Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman

It seems a little silly to write a race report so egregiously ex post facto, but I'm afraid this year's chronology will suffer without it, so here it is:

On the weekend of May 9, a bunch of friends from Houston and I drove down to Panama City, Florida for the Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman. I had signed up for the event some time in advance, hoping to be healthy, and, though I definitely was in no shape to run in a 1/2 Ironman (or run at all, for that matter), I couldn't stand the idea of missing out on all the fun, so I went anyway, resolved to do sort of an Aquabike. I had decided before the race that I wouldn't run (or that I'd run just a few easy miles out of transition), to minimize the risk of a setback so close to the Ironman, and, knowing that I wouldn't have to run afterwards, I resolved to really hammer the bike.

The conditions for the swim were pretty rough, and I had a good swim, but nothing exceptional. I came out on the water 10th in my age group, and then went out on the bike, and absolutely KILLED it.

I came out of the water 10th in my age group, and finished the bike still 10th in my age group. Read that again. (that never happens- at IMFL in 2006, I got passed by more than 900 people on the bike)

So, I didn't get passed too much on the bike, and passing other people was lots of fun! I finished with an average of 22.1 mph for the 56 miles, which is definitely a PR. I was pretty pumped coming into transition off of the bike, so I made sure to piddle around and waste time in transition so as to not be tempted to race the run. I took off my chip, and left it in transition (I was only going to run a couple of miles, anyway), and headed out on the run. Barely out on the course, I turned around and went back for my chip- who knows; maybe I would be able to finish. So I headed out on the run again. I ran very slowly and deliberately the whole time, focusing on the placement of my leg with every step. I decided to run until my knee hurt, and then to turn around and walk it in. At about mile 3, I decided that I wanted to finish. I couldn't stand the idea of my friends being out on the course suffering in the hot sun, with me having given up, relaxing in the shade. And I wanted a finisher's medal. So I decided that I'd run as far as I could, and planned to walk in the rest. I made it to the halfway point in the park still running, with no pain (but still running extremely slowly and deliberately), and I kept on going. I ran the whole race very focused, slow (10:40 pace average), and deliberate. Until the end. About a half mile from the finish a guy in my age group passed me (just as countless others had on the run), and I let him go (just as I had countless others). About two hundred yards from the finish, the guy was a hundred yards ahead of me, and I decided to give him a run for his money. So I broke into an all-out sprint, heading in to the finish at about twice the speed of the guy ahead of me (I was going fast, like the last 50m of a track workout). As I charged in towards the finish, a roar erupted from the crowd, and with 20m or so to go, the guy realized I was coming and accelerated into a sprint. But I caught him. With the crowd going absolutely crazy around us, we sprinted side by side the last 20m to the finish. It was fantastic! I finished with a huge smile on my face! I grabbed some ice for my knee, and settled in to watch my friends finish.

My overall time still wasn't that bad, even with my slow run; I came in under 5:30, which was good enough for first out of my group of friends. And I somehow ran the whole run, despite having entered the race with a 3 mile run having been the longest of the previous month. I was elated at my finish, but even happier not to have injured myself and jeopardized the upcoming Ironman.


  1. Good report, Josh. Looking forward to your report on CDA.

  2. The second you said you weren't going to run, even *I* knew you were lying. Sheesh.

    Good job on the finish!