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The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Plymouth, Massachusetts
United States
Fast Forward Race Management
63F / 17C
Total Time = 10h 32m 34s
Overall Rank = 4/91
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 1/13
Pre-race routine:

Awoke a little before 4am. Had two Ensure Plus, a banana, Clif bar and some coffee. Headed out just after 5am and arrived in Plymouth a little before 6am. Got everthing set up in transition and hopped on a bus sometime after 6:30 to take us up to the swim start.
Event warmup:

Um...I'm going to be racing for over 10 hours. I can warm-up when the race starts.
  • 1h 07m 54s
  • 3862 meters
  • 01m 46s / 100 meters

The aquabikers, pros (though I think they were all aquabikers--included Dede Griesbauer), and relay swimmer (yes, only 1 relay team) went off first with the rest of us about 5min later. While the wave wasn't all that big, the swim start is fairly narrow and it was still a bit rough for the first few hundred meters. I was off to the left (close to the jetty) and the water there was quite shallow as we were at low tide. My hands easily grabbed bottom on many strokes over those same first few hundred.

Once it thinned out a bit, I moved over to the right slightly in order to get some deeper water. I felt good, but it did seem to be taking a long time to get out to the turn-around buoy which was a bit beyond the end of the jetty. Once we reached the end of the jetty, we lost the protection from the wind and the surf kicked up substantially, making sighting, breathing and navigating a much tougher chore. This was the first of many times during the day where I had to remind myself to "stay in the box", as the temptation was to fight the conditions and work harder.

After making the turn, it was a bit easier coming back even beyond the jetty (the tide was coming in, which probably helped). Getting back to the start was relatively uneventful. I glanced at my watch sometime near then and thought I saw 36:xx which was about what I expected to see.

The second time up the jetty was less 'eventful' in terms of contact with other swimmers though I was around a few and was able to get some brief drafting opportunities. Once past the jetty the second time, the water seemed much rougher than the first and it was really tough to get to the bouy.

The final leg cut diagonally through the harbor right to the Mayflower II. This was relatively rough the whole way without the protection of the jetty, but apparently the incoming tide helped to keep the speed up even though it didn't feel real great. I was constantly reminding myself to "stay in the box" during this time. At one point I had to really slow down as I felt some 'twinges' in my legs telling me I was risking a cramp. Fortunately, I was able to relax and keep them from full spasm.

Reached the dock and climbed up the first ladder just behind a couple other swimmers who I had followed most of the final leg.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. I could have swam this faster but, for the most part, think I did a good job of staying relaxed and easy. That was the goal.
Transition 1
  • 03m 58s

Climed up the steep ramp from the dock (steep due to the low tide) and then jogged easy to transition while getting the top of my wetsuit off (no strippers here). My family was waiting just at the start of this run and I high-fived them all.

Once I got to transition, I struggled a bit to get my wetsuit off my feet but stayed relaxed as I knew a few seconds weren't going to matter much today. I sat down to put on my socks & shoes. Put my gel flasks into my jersey pockets and donned my helmet & sunglasses.

Had already applied sunscreen before the swim, but had meant to spray my neck & shoulders for good measure. Forgot about this while I was deciding whether to put on my arm warmers. Decided I was comfortable enough and with the sun still coming up, didn't think I would need them for most of the bike.

I was right near the exit and just walked my bike out and over to the mount line where I unhurriedly clipped in and took off.
What would you do differently?:

Again, not much. I could have been (perhaps should have been) a bit faster here. But my plan was to be fairly deliberate and not make any stupid mistakes. Check.
  • 5h 31m 45s
  • 112 miles
  • 20.26 mile/hr

Climbed the short hill right out of transition and then immediately got aero and tried to relax my HR & breathing and focus on keeping it easy.

I had ridden the circuit a few days prior to the race, so knew what to expect. There were some rolling hills, but no really tough climbing. In addition to the turn-arounds at each end of the circuit (where aid stations were), there was also one other sharp turn where you had to slow down substantially. The roads within Myles Standish State Forest were very rough in sections, but I had convinced myself it wasn't too bad after my recon ride. However, after the first loop and realizing I had 3 more trips, I knew those roads were really going to suck as the day wore on.

While I was able to keep my ride effort very steady and actually rode it bit 'easier' from a power output perspective than I had planned, the rough roads probably make those numbers a bit deceiving. My body was clearly getting more fatigued simply by absorbing all road 'chatter'.

The only good thing about the rough roads was that it distracted me from the winds which stayed strong throughout the day. But most of the time I only noticed them on the stretch of newly paved roads within the park (the contrast between this section and the rest of the roads was unbelievable--from some of the nicest pavement I have ever ridden on to some of the worst). I think without the wind, I would have ridden this closer to 5:25. And if that new paving had been extended throughout the course, this could easily have been a 5:15ish ride. But anyway...

As far as hydration/nutrition, I only had a sip or two of water prior to reaching the circuit in the park and then began more regular 'feeding' shortly after that.

My nutrition for the ride was a 900cal bottle of Infinit plus 3 gel flasks which totaled about another 900. I would pick up a new water or regular Gatorade bottle at each aid station (we passed them at the start of the circuit and at about 2/3 through).

The only nutritional issue I had was a little bit of sour stomach. It may have been some salt water from the swim, but my suspicion is that it was the bouncing on the rough roads that made digestion tougher. Fortunately, I was able to work through it without any major issues. I also peed once per loop--no, I didn't stop :)--so I knew I was in better-than average shape heading into the run. The cooler temps, at least, were a very nice benefit.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe ride with slightly less air pressure to better absorb the bumps? Otherwise, not much.
Transition 2
  • 01m 30s

Came to full stop at the dismount line, got off my bike and walk/jogged it over the curb and into my rack. Turned on my Garmin (hoping it would acquire sattellites while I got the rest of my stuff). Got my helmet & shoes off and emptied my pockets. Slipped my runing shoes on. Donned my visor. Then grabbed my Garmin and race belt, putting those on as I walked/jogged out of transition.
What would you do differently?:

Forgot to spray myself with sunscreen again. Fortunately, I didn't get too much sun. But I would have been better off with some more on my shoulders & neck.
  • 3h 47m 32s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 08m 41s  min/mile

Came out of transition and almost bumped into another guy. Holy cow! He's already done a circuit!?!?! Turns out he was the leader and eventual winner, beating me by nearly an hour.

Focused on trying to run easy and relaxed. Went to check my Garmin, but it was still 'acquiring' and after about 1/2 mile it asked me if I was indoors. Of course, I couldn't coordinate my button-pressing at this stage and I guess I answered 'yes'. So, from then on I had my Garmin operating as a stopwatch (meaning I could have left my original watch on!).

Pacing seemed good, but I had a couple early miles in the low-7s which were much faster than I wanted at that point. Consciously backed-off by letting the leader (who I had pulled even with during that time) gradually pull away from me.

Generally, my pace stayed fairly steady through the first 3 circuits. Since the circuit itself was fairly small, you got to see people frequently and I had a few 'running' conversations with people as we would pass one another on the course. This really helped keep things fun for me. It also helped to keep my mind from wandering 'too far ahead'. Still, there were more than a few occasions when I had to get myself to 'stay in the box'.

At mile 18, I reminded myself that NOW the race begins. This is when I need to hang tough and git 'er done. Several times, I was tempted to walk a bit, but used the git 'er done whip to keep me running. Of course, as the miles wore on, my running slowed down substantially. I couldn't even really tell it was happening except by checking my splits.

Because of the way the circuit ran, we passed aid stations more frequently than every mile. Still, I only declined taking something a few times. Stayed with GE early and tried to do 1 Hammer gel with water about every 3-4 miles. By about mile 18, I went mostly with Coke.

Jack, Emma & Sarah ran towards me as I came into the final chute right near Plymouth Rock (if you've never seen it, it's more like a large stone at this point). I thought Jack might join me, but he and Emma ran alongside outside the fence. With maybe 50m left, I told them "Let's go" and gave what I had left for a "sprint" finish. I really couldn't have been much happier.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe a bit slower during a couple of those first few miles. Might have allowed me to hold up a better pace over the last few. Hard to say for sure, though. I was very close to what I expected to be able to do. Had simply 'hoped' I wouldn't slow down quite as much as I did. But I kept running and got 'er done.

Also, loosen my timing chip when I felt it 'rubbing' my ankle. It ended up digging through all my skin and was a bloody mess at the finish (first time I actually looked down at it).
Post race
Warm down:

Alternated walking (or some reasonable facsimile) and sitting. Had some food and then went for ice cream with my family (had a vanilla shake--yum). The kids left with my in-laws and I went out for coffee with Kath before coming back, cheering in some more finishers and chatting with some others. Got my award and headed home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Perhaps early run pacing. Perhaps could have 'dug deeper' over last few miles.

But I feel I did about as well as I could on the day and executed reasonably well. Some more time consistently training will get me faster. I believe I may be able to go sub-10 one day. I believe I will see the Kona coast on some October morning in the future. :)

Event comments:

The only thing preventing me from giving this race a '5' is the road conditions on the bike course. If they can get those roads paved better (not necessarily up to the level of the beautifully paved portion they already have), they would have a great race on their hands. (I said as much to the RDs in an e-mail and they indicated they are already working on this for next year, so there is hope.) In that case I would do it again, without question. I would probably do it again anyway.

Last updated: 2009-05-27 12:00 AM
01:07:54 | 3862 meters | 01m 46s / 100meters
Age Group: 0/13
Overall: 21/91
Performance: Good
Suit: Full wetsuit
Course: The swim is in Plymouth Harbor. It begins with a water start at the foot of the Harbormasters Dock at The State Boat Ramp. 1st Leg – along inside of the jetty keeping buoys to your right 2nd leg – return along jetty in the opposite direction once again keeping buoys to your right 3rd leg – same as 1st leg 4th and final leg - from turnaround buoy to Mayflower II – swimmers exit at dock and proceed ¼ mile on foot (carpeted with Indoor/Outdoor) to Transition Area at Pilgrim Memorial Park just south of Plymouth Rock.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 65F / 18C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 03:58
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
05:31:45 | 112 miles | 20.26 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/13
Overall: 6/91
Performance: Good
TSS - 262.4, IF - .69, NP - 217, AP - 209, VI - 1.04, Cad - 88
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: The route is a 4-loop course with a 5.2-mile segment at the beginning that leads you to “The Loop” and the same 5.2-mile segment at the end that leads you back to the transition area. About 1/3 of the roads in the park were a bit rough, about 1/3 were georgeous newly paved and about 1/3 were jaw-breakers.
Road: Potholes Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:30
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
03:47:32 | 26.2 miles | 08m 41s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/13
Overall: 9/91
Performance: Average
my splits turned out to be a bit 'screwy'. I'm pretty sure I went through the half at just under 1:50. Which means the second half was roughly 1:58. Most of the positive split was probably spread over the final 6-8 miles.
Course: The route consists of 4-loops of a 6.5-mile circuit--mostly 'out-and-backish'. It included some road, sidewalk, grass and soft gravel. Excluding one short hill, it was also mostly flat. And shaded for maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the course.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2009-09-20 9:40 AM

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Not a Coach
Media, PA
Subject: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock

2009-09-20 11:54 AM
in reply to: #2415987

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2009-09-20 12:35 PM
in reply to: #2415987

Wisconsin near the Twin Cities metro
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock

Great performance!!  Congratulations on the AG win!!

2009-09-20 5:16 PM
in reply to: #2416166

South Jersey
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock

"I believe I will see the Kona coast on some October morning in the future."

^^ I like it!!!!

Really great job. You didn't mention this in your RR (unless I totally missed it), but did you have any sense of what position you were in (OA or AG) during the race? Especially on the run?

I can see the short loops being a little tough mentally, but with a much smaller field than usual, I guess it helped in ensuring you were never totally alone out there.

REALLY REALLY REALLY great job. As always, another very well executed race by JK! Congrats on the AG win and excellent OA placing !

When's the next one?

2009-09-20 5:54 PM
in reply to: #2415987

Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock
Congrats on well executed race!

Nice VI and TSS!

Glad you enjoyed the course...seems they are still working on improving the bike course. Last year it was 4 loops on semi busy streets which caused traffic issues especially Sunday am. I'm surprised this year they didn't have more participants than last year.

Hardware and 4th OA is impressive.

2009-09-21 6:35 AM
in reply to: #2415987

Mechanicsburg, PA
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock

Great job out there JK!  Very impressive time!  1st AG and 4th OA supper!

Nice RR very informative. 

2009-09-21 7:19 AM
in reply to: #2417014

Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock

Very nice job JK, and great exexution...Congrats on the 1st place AG that is awesome.

No doubt one day you will get to Hawaii!!


2009-09-21 7:41 AM
in reply to: #2416435

Not a Coach
Media, PA
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock
You didn't mention this in your RR (unless I totally missed it), but did you have any sense of what position you were in (OA or AG) during the race? Especially on the run?

Not exactly.  I knew I was having a good day (for me) and knew first was way out in front.  There was another guy who stayed about 1-1.5mi ahead of me the whole run.  He ended up being 3rd.  I never really knew who was in second and wasn't ever really sure if there weren't a few people I was unaware of up there.  But really, I never gave it much thought.  I never knew what my elapsed time was or even what my total run time was.  I just checked my splits every mile (or 2 or 3 sometimes) and was happy that I was still running (albeit slowly) towards the end. 

When's the next one?

Good question.  Not next year.  Possibly '11.
2009-09-21 7:54 AM
in reply to: #2415987

Reston VA
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock
Great job John! Excellent execution, as always.. You are a great example of what consistent training will do to race times!
2009-09-21 8:42 AM
in reply to: #2415987

Northern VA
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock
Great race John! Congratulations on the AG win and 4th overall! It's impressive, but not surprising given your dedication to training. Can't wait to follow your race in Kona one of these days.
2009-09-21 8:46 AM
in reply to: #2415987

Fountain Hills, AZ
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock
Really well executed race, JK!

2009-09-21 12:02 PM
in reply to: #2415987

Extreme Veteran
Southeast, PA
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock

Great race John.  You had some solid execution...esp on the bike...1.04VI on a rolling and windy course.  That's impressive.  You can go sub-10 just by switching courses...i.e. IMFL....not that it makes KQ'ing any easier though.    Actually the harder the course the better off I think you'll may be bigger than the avg triathlete but you are certainly smarter than the avg know how to race the distance.


ps - I carry my Garmin on the bike and then turn it on ~5mi before T2.  that gives it enough time to find the satellites even while moving.

2009-09-21 1:10 PM
in reply to: #2415987

Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock

"Stay in the box" ...hey, that was just in my fortune cookie from last night.  Uncanny I tell yah

Imagine how bumpy those roads would've felt with your old aluminum bike

But seriously, amazingly well executed Iron distance race.  I think the stats that tell the true story are: 21/91 OA Swim, 6/91 Bike, 9/91 Run -- your focus and commitment to ALL THREE disciplines in training  is what won you an unbelievable 4/91 OA. 

This was a well-deserved and well-earned Victory for you.  Congratulations. 

Oh, and just an FYI: I heard Garmins don't work well in Kona either 

Edited by Dream Chaser 2009-09-21 1:15 PM
2009-09-21 1:48 PM
in reply to: #2417968

Not a Coach
Media, PA
Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock
Dream Chaser - 2009-09-21 2:10 PM

Imagine how bumpy those roads would've felt with your old aluminum bike

I admit.  I thought of you during the ride.  Made me laugh.  Thanks! 

2009-09-21 2:18 PM
in reply to: #2415987

Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock

Great work JK!

2009-09-21 3:03 PM
in reply to: #2415987

Subject: RE: The Iron Distance Race at Plymouth Rock
Great execution!

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