Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Twin Cities
70.3 - A combined race report by JG and PG
Normally I'd just post this report in our running thread, but this is a much bigger one which will have several installments, and I thought that people who know PG and I may be interested in it. Enjoy!
JG: I met PG here on Playa.info about four years ago. When we quickly discovered that we both attended the same college and shared a passion for running, we became instant friends. We talk about running incessantly and have always wanted to run a race together. On two occasions, we even signed up together for the strangely popular Frozen Half-Marathon, a race run in Minnesota in January. But once, we failed to find each other at the starting line, and the other time, PG succumbed to a flu passed along by one of his kids.
As time has moved on, our conditioning has moved in opposite directions. Thus, any current effort to race together would result in the gun going off and me watching his backside get smaller and smaller. Although the dream of racing together has not yet come to fruition, it did not stop us from sharing the racing experience.
PG recently entered a 70.3 mile triathlon, his first attempt at the distance that is frequently referred to as a Half-Ironman (although this particular race was not part of the Ironman series). The 70.3 mile experience includes a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run. Let me put in perspective of how long the race is. While the winner of many smaller marathons finishes around 2 hours and 40 minutes, the winner of this triathlon finished in over 4 hours. In other words, a 70.3 mile triathlon is arguably 50% tougher than a marathon.
Probably even more than actually running races (I have run 5 marathons and dozens of shorter races), I enjoy spectating. I have long wanted to do a personal interest story on an endurance athlete, and when PG told me he signed up for this event, I knew I had my subject.
So, early one Sunday morning in July, I ventured up to Chisago City, a small town about 30 minutes north of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I followed PG around the course and below is what transpired - from the perspectives of both the spectator and the athlete. I will post an installment every day for the next week, so come along for the ride…and swim…and run.
PG: Having my mother at my house for her annual summer visit and my wife working nights led to me doing zero race prep or packing until the day before. My mother paid for my race registration as a birthday present this year so she really wanted to spectate my attempt. It would actually be the very first time she’d watched me do a distance race, but I hold no qualms against her knowing that she never missed a single youth sporting event in my childhood.
We drove up to Chisago City the day before the race to check-in and practice the driving route, so I could put a mental time on how long it actually takes to get there. The excursion also kept the house quiet for my wife to sleep during the day. This summer has brought the craziest road construction season I can remember, and it seemed like every major highway had some sort of closure. A planned one hour drive turned into a two hours, so I mentally set my alarm clock even earlier for the following morning.
Once there, we met my wife’s aunt, Jodi, who lives in Chisago City. She surprised us with a nice picnic lunch at the beach right next to the starting line. I picked-up my race packet and spent some time wading in the water with my kids while hunting for snail shells. I also watched the race volunteers anchor the swim buoys for the race course. The beach was actually a bit rocky and there was a lot of washed up seaweed, but it’s a shallow lake which is pretty typical for Minnesota so it really isn’t that surprising. Feeling the water and spending time on the actual course significantly calmed my nerves. I’ll definitely plan to prepare similarly in future races.
After an hour or so in the park with the kids, we headed toward home. My mom gently reminded me that I still needed to get fitted for a tux for my sister’s autumn wedding, so we stopped to do that. I am not sure my sizing will be exactly the same in two months considering how I dropped a few pounds while training, but maybe the wedding will keep me motivated to continue training into the fall.
After a spaghetti dinner at home, I got the kids wrangled into bed. I went to the garage to put some finishing touches on my bike and to clean it up a bit. I had a glass of ice water at my side everywhere I went for the last few days to ensure maximum hydration, so I was in the bathroom about every hour as well. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t nervous but I knew I was lying. I can’t even play mental games with myself and any calmness I felt after sitting on the beach had evaporated at this point. Packing my race bag didn’t take very long, but unpacking and repacking it twice to triple-check everything did take longer than expected. I then set things out for the morning and did a walk-through of my morning routine - twice. I set both my cell phone alarm and bedside alarm for 3:30 am, and had my mother do the same with her own alarm. I wanted to make some coffee, eat a light breakfast, and be out the door by 4:00 to arrive at the race marking area in the park by 5:30.
I popped two Aleve and hit the hay by 11:00 pm. I actually fell asleep rather quickly…until my wife got home at 1:30 in the morning. She had been rearranging her work schedule lately, and it had become difficult for her to switch shifts so she could make it to race day. She ended up going in at her regular time that evening, but things worked out and she was able to come home early. This really made me happy knowing that she’d be there along with my kids, mom, and personal journalist, of course. Team PG would be in full force and knowing that she’d be there to support really made me feel better... at least as better as I could feel knowing that my alarm would be buzzing in two hours.
JG: Given that it is tough for me to get up before 8 o’clock on weekdays during the summer months, imagine my initial horror when my alarm clock began blaring at five-thirty on a Sunday morning. But I had a purpose, one I had been planning for quite awhile, and I quickly awoke from my slumber. I slapped on some anti-perspirant deodorant and a bright yellow shirt so that PG could spot me on the course. Further, it was more or less a requirement to wear cargo shorts, as I would need a place to store my keys, wallet, voice recorder, and I-phone, while my wife's camera would dangle around my neck.
I didn’t leave myself time to brew a fresh pot of coffee, and as I was uncertain whether gas stations would be open at such a dastardly hour on a weekend, I reheated a cup of yesterday’s java, grabbed a granola bar, and hit the road. It was pretty cool to be heading to a race knowing I wouldn’t have to participate in it.
PG: 4:42 am. I woke up with the massive inhale shock of horror that accompanied the realization that I overslept. My cell phone was in my hand still plugged into the charger. I had managed to shut off both alarms in my sleep. My mother had just walked upstairs to make sure I was awake as I was running into the kitchen to turn on the coffee maker. I don’t know why I felt the need to still make coffee, but it made sense at the time. I didn’t plan to drink the whole cup with the fear that I’d dehydrate myself, but I hoped a few sips on the drive would help me warm up. I made a few slices of wheat toast with peanut butter and was out the door by 5:05.
I employed any relaxation technique I could remember while driving to the start. The sky was purple and orange as the sun came up, and with the windows and sunroof open, I tried to soak it in with some deep breaths to help relax.
I crossed my fingers hoping that the commute I practiced yesterday wouldn’t be busy and chance was on my side. Knowing that the highway was fairly tore up and down to just one lane, I stepped on it knowing that the 5-0 would have trouble catching me even if they clocked me speeding. I won’t elaborate aside from saying that I drove 55 miles, found a parking spot, grabbed my gear, and rode my bike five blocks to the transition area, and then walked to the marking area, all in just over an hour.
It was then time to get my body marked, which consisted of standing in a short line to get my race number and wave number written with big permanent marker on my arm, calf and hand. Luckily, it took no more than a few minutes, giving me plenty of porta potty time. All was evacuated uneventfully and I got back to my two-foot transition spot on the bike rack to finish setting up. I sent a final text to JG at 6:29 am telling him my general location and that I was heading to the beach to wetsuit up. A minute later, “Cool, I am and will find you” came back and it helped me just a little bit more knowing I wasn’t all alone in this mass of humanity.
Next Up: The Swim
Last edited by January Guy; 08-07-2012 at 11:36 AM..