This was my first Half Ironman, third Tri ever, and my first race of the season. I’ve been training indoors on the bike since November and first took it out on the road back in mid to late March. My goals for this race was: 1. Finish 2. Keep my Heart Rate under 80% of my Max Heart Rate (MHR).
My wife and I stayed at a B&B near the race site. We ate dinner at Olive Garden the night before, I had Chicken Alfredo. I got 5 hours of sleep and slept pretty good. I got up at 4:30, ate two piece of toast with butter and packed up the car. I was still full from the night before.
At the race site, I unpacked the car, put my race number on the bike, and mixed my fuels with bottled water. Went for body marking, however, the guy doing the race numbers was dyslexic. He wrote 259 vs. 295, my actual race number. I had to go back and be marked again. Ugh. This started the day of small frustrations. The transition area was buzzing with athletes getting ready. I was setting up and noticed I forget my bike pump and my wetsuit with 10 minutes before the area was closed. I asked my wife to grab my wetsuit and I borrowed someone’s bike pump. I had no problems with the front tire, however, for the back tire, the pump valve was not coming off. I forced it off, hitting my knuckles against the cogs and started bleeding profusely. So there I was, bleeding, trying to get into a wetsuit.
Right before the swim start, on the beach, the Hokie Tri Team recited the Hokie chant in a group. So I responded with a single “Go Gators!” which drew one little “Woo” in the crowd. Being that my start wave was about 65%+ Hokies I got a lot of dirty looks. Kinda funny.
The most comfortable open water swim I have ever had. The water didn’t taste funny, like the Potomac in September, and it was calm at the start. I focused on long easy strokes. I found some feet to draft off from time to time but for the most part I didn’t draft very much. The first lap was easy. On the second lap the wind picked up and it was choppier than the first lap. I learned a couple thing about my stroke mechanics. While breathing on my right side I swim straight as an arrow, at first I was checking my bearings every 4-6 strokes, eventually I worked up to every 12-16 strokes before sighting. While breathing on the left however, not so straight. I can only go about 6 strokes before veer off course to the right. I realized what was causing it-pulling cross body with my right arm after breathing instead of along my side (I’ll work on this in the pool). The fast female swimmers that started 6 minutes behind me caught me on the 2nd lap after the last buoy before land. I was really amazed at how fast their stroke turnover was, about 2 times the speed of mine! So, between now and RI 70.3 in July, I’ll work on endurance and speed via faster arm turnover.
Time: 37:31 1:47/100 yds
I exited the water, jogged to what I thought was my row, then found my bike the row over. My wetsuit was not fast to come off, I need to trim the legs a little around the ankles. Put my shoes on, jogged to the mount point and headed out. Time: 3:33 Very slow. I know I can cut this down to sub 2:00, just need to practice.
Nice and cool for a bike ride. Remember how I decided to ride at about 80% of my MHR on the bike, just to see how I would do, being my first long course tri? So yeah, I wasn’t going fast. Everyone was passing me and I mean everyone. Guys that were 100 lbs+ more than me. I let them go. My mantra was, “Ride my own race.” The first lap was good, not too much wind, my position was fine, I was enjoying the hills. On the second lap, I began to hurt. Not cramping-my stomach was too full. I was doing everything I could to keep fluids down. I was already taking in Perpetuem, which was fine with me, but for some reason, I thought taking hammer gel right before the 2nd lap would be a good idea. Not so much. I haven’t tried it in training, so yeah, I think that caused my bloating and stomach issues. I wanted to go a little faster on the 2nd lap, but my stomach was too full, I was burping, on the edge of tossing cookies for the entire lap. Plus I had to stop for a short bathroom break and my chain came off once. Time: 3:29:15. Avg speed 16 mph. Although it was the same speed I had for my first sprint tri of 15 miles and four MPH slower than my September Olympic race.
I was not feeling good from the bike. No cramping just the same stomach issues. It took a while to find my row again and my gear was not set up for a quick transition. I didn’t have yanks on my running shoes this time. Time: 3:10 Again, I’ve been faster. I think I can be under a minute if a practice this.
This is not the way to start a run. As I exited transition, the winner crossed the finish line.
During the first ¼ mile I threw-up in my mouth. I kept it down because by this point it was almost 90 degrees out and I didn’t want to dehydrate.
At 1.5 miles a spectator yelled “it’s getting hot and humid out!” I thought, “Thanks?”
I walked a lot. Every aid station, at every mile marker, and sometime in between to keep my heart rate from going above 80% of my max. When I did run, I averaged about a 8:00 min/mile pace.
I found my legs at mile 4.
The heat turned the field into a death march. It looked like Olympic speed walking.
No offense to anyone, but I saw that a little person was ahead of me. She was moving! Come to find out later that she was having an asthma attack and she finished faster last year. Impressive.
The 3rd and final lap I picked up the pace and ran at about 85% of my MHR. I was feeling better overall, kept pouring water over my head and sipping on heed. The last mile I ran at 7:45 and hit 86% MHR . Side note: I passed a few people on the run that passed me on the bike. Time: 2:14:56. 10:14/mile pace.
Learned a lot from this race: I felt fine after wards, hung out with friends, and didn’t go to bed until 1 AM.
Nutrition: Drop 5-10 pounds by slightly altering diet to cut down on processed sugars. Race with what you train with.
Swim (3-4 workouts a week):
Continue weekly continuous endurance swims maxing out at 60-80 minutes. Incorporate speed and technique drills into other workouts and work on left side breathing techniques and stroke speed (@ masters swim workouts).
1 long ride 4-6 hours, 2 rides at 2 hours [mid week], and 1 fast ride for one hour (speed work).
Run (3-4 workouts a week):
Brick workouts, continue a LSD run of 2-2.5 hrs each week, and one fast run for one hour [fartlek, speed work].
Incorporate back to back workouts, especially swim to run and swim to bike.