Think it,See it,Start it,Do it,Finish it! Pigman Long Course Race Recap

I am trying to piece together my thoughts into a coherent mesh of reflections and I am just having a hard time doing so. I raced the Pigman Long Course yesterday in Palo, Iowa. This was my last big triathlon race of the year. After racing Ironman 70.3 Racine about 4-5 week ago and stuggling on the run I had one goal of beating my 5:47 race time.

Saturday evening I drove to Cedar Rapids for packet registration. I had a hotel room booked as Amanda was going to come to the race with me, but our kids just needed to be home this weekend after their first week back at school. After grabbing my registration which took all of two minutes I needed to find some dinner. I checked out a few spots, but pasta just was not sounding good at all so I headed to Panera Bread(maybe not the best choice) and had a fruit smoothie, a sandwich, and soup with breadbowl. Being the unsocial person that I am I ate in my hotel room and proceeded to just lay in bed and watch tv and read until about 9:30 when I crashed.

4 am was here before I knew it. I had to get my pre race ritual going. Cup of coffee, breakfast(I changed to yogurt mixed in with cereal), and water. I was really calm which was such a weird feeling as usually I am a nervous wreck. I had things all packed and ready to go the night before so I had some time to just chill and as I started to visual my race and get my race gear on the nerves kicked in. This is why I was happy to have a room instead of driving!

I headed out to the race site around 5:20. It was about a 25 minute drive. It was cold out. It was low 50’s when I arrived. Getting to the race site early is something I always do because I stress about being late. I like to get there and take my sweet old time getting prepared. I still have to learn a few things about getting prepared. I know I need to start adding some warm-ups to my pre race plan, but just have not implemented that. The one good thing about getting to the race early is that the porta potties are fresh. I always have to visit these a few times as my nerves make my stomach turn in knots.

I loaded up my bike with my new nutrition plan, got body marked, and set up my area in transition. I picked a bike rack and as I went to put my bike on it the whole thing about fell over. Probably why nobody had their bike on the rack. I got things ready to go and around 7:10 I put my wetsuit on and headed to the water.

The race started at 7:30. The Olympic distance started around 7:30. The would not start the long course athletes until all Olympic athletes passed the first turn. This took forever. I knew we were going to be starting late. The problem with this is that I had the last wave and I did not want to take my wetsuit off as I have a hard enough time when it is dry let alone wet. While waiting I met Josh S. from DailyMile. He was a great guy and had a good race as well. I did some swim warm-ups and knew the swim would be interesting as you could not see anything. It was complete opposite of Racine.

Swimmers went in waves and also single file. You reported your number and then headed out. I don’t know my exact start time, but I am guessing it was closer to 9 am. Not a huge deal, but I knew Amanda would be worried because by the time I would call her it would be past my projected time.

The swim went okay. I honestly thought I swam faster than Racine. I swam 34:48. I was pretty bummed seeing this when I finished. I felt like I have been swimming much stronger since Racine. I know I did not swim the straightest in this race. A few times I had to stop my stroke as I suckered punch a couple older ladies while swimming. I was swimming and I could not see anyone and just hammered these ladies with my hand while swimming. I stopped, said sorry and kept on going. The swim field was much stronger than Racine. I was about 1:40 slower than Racine, but getting out of the water I felt good. No cramps for the first time ever. My swim time was the 66th fastest swim so I need to work on this.

Transition – 3:06. Still slow. I need to get more efficient. I struggled getting my shoes on as my hips were cramping. I took a GU which I normally don’t do, but thought nutrition and took one. That was not in the plans, but after the cramps I went with it. I then headed out to the bike. I still don’t know what I was doing for 3 minutes! Did I sit down for a coffee break? This time is blur. I don’t remember much, but this time is stupid slow.

Bike – My legs were just not feeling this bike ride. They felt so blah. They felt this way for the first 28 miles. It was not until the turn around that I had a stretch where I was feeling good and that feeling died out around mile 45. My bike time was slower than Racine by 7 minutes exactly. I rode 2:38 on this course which was the 55th fastest time. This course was not one that I could ever get into a groove. It felt like we were constantly going up a hill and then down. Over and over I felt like all we did was ride over hill after hill. None of the hills were difficult, but like I said I never found a groove. I shifted more in this race than all previous riding combined. I wanted to keep my cadence around 75 or higher. I am trying to get my cadence higher so this was my current goal as I slowly worked on a faster cadence pace.

I don’t know what others think of this bike course, but I did not find it easy. If you look at my mile times you can see how they are all over the place. Constantly fast/slow. My cadence overall was 76 so I was happy with that. For nutrition I made myself consume something every 15 minutes with water mixed in between the time intervals. I had to force myself to either eat or drink my nutrition. I never feel hungry during the race. I had to make myself which was not always enjoyable. One point in the race I was not paying attention, hit a bump and I swear I almost flipped over my handlebars. I hit this bump and my arms flew right out of my aerobars. I was dangling in front of my handlebars. I yelled a few choice words and right before things started to look real bad I was able to recover. A few other times I lost focus and about rode right off the road. At the end of this course there was a nasty little hill and when you completed this you turned to the park and had another short hill. Talk about a mental test. I made it off the bike feeling pretty good and was ready for the run. The whole bike ride I just kept thinking about the run and reminding myself to run slow. Don’t try to chase, just do my thing. The bike had cloud cover and wind, but when the run started that all went away and we just had sun.

Run – I started off slow.

I had to really force myself to ease up. It was difficult to do so. I kept getting passed and it was making me mad. I just wanted to go. I felt so fresh in the beginning, but I had to remind myself of Racine and what happened. I had to stay the course. My whole goal was to run the whole thing. Run it slow and easy and if I had a good kick towards the end I would pick up the pace. Like I said before the sun started to come out and it was starting to get warm as the race continued. When I finished mile 3 and I still felt good it was a great feeling because that is where everything completely fell apart at Racine. At the turnaround there was a heck of a hill that about did me in. Running back after the turnaround my body was doing good, but my mind started to weaken. I just kept going. I took a gel at mile 2 and another one at mile 8. On the run my gut was killing me. I think I took too much nutrition on the bike or something because I kept dealing with some serious sideaches and just my stomach sloshing back and forth. I took in water at each station. Heading back I started to hit a wall around mile 10. I was hot. I was tired. And that hill was there again to climb to get back into the park. Running up the hill I felt myself starting to get overworked and I was not moving fast. Knowing I had to drive home I stopped and walked 50 steps. This helped quite a bit. I had to run the last bit of the hill, turn into the park and a short hill and the last two miles was just survival. I hit a wall and fell apart a bit. I was hoping for sub 2 hours and just missed it. Looking at my times you can see I just did not have it in me. However, I am happy with this time of 2 hours. Racine I was 2:36. A 36 minute improvement is a good increase and obviously my plan worked out. However, I will admit that I am not satisfied with this time. I want to run 1:45. That is my new goal, but not for this year.

This race was well ran. I will be doing this again. For a cheap registration fee I could not be more happy with the race. Easy to reach, easy to get to places, great food choices afterwards(the best spread ever!), and a good course. My final time was 5:19 placing me 74th overall. This is a 28 minute improvement over Racine. Most of that is off the run. It was a good day. Afterwards, after eating candy, pop, water, fruit, and some bread I was ready to head home. I was not delusional like Racine and drove home.

It was a good day. I will be honest and tell you that I am not completely satisfied, but feel good about this race for sure. It was a good confidence booster to get me to where I want to be. I will be taking some time off this week to let the body rest and more importantly my poor chaffed skin. My body is in rough shape and I won’t go into any more detail except I have to walk bow legged and then making a decision about what I will be doing for the QC Marathon. I will be posting more about goals and specific reflections about where I want to be later. This recap is much longer than I wanted it to be. Thanks to everyone who sent me a message or words of inspiration. I don’t always respond right away, but I really do appreciate the words. They sure do help reading the messages before the race. Thank you.

Lastly, John Byrne and Rick Fountain tore up Leadville. Thanks to Rick’s wife for the updates. They did amazing. These two guys have helped me to keep pushing myself when I think of all of their training, hard work, and the simple fact of running this course. I cannot even process what they just did. Running 100 miles in the mountains is something I think you can only understand if you have been there. Amazing! And don’t forget Jeff Paul. He had a great race at Steelhead. Great to see him back on track and excited about racing. Jeff has always been there to help me out and give me advice. I cannot thank him enough.

A great day yesterday. And yes dad I did just what you said – Think it, See it, Start it, Do it, Finish it!

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3 thoughts on “Think it,See it,Start it,Do it,Finish it! Pigman Long Course Race Recap

  1. Nice work Aaron!!! That course is not easy at all, I have trained on it for years when living back home in CR. It is exactly as you described, constantly rolling and undulating. You did a great job, for a course that I know would be harder than Racine!