Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Grand Rapids, Michigan
United States
90F / 32C
Total Time = 4h 58m 37s
Overall Rank = 28/300
Age Group = M 30-34
Age Group Rank = 3/23
Pre-race routine:

This was my first HIM since 2010 when things did not go so well at Muncie. Essentially, me and the heat did not mix well together. So when the forecast for this weekend said 90 degrees and humid it brought all the bad memories back. I was actually going back and forth the night before with potentially dropping down to the Olympic distance at Packet pick up. But, when I woke up on Saturday morning I felt comfortable going forward with the HIM. My nutrition and hydration plan for this race was figured out and I knew what I needed to do in the heat. The main thing was just to be conservative on the bike and trust my run. I figured I could go sub 4:45 with perfect conditions but given the heat I threw time goals out the window and just concentrating on executing the race plan:

Swim: Conservative
Bike: Conservative (keep AHR below 150)
Run: Solid Run

I decided I needed about 25-30 oz/hr of water intake on the bike. I would take 24 oz of concentrated Infinit (600 calories) and also take endurolytes on the bike. I bought a plastic water bottle and popped an Endurolytes Fizz to put in my cage to start the bike.

I decided to wear a hydration belt on the run with 2 bottles both with 2 caps of Endurolytes Fizz to supplement between aid stations when needed. I also had a gel flask (although did not use it).

The plan was in place now I just needed to execute it...thats the hard part!

I picked up race wheels from the LBS on Thursday - Bontrager Aura 5s and also got the Rudy Project Wingspan helmet before this this was a nice present!
Event warmup:

I was up at 4:30, took a shower and got the race suit on. I made up all my nutrition bottles for the day, had a PBJ and also a banana, then sipped gatorade on the drive to the race site.

The drive took about 50 minutes and got parked about 6:00. There is a 15 minute walk from parking to the transition area. I thought the new transition area would have been a bit better (wider) but it was essentially the same setup just in a different spot. The TA is long...real long! The half athletes were down near the Bike Out so that was a good thing. I got setup in about 15 minutes. I got my wetsuit on at about 6:45 and headed to the river to get a warm up swim done. I swam for about 5 minutes and got ready for the race briefing.
  • 34m 8s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 37s / 100 yards

I was in the first wave going off at 7:15. I was a little surprised how small my wave was when we got in. I started on the very far left on the buoy line with nobody within 10 feet of me. When the gun sounded (or rather somebody yelling "GO") I just immediately settled into my planned race pace without any issue. I had a straight line on the buoys and nobody really got in my way. The first portion was very easy to sight and just followed the lead group of swimmers. I was amazed how quick the turn buoy came. Usually with a HIM swim the start can be rough and you have to go out hard the first 200 meters to get some separation. That was not the case here so definitely saved some matches there and felt really good. Once we made the second turn buoy we were sighting directly into the sun. I knew that we were going parallel to shore so that helped. I also had tinted goggles and I really did not have a problem sighting the buoys either. I was able to take a good line all the way around the course. I kept my stroke long and smooth and cruised on into the swim out expecting a pretty good swim time. Once I hit the boat launch and ran up I saw the wetsuit strippers and had a decision to make (one I have never had before). Do I use them or not and then it hit me how much time I would save in transition so I dropped down and they yanked that thing off in half a second "Excellent".
What would you do differently?:

I knew it was going to be a long, hot day and I did not want to burn any matches on the swim to gain a minute or so. Happy with the swim and that I actually enjoyed it LOL.
Transition 1
  • 02m 2s

This is a super super long transition area. It is very narrow with just one rack on each side so with 1200 participants you get the idea. The half athletes were near the bike out end so it was a long run. It took me about 10 seconds to get my helmet buckled but that was it. Otherwise this was just an average transition. I took my time more than I normally would.
What would you do differently?:

Get my helmet buckled a little faster.
  • 2h 39m 26s
  • 56 miles
  • 21.07 mile/hr

This is my favorite part of the race. I absolutely love being out on the bike and the 56 miles always seems to go by so fast. My hear rate was a little bit jacked from the start due to the long run in transition. It was in the 170s and I was targeting an average around 150-152. I just went by RPE for the first 15 miles until my heart rate stabilized a bit. I started drinking water for the first 8 miles or so before I started on my nutrition. I felt really good on the bike to start. The chip seal in the first 8 miles did not seem as bad as it was last year. The next stretch out to Saranac the roads are pretty good and fast.

For a flat course the drafting was not an issue for the most part that I saw except one. I can look at the results page and show you two guys (in the top 15) who worked together the whole way. One of them was right in front of me for the first 6 miles until his buddy caught up and then suddenly he was gone and finished the bike 15 minutes ahead of me? There were several officials on the course and hardly any penalties assessed.

The only real climbing comes at Saranac when we climb up to I-96. It is about 4 miles. I just spun up this portion and did not spike my heart rate too much here. The course then levels back out although we are out in the farm fields and the heat and wind were more evident. It was a south wind and the majority of the course runs East-West so a cross wind for the most part. Being in the first wave I was definitely getting passed a little bit but I just stuck to my plan and thought "see you on the run". I came through the first hour averaging 21.5 mph. I was taking a new water bottle at each aid station and ended up drinking 4 bottles total.

The second half of the ride was probably easier effort wise then the first. I wanted to make certain that I was going to be able to run well and the heat was going to be the big x factor so my heart rate was now in the high 140s. The last 12 miles of the ride was actually a little windier than I though it would be and definitely affected my speed. I thought we would be protected a little bit on that section but not so much.

I finished my nutrition bottle with 20 minutes left in the ride as planned. I was feeling really good as we were about to get off the bike and I was ready to rock the run.

1 bottle Infinit (600 calories)
4 bottles Water (24 oz/each)
1 Endurolytes Fizz
4 Endurolyte Capsules

Garmin Data:
Distance: 56.36
Time: 2:39:19
Avg: 21.2 mph
Cadence: 83
AHR: 153
Max HR: 178

A little disappointed with the bike split as I thought I would be a bit faster but was more concerned with setting up a good run.
What would you do differently?:

Nutrition and fluid intake was good.
Transition 2
  • 01m 39s

Again this took a little longer than normal due to the hydration belt. I quickly put on socks and got my shoes on without issue and then grabbed my hydration belt and my 2 cold bottles with Endurolytes Fizz. Took off ready to rock.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing...went ok.
  • 1h 41m 20s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 07m 44s  min/mile

I ran out of transition feeling very good and immediately started passing HIM athletes. I was only passed once on this run and it happened in the first 2 miles. I was a little shocked when I ticked off 6:52 in the first mile and knew I could not sustain that in the heat so backed it down. The next two miles felt very good. The hill at the turnaround was directly in the sun and was a tough little hill. I knew that would be a PITA the second time around. Things got a little tougher on the return trip of the first loop. This side of the road was more in the direct sun and could feel the heat already. I ended up taking a quick walk break at the 5.5 mile mark..maybe 20 seconds and then continued. At the turn to start loop 2 is around a park through this nice little shaded gravel was amazing in there and I wanted to stay! Back out onto the roadway I was still feeling ok but legs were gettinga bit achey. I noticed that my HR was staying pretty range bound so I was happy about that although pace was getting a little slower.

By this time I had my routine at the aid stations dialed in. It was water dumped on the head, gatorade at the middle of the line and then ice at the end. I did this at every aid station. I had a GU flask with me but could not imagine stomaching that gel in the heat so I just stayed with gatorade to get my calories and fluid. It worked pretty well. I was able to supplement with the water and Endurolytes on my race belt between aid stations and I ended up finishing both of those bottles as well. I think the belt was a good decision with the high temperatures. I did end up getting a coke on accident at one of the last aid stations and that was disgusting..did not like that.

I was really happy when I got to the last turnaround and shuffled my way up that hill as it was a nice recovery to come back down. By this time I had walked a few more times but they were all pretty short sections and I was able to run well after the short rest. My legs were really starting to hurt but aerobically I felt ok.

I got to the park and the last little bend before you can see the finish line and saw my coworker there and her saying "right around the corner and you are done - great job" that was what I needed. I was able to finish strong and get that memory of Muncie cleared from my head. It was great to get to that finish line of a HIM again!

I really felt like I executed pretty good considering the conditions and happy with the total race.

Garmin Data:
AHR: 168
Max HR: 189

1: 6:52 AHR: 164
2: 7:09 AHR: 167
3: 7:12 AHR: 167
4: 7:37 AHR: 170
5: 7:53 AHR: 171
6: 7:23 AHR: 170
7: 7:49 AHR: 172
8: 8:02 AHR: 172
9: 8:13 AHR: 171
10: 8:51 AHR: 167
11: 8:36 AHR: 167
12: 7:45 AHR: 169
13: 7:51 AHR: 169

Ended running my way up to 3rd AG and on the podium so happy about that and had the 16th fastest run OA.
What would you do differently?:

I probably should not have started quite so fast but I felt really good at that point. Happy with my race execution.
Post race
Warm down:

The volunteer at the finish line doused me with ice cold towels. It was excellent. I hopped in the river for 15 minutes and then stuck around to wait for some other finishers. I was able to meet rottieguy (Steve) borsenik9 (ben) and Kevin Neumann so it was great to meet them. I also ate about 5 subway sandwiches and lots of fluid.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The heat and humidity!

Event comments:

The volunteers at this race are probably on par with the best I have ever seen at a race. There were lots of them and they were all very knowledgable about what we needed.

A great race and will likely come back every year!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2011-12-19 12:00 AM
00:34:08 | 2112 yards | 01m 37s / 100yards
Age Group: 7/23
Overall: 91/300
Performance: Average
Suit: Blue Seventy Helix Sleeveless
Course: Thornapple River - rectangular course keeping buoys on your left.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 71F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:02
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
02:39:26 | 56 miles | 21.07 mile/hr
Age Group: 5/23
Overall: 62/300
Performance: Average
Wind: Some
Course: A pretty flat course on Grand River Avenue to Saranac - 3 mile climb from Saranac to I-96 and then pretty flat. Out and back course with chip seal in the first 8 and last 8 miles.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 83
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:39
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:41:20 | 13.1 miles | 07m 44s  min/mile
Age Group: 2/23
Overall: 16/300
Performance: Average
Course: A 2 loop out and back course with a mix of shade and sun. The course has a decent hill at the turnaround and then one bigger hill on the way back and then flattens out. Aid Stations every mile.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
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: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5