Friday, June 8, 2012

Honu Race Report Part IV: The 70.3 Reflectionication

For the Pre Race and Swim click here
For the Bike and Run click here

70.3 miles. Seventy point three miles.
Seems like a long way. Hell, even in a car it's a good drive. Especially in Hawaii.
So how do I feel now that I covered that distance swimming, biking, and running? Did I hate it? Is it ever going to happen again? Did I get that foolishness out of my system?
In order- Good, no, probably, no.
I fully expected to be done with this distance after this race. There were times during training when I would think, "I'll do this, but I think I'll better off sticking to Olympic distances for now." I don't feel that way anymore.
There was not one point out on the course where I thought to myself, "This is stupid. Why have I decided to put myself through this?" I've had that thought during both of the other distances. I think I big reason I didn't this time was because of my attitude going in. All I wanted to do was finish. No PR to set, because as long as I crossed the line I would set one. No way I'm going to place in my age group, so why worry about it? I wasn't sure if my foot was going to act up (it didn't), or if my stomach would (it didn't either). This took an enormous amount of pressure off.
I was worried before the race if my final preparation  had been good enough. Instead of a real taper I spent the week before we flew to Big Island packing and moving out of our place. Not exactly great for recovery. I barely swam, barely rode, and hadn't run since the Honolulu Tri, and not for a week before that. I stressed about all those things before we flew out, when I had the time between stressing about moving and thinking about Dirtbag Fetus. But once we got there? What are you going to do? I had to have faith in my training.
That is really what it comes down to- Training. If you asked me what the hardest part of the race was, I would tell you it wasn't part of the race. It was the months leading up to the race, finding time in the predawn to swim, and then biking and running after teaching all day. Getting up early on weekends. Suffer in training so that the race hurts less.
You know one of the words I would use to describe the 70.3 miles that I never would have expected to use?
Swimming is always fun. But mass start swimming can be awful. This, with the big school of us all surging towards the same spot in the water, the crystal viewing, this was fun. My stroke clicked and it was all good.
I don't know this guy, his picture was on the finisherpix page, and it perfectly shows how a lot of people feel about this race.
The bike was fun. I mean, it sucked, but it was fun. The wind was brutal and slowed me down and I was hating life for much of the last 14 miles of the ride. But it was still fun. It was fun to see all the othe triathletes, fun to zoom down the first section of Hawi, fun to joke with those around me, fun to grab a water bottle from a volunteer like a pro, and fun to see Lance in the flesh.
Just like the rest of us, one foot at a time. But really really quickly.

And it was even fun to run, for a bit at least. Fun to joke with the volunteers, fun to shout at the Grey, and...well, there wasn't a ton of fun to be had on the run.
 And it was fun to see Super Awesome Wife at each transition and across the line.
The people we were with, Diesel and MamaSaid, the Grey and Second Favorite Wife (except you, Meg), are awesome and if you think having fun before a race doesn't play into how the race goes you're crazy and boring.
Why am I making that face? Diesel just smacked the crap outta my sunburned shoulder

See? Friends! Fun! Ouch!
 The whole experience was one I won't forget. I was only sore for a few days (funny story- after a Half Ironman your friends will all laugh at you if your room is upstairs. Think grabbing the handrails with both hands and taking a deep breath, psyching yourself up for the dozen step climb), and burned for a few more. Remember Diesel saying I should have bought a full hat instead of a visor? But Dirtbags have thick manes of black hair and I've never ever been burned on my scalp? Yeah, burned my scalp. Also burned my race numbers into my arms, leaving me with tan lines I secretly really dig. 
Burn (I'm not flexing!)


Other arm's tan. Cool, huh?
I can't wait to do another 70.3. There are a bunch on the mainland that, if super-secret plans go through, will be easier and cheaper to get to. Training time might be compromised, rightly, by Dirtbag Fetus' arrival, but I'd like to try and get in at least one a year while still doing shorter ones. By the way, this distance is by far the best bang for your buck distance triathlon. Most sprints on the island cost around $80 or $90. And Olympic is somewhere over $130. This? About $250. So a sprint (~1hr) for $90. An Olympic (~2.5 hours) for $130. Or a 70.3 (~7 hours) for $250. See how paying for short distance races might get harder?
And before we get ahead of ourselves, no I don't see a 140.6 in my near future. I'll probably do one at some point, but right now I don't have the time to train for one nor the inclination to hurt for 14 hours. Training for a full Ironman is a full time job and I don't want to commit to that.
Here is the most striking thing about finishing a 70.3 for me. I never once doubted I could finish. But that means I don't feel...different. Aren't you supposed to feel transformed after something like this? I knew that I could get to the finish line before time ran out. I knew I could put forth a good effort and give a good showing of myself. I knew that back in December. I believe the key to doing something like this is to not question once the choice has been made. Just Keep Moving Forward. Struggle and move forward. Fall and move forward. But do not question the choice once it's made. The Go is something I learned about myself back when I was a high school swimmer. I learned that I couldn't get faster mid-set. I would have to start fast and trust myself. Before I ever left the wall I would Commit To Go. And that was it. I applied the same idea to training for and completing this. I registered and the question was answered. I would Go. I would Go as hard as I could, as smart as I could. More people make a choice and commit to Go, there would be less unhappy people.
Thanks for sticking around for all of this. Who but me would spend thousands of words on one event?
Click on the link for the fifth and final part- Dirtbag vs The Olympian.


  1. All you need is a jogging stroller and a little trailer for your bike and dirtbag fetus will turn into a training buddy. I see a full before your 40th birthday.

    I love the tan lines too, like my swimmer tan that I was proud of, I worked damn hard to get those tan lines!!

    Next time though I want to be there and see it all.

    1. Yeah, 10 year gap for a full is probably right. Right now it's hard to imagine going double what I just did. 112 miles on the bike is a long way, even on a totally flat course, which no course is. That's by far the biggest thing right now. It take a lot of hours on the bike to feel prepared for 112 miles. Forget about the marathon and even the swim, which is long for me. I could handle the swim, but wow. Plus all the nutrition stuff that changes with that distance...we'll see. Really no hurry to go there.

  2. Took me a long time to read your reports son, but they and you are super awesome. I admire your dedication and commitment. I hope some of that came from your upbringing. Your Super Awesome Wife is super awesome. Thank you Angela for taking care and being so supportive of the Dirtbag.