This Sunday, I completed the 70.3 “Ironman” race in Coeur D’Alene.
(“Ironman” is in quotes because it’s not an actual Ironman – it’s a half ironman. But the WTC folks can sell more stuff if it says “Ironman 70.3” than if it says “Half Ironman”.)
This is a picture of me before the race, still full of confidence and vigor:
The swim went well, so to that extent the confidence was justified – I came out of the water at 43:09 by my watch, which means an open-water swim with four thousand of my best friends trying to crawl over me and push me underwater at very close to 2:00/100y pace.
I was estatic.
Here’s a picture of me coming out of the water and yelling at Ethel “43 minutes! 43 minutes!”
If you can’t see me in that picture, don’t worry. Trust me. If you magnify and enhance, you’ll see me. Or something like me….Ethel wasn’t having her best taking-pictures-of-Jim day. More on this later.
I really messed things up in transition – my helmet strap was tangled, I had several false starts, and…I forgot my bike computer. I had taken my Garmin Edge to transition with me, but just plain forgot to put it on the bike, and gave it back to Ethel in my tri backpack. So I didn’t have it.
Now, we (Coach* and I) had gone to great lengths to determine what wattage I should be pushing – both on the uphills, and as an average (“Normalized Power”) and I had set up my bike computer to give me this information in formatted screens paired with cadence and heart rate, so that I would know exactly how hard I was pushing so that I wouldn’t burn out while on the bike.
But I didn’t have my bike computer.
But wait – I had planned ahead!…I had also set up my Garmin 920xt to give me the same information, in different formats, in bike mode!…but when I realized I had not installed the bike computer, I ran back and forth, and…messed up my 920 to the point that it thought that I was already on the RUN part of the race.
So I had to do the entire 56 mile bike without any feedback except heart rate. So the bad news is that I had no idea if I was pushing too hard or not.
The good news is that, operating in ignorance, I KILLED the bike – I came in 21 minutes ahead of my estimate!!
This is Ethel, being excited about how great I did on the bike!
(Ethel seemed to have a problem with her phone – I *think* that she was trying to record a video of me coming in on the bike, but that she pushed the wrong icon on her phone – pushed the turn-around instead of the movie cam. That’s my operating theory. The possibility that she simply wanted to take a selfie at this moment has to be considered, but I’m not going to be the one to consider it)
The bad news is that, operating in ignorance, I KILLED the bike – came in 21 minutes ahead of my estimate!…which means that I had used up my legs, and that the run was going to be painful😦
And it was. About four miles into the run, I started slowing down. Ten miles in, I really started slowing down. The cramping started at mile 12.5, but by that time I knew that I was going to be something over 6:20, and just let the pain fly while I gave it all I had.
This is Ethel, being excited about my finish time!
(I’m not sure, again, whether this was intentional or not. But at least she was excited for me).
My time – by their clock, 6:22:22; by my Garmin, 6:22:10. This is interesting because I was 50th out of 100 finishers in my age group for this race, and the average time for Half Ironman finishers in my age group is – 6:22.
So I am absolutely, flat, sho’ nuff average — or “mediocre”, if you like more syllables.
Being average isn’t bad. Being average is, well, average. And for somebody like me, who really hit some rough patches early on, it’s nice to be able to say that I’ve clawed my way up to average.
But a different perspective is this – I’m average among people who have completed a half Ironman.
And that’s a pretty good average.
*He’s actually called “Corch”, but only college football fans who have seen Corrine Brown’s Congressional speech congratulating the Florida Gators will understand the reference.