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GreatMan Part 2, the Sub-10 Race Report « Jocelyn Wong's Blog


GreatMan Part 2, the Sub-10 Race Report

{okay I promised to get this up before the next Ironman, which is tomorrow, although I don’t have my awesome race photos yet so it is a lot of text.  I am trying not to get too nervous for tomorrow so going through my last race is good, because I figure all I have to do is the same thing I did in Korea and I’ll be fine!  Enjoy.}

when I win this race outright, theyll change the name to GreatWoman

when I win this race outright, they'll change the name to "GreatWoman"

Going into race morning, there were many people surprised that I would race Ironman Florida just 2 weeks later.  Well, I had always thought of GreatMan as a dress rehearsal for Ironman Florida, a nice long training day where I could practice my race nutrition and pacing, and hopefully get paid for it too!

The swim was in the ocean but on a protected beach from the big waves–I was pretty excited because it was nothing like Jungmun Beach in Jeju!  Meaning it was totally flat!  Yeah!!  I started my watch over a minute early because the countdown was in Korean, and ended up swimming in the FIRST PACK with 3 or 4 other guys.  There were a couple guys that had broken away early and swam solo but I am pretty sure I was in the first pack.  After the first lap we ran out on the beach and my watch read 34mins, which was really 33mins…okay, not bad.  I wanted to repeat the 1:05 swim I had at Embrunman, and had to remind myself to swim hard, it wasn’t going to just be given to me on a silver platter.

My arms got tired on the second lap and I would lose contact with the pack sometimes, then sprint to bridge the gap.  Not very efficient, I know…  But I ended up staying with them and when we got out of the water, my watch clicked to a 1:09, and I was disappointed, but then again I knew I actually swam 1:07, only a couple minutes slower than I wanted.  Still it is my second fastest swim ever and much, much faster than all those 1:20 to 1:30 ironman swims I have done!!

When I got to the bike racks, I was kind of giddy because out of the 11 pro bikes on the rack, there were still at least 5 of them.  Yes, for once I was not the last pro out of the water!!  The RD yelled that I was in the top 10 overall.  Excellent!  The weather was pretty cool too and I had contemplated arm warmers…but then I figured if I was going hard enough I would warm up quick.

The bike course was about 20% hilly and 80% flat (like a good nerd, I did some math in my head while riding: a little over 10mins of some rolling hills over one lap, which took a little over 50mins).  The main hill was a 1km climb at the beginning of each lap, or about 140 pedal strokes, I counted them by 10′s.

For the 80% flat parts I just put Blue Steel into my biggest gear and mashed the heck out of my pedals.  After the race one of the Korean guys asked me why I pushed such a big gear.  Considering that I probably outbiked everyone but Mr. Oh and Ryan, I told him “Because I am strong and it makes the bike go fast.”

There were six laps of the bike, which some of the guys had said was kind of boring.  But I beg to differ…I find that if I am focused and going hard, I do not get bored.  It’s not like you are there to admire the scenery (that’s for before and after the race, see the mural photos).  I find if you are getting bored, it means you are losing your focus and you need to HTFU.  To keep it interesting, there were many turns on the bike loop, including a few sharp turns and a U-turn.  On the sharper turns I took the opportunity to get out of my saddle and pedal hard for 15 pedal strokes coming out of the turn to stretch out my legs.

we went by this power plant 6x, very exciting.

we went by this power plant 6x, very exciting.

My goal was to definitely go under 5:30 for the first time (my bike split PR is 5:35 from Ironman China), and of course there was “5:15″ in the back of my mind, the magic number that Coach once told me was a bike split worthy of race wheels.  Ahh yes, RD HyunSik and some of the other pro men were baffled that I was a pro and did not have race wheels.  I had to explain that Coach thinks it is more important to get your legs stronger to go faster instead of relying on the equipment to make you go faster.

At end of lap 3 (halfway), my watch read 2:36:30–definitely on pace to go 5:15!

Apparently Ryan saw a line of 10 or so guys sitting on my wheel and though we were “working together,” which makes me laugh and laugh and laugh, because I wasn’t aware there were so many of them back there.  Nobody attempted to pass me because they weren’t strong enough to!  They just sat there for a free ride and I tried to pretend nobody was there, although I would hear some of them laughing every now and then as I was putting my head down and hammering.  More than once I thought, these boys should get their balls cut off because they should NOT be drafting A GIRL!!

I also thought “I am Tereza Macel!  super biker!  hear me roar!  RAWR!!”  She is my biking hero.  :)

I started passing a pro guy here and there during the 2nd half of the bike, which really surprised me.  Like many age groupers, they were decked out in their fancy race wheels and aero helmets; Ryan had said some of these guys had gone in the low-9′s at ironman, which is pretty good for a Korean boy.  The first one I passed, I thought “ok, he’s kind of weak sauce.”  Then there was another.  Then after the 4th or 5th one, I was wondering what was wrong with them.  I guess they weren’t eating their Hello Panda cookies.  And that was when I knew I was riding well.  Clearly if I can pass the Korean pro men and their carbon fiber deep race wheels with my magical $120 wheelset…well, maybe I am doing something right.

there was a very fast & pretty stretch of painted murals on the seawall.  the E-H means Taean

there was a very fast & pretty stretch of painted murals on the seawall. the "E-H" is the "Tae" in "Taean." I'm serious!

There was one age group guy sucking my wheel for the whole 5th lap, and I couldn’t shake him until we hit the hill at the beginning of the 6th lap.  He finally tried to pass and then blew up halfway up the hill…bye bye!  I actually sped up quite a bit the 2nd half of the bike–lap 5 was probably the quickest as I was trying to outbike the lame drafter.

The bike aid stations weren’t the most…organized or efficient.  Small race.  They were giving out fluids in DIXIE CUPS.  So I actually stopped at the ends of laps 2 and 4 to get them to refill my aero bottle and bike bottle with Gatorade.  I would yell “Gatorade!” and they would hold out a Dixie cup, then I would say “no, MORE!”  and they would say “Mool?” which means water, and then reach for the water instead, then…  you get the idea.

I went through a bike bottle per lap which seemed enough given that it was very mild weather-wise.  I hit the dismount line in 5:09 so I most definitely negative split the bike…2:36/2:33.  Excellent.  I am most proud that I was able to do this on a race where I had no opportunities to draft, legally 10+ meters or what, and without race wheels or an aero helmet.  bwahaha.

I got into T2 and quickly pulled on my Avias and Camelbak #1.  I wasn’t quite sure where T2 ended and the marathon began, and after the race found out that my 3:33 marathon split actually included the transition time.  So I went 3:30 or 3:31!  New run PR :)

My lead biker was one of the women on staff who was also an Ironwoman herself and had gone to Kona several times.  She was biking waaay too fast that first stretch but gave me an orange beacon to follow.  We ran from the beach area to the start of the run lap, in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields.  It was a very desolate 4-lap run…especially that first lap, there was maybe only 5 of us on the run course at that point but I saw nobody except my lead biker.  The run lap was extremely flat but the hardest part was how empty and barren it was…I find marathons with many spectators and fan support to be the easiest to get through.  They cheer for me, it makes me smile, they love that I smile and cheer more, I smile more, etc etc.  This marathon?  I had a very focused serious face most of the way.

The lead biker only stayed around for the first lap (she later rejoined me after the last lap back to the finish line).  At the end of the first lap, I saw Ryan right before the U-turn, and he looked like death, telling me I was right about to catch him.  But before I could do this, he somehow got a huge second wind and came back to life!  It took me quite a while to catch him–I was thinking, “wow, he’s putting up a really good fight!!”  We had been talking smack before the race about whether he would get chicked or not–he had just done Kona 2 weeks before.  I was a little hungry so I grabbed a chocolate cookie at one of the aid stations and it had marshmallows in it too!

There were no kilometer markers at all on the run, and I wasn’t sure how long each lap was, or how long the section from the transition area to the start of the lap was.  I miscalculated, trying to do math in my head, then figured I would just have to see what time I hit when I finished 2 of the 4 run laps = halfway done.  I hit it at right about 1:45.  Perfect.  Now just hold on!

“Special food” was what they called the special needs station.  I swapped out my Camelbaks and #2 had been frozen with my special iced coffee mix.  It tasted really good but I realized during my fourth and final lap that freezing the second Camelbak actually backfired as it was still half frozen!  I had to stop for Coke a couple times on the last lap but otherwise ran through the aid stations.  The second half of the run was very difficult mentally and I had to dig deep to keep the pace going.  I never lost the desire to go as fast as I could but I had to convince my tiring legs to keep going.

I stayed motivated by picking off guys that I was lapping.  Some of them put in good fights which was nice because it really pushed me.  I also thought of my teammates quite a bit.  Bella, who was once my “lead biker” during the last interval at a big track session.  Coco, who had told me that you are either born a winner, or you weren’t.  And that I was born with the mind of a champion, even if I didn’t necessarily have the talent.  I thought “I am a teamTBB ironchick.  We are tough, we are fast, we never give up.  We are warriors.  And there is no reason I cannot break 10 hours today when some of them can break NINE.”

I tried not to jump ahead and think about breaking 10 hours too much but I knew that it was a possibility.  When I left T2 my watch said something like 6:24, and I had thought “ok…all you have to do is a 3:30.  You did that at Embrunman.  You did a 3:15 solo marathon.  You are fitter now than you were in France.  You can do this.”

I thought about all the marathons I have done this year.  Before the race I had actually tallied them up, because Coach had always told me I run more marathons than anybody I race against.  Since March I have done 12, whether they were in an ironman race, a monster run, or a track marathon.  GreatMan would be marathon #13.  So what was this marathon anyway?  Just another long run.  And I always feel stronger during the second half of the marathon.

After 4 run laps, my lead biker joined back with me to take me to the finish line.  She said there was only 3k to go, which I found very hard to believe.  So I didn’t believe her.  Then the RD HyungSik came by on a scooter and started yelling “You did it!  You did it!”  I wasn’t done yet, so I yelled “Not yet!  I still need to finish!”  It was the longest “3k to go” of my life, and the finish was rather anti-climactic.  My watch read “9:55″ and I didn’t quite believe it.  My second half marathon was only a minute slower than the first half.  There was hardly any one at the finish line, and the photographers actually made me run through it a second time because they didn’t get the finish photos!  That was when I learned only one person had beat me–Oh Young Hwan, who won the men’s pro race.

winner winner chicken dinner!  Mr. Oh Young Hwan & Wongstar

winner winner chicken dinner! Mr. Oh Young Hwan & Wongstar

I won a 10kg (22-lb) bag of rice too.  Which I gave to the nice little old lady who owned the hotel because I’m pretty sure I’d get charged for excess baggage on that one.

only in Korea can you win a big bag of rice.

only in Korea can you win a big bag of rice.

And a nice block of glass that says “women’s pro champion” in Korean!

or maybe its crystal?

or maybe it's crystal?

Ok it’s showtime again!  Another fast ironman tomorrow, stay tuned!

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