Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Half Ironman Completed...

After the unfortunate events in the last race where I launched myself over my handlebars at 20 mph, it was really up in the air whether I'd be able to continue training and complete my first half-ironman.

Well, the road rash kept me out of the pool for a week and the slight leg bruise kept me from running for a few days. Nothing was going to stop me!!! So I increased my training, started back up with the running... And 3 weeks later I was standing on the beach at 7am staring at the waves preparing to race 70.3 miles.

Here were my goals:
  • Swim: 25 minutes
  • Bike: 3 hours
  • Run: 2 hours
  • Transitions: 5 minutes
  • Total: 5:30 hours
Most of the goals were achievable, the biggest challenge would be the 2 hour half marathon. Now on to the race:


The swim was a lot of fun. The race had 400+ entries which were broken into 6 waves which made it much safer to start. The first buoy was also farther out so people weren't climbing over top of each other. The course was a "J" course where you ran out from the beach through the break, headed to a buoy, made a right turn, swam 1 mile, then made a sharp right turn back into the beach. It was great to head out through the break. It made the less confident swimmers start back further. I didn't even sprint and found myself rounding the first buoy near the lead. My internal GPS must have been working because without seeing the smaller buoys, I ended up swimming right over them. I was just working on pacing and remaining calm when I kept seeing all of the different color caps in the water. All of the sudden I hit the last buoy and headed in. I didn't quite hit the timing right on the waves and I went to stand up and had a wave land on top of me and put me under. Remained calm and collected and continued on. Finally got to where I could run up the shore and there were 2 other caps of the same color with me. Turns out I lost my age group swim by :08!! Final time: 25 minutes. How is that for hitting your goal.


I had walked the transitions as I had done in previous races to make sure I knew which rack to head to. Well, they changed the swim entrance after we left the transition for the swim start. So when I entered, I ran down the wrong rack. Not a big deal. Wiped some sand off my feet, ate a half banana, downed some water, threw on my shoes and helmet and headed out. All done in 1:33 minutes. Cool, 1 minute ahead of pace.


Was way too excited here. When I got going, I noticed my cadence sensor wasn't working. It's a shame because for the first time, I wore a heartrate strap during the swim so I could have it for later in the race and having both sets of info would be great. So I tried to spin to warm up my legs but they wouldn't cooperate. This might be a long bike ride. 5 miles into the race my legs started feeling better. Unfortunately, I made a huge mistake and started pushing bigger gears. I looked down and my heartrate was hitting consistent 160-170 bpm and I was averaging 22.7 mph for the first 15 miles. Either their was a huge tailwind or I was just a bit excited. Based on the heartrate and how I felt later, I pushed too hard to fast. My wife and I had driven the course the day before and even she was commenting on how hilly one section felt. It was constant up and down. Nothing real steep and nothing too long, just up and down over and over for 15 miles. I worked through the hills hit the first aid station. Grabbed a bottle of Hammer Heed and some pretzels and kept going. A mile later, a semi-truck decided he needed to make a delivery to a local farm and back into a driveway completely blocking the road. It force me and 5 of my closest friends at the moment to completely stop and have a nice chat. There went the minute I earned during T1. As I left the hilly section, I literally ran into friends Sarah and Jeff who road out to support me in my efforts. They have been great friends coming to two of my races this year. As paybacks, I decided that they deserved some free SWAG from the race. Here is a photo of me coming down the hill re-entering the highway and catching Sarah out of the corner of my eye:

After the hills my average was now down to 20.4 mph. And I was feeling really strong. I had 8 miles till the turnaround point signifying 18 miles to go on the bike. Time to pick the average back up and see how my legs respond. Boy did they ever. 8 miles later my average was at 21 mph. Unfortunately, 40 miles was my limit, especially with a decent amount of climbing. My legs were now heavy and starting to hurt. At this point I started to doubt myself. So I made a tactical decision to back off and not race the people I was around. It took an hour for me to complete the last 18 miles, but when I looked at my watch, it said 3:11 minutes. Given that my watch time was around 24 minutes exiting the water, that put my bike split around 2:46! Now the question becomes whether or not I pushed too hard. Ahead of my goal time by 15 minutes!


Relaxed as it was time for my moment of truth. Grabbed my shades, hat, race belt, slipped on my shoes, and grabbed some food. Spent a fair amount of time in the transition area unfortunately but still was just another 1:30 minutes. I'm now 16 minutes under my goal time.


Anyone that has done endurance sports knows there is a fine line between maximum effort and hitting a wall. I hoped I had not hit the wall. I came out of transition all smiles as I saw my wife cheering for me. It gave me hope and inspiration to finish.

So I start running... well in my case, jogging at a leisurely pace. My legs aren't on fire, but they feel aweful. I don't know the muscle, but the lower part of the quad heading to the inside of the knee is borderline cramping. But I finish my first mile in 8:30. Look at my watch and do a double take. Distance is wrong, has to be. Next thing to hit me is cramping in my ribs. Fight through it. I'm not walking this. Next thing I know, I hit 4 miles... 36 minutes and change. Not bad, right on 2 hour pace. As the miles go by, my pace starts slowing down. Soon I'm hitting 10 minute miles. My cadence is too slow I say to myself. Its now half way and I'm still running.... AND PASSING EEOPLE!! That never happens. Too many people had blown gaskets on the bike or were not prepared. More motivation. So I focused on slightly increasing the cadence and eliminating heel striking. Mile 7 - 9 minutes and change; Mile 8 - same; Mile 9 - same. Four more miles... total run time was sitting at 1:23 hours. I was really close to 2 hours. The bad part was at mile 10.5 where the race course had a sizeable hill. I almost walked up it. But no I pushed on. I now was ignoring my watch and thinking of the finish line. Actually I wasn't, I was thinking of the 1/3 of a mile run that was designed to torture competitors at the end of the race. The course took you onto the beach to run in the soft sand. As if running 13 miles after swimming 1.2 and biking 56 wasn't enough.

So I reached the beach!!! And then the pains hit. It was brutal. But I ignored the pain and tried to run. I entered the finishing shoot alone and had my wife there cheering and actually getting others watching to urge me on. I felt so bad but so good. I stepped onto pavement, rounded the corner and through the finish line. I made it!

Final Official Splits:
  • Swim: 25:00
  • T1: 1:33
  • Bike: 2:45:34
  • T2: 1:30
  • Run: 2:01:33
  • Final: 5:15:12
Beat my goal time by 15 minutes and was only slower in 1 of the 3 disciplines. I placed 2 age group and 20 overall in the swim (without a wetsuit) and 16 age group and 117 overall out of 375 entries.

In a few days some posts will be showing up about the new equipment I've used this year: Reynolds SDV66 wheels, LAS Chrono TT helmet, Newton Running Shoes, 2XU Endurance TriSuit, and Inviscid Design SpeedFil Hydration system...

1 comment:

sarah said...

Congratulations! You did great and it was fun to see you out there on the bike. You looked so pro! I do wish we'd seen you run into the finish line too, but with lots of bikes out on the course still and not quite knowing the roads for the run course we decided not to add to traffic in the area...I am so impressed with your training and planning and ability to hit your goal times so closely!