Monday, September 24, 2007

Half Ironman, Sunday Sept 23rd

Sunday, Sept 23rd, was my first half Ironman distance race, consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, followed by a 13.1 mile run (a half marathon) in the heat of the day. Weather was slated to be hot and it was about 90 or so, felt like 110, but hot is hot. I was up early, tried to drink a bunch of Gatorade and eat some solid food as the race diet would consist of a lot of energy gels (which are yummy by the way).

My goal time was 6 hrs. Anywhere under 6 hrs would be good. I really wanted to beak Joe G’s first half IM time of 5:46, so I was shooting for that. I wasn’t going out “racing” this event, but rather I approached this event as a long training event that was supported with water and food along the way. I didn’t plan to really go hard as this is a long race and I’ve never done a race this long.

Before the start. (major props to my beautiful wife to sticking it out during the race for hours on end and taking pictures between studying for a test she had today).

Picking my nose? Getting algae out of it? Who knows.

Focused and ready to go.

In the middle with no wetsuit at the start.

Water temp was “75.4 degrees,” but I think their thermometer was wrong as it was about 78 and quite comfy. 75 degrees is cold for swimming, but it wasn’t cold. We started late as we always do with this race organization, but what is 13 min late in a 6 hr race? The swim was not 1.2 miles, but rather probably 1.1 miles, because I was out of the water in 31:31 when I was expected no less then 36 min. I didn’t swim particularly hard, nor did I get to draft much, so it was a short swim and folks I talked to later agreed. Short swim is fine by me. Of 141 finishers, I was 48th on the swim.

Slow transition to the bike, but it was a long run to the bike and then I put on socks and loaded up with food and everything. The bike was hilly, but nothing too steep or long to really put me in the red zone. I wanted to do it in 3 hrs (Avg 18.5 mph), but I was flying along and felt good so I kept going. I kept telling myself that after I get off the bike I have to run 13 miles, so take it easy, but I was feeling good. I had the game plan of, “If I feel good, go hard, if I feel like poo, take it easy and rest and recover.” I never felt bad on the bike so I went hard a lot, but never got suffering. I did the bike officially in 2:48:00 (12 min faster then goal) and averaged 20.3 mph!! That time includes a stop at the turn around where I got new water bottles and I put in my Gatorade mix rather then try the stuff they had. One thing you NEVER do is try a new food or drink on a race day. I lost probably 90 sec there, but it is a long race. I wanted to finish strong and wasn’t fretting about a minute. I had a few people pass me when I was stopped, but I passed them all again.

Off the bike and running to my shoes. Smoking it so far!

I did manage to eat one Clif bar, 3 GU’s, and 6 Clif Bloks (which are gummy worm consistency thingee that are tasty!). Plus 4 bottle of Gatorade and a bunch of water. I also downed 3 sets of Enduralyte pills which are salts basically to keep you from cramping. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

Run start. Feeling (and looking) great (latter was Bec's comment)!! This was just before I got a good luck kiss from my wife:)

I started the run about 3 hrs and 23 min or so after the start. My goal was 6 hrs, so I had a TON of time to do the half marathon and beat Joe. I felt good, when I got off the bike. Temp was tolerable still, so that helped a lot. Before the run I applied sunscreen (missed the back of my shoulders, which are nicely burnt), and changed into dry socks. Good transition, but then again I wasn’t “racing” it like other races.

I started the run 37th overall (meaning I moved up 11 spots after the swim). I felt pretty good, drank some water, and tried to settle into a rhythm. I had to stop and stretch a few times, but settled into a groove pretty well. The run course was hillier then expected, mostly because miles 2-6 were in a private resort and we couldn’t drive it beforehand to scout it out. It was very hilly and I walked up some of the hills. No reason to punish myself knowing I have 10 more miles to go and it is really hot. I carried a water bottle with me the whole run. I poured water on my head, face, anywhere that was hot as often as needed. I stopped at the rest stops to refill with cold water I think 4 times. It was critical as there was about no shade and it was 90 degrees. I ran pretty consistent miles for the first 6 miles (8:55-9:25 miles, especially since I walked a few times and stopped at rest stops and lost 25 sec a few times), felt pretty darned good actually. Mile 7 took me past an intersection near the start/finish line and I knew Bec would be there. She snapped a pict (see below) and I ran mile 7 in 7:44!!! That was fast, both a lot of downhill, but I also got to see my baby! After I passed Bec, I knew the course and it was wide open, straight roads that were completely demoralizing. At one point running towards mile 9 turn around, I could see probably 10 runners and 8 were walking. Not good for the morale.

Mile 7, still feeling good, well for another 3 minutes or so.

Mile 8 was slower, mile 9, slower yet, and mile 11 was brutal as I ran/walked it in 11:16. Miles 10 and 11 were awful. I was tired, hot, not motivated. I suffered to no end, but I knew I was only a couple miles from the finish and I was killing this race!!! I had 2 guys in front of me that I just couldn’t catch. About a half of mile 11 was on a wooded trail, where apparently everyone walked a lot to cool down. I was no exception.

I hit mile 11 exhausted, but I was almost there. The 2 guys in front of me were suffering more then me, and I caught them both. I encouraged them, or tried to, when I passed them (one ended up finishing only a minute behind me, so maybe my cheering for him got him going again, yes many of us urged each other on during the run). I hit a little past the start of mile 12 and it was like I had a coke and 3 musketeer bar (my kind of dope). I started running hard. I ran mile 12 in 8:16!!! I was smiling and pumped up that I was going so fast and doing so well. It hurt, but I was going great. The last 1.1 miles was in 9:49, with the last 150m on uneven grass (stupid race organizers). I smiled and pumped my arms as I crossed the line in 5:25:25. Heck yeah!!! Smashed my goal of 5:46. Joe G is slow:) I did the half marathon in 2:01:45 (9:18 miles!!!) and was 26th in the category. Pretty excited about that.

I'm trying to smile with 40m to go.

At the finish. Who's excited!!!

I ended up passing 9 on the run and finished 28th overall out of 141. I didn’t race the race, but missed 3rd in my age group by just under 3 minutes. That is kind of disappointing, but I just wanted to race my race and learn how to do a long race like this. The main things I overcame were issues about hydration and nutrition. I was worried I’d either not drink enough and cramp really bad (I started to cramp just a tad a couple times) or I’d drink too much, get bloated and sloshy and puke.

I am a little sore today (Monday), but not nearly as sore as expected. I can walk just fine (unlike after the half marathon in April where I hobbled for 2 days). Enjoying a day on the couch as a reward.

Thank gosh that is over.

Overall results (format is messed up, but I’m 28th):

Age group results:

Not to be chauvinistic(again), but no woman beat me in this race. At a larger event, many women would smoke me, but not today!!!


Anonymous said...

from Joe G.
Nice time for a "Joe G. wanna-be" have stepped it up this year (after our only head-to-head matchup earlier in the year..which we know who won even with injuries :-)
Comparing your time to my only 1/2 IM
done 2 yrs ago on a KHS bike and no true endurance training..tisk tisk..but, do an Ironman and compare that time..I'll be even more impressed...oh, and add 9yrs to your AGE ..boy do I feel like 40 today...GOOD JOB...(I still don't have to mow my chest)

Kelly said...

Congratulations on your completion and amazing time.

I would like to rename your blog "Sup with Spandex"