Completing a half Ironman triathlon is probably the most pain and definitely the most fun you can have in the world of endurance sports. I know, there are some of you who will argue with me! But I had a blast!
I wrote a recap yesterday. You can read it here. This post is about the things I liked, and some I didn’t, during the race.
The Good (Great)
I volunteered at Redman in 2012 & 2013 so I already knew a lot about the race and the organization. The best part of this race is the staff! Everyone was helpful, courteous, and always looked out for the safety of the participants. When you have a great staff, the race conditions are secondary. There are a few honorable mentions here:
David Wood, the RD
The entire medical staff – my two nurses, James and Ashley were awesome! Ashley held this wimp’s hand when they inserted the needles and James fed me water and chocolate milk when I couldn’t lift my arms.
Schlegel Bicycles – they were lifesavers….especially Steve Schlegel for lending my friend a helmet when she forgot hers. She would have DNF’d if he hadn’t saved her.
OKC Police Department, OK County Sheriff, and all the other police departments involved. The traffic control was impeccable. Although, I’m sure the cars were PISSED! But hey, it’s one freakin’ day a year!
I will continue to compete in this race because of the staff and the way it was organized. They were very, very active through social media outlets so the participants knew what to expect and had their questions answered quickly prior to race day. That was a tremendous help!
Honestly, I don’t have much to say here. No race is perfect, but this one was so well organized, I don’t have much to complain about at all. I know, AMAZING coming out of my mouth, huh?
The only thing I could say needed improvement was more porta-potties in the transition area. There were 10 (I believe) and there probably should have been about 15-20. But it wasn’t a huge deal.
Nothing was ugly. My only complaint out of this entire experience was about the Oklahoma roads….and they were actually pretty good. Some were bumpy and I was getting dehydrated so every bump gave me a headache. Those roads in no way reflect upon the race organizers or staff. They worked SO DAMNED HARD on getting municipalities to repair bad spots and patch holes. I’ve ridden much worse.
So really, there’s not much ugly to be had in this race.
Would I recommend this race? Hell YES!!!! If you’re looking for a great race with great support, tremendous cheering, loads of fun, and nice bling, come to Okc and participate. I believe 2015 will bring two days of events with a spring and Oly so you have plenty of distances to choose from. And when you’re done, grab a beer and head to the Landrunner’s tent on the run course to cheer on everyone else. I promise, you’ll have a great time at this race whether you participate, volunteer, or just spectate!
Two and a half years ago, when I got into this “health” thing, I never imagined a couple of things. One, that I would ever attempt a marathon, much less a half Ironman. And two, that I would ever meet so many incredible people I can now call friends.
I know I’m going to miss some mentions here and it’s not intentional. There are just so many that contributed to my success I’m having a hard time remembering!
Onto the good stuff.
The race I’m talking about is the Redman Triathlon. This year there were two distances; a half Ironman and a full Ironman. I competed in the half, 70.3 miles of waves, wind, and heat. The true beasts in the full doubled that distance.
There’s not much I can say about the swim other than it was brutal. The waves and chop were out of control. To tell you how bad it was, three kayaks had to be saved! These were the people saving US and THEY had to be rescued. I completed the swim 2 minutes ahead of my goal at 43:21. In spite of the bad conditions, I was pleased with that time. I actually thought I could finish closer to 40 minutes but I’ll chock up that extra 3:21 to the waves and poor sighting on my part. I was off course a couple of times because the current pushed me and I didn’t realize it.
The first thanks goes out to Dan Tygert. Dan was my “stripper” out of the water. For those who don’t know, strippers help you off with your wetsuit. Basically, you get the wetsuit down under your butt as far as possible, drop to your butt and the stripper yanks it off you quickly. This saves a buttload of time in transition so you don’t have to mess with it.
Since I can’t ride without socks, my T1 was a little slow at 4:23. But I set a goal time of 5 minutes so I was still ahead.
Unfortunately, I grabbed my bike and headed for the exit without my sunglasses! 56 miles of no sunglasses on a bike is not something I recommend.
The “out” on the bike was pretty damn good. I had a great average going of about 23/24 mph. Unfortunately, I hit the turn for the “in” and caught the wind. There were some legs that took me as long as 5 minutes for the mile. That killed my average but I still ended up with a 16.6 mph average overall. I was hoping for a 17 mph but I’ll take what I got because that put my bike time at 3:22:54. My goal was 3:45:00 so I was 22:06 ahead of schedule.
When I came in from the bike, Jen could tell I was wiped. I expended too much energy on the bike and I knew by mile 40 that I was going to have trouble on the run because of it. I was able to hit that transition a little better because it’s easier to strip off the bike gear than put it on! I finished T2 in 3:59 and grabbed my nutrition, hat, and missing sunglasses to head out. My goal was another 5 minute transition so I was still ahead at this point.
I knew I was in trouble before the run even started but I was NOT going to DNF. If I had to walk a half marathon, well damnit, that’s what I was going to do. And the fact is, I ended up walking about 75% of it because I was just out of energy.
By mile 7 or 8, I had to make a pee stop at the Landrunner aid station. But when I tried to pee, just a small drip came out and it was beet red. That’s never, EVER a good sign. I told Jen about it when I came out of the porta-potty and she thought it might have had something to do with the electrolyte tablets I was taking.
I ran into my friend, Steve Schlegel, a mile later and told him about it. He told me to hit the medical tent immediately when I finished and get some help.
I slogged through that last 5 or 6 miles and finished in 7:31:11, not my goal time despite the great swim and bike.
After sitting for a minute to gather my thoughts, I headed to the medical tent to see Dr. Tom. Tom Caniglione is our medical doctor for the Landrunner’s running club so I already knew him. I told him what was going on and he told me to go pee in the porta-potty and bring him a sample. I was able to get out about an 1/8th teaspoon of liquid that was bright red. When I returned to Dr. Tom, he immediately threw me on a gurney and the medical staff inserted needles in each arm to double bag me.
I ended up taking almost 6 liters of fluid before I could go pee again. The staff would NOT let me leave in my current condition. Dr. Tom said he wanted to see a normal urination before he’d even consider letting me go.
After an hour and a half, I finally gave him an acceptable sample and he let me leave.
This race was absolutely amazing. Every aspect is set up perfectly and the race staff and volunteers are amazing. I volunteered at the Landrunner aid station in 2012 and 2013 so I knew what to expect, but attending as an athlete brings it to another level.
Despite the pain and heat, I had a great time. I realized a couple of things mid race though. One, I need to train smarter; not necessarily longer, but definitely smarter. I trained well but I don’t think I trained as efficiently as I should have.
Two, nutrition and hydration are a constant battle and one I’ve continued to lose in long distance competitions. I’m still working on solving this problem and hopefully I’ll have it down before I compete in my next marathon in December.
I will definitely be back next year because this race lived up to every expectation and more. I don’t care that I bonked on the run and had to hit medical afterwards. This was an amazing race.
There are so many people to thank here I don’t know where to start. I’ll try to just go down the timeline.
There are two people without whom I could not have done this: my wife, Jennifer, and my training partner, Lydia Benham. Jen has a very inquisitive mind that kept asking me question after question to help me overcome obstacles. Lydia trained with me the last two months and we bounced idea after idea off each other to get us through the event. Unfortunately, I lost a bet to Lydia and owe her a bottle of wine…..which I am happy buy. She’s an amazing new friend and I’m happy she finished strong.
Rena Brubaker: Rena and I met on Facebook through the Redman group. The first time we met face to face was Thursday night when she got into town. She has done several half Ironman’s and she helped me tremendously through the details of the race. On top of that, she has become a great friend I’ll have the rest of my life. We hit it off immediately on Facebook and I’m so grateful for her friendship.
Dan Tigert & Emmy Hufnagel: Dan is a local pro who owns Terra Tri with Emmy. These two are amazing athletes and compete on a different playing field than the rest of us. Yet, Dan and Emmy take time to always have something positive to say me or give me advice. Dan was my “stripper” and kept cheering me on the entire time. Big time guys like him don’t usually take an interest in old, fat, slow guys like me but Dan is special and different. Thank you Dan!
Steve Schlegel: Steve is the owner of Schlegel Bicycles, the official support store for the triathlon. I’ve known Steve for about 35 years. We great up together and met in junior high at Hefner Middle School. I’ve purchased four bikes from Steve and he has helped me get through the technical portions of the bike like no other. His staff at the store is second to none and they take care of me like I’m a member of the family!
Emerald Groom: Em is my new running partner. She kicks my ass three days a week and keeps me honest. Em and her husband, Mike, came out to the tri and stayed all day waiting for Lydia and I to run by. She made a huge sign cheering us on. She even ran with me when I was getting down in the dumps just to cheer me on and keep me going. I only met Em about 2 months ago but I consider her a great friend and love her like my sister.
Cory Davis: Cory is the guy with the story that just blows you away and leave you shaking your head. In the span of one year, he has lost over 200 lbs, that’s right….200 lbs, run multiple marathons, qualified for Boston, and won numerous races. Cory texted me the day before and all morning of the race to make sure I knew he supported me. I consider Cory one of the best friends you could ever have. Jen and I love him so much we’re going to Boston next April to cheer him on in his first Boston Marathon.
Camille Gunderson and Demetri (sorry! I can’t remember Demetri’s last name!): Camille and Demetri headed to Louie’s on the Lake and cheered me on every time I came by. The last time Camille ran out to the course to high five me.
Elizabeth Pickens: I met Elizabeth during Memorial training earlier this year. I found out she lives in the neighborhood next to us. Elizabeth is another who was texting me prior to the race to cheer me on. She has been one of my greatest supporters throughout this while thing…..and I’m talking her into doing it next year!! LOL
Jill Hobson: My Canadian “luva” who always has a nice thing to say about my ass when she knows I’m suffering. Jill is one of my closest friends and I love her to death. It helps that she’s a little bit crazy, in a cool way.
Angela Morris: Angela is the reason I’m in this game. She was the first triathlete I spoke with in 2012 and I was totally enamored with her. I decided right then I wanted to be part of this! She has helped me through all of this with loads of advice and information.
Spicy Asian Omi Daniella Kari Brown SAshby Marty @ Schlegel’s SPP Ali & John…..my cabin lovers and two of Kurt’s best friends! Hail to the spatula
I know I’m forgetting someone so please forgive me!!! I don’t want you to think I’m not appreciative….I’m just old and can’t remember all the names. lol
After medical, Jen and I went back to the Landrunner aid station to see everyone.
Omi, Jill, Neal, and Daniella
David Bach and his girlfriend
Steve Schlegel heading back for the finish.
Daniella, Darlene, Susan (SPP), Omi
John, of Ali & John fame!
Sidewalk chalk to support us
The sidewalk leading to the Landrunner Aid Station was chalked with all our friend’s names.
Don’t you just hate the word ‘taper?’ Ok, so maybe most of you don’t care about that word. But a distance athlete takes that word very seriously. We either love or hate it.
Taper week is the week before your race, just in case you didn’t know. Basically, this consists of winding down your training so your body can recover and store glycogen, as well as other vital nutrients, so it’s ready for the race.
It’s a major pain in the ass. For months we’ve been training by exercising almost every single day of the week. Now we have to lay off and it just doesn’t feel natural.
There are different schools of thought on this practice. I have a friend who won six marathons last year. She rarely tapers. She has found that her body handles the same amount of effort without having to stop to regain energy stores. And maybe she’s on to something! After all, she WON six marathons last year! You can’t argue with that.
For sub-mediocre athletes, like myself, I tend to do better when I take off a couple of days. I’m also older and got into this game later in life. But that’s what works for me.
We’re not three days from the Redman Triathlon. Most of us are freaking the hell out over the race. It’s not only the distance that is daunting, but now we have the added aspect of bad weather coming into play. On that subject, hurricanes suck, just in case you didn’t know!
I’m hoping the weather won’t roll in until late in the day but you just never know here. This is Oklahoma and weather changes by the hour. Forecasts for beautiful, sunny skies can bring tornadoes. I’ve seen forecasts for horrible rain and we never receive a drop. Buying a lottery ticket gives you better odds than predicting the weather here.
But you can’t change what you can’t change. I’m going to compete no matter what. I’ll suffer through whatever elements are thrown at me and I’ll finish this thing because……..well, I wrote a goddamn $250 check! Let’s not add up the cost of the gear.
Saturday afternoon, no matter what the weather, I’m going to cross that finish line. I’m going to hug my wife, my training partner Lydia, and my new friend Rena, and celebrate the fact that I just moved 70.3 miles by human power. I’m going to crack a beer and stand in the rain while I take it all in.
Then I’m going to freak the fuck out because my $2,200 bike is sitting in the transition area getting rained on! Then I’ll crack another beer and try to forget about it for a while.
Here’s to a sunny day, for at least half of it, and a safe race. I’ll be back this weekend to update you…..if I’ve dried out.
I know! I’m a total slacker! I just haven’t been motivated to blog lately. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of ideas in my head, but training for my first HIM has totally consumed me!
So it’s almost here, Redman Triathlon. I’ve trained a lot and I still feel like I haven’t trained enough. But I think doubt always creeps in before a huge race.
However, I’m feeling more confident about my swim, even in my full sleeve wetsuit. I bought a new bike so I’m feeling much more confident about the ride! That leave the run, which is normally my best event. However, trying to run a half marathon after the swim and bike is another story. I can run a half marathon in my sleep right now but this one will be the toughest I’ve every done.
I can take some comfort in knowing I’ll have boatloads of support on the run course. My running club has the biggest aid station on the course and my wife and friends will all be there this year to cheer me on. On top of it all, I have a new friend from Austin who will be there with her husband. She’s competing in the half aquabike. We will both drink heavily afterwards! I think it’s a law or something.
Anyway, I’ll be back with a race recap…..if I live through this endeavor. And hopefully I’ll shoot some pictures of me passed out just over the finish line.
By the way, my tag line for this triathlon is, “Don’t die!”
I hear a lot of first time marathoners say, “I have to beat Oprah’s marathon time.” I never thought about ‘Okrah’ until I heard that statement.
But now that I think about it, I really hate that I haven’t been able to beat Okrah’s time!
Hopefully that will change this December when I run the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon. Thinking about Cajun food and free beer at the finish line should provide a little extra motivation though. I’m shooting for a 4:30 but I know I can hit a 4:15 if I get my head in the right place.
Lately I’ve been competing in triathlons. This will all build up to the big one in September: a half Ironman at the Redman Triathlon. To get ready, I’ve been competing in smaller, sprint distance triathlons to get ready. My only goal has been beat the Henry girls! Oh, you don’t know who the Henry girls are? Let me show you!
Jennifer & Roxanne Henry are a mother/daughter team who have become my arch nemesis. Superman had Lex Luther. Batman had the Joker. Intelligence has Fox News.
And I have the Henry girls!
These two whipped the shit out of me in the Guthrie triathlon last month and I swore it would not happen again.
Last Sunday at the Arcadia Triathlon, I ended up beating Roxanne but Jennifer got me by 18 seconds! The worst part? It was all my fault because I stopped to run/walk with her the last 2 miles of the run. Next time I’m just going to push her down and run away.
I’ll scream Bitches be crazy…..KURT RULES! and just take off.
I can take some solace in the fact that neither will be participating in the Redman Triathlon. Unfortunately, I think they’ll both be volunteering at the Landrunner aide station and if I know them, they’ll torture me each time I pass.
You see, Jennifer was born of pure evil mixed with perfume and boobs. It helps her lure in her victims before she tears them apart slowly, limb by limb, piece by piece.
Roxanne was born of that same pure evil mixed with snark and a large dose of smart ass. She makes her victims so frustrated their heads eventually explode!
And if I didn’t love them both I’d be pissed about that 18 seconds!
I recently read an article on CNN about those ridiculous before & after photos that advertisers of your finer weight loss drugs like to use to tout their products. I always knew the drug itself was a load of crap, but I do believe you can achieve those results through eating right and exercise. Granted, it would take some seriously “targeted” exercise to make some of those transformations become reality, but you could achieve it through exercise!
According to the article, some of those pictures were taken only 15 minutes apart. Using creative poses, lighting, filters, and photography tricks, the subject looks totally transformed.
This summer has been especially brutal. I say that because we’ve been completely spoiled the last two summers with low humidity, event though the temperatures were high.
Oklahoma City used to be notoriously humid but it seems like we’ve had dry, arid summers the last few years….and we had the lake levels and water rationing to prove it!
This year is very different though. We’ve receive a lot of rain. I’m not sure we received enough to move us out of our drought funk, but the lake levels are definitely higher and that’s a good thing! One, because the Redman Triathlon will go as scheduled and two, because we need the freakin’ water! We’re human, ya know. We need it to live.
Every morning I drive my car to work with the A/C blasting in hopes of cutting through some of that humidity. When I get out of the car in the parking garage, my glasses immediately fog up! I walk half blind into my office building where an arctic blast hits me like a tornado the second the doors open. It’s a welcome blast and I’ve only had to walk about 50 yards from my car to the door. The fog on my glasses dissolves to reveal the lenses normal state: fingerprint smudge.
Like most hobbies/mid-life crises’ I take on, I jump in 1000%. I’m not saying I master the hobby/mid-life crisis, but I’m definitely OCD about it. So when I started running in 2012, I jumped in with a marathon. This wasn’t exactly the right way to go about it. I mean, if you wanted to go mountain climbing you wouldn’t just sign up for an Everest climb, would you?
So I decided that I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes with my triathlon efforts. If you follow this blog, you know I’ve competed in two duathlons and a splash-n-dash to get prepared for the main event, the half-ironman distance at the Redman Triathlon this September.
I won’t recap those. You can dig through the blog to find my worthless recaps of the events.
Anyway, multi-sport has been eye opening to say the least. As a runner, my body is used to a set group of muscles. I fatigue those muscles and then do it all over the next day/week. In a multi-sport event like duathlons and triathlons, each sport works a different set of muscles that affect how the the other muscles react.
Swimming pushes the upper body and I was shocked the first time I jumped in a pool to swim laps. I realized I needed to get back into boot camp to strengthen my shoulders and upper body.
The bike stresses your quads but gives your upper body a rest.
Then you hit the run and your hamstrings, feet, and core come into the picture.
The entire time you’re doing this, your cardio-vascular system is stressed. Taxing all of these systems in races that could last 5, 6, or 7 hours….or more….takes special training and attention to nutrition as well as an understanding of fatigue. That’s the main reason you build up to races like Redman instead of jumping in and letting the sharks circle you.
This all built up to my first triathlon yesterday in Guthrie, Oklahoma. I’ll admit, I was nervous as hell going into this. I freaked out in the water on my first splash-n-dash and I didn’t want that to happen again. I decided to get to the outside this time and just take it easy. I wasn’t going to let the crowd or other swimmers distract me from my goal: finishing the swim on my own terms.
I actually ended up having a great swim and finished the 500 yards in 10:44. It was actually a little less because it took me about 30 seconds or so go get to the transition point.
T1 was horrible. I must wear socks on the bike and run so I spent a lot of time putting on my toed socks. That meant T1 ended up being 3:44. To put that in perspective, the winner of the race complete T1 in 1:09. The guy who took second place was even faster at 0:38 seconds! Obviously this is an area that needs work.
I finished the hilly 12.6 mile bike course in 47:01 and hit T2 with a decent 1:46 time. That still needs work but I was pleased with it.
Then came the run. I’m a pretty steady 27:30 5k runner. But after the bike ride, your crotch and legs have issues trying to adjust. I ended up walking 3 times on the out portion of and out-and-back course. That gave me a horrible 30:51 for the 5k.
My total time was 1:34:03. My goal time was 1:50:00 but I figured I could come in at 1:40:00 so I’m taking a 16 minute sub-goal, or 6, depending on how you look at it, as a great achievement in my first triathlon.
I have to tell you, this was an absolute BLAST! We had perfect weather in the low 70s and the water, while cold when you jumped in, warmed up quickly once the swim started.
To make things even better, some of my wonderful friends competed in this event too and gave me loads of advice that helped me along. I have to thank Angela Morris for loads of great information. Angela has actually completed a full Ironman distance triathlon at Vineman last year in California. That’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a full marathon. She was on the bike for something like 8 hours! She’s a freakin’ superhero in my book.
Steve Schlegel, of Schlegel Bikes, has been teaching me about transition, biking, and how to handle difficult situations in this sport.
To all the other friends who attended, Alex, Susan, Jennifer & Roxanne Henry with their relentless picking at me (but I give it back threefold so I really can’t bitch), Adrienne and Alex, Jill, and Kari, I love you all and thank you for making my first triathlon a great experience.
Throughout 2013 I watched a bunch of my friends jump into the triathlon world. I went to the races and watched them compete and I was totally jealous. I wanted to enjoy the fun, and pain, they were experiencing. Triathlons seemed like a logical step after half marathons and marathons.
I didn’t have a bike. Well, I did have a bike, but it was a cheap $100 piece of shit I bought on Craigslist. I could have competed on that bike but there was no way I was going to be competitive. Actually, if I owned a $15,000 Cervelo I still wouldn’t be competitive. But that’s neither here nor there.
So earlier this year I bought a bike and started riding. Jen’s office offered a deal through Gold’s so we got a gym membership too. That meant we had access to a pool.
I did something absolutely insane today! I registered for my first half ironman.
Two years ago, when I started this journey, I kept telling myself that I’d never run anything over a 5k. Well, as of two and a half years later, I’ve now run thirteen 5ks, two 10ks, two 15ks, a 12 miler, two 25ks, six half marathons, and three full marathons. I’ve also completed a Splash-N-Dash and my first duathlon.
By year end, add another duathlon, two more 5ks, three triathlons, three more half marathons, and a full marathon to end the year on a high note.
I guess when I jump in, I do it with both legs. Actually, it’s more OCD than competitiveness.
Since I don’t have pictures of me competing in the Redman (duh), I’ll post a video from 2012. This guy put together a pretty good video that will give you a good idea of the course. He didn’t take much video of the run though. I’d imagine that’s because the run is a boring out & back on the family trails at Lake Hefner.