Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gator Half

DH and I drove to Florida last Friday. When I was packing up all of my gear for the Gator Half, I started to  wonder how the heck I'll get my cr*p to Vineman next year.  We left very early and made it to Sarasota in time for packet pickup on Friday evening. I also did a short ride to keep loose after the 12 hour drive and to make sure that the bike was fine. Then we proceeded to my in-laws' place in Englewood.

On Saturday morning, DH, his dad and I drove to the race site. We timed the drive from Englewood and made sure we were clear on where everything was. We talked to a triathlete doing a pre-race swim and checked out both the bike and run course. We also scoped out Sherpa Eating Locales so the guys had something do to while I was on the bike. On Saturday afternoon, I had a short swim at the in-laws' place and on Saturday evening we went for pizza (Mama's Italian Restaurant in Englewood), my traditional pre-race meal.

On Sunday morning, I got up at 4:50, lubed up liberally and then ate a bagel with peanut butter and a banana and drank a bottle of Camelbak Elixir. We headed out to Ackerman Park in Sarasota for the race start and arrived at about 6 am.  That allowed time for timing chip pick up, body marking, transition set up, pre-race meeting...

There was an interesting collection of people at this event. I talked to someone who did Ironman Arizona last year and is doing Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Florida this year (and he did the world duathlon championships in Edinburgh last year as well). I saw people with Clearwater 70.3 national championship gear on. I also talked to several people for whom this was their first half iron distance event or first Olympic distance triathlon.

The swim

The first 200 meters or so was rough for me. I started to feel like I was going to choke. I was breathing to the right which is generally my faster side. I switched to the other side and got more comfortable. I made the first turn and and decided to try breathing to the right again. Apparently, I do not swim straight when breathing to the right. Fortunately my spot forwards were good and I was able to make a correction before I got too far off line.

DH said that the safety kayakers had to go and get some people who were way way off course in the middle of the lake.  Whoops!

I continued around, breathing to the left (figuring that it was best to stay on course!) and made the next two turns. Then I was heading to where we started and the sun was higher. I could not see the buoy at all. I could see the picnic table there and headed toward that. Good plan. I finally saw the buoy when I was right on top of it. It was one of the giganto buoys too!

The second lap proceeded pretty much the same way, except my goggles started to leak. I specifically chose to use my older goggles because they've never leaked (instead of the new goggles that I'm still getting adjusted)! Again, it was disconcerting to swim into the sun and not be able to see. After passing the start area for the second time, I continued a little further to reach the swim exit.

The bike

Fun course! Scenic, flat, few turns, mostly very good road surfaces as compared to North Carolina roads.

I had a some fig newtons almost as soon as I got onto the bike. The bike has been pre loaded with my nutrition so I ate when planned and drank frequently.  I picked up a plain water at the first bottle exchange near mile 20. I tried to pick up a second plain water at the second bottle exchange. I said water but got Heed. Probably my fault. It was warmer weather than I have been training in. I went ahead and had the Heed rather than get dehydrated. It was fine. I ate more than I did at Beach2Battlehsip but I was in better shape afterward than I was at the B2B HIM.  By the end of the bike it was starting to get hot.

The run

When I previewed the course on Saturday, I thought to myself, well, the bike is scenic. The course was through an office park and around a lake/retention pond. That makes some amount of sense since there would be pretty much no traffic on a Sunday. As it turned out, I really liked the course. There was a tiny bit of shade through the office park and there was a breeze around the pond. There were enough water stations to keep cool and it was nice that we did two loops because we went by DH twice.

First lap of the run.

I had a Hammer Gel just before the mile 1 water station and then again at about mile 5 and mile 10 (always just before water stations). I had at least one dixie cup of water at each water station and often two cups (volunteers started to hand out water two cups at at time). I ran the whole course -- except walking water stations to drink rather than spill. I did get progressively slower during the run but overall I am happy with how I did.  When I got to the car, the temp said 88 degrees.

After the half ironman, with medal and gator jambalaya in hand

I enjoyed this event and I'd certainly consider coming back and doing it again another time.

Gator Done medal and 4th place plaque

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Hannah is gone. Good bye, sweet girl. You will always be in my heart.

Words cannot do my feelings justice.

Hannah through the years
August 5, 1994 - March 15, 2011