My First Full - What NOT to Do
Updated: Feb 14
It is the off season. My off season consists of rides and runs that have more stops to enjoy the scenery than miles. With that said, instead of writing about training or racing related I feel it is a good time to tell the tale of my first full distance triathlon.
Disclaimer - This is the story of my first Full distance triathlon. This is about Athlete Adam, not Coach Adam. I do not recommend most of the things I did in the lead up to this race. To quote the Simpsons:
My first Full was Rev3 Cedar Point on September 9, 2012, but the story begins one year earlier. In September of 2011 my wife decided she wanted to do her first 70.3. Being that we were living in Cincinnati and she is from north-west Ohio, she decided on the 70.3 at Cedar Point (Cedar Point is a large amusement park near Sandusky, Ohio). She registered and gave herself a full year for her big A+ race.
Cut to Monday August 27, 2012. In the midst of the world worrying about the end of the Mayan calendar and coming apocalypse, I am talking with my friend Peter. Peter at the time was working for QR (now Team MPI partner), who was also a title sponsor of the Rev3 series. I told him about how my wife was doing her first half in less than two week at Cedar Point. He proceeded to tell me how he had a free entry for the race, and I could have it. I figured that I had already done two 70.3s and a handful of Olympics that season, so another would not be a big deal. I also knew that I would be done in time to see my wife finish. Peter gave me a code, I went home, and I registered.
About seven tenths of a second after I registered I received the most curious email. The email congratulated me and said that I had just registered for the Full at Rev3 Cedar Point. “Well I guess I’m doing a Full” is what I said to myself. The next thing that sank in is that I was kind of ready for a Half and nowhere near ready for a Full. Then the cold chill came when I realized that the Full I am not ready for is happening less than two weeks. As a coach I cannot express enough how I do not recommend doing your first Full on two weeks notice. However, Athlete Adam did dumb stuff sometimes.
That last week of August into September was the highest volume week I have ever done, and ever hope to do. I would stop to get 2 liters of Coca Cola during those workouts just to attempt to get enough calories. The only upside was the taper week before the race was great, I did nothing but recuperate.
The Race started on the beach behind the hotel where my wife and I were staying, making it a convenient walk from the room to the start. My start was a bit before my wife’s, so she stayed in the room and got prepared while I went down to start my race. I talked with a few people about normal race morning stuff. Then the race began.
Anyone who knows me knows that swimming is not my strong suit, so my plan was to keep it conservative. (Fun fact - I used that goggles that I got in my race bag, another bad idea according to Coach Adam) The swim was two lap clockwise triangle. The only eventful part of the swim was right at the start of the second lap. I was swimming along, when all of a sudden I felt a presence on top of me. I turned out that the leader of the female Pros had beached herself on top of me. She was up there for a few seconds, I felt her try to kick and pull to get swim over me but there is a lot of friction between two wetsuits. She finally grabbed both of my shoulders and launched herself off me. Good ole swimmin’.
Now I am in T1 and I find out one of the lessons that can only be learned in a Full. My arms did not work anymore. I tried to pick up a cup of water but simply knocked it over, and a volunteer had to help me put on my shoes. I remember thinking that I was going to crash my bike because there was no way I could hold onto the handlebars. Luckily though, I made it out of T1 and began the bike.
Anyone from the midwest knows that a ride through farm country is boring. I did 112 miles that had a whopping 300 feet of elevation gain. Super boring and nothing of note.
I roll into T2 change my shoes and start my run. Things actually were not that bad at the start of run, until about half a mile in. At the half mile mark my friend Tom (whom I have a very mean nickname for) pops up with a plate of chili cheese fries.Through his pestering and sarcastic “Just a marathon left” I end up having a few fries. (Coach Adam tip - don’t eat foods during a race that don’t sit well in normal eating.) By mile 3 of the run it has become very obvious that a great deal of something will be falling out of me in the very near future, regardless of where I am. Luckily, the mile 3 aid station has a port-o-john. I get in and realize that a one piece tri suit was a bad idea, but like the end of any basketball movie, make it to the hoop with no time left. While in the port-o-john (my little oasis during the longest race of my life) I hear a sudden banging on the door and a man yelling “Get out, real athletes need to go”. I know the voice, it is Bob, my coach at the time. I will admit in retrospect that is was funny, but more annoying at the time. I felt pretty bad when I got out of the port-o-john because there was another racer standing there saying it was not him that banged on the door. I told him I knew that and good luck.
The next memorable part of the race for me was the first time I cried that day. It was at the start of the second lap. My mile splits had been getting longer and longer during the run, and the the turnaround for the second lap was no more than 10 feet for the finish line. I cried when I made that turn. Not just a tear to myself, more of a little kid with a sick puppy cry. It was to the point that a volunteer asked me if I needed to get to the medical tent. I told her no, I am just sad I have to start another lap.
The second lap went much like the first with slower and slower mile splits. This until I got to mile 23. At mile 23 I was done, I figured I was walking time. Then half a step before I started walking, one of the craziest thoughts that have ever crossed my mind cropped up. I thought that there was still some daylight left and I could finish before the sun sets if I run. Right then I decided to forget pain and ran my normal 5k pace. I am proud to say I beat my athlete tracker by 15 minutes and finished during daylight.
I finished in a less popular time to finish, so I got to be interviewed right after I crossed the line. I was asked what I thought of the race and said “I've seen a lot of changing, in the way you feel about me, and in the way I feel about you. In here, I guess what I'm trying to say, is that if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.” it is the quote from the end of Rocky 4. The person interview gave me a blank stare and there was nothing but silence, except for one guy in the distance laughing hysterically. After that things went bad. My body started tightening up and because i finished that much ahead of the tracking my wife was still in the hotel about a half mile away. I picked up a chocolate milk, leaned up against a lamp post, and had another cry. I was completely spent physically and emotionally. All I wanted was to sit down in normal clothes.
The rest of the night is a blur. I remember it was Peyton Manning’s first game as Bronco, and seeing the third quarter.
I do have to say that of all the things I do not recommend doing that I did, the worst was stealing my wife’s thunder. That was her her big race and I came in two weeks before and ruined it.
No matter what I did that day, I do not want to steal my wife’s thunder (but here is my finish line photo below!). That was her her big race and she did approach it in the right way and had a very successful day. Athlete Heather was much, much smarter than Athlete Adam. And Coach Adam is far, far smarter than Athlete Adam.