I’m a Rocket[wo]man

November 15th, 2015

Titusville, Florida USA

RocketMan Half IronMan

1.2 mile swim; 13.1 mile run; 56 mile cycling

Why do I do this?

The RocketMan Half Ironman is obviously a triathlon. It starts with a swim through the Indian River, then a bike ride out over the Indian River Bridge into the Canaveral National Seashore, and ended with ditching the bike and running back over the bridge, again; twice!

Let me begin by saying, I’m not a seasoned triathlete. This was only my 2nd triathlon (I completed the 2014 edition of the RocketMan), but it was my 5th official endurance event. I am in pretty good shape, but compared to most in this race, I struggled. I have endurance, but I’m not necessarily fast. I had to push hard. Racers only had 7.5 hours to complete the race before they closed the bridge. With last year’s race still vivid in my mind (in 2014 I finished in 9 hours), I was worried if I’d make it…

Sunday morning around 3:30 AM I awoke and began my preparations for the race. I had laid all my gear out the night before, but still, spending 7.5 hours swimming, running, and biking, you want to be prepared. Last minute checking and rechecking is a must. All packed and out the door by 4:45 AM to make the 7:00 AM start time.

One of the greatest aspects of endurance races is the overcoming of obstacles both mental and physical, that in the end you realize were mostly self imposed. Showing up to the race, the first thing I noticed was the the wind. Clocking out of the east and notching in at 16-20 MPH it was causing 1 foot waves on the Indian River. Quieting my mind I put my wetsuit on and prepared for the race.

The swim was tough. The skies were grey and the 1 foot waves required swimming over, not through. It was difficult to see the waves and the buoys, but there is some strength in knowing you’re not the only one battling the elements. Swim down, bike and run to go.

The transition area is a mixture of an outdoor closet, garage and kitchen. How fast can you go from wetsuit to spin gear and how many calories can I get in without throwing up and get on your bike? Well it took about 7 minutes and about 300 calories. A little better than last year!

The bike – What is my best of the three events was truly the hardest because of the wind. I just kept going one pedal stroke after another and thankful for no blowouts or problems. The layout of the course has you riding over the Indian River into the Canaveral National Seashore, home of Kennedy Space Center. Though the course was tough it was easy to lose yourself for moments in all the natural beauty and man-made wonder out there.

Finally done with the bike and onto the run, with time to burn! The run had us going back over the bridge and out 6 miles, before turning around and coming back over the bridge again! Though I do some hill training in Florida, bridges might as well be mountains to us…

With about 45 minutes to go before they closed the course, I crossed the finish line. I trimmed an hour and a half off my time from last year to this year. The difference? I knew how hard I could push. I knew how to manage hydrating and calorie intake to prevent cramping. I knew to stay focused on each stroke of the swim, each pedal of the bike, and each stride of the run; I didn’t get overwhelmed by the wind or the distance.

After 7 hours 24 minutes and 51 seconds I was done! Though I didn’t feel I was prepared as last year, and my work and personal life had affected my training routine, I was able to accomplish more than I thought I could; heck, I even beat ladies half my age!

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