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Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Sherwood, Wisconsin
United States
Midwest Sports Events
75F / 24C
Total Time = 6h 13m 15s
Overall Rank = 259/325
Age Group = m40-45
Age Group Rank = 61/77
Pre-race routine:

So I did High Cliff as my first HIM back in 2007 and each year it ended in some sort of bitter disappointment (IT band, Heat, bad bike split) and an even worse times (2007)7:20,(2008)6:47,(2009)6:40. It was probably a sign I should stop doing it, but I don't pick up on hints very well, so I signed up again this year. This year as race approached it seemed like the mental component needed some work. So that was the focus for the week. For those visting my logs, you saw self talk of why I would succeed. Also under the excellent direction of DjDavey, did some great visualization exercises (which really came in handy when things got rough. Plan was to stay calm, enjoy the day and execute the plan.
First test of staying calm, came when I was packing things up on Friday afternoon. I noticed a small stone, jammed in my tire. I tried to get it out, without luck. So I decided, with limited time, I would run over to Wheel & sprocket because they could get it out quick and inspect tube much quicker & better than I (or so I thought) First sign of trouble, was when the tech was having more trouble getting the tire off than I do. I made a comment about it being hard and he said "yeah I always have trouble with these skinny ones." (oh, oh.) He showed me that the stone had poked the tube and so he would put in a new one. After slicing 3 tubes in getting it back on, he finally got it right and 40 minutes later I was heading back home with confidence a bit shaken. By the time I got back, I had 15 minutes to finish packing and to mix and pack all my nutrition. As I rushed around, completely frazzled I just prayed that I had not forgotten anything important. (only thing that I forgot: toothbrush) Headed up to Appleton, just barely beating storms out of town. My wife and older daughter made the trip with me. They had not been to a race of mine since 2008, so their company was welcome and helped me not obsess about the race. Weatherman predicted lower humity and nice temps (upper 70s) for race day with 'breezy' conditions. He said that like it was a good thing.
Woke up on race morning at about 3:30 after a restful 4.5 hours of sleep. Was planning on getting up at 4 but was woken out of a dream where I was being attacked by a cougar. (Lesson:be careful what you read right before you go to sleep) The cougar kept swiping at me, I got scratched pretty bad, but still managed to walk away. (a good sign?)
My wife drove me to the site. Got there a little too early and had transition completely set up about an hour before race start. Ok that will give me a chance to check out the water. *mouth dropping open* Holy sh!t...
Event warmup:

I have done many races, but never seen waves like this. 4-5 foot waves. I kept looking at it from different angles, hoping it would look better. It didn't. I saw Schwimmy coach and thought she would help calm me down. I said to her "those waves look awful big." She answered me. "yes they do." Yep that didn't help. Ok I have got to get in there to get used to it. Headed down about 15 before start. Got in water, as I walked out to about knee depth and adjusting my goggles, a wave came in and knocked me off my feet. (uh oh)I tried to start swimming several times and each time I went to take a breath I would get a mouthful of Lake Winnebago. (uh oh) This was the first time a warm up swim, made me feel less confident.
  • 38m 8s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 48s / 100 yards

I knew I had to have a strategy or I was going to be in trouble. The key was to stay calm. So I focused on breathing between waves, keep form and staying away from others. The 1st 100 yards or so was so shallow that you were forced to walk (which isn't really easy with waves pounding) This helped keep me calm. When I could final swim, I kept getting pushed toward shore. It seemed to take forever, but I made it to the next buoy. I knew this would be the toughest part because you would be swimming right into the waves. I was right. Felt like I was going nowhere, except kept being pushed off course. Most swimmers seemed to be to the right of me. I kept telling myself this was the hardest part. Oddly, I was very calm. I knew that panicking would not help the situation. I just focused on (trying) move forward. I was moving slow and knew it would hurt my time. Once I turned the corner, the battle continued. It was slightly better than the last stretch, but still lots of up and down with waves. About half way, I felt my self getting kind of tired from fighting the waves. However I told myself the quicker I moved, the quicker I would be done. I also told myself the people pay top dollar for this kind of experience in the wave pools at the Dells. As I turned last corner, I told myself, hey this is the fun part where the waves push you to shore. Only I was wrong. It wasn't fun. The waves were actually pushing over the top of me. The first couple of times I tried to breath, freaked me a bit. But then I got back to breathing in the lull between waves. When I finally stood up I looked at my watch. I was expecting something awful and then saw 36 something. At first, I thought the waves had broke my watch. Looking at everyone's times. I am now convinced that the course was a bit short. Probably from the wind blowing in the buoys. Trust me though it didn't feel short when I was doing it.
What would you do differently?:

Not really sure. The fact that I stayed calm and relaxed throughout this even surprised me. Full course would have had me slower, but I couldn't expect much more given the conditions.
Transition 1
  • 03m 32s

Ran in feeling great about completing the swim with a smile on my face. Was pretty efficient in T-1. Lots to do and paid a lot of attention to sunscreen because I always burn my shoulders here (finally got it right!)
What would you do differently?:

keep small talk to minimum and shave off a little more time
  • 3h 14m
  • 56 miles
  • 17.32 mile/hr

Last year this is were all my dreams were shattered. after an off season of biking, I finished in 3:17, same as 2008. This year, with a run focus, I had pretty low expectation. I was expecting another year of 3:17. I was shooting for 3:10. However my strategy was simple: take what the course would give me. I would pace by HR, trying to stay in upper z3 (140-143) The 'breezy' conditions of 20-25mph winds that made the swim so fun, was now greeting us on the bike. Luckily the wind was mostly from the west with a little bit of a southerly component. a good chunk of the course is south or north, with some segments right into the wind.

I saw SSminnow on the big hill heading out of transition and we were both grateful to have survived the swim. She got ahead of me by about a 1/4 mile. I figured that she would race smart and pace herself, so I tried to keep that pace with her. I kept that spot for about 30 miles and then I lost her. I was not real happy with my pace and lost time every time I had to head into the wind. I told myself that I could make up some time on the return trip, where the hills and wind would be a little more favorable. I had some good chunks were my pace was 19-21mph average, but there were some soul crushing sections with 14-15mph average. The last 8 miles or so were all into the wind. This was tough because I didn't want to burn up the legs or the heart, but wanted to salvage something. So I compromised and push HR to mid 150s to get an swesome 15.5 mph avg.

The one thing I have gotten right in year's past is my nutrition. I take Perp in every 10 minutes and gel or shot blok every 1/2 hour. I do tend to get a little bloated though. So at hour 2 I got a blilliant idea, never practiced before. I decided to slow down my eating. The last gel/blok of the ride was at 2hours. I decided to change up perp to every 20 minutes for duration of the race. I mean what could it hurt? (foreshadowing alert!!) Finished this ride in 3:14. I don't get it. Less training, more wind, yet a PR.
What would you do differently?:

Push pace more. stick to nutrition plan (more on that later)
Transition 2
  • 02m 15s

This actually went well. Another dose of sunscreen or it would have been even quicker.
What would you do differently?:

Any ideas?
  • 2h 15m
  • 13.1 miles
  • 10m 19s  min/mile

In the past this run has always gotten me. From taking well over 3 hours the IT band year to 2:34 last year. This year would be different. I am a much stronger runner. So when I headed out with 2:02 to hit my sub 6 hour goal, I was very pleased. I can do that. Just get it done. I know this course well. Just keep a steady pace. Walk the aid stations if necessary and you are golden. First lap went according to plan. I felt bloated, but not as bad as past (see cutting back on nutrition was smart) Hit the 1/2 point at 1:01. Perfect. Would like a cushion, but I have this in the bag. Just need to keep moving. I was joking, smiling, legs feeling good. I saw Anna (Runswithjasper) and we talked for a few minutes. She said her stomach was bugging her pretty bad. Grateful mine wasn't too bad. So far I had only taken two GU chomps at about 1 hour mark. Then about mile 7 my stomach decided it was done racing. What? wait, we are not done. This isn't part of plan. I felt awful. Felt like I was going to hurl (but not that I could actually do it). I slowed down and started doing some walking to try and calm things down. That little walk break, turned into lots of walk breaks and slow running. I went to grab the Ginger Snaps from my pocket that I had packed in case this happened. Crap! They must have fallen out. Miles 7-10 were all pretty miserable. As I tried to pick up pace, HR would spike to mid 170's (had been low 160s) At about mile 10, I felt a little better (or decided to put it out of my mind) and pushed the pace a little. It became pretty clear that 6 hours was not going to happen, but I told myself it would be a PR and how much was up to me. Hit the last mile downhill and averaged about a 8:30 pace. Legs were holding up good. Shortly before the finish line my wife and daughter were there. A smile and a high five made me feel better for the moment and I crossed the line with somewhat of a sprint. About a 20 minute PR over last year. That beats a sharp stick in the eye.
What would you do differently?:

Not decide to try new strategy of starving myself midway through the race. dummy!
Post race
Warm down:

Post race, the wheels really came off. I made it about 10 feet from the finish area and dropped to the ground. I was very fuzzy and just wanted to lay down. Family came over to me (daughter snapping pictures as I was suffering) I tried to drink some gatoraid, as I seemed dehydrated. Then I got the chills. My wife had a blanket she had been sitting on. I took it covered up and literally curled into a ball. Family was talking to me, but I wasn't really understanding what they were saying. (I think at one point I might have agreed NOT to do Ironman) They brought me food, but I couldn't stomach anything. no chocolate milk, no bananas. Finally my wife said she had some life savers. I had about three of those and that got me to the point that I could sit up. Probably should have gone to medical. About 1 hour later, felt good enough to drive and about two hours later stomach felt ok enough to eat solid food.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Wind and dumb-azz change in nutrition plan.

Event comments:

I really do like this race, even though it doesn't like me. Maybe I will do it next year, maybe I won't. Missed a golden opportunity to break 6 hours, but hard to complain about a 27 minute PR. When I got home, my wife said she was proud of me for my hard work and effort. That was nice to hear. All in all a good day.

Last updated: 2010-05-03 12:00 AM
00:38:08 | 2112 yards | 01m 48s / 100yards
Age Group: 71/77
Overall: 313/325
Performance: Average
Course: a triangular rectangle
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: High
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Average Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 03:32
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed: Average
03:14:00 | 56 miles | 17.32 mile/hr
Age Group: 66/77
Overall: 280/325
Performance: Average
avg hr 141
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: rolling hills along the lake
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 02:15
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Below average
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
02:15:00 | 13.1 miles | 10m 19s  min/mile
Age Group: 55/77
Overall: 241/325
Performance: Average
Course: Through the woods and fields
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
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

2010-06-22 12:56 PM

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Delafield, Wisconsin
Subject: Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman

2010-06-22 1:18 PM
in reply to: #2936810

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Milwaukee, WI
Subject: RE: Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman
Nice PR Jim. For next year you might want to shell out some money to practice the waves in the Dells. Either practice swimming in them or learn to body surf!!!!

Great race and great report as usual.
2010-06-22 4:37 PM
in reply to: #2936810

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Marshfield Wi
Subject: RE: Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman
Great job on a tough day Jim. That wind made for an interesting swim and ride. See you next year?
2010-06-23 5:09 AM
in reply to: #2936810

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London, UK
Subject: RE: Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman

Great job Jim.

Sounds like a really testing day with the swim conditions, windy bike AND a stomach issues. To come out with that huge PR after all that is a great achievement. Well done Donkey!

2010-06-23 6:19 AM
in reply to: #2936810

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Verona WI--Ironman Bike Country!
Subject: RE: Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman
Jim--Congrats on a great PR!!!  You and are were of one mind on that swim.  SO very happy to be out of the water even with strong winds on the bike and a sometimes crazy run course.  Let's get ready to do it all over again....another PR at High Cliff is in your future in '11!

2010-06-23 9:01 AM
in reply to: #2936810

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Menomonee Falls, WI
Subject: RE: Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman
Jim, I think your High Cliff is my Memphis in May. It's a race that seems to have our number, yet we both keep going back for more. Way to stick it out and finish strong under tough conditions. I'm sure you'll be back again and next time you're going to take three years of frustration out on that race all in one year! Great job.

2010-06-23 11:48 AM
in reply to: #2936810

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West Allis, Wisconsin
Subject: RE: Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman


2010-06-23 12:19 PM
in reply to: #2936810

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Waukesha, WI
Subject: RE: Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman
Terriffic job - very inspirational! (and an awesome race report as well )
2010-06-24 9:20 AM
in reply to: #2936810

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Waukesha, WI
Subject: RE: Scheels High Cliff Triathlon - Half Ironman
EEEAAAWSOME PR Mr. Jim.  Sorry your gut didn't want to race with you, but you still showed the course who was boss.  My stomache was in knots reading your warm up report....I think the waves would've scared me off.  Great job.
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