Thursday, November 18, 2010

Billy Self - Race recap for Clearwater Florida Ironman 70.3 World Championships. "In the Arena"

This race was an incredible & fascinating experience. I was glad to be there.... "in the arena"
Green Member: Billy Self
Event:  Foster Grant Ironman 70.3 World Championships

Location:  Clearwater Beach, Florida
Class (yours):  Male 18-29 (they combined 2 AGs) THE last race for me in that age bracket. Next year racing as 30-34!
Results: 53rd Age Group.  289 overall out of 1586 (I think)

Local Knowledge and Conditions: Light 5-10 breeze from Northwest.  Sunny. 63 degrees at start. 78 by Noon or so.
Pre-Race Strategy & Warm Up:  Not much of a warm up. Just soaked it all in. Stretched on the beach as I waited for the VERY last wave at 8am. Enjoyed the atmosphere. Helicopters, camera crews, thousands of spectators, many different languages.
Psychology:  Been training for this since January 2010.  I set out to qualify for the race at the Galveston 70.3 in April, then went into training for this race. Long year. I was as ready as I could be... I had a very weird calm feeling in the days leading up to the race. Almost wished I was nervous a couple of times.  As Dawdy and Jerry left for their swim waves, I just sat on the white sandy beach with my wetsuit half way up people watching for about an hour.  As far as psychology? I just wanted to do my best in all three disciplines.

Race break down: 
Swim- 29:09.  Start was at the water's edge of beach. Katie, Mom & Dad all stood a few feet away from me as we waited for our start. There was a few minutes between previous wave to splash water on myself and make sure goggles were tight. The beach was super shallow, which required about a 30 yard run in water, then dive, then pull on sand under water, then dive again, then finally... Starting swimming. I was shooting for 27 min. I have not been able to translate my pool splits into open water to date. Much to work on in off-season (in the lake). A little tough seeing into the sun on the way back into shore. Other than that, the water temp at 65 felt fantastic with a sleeveless wetsuit.  I sprinted for about 100 meters before settling in and found some feet to hang on to... The waves got bigger further out due to shore based breeze. I was only able to see the next buoy each section. I kept count of each buoy knowing that it was 9 buoys until the turn.  Around the 5th buoy I was by myself... lost the feet I was hanging on to. For some reason, I have trouble pacing with other swimmers.  Once I turned the corners to head back to the beach, the sun was directly in my eyes.  SUPER hard to see the next buoy... I had to guess the direction and just got lucky that I came close to the buoy each time.  I could feel in my arms that I wasn't doing the pace I wanted, but the rolling waves were throwing me off my game a little.  I came off a wave crest and landed directly on top of some dude. My chest and right arm drove him under water... it must have scared him pretty good, because it kinda surprised me!  
T1- 3:58.  I wobbled out of the water, as usual, and ran threw the shower spray to get sand off of me and over to my bike gear T1 bag. Grabbed my helmet, glasses and ran to my bike. I ran about 15 yards with my bike before I realized I forgot my race belt in my bag. I had to re-rack my bike and run back into the T1 tent to find my bag and get the belt.  Super lack of focus. Then I went back to my bike and finally to the mount line. I figure it cost me about 2 minutes.  Bummer...  shook it off.

Bike- 2:09:32.  Rolling out of T1 and getting my feet into the shoes I immediately noticed the speed of the rented carbon wheels. 808 in front and sub 9 disc in rear, both tubular. VERY fast.  I started spinning and gathered my breath from the swim and rolled right up to teammate Cooper. "Hey Coop"...  "Bill, what happened?"... "Forgot race belt"...  The bike course was SUPER crowded.  So much so that Cooper and I weaved in and out of bikes for miles and miles and miles. Our "group" of guys in same age group was about 40-50 strong.  Because the course was so fast and flat. It was near impossible to spread out. Add in the fact that we were catching slower bikes constantly from earlier swim waves, which just compacted our group even more.  There was simply no avoiding it.  The pack was 3 or 4 bikes wide and about 13 rows of fast fast guys in a single car lane on the highway coned off from the rest of car traffic.  Dangerous? Unfair? Very dangerous? Yes to all.  At about the 35 mile mark I heard a big crash right behind me with several bikes involved... I looked all around for Cooper.  Nowhere to be seen.  Oh no... the pack rode on and just hoped and prayed that Cooper was held up by the crash and not involved.  At the 45 mile area, I finally got some clear lanes to ride in and still was screaming right along due to a 5-10 NW tailwind.  You can imagine how stressful riding in such dense conditions for 45 miles on a TT bike was... yelling at people to hold their lane as you passed them. Some people don't get it, you will go where you look... So if you look to your left, you'll probably go that direction.   Side note, Cooper did crash unfortunately when 2 bikes in front of him collided. He had to wait 15 minutes before a truck came with a replacement front wheel. But he did finish with a super fast run (1:35).
T2- 2:26. Very cool dismount line.  The volunteers grab your bike for you immediately after you jump off. I ran to get my T2 bag as I took off my helmet. Sat down in the tent as fast as I could. Put on my socks and shoes, (a volunteer helped me get everything out of my bag and handed me socks ready to pull on) and I was out the tent so fast that Katie and Dad never saw me... Literally, they were watching like a hawk and never saw me exit the tent. Very weird.

Run- 1:42:01. This was a running race for sure. The causeway bridge needed to be crossed 4 different times over a 2 loop course.  The bridge was about a 6% grade for a quarter mile. It hurt... and it hurt bad. I started at about a 7 min pace and wanted to hold between 7:00 and 7:30 min. pace until the 2nd loop started.  I felt okay until the end of the 1st loop. I got to the point where it was difficult to push my legs faster.  I was hurting to keep a slow pace. Pretty disappointed with how my run felt and turned out on race day. This was the one aspect of the race that I really wanted to push hard and it simply didn't happen.  My coach Michael Dawdy ran along side me for 100 yards at the end of 1st loop to ask how I was doing, calmed me down, and told me to focus and push through.  I saw my wife and parents at the turn around which motivated me to keep pushing.  The road from the turnaround to the bridge is very straight and long... then you see the super tall bridge in the distance. Tough sight for sure.  My feet started hurting around mile 9 and I walked through a water station for about 15 yards around that point.  That helped quite a bit, and was able to keep pushing with renewed vigor.
Finish: 4:27:06  Three minutes faster than my goal time.  Very happy with that considering everything that happened.  Not having the best swim, forgetting race belt, and not the strongest run.  I crossed the finish line and immediately leaned against two girls who helped me walk towards the water table. I couldn't say a word, just nodded as if to motion a "thank you". I found Katie and she yelled "4:27!!!"  My first words, "No way!"  She said, "Yes Way! You had a 2:09 bike split!!"  Well, that explains it... Big shout out to for the last second tune up and those rented carbon wheels from 
From the finish line, my family and teammates all went IMMEDIATELY to a beach restaurant to get our DRINK ON!  Beer and pizza (with Avocados on top!) was flying!  We left our bikes at the race until later in the afternoon. That Budweiser was like reuniting with a good friend after many years.
TOTAL SWIM 1.2 mi. (29:09) 1:32/100m

BIKE SPLIT 1: 25 mi 25 mi. (1:00:09) 24.94 mph
BIKE SPLIT 2: 56 mi 31 mi. (1:09:23) 26.81 mph
TOTAL BIKE 56 mi. (2:09:32) 25.94 mph

RUN SPLIT 1: 3.6 mi 3.6 mi. (25:38) 7:07/mile
RUN SPLIT 2: 6.5 mi 2.9 mi. (22:16) 7:40/mile
RUN SPLIT 3: 10 mi 3.5 mi. (29:01) 8:17/mile
RUN SPLIT 4: 13.1 mi 3.1 mi. (25:06) 8:05/mile
TOTAL RUN 13.1 mi. (1:42:01) 7:47/mile

Lessons Learned (Or Re-Learned):  More focus in T1/T2 to not allow simple mistakes to cost valuable time.
Future Goals (include skills executed well and skills needing improvement):
Much more work needed in the open water.  Maybe a winter Seawolf cruise is in order on Lake Ray Hubbard. Bring your beanies!
Need to learn better on how to hurt on the run.  Going to keep trying to improve running form so that when I get dog tired, my form stays together.
I need to get a handle on taking care of my feet.  Blisters plagued my season.  When I remembered, I would try to sleep with socks after applying healing lotion. Also tried pumice stones.  Simply need to do it more consistently if I'm going to put in those kind of miles.

Fitness (endurance, nutrition, hydration): Fitness was good until the 9 days before the event when I tried an experimental ice booth machine. Long story short, I got frost "nip" on both heels that prevented me from doing my scheduled taper going into the event.  So instead, I did a FULL ON taper of doing nothing but a few short swim sessions. I could have used a couple more quick bricks to stay sharp 5-7 days prior to event.  I didn't lose any fitness, as much as I just lost the edge a bit.
Nutrition was with Infinit Nutrition bottle (approx 1300 kcals) plus 2 regular waters for the bike and one GU on the run at mile 5.  Then drank waters, Gatorade at each rest stop.
I had plenty of hydration, but my mouth did get very dry several times during the run. Grabbing the water cup was sooooo sweet at each rest stop.
HUGE Thank you:  To my wife for supporting me and feeding me over the past year of training. 
To my parents for volunteering to drive my team's bikes 20 hours to Clearwater, Florida and then 20 hours back to Rockwall, Texas. They were instrumental in making this event happen for us.
To my Coach, Mr. Dawdy, for helping me keep a balanced life of training towards a goal.

Something funny that happened:  I thought about Budweiser on the run at mile 11.
Glad To Be Here!

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