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

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Portsmouth, Ohio
United States
HFP Racing
86F / 30C
Total Time = 7h 51m 28s
Overall Rank = 279/309
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

(Notice how the number of overal contestants shrank again?)
On Sunday we were calculating how late we could possibly go over there and still get out of transition before it closed. It was kind of funny.
Even the announcer seemed unable to convince the TTT people to head down to the water. The Little Smokies folks were all there and amped up, and the rest of us were like the walking dead. I said hi to my rack mates and slathered on sunscreen. I had put on my nasty cold wet jersey in the morning without even really recoiling. Things that seemed intolerable two days before were now no big deal.
We hung out with Dan (DLaw) on the beach. He was a lot like me last year. He was asking a lot of questions and was worried about how cold the water was and how big the hills were. Meanwhile, I was just completely resigned to it and had no energy for worry, which was probably not helpful to him.
Event warmup:

None. Splashed a little water on my face and put in my earplugs - my new best friends.
  • 38m 18s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 49s / 100 yards

It was more crowded today, with the 100 Little Smokies people in the water. They came barreling up from behind toward the end and freaked me out a little, since I was relaxing and not really interested in getting back on the bike. I was just breathing and thinking about other things. It was hard to get clear water, though. Seems like I was constantly at someone's side or on their feet, and I didn't want to be. All thoughts of drafting or finish times were completely gone by now. After the first loop, David and I were getting out to round the buoy at the same time. On the second loop, we also got out together and walked to transition together.
Transition 1
  • 03m 32s

I have no idea what took me so long here. I guess the slow walking pace to the racks, and then being in no hurry at all to get on the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe not be so pokey.
  • 4h 11m 28s
  • 56 miles
  • 13.36 mile/hr

David left transition ahead of me and I knew I wouldn't see him again until the run. It was nice knowing what to expect on the bike. It was so awful last year, it was seared into my memory. My shifting was perfect and there was nothing technical I could have done better. I just lacked power and fitness and I wish I were less fatigued.
After the first climb past Camp Oyo came the first big descent, and I almost missed the first turn and headed for the gravel turnout instead of making the hard left. I had my head in it, though, and stayed calm. I hit the brakes hard while going straight for the turnout road, and when I was going slow enough, I let off the brakes and made a very hard slow-speed left and got back on the course.
I saw Joe and Bill and Tim and met some new people. Dan (DLaw) passed me after the second big climb (I call it the school bus climb because there is a marked bus stop right before it and sometimes the bus is actually parked there) and we chatted for a second and then he was off. I made it through the third climb on the narrow mossy road, and the fourth climb out on 125 that I was already familiar with.

At the turnaround in transition before the second loop, I saw David finishing up at the drink table. So I wasn't that far behind him, which was nice. It was good to see him. I grabbed my bottles off the aid table (I had left them there earlier) and I asked for some ice to stick in them, since I was so hot. I stopped to use the bathroom and figured I would not see David again until the run.

Starting the second loop is always tough, because there is so much left to go, and it's easy for my brain to start getting a little fuzzy, particularly on such a hot day. Heat tends to give me a headache, and I have strategies for cooling off on the run, but there wasn't much I could do on the bike. My water was in my aero bottle, so the only way to splash myself with that was to spit on myself, and I wasn't quite up for that. The downtube bottle was orange HEED, and I wasn't keen on spraying that on myself.
There were enough butterflies flocking around as it was. If I were covered in HEED, they might just stick to me and block my vision. :-)
On the way up the long climb, I was passed by an ATV pulling a trailer with a stretcher in it. A minute later I was passed by an ambulance. That was a good reminder to keep my head in it. I took the descent VERY cautiously.

The last 25% of the ride was very hard for me. My hamstrings really had had enough. At the top of the 6th hill, I stopped and got off the bike and stretched for a minute. That's when Bill caught up to me, which was nice. I was standing up more Sunday than any other time, just to try to relieve some of the strain on my thighs and stretch them out. My mental focus was still pretty good, but a few times I had to remind myself to keep my head in the game.

On the very last climb (8 of 8) a Little Smokies lady was passing me on the way up. She said, "Hey, great job! You can do it! Let's go!"
And I said, "Thanks. You too. But frankly, I am in no great rush."
The guy next to me cracked up.
What would you do differently?:

Train more.
Transition 2
  • 01m 57s

Surprised I was able to do a flying dismount still.
I was looking around for David, whom I expected to be in medical getting his feet taped. I assumed he could have opened up enough time on me that he would already be gone. I knew I slowed down a lot on my second loop.
I heard David call my name - he was finished in medical and heading out. I followed shortly after. I slathered on some sunscreen without rubbing it in. I could tell I was already burned.
What would you do differently?:

  • 3h 28m 13s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 15m 53s  min/mile

Surprisingly, other people's runs were even worse than mine.
This was a disaster, but a predictable one.
As I started out, David was in sight, and I figured I'd get him soon enough. However, as soon as I hit the first hill, my legs wouldn't fire enough to get up it. I was forced to walk before my mind was ready for that. It was like that all through the first 3 miles. I was trying to catch David and he remained just out of reach until the long downhill. I'm not bad at running downhill, although I was worried I was too mentally cashed to keep my footing. From mile 1 to mile 3, I was trying to figure out what to do about my legs. I couldn't go back and undo my prior races. I thought about quitting, but after what David was going through, racing on burned feet for Team Hohl, I really couldn't do that. I wasn't sure I could do 13 miles in the state I was in, though. Mentally and aerobically I was OK, but my legs couldn't go, and my core can only carry my legs so far, especially on a hilly course. I decided maybe if I ate some more, it would give my legs more fuel. I knew I couldn't eat and run. So I decided, since mile 3-4 is all uphill anyway, I would grab a bunch of food at mile 3 and eat it while walking uphill. Then I would try to run again. I stopped for food and to use the bathroom and David went on ahead at a brisk uphill walk. It worked pretty well and somewhere between mile 4 and 5 I finally caught up to David again. I was starting to feel a little better. We alternated running and walking, along with our friend Joe. At the turnaround David got a burst of speed, but Joe and I didn't. When we got into the shade, Joe started walking again and I kept running. I saw Dixon heading to the finish. Eventually I caught David again, and he said he wasn't feeling great. I told him not to worry about that, that we were going to finish and be OK. We started running 50 strides at a time on the flats, running the downhills, and walking the uphills.
Everytime I'd feel really bad I would pass a guy with his arm in a sling who had obviously crashed on his bike, and I'd realize at least I wasn't that bad, and I could keep going.
We came across a woman who had stopped in the path and was standing there, leaning over. We asked if she was OK, and she said she didn't feel great. David said there was an aid station about 1/2 mile back. She said, "That way?" and pointed back toward transition. We nodded. She said, "Well, I was heading the other way." I said, "Are you on loop 1 or loop 2" She said loop 2, so David and I said no way can you quit now, after this whole weekend. It's just one more hour of pain. C'mon, walk with us. I asked her where she was from and what she did. She was from D.C. and writes software for universities. I told her Joe was behind us, and he is in I.T. at University of Buffalo, and he would catch up and she should talk to him about software and she would feel better. She had to keep going. David and I started running again and we hoped she was OK, but we never saw her again, not even on our return trip when we should have passed her.

David and I made it to the far turnaround for the last time. We thanked the volunteers profusely and headed up the long hill. David wasn't feeling great, so we did a role reversal and I started singing pop music to him, which he usually does to me. Eventually we hit the top of the hill and were able to start running again here and there. As much as it sucked for the people behind us, it was heartening that there were still people coming out on their second loop. We thought we had barely made the cutoff, but I guess they weren't enforcing it. I thought it was a fairly aggressive cutoff, as I've never had to worry about a cutoff time before.

At some point Joe caught back up to us, and we all started talking and joking again. We alternated running and walking, with David usually being the one to suggest running again.
The three of us ran it into the finish together. Ah.
What would you do differently?:

But really, I'm glad it's OVER.
Post race
Warm down:

Sat in creek again.
Ate food.
BS'd with people. Took pics.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

fitness. not enough time on the bike.

Event comments:

Great job HFP. Still not sure how you pull this off! If only the park rangers would be a little more supportive about the parking and camping...

Last updated: 2011-05-23 12:00 AM
00:38:18 | 2112 yards | 01m 49s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/309
Performance: Good
Suit: full wetsuit
Course: two loops, slightly longer loops than yesterday.
Start type: Run Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 62F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 03:32
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
04:11:28 | 56 miles | 13.36 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/309
Performance: Good
Wind: None
Course: The bike course is just cruel, with four Category One (hardest) climbs that you have to go through twice. I knew it was bad from the previous year, but now I was starting out with legs that were basically cashed. There is a long, long climb toward the beginning, with switchbacks, followed by a harrowing descent on which I almost missed the first turn. Then there is a bit of a break followed by a sudden and terribly steep hill that is enough to stop you in your tracks, but is over fairly quickly. Then there is another long steep climb on a very narrow road in the forest. That is followed immediately by a turn onto 125 where you hit the same old big climb that has three sort of sub-climbs contained in it. Then you come into transition, stock up on supplies, and do it again!! Fun Fun!
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:57
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Bad
Racking bike Below average
Shoe and helmet removal
03:28:13 | 13.1 miles | 15m 53s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 262/309
Performance: Bad
Course: Two times of the same old out and back on the hills.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5