Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gulf Coast 2009 - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

This year marked the 5th time in a row I have traveled with Human Powered Racing athletes down to Panama City Beach, Florida for the Gulf Coast Half Ironman (a.k.a Gulf Roast). Over the years I have finished 3rd/1st/1st/1st/1st so it definitely is a course that suits me. Instead of the usual race report I thought I would give the good, bad and ugly of this years trip.

The Good

- The drive down with the team. 5 vehicles in all. I was in an extremely fun van with Brewer, Katie and Rika.
- The cottages on the beach. You literally walk out your door onto one of the nicest beaches I have seen anywhere in the world. Unfortunately the beach cottages that we have stayed in every year are scheduled to be torn down in the coming months.
- Waking up race morning feeling fine. I was definitely fighting a cold in the couple of days leading up to the race.
- Leading out of the swim. The conditions this year were extremely rough and although the time was SLOW it was good to be at the front of the race from the get go. The past couple of years I haven't taken the lead until close to mile 10 of the bike.
- Being in the lead after the turnaround. The energy you get from team mates coming the other way on the course is hard to describe, but it is definitely one of the reasons I always bike well here
- Seeing Ben Cotter, my team mate/training partner coming at me in second place on the bike. Nice knowing he was right there in the mix.
- Getting out of transition and not hearing the next athlete being announced coming in. The past couple of years I heard the announcer calling the second place athlete in as I was heading out of transition.
- Wearing socks on the run. Because I have been in such a rush in years past to get out of sight I have not taken the time to put socks on and my feet have paid the price. This year I ended the race with blister and blood free feet.
- Winning. One of my favourite quotes from the movie Bull Durham sums it up best; "Man I love winning, it is like, better than losing".
- Standing at the finish line and seeing the rest of the team finish. For a lot of the team this was their first Half Ironman and it was a fantastic achievement. To do it in such tough conditions made it even more special.
- Seeing Rika Viragh finish her first race. She did this as part of a class project and she did it for a cause (see earlier post). The girl is a real role model.
- Not getting charged $125 for bike on the way home.
- Spinnakers. The best awards venue ever.
- Free Beer

The Bad

- Feeling sick the couple of days before the race.
- Not being able to find any type of rhythm on the swim. I have been swimming extremely well in the pool the past month, but unfortunately ocean swims are seldom as calm as a 50m pool. Must hit the open water soon.
- Having zipper of speed suit get stuck on the way out of the water. I even slowed down and asked Zach Ruble to try and undo it as we ran to our bikes, but it was STUCK. Eventually had to pull a Houdini and just rip the suit off.
- Not pushing all the way to the finish. One of my goals coming into this race was to run fast, but unfortunately, when the heat started to get to me I was content to back off. I wish I hadn't done that, although I think my legs appreciated it.
- Coming across aid stations that are still setting up. This seems to happen every year, but when it is 85 degrees and humid you really need everything that is out there.

The Ugly

- Coyote Ugly
- Jagermeister
- 14 hour drive after a night of free beer and Jagermeister.

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