I had been over a year I had been contemplating going down to Palm Springs to race in the HITS Triathlon Series Championships Half Ironman but never did pull the trigger and actually commit to it. It wasn't until a couple of months ago in early September I really started thinking about it again and it would be cool if Kelly could come see me as race as she had never had that opportunity. So early September I registered and plans were made to be in Palm Springs early December.
All summer I really didn't think I would be racing a half this year and only did a few sprint distance races and it wasn't long after I decided to go that biking outside ended and I was stuck on a trainer. I tried to make the best of it and signed up for a half marathon late September as my running had been going good. That blew up and I had a horrible race so that made me question where things were really at. Then the fear set in of what if Kelly comes all the way there and I completely blow up again or even worse yet don't finish at the first triathlon she ever see's me do. My mind does crazy things...
The rest of the lead up was pretty uneventful with just one swim meet tucked in there a few weeks prior. We flew out of Sudbury on Thursday morning at 6am and 15 hours later arrived at our hotel in Palm Springs. It was dark and we were tired and couldn't really see much anyways so went straight to bed. Friday morning wake up and put my bike together and go out for a little spin to test it out because this bike is brand new right out of the box a few days prior to leaving (Thank you Adventure Ski & Cycle) and head outside to this view.
Headed over to the race site a little while later to check it out and go to the race meeting. Did my usual day before swim and bike stuff at the race site and then checked out the meeting. Nothing too crazy other than they were starting all 650 of us at the same time in one wave with an in water start. These are the times I am thankful I am a swimmer.
Rest of the day we just relaxed and got to bed fairly early so the 4am wake up call. Got to the race site and it was still dark out. I got my transition stuff set up and then had a couple minutes to relax before getting the wetsuit on and doing a little warm up. Headed to the start and pick my line and then we were off. I had clean water right away but I knew everyone else behind me wasn't as happy as I was at that moment. It was a straight out and back and then exit the water before heading back in for a second lap. The second lap wasn't quite as fun as I was lapping people who were still on their first lap and I'm sorry to those people because I didn't really slow down and may have run a few people over. It was a pretty good swim but I held back just a little bit and exited the water in 22min and change.
T1 was good and I got out pretty quick on my bike. It was a 2 loop bike course as well so I knew I would get to see where people were at when passing them after the turn around. I hit the first turn around and I was shocked to see how much of a lead I still had. I knew I had been biking well and was feeling good but it was a bit of a surprise. Unfortunately that feeling didn't last long as within only a couple of minutes after that first turn around my back just completely gave out all of a sudden and I couldn't hold the power I was pushing on the way out and I kept having to stand up and stretch out my back. It was pretty frustrating watching the first guy pass me and then the second and then I was just in survival mode and hoping once I got off the bike I would be better. Finished the bike in around 6th place overall but wasn't very happy at that point knowing I could have done much better and been in a better place starting the run where typically if I'm going to get passed is where it happens.
Got out of T2 and was surprised that my back did let up and my legs were feeling pretty good. By this point it was starting to get pretty hot. Got to the first aid station and made the decision to do something I've never done before. Typically I've never had much to drink or eat anything during my races but I went through and grabbed two cups of liquid and some food. It sat well in my stomach as I kept going and I was feeling good so I decided to keep that up at each aid station as they came. It must have worked as I finished the run in 1:36 and that was quite a bit faster than my stand a lone half back in September!
Overall I finished in 4:36, 3rd in my age group and 11th overall. I know I could have been up a few more spots but what happened on the bike was out of my control and I'm happy I just pushed through it and made the best of the situation.
I really need to thank my sister, Kelly for coming on this trip with me. It meant a lot to have her there supporting me and for her first one she seemed like a seasoned pro knowing exactly what to do. My dad never missed a competition that I had growing up, always being there for me and it was like having a piece of him there with me. Hopefully I wasn't too crazy or anything getting ready for the race and that she will come with me again.
Had some fun after the race checking out a bit of Palm Springs and headed up the tram to 8500ft. That was a great experience.
Challenges and Reflections.
8 months ago