer) and kick everybody's butt in one of the most competitive fields in any Ironman of the year...but that is indeed what I expected of myself.

I was pretty down for a few days as I took it all in. I chaulk it up as another learning experience. The race really humbled me and although it pushed me to the brink of whether or not I should be doing this - I've bounced back and am VERY hungry to redeem myself. I told myself that I would give this year 100% no matter what the outcomes. As long as I keep doing all of the right things in training like I have been, the results will come. The talent is there, the motivation is there and the support system is there...I just have to give it time - so I'm letting this one go and heading on to the next one..which in this case is Wildflower. One of the toughest 70.3's in the nation. Can't wait to toe that line.

Huge props to my Wattie teamates that crushed it out there including John Shilt who placed 3rd in my AG!

Other Teamates:
John Shilt - 4:28
Doug Close - 4:30
Christopher Masilon - 4:44
Chris Liou - 4:49
James Adams - 4:50
Derek Liou - 5:04
Peter Leavitt - 5:14

Thanks for reading and thanks everyone for their kind words, it means a lot. Some more pics from the weekend!

Getting ready to swim
Owner of The Bike Shop, Rick volunteering at swim start
Heading out to the start
150 meter run to T1
An ambulance pulled right out in front of us here, almost hit him!
Narrow streets I was talking about...
New Wattie Ink kits were bad ass out on on the course
Kids trying to stay warm (with Autie Madison)
Leaving a cold tough day behind...
Ironman owned me last weekend, but I'll get my revenge!