Somedays you're the windshield ...somedays you're the bug.
My triathlon season opened on May 10th with a splat, or whatever noise a body makes when it blows up into 1,000 soggy pieces! Maybe it is splatter??
Gulf Coast Triathlon in Panama City Beach, FL is one of the traditional kickoffs to the southeast tri season. GCT is a half-ironman that consists of a 1.2 mile ocean swim, 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run. An early season race of this distance certainly helps motivate you during those dark winter months and chilly spring days. GCT also exposes your weaknesses and helps shape your summer training. This year's GCT offered a full array of obstacles. Rough ocean, windy bike and a hot run. The ocean was a yellow flag, choppy mess. Spotting course buoys was difficult but I managed to stay relaxed and had a decent swim. My lack of long bike rides was firmly exposed on the windy bike course. My lack of heat training was also beginning to show. I knew the day was going to be hot so I drank as much as I could tolerate on the bike. i would estimate I drank 6 - 7 bottles in 2.5 hours. All of those liquids and absolutely zero urge to take a bathroom break for 5+ hours. It was getting hot.
I was thrilled to get off the bike. My run is in pretty good shape so i knew my chances of salvaging a good race time would come down to the run. I felt pretty good (reference the attached smiling runner photo at Mile 1) in the early miles and was able to hold a good pace. By the time we reached the turnaround the sun was out in full force. There is NO shade and the temps were up to 90 degrees with 80+ humidity. I felt like I was still running hard but my splits were slowing. i knew what was happening but could not do anything about it. I was taking full advantage of the aid stations and the ice sponges. By mile 10 I was doing the survival shuffle. (as evidenced by the attached photo at mile 12) I went through the "dark place" several times but finally focused on "just keep moving because you can stop at the finish line". I was very glad to finish and end the internal drama. An hour in the Medical Tent and 2 bags of IV fluid and i felt much better.
Lessons learned? You cannot beat the heat. Long training rides are good. Take what the day gives you...sometimes the day gives you a swift kick. In hindsight i was racing at the beach doing what I love. Not such a bad day after all.