My first half iron triathlon is in the bag!
The summaryDoor County Triathlon - Half Iron Distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run)
Goal - Finish the race and give myself an idea of what I can do at this distance
Results - 5:22:28, 10th in age group, 32nd overall female
The race report
I was severely undertrained for this race. In fact, my training has been pretty much non-existant for the last month or so. Work has been my priority lately. I haven't swum more than a mile in my entire life. In fact, I haven't swum more than about 1500 yards since early may. I haven't done any runs over an hour since my last half marathon in early June. All of my biking has been done with other people so I have no experience of riding without a draft and my tri bike has remained untouched since my last triathlon which was over a month ago.
Even so, I knew I could complete this race.
Husband and I drove the 5 1/2 hours from St. Paul to Horseshoe Bay on Saturday. We arrived at packet pick-up, wandered through the vendors and then sat through a preview of the race course. If you're looking for a cheap, but excellently organized half iron race, this is the one you want.
The course preview consisted of thorough instructions of each leg of the race, a review of rules, a walk through of the start/finish area, reports of weather and water temperatures, and a video with actual pictures of the race course showing every single turn and landmark. It was very informative and left me with knowing exactly what to expect going into race day.
Race DayTransition opened at 5:30am, but it had assigned spots, so there was really no reason to get to the race site early. We arrived around 6:45ish and that was probably still too early. The race wasn't supposed to start until 8am.
At about 7:30, the race director announced that we were supposed to have a thunderstorm with lighting roll in right at 8am. They delayed the race start 30 minutes.
Somewhere in transition I must have gotten bit by a mosquito or something. I am super allergic to mosquitos. My foot instantly turned into a giant red welt and the itchiness was starting to spread throughout my body. This was bad. I saw my husband and was going to tell him that I needed to find the medical tent when he pulled a tube of prescription strength cortisone cream from his pocket. "Would this help?" he asked. This may have been one of the weirdest encounters I've ever had with my husband. Seriously?! What are the chances that he would just happen to be carrying cortisone cream in his pocket when I get bit by a mosquito on race morning?? For all the times I bitch about how much my husband can annoy me on race morning, he was quickly redeeming his spot as greatest sherpa of all time!
That storm that pushed the start time back 30 minutes never came through. At 8:30 the first waves started. My wave started about 40 minutes later.
The swimThe swim was awesome!
We swam out to the end of the pier and then started our way around the triangular course. There were some pretty significant waves right as we got around the pier. It felt like trying to swim while laying on a water bed. Fortunately the waves seemed to die down almost immediately and then the water was perfectly smooth after that.
The water in the bay was so clear! I have never swum in a lake where I could see anything at all in the water. Here, I could see the bottom of the lake, I could see swimmers to my left and right when they were about 5 feet away, I could see the cords running from the buoys to the lake bottom. I could see everything! It made spotting almost unnecessary. I just tried to keep someone to my left and someone to my right the whole time.
On the third section of the triangular course, I felt like I was passing everyone. It felt awesome. I was passing a number of men and they had started two waves in front of me!
Again, the clear water made the swim finish a piece of cake. I didn't have to look up to determine how far the finish line was. I could see the bottom and the people around me. I just kept swimming until I saw everyone else stand up and start running.
T1The wetsuit strippers are awesome!! Having someone else take off your wetsuit for you saves so much time!! I wish they would do that for all races.
The BikeThe bike was flat for the first 16 miles. I tried not to go too hard. I needed to keep reminding myself that 56 miles is a long way. I have ridden that far more times than I can count, but never without stopping. I tried my best to stick to my nutrition plan and actually felt great on the bike. It was a little windy miles 16 - 25 but that part of the course was an out-and-back so I knew I would have a tailwind later.
I tried not to look at my computer. The bike course was marked at each mile, so I knew exactly how far I had gone. I didn't want to get discouraged by watching my speed. Today was about finishing. Not about speed.
Thanks to my nutrition plan, I felt great the entire bike ride. 56 miles actually felt pretty short. I knew by looking at my watch that I was not going as fast as I would have liked, but as my first half-iron race, I knew it would be smarter to play it safe and race conservatively.
T2I entered T2 and saw 2 girls standing near my spot talking. I'll never understand how people just do these events for fun. This is a race! You're supposed to be racing!
The runMy goal was to keep my pace under 8's for the half marathon. My first few miles were fine. I kept spotting girls up ahead, chasing them down and passing them. Husband was at mile 4. "How is it? Is it kicking your ass?" he asked. (He's so supportive!) "No!! This is WAY easier than marathons!" I replied.
NOTE: This was mile 4 of the run. Had he asked me this at mile 10, my answer would have been significantly different.
At mile 5 I stopped for a second to examine my shoe. It felt like I had a rock in it but it turned out my shoes were just rubbing weird since they had sat out in the pouring rain all morning. The only thing I could do was try to ignore it and run through the pain.
Still feeling awesome, I passed a TON of people on miles 5-7. There was a huge hill on mile 6 that everyone was walking up. I put my head down, kept running and passed probably 10 people just because I kept running and they did not.
By mile 8 I was starting to hurt. My pace had slowed to about 8 minute miles but I figured that was still OK. Today was not about pace! I forced myself to take another gel knowing I need it for "the bluff" at mile 9.
The bluff was everything they said it would be. A 20% incline covering about a half mile. I had told myself I was going to run the entire thing. NO ONE was running it. I made it about halfway and then walked. It was even hard to walk up it!
There was a girl ahead of me that I knew I had to catch. About 3/4 of the way up the hill I started running again and was able to get around her before she started running again.
Miles 10-12 put me in the hurt locker. I kept telling myself that I was not going to throw myself a pity party! A lady passed me and warned me that I had 2 girls in my wave gaining on me. Turns out those two girls were significantly faster than me. I guess if I'm going to get passed in the last couple of miles, I might as well get smoked. I was not going to get beat on the sprint or have any close calls!
At mile 12.5 the race course headed down a huge hill. It was basically a dive bomb to the finish line. I tried to stride out and let gravity move me, but it did not feel good.
I crossed the line in 5:22:28.
Immediately after crossing the line, I knew my shoes needed to come off! I looked down and saw one shoe had a lovely blood stain.
Turns out my shoes had rubbed a nice little hole in my foot during the run. Fun!
Race done, shoes off, ready to head to the beer garden!
The race is done and now we can finally look forward to next week. The bright blue hibiscus jerseys will be making another appearance in the great state of Iowa as I complete my 10th RAGBRAI!