I’m an Ironman 70.3 FINISHER!

Ironman Mooseman 70.3 – Sunday June 5th.

At 5am on Sunday June 5th, Adam’s “air raid horn” alarm clock went off, letting us know it was time to get up and Ready for Mooseman. We had packed our transition bags the night before, the bikes were checked and waiting for us at the course… It was go time.
After a quick breakfast, we were in the car and on our way. The plan was to get there at 6am, Coach Jen had me down for a 20 minute warm up and 5 minutes in the water…. Well that never happened.
Somehow on the way to the course we missed a turn and ended up WAY out of the way. After a few minutes of trying to get phone signals, Adam was able to find directions and get us to the course. We had to park far away, walk and eventually made it with only minutes to spare.
We both dropped our bags, grabbed our wet suits and had to run to the start. Once there Adam realized he left his goggles in his bag, I left my timing chip in my bag. CRAP! We sprinted back to transition and then back to the start. I was a little panicked, I really wanted more time to get ready before we had to start. But that wasn’t happening.
I dove in the lake, just to get wet and as my head popped above water they were calling our age group to the start. We lined up, high-fived, a canon went off and we were on our way.
Adam took off in the water, I wouldn’t see him again until the run… The air temp was in the high 40’s which made the 60 degree water feel perfect. We were both starting towards the back of the pack, Adam seemed to quickly moved up towards the front, I opted to stay in back since swimming wasn’t my strong sport.
About 1/4 in to the swim, as I was fighting to stay with the slower people in my age-group I thought “What the hell am I doing here!”. Even the slow swimmers seemed faster than me, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish before the cutoff.
Just before the 1/2 point of the swim, the fast swimmers from the next group were passing me. There were so many that it was creating quite a chop in the water. I inhaled some water and had to flip to backstroke to get my breathing under control. I ended up swimming a crawl/backstroke combo the rest of the distance.
Rounding the second turn, another herd of swimmers came passing through, they started 2 groups behind me. At this point I was on the last stretch, I flipped to back stroke again and looked back to see if I was dead last (or close too it). There seemed to be a lot of swimmers behind me still, but I didn’t know how long it had been.
I dug hard the last 1/4 of the 1.2 miles. When I reached the shallow water I stood up and started to run out. I looked at the clock time. IT WAS UNDER AN HOUR!!! EXCELLENT!!!
I was pumped, I really thought I was going to be right at the 1:30 cut off, but I had more than 30mins to spare!
As I got out, the wetsuit strippers ripped my suit off and I was in transition. This was a LONG transition, because I had to set up my bike, since we didn’t have time when we got there. After about 7 minutes I was running out on to the bike course.
It took a good 5 or 6 miles before my legs felt normal. Which was bad timing, because at around mile 6 is “The Hill”. 
We read about the hill before coming to the race. We drove it the day before too. It didn’t seem as bad as people made it sound. “The Hill” is a 16% grade. I started to fight my way up. Moving so low and pushing so hard I eventually made it half way, where about 50 other racers dismounted and walked the back half. My first thought was “NO I’m riding” … I hammered along for another couple of minutes… Now I should mention that the bike and run courses are 2 loops… That means I was going to meet this hill again on the 2nd lap. Then I was going to have to run 13 miles… Feeling a little defeated I dismounted and walked up the rest of the way.
The hills throughout the course were killer, so I over estimated my bike goals a little in my race plan. My original goal was to have an average pace of 17mph on the bike course, in reality it was 13.5mph.
As I rode the back half of the monster hill (which wasn’t as steep), I heard a car coming behind me, it was the leaders pace car. The clock time was 1:40, I look to my left to see who was passing lapping me and it was Paul Ambrose. COOL!
He was FLYING. I was going to try and stay with him…. Didn’t happen…. Moving on. I battled the hills through the 2nd loop of the course, once again walking up that monster.
At mile 35 I looked around and didn’t see any racers. Was I in dead last? I started to get mad. 
I was flying, at one point I was going 38 mph on a down hill and eventually I caught up to a group of bikers and stared passing people. As I was making the last turn before the transition area there were supporters and volunteers cheering! I yelled “Am I winning?!?!”“YES!!!” a group yelled…  I finished the bike leg in just over 4 hours… I wasn’t winning, but I wasn’t in last either!
The run transition was pretty quick, 4 minutes.
I tried to take off on the run. My first pace was 7:40… WHOA slow down, I let my nutrition slip towards the end of the bike and beginning of the run… About 1.5 miles in I started to crash. I took a gel and had some Gatorade and started to feel normal again, which was good cause coming around the corner, finishing his first loop was Adam, It would have been bad if he saw me looking as bad as I felt during that first mile.
I yelled, he yelled and we kept going. The run was also going a lot slower than I planned. My legs were tired. The farther in to the course I got the more I switched from a run to a shuffle. There were 2 difficult hills on the run course… If I were just running a half marathon they wouldn’t have been a big deal, but running them to close a 70 mile race… yikes! As I was starting my finishing my first loop and Adam was starting his second I yelled to him…
“Hey in a couple hours we should go get some burritos!”
On the second loop I had to walk the 2 hills, my legs felt like lead. I continued to shuffle along, and cheer on some of the people that were heading towards the finish. From the distance I could hear Adam yelling.
He was headed down the final stretch of the run course. We high-fived as we passed and I gave him a solid slap on the ass… I couldn’t wait until I was at that point of the run.
I hustled along, hitting the turn around and chugging along the last 3 miles. There were still a lot of spectators along the last part of the run course cheering us along. As I made the turn in to the finish shoot, I heard Adam again… “WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
I crossed a timing mat and heard the announcer… “Here he comes folks, Phil Castello finishing up 70.3 miles of racing, Great job Phil!”

I made the turn to cross the finish, and triumphantly put my hands in the air and yelled as I crossed that line. I made it! 7:59:18
Just finishing the race was a huge accomplishment, and I’m thrilled that I did it. I am a little disappointed that I was so slow. I have a while before Bangs Lake, and that is a shorter course. So hopefully I’ll be able to figure out some detail’s and finish witha faster overall pace.
I’ll have a few videos of the race coming in the next week or so. But this is a “rest week” … Next week we’re back to work!



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