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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
75F / 24C
Total Time = 5h 45m 51s
Overall Rank = 18/60
Age Group = 30-34
Age Group Rank = 2/6
Pre-race routine:

This RR will be long to document the good, the bad, and the ugly. Names were not changed to protect the innocent.

My family and I loved the location and had a great time camping. The site was great and there were not many ppl there, at all. The showers were fine, with hot water, and there was much to do, especially to keep the kids busy.

My family and I drove up on Friday to camp on the shores of the Chatuge. We had a blast! We canoed, hiked, swam, fed squirrels and geese, and enjoyed hanging out.

On Friday, I donned the old wetsuit and did a short swim in the lake. It was cold! Took it easy the rest of the day and met Brian R. and Brian M.

Saturday, I rode one loop of the run course. I wanted to see what this Beast that everyone spoke of. When I got to it, I though, DANG! That's going to be a B!0TCH!

During the sprint on Saturday, the RD came over to me and asked if I would help with the swim portion. We brought a canoe and he wanted me to go out on the canoe as a course volunteer. Some of his people had not shown up. I thought to myself, "Yikes! I hope this is not the case when I have to swim 1.2 miles on the lake tomorrow!"

After helping the RD for the BOTE sprint, I hydrated well throughout the day and went to bed early. Set the alarm for 6AM, but was up way before that. I set up transition to my liking, then went back to get dressed and finish my oatmeal.

Mistake number 1: I ate the oatmeal way too late (30 mins before the race started) and it would come back to bite me later. I got caught up in the whole prep for the race that I didn't prep for the race...
  • 45m 10s
  • 1933 meters
  • 02m 20s / 100 meters

Swim time includes T1. Guessing 43:40 for the swim.

One thing that I managed to do since I was there a few days early was psych myself out about the swim. I was drawn to the lake...I kept looking across to the island thinking, "damn, that is a long way off!" The "fear" was compounded after my family and I walked the damn portion, on the far side of the lake, and I could see that the island was the HALFWAY point.

Mistake number 2: Since I'm a weak swimmer, I let the (swim) course get to me. I doubted my ability to swim the distance. You have to have total confidence in your abilities to successfully race the long course triathlon.

Right before the start of the race, the RD came out on a boat and had one last comment. He had forgotten to mention the swim would start in two waves, separated by 1 minute. Males 39 and under for the first wave, everyone else for the second wave.

Once the race started, I just put my head in the cold water and started to swim. I felt good and the other racers probably did too. I went out at a relaxed pace, attempting to get into a rhythm to save energy and finish this leg of the race as fast as possible.

Right away I could tell this was going to be a tough swim. We had crosswinds that were created waves that made it very difficult to get into any type of rhythm. Because of this, breathing was not easy and sighting was poor. I felt like I was out in the ocean.

Rounded the first buoy and was headed towards the tower when I could start to feel the oatmeal trying to make an escape. Ugh. Not good. I'm not even half way done with the swim and I don't feel good.

Swam through it, swam under the tower, then headed back to the island. The waves made it difficult to breath, but it was the same for everyone else, so keep at it.

The last leg of the swim I felt much stronger and pushed it a bit. I passed a few swimmers and though to myself, "they're probably dragging an anchor...that's why I passed them."

Came up on the shore and kept swimming until my had touched the ground, even though I could have stood up way before then. I exploded out of the water and made a dash into T1.

I felt good and, more importantly, no dizziness or fatigue. Good swim for me.
What would you do differently?:

Eat at least an hour before the swim, maybe push it a little harder, learn to breath better

This was a good swim for me. I was hoping for 45 mins and came in slightly under that time.
Transition 1
  • 00m

Guessing 1:30 for T1

As I ran into T1, I started to pull down my wetsuit. I was set up at the very front, so I had a little time. Once I got there, pulled the wetsuit off with a little difficulty. Doug (brown_dog_us) was yelling at me to get it off and go!

My feet were dirty as heck, but I put my shoes on anyways and then ran out.
What would you do differently?:

Take off wetsuit sooner and leave Garmin on bike rather than put it on in T1.
  • 3h 00m 44s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.59 mile/hr

Tough, tough course. On the flipside, it is definitely scenic and quite pretty.

Upon leaving transition, you have to go about 1/2 mile down a road that has 5 or 6 speedbumps. No way to haul on this segment, and lots of bottles were jettisoned. I made sure my bottles were in tight after every bump, then made the turn into the course.

My plan was to start off easy for the first 10 minutes. Get that HR down at the start and you're setting yourself up for a good race. I came up on a cyclist that was fixing his seat and realized it was Brian M.! His seat post had collapsed and he was trying to get it back up. A few seconds later, we were side by side, then he was gone.

The winds were very, very strong throughout the course. I wasn't in aero much b/c I just didn't feel comfortable with all that wind. I almost got blown off my bike a few times in the first 20 miles and it was enough to keep me wary and in the drops.

For the next 30 miles or so, I was deflated, demoralized, and downright dejected with my performance. I was simply overmatched for this type of terrain. This course was hilly and while there were some decent descents, I just was never able to get into a rhythm. It seemed like all I did was climb, climb, climb.

A 60 year old came up on me and we talked, passed, and talked for miles 35-50 (or so). He'd pass me on the straights, I'd catch him on the hills. Then, we came up on a guy (maybe around mile 45?) and I left the 60 year old and caught up to him. I said, "Man, are there any descents on this dame course?" He responded with, "I'd love anything other than a headwind!" We both laughed, then I left him.

I'm not going to say I gave up towards the end, but I just didn't have it in me to hammer it out anymore. I knew my goal of a 5:30 race was gone. My legs were way was I going to run a good half mary. The bike beast had feasted well on my legs.

Mercifully, I came towards the end of the course, went over the speedbumps, and saw Doug and my wife waiting. That lifted me up a bit, but not much.

Mistake Number 3: I HAVE to stop beating myself up when a portion of a race doesn't go as planned.
What would you do differently?:

I rode the course within my abilities.
Transition 2
  • 00m

T2 included in bike split

As I came into T2, I didn't have time to get out of my shoes. The speedbumps made that really difficult. I just stopped my bike, put a foot down, then unclipped my other foot and ran into T2. Nothing glamorous, nothing special.

Racked bike, changed, and kind of took my time getting ready for what I knew was going to be a crappy run.
  • 1h 59m 57s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 10s  min/mile

Not a good run. During the first mile, I threw up twice. This may sound gross, but that was precious fluid that I would need for the run...

I remmeber Garmin telling me first mile was 10+ mins, the second was 9+ and I knew it was going to be a long run. I saw Brian Rell on the path. I was trying to pee in the trees and he just came up on me...Ooops, bro! Sorry! LOL.

Latched on to an Ironman (tattoos) and we ran for most of the course together. My stomach was really cramped up bad and any attempt I made at a fast run was quickly squashed.

Toward the end of the first loop, I started to feel much better. I picked up the pace a bit and Ironman d00d kept up. I didn't see my family at the turnaround, and while that was a bummer, i just grit my teeth and made it hurt. Ironman man and me looped together, then headed back out...Ugh. I was hot, dehydrated, and tired at this point.

I saw Doug's (brown_dog_us) wife a few times out on the course and she looked good, strong, and had a smile.

I saw Brian Rell as I was starting the second descent of the Beast...He was coming up the Beast and he looked good and strong. Rock it bro! We bumped fists.

The second loop was hot, muggy, and I was ready to be done. I pushed it a bit and passed a few ppl. I did get passed by an older lady in a camelbak, but as I was finishing, I saw her running back out for loop 2. Way to go, camelbak lady!

Ran in and met my family, talked with Doug, then promptly went and sat my butt down under a tree. I was smoked/cooked/DONE.
What would you do differently?:

Nutrition was spot on for the bike, but not for the run...

I need to work on this...I was hoping for a 1:40 run.
Post race
Warm down:

Sat under a tree for a while, then Brian M and Brian R came up and we decided to go rinse off in the COLD lake. That is probably the best thing that we could have done. The cold water felt GREAT on my tired legs. Brian R and I dipped our legs for a good 5 mins and BM dunked himself right away.

I seriously believe that the cold water helped my recovery ALOT. I didn't feel much soreness or tightness during the next few days.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Bike Fitness...sad, but true.

Event comments:

This was a good, low key race. Definitely need to do a few more things to make it better, but good overall experience.

I would not consider for a first HIM. Way too tough a race. The swim, my guess, is always going to be a challenge b/c of the wind coming in from the East. The bike is VERY tough, and a windy day will kill your race. The run isn't that bad.

I asked the RD how many participants signed up and he said a little over 100. That means that 40+ ppl DNF (or DNS). That's a fairly high %.

Last updated: 2010-01-28 12:00 AM
00:45:10 | 1933 meters | 02m 20s / 100meters
Age Group: 3/6
Overall: 31/60
Performance: Good
Suit: XTerra Vortex Full Wetsuit
Course: Diamond-shaped, clockwise swim. You swim towards the island, go around the buoy, swim under the dam tower, swim back towards the island while keeping the buoy to your right, then swim back to the beach.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: High
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 00:00
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Average
03:00:44 | 56 miles | 18.59 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/6
Overall: 25/60
Performance: Average
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Very tough course that will test your technical skills as well. The first 10 miles are somewhat easy, but then you start the TOUGH climb into the beast. The rest of the course consists of rollers, then there is another climb (mile 25?) that is tough.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Too hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 00:00
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Bad
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:59:57 | 13.1 miles | 09m 10s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/6
Overall: 11/60
Performance: Below average
Course: Not a bad course. The only bad part was the Beast hill and a few stretches out in the sun. 1 aid station that you hit twice. Not enough, IMO.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? No
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2010-05-05 7:36 PM

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Whispering Pines, North Carolina
Subject: The Beast of the East Half Ironman

2010-05-07 8:41 PM
in reply to: #2839991

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

sounded like a tough day, but you hung in there and got it done.  While I have never done an IM, all the race reports and talks seems to point to the fact there are hard points that take mental strength.  I think you worked through some situations and can take that experience with you to IM. 

I like the fact you found a way to include the family in the weekend.  Great family time on Friday and Saturday. 

Onward and upward!

2010-05-09 4:37 AM
in reply to: #2839991

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

You did all right.  No need to beat yourself up. 

Tough course plain and simple.

2010-05-09 8:14 PM
in reply to: #2839991

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: The Beast of the East Half Ironman
Sorry to hear it didn't go as planned, but it sounds like you kept a good attitude! I have been having lessons w that lately too! I am sure you will bounce back and have an awesome next race!
2010-05-10 6:22 AM
in reply to: #2839991

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Vestavia Hills
Subject: RE: The Beast of the East Half Ironman
What Doug said ^^^^^ ... the Beast of the East is no joke - which is why it is a perennial favorite of athletes doing an early season IM (which almost all are hilly).  You have a good amount of time to continue to build your fitness for your race ... hte Beast is just a check-point to gauge where your focus needs to be.

That said, your finish time was no slouch!  There were plenty of people at pancake flat Gulf Coast last Saturday that would like to have been able to say they did 5:45!

You are on the right path, brother.  Stay on it by clipping out the workouts.

Great to meet Harmony and the kids. Hope to do another race with you all when I bring Steph and the kids.
2010-05-10 12:05 PM
in reply to: #2847823

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Subject: RE: The Beast of the East Half Ironman

Dood! You did great!

As I said before on the race thread, this was not  a PR course.  It was challenging and I'm glad we all stood up to the challenge.  Not to say that I wouldn't have liked to have gone faster, but there is always next year for that.

It sounds like you went into what Nat and I call the "valley of darkness" on the bike and had a hard time escaping.  I spent some time there too and it wasn't until I had a Gu and the Reality Bikes guy came by with an example of good biking form that I was able to get my head on straight and start riding better.  I find that sometimes low fuel brings the valley to me faster and a snack will usually fix it, but sometimes it's just something you have to work out of by distracting yourself or cueing off of the scenery or the other racers.  It's funny how Sprints and Olys are all about the hurt locker, but the HIM and IMs seem to be all about the vallley.  You may have unconsciously taken in less fuel because of almost losing the oatmeal on the swim and that could easily have made the valley come to you.


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