First off, its recommended that before a race you should explore the course--ride/run part of it or drive it. I did neither. That didn't matter as they had plenty of volunteers and the course was marked very well both for the bike and the run. The swim, however, did not have enough buoy's/floaty things and what they did have didn't seem to be that straight. It was a straight out and back, but it was hard to stay straight as the markers seemed to be moving. A very experienced Half IM/IM racing friend of mine said that he and an elite competitor collided--he was going out, the elite was coming back. Also, I saw one boat & life guard in the water along the swim, and another raft type thing at the turn around.
OVERALL GOAL TIME OF THE RACE= 5:00:00 or less
Pre-Race/Transition set up:
I got my bike and gear set up--it was tight, but it worked. Got body marked, picked up the transponder, and put on the wet suit. Then I waited in line at the porta-potties finally got in, drained and left. I then headed to the beach as they were getting ready to go. I was in wave 5--the elites were wave 1, and then each waive clicked off every two minutes. By the time I got to the beach, I had to pee again. Too bad I guess.
SWIM= 1.2 miles (goal under 45 min, but should get 40 min)
It was nice racing this distance (the whole race) as people seemed more relaxed in the swim and not so frantic. I am guessing its because after 1.2 miles of swimming, we still has 69.1 miles of combined biking and running to do. I got to the turn around in just under 19 min. I was on course to get under 40 minutes.
I finished the swim, relieved that the toughest part was over. I hit 'lap' on my HRM and it flashed 38 and some change.
SWIM TIME= 38:53
T1 (goal 2 min)
This was a big transition area. I set my goal based on looking at results from previous years. I thought 2 minutes was do-able. I took my time once I got to my bike to make sure I had everything. I quickly scanned everything and headed for the "Bike Out".
T1 TIME- 2:10
BIKE= 56 miles (Goal under 2:30:00, possible to get around 2:25:00)
This is my strength--usually. I felt fine and was moving pretty well. It wasn't hard to keep my heart rate around 160 bpm and still maintain 23+ mph on the flats. In sprint and olympic races I try to keep my heart rate just under threshold which is in the 170-175 range. Remember when I said I had to go pee when I got to the beach? Well, that didn't go away. I ended up stopping my ride at mile 9. Yes, I STOPPED AT MILE 9 and took a pee. I noted who went by so I could see if I would gain the riders back. Stopping to pee was no easy thing to do. I was wearing a one-piece tri-suit so I had to take down the top. To make things worse, since I was pulled over, a motor-cycling race official came by to check on me. I wasn't sure if peeing on the side of the road was penalty-time-worthy so I had to pause in mid-stream and pretend to be fixing something on my heart rate strap and my uniform. I estimate between slowing down, going, playing off the official, and resuming, I lost about 3 minutes. After the much needed relief, I resumed my ride.
After about 15 minutes or so, I passed pretty much all the riders that passed me when I was, you know. Around mile 30 I started to feel a little low on energy. Was I bonking? Maybe. My heart rate was dropping into the low 150's, high 140's, but I still felt like I was working in the 160's. For me, that is a sign of bonkage. I was thru with the liquid in my aero bottle and re-filled with a very diluted sports drink and was now working on my energy gel. (Part 2 of the race report will be all about racing fuel and energy food.) At around mile 33-34 I started to feel some energy coming back. I got my HR up a little bit, and was moving along again. At this point, I had only passed people, and wasn't passed yet so things were going pretty good. It was getting hotter and I knew I would lose a lot of fluid thru sweat during the run so I need to keep hydrating, and with more calories. I finished the really diluted mix in the aero bottle and re-filled it again with a stronger sports drink and starting working on it. At about mile 40, one guy caught and passed me. About mile 46, another (I recognized this guy--it was Rick Hoover). A couple miles later a group of 5-6 caught me. They were revolving around being sure not to draft each other as that is definitely cause for penalties. I started moving at this groups pace and with just a few miles to go, around 52-53 miles in, I started to relax so I could collect my thoughts and focus on the grueling run that was to follow. They continued to out-do each other. I didn't need to waist my energy as when the bike is racked, there is still a half marathon to run. Finally, after 56 miles of riding, I was back to the transition area.
BIKE TIME= 2:32:13
T2 (goal was 2 minutes)
As I entered T2, I felt like I had to pee again. I wanted to take care of that within the transition area so that the loss of time would be reflected in T2, and not in the run. No go. The porta-potties were all outside of the transition area--at least from what I could tell. I left transition (time for the run began ticking), relieved myself, then starting running.
T2 TIME= 1:49 (this balanced out my 2:10 T1 time for a total T1+T2 of 3:59)
RUN= 13.1 miles (goal was 1:45:00)
Exiting the porta-potty, the run starts down hill, curves thru the park, up a hill, then out on some neighborhood streets, then out of town on some county roads. Before leaving the park, I heard the family yelling and was able to catch a glimps and waive to them. Out of the park and thru the neighborhoods, I hit mile 1 at just barely under 7 minutes. I felt pretty good, but knew I wouldn't keep this up. I hit mile two at just over 14 minutes. Still feeling good, but with 11 miles to go, I needed to slow down a little. I went to jogging pace, but it still felt like work. It was nice that some of the fine folks of Chisago City were watering the streets with their sprinklers--cool water felt great to run thru. Once out on the hot stretches of false-flat ppen county roads, which felt more like actual hills, there was no shelter from the sun and heat. There were several tables set up with sports drinks, water, and ice. I took water and ice at almost all of them. Lightly clinching ice in my hands for a minute or two, then putting it under my hat really seemed to help keep me going. I thought the run was one big loop, but turns out it was an out and back with a small loop at the half way point. I was wearing a FuelBelt with 3, six to 7 oz bottles. In them I had a mix of roughly 80% white grape juice/20% water (with a dash of lemon juice to reduce the sweetness). However, at mile 6 they had a major water stop with several tables. Many people were stopping to refuel and use the welcoming refreshment stand as a way to escape the invitable pain of the run for a moment. I did the same. My juice mix was too strong so I emptied half the juice out of each bottle and topped them off with water. Then I jogged off into the little loop that would bring me back to the table. This little loop was shaded for about 3/4 of the way and it felt great. A long hill (ok, false flat) brought the runners back up to the big table set up at mile 6 and now passing the table, it was mile 7. I just kept moving. The next 6 miles were pretty uneventful except for my slowing speed and need to walk three times, pain in my feet, ankles, and knees. The walks were for only about 10 seconds each--just to decide I how felt. I didn't feel too good running, but walking for just a few seconds gave me just enough relief to run again. My pace was way over 8 minutes per mile now. With 2.5 miles to go, I was 19 minutes short of 5 hours for the day. At 2 miles to go, I was at 15 minutes short of 5 hours. I would have to run 7.5 minute miles to come in under 5 hours. It seems hopeless. However, I tried to speed up. I did...a little. It didn't seem like much, but I was moving a little faster. Back to the neighborhoods with the sprinklers, I felt a little recharged, caught a few guys--recognizing some from the group of riders I talked about in the bike section above. They were not looking good, but I know I wasn't either. At the last water table the volunteers said "Only about a mile and a quarter to go!" My watch said 4:51:xx. I had almost 9 minutes to get in 1.25 miles. I COULD DO THIS. However, 1.5 minutes later, the I could see a few blocks ahead, a sign that said 12 miles. WHAT!!?? Encouraging those last volunteers were, but a little off on their info. Maybe it was intentional, to give you hope. Now I had just around 7-7.5 minutes left to cover 1 mile (with an uphill finish). I figured I wasn't going to make 5 hours, but maybe 5:02. I would be happy with that. I didn't even look at my watch again, but ran just slightly harder. Back into the park, up thru the curvy path, and up to the finish. I clicked stop as I crossed the line.... 5:00:58. Just one pee stop too many...
RUN TIME= 1:45:51
Overall, it was an exhausting, but great experience. I didn't have goals of finishing at the top of my age-group, nor am I trained for that at this race distance. I never set goals to "just finish" because that is a given--you don't sign-up for something you can't finish, right? Finishing is the first automatic 'given' goal, but there should always be others--whether it be to PR your time from the previous race of same distance, finish in the top ?? percent, bike split of ?? : ??, etc, etc. This morning I am a bit sore in places--feet, left knee, upper back, but actually feel pretty good. The HR data tells a lot. After a olympic or longer sprint race, I am usually a wreck that evening and in the morning, but I am working a lot harder as far as intensity is concerned. For this race, it was more of a steady, but lower out put for twice as long as the usual race time.
SPLITS, FINAL TIME, PLACING, and HR Data
Swim 00:38:53.1 (111 bpm, but I doubt that is right)
T1 00:02:10.1 (no data)
Bike 02:32:13.6 (149 bpm)
T2 00:01:49.7 (134 bpm)
Run 01:45:51.8 (148 pbm)
Overall HR: 148 average (which is only zone 2);
Max HR: 165
Calories burned: 3054
zone 1 (easy/recovery level) = 20 min
zone 2 (aerobic/endurance) = 3 hrs, 39 min
zone 3 (tempo) = 57 min
zone 4 (race/sub threshold) = 4 min
zone 5 (threshold+) = no time at or above threshold
76th Overall of 555 individual half iron finishers
9th of 64 in age-group 35-39
NOTE: eventhough this was a USAT sanctioned event, the race organizers score the results using your day-of age, not race-age. However, they do have to run a separate set of results which will be reported to USAT, using your official USAT Race-Age. My current age is 39, race age is 40.