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The Beast of the East Half Ironman - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Hayesville, North Carolina
United States
Great Smoky Mountains Triathlon Club
63F / 17C
Total Time = 6h 10m 2s
Overall Rank = 28/60
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 4/14
Pre-race routine:

Age group rankings are actually for all women. This race apparently doesn't draw many chicks.

Speed-packed in 10 minutes flat on Saturday afternoon. My day got away from me and I was running late. Didn't think I had forgotten anything. Bum Bum BUM.

We went up 400 to Hiawassee and got to drive over what we thought was Hogpen. Whoa. That was tough. It looked a lot like the mountains of NC. We got to drive through Helen and Annika thought it was awesome. She loves Germany for some reason.

Because I was so late on Saturday, I didn't get to make my Joe's magic oatmeal for breakfast on race morning so I had dry frosted miniwheats with coffee (a proven race-day fallback) for pre-race breakfast.

Upon arrival at the site, Doug dropped me off and we realized I had left my bike bottles in the hotel. Doug gave me his bottle and the one I'd been sipping and I used my contingency Gu2O packet and figured I would live off the land. Asked for sunblock too. I set up my transition area only to find that I'd brought two different shoes - one Brooks Defyance 2 and one Brooks Glycerin 8. Awesome. At least it was 1 right and 1 left. Realized that there would be no way to fix this error and decided it would be a good joke. Wrestled into my wetsuit much to the amusement of the French guys racked next to me and used the potty. After the fiasco of getting over my calves, the rest of the wetsuit application was surprisingly easy. And, the small team Zoot/Gu jersey fit! I have both a small and medium and for the small to fit is awesome. Maybe this IM training is working after all.
Event warmup:

Wetsuit application is warmup enough. We started in the water, so I did dunk my head once to get the feel of the freezing water and let my wetsuit slide into optimum position.
  • 43m 13s
  • 2120 yards
  • 02m 02s / 100 yards

I got pummeled on the start because my new friend Mindy (I think it was her - could have been someone else) kept trying to go left while I was going straight on the left of her. Or maybe I was veering right, I don't know. She killed me. I was flailing like an idiot and kicking for all I was worth. Very bad. HR was too high. FINALLY, I let Mindy or whoever go in front of me and found my own place. Whew. The water was really muddy at first and that was yucky, but as we got out into the lake, it was green and beautiful like I remembered and I started to relax. It took forever to get nearer to the island and when I got there, I looked up to see that everyone else had taken the angle instead of going to the island and turning left. Oops. Cursed my dumbness and turned left to the concrete thing. I didn't quite get what he was talking about in the pre-race meeting, but there really was the giant concrete thing in the lake just in front of the dam with a buoy hanging on the front. I swam around and headed back to the island and it was choppy. The waves were coming at me, and I could feel myself floating up and down. Good thing I don't get seasick. I think I saw a turtle and a fish during this part, but I could have been seeing things. It seemed to take forever to get around to the second buoy but suddenly I was right next to it and tried to do Doug's shooting ninja hands to the finish to bring it home. I was a bit loopy upon exit. Luckily Doug was there and yelling at me to get my suit off and my butt in gear.

The time includes T1.
What would you do differently?:

Seed myself even further right, away from the scrum. Think through the course better to know what line to take instead of blindly going the long way.
Transition 1
  • 00m

Got one foot out of my suit easily and the other I had to step on more, but overall, it was OK. Pretty good transition for me, I think. Doug said it was slow.
What would you do differently?:

I might have been a little low on the body temp and that made me loopy. It would have taken me longer if Doug had not been there. Next time, I'll have to bring him again. : )
  • 3h 14m 32s
  • 56 miles
  • 17.27 mile/hr

Doug told me that he thought I could go 1/2 to 1 mph over my SC HIM bike pace, so that was the plan. I was hoping to go under 3 hrs for the bike. Once I got about 2 miles into the bike (after launching my Gu bottles on the speedbumps), I realized that all plans were out the window. Instead, I concentrated on going reasonably hard, but not so hard that I had to pant. In spin class, I call that low zone 3. I held this RPE the whole time, except the big hills, of course. I think I got behind on my fuel because I was really, really low (mentally) during the first hour of the bike. Doug had put his seat with the bottle cages and race wheels on my bike and we adjusted it in about 2 minutes before we left on Saturday. It was tilted down more than my seat so I kept sliding forward over my handlebars. It hurt my shoulders and I was worried that the front wheel was flat because it was making a noise. I tried leaning way forward with my elbows against the horns and that worked a little. At 1 hr, I ate my first Gu and then a bit later the Reality Bike guy (he was 43 or 46 yrs old) passed me. He looked great and I unconsciously tried to mimic him (like when Superfast IM guy is in the pool) and immediately I felt better. I could do this! He left me in the dust but his good example stayed. : )

My bike had been shifting up to the big ring like a DREAM up until about 30 miles. And, I have begun to understand what folks mean by technical course - they mean you have to shift a lot. Then, I must have taken the easy shifting for granted because I dropped the chain. I coasted to the top of a rise at the Baptist Church and put it back on. Waited for a dude to pass so I wouldn't jump in front of him and got back on my way. I dropped it one other time and had several near misses where I was able to shift back down before it fell, but it was OK. I'm used to this and I'm good at the fast chain replacement. I ate the other half of my granola bar at the halfway point and it was good. Then, I timed my other Gu for 45 minutes later (about 2:30) but I actually ate it early because I was hungry. I had really wanted to finish the bike in under 3 hrs, but with the hills and the wind it was not going to happen. Oh well, we had a nice long downhill (with headwind, of course) after I realized this and it made it not so bad. I chased a dude in a yellow jersey for about 5 miles here and finally passed him at about mile 47. I drank a lot of water in the last few miles and I think that was a mistake.
What would you do differently?:

1. Not take my bike for a fit the week before my race.
2. Not try to rush a quickie-fit using Doug's seat the night before my race.
3. Bike more. Simple as that.
4. Start Gus earlier in the bike.
5. Try to drink more evenly and not as much at the end.
Transition 2
  • 00m

Pretty fast transition since I left my helmet and glasses on. Hee!

I didn't tie my shoes since I was headed straight to the potty. I figured I could tie while I was in there. Realized while in there that I still had my helmet and glasses and gave them to Doug on the way out. Only took 3 mins, so that is pretty good.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. It was good.
  • 2h 12m 17s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 10m 06s  min/mile

My plan was to take 2 Gus and water and hold 9 mins/mile pace. That did not work out so well. I ran the first mile really fast (too fast) and then settled into a good rhythm. However, my tummy was sloshy from the water at the end of the bike and then I got hot and couldn't figure out how I would eat a Gu without completely stopping at the aid stations to drink water with it. So, I abandoned my plan and drank the Heed or Gatorade at the water stops. I had to walk fast while I drank it, but that was better than stopping, I guess. I'll either have to take a handbottle and refill it or drink whatever they have at IM Lou. Hm. More research is required here. It might have been easier/faster to refill a hand-bottle at the coolers.

As I started across the dam on my first loop, I saw a marking on the path that said "turn around" - but I thought it was a 2 loop course not an abbreviated 2 loop course! I ran up to the guy in front of me and asked him and he said no, you have to go all the way back to the start. So, that is what I did. But I was really worried when I crossed the dam and headed back to the park the first time - I asked another guy who was coming towards me and he confirmed the plan. So, I ran on through the woods in solitude. Much of this run was solo - I don't know why I wasn't with anyone but it was OK except that I kept thinking that I was lost. I wore my Spi-belt with my race number pinned to it and it worked great. I had some wipes in case the potties were sketchy on the run and my Gus in the pocket and that was awesome. In fact, there were tons of potties and I didn't eat the Gus but it was OK. WIth the pocket in the back, the belt was effortless and gave me good piece of mind. What I should have had in there, though, was some chapstick and sunscreen. I got a horrible chafe under my right arm and my shoulders are fried. I'll do better with the packing next time. The nice PG ladies and the ones with the babies told me where to go on the turn-around and then I went back out for loop 2. Whew, the sun came out and it was broiling. I ran from shade to shade and dumped water on my head at every opportunity. As I went down to the first turnaround (the bucket), the woman in front of me (who I thought was done) said "I knew you were going to chase me down!" I said "well, I'm trying to, but it isn't going so well" when I was really thinking "crap, that thought wasn't even in my head because I'm working on survival here". No matter, I kept going and noticed that there was another woman on my tail. Curses! I couldn't let her get me so I had to speed up. I thought maybe I could catch up to the other woman (in blue) but she was putting minutes into me. I was doing OK down to the second turnaround (the arrows on the other side of the bridge) but coming up the hill to the aid station hurt. And then the Beast. Ow. I kept running, but was barely moving by the time I got to the top. Then, only two miles left to go so I tried to pick up the pace. Not so much. I tried again with 1 mile left and was a little more successful.

Wearing two different shoes turned out to not be such a big deal. It cemented my decision that the Brooks Glycerin 8s are the shoes for me (I like the lower profile and smoother ride), and it was interesting to experience the differences between the shoes but I don't think it had any effect on my performance.
What would you do differently?:

Figure out how to drink and run at the same time or take my handbottle. The water stops were just far apart enough that I couldn't manage the Gu/water plan relying on the stops alone. Doug thinks maybe I had a bit of low fuel here also because not enough calories in the drink v. Gus.

Run more and faster, so that I can go 9 minute miles forever.
Post race
Warm down:

Drank a cup of Gatorade and tried to stay upright. Then, ran to the car, got my church clothes, soap and shampoo and did the Wonder Woman shower. Whew. All races should have a shower, that was AWESOME! Jumped in the car to race home in time to take Grammy to church, including a stop at Wendys for some food.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Bike fitness, of course. And, the comedy of errors caused by my new bike being broken, us trying to rig up my old bike with parts from Doug's bike, forgetting my sunblock, leaving my bike bottles at the hotel and bringing two different shoes for this run. I think I might have been able to push a bit harder on the run also.

Event comments:

I would definitely consider doing this race again. I enjoyed the challenge of the hills and the low-key atmosphere. And the scenery on the ride was as nice as any race I've done.

No idea on the post-race activities, because we were gone but, it would be a fun place to hang out post-race. Good playground for the kids and a swimming area.

Last updated: 2010-04-29 12:00 AM
00:43:13 | 2120 yards | 02m 02s / 100yards
Age Group: 6/14
Overall: 14/60
Performance: Good
Suit: Zoot sleeveless
Course: Swam from the beach, to the island, turned left and swam around a big concrete pumping station attached to the dam, then back to the island and around the other side and home to the beach.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Bad
Waves: Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 00:00
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
03:14:32 | 56 miles | 17.27 mile/hr
Age Group: 7/14
Overall: 14/60
Performance: Good
I think this includes T2.
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Rolling hills out and around Lake Chatuge. Beautiful. The first aid station was at the top of the Beast and the other aid station at mile 35ish. Other than the Beast (a 4.5 mile climb with a really steep top), the hills were hard but manageable. For racers from Georgia, the hills were harder than Wileo Rd and the Bud Plant Ride but not as hard as Eves most of the time. The hills were longer than Eves, though, but there were a corresponding number of sweet downhills so you could rest a bit.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 00:00
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
02:12:17 | 13.1 miles | 10m 06s  min/mile
Age Group: 2/14
Overall: 14/60
Performance: Good
Course: Relatively flat to rolling two-loop course with two hills. The elevation chart does not lie. The small hill going up to the dam was hard, but the Beast was TOUGH, especially on the 2nd loop. You run up to the dam, across, down the other side, turn right for an out and back, then another right onto the dam road, down across the bridge, then turn around at an appointed location (arrows on the road), then back up the hill to the bottom of the Beast, then up the Beast and across the dam and back down into the park (all x2).
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2010-05-04 5:18 AM

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Subject: The Beast of the East Half Ironman

2010-05-05 4:10 PM
in reply to: #2835140

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Roswell, GA
Subject: RE: The Beast of the East Half Ironman

I think you are a Rock Star!


You did great even with all the mishaps and screw ball stuff you had to  deal with.  I found it odd that the other spouses of racers thought my drill sargent approach to motivation was frightening.  Really, do folks racing want to hear please?   


2010-05-05 7:38 PM
in reply to: #2835140

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Whispering Pines, North Carolina
Subject: RE: The Beast of the East Half Ironman
Great job! This is a tough course and you did very well!  The winds played a major factor in the race, but you did it!

I'm thinking that your hubby photoshopped that pic!

It was nice to see you and your family out there.
2010-05-07 6:51 AM
in reply to: #2835140

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Winder, GA
Subject: RE: The Beast of the East Half Ironman
Awesome job, Steph! You rocked this race! Definitely sounds like good practice for IM Lou.

I'm so impressed with how you handled the unexpected aspects of the race - forgetting your bottles, two different shoes (which is my favorite part ), and anything else that came up!

2010-05-07 12:16 PM
in reply to: #2835140

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Subject: RE: The Beast of the East Half Ironman
Great job just dealing with everything!!!  Sounds like you had a very solid race AND learned a lot for IMLou.  Got love Doug's no nonsense approach to supportTongue out
2010-05-07 8:28 PM
in reply to: #2835140

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Atlanta, GA
Subject: RE: The Beast of the East Half Ironman

First race is to work out the "issues" hit them all, so they are all worked out!  LOL.  Seriously, you under estimate your mental toughness.  I think lots of people would not have stayed with it.  The prize was getting back to take grammy to church.    All that and a bag of chips...

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