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Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Grand Rapids, Michigan
United States
Total Time = 5h 43m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = 30-34
Age Group Rank = 10/23
Pre-race routine:

I have done 2 Olympic distance Tri's already and have always wanted to do an ironman. I decided it was best to do a half first and get a little more experience, so last year I signed up for the GR 1/2. I grew up swimming, so I didn't think that would be a problem, plus the swim is only a little longer then an Oly. Finishing the 56 mile ride was more a question of speed than actually being able to finish. It really all came down to being able to finish a half marathon! I have broken sesamoid bone in my left foot, which makes running painful at times. Then during training I came down with some IT band problems and stopped running for the last 5 weeks leading up to the race. My longest run ever up to this point was 9.5 miles. I still wanted to give the race a shot, even if it meant doing some walking on the run. So, me and my fiance (Christina) left Chicago and headed up to Grand Rapids. We got there the day before the race, went to packet pick-up and ate some pasta! We stayed in a nearby hotel which was really nice except for the guy in the next room with the loud TV on all night. I probably couldn't have slept much anyway.
Event warmup:

Woke up at 4:30 and had a bagel w/ peanut butter, a banana and a little later had a clif bar and gatorade. I got to the race around 5:45 and headed to transition. The transition area is VERY long and runs down the middle of a closed off street. I heard people complaining about it, but everyone has to run the same distance, so I guess its fair. The bike racks weren't to crowded either, so that was good. I then got in the lake and did a five minute warm-up. I have actually never done a warm-up before a race, so I guess 5 minutes is better than nothing! I'm strangely calm at this point, considering I was up all night nervous/excited. The swim corral was a little disorganized, but I think everything worked out.
  • 29m 16s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 23s / 100 yards

The swim went off in waves of about 50 people. There was some minor contact, but all accidental. I tend to sprint to hard and pay for it later, so I kept telling myself to swim at my own pace. I think it really paid off later, because I ended up passing a few people at the end of the swim. I did notice people all over the place taking different routes to the turn around buoy. I tried taking the most direct route which helped me catch some faster swimmers. On the swim back in, you are looking directly into the sun! I kept watching a few swimmers in front of me and hoped they knew where they were going, because I couldn't see a thing! It ended up working out.
What would you do differently?:

Transition 1
  • 02m 52s

I took a little extra time to reapply sunscreen, which was worth the 20 seconds. If I was doing a shorter distance, I probably would have skipped it. I was thinking about doing the shoes already clipped on the bike thing, but hadn't practiced enough, so I passed.
What would you do differently?:

  • 2h 53m 12s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.40 mile/hr

The course is out and back on country roads. I heard there was a portion on "chip seal" which I was a little worried about, but it wasn't a problem. There were volunteers at all the intersections, and they did a great job with traffic. I live in Chicago, and loved riding on these country roads. I usually can't go more then a half-mile without having to stop at a light. There was only about 3 hills that were really tough and I'm sure the better cyclists didn't have a problem with any of them. Being a strong swimmer (and not such a strong biker) was a little discouraging with all the good bikers flying by me, but overall it was a great ride. I saw Christina twice along the ride which was really cool.
What would you do differently?:

Do some hill work. It's really difficult to train for hills in Chicago, but I will try to figure something out.
Transition 2
  • 03m 19s

My hamstrings were really tight at this point which made running with my bike really difficult.
What would you do differently?:

Since the transition is so long, I wish I would have trained taking my shoes off while on the bike.
  • 2h 14m 29s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 10m 16s  min/mile

This is what I was worried about all week! I hadn't run at all in 5 weeks and here I was about to do a half marathon! I decided to run with a very short stride, to keep pressure off my IT Band. Also,knowing I wouldn't be able to run the entire time, I planned to walk for one minute after each mile, and slow down at every aid station. I set out and got into a really good rhythm. It was really hot at this point, but the run is along a tree lined street, which provides some shade. There were also people out with their hoses, which was really nice! When I got to mile one, I was feeling good but still walked for my scheduled minute. I kept this pattern up and it really helped. I usually make all these deals with myself about how long I will run, before stopping, but having a plan really kept me focused. The aid stations were perfectly situated. They also had everything you could want (water,ice, gatorade, gels, oranges, and pretzels) and some really great volunteers! At mile 10 things started hurting. My knee was hurting, but so was everything else, so I wasn't to worried about that. But, that was also the first time the entire bike/run that I looked at my overall time. I originally just wanted to break 6 hours, but when I hurt my knee I figured that wouldn't happen. So when I looked down at my watch and saw 5:08 with 3 miles to go I was psyched! I knew I had 6 hours. Although mentally I had a great boost, physically I just couldn't keep up. My feet, hamstrings, hips, everything was tight and hurting. I had to break my routine. I started with the compromises at this point. I will "run" to that bridge, then walk for a minute. I kept this up until I could hear the announcer yelling people's names. I knew I was close and wouldn't let myself compromise any longer. I kicked up a gear and tried to finish strong. I'm sure I went from a 11 min. mile pace to a 10 min. pace but it felt hard and I crossed the finish line with a smile! I broke 6 hours!
What would you do differently?:

My biggest problem was hurting my knee and throwing off my training schedule. I'm hoping to add some strength training to my schedule to avoid problems like this in the future.
Post race
Warm down:

I jumped in the lake and swam around for about ten minutes. It felt really good to take pressure off all my joints and muscles. I got some fluids in me and headed back to the transition area. Just walking there was difficult! I had my foam roller in Christina's car which really helped my knee!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Knee problems, which affected my training.

Event comments:

The race had a few small problems but overall it was really well run and everyone was really helpful. I would recommend this race to all levels of athletes. They also gave all the half ironman finishers a running hat, which I thought was really cool!

Last updated: 2012-06-11 12:00 AM
00:29:16 | 2112 yards | 01m 23s / 100yards
Age Group: 1/23
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Suit: sleeveless
Course: Counter clock-wise single loop
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 71F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:52
Performance: Below average
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed:
02:53:12 | 56 miles | 19.40 mile/hr
Age Group: 13/23
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:19
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal
02:14:29 | 13.1 miles | 10m 16s  min/mile
Age Group: 12/23
Overall: 0/
Performance: Below average
Course: The course map looked a little confusing, but the volunteers made sure you didn't get lost.
Keeping cool Good 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
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5]

2012-06-11 9:56 PM

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Subject: Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course

2012-06-12 6:53 AM
in reply to: #4256826

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Grand Rapids, MI
Subject: RE: Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course
Awesome race! It was a tough day with the heat...
2012-06-12 8:31 AM
in reply to: #4256826

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Norton Shores, MI
Subject: RE: Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course
Pretty certain you were racked right next to me in transition.  I saw you on the bike with the boot on..that is awesome you got through this race with your injury.  Great swim time and way to hang tough on the bike and run despite the injury and the heat.  Congrats on finishing your first HIM!
2012-06-12 9:09 AM
in reply to: #4257076

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Subject: RE: Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course
Thanks BCYoder!  And of course the heat really kicks in once you're about to start the run!
2012-06-12 9:14 AM
in reply to: #4257250

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Subject: RE: Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course
Thanks rymac!  That wasn't me with the boot.  The broken bone in my foot is from 6 years ago, and will never heal unless I opt for surgery.  I did see the guy with the boot out on the bike course though.  Pretty impressive he still did the race!  I was the guy wearing the "Chicago Police" Jersey with the star on it. 
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