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Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course - Triathlon

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Ada, Michigan
United States
78F / 26C
Total Time = 5h 22m 50s
Overall Rank = 63/310
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 6/27
Pre-race routine:

In the weeks before the race I had spent a lot of time at work for storm restoration activities and missed more workouts than I have ever missed. I missed a total of 6 days worth of training, all consecutive, and worked an all nighter a couple of weeks later. I felt like these distractions coldly cause some sort of diminishing ability when I hit the course.
Then there have been other distractions that are equally out of my control and far more deeply personal. Lisa's dads health has kept her away and me more concerned about her own health as she missed more e sleep than I can imagine. She decided to go back to Ohio to spend more time with Chuck and provide some support for her family.
She was greatly missed during this trip and it was on my mind that she wouldn't be there. She has always been a great encouragement for me during my races and I wondered how I would respond with her absent. I'd be lying if I said that she was anything other than an inspiration for me to race.

While the couple of days leading up to the race were of significant distraction I became thrilled to race after showing up to the packet pick-up. Something seemed to be in the air, maybe it was just the race atmosphere that began to lift my spirits and the mood to race set in.

I had made a trip to Panera to grab some breakfast for in the morning knowing there would be no breakfast for me at the hotel. When the alarm went off I was ready to wake and get started. I brewed the coffee and grey food, finished up with the morning activities and was off, but still with plenty of time and had a great parking place.
As I was getting my rack set up a buddy showed up and was able to rack right next to me. Mark would later win his age group after having a really good performance on a day that the temps seemed to come up pretty quickly.

I had a good set up, or so I thought, until I started the bike. I had placed a water bottle in my bike cage and planned to use it prior to the race to drink from. I had forgotten to remove it and had to ride with it for 45 minutes until reaching the first aid station. No particularly big deal but it was little extra weight I didn't need to be hauling.
Event warmup:

None, other than about 2 minutes of very light swimming.
  • 28m 50s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 22s / 100 yards

I started the swim from the middle of the field at the front of the line. This provided me with the apparent straightest line toward the back of the swim if I was able to swim reasonably straight.
At the sound of the horn I was off with me an 100-150 of my best-ests buddies. Since I was in the front I expected to get beat up a little bit from the initial surge of race day adrenaline. Following the first 200 yards of the swim there was little contact with other athletes. I had taken a little bit of abuse at first but not really enough to cause any distress just a little jamming up occasionally.
Most of the body contact I had was along my left side as there was a swimmer that was trying to hang on to my pace. I know I usually start the race a little hot and pull things down a little once clear of the crowd and today wasn't going to be any different. This guy however seemed to be swimming a little into me in what I felt may have been some poor sighting. He cam into me a little more harsh than brushing me. Instead he hit me at a little bit of an angle and then stayed next to me grinding against me for about 100 yards or so. It wasn't long before he decided he wasn't going to hang on to me and I felt him falling off the pace and pretty soon he was off my feet and I never felt anyone there again.
About half way through the first leg of the swim I was able to pull in behind a swimmer that had been swimming a little off to my right, outside of any physical contact range. He began to cut over toward me and toward the buoys and I decided that since I'd seen him along side me for a while, swimming virtually neck and neck, I would let him cross in front of me and i would ride is feet for a while.
After he fell in front of me I dropped into his draft and was tagging his feet occasionally. Many times when I fall in behind someone they get a little frustrated and begin to kick harder when I fall in behind and tap their feet. Apparently most people don't appreciate a good drafting technique (hahaha). THis guy didn't seem to be phased and just kept chugging along.
WE approached the first turn buoy and I was still there. I was hoping he would continue to pull me for much of the remaining swim but he swept wider from the turn than I liked and I held a straight line to the next turn buoy. From this point to about halfway back on the return trip I could see him off to my right. Once he came back over toward me we swam neck and neck until about 200-300 yards from the swim finish. It was in this area that I began to push the. Pace a little harder and pulled away from him.
Over the course of 3/4 of the swim I had caught and passed much of the first wave. There was occasional body contact with tehse slower swimmers, mostly around the turn markers. Many of these swimmers were swimming side to side using poor sighting techniques causing a little bit of confusion with other athletes around me. thankfully I was right on my sighting this day, even while drafting I remained focused on maintaining good sight lines.
I don't have a reall good feel for how many athletes I passed from the first wave but the bike would tell some of that story.
What would you do differently?:

I am not sure I would change much. The time I was in the water seemed pretty short for a 70.3 swim, maybe my fastest yet, but I haven't checked.
If I had to pick something to change I may have tried to swim a little quicker over the entire course. But having jumped in a draft with someone as close to my pace early and drafting saved a lot of energy so I may have been right on track with where I should have been had I swum in open water by myself.
Transition 1
  • 02m

I used the strippers today for one of the first times in a race. I have used the strippers one other time but there really wasn't a need that time. My old wetsuit comes off so fast that taking the time to lie down is't the best use of available time.
WIth the new Blueseventy Helix (first race in this suit) and the leg cuffs being so much smaller I felt I had better take the time, After the suit was off so easily using the strippers this proved to be a very good decision.
The long run into an even longer transition the last year was taken a little more relaxed than I usually run. I decided to do this after seeing the T area length increased maybe another 150 feet. I fleet I could use the time to recover a bit and begin to get my control back before trying to nail the bike.
Once at my bike things seemed to go so smoothly that I felt like something wasn't right. I recall starring at my bike for a second before I left thinking that I had to be missing something. I checked my nutrition again and everything was there so I was off.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing really. My area was set up well and methodically placed, like I usually do, but I guess I don't normally feel like I get so smoothly through a transition.
  • 2h 54m 31s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.25 mile/hr

I felt pretty good coming out of T1 and was able to settle down pretty quickly and get things under control. I was trying to be intentional with everything today, which is where I feel I may have been going wrong the past year or two. I have let some things slide more than I should have over the course of 2016, like maybe the way I have taken nutrition and allowed my pacing to be minimally monitored until it was too late.
As I left the transition area I did begin to ride a little too hard for the first lie or so but realized reasonably soon and took notice. The first accounting of my HR and power targets were beginning and wanted to keep things in check. THE heat that was projected for the day was supposed to become miserable and I didn't want to have a similar experience as Ironman Chattanooga last year.
When I left transition there weren't a lot of people in front of me but I did leave with 3 other athletes. I made short order of allowing them to remain in front of me and I never saw them again. Or maybe I did????
After clearing these first few athletes it took a while to begin to get past some of the others. At the time I got out on the bike course there weren't a lot of them out there. I think my swim time (which turned out to be the 18th fastest for the day) moved me well ahead of many of the athletes.
Most of the bike course for the first 8.5 miles felt pretty good. I was maintaining control and keeping tabs on my HR an d power targets closely. As I recall I was slightly below the target power numbers (a closer look shows I was 1w high).
It was at the first turn that the worst mistake I have made in a race to date was made. I may have had my heads down or been taking on some fuel and missed the lone sign indicating a turn and I blew right past it. There was a police officer at the intersection but he didn't try to direct me and I blew past him. I looked back since I had just passed another rider a little before the mistake was made and the officer tried to direct him, but he ignored.
Then there was another rider that came through. So now the count was three riders that missed the turn and I feel at fault for dragging these two behind me. The second rider had actually been looking to OA podium and I feel somewhat responsible. I know we are all supposed to know the course but I can't help but feel responsible.
Anyway, we all kept going for what turns out to be approximately 4.5 miles out without seeing another rider other than ourselves. The one thing that finally made us realize we weren't on course was arriving at a stop sign with no police control. It was at this point that we turned around and got back on course and took the 4.5 mile back. IN all my Garmin placed me almost 9 mile extra for the day because if my little adventure.
As I got back on course the police officer that I blew past on the way off course told me i had some time to make up. I slowed down quite a bit and told him I couldn't even come close to that. I did however, initially, decide to try to hold on to the 240NP target but I decided after seeing an approximate 8 miles extra by the time I got back to the real race to let that come down and try to have a decent run.
Once back on the real race course I was back into the back of the pack. A lot of the sower athletes were out on the course now and I was blowing by them in rapid succession. I wondered many times as I passed these athletes what they may have been thinking about me leaving them in the dust like I was. I am pretty sure they weren't thinking I had left the course only to return 25 minutes later.
Following my adventure I noticed I had lost one of my bottles of nutrition. This was 300 calories I had been planning to take and I wondered how I was going to pick those back up. One was was to use all of my EFS Liquid Shot. I always carry the Hammer Flask to allow for an additional 100 calories above the EFS Flask. But with the rest of the course having only Gatorade I wasn't sure I was going to get all of my calories.
THE bottle exchanges for water and Gatorade went well, although I slowed more than I liked to get these. TEHy said the exchanges needed to be at 5MPH or one wouldn't occur. I have exchanged much faster before but there were to many younger volunteers today and I didn't think things would go well so I slowed more than normal.
I also took my turns with a little more caution this year. I can't say I ride with wreckless abandon but I may thro caution to the wind occasionally while taking turns. Since I was behind so far in the race and with seemingly little hope of being remotely close to the top of the AG rankings i chose not to take any chances.
AS I was nearing the end of the ride it became increasingly harder to hold on to the 235NP target I had opted to drop to. My legs seemed to begin to rebel a little bit. I think part of this was the fewer calories I had been able to grab after losing at least 200 calories from the lost bottle. I had taken as much of the 5 shots if EFS Shot and much of the Gatorade but I think there was a deficit. I ended up with 233NP and hoped i could have a decent run.
What would you do differently?:

HAHAHA!!! Not missed a turn!! AND not lost a bottle of fuel.
Transition 2
  • 03m 17s

I had to take a leak for the last hour on the bike and decided I wasn't going to pee on their bike because there wasn't a point. If I had been in the hunt for the podium I would have but 8 miles extra didn't leave room for that so...
I came into T2 playing a bit of a conservative game and planning to stop in the porta to relieve my bladder. I also didn't plan to blitz through T2 to get onto the run course either. Again, I felt no need. I wanted to save this energy for the run course an maybe have a good run.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. With what happened on the bike I don't think there was a need to get fired up and onto the run course with a fire under me.
  • 1h 54m 10s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 43s  min/mile

After having had a little longer in transition than I normally take I seemed to feel really good coming out of T2. My legs seemed reasonably responsive but I felt slow. Having gotten used to feeling like I was crawling during the first mile while actually running a decent pace i didn't let this bother me much.
I had looked for Robin as I was exiting the transition area to mention to her to text Lis and let her know I had screwed up the bike ride so she wouldn't worry but I didn't see her so I kept moving.
The first mile felt really good. I didn't seem to have any issues with my legs at all and my HR seemed to be under decent control. I was really hopeful for that good run I had been looking for.
Mile 2 came and went and it felt much the same. I was beginning to have thoughts of another solid run this year and at least being somewhat close to last years 70.3 PR for the run. I took a shot of EFS as I began mile 3 and was ready for more miles...
Then I think the heat and additional miles on the bike began to work on me. Mile 3 didn't feel nearly as good as the first two and I knew I needed to begin to dial things down slightly.
After mile 3 things begin to become more challenging in for the course profile. There are a couple of hills in this part of the course that made me wish I wasn't running right now. I kept thiniking about walking up "that hill" as I was beginning to run down it. I knew I was seeing some trouble ahead and was beginning to have "those talks" with myself. As I headed out toward the turn around the pain was deepening and I didn't feel like I was going to be able to maintain the paces I had seen earlier.
Just befor e the turn around there was an aid station that had "cold" towels, only they weren't very cold. The heat was beginning to work on me and everyone else and there was already no ice at this aid station. I took the towel and tried to use it to cool off with but it was futile. There simply wasn't enough cold in the towel to do any sort of good.
After the turn around i headed up the hills that went through the addition and back up "that hill" but I refused to walk it. I am not sure I was actually running but it was more than a walk. Garmin puts me at an 8:29 mile for the lap while running up that hill, but it sure didn't feel close to it. After the biggest of the hills the course seems to flatten out or have a net loss until the 2nd loop begins.
At the beginning of the 2nd loop there was a really nice shaded section to run in, and with the wind that we'd had so far it felt incredible to run here. But the feeling didn't last long. I began to feel stitches after coming out of the shade and back into the sun. One of the property owners that had been using a sprinkler to cool folks had turned it off after I had been looking forward to using it. I kept "running" but my pace as falling off substantially.
About late mile 6 or early 7 that I had to pause for a minute and try to clear the stitch. I walked for a short time as I as crossing the bridge, it didn't seem too long, recovered and got moving again. This seemed to alleviate the stitch for the remainder of the run. I think at this point I was beginning to overheat and need some water pretty badly. I decided to walk the aid stations from here on out and get some ice and water.
After making that decision it seemed like most of the aid stations didn't have any ice as I was passing through. I too k what I could but my stomach began to feel uneasy too. I think it was because I had taken some Gatorade and water at an aid station and it was too much at the time. The liquids were also more than lukewarm too, adding to the problem I suppose. (I recalled drinking some warm water at Chatty last year and almost puking it back out.) This caused me to walk yet again, something I hate doing despite tryoing to talk myself into it all the time as I'm racing.
I made it to the hilly section again and managed to "run" the hills again. as I was headed up "that hill" again another athlete pacing slightly faster than me passed me and told me "nice work up this hill." I was certainly not feeling like I was running up anything at this point. REgardless of how I felt I knew once I made it up this last hill I was home free and I could have a less mentally stressful run into the finish.
Now that I was above the climbing I knew I was almost done. I passed the 11 mile marker and the iceless aid station and kept moving. THEse last 2 miles were a little bit of a gut check but "knowing" I wasn't even close to the podium I didn't try to work too hard on getting there.
The last mile I was somehow able to knock off a decent paced mile but the net elevation was a loss giving me an advantage.
In the end, I didn't try to gut much of this run out. I had screwed up the bike and didn't have the resolve to stay mentally tough.
What would you do differently?:

One of the mistakes, somewhat intentionally, I made was not taking nutrition as planned. The thought of a warm gel wasn't sitting well with me during the run so i decided not to take it. I made this decision mainly because I was at the bottom of the AG, or so I thought.
I know I have to get back to taking my nutrition as planned and not letting the notion that it doesn't taste good or sound appealing take hold and keep me from taking what I need.
Post race
Warm down:

This finish line didn't leave me in a fit of dying like I seem to have gotten used too. I was able to walk somewhat decently this day and not have to limp on an extremely sore quad like last year or a screwed up knee.
I grabbed some water and guzzled it, headed to the transition area to get my phone and let Lis know I was okay.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Mental ability and mistakes on the bike course. Also having the distraction of Lis not being here and in Ohio with her dad (who died a few days later) kept me from having a solid focus. I really don't think having all of the family stuff going on was a huge distraction during the race but I do have to wonder a little if it didn't have a negative effect.

Event comments:

After having run out of ice at many of the aid stations throughout the middle of the course, which happens to be the worst for sun exposure, I was unable to keep a decent pace. tehy really needed to be ahead of this. they had sent emails about how warm it was supposed to get and about hydrating well but they didn't seem to be prepared themselves.
I also didn't care that transition was so much longer than last year. i am guessing they added a lot of athletes to the overall race, but they also moved the Sprint transition area away from the side to allow a better flow fro these racers. THis made sense to do but it added a lot of distance to the T area. I didn't care for that. If i had actually had a decent race I may not have been going back to this race again. As it is I may return for redemption on this course next year.

Last updated: 2017-06-12 12:00 AM
00:28:50 | 2112 yards | 01m 22s / 100yards
Age Group: 1/27
Overall: 18/310
Performance: Good
Suit: Blueseventy Helix
Course: Counter-clockwise loop
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 72F / 22C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Average
Time: 02:00
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
02:54:31 | 56 miles | 19.25 mile/hr
Age Group: 12/27
Overall: 109/310
Performance: Bad
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: An L shaped course on a mostly eastbound course direction until the turnaround.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Not enough
Time: 03:17
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Bad
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
01:54:10 | 13.1 miles | 08m 43s  min/mile
Age Group: 7/27
Overall: 60/310
Performance: Bad
Course: 2 loops on a mostly out and back.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Bad
Mental exertion [1-5] 2
Physical exertion [1-5] 2
Good race? No
Course challenge Just right
Organized? No
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? No
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 2

2017-06-15 5:22 PM

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Fort Wayne
Subject: Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course

2017-06-18 12:56 PM
in reply to: #5222462

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Mastic Beach, NY
Subject: RE: Grand Rapids Triathlon - Half Iron Course
Congrats Dirk! I know you were probably hoping to do better than what you did but I think you did a great job especially considering the circumstances around you training and more importantly your father in law and your family. It's quite remarkable that you still finished 6th in your AG when you wound up doing a 79.3. Regardless of the mistake on the bike (we all make them) and the race conditions with the heat you still had a very good race and this will go a long way to helping you get ready for IMCHOO later on this year.
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