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Door County Triathlon Half Ironman - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Egg Harbor, Wisconsin
United States
82F / 28C
Total Time = 5h 29m 14s
Overall Rank = 85/407
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 14/57
Pre-race routine:

Originally, this race was just supposed to be a fun little race between IM Lanzarote and IM Wisconsin where I would coast from my fitness from the former and carry it forward into the latter. Unfortunately, I had come down with issues with my toe (actually just before IM Lanzarote) which left me without any significant training for nearly 5 weeks immediately following IM Lanzarote. So now I was faced again (like with IM Cal) with an abbreviated training schedule (3.5 weeks) for what was supposed to be a straightforward race; perhaps the lesson learned is that you can never take your fitness for granted as half (and of course full) IM distance races are not very forgiving in this regard.

DW and I flew into Green Bay late on Friday night. Rented a car, Mazda 6 with fold down rear seats, which is key since we knew we'd have to lug my bike case. Original plan was to go up and stay at Stone Harbor in Sturgeon Bay, but DW's father fell and broke his hip earlier in the week and was in a hospital in Green Bay so we stayed at the Candlewood suites near the hospital.

Saturday morning, we spent with him (and DW's sister and mom) in the hospital. Once we knew what was going on with him, we figured it made sense for DW to stay in Green Bay and I would go on up and do the race solo. At 2:30pm, I went on up to Door County up to the park to listen to the course overview hosted by the RD Sean Ryan. He did a great job giving an overview of the race, the course, etc. (Side comment - San Francisco is very much a melting pot so when I looked around the tent and in the expo area, I was struck by how predominately white everyone was. There was only one other non-caucasian person, an african-american at the overview.)

At the Q&A afterward, I had two questions for Sean - one, if there was going to be pumps in transition (since I didn't have a full sized floor pump with me) (it didn't sound like he had planned that, but said he would talk to someone about that), and, two, where did those on the "guaranteed" wait list go at 7:30am to get their registration. I was late in deciding to do this race (had to plan trip to WI, coordinate with DW's family, etc.) and ended up on this "guaranteed" wait list which meant I was guaranteed to get a spot to race since. They would redistribute a no-show's race packet on race morning (as I would later find out, there was also a non-guaranteed wait list that would make spots available if there were enough no-show's).

I headed over to the mini-expo and bought 6 CO2 cartridges since I couldn't fly with them and wanted to have some stocked up for IM WI. I then drove back to Sturgeon Bay. I stopped off at DC bikes hoping to buy a bike pump (didn't want to leave it to chance), but they were closed (it was almost 6pm already).

I checked into Stone Harbor. Nice hotel. This is also where we and our wedding parties stayed when we got married in Sturgeon Bay almost 5 years ago. Had a nice room with a big whirpool bath. DW and I were supposed to spend two nights here together, but instead I had it alone for one night (less than 12 hours at that)...not quite the same. I unpacked and reassembled my bike. I was still a little worried about having a pump so I went out to Target to go buy one (plus, I'd have this for IM WI in September). They had a Schwinn pump that came with a screw on adapter for presta. I stopped off at Applebee's for dinner (teriyaki bowl with chicken...about what you'd expect from a chain restaurant, but it served it's purpose).

Back to the hotel, spoke to DW who was dealing with all the drama with her parents, and then some TV and finally to sleep by about 10pm (wanted to go to sleep earlier, but wasn't quite sleepy enough).

At about 1:15am, the youths staying in the room next door (the one with the adjoing door) came back to their room and had a small, but loud gathering (geez, i sound like an old cranky geezer). When they didn't quiet down after awhile, I called the front desk and complained. They said they'd take care of it, which it appeared they did since they quited down after about 5-10 minutes.

First alarm goes off at 5:15am. This is still 3:15am San Francisco time, so I just lie there. Wake up call rings and I start to come to life. I start the coffee (hotel coffee...ugh...I've been spoiled because DW and I have roasting our own coffee for a few months now so we're used to that), but it gets the job done. I have a chocolate mint zone perfect bar for breakfast. Dress up in my Zoot/Gu tri clothes. I pump up my tires, pack up, check out by 6:00am.

It's already pretty sunny outside and warm. Temp gauge in the car says it's 68 degrees...geez, it doesn't even get 68 degrees as a high in SF this time of year.

I drive up County B (which is the first part of the bike course in reverse). By 6:30am, I'm there and there are already a good number of people here. I have until 7:30am until I can get my race packet, but I didn't want to deal with the uncertainty of traffic, parking, etc. if I waited too late.

I hung out by the registration area just watching people arrive. Lots of Trek bikes (we are in Wisconsin after all). Big mix of people. Some hardcore folks with plenty of expensive tri bikes (cervelo, Guru Chrono, etc.) and race wheels. A few IM dot tatooed folks or folks wearing IM clothing.

At 7:00, I head back to the car and grab my bike and gear and wait by registration. I eat a clif bar while I'm waiting. At 7:30am, they start calling off names. Of course, it feels like they are going slowly because I know time is ticking away for me to setup my transition and get ready for the swim. At least I know my swim wave (wave 5) is going until 8:12am. They call my name. I grab my packet, get body marked, pickup my chip, and walk over to the transition area.

I set up quickly. I didn't double check all my gear once I was in Wisconsin, but since I use a checklist and pack it all in my tri backpack, it's all here. i try to stick the race number for my helmet on and it won't stick. Screw it. I stick my bike number on my seatpost, but it's also not very sticky so I hope it stays.

I pull on my wetsuit to my waist and walk over to the swim area. I feel like I'm one of the last headed over there, but there are a few others (likely more wait listers) still heading over to transition.

A lot of folks are in the water acclimating/warming up. A good number are on the beach. I'm warm in my wetsuit already so I pop into the water just to cool off. It's pretty cool (low 60s), which is great since that's near perfect temp for me.

Pretty soon, the first wave, elite men, take off with the horn and the elite women in wave two queue up. 3 minutes later and they're gone. 3 minutes after that, the first group of AG men goes, followed 3 minutes later by the next wave of AG men. That's my cue to line up behind the michelob ultra inlatable pillars to pass the timing mat. we're told to enter the water so we wade out to the start line. There are about 50 in our wave. The water is waist high. Before I know it, the countdown starts...
  • 41m 25s
  • 1931 meters
  • 02m 08s / 100 meters

I felt relaxed on the swim. At first, my left shoulder felt a little tight from the wetsuit, but this is pretty typical for me. Because our wave was pretty small, we were all spread out very quickly with almost no contact with anyone.

The sky was overcast and my goggles were foggy so I had some trouble sighting. Usually I can easily follow others, but we were fairly few and far between. Fortunately, the course is incredibly well marked with big yellow buoys at each turn (three turns) and day glo orange buoys every 50 yards (the buoys were even numbered 1-40 to tell you how far you had to go, but I couldn't see the numbers with my foggy goggles).

The water was both quite warm on the very top layer and much colder underneath. Sometimes you'd hit a pocket of all warm or all cold. i much preferred the cold.

Eventually, I found another swimmer who swam very much the same pace as me so I just drafted off of him. It felt easy to me sitting back here in the draft, but that was fine. After going around the first turn, we were passed by some other swimmers (I assume the next wave) and I lost him in all the activity, but no matter. I just kept slugging along.

Swim, swim, swim. Geez, this stretch feels long (in reality, this back stretch was actually half the swim distance). Chop started to pick up just a tiny bit, but nothing major. The sun just started to break out.

Eventually, it's a left turn to head towards shore. Okay, I'm still feeling okay. Eventually I may it to the boat ramp.

Unzip and pull my wetsuit down halfway and then the wetsuit strippers do their thing. Even with two of them tugging, it still got stuck on my ankles!
What would you do differently?:

WTF!?! This is my slowest swim ever. I don';t get it since I've always finished in 35-36 minutes and this was 6 minutes slower!
Transition 1
  • 03m 3s

Did my T1 business. No gloves (expected to be in aero most of the time anyway). transition went reasonably quickly. Time included a run to the bathroom before starting on the bike. This is a decent T1 time for me since I usually end up usually taking longer.
  • 2h 48m 49s
  • 56.3 miles
  • 20.01 mile/hr

Based on the elevation profile, I expected this course to be relatively mild. That being said, I'd been a bit disappointed by my biking ability in the last few weeks, so we'd have to see.

The first stretch was very pleasant since it was closed to cars and was in a wooded area that sometimes ran along the water. I started out pretty strong and passed a few folks early on. Since this is a small race, we were pretty well strung out along the course, but there was one guy that I played leapfrog with for a bit...I'd pass on the uphills and he'd pass on the flats until he eventually left me in the dust. One of the muscular guys with a red Trek with a disc wheel came blowing by at one point. There were residents every so often sitting at their driveways cheering the racers on.

At mile 9 near the quarry, there were the signs for the turnaround for the Sprint bike course. By mile 15, I was entering downtown Sturgeon Bay. It was pretty cool to be riding right through the downtown section (this is a small town downtown a few blocks long, not Manhattan downtown) because I've been here many times since my in-laws live in Sturgeon Bay. There were some crowds here (but not thick with them) that were cheering everyone on.

So, I'm trying to figure when I need to start taking in some solid nutrition. usually I do this around mile 15-20 or so. I end up consuming a zone perfect bar at mile 20. Also around this time, I started feeling not so good. hard for me to understand if this was BECAUSE I ate solid food (and had been taking in sports drinks prior to all of this) or because I had waited to long to take in solid food. At this point, I'm inclined to think that it was because I took in solid food on top of all the sports drink and my GI parts had had enough. In any case, I felt kinda miserable from about mile 20 to mile 30. This had me thinking "why am I doing this" and "I don't think I want to do IM Wisconsin."

But, it was all temporary and by mile 30, I was feeling pretty good again. I took a vanilla gu (caffeinated...mmmm) around this time, so I'm not sure if the Gu picked me up (which it always does) or the food finally kicked in, or what exactly. In any case, I was just glad to be feeling good again.

The rest of the bike ride was pretty uneventful. At some point, I noticed that I didn't have the sticker on my bike with my race number. Ugh. How would I get my bike out of transition and worse, what if someone else claimed it! The chances of someone at this event stealing my bike were very low, so I figured I'd just wing it.

At about mile 43, I encountered the bluff. This was the biggest climb on the ride, but it was only a couple hundred feet over a couple miles. Even though I was weaker than I'd been on the bike, this was no big deal given all the hills I do in San Francisco.

On the home stretch, I started reeling in a few more folks. There were still a handful of riders who were doing the sprint tri and I passed them. I saw mile 56 go by and I was still on the course. Fortunately, it wasn't too much longer before I saw the turn in towards the transition area.

As I dismounted and passed the dismount line, I told a volunteer that the number fell off my bike and I wanted to be sure I could claim it later. i gave her my race number and she said she would pass it on to those checking the bikes.
Transition 2
  • 02m 31s

In transition there were still a good number of bikes still out so I was probably doing okay. As I was changing, I could here the announcer calling out names of finishers. i said, "holy crap. I can't believe they're finishing already!" There was a guy there who said those were the sprint finishers. Whew. Transition went fairly quickly. I grabbed some more gu. I went to the port a potty.

On my way out the run exit, I told another volunteer that the number fell off my bike. She said, "oh, it doesn't matter!" i was thinking, uh, great than anybody can walk out with any bike then.
  • 1h 53m 25s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 40s  min/mile

So my run starts with the (half) ironman shuffle. Right away, a guy passes me and just takes off. my legs feel a bit leaden (mmm, haven't done any bricks this year...). I'm pretty sure they'll lighten up once my running muscles get warmed up. There have been a couple races where I've toasted my legs on the bike and the run becomes a death march, but I'm feeling okay.

This first 1.5 miles has us sharing the route with the 5K runners from the sprint. Within the first couple miles, I pass several people. one guy says to me "I knew you'd pass me on the run!" I continue to reel in several runners and I'm passed by a few including a woman in a pink top, a guy in a red 2xu top, and a guy in orange who comes blazing by. Beyond mile 2, we can see runners on the other side of the road on the return route. I'm taking in gatorade primarily at this point.

I just keep plodding along and eventually, I start to feel a bit more relaxed as the runner in my starts to awaken. At the aid stations, I'm taking in water and dumping water on my head. After mile 4, we don't see the runners on the other side anymore because we're on a sort of loop section.

At about 5.5 miles, i'm a little surprised/confused to see the runners who had passed me running on the opposite side of the road. This was the little spur section that is the farthest point north on the route with the turnaround and timing mat to prevent cheaters. I was a little surprised that the turnaround point wasn't at the halfway point, but it was a pleasant distraction.

At mile 7, I see a lot of runners on the others side of the road. I'm confused for a moment until I realize that those are the runners on the out section and I'm on the return.

Between miles 7 through 9, I'm starting to catch some of those who had passed me earlier. I think it's because they are fading faster than I am or maybe I actually am going faster. I actually feel better. I feel loose and my stride is easy. Even so, there are 2 or 3 guys who pass me on this stretch.

At just after mile 9, we hit the bluff, which is the main climb on this run. Everyone in front of me stops running and is walking including the last few guys who passed me. It's weird because EVERYONE is walking. I'm normally used to running some hills (and I'm a relative lightweight), so I just keep on running/trudging up the hills. Several of the guys tell me "way to go" or "you're the man".

It's a relatively short uphill section, so I keep on running afterward. it's strange but the exertion of doing the hills has kicked me into another level of effort.

I know I'm running faster now. Part of it is "fear" of being passed again by everyone I just passed, but i think part of it is just my body saying that if I'm going to work out at that level of intensity, then let's do it. So I did. I just kept running at that level.

I'm passing people. At around mile 11 or so, I catch up to a group of 3 runners. I decide to draft behind these guys and conserve some energy (plus I couldn't pass/outrun them at this time). The two in front have elite numbers on their calfs, so I know they started 12 minutes ahead of me on the swim. The third guy has some IM clothing on. I ask where's the downhill and one of the guys says it's coming soon. We go along this way for a bit.

The two runners at the front split up. The remaining elite guy and the ironman top guy go ahead and I slowly pass the guy who dropped off. Eventually, I pass the guy with the ironman top.

There are some spectators here so I know we're getting close. Now it's a fairly steep downhill. I'm running and my quads are taking a beating. We get back down near the start/finish and there is another small downhill stretch to the finish line. One guy in a Wisconsin Badger top blows right by me. There's another guy here. We pass a guy right at this last stretch. It's a fierce sprint to the finish and three of us pass the finish within seconds of each other.

Post race
Warm down:

We're given wet towels to drape on our necks. I turnaround to see what the race time is, but there is no clock on this side of the finish. I ask one of the guys who I just finished and he said 5:41. ugh. Oh well, not one of my fastest by any stretch, but that was somewhat expected giving I had basically 2.5 weeks to ramp up for this.

I grabbed a water and then immediately headed over to transition since I wanted to square my bike away. On the walk over, a few people said congratulations and if they were wearing a finisher's medal, i said the same back to them. At the transition area, I told this really big guy that the number fell off my bike. he said "number 124." I smiled and said yeah. i was glad to know the volunteer who I told did get the word around.

I quickly packed up my stuff and exited, crossed the area where finishers were coming down, and packed the stuff away in my rental car. I headed back to the finish area to get some grub. I was looking forward to this. Food was pulled pork sandwich and roasted corn. For the pulled pork, I had a choice of regular or BBQ. i went for the BBQ. The corn was roasted (husk on), so the server removed the husk and asked if I wanted butter. Sure! it was a small vat of molten butter deep enough to stick the whole ear into. Salt it up after that and I'm good to go.

I sit down at one of the picnic tables and chow down. I chit chat a bit with one of the other competitors. Oh the food hits the spot. I throw away my garbage and look for the race results. I find them posted over by the beach. i'm happy overall although my swim time really sucked (for me). I go get another pulled pork sandwich (this time regular) and more corn and chow this down while seated over by the beach. It's a bit lonely not having DW here. So I head back to the car and give her a call and let her know I'm on my way back to Green Bay.

Event comments:

Sean Ryan is the race director. This is a very well run race. Course is scenic and well laid out. The course markings are the best I've seen (e.g. stand up signs at every mile, road marked before every turn, during the turn and after every turn) including IM branded races. There were even wetsuit strippers (haven't had those at any race I've been to so far). Real post-race food, i.e. pulled pork sandwiches, was a nice treat (although one sandwich normally is not a lot of food for a hungry triathlete). Volunteers were plentiful and enthusiastic. Race only had 407 finishers this year, but is open to 1000 next year. It's a great little race. highly recommended!

Last updated: 2008-05-11 12:00 AM
00:41:25 | 1931 meters | 02m 08s / 100meters
Age Group: 23/57
Overall: 166/407
Course: The swim takes place in Horseshoe Cove at Frank Murphy Park. It's a hip deep water start. Swim course is very well marked with yellow buoys at the turns and orange buoys every 50 yards. Swimmers exit the water via the boat launch ramp which is carpeted.
Start type: Wade Plus:
Water temp: 62F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 03:03
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
02:48:49 | 56.3 miles | 20.01 mile/hr
Age Group: 21/57
Overall: 110/407
Course: Bike course is a partial loop/out and back course (i.e. a loop with some overlapping areas) that heads south from Frank Murphy park down to Sturgeon Bay, through downtown Sturgeon Bay out and around some roads in the south eastern part of Door County and then back. There is small climb at mile 43.
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 02:31
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
01:53:25 | 13.1 miles | 08m 40s  min/mile
Age Group: 11/57
Overall: 75/407
Course: Run course is part loop/part out and back (i.e. a loop with some overlapping sections) up to Egg Harbor. Route is generally flat with a short climb up the bluff at mile 10 and a downhill at the very end to the finish.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2008-07-27 9:55 AM

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San Francisco
Subject: Door County Triathlon Half Ironman

2008-07-27 12:12 PM
in reply to: #1562322

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Subject: RE: Door County Triathlon Half Ironman
Well done, Donato! Loved the RR.... way to run up the bluff!!

Hope the toe is on the mend.
2008-07-27 9:50 PM
in reply to: #1562322

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Lafayette, CA
Subject: RE: Door County Triathlon Half Ironman

Sorry it took me a little time to stop by. You did really well--especially with the training/injury challenges. I lived in Madison for a couple of years when I was 2 to 3.  It is a neat place.

What a great job!  It is strange when you don't have your family at the events.  It just isn't as much fun.  Take care.

2008-07-27 10:12 PM
in reply to: #1562322

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2008-07-28 12:11 PM
in reply to: #1562322

Modesto, California
Subject: RE: Door County Triathlon Half Ironman
Sounds like you worked out all the kinks for IMOO!  Judging by the pictures the weather looked great, thats always a plus. 
2008-08-04 9:07 PM
in reply to: #1562322

Mishicot, Wisconsin
Subject: RE: Door County Triathlon Half Ironman
Awesome race... I hadn't realized you had posted the report or I would have read it sooner.  As I am reading through your biking, I realized something.  I rolled over your bike number around mile 20/25 or so   Sorry I didn't pick it up!  Nice job on the course... running the bluff is amazing.  The swim just sucked for everyone.  I am really not sure it was the correct distance... I don't take that long period.  Hopefully see you at IM WI!!!

2008-08-06 4:39 PM
in reply to: #1562322

Cambridge, MA
Subject: RE: Door County Triathlon Half Ironman

Great race report -- sounds like you'll go back in 2009.  Lovely course, eh?  Gotta love scenic WI, and you'll see lots of it at IMWI fairly soon!

Hope you stay healthy and race happy.

Cheers, -Sunny 

2008-08-07 11:29 PM
in reply to: #1562322

So Cal.
Subject: RE: Door County Triathlon Half Ironman

Hey Donato,

 Great RR as usual.  A HIM as a tune-up race.  Awesome.


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