Pigman Half Iron Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Palo, Iowa
United States
JMS Racing Services
80'sF / 0C
Total Time = 5h 58m 21s
Overall Rank = 38*/87*
Age Group = M25-29 wetsuit
Age Group Rank = 6/10
Pre-race routine:

Camped at the race site the night before -- definitely the way to go. I woke up at 4:30am and broke camp. I didn't want to leave my tent up during the day, as I didn't know if I'd have enough energy to take it down after the race! One less thing to stress about.

I had a nice blockhouse bathroom all to myself, complete with flush toilets, showers, and sinks with running water. Beat the hell out of a port-a-john! And for only $11, it beat the hell out of a hotel too.

Drank some Gatorade, at a e-cap and a bagel, and made the two-minute drive from my campsite to the T-area. Arrived just after 6am and got a sweet parking spot -- so far so good!
Event warmup:

After watching the weather and talking to the race director a few weeks before the race, I knew that wetsuits would be either legal or optional. I made my decision 10 days out that I would wear a wetsuit no matter what, and that is how I practiced during my taper down to the race. The water was 80F on race morning, so I would be ineligible for age group awards if I wore it, but since this was my first half, I wasn't too concerned. I just wanted to finish the damn thing! Plus, 87 other racers (out of around 500) made the same decision as me, so I didn't feel too bad about it.

In hindsight, I definitely made the right decision by wearing the suit. In my opinion, it was the first of many good decisions I made this day.

All my segment rankings are starred (*); these ranking are my place within the "wetsuits" catagory.

My warmup consisted of some light swimming, first without the suit, then with it on. Just floated around in the water until my wave was about ready to go.
  • 39m 21s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 52s / 100 yards

A good swim! I started off at the back of my wave, and managed to stay with a number of them for quite a while, from what I could tell. I felt good, was breathing well, and had plenty of room to work. I started off a little bit to the right of the buoys (we were supposed to stay to the left of them), but was following the line pretty well and wasn't in danger of going off course...

Unlike the wave before me, which had made an AMAZING right-turn arc through the water right after their start -- boats had to be dispatched to turn them around! The crowd went wild with cheers after they got back on course. Weren't they watching the sun? The landmarks? Eek! In their defense, I will say that I found the buoys to be few and far between. It happens to the best of 'em. Oh, I would have been so embarassed though!

Anyway, back to ME ME ME. As I was swimming along, I passed a few swimmers from my AG that seemed to really be floundering about in the water, and this was only a few hundred yards into the swim. This reaffirmed for me that I had made the right choice by wearing my suit -- I did NOT want to be in those guys' shoes, struggling with such a long way to go.

About halfway to the first corner of the triangle, I was starting to get very warm, and was wishing that I was a better swimmer and didn't need the wetsuit, or that at least I had a sleeveless model. That's the first time I've ever really been uncomfortable in a suit, and now I can see why they don't let people wear them when the water's too hot.

The feeling passed after about 10 minutes though. I was moving right along, and found my groove not long after making the first turn onto the l-o-n-g back stretch. Soon found myself amongst a bunch of different colored caps...some from earlier waves, and a few from fast later starters.

At some point I took a solid kick right to the goggles. Just kind of came out of nowhere and caught me a bit off guard. Luckily, the blow was pretty square, so I didn't loose my goggles or have them fill up. It happens.

My hands started to get a little tired after about 30 minutes, but otherwise I felt pretty good and thought I was making decent time. My pace felt good, not rushed. I think I went a little wide on the way back in, but nothing too severe. A few hundred yards out, I started to increase my kick intensity to get some more blood flowing down to my legs. I wasn't too wobbly coming out of the water so I think that worked.

Finally made it in and looked at my watch...40 minutes! No world record, but it meant that I swam the 1.2 miles in LESS time than I swam the .93 miles at Lifetime Fitness a month ago (where the water was 85F and thus, not even suit-optional). Wetsuit, you are my hero.
What would you do differently?:

Navigation could have been a little better, but then there weren't many buoys on the course either. Obviously, would like to swim it much faster next time and without a wetsuit if the temp is above 78F. By this time next year that should be no problem.
Transition 1
  • 02m 48s

Ran from the beach to my t-spot, which was pretty far up the hill. Noticed that many bikes were still on the rack for people from my wave -- I wasn't last!

I took my suit off to the waist coming out of the water, but as I was running ok (not too out of breath) I decided to leave the bottom on until I got up to my bike. Didn't think it would dry out too much if I ran, and I had my ankles greased, so I thought the suit would come right off. It did, up until I got down to the timing chip on my left ankle. I forgot that it was under the suit and I spent about 20 seconds yanking on it fruitlessly before I remembered it needed to stay ON my ankle. Cost me about 20 seconds, no big deal. Grabbed a bite of PowerBar and a swig of Gatorade...just barely managed to hold it down. Glasses on, helmet on, grab the bike and run! I hit the mount line and took a flying leap onto the bike. Caught my shoes (already clipped into the pedals) just right and was on my way.
What would you do differently?:

I was tired coming out of the water, and excited to be done so quickly, so I forgive myself for a little difficulty with the wetsuit. I wanted to take enough time in T1 to be good for the bike -- under three minutes was my goal time, so 2:48, while slow, was fine with me for a race of this distance.
  • 2h 52m 48s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.44 mile/hr

A challenging course, but I feel I did pretty well. I really had no "oomph" during the first ten miles...just couldn't get any real speed going, as my legs felt tired coming off the swim. HR and breathing were ok, but I was a little more spent than I was used to at the beginning of the bike. As I got into my Gatorade, ate a little Hammergel, and took my first e-cap, I started to feel a little stronger and was able to increase my speed.

I started to cramp up in my calves and hammies at around mile 30. I was a bit concerned, but in hindsight I think that the strong headwind out of the N/NE along this section, combined with a fairly long, steady, but deciptively slow climb, contributed to this, because when I turned to the south, I really bounced back -- big gears, high cadence, high speed. Nice!

I am a descending champion, I have decided. I think this is because I am heavier than most triathletes, especially those competing in half-iron distances, but also because I get into my biggest, meanest gear and just crank. I blew past some really fast guys/gals on some of the big downhills, which was a cool feeling. They of course returned the favor on the next climb, but if nothing else maybe I got into their heads a little bit.

There were some very large climbs that I had seen on my drive-through of the course the day before at about mile 40 that I was a bit worried about, but I found that they weren't too terrible -- the 60 mile training loop I've ridden around my area has three climbs on it that were tougher. My riding partner told me that if I could handle that loop then the Pigman course would be no problem -- he was right!

I hung in there until the end, but I was starting to get tired in the last few miles, and awfully bored as well. Get me off of this bike! I couldn't WAIT for the run to start, just so I didn't have to ride the damn bike anymore.

I was hoping to hold a nice pace of 20mph and didn't quite make it, but I wasn't too worried because my main goals for the bike were to hydrate, eat, and not push it too much -- just make it in under three hours was all I really wanted. People passed me, and I knew to just let them go. For me, the whole thing was a race against the clock, so I just worried about staying on schedule.

I make my Gatorade pretty dilute, but I found that the stuff available at the waterstops was much more concentrated. I drank lots, as I had practiced, but I think the extra sugars started to make my tummy hurt a little bit, and by the end I really was just craving water. By the time the run came around, I had a bit too much lower-GI cramping to want to eat or drink...not a good position to be in.
What would you do differently?:

Better endurance training, better overall speed. I was blown away by quite a few guys that just looked effortless in their speed -- I want to be those guys next year. Many of them happened to be riding a Cervelo too. Coincidence???

Transition 2
  • 01m 45s

This one was much quicker, but still not rushed. I had a great dismount right before the line (I got cheers(!) on both mount and dismount style -- thanks volunteers!) and had a good run back up the hill to my bike. Another guy was changing next to me at the time and we chatted a bit. I came in after he did and left before him, which is always good. I had about 10 things in my hands on the way out of the T-area: gel, more e-caps, glass of water, hat, small bottle of sunscreen, race number...managed to get it all in the right place while running though, which is time saved.
What would you do differently?:

  • 2h 21m 41s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 10m 49s  min/mile

Coming out of T2, I looked at my watch and saw that my total elapsed time for the race was about 3:40. My goal had been to keep the total race time under 6 hours, and I knew that I should be able to do it, even with a very slow pace, but that I would need to stay very focused.

I felt amazingly good coming out of T2, and was actually running pretty well; first mile split was 8:16 or something. I rubbed sunscreen all over my arms, shoulders, legs, etc as I ran, and this certainly saved my skin over the next two hours.

Mile 2 wasn't too much slower, at about 8:30 or so, I think, but by mile three or four I knew I wasn't going to be setting any speed records. I continued to run, but I was slowing down. Again, I didn't really care too much, just so long as I met my goal time. I didn't push it on the run, but rather just kept going and focused on getting to the next mile marker and next water station (every mile, thank goodness!).

I ran through every station but made sure to take water and ice. I put a little water in the ice and tried to drink it, but my gut really wasn't interested in drinking. I put some ice down my jersey, and more in my hat. Poured a little water on my shoulders and back. I was carrying e-caps and gel but really wasn't interested in those either.

Interestingly, I found that the ice in my jersey, and especially in my hat, would make it a whole mile to the next station without melting. I couldn't drink, but chewing on the ice felt good, and that gave me some "slow-release" hydration, so every minute or two I'd grab another piece and slap it in my mouth. A little gross, maybe, but it didn't taste sweaty or anything, so thpp. I kept me going.

I had to pee, and tried to go whilst running, but that just wasn't happening. I thought about stopping, but I wanted to run the whole way and also didn't want to cut it too close, timewise. So I held it.

With about 3 miles left, I had about 30 minutes left to break 6 hours. I felt confident, and had been running all the way. There is a very long, steep ascent before mile 12 that gave me some worry...I ran up the whole thing ("run" really meaning a slow jog, but you know what I mean) and kept on going, but I could tell that it was going to be close. In the last mile, I really picked up the pace and started passing people for the first time in about 10 miles. I kept glancing down at my watch and telling myself "Just a few more minutes." With about 1/4 mile to go, I could tell that I was really near the finish and that I'd make it without problems. But I still managed to find another gear and sped up a little more. A volunteer called out "It's all you to the finish -- nobody ahead or behind you" which excited me -- I want cheers, dammit! There is a nice downhill to the finish, and a lot of people were there to bring me in. I pumped my arms, skipped over the line, and did a leaping/arm-pumping/primal howl victory thingy. You would have thought that I had just won the whole shooting match...in my mind, I had.

What would you do differently?:

Obviously, better overall training in all three events will help speed this segment up. In all honestly, I focused much more on my swim and bike segments since completing Grandma's marathon (3:58:20) in June. My running program from post-marathon until half-iron raceday was not very intense, but to me the run was going to be the "easy" part, so I wasn't worried as much about it. Now that I've completed one half, I'd like to do more and decrease my total time significantly. More training will easily allow me to cut at least 30 minutes off this time (my fastest 13.1 mile run to date was 1:38:57 at the Drake Relays Half Marathon).
Post race
Warm down:

Immediately after getting though the chute, I found a shady spot, got down on all fours, and wept like a baby. Happy tears, but I was also tired. And, I was hotter than I thought it was...the temp by the end of the run was in the low 80's, which is much better than it could have been, but still not an ideal running temp.

After a few minutes, my friend Lars found me and helped me over to the food and drink tent. I was very thirsty, but took stuff in slowly, to avoid the post-race pukies that have plagued me in past distance events.

I recovered quite quickly, to my surprise, and ended up eating a full plate of pasta, a piece of pizza, a slice of watermelon, and a cookie. Drank a TON of ice water, which was absolutely delicious. I found that I was not nearly as exhausted or spent as I thought I would be, which was a great feeling in and of itself. Stuck around for the awards, didn't win any door prizes. Only disappointment of the day!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Hey, it was my first half! How about: skill, experience, fitness, etc? I have a lot of room for improvement. Can't wait to get back to training for the next one.

Event comments:

IM Wisconsin 2006...count me in!!!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2005-08-24 12:00 AM
00:39:21 | 2112 yards | 01m 52s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/10
Overall: 34/87*
Performance: Good
Suit: Xterra Vortex (full)
Course: Triangular
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 80F / 27C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:48
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
02:52:48 | 56 miles | 19.44 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/10
Overall: 33/87*
Performance: Average
Wind: Some
Course: Basically a big rectangle. A few long steady climbs, and a couple of big climbs. Not as big as what I had feared, but those that came to eastern Iowa expecting a flat landing-strip type course had a surprise in store!
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Too much
Time: 01:45
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Average
02:21:41 | 13.1 miles | 10m 49s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/10
Overall: 46/87*
Performance: Average
Course: Out and back: downhill at the beginning, flat from miles 3-6, decent climb at the turnaround, big big climb right before the end.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %-9lbs
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4