South Carolina Half - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Ninety Six, South Carolina
United States
Set Up Events
66F / 19C
Total Time = 4h 58m 38s
Overall Rank = 16/140
Age Group = 30-34
Age Group Rank = 2/9
Pre-race routine:

I have not written an epic RR in a while, so I decided it was time for one. Enjoy!

Drove up to Greenwood SC straight from the office, since that decreased the drive time to about 2:30 hours. Got up to Greenwood, and parked and walked inside the wrong hotel to check in (this should have been a sign from the get-go of my mental powers this weekend). I was thinking this is a super nice hotel for $50, and then I realized that my hotel was just down the street. The Days Inn was a far cry from the Holiday Inn Express that I walked into, but it got the job done. Got checked in, and lugged all my gear up to the second floor. Seriously, when I say I am here for the race why wouldn’t you put me on the first floor, vs. making me carry bags, bike, etc up the stairs? From there I headed to the race sit to check it out while it was still light.

I arrived at the race site which was a solid 15-20 minute drive from the hotel. Checked out the swim start, walked through the woods to the transition area, checked out the swim exit, and then jogged the final hill. The final hill was not long, but it was steep, and it was going to be nasty at the very end of the run. HR was pumping from a light jog up it.

Anyways, headed back towards the hotel and grabbed dinner in route. I realized that I had forgotten a razor to shave, and the sign in the room said to ask if you had forgotten anything. So, as I set up my 5:00 AM wake up call, I also asked they had razors? Lucky they did woo-hoo. While waiting, I also chatted it up with a couple that was racing the Half. Both of them were Ironman finishers, he IMFL and her IMKY & IMFL.

So, the guy gives me two deposable razors, but he might as well have given me a sharp knife to shave with. I know beggars can not be choosers, but OMG these had to be the lowest budget razors that I had ever seen. They could remove hair almost as well as they could remove skin.

After I showered, and stopped the bleeding I prepped my gear. Nutrition set, power bars for breakfast set, pumped tires, and laid out my clothes. I recently fixed my rear wheel from pinching flats (e.g. new wheel tape was the fix), but I was still paranoid of it, so I must have double checked the wheels a 1000 times to make sure they were still holding air. In between checking my tires, I gathered as much gear that I would not need to get ready and took it down to the car. I was not crazy about the idea, but I also did not want to go up and down the stairs 5X in the morning getting all of my crap to the car. After that, I was ready for bed.

One thing that I have learned is the value of a good night sleep before a race, so off to bed I go at 9:30 PM. I wanted to hit the sack at 9 PM, but Max wanted to jabber to me on the phone, so I will take the 30 minute hit for that conversation any day of the week.

Event warmup:

I arrived to the park with no problems, and got parked. It was pitch black, so after banging my head into the Jeep’s rear door several times, I walked my gear over to transition. The walk was about half a mile, perhaps, from the car to transition, and on the way I checked in (with the miracle of being able to read, I had already printed off my medical form and had it filled out), so I walked straight to the check in table while 20 people stood around the medical form table. From there I headed towards transition while being chatted up by a woman doing B2B Full this year. I talked her through the course, and a few tips, and then I was off to set up.

I set up my bike, transition area, and then went to get my chip; body marked, and weighed in. At that time in the morning, I was tipping the scale at a massive 168 lbs. I strolled back to transition to realize that I had left my race belt in the car. I walked back over to the car to grab it, and then slowly jogged back. As soon as I got back to transition, I realized I had forgotten my nutrition that was still in the car, DAMN IT. So, I ran back to the car, and then back to transition. At this point, transition was 8 minutes from closing, and the start of the pre-race meeting. I threw the bottles on the bike, and put my wetsuit on while walking to the start.

After I got over to the start, wetsuit on, zipped up, I realized that I still had my wedding ring on. My God, I am falling apart. Since I had the wetsuit already on, and ready, I could not tie the ring into my shorts, so I started to scramble to find someone that could hold it for me. Finally, I found a lady whose husband was racing the half. I asked her if she would hold my ring. I preference it with “if you lose it, that is ok, but if I jump into the water I will loose it 100% without a doubt”. I wanted to remove any pressure of holding someone else’s wedding ring, just so she would say yes. Luckily, she was a super nice person and agreed.

At this point, my HR is through the roof and I am the National Anthem away from the first wave start. I was in wave two, so I had about three minutes to get my game face on, and get my HR under control.

  • 39m 57s
  • 1931 meters
  • 02m 04s / 100 meters

The Pro’s/Elites are in wave one and they are off! We get the call, wave two in position. Wave two was all AG racers, and a few other divisions. Thus, there were a number of us to get down the concrete stairs and into the water (this was a deep water start). Just as I got to the top of the stairs I hear 90 seconds. Oh snap, I need to get in the water. Hurry up, let’s go people. Move like you have a reason to. I finally get into the water, and hear one minute. I moved over to the side and lined up just behind the first row. 30 seconds, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO! And we are off.

I knew it was 275 meters to the first buoy, and then about 300 meters between the next two buoys. Third buoy was a yellow turn buoy. The sun started to rise just in front of us making it very difficult to see the buoys, and anything else for that matter. I wish someone had told me to wear tinted goggles for this race. I swam up on the first two buoys without any issue, swimming very straight but blind. I knew I only had one more before I would turn. Well, the sun was up and in full force now, and I could see NOTHING in front of me. No buoy, No swimmers, nothing but the sun. No one on my right, and then BANG. I got clobbered by some guy on my left. Oh snap, where did he come from? Then, BANG I got clobbered again, and again. I almost started to panic, since I could not see in front of me or the buoy, and I did not know if I was swimming into him or him into me. One more collision, BANG, and then I headed right for some distance between us. I was starting to freak out, so I switch to BS to spot where in the hell was the yellow buoy. It was not far, straight in front of me. I hammered to it right on line, and hung a left. I was so happy since now I would be able to see; however, now we turned into the chop. It was super windy that morning, and what does wind create? That’s right, waves. White caps that far out in the lake as a matter of fact. From there I took the beating of a lifetime. I was spotting 3, 4, 5 strokes in a row to see the buoys. I was way off course to the right, so I adjusted back on line for the second half of the long stretch. I was back on line, and could see pink caps passing now so I knew the next wave was catching me. No worries, I was in survival mode at this time, and just wanted to make it out of the water.

Reached the final turn buoy, and headed back to shore. I thought I would be swimming with the chop after the last turn, but it turned out the chop was moving from my right to my left. Like swaying in a boat on a storm raged sea. Awesome! I heard after the race that some guy got motion sick and threw up during the swim.

I swam straight to the exit until my hand hit the bottom, and then popped up. As I exited the water I started stripping my wetsuit. I checked my watch and it had been stopped about 8 minutes into the swim (probably when I was getting clocked by that guy), so I looked up at the clock to see 42:50 as I hit the mat. I thought this was my slowest half swim ever, by almost three minutes.

Nice start, Coldfire, nice start.

What would you do differently?:

Wear tinted goggles and that would have helped a bunch. Not much you can do about the chop. Swim strong, and hold on tight.
Transition 1
  • 01m 20s

The madness of the day continues…..

I get to my rack, kick off my wetsuit and throw it up on the rack (I always do this to keep my shoes dry and keep my WS off the ground). Well, as it lands on the rack it knocks my helmet and glasses off on to the other side of the rack. I crawl under the rack, helmet on, glasses on, and then crawl back to the other side. Grab my bike, and start heading to the exit. As I do so, I realize I did not fill my area bottle with nutrition. That bottle sits full by my feet. Son-of-a……I stop and fill my aero bottle as I mumble “slowest transition in the history of time” and a few other things. :)

What would you do differently?:

Be more mindful about throwing the wetsuit on the rack not to knock helmet/glasses into the next lane.

My brain was scrambled this morning, which was a first, so all of the other errors where a one time thing (I hope).
  • 2h 42m 48s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.64 mile/hr

Ok, deep breath. I survived the swim and T1. Goal on the bike was to take it easy the first 10 miles, and find a rhythm. From there I could start pushing if I wanted to. I found a rhythm very fast, and just kept it steady. The roads of SC are rough, and I mean very rough. I searched the road for a smooth place to ride with no luck. The best I could find was about a foot left of the white line, so that is where rode. Per the website “Road surfaces are good with one 2 mile stretch of rough pavement starting at mile 40 and ending at mile 42”. I kept laughing to myself that if this was “good” pavement, then I hate to see the two mile stretch of rough road.

I was holding an avg of 22 mph with ease, picking off people left and right. I started thinking this bike split is going to be blistering. It is the perfect race course for my abilities. It is what I call power rollers. You are either up or down with very little flat if any. I was going to hammer this course into the ground, and then at mile marker 20 we hung a right, and into the wind tunnel from hell. Per the website “Depending on the day athletes may encounter a head wind (or tail wind) on the long stretch from miles 20 - 40 but the rest of the course is sheltered from the wind.” Well, on this day we had a head wind, and a strong one at that. I saw people up out of the saddle grinding up little hills that normally you would just power up and over while remaining in aero. I looked down at one point hammering the pedals, and I was creeping along at 13 mph. I knew if I could make it to mile marker 40 I would be in good shape, and get out of the wind. I finally got there, and hung a right. Low & behold I was still riding into a headwind. Talk about soul crushing. For the next 10 miles my soul was being eaten by the wind half a mile at a time. We turned one more time, and then we where sheltered from the wind. I was back at 25+ mph in a flash, and held that until the end passing one final guy.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing you can do about the wind.

I think the bike course might have been a tad long, since I had 20.8 on my bike's computer. It is very close though, so no worries.
Transition 2
  • 01m 12s

I came into T2 knowing that I had forgotten to turn on my Garmin before the race, so I knew that I would not have GPS. However, I would still have the run time and HR. I took my time putting on my socks, shoes, race belt, glasses, HR monitor, and then Garmin. Taking my time to the point of stopping and making a joke to some guy standing there (watching, not racing) about how slow I was moving. Either he did not get it, or did not think it was as funny as I did. Nonetheless, I finished up and headed towards the door laughing to myself.
What would you do differently?:

I was moving in slow motion for whaterver reason, but I this was the first time I have ever put on my HR monitor for the run. I normally avg around 40-45 seconds for T2, so 1:12 is LONG for me.
  • 1h 33m 23s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 07m 08s  min/mile

I came out of T2 and realized that I had not reset the Garmin from my last run, so as I ran up the hill out of transition I zeroed out the Garmin, and restarted it. My HR was already at 165, so I eased off the pace to control my HR. My goal for this run was to take it easy, lock-down into Z2 (145-165), and make sure my hammy behaved (since I had tweaked it two weeks before). If it started to flash or tweak I was going to bag the run as not to further harm it for IMFL. IMFL is my A-Race of the season, and this was my final test run/race before it.

So, off I went in high Z2. On my way out of the park there is a pretty good hill that re spiked my HR, but then I was able to get it under control. It wanted to hold high Z2, vs mid/low Z2, so I just let it be. It would climb way out of Z2 on the hills, and then drop back into Z2 for the rest.

I then became the most obnoxious runner on the course, cheering on every single person going the other way. Good job, you’re killing it, rocking it, still rocking, etc., etc., and whatever positive thing that came out of my mouth. I spend more time cheering on everyone else, vs. paying attention to how my run was going. They had every mile marked on the pavement, and with signs so I did a rough time check at mile one, 7:00 mile, and then again at mile 2, again 7:00 mile, mile 3, 6:50/mile or 20:50 minutes. Damn, I lost count after that. Apparently, I can not run and calculate time in my head. From there I turned my attention back to cheering others on. I made sure to thank the aid stations for the water, and told them how good a job they were doing.

During my first lap, and between cheering on the other runners, I was thinking up a joke for the ladies at the turn around. Don’t ask me why, but that is what I did. So, as I came into the park for the turn around I asked them “who was ready for a joke?” They all said they were, so I told them I had one for them when I came back around. I made my turn through the flagged area, and back out for lap two. As I came back around this was my joke:
Who has two watches, and neither of them work? THIS GUY (pointing at myself with two thumbs)!
It took them a second to realize I had two watches on (watch and GPS), and that I was talking about myself. So, as I pulled out of the park I could hear them laughing up a storm behind me.

Back out for lap two, still cheering on other racers that were going the other way and that I passed this time. It was great; when everyone saw me coming they would light up because they new I had something to say or that I was going to cheer them on. It is the little things during the run that can make a difference. I was hoping to make a difference in someone’s day.

The miles were just clicking off one after another. The hills on the run seemed like nothing to me, and I kept checking my HR just out of curiosity more than anything. I was still in Z2 for the run, and I let my HR spike on the hills because it would fall back into Z2 after I topped it. The run was just no big deal today. No pushing, just cruise control. I even joked that everyone was less chatty on their second loop, and I didn’t know why (being a smart azz of course). One guy asked me if he could borrow some of my energy, I said sure, plug in lets go!

The only time I could tell that I was getting tired was when I came in on the second lap. They yelled one lap or two, and I got a bunch of babbling nothing out of my mouth, but threw up two fingers. So they instructed to stay right. The course then looped down and around the parking lot where I had parked, and then back out, down and around the bottom of the Drummond Center. It was pretty cool. All of the fans were at the top of the hill behind the Drummond Center where the finish lines was, and the run course circled around the swim start and then up to the finish line. I had read on the website that if you do not have your race number showing (on the front) at the finish line it was a 4 minute penalty. So, as I rounded the bottom of the hill, I moved my race number from behind me to my front. The stupid thing kept moving around to my back, so I pulled the race belt up to my chest to hold it on front.

I did one last check up the hill, and finish line before I choose my route. You could swing wide, and it was a little less steep, or take the closer route which was slightly more direct but slightly more steep. To the hell with it, I was going steep, full out, up this hill.

System Check: All systems go

I picked up the pace, so I could hit the hill full force with a sprint. I had just hit sprint speed when I got to the hill, and focused on getting my knees high and feet off the ground. I leaned into the hill, hammered up it. No problem. As I reached the mat I saw the clock read 5:01:38. Damn, so close to sub 5.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing, I enjoyed myself out on the run today.I could have pusher much harder, but with this being my final test run before IMFL there was no need to.
Post race
Warm down:

I got my finisher metal, and handed them my chip. Took a bottle of water, and started chatting with the other finishers. It was at that point that I realized the clock was on the first wave start, not mine. Wait a minute that means my official time was minus 3 minutes. That would put me sub 5, Woo-Hoo!!!

I chilled for a bit, and then walked back over to transition to gather my gear. Talked to a few guys over there, and then walked back to the car and loaded it. I called the wife to let her know I was safe, and to give her the few details I had about my time, and that I would update her later.

The unofficial results were finally posted, and yep, I had gone sub 5 with a 4:58:38. I will take it, since I felt like I had my butt kicked all day until I got to the run. I grabbed a sandwich and chips, and stretched out on the lawn while cheering the racers still finishing waiting for awards to start.

Ended up taking 2nd AG podium

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Mental errors, and this being a test race. Oh, and the wind on this day.

Event comments:

This is a great race! It is a shame that the number of racers has decreased due to Augusta 70.3 the weekend before and now Rev3 Anderson the weekend after. There is plenty of speed to race against, still. The course is awesome. The swim is the correct distance, and could be a fast swim on a non-windy day. The bike course of power rollers is perfect for someone solid on the bike. It is a gamble if you will have wind or not. With wind, it can be a tough day, but if you are lucky to not have wind or a tailwind, the bike course would be blistering fast. The run is quality IMO. You are either up or down with a few flat spots in between, nothing killer, but there are definitely some hills on this course. The final hill is the perfect way to earn your man-card, short and sweet.

Even though I got my butt kicked throughout the day, and all the mental blunders, I will definitely be back to the race. If anyone is looking for an alternative from Augusta or Rev3, I would suggest looking into the SC Half.

Last updated: 2011-09-02 12:00 AM
00:39:57 | 1931 meters | 02m 04s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/9
Overall: 48/140
Performance: Below average
Suit: Zoot Zenith
Course: Deep water start, out three buoys, left for another three buoys, and then back to shore for three buoys. This is a point to point swim, where start at some concerte stairs and then swim out and around a point, and then exit a boat ramp. It is about 50 feet from the swim exit to transition, and the mat.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 76F / 24C Current: High
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 01:20
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Good
02:42:48 | 56 miles | 20.64 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/9
Overall: 21/140
Performance: Average
Course: A big square. First 20 miles is super fast. Next 20 or 30 is hit or miss with wind, and final 6-10 is super fast again. Course is roller the entire time, and can yield a super fast bike split without wind.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:12
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:33:23 | 13.1 miles | 07m 08s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/9
Overall: 10/140
Performance: Good
Z2 145-165 Avg HR 163 bpm Max HR 178 bpm Avg: 7:07/mile Max: 3:34/mile Calories: 1,559 Cal/Mile: 119.02
Course: Out of transition straight into a hill, and then it flattens out until you exit the park. Rollers with one solid hill as you work you way out of the actual park (full shade), and then right for 1.3 miles (unshaded). On this day, we had a stiff headwind going out. One large hill on this stretch, and then a tierred downhill, one last hill before you hang a right. The last section is rollers, up and down all the way to the end and around. Then, repeat in reverse for loop one. At the finish of loop one, you go through a flagged turn around area, and back out for loop 2. After loop 2, you stay right go down and around a shaded parking area, and then around to the bottom of the Drummond Center. Around next to the lake, and then up the final steep hill.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %6 lbs
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 1
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? No
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5