American Triple T - Race #4: Half Iron - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Portsmouth, Ohio
United States
HFP Racing
80F / 27C
Total Time = 5h 26m 15s
Overall Rank = 37/350
Age Group = Co-ed Team
Age Group Rank = 2/12
Pre-race routine:

Slept like shit the last two nights and paid the price this morning. Alaina would be my angel at the start and end of the day, beginning with driving us to the race when I couldn’t wake my head up. I had no appetite, a headache, and hard time taking down fluids. I wasn’t even nervous, it was just starting to feel like I was getting the flu.
Event warmup:

At transition, I was lifted by a sense of camaraderie between athletes that comes from shared weariness and a indomitable determination. Three races down. One more to go. Even writing about this race makes me tired. Gone is the unflagging optimism and the anticipation of an outcome unknown. Left is the only thing that matters: crossing the finish line in the vertical.

Someone on ST described the walk from T-town to the swim start as the “march of the zombies.” That about does it right there. Just needs a Schoenberg score. Alaina told me that we had at least 15 minutes on the second place team, but I knew that ANYTHING could happen at a HIM, especially at the American Triple-T. Last year the 2nd place team took 10’ on us on this last race and we won by a mere 4 minutes.
  • 31m 48s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 31s / 100 yards

I got into the 60F water early again to burn off the ice cream headache and suddenly everything changed. I was ready to race this thing, despite the fatigue, the nausea, the sleeplessness. I felt like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank when he scores his buds a bucket of beer from Capt. Hadley, nearly getting himself thrown off the roof for his efforts. My teammate/wife was counting on me and I needed to step up to this challenge.

Sighting better and pulling harder than yesterday afternoon, I put together one of my best HIM swims at 31:48. It was one of those 'Dave Roberts steals second moments' where the journeyman comes through in improbable fashion to the joy of fan(s) to whom in this instance he may be married.

I was <1:00 slower than Alaina, who saw me gunning into T1 looking positively shocked that I was out of the water already. Now it was time to crush the bike.
Transition 1
  • 01m 25s

Alaina was getting her helmet on when I was running down with my bike. Not bad!
  • 3h 03m 37s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.30 mile/hr

Today’s course was a 2 looper up through many of the same roads as the first Oly, only no Thompson Hill this time. :( Alaina again paced us on the long climbs and I was pulling steady wattage on the flats, both playing to our strengths and gapping cyclists that we’d been riding near all weekend. Granted, the legal draft we got gave us a decided advantage.

Last year we both struggled on this ride, feeling like death warmed over after one loop and barely turning over the pedals on the hills of the 2nd loop, but this year, because of better pacing and improved fitness, we took 6 minutes and a boatload of effort out of the ride.

By the end of the bike it was starting to get hot, touching 80 and humid as hell and I was glad I ditched the aero helmet and went with my road helmet instead. I’d been taking salt sticks like a moose to make sure I didn’t cramp, and I’d been through 2 bottles of Heed and 1 bottle of water. Hindsight screams: MORE WATER, with clarion vision.

We saw the second place team coming out of the turn-around just as we were heading in. They had about a minute on us, but we needed to hit the portals, so it looked like it would come down to the run for #1 vs. #2. Not pee vs. poop, I mean first place and second. To be clear.
Transition 2
  • 01m 12s

Meh, not my best.
  • 1h 48m 10s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 16s  min/mile

The run started pretty well, as we stuck just under 8 m/m and passed the 2nd place team at mile 1. Alaina and I were overcome with a sense of relief. As long as nothing catastrophic happened, we would be Co-Ed division champions for the second year straight.

But as we got to mile 4, something was rotten in the state of Casemark. My legs felt surprisingly ready to fire, but my lungs were gasping for oxygen. Every hill felt like I was running through a burning house and my pathetic bellows were caked with soot. At times I might well have been breathing through a straw and I started to get panicky. Here’s where my angel saved me again, calming me down, allowing me to walk when I needed and catching back up to her when my HR and breathing returned to normal.

The course is the same as the Oly’s, but you do it 2x. The horseflies were armored and attacking again, but my only concern was breathing steadily and not slowing us down too much. We really wanted to have a better HIM than last year, but I was ruining that goal and it sucked. I could handle disappointing myself, but I was not going to disappoint Alaina. Miles 7-10 were some of my lowest points in triathlon. Frustration, anxiety, dizziness, and fatigue formed an Eeyore cloud over my head and the only thing that could blow it away was a gust of HTFU.

I took down 2 GUs, ice down the shirt, water and Infinit, and bucked up. When we finally crested the last climb, I knew I could finish strong. I led the way back down the final 3 miles and we crossed the finish line hand in hand, secure in victory and overcoming a near-meltdown of Wicked Witch proportions. And because of our solid biking, we actually finished 2:00 faster than last year, despite the slower run.
Post race
Warm down:

We hit the ice creek and the lake for a whole body cool down and shared one last round of carnage stories with other finishers. BTer, Cusetri, threw down a 5:11, a filthy fast time, and his buddy Matt went 5:10.

Event comments:

Congrats to birkierunner for finishing his second TTT solo -- dude is an animal; to cusetri for finishing his first TTT solo as 10th OA (sick!); and to TrishM and rgr375 for finishing their first TTT in prep for IMLP. It was awesome to be around so many good people the entire weekend.

And in the end...WE WON the Co-Ed division of the American Triple-T for the second year in a row!!! This is so cool!

Last year's total time: 10:50:41
This year's total time: 10:40:25

Last updated: 2011-02-27 12:00 AM
00:31:48 | 2112 yards | 01m 31s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/12
Overall: 0/350
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 01:25
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
03:03:37 | 56 miles | 18.30 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/12
Overall: 0/350
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 01:12
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
01:48:10 | 13.1 miles | 08m 16s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/12
Overall: 0/350
Course: 2x out-n-back on Lamp Black Trail
Keeping cool Bad Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]