Sunday, May 6, 2012

Half way to Iron

It's done.  In the record books.  My first half ironman triathlon.  It was a great experience and at this moment, my legs are about as sore as they have ever been.  I'll sleep well tonight, probably very shortly after finishing this blog!

The event was the White Lake Half Ironman in White Lake, NC.  This course is very flat, and I was actually a bit bummed about that.  Me being the sick individual I am, I really wanted something with more hills.  Let me be absolutely honest - had there been hills on this course, I may not have been able to finish.  I went deep into the pain cave on the run, and I struggled just to finish on this flat course.

A few comments about the weekend in general:
**Hanging with some of my favorite peeps is a big part of why I even became interested in doing this event.  Some notable characters were missing from our weekend, and we truly did miss them.
**The organization by Setup Events was OUTSTANDING!!!!
**The volunteers on the course were AMAZING!!!  THANK YOU so much for your dedication.
**The spectators were also AWESOME!!!  Folks were out with water guns and hoses to spray down the competitors, others were just out there to give a cheer and words of encouragement.  These folks made it so much easier to finish the run portion of the event.
**Congratulations to everyone who finished the event.  Not just my friends who were down there, but also to all of the other competitors.  The conditions were really hard for that run so anyone who finished is a first class athlete in my book.
**Congratulations to my friends Jenny for her 4th place age group placing and Kristin for her 2nd place in her category in the Half and to RJ for his 3rd place age group placing in the sprint.  These peeps rocked it big time!

I'll put this link up here at the top - it is the 'live tracking' link from Setup Events.  My bib number was 74 (you may have to type in the number):
Other friends who I know their numbers:
Jenny:  420
Tedd:  54
Ron:  105
Keith:  727
Justina:  148
Kristin:  711
Robin:  85
Scott:  49
Danette:  71

So, here's my perspective:

The Swim.
The swim was wetsuit legal, but I elected to NOT wear my wetsuit.  This probably cost me pretty dearly in the swim.  How much did it cost, I'll never know, but I feel sure that I was slower without it than with it.  I also found that my sighting still needs work.  In the end, my swim time was 45m2s.  Really not so bad considering I swam probably at least 100 extra meters because of my sighting.

Just after the first turn, I was struck by the lead woman from the group behind me.  She was flying!  I had a 5 minute head start, and she caught me within 600 meters or so.  AMAZING!  At the second turn, I was attacked by a pack of ravenous alpha females who must have sensed my weakness - there must have been about 10 of the light blue capped, over 34 women who passed me at that turn.  I just tried to stay out of their way.

I felt good at the end of the swim, and had a 2:41 transition to the bike.  Perhaps one of my better transitions so far, but I didn't have to remove my wetsuit.  I did spend a fair amount of time cleaning my feet and putting my socks on.  I know that would help me go faster.

The Bike:
On the bike, I went out feeling good and rocked a 22.8 mph pace for the first hour.  I was passing a lot of people and I caught up to Jenny at mile 10, Scott at mile 25 and Ron and Tedd at about mile 40.  Of course, after that first hour, I did start to slow a little, then we turned into the wind and had to fight that for about 20 miles or so.

It didn't help that my back started hurting at about the same time that we turned into the wind.  So, not only did I have to fight the wind, I had to do it from a less aerodynamic position to try and save my back.  That definitely slowed me down.  I finished with (I think) a 20.1 mph average.  The time was 2h44m29s.  I was hoping to get about 2h30m, but that was just not in the cards.

In the future, especially if I decide to continue these longer events, I'll be getting a professional fit and raising the handlebars a little to try to ease some strain from my back.  It is fine for a sprint, and maybe for olympic distance (20-30 miles - not sure exactly), but not for the half or full distances.

I was glad to see the transition area, and I had a 2:30 transition to the run.  I felt ok with that, although I made a serious rookie mistake.  I forgot my run number and left without it!

The Run:
I was about a 1/3 mile into the run when I realized I forgot my number.  I turned around briefly and asked a volunteer what I should do.  She said some people elected to go back for it.  I decided that I had my garmin, and if I didn't get an official time, at least I had my personal results.  I put it in the back of my mind and concentrated on the run.

My first mile was about 8m40s.  I was feeling ok, but I could already feel it in my legs.  More distressing, as I ran through mile 2 was my heart rate.  It was about 160 and I knew I would not be able to hold that pace for a half marathon distance.  My second mile was 9m9s and after that I slowed down.  I think the heat was really causing me some trouble, thus my high heart rate.

I grabbed an ice towel at mile 2, and stoppped in a port-a-john at about mile 3.  At first I tried to put the towel on my neck, held in by my jersey, but that really wasn't doing anything for me.  So I think it was at mile 3 that I simply laid it on my head.  What a relief that was.  I was so thankful for that ice water!

I ran for most of the first 7 miles.  I tried to stop running only at the aid stations which were placed at every mile.  I did drink water and refresh my ice towel at the stations.  I also took to scooping up some ice into my hat and putting it back on my head.  If my water cup had ice in it after the water was gone, I poured that down the back of my jersey.  I was soaked completely for almost the entire run.  My shoes were soaked!

The run course was out and back, so I was able to see my peeps after I turned around.  Jenny was just less than a mile behind me.  I figured she probably would catch me, but it would likely be very near the end of the run.  She looked good when I passed her.  Ron, Tedd, Scott, Robin, Justina, Kristin, Danette and Keith were all seemingly in good spirits when I saw them, some were walking, some were running.  I was glad to see all of them.

Miles 9-11 were the most difficult.  I struggled to keep running and I talked myself into doing 1/2 mile, then walking 1 minute.  Then, it was run 5 minutes and walk 1.  I don't know exactly what I did, but these two miles was when I was deepest in the pain cave.  Even though I knew there was 'only' a 5k left to run, I couldn't muster the mental fortitude to run the entire distance.

It was only when I crossed the 11 mile mark that I was able to summon the courage to pick it back up and run the remaining distance.  That is of course except the short walks at the aid stations to refresh my ice towel and get some water or HEED energy drink.  The last mile was tough, but it was actually a pretty decent pace - something near 10 minutes.

My overall pace on my Garmin showed 10:41/mile and the official results showed me completing the run in 2h20m25s.  About 20 minutes slower than I had hoped, but faster than I felt while I was out there.

Overall, my finish time was 5h55m5s (on 5/5 no less!).  My goal was 6 hours with a super goal of 5h30m.  I met my goal, so I am pleased with that. 

I'm in some pretty severe pain - mostly my quadriceps.  It is very difficult to navigate stairs and even slight grades.  Downhill is worse than uphill, quite surprisingly.

Will I do it again, Yes, but it will be a few days before you really start hearing the enthusiasm in that response.   

1 comment:

  1. Wow, breaking 6 hours in your first HIM is huge! It's tough to hold back on the bike enough to save your legs for the run. The leg pain on the run in a HIM is worse than anything else I've ever endured. it hurts worse than on a full ironman run.


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