It's occurred to me that perhaps my logic isn't spelled out that clearly with this. There were two goals here. First, can I tolerate the distance, is it possible to motivate myself to the end of the race? Second can I figure out how to perform at a level I am happy with? Granted a half 70.3 isn't anything like 140.6, but it doesn't fit my style to jump feet first into something when you have not even the faintest idea of what you're diving into. Let's remember that in 2009 I couldn't run three miles straight, and up until this year the longest physical anything I had ever done was just under three hours. So the plan was to double the distance, give that two tries (because I only know of two local events that are that long) and then use that info to judge on the IM WI bid.
All pre-season training went toward the first half, the next five weeks was bike focused and then there was a week gap before this race. All in all the last five or so weeks seemed pretty light, but when I look back at the log it looks like I executed pretty well. So I'm going to say I was ready for this.
There were a bunch of options for packet pickup, Friday, Saturday, and race morning. My daughter did the kids tri on Saturday, so we hung out afterwards and picked up our packets then. It was painless, one odd thing was they posted everyone's name on a board and then you were supposed to look up your own number, remember it while you waited for your turn (in my case 10 seconds) and then tell the lady. I'm not sure I understand the logic of that, but it worked fine.
The race started at 7, we live an hour from the race, so we elected to get there around 6, so that meant leave at 5, I decided we should leave at 4:40, so that meant get up at 3:55. Yikes! Pictures are lacking because I was pretty tired, and was sort of in a funk in the morning.
My wife was sick so she wasn't going to be able to come, or keep the kids. My parents-in-law were coming for the race in the morning, so we convinced them to come the night before. This changed my normal morning routine as I felt like I should do some of the race prep for them that my wife would normally do. I was happy to volunteer for it, because it's a small price to pay for them coming down and then watching our three kids at the race for 8 hours.
So the morning felt kind of rushed. I think we left on time, made the drive up there, found a parking spot and got to the site. It was pretty busy, we got there later than I normally like, so there was a lot of hubbub around, lines had already formed for the porta potties, stuff like that.
First order of business was to go to the bathroom, so we racked our bikes, then went to the bathroom, then got numbered. I think because I did so many races in Florida where they are super diligent about not letting people in transition who are not racers it still throws me off guard that we can go in with no numbering at all, put our bikes down and then wander around for a while.
This was the first race I've been to where the racks are numbered, so each bike has an assigned spot. It seemed like a tight fit, but I got lucky and the racer next to me at the end of the rack didn't show, so I got two spaces. I think I like this though, because there's a little bit of "this is how much space you get, and no I'm not kidding" when the labels are already there for you.
I had heard a few stories about how the race was super large, and possibly too large for the venue, but I thought the transition area was well laid out. I didn't have any problems finding my bike or figuring things out, so that was good.
At some point they announced the race was wetsuit legal, which means to me that they dropped some sort of water cooling device in the water before the official measured the temp, because there's no way that water was less than 79 degrees. No matter, I brought my wetsuit just in case, I did consider not wearing it because I was a little worried about overheating, but decided to go with it for the floating advantage.
The only thing I think was missing from the morning was a clear description of the swim course over the loud speaker. Now, don't get me wrong, I saw a bunch of orange buoys in a triangle formation with the start on the left and the exit on the right and I get it. But there were plenty of people who didn't, and I do not recall any sort of announcement about it.
Bethany and I were in wave 6, I think that means we left 18 minutes after 7.
The swim felt hard, I don't know if I took it out hard or just swam hard, or if I got hot and it was affecting me, but after I rounded the first marker I took a few seconds of breast stroke to clear my head a little and then got back into it. I did that again after the second turn, and one more time as we were coming in.
Every swimmer doing the long course race had the same color cap on, so I don't know how many waves I passed. I think I came in with wave 4 or maybe 3, I feel like I passed two distinct groups and was in the midst of another group when I hit the shore.
They had wetsuit strippers here which I took advantage of. They had a large white tarp on the ground (that everyone was running over) and you say you want someone else to take it off, you lay down and "whomp" off it comes. It was good. The only bad part was that now I was covered in sand. My hands had sand on them until almost half way through the run. Though that didn't bother me till the run started.
Since I was feeling a little dazed during the swim and on the run up I sort of took my time in T1. I sat down to get my stuff on and lightly jogged out to the start of the bike.
|Hopping on the bike, there were a bunch of people all getting on at the same time, it was surprisingly busy|
The bike course started off very fast, we must have been mainly with the wind for the first 10 or 15 miles. Through 15 miles my average was above 20 mph. The we hit a turn and got into a slight headwind. It wasn't that bad, but it slowed me down to more the pace I was expecting.
I was drinking my fluids, making sure to run out of Powerade around 30 miles, I tossed my empty bottle at the 20 mile exchange and picked up a replacement Gatorade. At about 30 miles is when we hit the big roller I talked about in the preview. It's a short fast downhill followed by a meandering climb. It was not super taxing, it was at this point I ate my bar. I was feeling fine physically, it didn't seem that hot and my breathing and heart rate seemed inline with the effort I wanted to be expending.
During the Liberty report I mentioned that after a while I really wanted to be done riding bike. That thought occurred to me way earlier this time. It was sometime before the second bottle exchange. I was just bored, it's a long time to be out there.
The rest of the bike was pretty uneventful. There were a handful of people I was leapfrogging which sort of passed the time, but overall I just kept going to the run. In the end I didn't quite finish all my fluids. I think I drank about 90oz while on the bike, took two gels and ate one Cliff bar. That's basically in-line with my goals.
A note about this bike course, it's basically not patrolled. So there was quite a bit of drafting going on. In one case a guy I had been leap frogging with for a bunch of miles came by in a group of about ten, he actually suggested I hop on. I didn't. In another case a guy drafted off me for probably 10 miles, I kept seeing his shadow. Mentally it got to me, I was frustrated by it, I know you can form a group and move along much faster than you would normally go by yourself, but drafting isn't allowed in these triathlons. I don't really know why, but if it's against the rules it's against the rules.
I got the transition, trotted my bike in and headed out on the run.
|I'm looking and feeling pretty great here|
The first mile was a little bit of a struggle, I was just having trouble getting the pace up on my own. Thankfully a lady came trotting by, she was moving a little faster than goal pace, but not by much so I pulled up near her.
Some time later she started to fade, I pulled up and thanked her for helping me through a rough spot, and that gave her some strength for another mile or so. But eventually she slowed and dropped back.
I'd say the first five or six miles came along pretty easily. I was taking in water and gatorade at every station. Some of the stations had ice, and I was happy about that. Right at about four miles in though we really hit a hard part of the course, and it would stay hard until we got back. It was basically down a long rolling highway. It was hoooot with no room for aid stations or shade. Like I said though, I was doing just fine, there was an aid station at about 6 miles that I knew we'd see again in about mile. That mile was when I had to break out the mantra.
|Profile for the four miles in the middle.The lowest point on this graph is about 50 feet lower than the tallest peak|
This was a huge low point, I already knew I was off my goal times. I knew the bike was slower, I assumed the swim was slower, and I knew the run was slower. So I sort of run/walked for the rest of the way. It wasn't that bad, I was averaging between 10 and 11 minute miles.
Near the end I was able to muster up the strength to run all the way in, my legs were still cramping and the finish is uphill, so I was sort of running lightly than maybe I normally would have.
|A picture taken before I saw my cheering section, my legs were hurting pretty bad|
|There's the smile. Seeing people you know cheering for you always changes the game!|
|Done! If you look closely there is a woman behind me. I don't know how long she was being me, but I knew she was there. I wonder if she didn't pass me at the end just because nobody wants to be passed at the end of that long race, hopefully not :)|
|Having some water and taking a break.|
|Ice bath, the guy in the white visor is telling me this was one of the hardest halves he's done and he's done a lot. It didn't make me feel that much better. The cold water felt great though.|
The swim – Faster than goal speed, but slower than Liberty by about a minute.
The bike - Three minutes slower than Liberty, although again I think the Liberty bike course is short by a little over a mile, and this course is not. So I think that's actually the same pace. Slower than my goal pace, but not by much.
The run – Way off goal pace, but about five minutes faster than Liberty. I'd say the run was not as challenging as Liberty, so I wish the time difference was more.
Overall I'm fairly disappointed by the results here. I had two goals. One was to make my overall time goal, or if that was going to fall to the side, I wanted to finish the run without walking. I suppose it may be a little unrealistic to think that no walking is an option. I have since heard that the DTK who came in first walked some of the run, and so did Dan Hedgecock who finished second. Still though, I walked a bunch, and I really wish it would have been less. Maybe it's nutrition, maybe it's pacing, but it's clear to me that I do not have this distance even close to dialed in. I'll say it again, I want to be in a position to run a race at this distance at this speed or faster without all of the mental anguish that comes along on the run. Who knows though, maybe it won't happen... maybe it's normal.
From a racer's perspective this race is good. I had heard bad things about the venue and bad things about the swim course. They switched the swim course, and the venue, I think, is fine. I had a good time at this race, and would do it again.
My mom and dad in law deserve a special call out! They came down early so I could do this race, and they stayed there with a smile on thier faces the entire time. They are both fantastic cheerers, and put up with my basic shut down after the race for about 45 minutes. I really appreciate it!
I missed my wife at this race, but she stayed home and rested and that was the right thing! I'm sure she entertained the idea more than she should have of coming to the race anyway.
Next up, a sprint next weekend.