Harvest Moon Long Course Triathlon - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Aurora, Colorado
United States
Racing Underground
60F / 16C
Total Time = 5h 39m 55s
Overall Rank = 156/331
Age Group = M25-29
Age Group Rank = 11/17
Pre-race routine:

First off I want to start this with some background info. I ran CC and track in high school and was on the inaugural swim team my junior year. My fastest 5k time was 18:17 back then, I swam only to stay in shape for track, and I ran hurdles and the 4x400 in track, but was only mediocre. I smoked for 7 years after high school, did a 1/2 marathon and a sprint tri in 2003, but smoked cigarettes on the way to those races and right after. In October of 2008 I finally quit smoking and two weeks later I'm in the hospital because I can't seem to breath and have 60% oxygen in my blood. A number of things in life changed right before that... the smoking, a new dog, flood in the house, flew to another city for work... but the doctors kept tell me "You have asthma", and I kept telling them "no, I know my body, I don't have asthma, it's just environmental and the smoking thing". 3 days in the hospital they finally let me go with a bunch of prescriptions for treating... asthma. So I throw those away and since I've been saying since high school I wanted to do an Ironman I figured this is the time to go after that goal. Plus I'm only a few years away from being 30 and I'd like to be in the best shape of my life when I turn 30. So I set a goal to go from hospital bound to half ironman in under a year. 11 months later, this is how my HIM went:

I don't have much of a routine... I'm not much of a morning person, so my routine is really to just attempt to wake myself up as fast as possible so my body isn't still half asleep. I started the morning off with a 32oz strawberry & banana smoothie... I love my new blender! Plus I had a Cliff bar during the 40 minute drive to the reservoir, listened to some Springtein 'Born to Run' and then went old school with some Rage Against the Machine to get myself pumped up.
Event warmup:

Not much of a warm up. It was cold out, I believe the bike computer was saying 54.5degrees when we were all putting out our wetsuits. I did some standard static and some dynamic stretching. Went down to the beach area for the prerace meeting. Realized that the air temp was 54, the sand was freezing cold and that it would be warmer to just stand waste deep in the water to keep my feet warmer. Did the standard pee in the wetsuit to help out as wave 1 started. Each wave was 5 minutes apart, so after wave 2 left I went to the starting point and did a quick 50m swim to just verify that systems were functioning and that the goggles were sealed properly. 30 seconds before the "gun" (aka. horn) I just did a quick underwater dip to double check the goggles and then it was off we went.
  • 32m 16s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 32s / 100 yards

Overall I think my swim went great. I felt comfortable and at ease in the water, Training really paid off with the confidence level of not being worried about the swim. I found my rhythm within a few strokes and got into a good grove right off the bat.

I started off to the right, caught a good draft from the start and used them to navigate for the first 1/4 of the distance. But they started to slow, so I had to break past him and go on ahead and start spotting for myself. Not too difficult to spot, I never really looked for the last bouy, but would take notice to the closer ones and where the herd of swimmers ahead of me were. Basically just chasing down the wave in front of us. I started catching some other colored caps a few hundred meters from the turn around bouy.

On the way back I continued to stay off to the right, since I felt that would be a more direct shot back to the beach since it wasn't a swim back to the exact same location and actually a swim back to the other side of the beach. Apparently someone else had a similar notion because to my right there was a guy in an older AG who I kept an eye on with each breadth to the right. I think we may have been using each other to pace and only have to do half as much sighting each. Great team work I suppose without realizing it. But neither of us had a draft.

The middle of the reservoir had a little chop to it, but nothing huge. But it was enough that I switched to a more single sided breathing pattern to avoid the splashes into my mouth. Started doing more of a 3 on one side, 1 on the other kind of pattern when it was choppier.
What would you do differently?:

There's not more I can do differently. Perhaps one race I should try to grab the feet of someone in my AG/Wave that's going a bit faster than me and just use them the entire time. I'm definitely a MOP swimmer, but finding a FOP swimmer to grab would be nice one day and see how a faster pace feels.
Transition 1
  • 02m 51s

Overall T1 went well. I had the suit unzipped and down to my waist before even getting into the transition area, but it is a decent jog up the beach to the parking area, so it's not like that's hard to do. It's really nice that they put carpet down on the sidewalks leading up to the parking lot/T1 area. Otherwise running barefoot with cold feet would really hurt for that distance.

Running (even walking) on the pavement in T1 hurts my feet, I ended up just walking to get to my bike once I hit that pavement. No need to punish my feet at this point in the race, that will come naturally over this kind of distance. :)

I was less disoriented running out of the water this time compared to my last tri (technically my 'last' tri was my second tri ever, but there was a 6 year gap between my 1st and 2nd). The cap and goggles were off before getting to the bike. I did the step out of the wetsuit while getting the helmet on. I did have to pay a little attention to getting out of the wet suit to get the last portion off my feet, but overall I think it went smooth. Being that it was pretty cold out I took the time to get the arm warmers on, definitely was a great decision to take the extra few seconds to do that.
What would you do differently?:

I think overall my T1 time went really well. I was a bit disoriented trying to remember if there was anything else I needed, but it was good. I did almost run past my bike, but I think that's because the bike was brand new and only 2 days old and my mind may have naturally thought it was looking for the old bike.

While in T1 a number of us managed to have a semi conversation about how that swim felt a little short. It's always amazing how much can actually happen in 2 1/2 minutes.

Overall, not much I could do differently right now. All the gear was new, so I need to get adjusted to that stuff first before knowing what I could change.
  • 2h 47m 50s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.02 mile/hr

All things considered I think I did fantastic in the bike. I was hit by a car 2 1/2 weeks ago while riding my bike. I walked away with only minor scratches and being sore for a couple days. It effected my training, but with 2 weeks left there's not much advancement you can make, only really maintain. But... the bike wasn't as lucky... snapped fork, bent aluminum frame... total loss on the bike. The drivers insurance company did work with me to get a new bike pretty quickly though, which was awesome. By the time I got the check, deposited it and the money was available (insurance checks require a 5 business day hold... and it was over a holiday weekend... so it took more like 8 actual days) It was 2 days before the race.

So two days before the race I get a completely new bike... new shoes, new helmet, new aerobars... everything about my bike portion was new. I got a 16 mile ride on the bike on Thursday up Lookout Mountain as a test of how I was feeling and how the bike would perform, so come race day on Saturday the bike had less than 20 miles on it. Talk about breaking the "nothing new on race day" philosophy.

I think I nailed my nutrition plan on this ride. I used each turn as a "reminder" to get food in me. I didn't eat or drink anything until about mile 7, at which point I allowed my self to start taking in fluids. After the out and back turn around I started taking in a little nutrition just before the right turn to head north again. From this point on I basically would grab a Cliff Shot at each of the 3 major turns ahead, mixed with some shot blocks in between as well. I went through 2 full bottles of Gatorade, missed being able to grab one at aid station 2 though... just didn't slow down enough... I felt bad for the volunteers since I knocked a bottle out of their hand. I refilled my aerobottle shortly after with my second back up bottle of gatorade, but accidentally dropped it trying to get it back into the rear bottle holder cage :( I thought about stopping to get it... but didn't since it was in a town and it won't just end up on the side of an empty country road. Ironically someone else had dropped a bottle shortly after apparently. If you noticed a bottle with a LiveStrong bracelet around the middle of it on the side of the road, that was mine... sorry.

I stopped eating around the same point I allowed myself to start eating, with about 7 miles to go. I really didn't use the aid stations on the bike at all though.

I also said thank you to each officer directing traffic for us and to each aid station I passed. Volunteers really do a lot out there and deserve to be thanked.

Being that it was a brand new bike... I obviously tried to get my position on the bike dialed in, but 2 days isn't enough time. Not like I could have gone out for a 60 mile ride the day before. But the slight differences in my aero position from how I tried to what I rode that day made my arms fatigue faster because of a slightly different use of muscles. I'm sure that effected my run as well too.

What would you do differently?:

Not much I can do differently here besides not have a new bike 2 days before a race. But that was out of my control. I'm extremely happy with my performance, but perhaps I could have eaten more or eaten something more than just cliff shots. I'll have to experiment with eating Peanut butter sandwiches or something on the bike, but having not trained like that I didn't risk it.
Transition 2
  • 00m 54s

I don't know if I could have done this faster. 54 seconds is pretty quick. Considering it was my second time ever using road bike shoes (used to use mountain bike SPD shoes) I think I ran fast enough but safely enough to my rack location.

I heard my friend behind me so as I was doing my shoe swap & helmet removal I had a quick 30 second conversation with him without ever looking at him. I had already removed my cycling gloves with about a mile left on the bike and had stuck those around the ends of my aerobars and had pulled the arm warmers down to my wrists since the last mile of the bike is downhill and you can still go 20+mph with very light pedalling. So once racking the bike the only thing I had to do was pull the arm warmers off completely and change shoes. I grabbed my hat (which had my race number belt in it as well) and started running towards the exit as I put the hat on and then the race number belt.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, I think it was done safely and quickly. If anything I might have paused before taking off the run because it went so quick I think I had forgotten something and had to look back over everything.
  • 2h 16m 6s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 10m 23s  min/mile

My run sucks! But I knew this going into it. I was hoping to do a 2:04, which was the pace I ran in 2003 during a completely flat half marathon in New Jersey along the ocean. Figured patching that time after having swam and biked would be a nice way of saying "I'm not only in as good of shape as I was in 2003, but I'm in better shape!" I suppose a 2:16 is close enough after swimming and biking to claim that still, but it's not the same as matching or beating it... next year I will though.

Considering my longest training run was only about 7 miles long I won't be too hard on myself with such a slow pace. But I will use it as a good indicator that I need to focus more on running over the winter and get some good miles in. Since I really only started running as part of my training about 3 months prior to the race I think I can improve drastically over the next year... I think I can get myself towards the 8 minute mile mark by next year.

The first mile always hurts, but I managed to do about 9 1/2 minute miles for the first 2-3 miles. I was hoping to maintain that pace, but by mile 4 I knew I had to back it off a little and went to 10 minute miles. By mile 9 my legs decided they had enough. At this point my muscles didn't like me, but mentally I wasn't done. My heart and lungs were good to go, it's just that every step was brutal on my knees and my leg muscles. I just kept focusing on something I said only days before "I know my run will suck, but I'll consider it successful if I just don't walk". Well, I didn't walk, even at aid stations I'd only walk about 6 steps to get the cups, dump them down my throat and then would start running again.
What would you do differently?:

Obviously train more in the run.

All things considered I think I did great. 11 months ago I was in the hospital barely able to breath and doctors trying to tell me I have asthma. I argued with them then that I don't have asthma and I say it again. I don't have asthma and I'm not half an ironman... Now, where's that $535 to enter the a Ironman for next year? :)
Post race
Warm down:

not much of a warm down honestly. Just as I finished it was starting to rain. Besides that I could barely walk. I was still able to hold myself up. My brother and 3 friends were there when I finished, which was awesome. I kept walking a little, grabbed some food, sat down to eat it. Went and got my stuff from the transition area while I was still able to move (not knowing how bad I'd become). Grabbed a Guinness out of the cooler I had in the car, poured that deliciousness into a glass and walked back down to the finishing area... I think I made some people jealous... sorry again.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Considering I went from nothing to HIM in 11 months I think I did my best at that point.

My limiters to work on for next year are obviously my run, 10+ minute miles are WAY too slow for what I know I can do with more training. So I'll be focusing more on running over the next year and can hopefully get my bike average speed up to 22mph as well. I'd like to do it again next year, but I'm looking towards IM Louisville possible, and Harvest Moon might be too soon after the IM to attempt it. Luckily though the registration for Harvest Moon stays pretty open until the last minute, so I can decide then.

Event comments:

Since I don't have a ton of experience with different race organizers I think they do a good job for this race. The volunteers are great, 3 aid stations on the bike, police officers at every intersection making the biking really safe for a non closed course. The run had aid stations every mile and they were great about yelling out what they had available ahead of time so you could yell back to them what you want before you even got there.

The post race activities are a little lacking, but I don't know if that was because of the rain that came in or what? I considered myself pretty MOP, but it seems like they did the awards pretty quickly after I finished, I actually missed them because I had gone to my car to get more layers of clothing on.

Overall though I think Without Limits does a great job on their races. I have done other races by them as well and always enjoy myself. Plus Aurora Reservoir has some really clear water, you can actually see others around you under water.

Last updated: 2009-09-14 12:00 AM
00:32:16 | 2112 yards | 01m 32s / 100yards
Age Group: 11/17
Overall: 143/331
Performance: Good
My average HR was right at 150bpm once I was able to take a look at it in the first minute on the bike. I also managed to grab a quick "in stroke" glance at the time on my watch just after rounding the bouy. Since I didn't actually stop to look at it I was only able to catch what the minutes said. While grabbing a breath and doing a little bit longer TI style glide on my side I saw that I was at 16minutes.
Suit: Xterra Vortex 3 sleeveless
Course: The course was an out and back in the reservoir. They had put the bouys out in a straight line and you just kept them to your left. Pretty easy to navigate, but like others mentioned (in T1 and in their race reports), I think everyone tends to agree they were short a few hundred meters on the length.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 65F / 18C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:51
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
02:47:50 | 56 miles | 20.02 mile/hr
Age Group: 5/17
Overall: 102/331
Performance: Good
I maintained my heart rate around 160bpm during the first 1/3, let it drop to about 150-155 during the second 1/3rd to get more nutrition in and then it went back up to 160-165 during the last 1/3rd since it has the most hills.
Wind: Some
Course: The first 1/3rd is rolling hills with an overall altitude decline and has an out and back portion before starting one long loop. Overall the road conditions are average, so you can cruise pretty fast on the way out. The second 1/3rd is basically flat and a some of it on freshly repaved road, so again another portion where you can take advantage of aero and just go fast. the last 1/3rd is where you find out who trained to be able to attach hills at the end of their rides. It's rolling hills again with an overall altitude increase. Just over 1/2 way through the course the road conditions aren't too great, but they get better for the last 1/3rd.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 80
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 00:54
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:16:06 | 13.1 miles | 10m 23s  min/mile
Age Group: 13/17
Overall: 244/331
My heart rate was staying around 150-155bpm during most of the run.
Course: The course is an out and back around the reservoir. No big hills, but the first (and last) 2-3 miles have a few rollers. The rest seemed really flat.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3