Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Eggses, My Precious - Raleigh IRONMAN Half Marathon

I'm not sure how I got talked into signing up as part of a 3 man relay team for the Raleigh IRONMAN Triathlon, but I've done stranger things, so I guess it doesn't matter. It may have been because my normal training partner is one of those uber-fit tri guys and told me it would be "FUN". Never trust a tri guy.

The good thing about doing the run leg of a triathlon is that I didn't have to stumble out of bed at 0-dark thirty in the morning to catch shuttle buses from Raleigh out to the swim/bike starting areas near Jordan Lake. Instead I wandering into downtown Raleigh at a civilized 10:30AM. I found the right officials near the transition 2 (T2 in tri lingo) bike-run area and had my legs marked with my team's bib number and big R to indicate I was part of a relay team. Then I waited. And waited. And baked in the hot sun. And then waited some more. By the time my biker had arrived, I had been waiting in the now 90F stew that passed for air for 2 hours. But hey, I like the heat, so no problem, right? My bigger worry was that I hadn't run more than 9 miles since February, but then again, why worry about that either? This was easy, flat, boring street running. Not the gnarly technical trails I call home. This run should be easy!

Eggs Over Easy
I'll be honest, the first 4 miles or so were indeed easy. I felt comfortable with the heat and my pace. In fact, my legs felt great! But then, slowly, inevitably, I began heating up. There was almost zero shade and very little breeze. What breeze did blow felt like a low speed hair dryer on high heat setting. If my facial hair hadn't been soaked with sweat and Gatorade, I'm sure it would have singed right off.

Around mile 5 I started getting light headed and the world started wobbling, I panicked and started downing large quantities of Gatorade at every aid station. Two aid stations later, I began to endlessly burp Gatorade and hot stomach bile. Sooo delicious! As I finished the first lap (yep, the course was two laps down Hades Street... err, I mean Hillsborough Street), I seriously thought about DNF'ing the whole thing. But then I thought, I'm already sweating my nuts off, how much harder can it get?

Hard Boiled Eggs

Lap 2 was the worst! Not only did it get hotter, which didn't seem possible, but I was soaked in sweat. My good old Umstead Marathon Tic shirt weighed about 10 pounds and was turning into a salty, crusty, sandpaper sack. My underwear already felt like it was made entirely of sandpaper stitched together with barbed wire. Sooo comfy!

Chafing seems like such an inadequate word to describe what was happening to both my nips and my huevos. It just doesn't do justice to the acidic salty grinding that accompanied each step of the "run" after mile 8. I snatched dollop after dollop of vasoline-on-a-stick at every aid station and buttered myself with abandon. No shame. No hesitation. I gladly sacrificed every last ounce of my pride for a tiny bit of relief.

Around mile 9, I started putting ice under my hat. That worked so well, that at the next aid station, I filled my pockets with ice. I also tucked in my shirt and dumped more ice down the collar, letting it collect around my waistband. That wasn't enough to cool me down, so I went full monty and dumped handfuls of ice down my shorts into my briefs. Finally! Relief!

Scrambled Eggs
The last few miles, I ran. I mean I really ran. I had enough ice on my body that I was actually out of the heat exhaustion zone. Other runners could hear me coming from behind and would stare as I passed. I'm sure they thought someone carrying a foam cooler full of ice was passing them. Nope, just some idiot with his underwear full of rattling ice cubes.

In the last mile of the race, the ice in my underwear had melted to a small enough size to start dropping out of my shorts as I ran down the street toward the finish. "Yeah!" I thought, "Trail runners are so cool we crap ice cubes! Deal with it tri guys!"

Post Mortem
Someone always asks me if I'll run the same race again when I have a miserable first experience. My answer is usually "Not no, but HELL No!". Well since I think I've already run through Hell in this race, I might actually run this one again next year. I mean, it couldn't get any worse, right?