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MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Morgantown, West Virginia
United States
HFP Racing
75F / 24C
Total Time = 6h 27m 5s
Overall Rank = 205/252
Age Group = F 30-34
Age Group Rank = 6/9
Pre-race routine:

Woke up around 5:15 a.m. Ate a bagel and a half with cream cheese, loaded up our stuff in the truck, and headed out. We had to check our bikes the night before so we didn't have to worry about that, which was nice.
Event warmup:

Got into our wetsuit and did about 200 meters nice and easy at the swim start area.
  • 46m 27s
  • 1931 meters
  • 02m 25s / 100 meters

All of the women were in one wave, including the relays. I started and stayed wide and to the right so I was out of the crowd most of the time. I bilateral breathed the entire time except at the buoy turns when I breathed towards the buoy to keep track better. Because the race was small, it was a little lonely during the stretches with the just the halfers, but overall a very open course with little churning and jostling from other athletes.

I used this race as a practice race of sorts for the IM. My goal was to really focus on pacing and RPE for the swim and bike. I took the first two thirds quite easy and then when we rounded the last buoy and headed back to the dock I started to push a little more, although probably not quite as much as my coach had hoped for. Even still, my HR is oddly high for RPE. I really took it easy, but my HRM would make it seem like I was going all out. In fact my HR started dropping when I got out and started running to transition.

My time is slower than I had hoped for. Even swimming easy this seems quite slow.
What would you do differently?:

Try to push a little harder the last third.
Transition 1
  • 04m 8s

The time includes about a 300m run to the transition area. I was actually much smoother for this transition than normal.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. This actually went pretty well and is not all that bad considering the run we had to do from the dock to the transition area.
  • 3h 34m 42s
  • 56 miles
  • 15.65 mile/hr

I took off like a bat out of hell after T1 and then remembered the ill fated Racine ride last year. And since I was practicing pacing for the IM I kept it easy zone 2 the first loop, with the exception of the climbs. It was hard to let everyone go knowing I'd be one of the last people out on the course for the second loop. My instructions were to get out of my comfort zone a little on the second loop so I bumped it up to zone 3, but was very careful not to let it creep into zone 4 except on the climbs. My legs felt really fresh for the second loop and despite the wind kicking up, I was still able to negative split by a couple of minutes. I'm not sure if I should have gone harder. This didn't feel like getting out of my comfort zone all that much, but if I had ridden harder I would have been in zone 4 the entire time and that didn't seem very wise.

The day had been overcast and potential storms were predicted but we had escaped them until about mile 10ish. And then down came the rains. While it went on for awhile there was luckily only a few minutes of hard pelting downpour. And visibility never got bad. I did roll into the turnaround at the far end of the course however unable to handle it. There were no warnings for the bottle exchanges. You came into the turnaround and BAM. There they were. No signs, no yelling to let you know, just tables and volunteers. It was a really tight turnaround and I was coming in off a long descent with brakes that weren't working on wet pavement and trying to get to my water bottle. Not a good combo. So I rolled a few feet through the turnaround and got stopped and then hopped over and did the bottle exchange. I also didn't realize that the "water" bottles I was grabbing were actually sugary fruity nastiness. I was okay on the bike, but it came back to me in the run. The ride also involved some stretches of very rough road so I had sugary fruity nastiness that had splashed out of my aero bottle all over me, the handle bars, the bike computer, everything.
What would you do differently?:

Be a stronger rider overall so I can go faster.
Transition 2
  • 01m 41s

I remembered to tie my running shoes the night before and it's amazing how much smoother that makes transition. :)
What would you do differently?:

No much. This actually went pretty smooth for me.
  • 2h 00m 7s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 10s  min/mile

I felt pretty good starting out. There continued to be bursts of rain every 15-20 minutes during the run which helped cool us down. I wore my HRM to start, but I've learned over the years that HR is nice, but my body is a much better judge of what I can and should do in a race situation so I took the HRM strap off and put it in my jersey pocket. The miles were definitely not marked correctly. I would have two miles at an 8:30 pace and then one at a 9:10 pace. Then a couple miles at 8:50 and one at 10:36. There was just no way my pacing was that off. My RPE was very steady and I know my pacing well enough to know I was slowing a bit over the course of the run, but I was not running that erratically. I was running pretty steady until I hit the dreaded hills in mile 6 that Laura had warned me about when she was cheering for me. She had done the oly, knew what I was in for and tried to prepare me. It was one of those things you just have to run yourself to understand though.

The entire run was on a the very flat bike path until we turned right onto the streets. I was plodding along reminding myself to be patient since I was finally starting to catch some of the people who had been ahead of me on the bike, and then I looked up. There it was. A wall of road I would be expected to "run" up. At the bottom was painted a huge devil face and the words "Gates of Hell." There was also a teenage kid dressed as a devil very nicely yelling "Good job!" I ran the first section of the hill and knew I needed to walk the rest if I wanted to survive. As I got to the top the words "It gets worse" were painted on the road. In total it was about a mile and a half of hills. The rest were not as merciless as that first, but your legs were so toasted from the first, they felt like they were just as bad. Even walking I think my HR was probably in upper zone 4 on that hill. I was able to slowly jog the rest of them, but it was not pretty or painless. And to make it really special, there was a steep quad destroying downhill to get you back to the river front for your second lap. I hit the river front, Laura convinced me I still looked strong and I headed out for my second loop.

I was still reeling people in, but the whole time I had the devil hill looming in the back of my mind and knew I needed to save something for it. But I was starting to show some wear, especially since the sweet fruity nastiness from the bike had me feeling overfull and like I didn't want nutrition. I forced myself to take in water every 15' and a gu. And as the devil hill got closer I told myself that if I could make it through the gates of hell and past the devil a second time, whatever I did for the rest of the run would be absolutely perfect, no matter what happened. The devil hill and its minions were the last mile and a half of the course so it was going to be a massacre of the legs no matter how I handled it. As I walked up the devil hill the second time I started wondering if it would be faster to crawl. I only had to walk one other short stretch after the devil hill and ran/shuffled the rest. I told myself it was the last mile and a half and it was not the time to let go. When you're down to the last mile you have to push. It's only a mile. And you can handle anything for a mile if you really want it. ;)

This actually went pretty well. Had it not been for the unknown mile and a half of hell at the end of each loop, I think I could have held a pretty steady pace. I did slow down the second loop. I could feel that. But it's hard to say how much since the miles weren't marked correctly. Based on my weird mile splits and the turn around, I think I was about a minute and a half slower the second loop.
What would you do differently?:

Check out the run course better the day before.
Post race
Warm down:

Stumbled out of the finish area where Laura was waiting for me. Grabbed some food and we headed to the car to get going. Quads did not feel sore, but they felt very weak right after I finished. Like they either weren't there at all or simply weren't going to hold me up.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I'm training for an IM so I only had a short taper. I'm also still not a very strong cyclist and I lose so much time on the bike I'm always way behind starting out the run.

Event comments:

I would think about doing this course again, but for my first time I didn't think it was as organized as it could have been. I've only done one other HIM and it was put on by HFP as well. The race is much larger and very well organized so I was expecting the same of this race. The volunteers were great and they were lifesavers from start to finish. They were also out there a very long time seeing us all through the water stations, on the bike course, etc. There were no directions though as to where the bottle exchanges were or the bike turnaround. The bike turnaround for the second loop was about ten feet from transition and I had to yell the question multiple times before someone answered me. And there was not one sign marking it. At one point in the run the first loop I actually questioned whether I was still on the course. My biggest recommendation to someone considering doing this race would be to get familiar with every part of it before you actually race it so you know where you're going and where everything will take pace.

Last updated: 2008-01-27 12:00 AM
00:46:27 | 1931 meters | 02m 25s / 100meters
Age Group: 8/9
Overall: 229/252
Performance: Average
Avg HR: 151
Suit: Quintana Roo Super Full
Course: A rectangular course in the Monongahela River. They shut off all but one sluice of the lock at the far end of the river to eliminate most of the current and we swam almost all the way to the lock before turning back towards the dock.
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 04:08
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed:
03:34:42 | 56 miles | 15.65 mile/hr
Age Group: 8/9
Overall: 249/252
Performance: Average
Avg HR lap 1=155 Avg HR lap 2=159
Course: A counter clockwise two loop course with an extra out and back for the half distance race (the oly people did one loop minus the out and back). There were a few miles of flat in each loop two major climbs with several rollers sprinkled throughout. Total climbing about 3230 feet. The two major climbs were long low grade inclines with short steep areas near the top.
Road: Rough Wet Cadence: 80s
Turns: Good Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:41
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
02:00:07 | 13.1 miles | 09m 10s  min/mile
Age Group: 4/9
Overall: 114/252
Performance: Good
Course: Two loops mostly on the bike path with a mile and half at the end of each loop on hills on the streets.
Keeping cool Average Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? No
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2008-06-30 12:57 PM

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Wellington, North Island
Subject: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman

2008-06-30 1:42 PM
in reply to: #1499285

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Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman

Congrats again!

As I was getting off the bike at the end of one loop, someone in front of me had a major problem making that turn going on for the 2nd time around.  He skidded in the wet, unclipped, and nearly wiped out into that table.  Very odd set up.

Love your description of the run - couldn't have said it better myself!  Smile

2008-06-30 1:55 PM
in reply to: #1499285

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Northern VA
Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman

Nice race, you had a strong run on a really tough run course. This should set you up nicely for your IM, great work!

2008-06-30 7:40 PM
in reply to: #1499285

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, North Carolina
Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman

Oh yikes.  The Gates of Hell hill sounds awful.  I guess that gave you something to look forward to on the second loop!  Nice job keeping your pace controlled on the bike.

You did great and it's obvious you are ready for your IM.

2008-06-30 8:50 PM
in reply to: #1499285

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Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman

Seems your swim/bike pacing allowed you to run strong even in the Gates of Hell!

Congrats on a super race and I'm sure it will serve you well as prepare for your IM.

You run fast


2008-07-01 8:30 AM
in reply to: #1499285

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Canandaigua NY
Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman

Great job!!!  Keeping everything in perspective as it fits into your entire training plan and race schedule is tough but necessary.  Sounds like a challenging race though without the distraction of IM training!

Again, great race and I enjoyed your RR!!!

2008-07-01 10:08 AM
in reply to: #1499285

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Southwest Chicago 'burbs
Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman

You planned your race and raced your plan.  That's what IM finishers do. 

AND you were super speedy on the run, FastKelly!!  You really did look strong out there, no matter what you may have felt like.  I had a great time cheering you on (and an even better time knowing that I didn't have to experience the Gates of Hell twice in one run). 

Great job, great weekend, great finish...

2008-07-01 10:50 AM
in reply to: #1499285

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Silver member
Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman

Yay! Congratulations! Well done, sister! Kiss


See you this weekend.

2008-07-01 1:34 PM
in reply to: #1499285

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Westchester, IL
Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman
Congrats, fast run. good job
2008-07-01 2:38 PM
in reply to: #1499285

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Farmington, MI
Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman
Fabulous! Sounds like you raced really smart!  Glad you were able to RUN when you got there, even that last mile.  Great training race!, Congrats...
2008-07-01 2:44 PM
in reply to: #1499285

Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman
I did the Olympic distance... and have the highest respect for the Half'ers. Can't imagine doing each of those loops twice. Congratulations!

Did anyone else notice the honest-to-God "van down by the river" on the run (just past the riverfront amphitheatre)? Or is it just me who muses on the surroundings while racing?

2008-07-02 5:56 PM
in reply to: #1499285

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NW Suburbs, Illinois
Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman

Great Race.  You obviously stuck to your plan and raced it well.  I am thinking with the way you run, you could definitely have pushed harder on the bike, especially in an HIM.  Now IMWI, may be different.

Good stuff!

2008-07-02 7:54 PM
in reply to: #1499430

New user

Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman
I think that was me. A totally puckering experience I have to admit it would have been pretty funny if I took out the drink table just like an NFL lineman
2008-07-03 10:27 AM
in reply to: #1499285

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Extreme Veteran
Olathe, KS
Subject: RE: MedExpress Mountaineer Triathlon - Half Ironman
Great job out there! You might not be totally happy with the bike split, but you definitely did the thing you came to do: practice pacing for the IM. And you did really well with that!

The course sounds quite a bit harder than Racine, too, so you've got to be happy with your improvement there. Nice job! Now rest up for the SOR aquabike!
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