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Troika Half-Ironman Race Report

Posted Aug 02 2010 3:43pm
Before I get to the detail of yesterday’s race, let me get caught up on posting my last week of taper mode workouts
Tuesday the 27th was an easy session on the bike trainer with a couple of short intervals then a run off the bike around the hood.
Stats for Tuesday’s bike = 12.6-miles in 1-hour.
Stats for Tuesday’s run: 4.3-miles in 34:09 @ 7:57/m pace.

Wednesday was more of the same but a steady-state bike and a little shorter/faster run off the bike. Stats for Wednesday’s bike: 13-miles in 1-hour.
Stats for Wednesday’s run: 3-miles in 22:59 @ 7:40/m pace.

Thursday the 29th was an early morning swim at 5AM with some interval work. Then at midday it was out the door on a beautiful day for an easy run with a few strides at the end.
Stats for Thursday’s swim: 1,800-yards in 34:40 (35:40 w/rest) 4x450 w/20-sec. rests.
Stats for Thursday’s run: 6.2-miles in 49:09 @ 7:56/m pace.

And finally, my last workout before the race was a short Friday morning swim done at just under race pace.
Stats for Friday’s swim: 1,500-yards in 28:28 (29:28 w/rest) 3x500 w/30-sec. rests.
Troika was my “A” race this year and the one I focused on the most. I was going to go after a new PR at the Half-Ironman triathlon distance and having set the current PR when I was nearly 5-years younger I knew it could be tough. My wonderful support crew/beautiful wife and I made the 6+ hour drive to Spokane, WA. on Saturday morning and arrived in town in the early afternoon. After getting settled at the hotel we made our way to packet pick-up and then out to dinner at an out of the way but great little brew pub called Northern Lights Brewing Co. We then spent a bit of time walking around the wonderful Spokane River Front Park before getting back to the room so I could get my bike prepped and transition bags set up.

Race morning we awoke to clear, but still dark, skies with only a few clouds out on the horizon. We met fellow Ironheads, LeAnne and Ashley, in the lobby where we loaded up bikes and gear before heading out to West Medical Lake where the swim and T1 took place. It was a bit chilly in the pre-race hour but not too bad. There was the usual pre-race transition area set-up and nervous chatter going on. About 30-minutes before the race I looked up from whatever it was I was doing and there was my good friend and training buddy, Jay, standing there with his bike and gear in hand! What a surprise! He decided Friday morning to head up to the race and wanted to arrive in stealth mode which he accomplished big-time! Just before 7AM I kissed my lovely wife good-bye and made my way into the lake.

The water was very warm which felt great at first. But then I wondered if I was going to get too warm in my wetsuit, but that wasn’t really an issue. When the horn sounded I hung back just a little to let most of the crowd get in front of me so I wouldn’t have faster swimmers climbing over the top of me out there. For the most part the swim went very well and I stayed focused on my form and reach, but it was very crowded. It never really thinned out so there was body contact almost the entire way around the one-loop course. I felt great and kept the pace as steady as I thought I could maintain for the entire distance. I was hoping to complete the swim in 39-40 minutes.
Swim = 1.2-miles in 37:34

T1 = 4:42. Yes, I need to work on this one!

For this race I’d decided I’d push the bike a little harder than I have in previous races and just hope I didn’t push it so hard so to negatively impact my run. The bike course doesn’t have mega-long (Richter Pass at Ironman Canada) or super-steep (Mt. Bachelor at Pacific Crest) but it has many, many climbs that are short and steep and enough to make it hurt. The bike course itself is as scenic and view filled as any I’ve ever been on but there was a lot of chip seal and rough surfaces that weren’t so fun. I did have the misfortune of getting stopped by a train at a point that I was really in the groove and cruising which was tough. I took that minute off my time, but it was probably closer to 90-seconds but I’ll give those to them and error on the side of being conservative. The parts of the course along the Spokane River were stunning for the scenery, but it was a trail/road that was very rough and had many climbs. But after that it was a push back into town and crowds which there weren’t a lot of out on the bike course! I was hoping to complete the bike in 2:45:-2:50.
Bike = 56-miles in 2:45:44 at 20.3-mph. See the Garmin data here .

T2 = 1:05. That was a good one.

The run, while it hurts the most, is still my favorite and best discipline. I knew when I started the run that most of my Ironhead’s teammates were in front of me but the one I wanted to catch was Jay. Off I went and the first mile is through River Front Park with some good crowds and some shade because by now the sun was out and the temps were climbing. My legs felt OK but weren’t quite firing like I hoped they’d be. At the aid stations I’d grab some water and sponges to soak myself with and I’d alternate water and Heed (nasty stuff!) for drinking. The run course also winds along the Spokane River on the Centennial Trail and is an out-n-back course with very little shade. I got nearly to the turn-around before I saw my buddy Jay who was about a half-mile ahead of me. As we passed each other he says “run faster so you can catch me!” and then the chase was really on. The run back into town while a bit warmer also felt better since my legs had finally come around for me so I was able to pick up the pace a bit. When I hit the 11-mile marker I was beginning to think I wouldn’t catch my friend but then saw him up ahead and picked it up a bit more. It wasn’t until the final half-mile that I was able to catch up to him, chat for a minute, and then pull away to the finish.
Run = 13.1-miles in 1:37:17 at 7:21/m pace. See the Garmin data here.

Total time of 5:05:22 and a new PR by 12-minutes. Who says getting older means getting slower!

The Troika Half-Ironman was a lot of fun and I’d recommend this race. However, while this year it marked its 30th Anniversary it is a very, very low-key event without any of the hoopla seen at other races. But if you’re looking for a well-organized and well-run race in a beautiful location this race is a good one to choose!

Now, I’ll take a couple of days off before training just hard enough to maintain my fitness and do this all again at the Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3 in two weeks. I won’t be chasing the PR again at that one, but it will be fun nonetheless. Thanks for stopping by…
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