I usually try not to spend much time worrying about things that I can’t control. Despite my best efforts, I found myself checking the extended forecast as soon as this race was 10 days away. From the very first time I saw it, rain was being called for on race day. I checked it every day the week leading up to the race and it never changed…”scattered showers/t-showers”. So I knew that I was going to be in for a wet day.
I printed out my race checklist and packed all of my gear on Friday night. I woke up at 5:15am on Saturday, heated up my sweet potato and started mixing my fuel/nutrition for the race. I put lots of care into what I was going to consume before and during the race. I’ve been experimenting with this for several months now and I knew exactly what I was going to use (full details at the bottom of this post). Once I finished measuring, pouring and mixing, I loaded everything into the car, kissed Jessica goodbye and hit the road about ten minutes after six.
As I pulled out of our subdivision I noticed the first drops of rain on the windshield. I was hoping that the rain would at least hold off long enough for me to get my transitions set up…but that wasn’t going to happen. I arrived at Taylorsville Lake State Park around 6:45am and immediately took my bike over to grab a spot on the rack closest to the T1 exit. I always try and get this spot so that I don’t have as far to run with my bike before exiting T1. Once I got my bike on the rack, I went back and sat in the car to try and wait out the rain.
After sitting in the car for about 20 minutes and rocking out some Def Leppard (yes, I have their Greatest Hits CD), I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer and I needed to go ahead and get body marking done and set up my transitions. It was still raining pretty steady as I set everything up. Fortunately, I remembered to bring a few garbage bags and I was able to use them to cover everything up so that I could at least start out the bike and run with dry gear. See picture below, that’s my bike and gear covered up with the garbage bags.
I normally have everything set up with lots of time to spare, but since I sat in the car for so long, I ended up cutting it closer than I like. By the time I got my wetsuit out of the car, everyone was starting to walk down to the water. I struggled to get it on while the race director went over the course and rules with everyone. A very helpful race volunteer saw me struggling and kindly helped me finish zipping it up.
Once I had my wetsuit on, I went over to say hi to the family. Jessica was there wearing Adrian, with my sister-in-law manning the stroller where Kate (who didn’t know what to think about Daddy’s get-up) was sitting. My parent’s had also made it down to see the start of the race. I have such awesome support from my entire family! I guarantee that I had the biggest cheering section (thanks goes out to my Mom and Jessica for the pictures!).
I started to wade out into the water and I was planning on going out into the water for a quick warm-up swim. I realized that wasn’t going to happen when I heard the race director yell “Men’s wave starts in 10 seconds!”. Ok…I guess it’s go time!
The race started the way that all open-water swim starts do…with a mob of people trying to get around, over and through everyone else. I stayed out to the left of the group and only had to tuck back into the crowd of swimmers to get around the first buoy. The swim was two loops of a 0.6 mile course in Taylorsville Lake. The large, yellow, 7 foot tall pyramid buoys were easy to see, even from a quarter mile away. I was able to get a good sight line right of the bat and looked up every 6-10 strokes to make sure I was still on line. I concentrated on keeping a good rhythm and making sure my pull was straight. I found myself all alone after I made the turn around the far buoy. I wasn’t sure if I was going faster that most people or slower. I felt like I was keeping a good pace and I was smooth in the water. I looked to my right and saw lots of other swimmers that still hadn’t reached the first buoy, so I was feeling pretty good about where I was. I reached the half-way point and took a quick glance at my watch. It was 17 minutes and some change…wow…that was fast! I put my head down and tried not to get too excited. I maintained a comfortable pace and didn’t really pour it on until the last 200 meters or so. I exited the water and looked at my watch. I had done the 1.2 miles in just over 35 minutes! This is a very fast time for me. I guess all of the extra swimming and working with Coach Manuel and Train Smart MultiSport group on Wednesday mornings is paying off! I did the swim over 10 minutes faster this year than last!!
Official Swim time (including run from the water to T1) – 36:28.6
3rd out of 10 in my age group and 16th fastest swim out of 76 total
I was excited about my swim time as I ran up the parking lot into T1. I was able to get my wetsuit unzipped and pulled down around my waist making it easier to run. I got to my bike, pulled my legs out of the wetsuit, put on my heart rate monitor, racing jersey, socks , sunglasses and helmet and I headed out of transition.
I’ve started to clip my bike shoes into the pedals and leave them on my bike. I use rubber bands to hold them in place and keep them from hitting the ground as I run the bike out of transition. I then hop on my bike and pedal with my feet on top of the shoes, sliding them in once I get down the road. This worked well during the Shelbyville Sprint race last month, but for some reason, one of my rubber bands broke before I could mount my bike this time. My right shoe spun around, hit the ground and came out of my clip. I had to bring everything to a stop, get my foot in the bike shoe and then get me momentum back. Not a very smooth bike mount, but I didn’t panic and actually laughed about how I must have looked like a newby to everyone that was standing around watching. (see picture to the right).
T1 time was 2:04.9 (40 seconds faster than last year)
4th out of 10 in my age group and 23rd overall
I’m completely comfortable on the bike. I’ve logged hundreds of miles over the last few years and now that I have Flash, riding is more enjoyable than ever. This course is a very hilly one, but one that I know pretty well. I’ve ridden it several times and I know when the big hills are coming and when I should conserve energy. I made it a point to keep my heart rate at my aerobic threshold of 140 for the entire 56 mile ride. Even on the climbs, I tried to ride in a gear that allowed me to keep my HR under control. It rained off and on during the entire ride. It actually didn’t bother me too much and my only fear was dropping one of my wet bottles! My feet were soaked early on, and the sun never made an appearance, so I knew at that I was going to have to change socks in T2.
The course has an out-and-back around mile 20, so I was able to see all of the riders in front of me. I counted 20 riders go by me in the other direction, so I was in 21st at this point in the race. Based on my swim, I honestly thought that I would be higher than that, but I didn’t let it bother me. One draw-back of being a faster swimmer is that you don’t get to pass as many people on the bike. I’ve enjoyed “hunting” riders down on the bike during races. I only passed 4-5 people during the bike and actually was passed twice…which doesn’t happen very often. Based on coming out of the water in 16th and having the 21st fastest bike split, I guess I few people had quicker transitions.
My legs started to feel some fatigue as I headed up the last big hill (pictured above). I really had to relieve myself by this point, so I took this opportunity to stand up on the bike, stretch my legs, and let it flow. Yes, you read that correctly…I peed while on the bike (no picture available). It’s something that I will have to do multiple times during the 112 mile Ironman bike, so I thought this was a good time to practice. I won’t get into details, but everything came out ok. I sprayed myself with some water out of my bottle to clean up a little, pushed it though the last few miles and made it back to transition 11 minutes faster than last year!
Official Bike time – 2:45:26.5 (20.3 mph average) – Avg HR = 137
4th out of 10 in my age group and 21st fastest bike out of 76 total
T2 was very smooth. I took my feet out of the shoes has I coasted into the bike dismount area. I hopped off the bike and ran it to the rack. I pulled off my wet socks, put on a dry pair (glad I thought to bring these too), slipped my shoes on, took my bike helmet off, grabbed my hat and fuel belt and headed out.
T2 time was 0:58.60 (17 seconds faster than last year)
4th out of 10 in my age group and 10th overall
The run starts off with a nice little 100 foot climb over the fist 3/4 of a mile. It’s straight uphill! Some people walk this, but I try to run it to get my legs moving off the bike. My heart rate jumped into the 160’s by the time I reached the top of the hill and it took nearly another half mile before it settled down to 150, where I wanted to keep it for the majority of the run.
My quads started burning almost immediately. They were cramping and I was very nervous that the entire run was going to be a struggle. I stopped at the first aid station and filled up my fuel belt bottles with water (I put the powder in them at home). At this point, my quads felt like someone was sticking nails in them. Stopping to fill up the bottles made it 10 times worse. I gave my legs a few smacks and started running again. Thankfully, by the time I made it to the first turn-around, the quad pain was all but gone. The run course is three out-and-back loops from the lake to the park entrance, so you get to see everyone else multiple times. I knew several people doing the race, so it was nice to give and get some encouragement several times during the run. The rain continued off and on, but thankfully the sun never came out so I didn’t get too hot. I had no idea what pace I was running, but based on my heart rate I was guessing around 8:30-8:40 miles. I made it to the half-way point in just under 58 minutes, so I did some rough math in my head and figured that I was running around an 8:50 pace. I was feeling pretty good at this point, so I decided to stick with my plan and allow my HR to go above 150 for the last half of the run. The rolling hills get to you at some point. It was up and down, up and down, over and over. The problem that I ran into was even when I tried to push it harder, I couldn’t get my HR much over 150. My fitness was there, but my legs were done. I just tried to hold my current pace until the last turn-around…then I just went all-out during the final 2 miles or so back to the finish. My breathing was very labored and my legs were on fire, but my HR was only in the 140s! I sprinted down the hill to the finish and managed to run a negative split, doing the last half of the run in 56 minutes.
Official Run time – 1:54:47.9 (8:45 min/mile) – Avg HR = 145
5th out of 10 in my age group and 24th fastest run out of 76 total
I had set a goal to do the entire race in 5:27:00, and I honestly had no idea how close to that I was until I scrolled through my watch during the last mile or so on the run. I was very excited to see that I was going to meet my goal easily and smash my Half-Ironman PR by over 38 minutes! I crossed the finish line and once I stopped moving I got light-headed and had to find something to lean against to keep from falling over. I truly gave it all I had and it’s a good feeling to cross the finish line knowing that you gave your best effort!
Total Race Time – 5:19:46.5
5th out of 10 in my age group and 23rd out of 76 total
I was only 83 seconds behind the 4th place finisher in my age group (incident coming out of T1 might have made the difference here) and less than 3 minutes away from a top 20 finish overall. I would love to get under 5 hours one day, which would have put me in the top 10 in this race. It’s a lofty goal, but without goals, why would I even tri??
2XU C:2 wetsuit
Aqua Sphere Kayenne goggles
Pearl Izumi Elite Tri Top and Shorts
Tifosi Dolomite sunglasses
Argon 18 E-112 Triathlon bike
Asics Gel Foundation-9 shoes
- Nathan Catalyst Electrolye tablet (1 in a 24oz water bottle) – sipped for the hour leading up to race start
- PowerBar Energy Blasts – ate about 30 minutes before race start
- Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem (6 scoops in one 24oz. bottle of water) – took two sips every 15 minutes
- One bottle of clear water to start and then replaced at aid station at mile 26
- Hammer Nutrition Gel (4 gels in one 4oz. flask) – one big gulp every 30 minutes
- Millennium Sports Athlytes capsules (3 per hour – 9 total) – one every 20 minutes
- Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem (1.5 scoops in each of the two 8oz. bottles on my fuel belt – mixed with water at first aid station) – two sips every 15 minutes
- Clear water at every aid station
- Millennium Sports Athlytes capsules (3 per hour – 6 total) – one at every aid station so that I could take them with water
Nutrition plan worked well. I didn’t feel tired until the end of the run and had the urge to pee during just about the entire bike and run, so I was well hydrated. My stomach started to bother me during the last half-hour of the run, but I think this was due to the stress my body was under, not improper nutrition.
Next race is an Olympic Distance Triathlon on June 5th. I’ll take it easy this week to recover, then get back at it next week!