Yesterday I finished my first half Ironman race. That's a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run for a total of 70.3 miles. The longest triathlon I had done before was just over half that distance. I've been joking for a while that upon completing a half Ironman I will be just half a man. I guess if Tyrion Lannister is a halfman that puts me in good company. But Christine noticed that nowadays they brand it as "Ironman 70.3." Maybe not everyone thought it was as funny as me to be half a man.
Let's start with my official results which I've summarized here. The third column is how I placed in men 40-44 and the fourth is how I placed overall.
|Swim||43:26||243/487 (50th %)||1391/2903 (48th %)||381 calories|
|Bike||3:15:28||294/487 (60th %)||1535/2903 (53rd %)||1814 calories|
|Run||2:05:16||259/487 (53rd %)||1386/2903 (48th %)||1528 calories|
|Total||6:23:01||259/487 (53rd %)||1386/2903 (48th %)||3723 calories|
What was it like? Read on to find out. This will get long but there will be pretty pictures.
The pre-race events were super smooth. In fact the whole day was very impressively organized. Upon arriving in Oceanside I parked in a garage and walked over to T2 to drop off my run bag. (T2 was not the same location as T1.) Then I realized I forgot my wetsuit so I walked the 2 blocks back to the parking garage. Good thing I realized that before heading for T1 which was over a mile away! Wetsuit in tow, I rode over to T1 and set up there.
Next was body marking. They write my bib number (1014) on my arm and my age on my leg. I don't understand the age thing. I think it's so you feel shame when someone older passes you but I'm not sure. Every triathlon does this.
Then I had some time to find friends. Much of my swim masters class members were doing the race too. First I found Randolph and James. James has done this race before and he gave Randolph and I good tips on the bike course elevation profile. A bit later I found Cat along with her husband and friend as well as Vanessa. The gang was all here! I have a couple of coworkers who registered as well but neither were able to compete. :( Missed seeing you guys! Everyone asked if I was nervous but I felt ready.
I gathered with the light blue heads which was my wave consisting of men, 40-44, N-Z. I saw 3 women wearing light blue caps which made me laugh. A few minutes later we were in the water. I acclimated to the 58 degree water quickly (I had practiced that) which was good because in about 2 minutes we were off!
not my race but this is what it's like
The beginning was a mass of bodies which is never fun. It's a grope and collision fest. Those poor 3 women! Eventually it thinned out which was an improvement but swimming in the ocean is not my favorite. Over at the far (less protected) end the water was more rough and noticeably colder. The swim seemed to take forever but I never tired which made me happy. I beat my budgeted time of 45 minutes by 2. Yay, good start!
Next up was transition #1 (swim to bike). I took almost 13 minutes which was about what I expected. I think the average time is ~7 minutes but I don't know how anyone does it in less than ten. I am a little bit handicapped because I do a full towel change rather than wear a tri suit under my wetsuit. Also I ate half a brownie to get that crappy ocean taste out of my mouth. It was heavenly and worth the 30 seconds without a doubt.
my bike splits, I accidentally hit the lap button after 0.17 miles
I was surprised by my bike performance. It took me 3:15 and I had budgeted 3:30. That's a big difference! I felt strong the whole time. I should say my legs were fine but I was tired of holding my head up and my butt was tired of sitting in the seat (despite wearing my nice and oh-so-attractive shorts). There was a light drizzle much of the time and thus a spray of mud all over all of us. But the temperature was great, low 60s.
It seemed like bikes were passing me constantly. I was wondering where all these cyclists were coming from, how could there be so many back there? I didn't see a single other Litespeed bike during the race; I guess I'm the only cool one. ;) I saw tons of Cervelos (so many Cervelos). Also Kestrels, Quintanas, Felts, and others. I really wanted to touch the Felt bikes. Lots of money out there between peoples' legs.
Christine thinks I'm pretty cool stuff which makes me happy
I did fine on the three hills and passed lots of people on the way up. I'm built for hills. But of course they all passed me back later. With the drizzle I saw lots of sweat and mud-sprayed people. I remember one lady wiped her runny nose and wiped it on her bike shorts. These endurance events don't tend to show us at our most attractive. Even considering the shorts.
But if you don't get inspiration from an event like this, you must be dead. I saw super-fit people passing me by. When I looked at their legs, they were often in their 50s. Studs! There were also people with prosthetic limbs and/or hand-powered bikes competing. Wow!
When the bike leg was finally done I put on the run clothes and stepped out. I spent 5:58 in T2. I can see getting that down to 4 minutes. Yet lots of people get out under 3 and again I have no idea how.
run splits, notice the deterioration after 6 miles
As I began the run I knew I was in trouble right away. My pace was fine, even good early but I was hurting right from the start and I knew it was only going to get worse.
Nothing to do but steel myself for 2 hours of pain and carry on. I actually ran the first half in about 55 mins but that was the end of me. As the miles wore on I took more and longer walking breaks. I honestly had nothing left. With two miles to go, a 2 hour finish was tantalizingly in reach but I knew there was no way. I was done.
There's really no way to describe the run other than miserable. I knew I was getting closer to the finish of a great accomplishment but it was so painful. Lots of people called out to me, "let's go west coast" - referencing the jersey I was wearing. Later it was "west coasters don't walk, let's go!" But they were wrong this time.
displaying the hardware
But I'm not sad. I knew it was going to be tough because I never did reach my goal of a 50 mile bike ride being "easy." A 1.2 mile swim? Easy. A 10-mile run, easy. But I didn't quite get there with the bike. I crashed harder than I expected but I knew I would crash.
I just walked when I needed to and ran when I could - making sure I ran at the very end. I beat my expected finish time by 7 minutes so that's still really awesome. I finished middle of the pack which isn't so bad for a first timer.
Christine arrived during the run and snapped some great photos of me. Then she came and found me, Cat, Mick and Steve patting each other on the back.
Cat and I are ready to eat after the race!
And what do you do when you've just burned nearly 4000 calories? Why you go eat barbeque! Phil's delivered the goods as they always do. Our friend Roby met us there; apparently nobody else wanted to take advantage of my pain to get some great grub. He patiently listened to me drone on about the race in my exhausted state which I really appreciate.
At this point in time the question is always, what's next? I am going to focus on the bike for a while. You can see from the results that the bike is relatively my weakest sport of the three. Run is the strongest despite the numbers. If I hadn't run out of gas it would have easily been the strongest of the three. The improvements I've made in swim are nice to see.
I might find a century ride and do that but for now I'm just going to do some interval training on the bike to increase my strength and efficiency. If you asked me today if I'll do another 70.3 I'd say no. That painful run makes me not want to repeat the experience. But if my biking dramatically improves I will change my mind and see how I can do with a higher fitness level. So time will tell.
For now, I'll just revel in this accomplishment for a little while.
reach for it! (btw, my wave started 25 mins into the race)
hey, was this staged? the clock didn't move!