We finally got to Santa Rosa Friday afternoon about 3 pm. We got checked in and unpacked, I planned to swim, but could not find a pool close by. I went to the welcome reception at the Windsor High school at 7 pm. This was pretty cool, I got to hear some top pro’s like Luke Bell, Craig Alexander, Michellie Jones, & Samantha McGlone speak about the sport. I also won a fuel belt package, which is always a plus. I ate dinner after that and went to bed about 11:00pm.
Saturday I ate a good breakfast at 8:00, and went to packet pick up at 10:30, this was kind of cool, I have never been in a race this big, it was cool to walk around the athlete village and buy things. I also stood next to Michellie Jones in the T-shirt pickup line. She is a very cool person. I said to her: “So even the best have to go through all these motions with everyone else huh?” She replied, actually no, they have a special time for pro’s, but I prefer to do it with everyone else, I like the atmosphere.” She was very friendly, and wished me a good race when we parted ways.
After pickup, I drove the bike course, as I was quite nervous about it. I am glad I did because it really put my mind at ease. It was nothing more difficult than what I had trained on. Chalk hill was much less intimidating than 152nd street off of Sunnyside right by my house, which I hit several times a week. After this I went back to hotel went for a quick 30 minute ride and then rested a bit, and then went to dinner at 5:00.
After dinner I went to set up T2, I took my time sat down and thought out my race, went over the transition, and talked to a few athletes. This was also a calming time for me. I then went home and packed my T1 bag, made my breakfast bottle and race bottles and went to bed.
Woke up at 3:45, jump into the shower, then ate/ drank 750 calories of breakfast. Packed the car and headed to the race. Got to the swim start at about 6:00 am, dropped my bike, set transition, used the bathroom, got marked, and then relaxed. At this point all the nerves and angst had settled. I watched the pros go off, and then return, and go off on the bikes. I put on my wetsuit and downed a gel about 20 minutes to my wave. The 7:10 wave went off and I made my way down to the water swam for a minute or so, and then held my spot front and center.
The horn went off, and I went out pretty fast, and held the lead for about 500 yards. I backed off a bit and found a good draft in the front group of about 4 or 5 guys. This kept up for a half mile or so and then we hit the previous waves tail end, this was the first time I had ever had to swim through people. I never found another consistent group to draft off of, so I just swam by myself. I think I may have gone a bit too easy after I lost my drafting buddies. I came out of the water at 29:29 which I thought should have been faster, but I am good with it. Just means I have room to improve.
Transitions seem to be a problem for me, at least T1. I went the wrong way and had to turn around which probably cost me 30 seconds. I stayed calm though and the rest of transition was smooth. I put shoes on in transition rather than on the bike because of the hill at the start. T1: 2:15
When mounting my bike a girl ran into me trying to get up the hill in to high of gear, almost knocked me over but luckily I had not locked in my right foot yet. I got out of her way and headed up the hill. Got into a good cadence and just cruised for the first few miles. I found a good pace on the bike and seemed to ride with the same 4 riders most of the race, we played quite a bit of cat and mouse; I would pass on the uphill, and get passed on the down. I am still a bit too careful on down hill, I need to attack more. At about mile 35 our group of 4 came under a bit of scrutiny. I heard the motorcycle and new we were riding a bit close together. I backed off at least 50 feet to make sure I was not in that mess. Sure enough they pulled the red card (or was it yellow) on two of them and took there pictures. The next aid station was the last I saw of them. I was feeling really good going into mile 45 and new the hill was coming, I took in a few good swigs of nutrition, had some water, relieved myself and buckled in a took off up the hill. I allowed my HR to jump to 165 up the hill, but felt ok. I passed a ton of people up the hill which felt nice. The rest of the ride was either flat or downhill and I just cruised on in. It was really nice to see my wife and son on the corner cheering me on. Bike time: 2:33. I was shooting for 2:40, so I was very happy with this.
T2 was good, put on my socks and run shoes and hit the road. T2: 2:15.
I felt very very strong to start the run. I new it was important for me to control my pace here, so I tried to get my HR to under 150. This was not going to happen, but I kept a nice easy pace. As I left the school and turn the corner Craig Alexander was coming in, this created a lot of cheering from spectators, which only made me want to go faster. My first mile was a bit fast, about 7:09, and then I slowed down to the 7:30 range. I had two miles that were out of whack; I think 4 and 7 (This may be wrong.) One was 6:40 and one was 8:20, do to the hills in this stretch. (mile 4 down, and mile 7 up). At mile 10 I knew my goal was going down, I went for it, although I really did not have much more to give, maybe a few seconds faster per mile. I was definitely feeling my legs get more and more tired. Cardio wise I was solid throughout however. The last mile seemed to go forever, the crowds idea of almost there did not really jive with my idea of almost there. When I finally did see the finish line, the emotions started flowing; this was it, the culmination of 20 weeks of busting my ass. I saw my wife and son again and began grinning ear to ear. Final time: 4:44:07. Wow! My first half Ironman and I get to go to the World Championships. I LOVE THIS SPORT!!