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HITS Triathlon Series: Marble Falls - Half Iron Course - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Marble Falls, Texas
United States
HITS Triathlon Series
70F / 21C
Total Time = 7h 19m 38s
Overall Rank = 78/92
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

***My first ever HIM***

Dropped bike off the day before. Up at 4am, had some tea and a pb&j, then out the door by 430a. Got to the site around 510. Found some close parking. Transition was easy to get in and out of. Set up transition (the HITS series has these really cool bike holders. They are not the metal racks you normally hang you bike from. These were wood box like structures on the ground and there was a notch for you bike wheel to fit into and hold it perfectly. They also provided each racer their own stool and plenty of space to store and lay out our stuff. Very well done on their part).

Helped my wife set up her canopy and chairs. Then hung out with her and a friend the rest of the time. Very nice low key morning. Helped that is wasn't a huge event.
Event warmup:

Nada. Knew it was going to be a long day and wanted to save everything I had. Used the swim as my warmup.
  • 39m 55s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 53s / 100 yards

I was surprisingly calm before the race and knew I was well trained. I was just ready to get going. Water was a very nice temperature and the wind hadn't picked up too much yet so it wasn't too choppy. It was a mass start for everyone, so 100+ going at once but after the first 500y or so it all spread out nicely. I just took it easy and felt great. The day started out perfectly. I didn't have a watch on in the water so didn't know my time until I was leaving T1 when a timer guy yelled out 41min to me. Knew then that my swim was in the 39min range, so I was very happy with that.
What would you do differently?:

For me to be in the top 1/3 in the swim is really good, especially since I was taking it easy and for never having swam this distance in OW before.

I wouldn't change a thing that I did. Only complaint about the course was that the buoys seemed very far apart and made it hard to site. My friend also said this same thing and we ended up just following other swimmers until we finally got close enough to see the buoys.
Transition 1
  • 02m 7s

They had wetsuit strippers so it worked out great. I remember taking my time in T1 so to still pull a 2min time, I was very happy.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing, swim and T1 both went perfectly.
  • 3h 19m 52s
  • 56 miles
  • 16.81 mile/hr

I knew the bike was going to be tough. Having ridden the course now two weekends in a row, I knew to expect some tough hills and very rough roads. I rode it once with some terrible wind and avg'd 14.3 and rode it again with almost no wind and did 16.6. So, I was hoping to be in the 16-17mph range and was right there. In fact we ended up with very high winds in the 15-25mph range so for me to be in the upper 16s was really good. Even the race winner avg'd only 20.5, so that tells you how tough it was.

It was all going well, I was riding strong but the winds were tough. We were all tucking down as much as we could to stay out of the wind. About half way through the ride, I began to notice my back. I was getting some minor aches in the lower back. Several times through out I slowed and stretched it as best I could. It didn't bother me too much and it didn't affect my bike at all, but it was there.

I was a little concerned however, because about 1.5 weeks ago my lower back was suddenly sore, but only on the left side. I've never had back issues before and have no idea why it was sore. My massage last Mon helped to work it out and I thought it was all better. But on Sat I felt it twinge again and even had my wife work on it before I went to bed. I did not notice it race morning until on the bike.

I think it was due to the wind, and really bending over, while trying to keep the cadence and power up.

Anyway, I drank probably 3 bottles of water had 2 small clif mini bars and 2 GUs. I felt good. I got into transition and was laughing and joking with my wife and some relatives that came to see me.

On a side note my wife made 2 signs for said "My husband is 1/2 iron and 1/2 beer" and the other said "Pain is temporary but results posted on the internet are forever". She got a lot of people came up to saying they loved her signs.

Back to my race, I came into T2 feeling great. I was right at the 4hr mark overall and felt like if I could put in a decent run I could easily get in under my 6:30 goal time.
What would you do differently?:

I really can't think of anything. One could argue using my tri bike but not sure that would've made much difference.
Transition 2
  • 03m 5s

Came into T2 with a smile and knew I was almost there (that is what I thought!). I took my time, sat on my stool, caught my breath, then gathered my running stuff and away I went.
What would you do differently?:

Nada. I know it sounds terrible to say but it went just as I had planned/hoped...the entire race had up to this point.
  • 3h 14m 37s
  • 13 miles
  • 14m 58s  min/mile

As you can see by my time, this is where the wheels fell off. And unfortunately I can't really explain why. That is the frustrating part. I came in DFL in the run...but I keep trying to tell myself that DFL>DNF>DNS.

Anyway, out I went from T2 feeling good. After the first 1/2mi I checked my pace and was doing a very comfortable 9:30 pace. I felt like I could keep that up forever, then it hit me. I got a very bad stitch on my side and on the bottom front of my right rib cage. I had no idea what was going on. I slowed down considerable thinking that if I just worked through it it would go away.

Well, even as I slowed the pain just kept getting worse...even worse, it was somehow spreading. My entire lower back seized up, then my entire front (abs, core?) just below my rib cages did the same thing. I kept slowing, but still running, thinking it would go away. But it just got worse. It got to the point that I could not breath. Every breath was a sharp stab in the back and in the stomach. My ribs hurt to expand and every jolt of my running feet hitting the ground was the same.

I was confused...what would cause this? Did I not eat enough, drink enough, did I bike too hard? Was this related to the back issue I had on the bike and in the last week? I had no answers.

I made it to mile 1.5 then could not stand the pain any longer. I told my wife it was the worst pain I have ever felt. She said on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being you want to die pain, I said this would be a 7-8. I then began to walk. I thought that if I just walked a bit and gave it some time then it would go away then I could finish the run. That idea disappeared quickly. I discovered that the pain continued while walking. Walking was easier b/c I didn't need to breath as often or as hard as when running, so the pain from breathing was less but it was still there.

So there I was in the 2-3mi range, not knowing if I could/would finish this race. The question popped into my it better to finish and be disappointed with a bad run/finish time or to not finish at all. I didn't have to think but for a second b/c I knew I had my wife, family, friends, and all my BT friends in spirit supporting me and willing me to finish.

So I just kept moving forward. Every step over the 3+ hours was painful. After 3mi of walking/jogging, I walked the next 3mi. After turning around I tried to force myself into a little regiment...I would walk 1/4mi then jog 1/4. I did this for 1mi then could take it anymore. I then went to a walk 1/10 of a mile, jog 1/10 of a mile and that worked for a little bit but then got too painful to do even that.

After that I was mostly walking then would slow jog for very short burst, mostly downhill. I was being passed by a lot of people who were all super supportive and giving me words of encouragement. By this time though there were a lot of us walking. I even saw the race leaders walking as they were coming back by me on the run. There was one very steep hill and a spectator at the top said that every person he had seen had walked up this hill. Made me feel a little better.

So I trudged along, seeing my overall time fade from 6:15 to 6:30 to 6:45, etc. There was just nothing I could do. I noticed by the last few miles I was half hunched over while walking b/c it hurt standing up straight. I must've been a sight! :)

Anyway, that "run" seemed like it took forever, and did take almost as long as my bike. Luckily the finish line was around a corner, so right before I came around I began running again and nothing was going to stop me from running across the finish line. I made it with my family watching and cheering me on. It was a great accomplishment. I nearly collapsed. It finished near the water so I immediately walked to the water and just fell in.
What would you do differently?:

I really don't know. I don't know what caused the pain, or how to get rid of it. I have NEVER felt that before. I've done bricks, long runs, long bikes, etc and never had this issue. That is what is so frustrating.
Post race
Warm down:

Laid in the cool water for a long time. Sipped on coke and relaxed for a good while. Seemed like the pain went away pretty quickly once in the water. Not sure if it was the cool water, similar to an ice bath, or just the fact my core was not having to support by body weight anymore.

It is the next day and my back and abs are still sore. Went walking with my wife today and after 20min or so I could feel the pain slowly start to creep back in at the bottom of my rib cage. This is very strange.

I have mixed feelings about this race and my accomplishment. It was a super tough course, and the wind made it that much harder. So, to say I completed a HIM and a very tough one at that makes me feel good. However, the competitor in me knows I can do better. To be honest I am fighting back the embarrassment and ashamed emotions as I feel like I didn't live up to the expectations I set for myself and what I know other people expect from me. It's hard to accept that I was last in the run after having a good race up to that point. I feel like I let myself down, but I don't know what I could have done. It is a frustrating position to be in.

But, I AM A HALF IRONMAN (and 50% beer)!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Back, core, ab pain.

Event comments:

My terrible run aside, I enjoyed this race. I wasn't sure what to expect from HITS but they put on a good race. The transition area setup was perfect. They have nice large banners directing you where to go and the bike rack/setup was the best I have ever seen. I love those wooden tracks to set your bike in. The bike and run course while very rough and hilly was well marked and stationed with plenty of volunteers and food/drink at each one. The post race activities were weak though. Would've liked some substantial food and beer, but instead it was nothing but snack type foods (crackers, bananas, etc). Like others have commented, I was handed a warm bottle of water at the finish.

Other than that HITS convinced me that they can put on a good race and I would not hesitate to do another one.

Last updated: 2011-11-03 12:00 AM
00:39:55 | 2112 yards | 01m 53s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 37/92
Performance: Good
Suit: Sleeveless wetsuit
Course: Rectangle
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 74F / 23C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:07
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
03:19:52 | 56 miles | 16.81 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 45/92
Performance: Good
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Hard to describe, but went north for 15mi then a big loop to the east, then back down the same 15mi.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:05
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
03:14:37 | 13 miles | 14m 58s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 92/92
Performance: Bad
Course: Out and back on the same course as the bike. Very hilly and those same big headwinds on the way back.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 1
Good race? No
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2012-04-30 5:48 PM

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Austin, TX
Subject: HITS Triathlon Series: Marble Falls - Half Iron Course

2012-05-01 12:22 PM
in reply to: #4182156

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Extreme Veteran
Maple Ridge
Subject: RE: HITS Triathlon Series: Marble Falls - Half Iron Course

In my eyes, I couldn't be more  impressed by your race results, I think you showed how much strength and mental toughness you have in this race and that is an admirable quality. You will definately be an inspiration on my upcoming race.  I know the run was bad for you and it sucks when your body betrays you like that, but the strength and determination you showed was amazing!  Nothing to be embarrassed about and everything to be proud of!

Now to figure out what caused the back issues, so that it doesn't happen on your next HIM or...dare I say it IM!  

You have the swim and the bike down...very nice times on those  btw:-

2012-05-01 1:22 PM
in reply to: #4182156

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San Antone, Texas
Subject: RE: HITS Triathlon Series: Marble Falls - Half Iron Course

Dude you did AWESOME!  To finish and chug through all that pain is a huge accomplishment.  It says much more about your mental toughness than putting down a 1:45 13.1 in my book.  If you can keep going through all that pain, you can make it through anything.  Just remember this at your next race! 

Good job!

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