Halfmax Triathlon September 2006
The bottom line-I DID IT-HALF IRONMAN!!! Finish time: 6:31:05 .
70.3 MILES-1.2 swim 56 bike 13.1 run
How did it go? It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life!
First of all let me explain the race. It was the National Championship and people from all over the country qualify to be in it. You had to finish in the top 25% of an official qualifying event or finish within some difficult time standards. Previously this event had taken place somewhere outside of Kansas City and they moved it to Innsbrook located in Wright City. Besides qualifying there were a number of general entry spots available. I wanted to do a half ironman and this was the closest one to home. That in mind I signed up and figured I’d just do my race and ignore all the superfast people battling for the World Championship spots.
Race day I got up at 4am and left at 5. Arrived around 5:45, began to unload my stuff in the dark. I think triathlons are tailor made for obsessive compulsive people. Lots of details to tend to and it all begins the night before. (I have a check off list that I go through just to make sure I don’t forget anything.) So you have all this stuff and haul it to the transition zone. The transition zone has row after row of bike racks and they are labeled according to age and sex. I like to have a spot on the end and that is where I went. When you set up a transition you put a towel on the ground to sit on and then place everything you need for each transition out in a logical manner. The objective is to minimize the amount of time spent in T1 & T2. You also try to pick a place that you can remember where it is, I was one row away from a tree, easy enough to remember.
Next step was to get body marked. A race volunteer put my number 273 on both arms and the front of both thighs. Then she wrote 46 on the back of my right leg. In the bigger races they put your age on the back of your leg which is cool when you’re out on the course. It is the age you will be on 12/31. After that I went and got my timing chip which is on a Velcro band that you wrap around your ankle. So then it was about time for a trip to the porta potties and that took forever-long line. Next I went and ran a warm up.
The sun rose, soon it was 7:15 and they were calling all athletes to the lake. I’m still struggling to squeeze into my wetsuit. It takes forever to get these things on. Mine is long and sleeveless. You put this stuff called body glide on your ankles & calves to help slide if on and off and then around your neck to keep it from chafing. Body glide comes in a stick like antiperspirant and it is a lubricant that is not greasy like Vaseline.
The lake was 74 degrees and it was brisk. I got in and OOO it was chilly at first, but not freezing. They divided the group into two waves, men first then women. This put me in a wave of about 200-250 which is the biggest wave I’ve ever swam with. Swimming is what I am best at and normally in local races I go to the front of the pack and take off. I can usually get out with the front swimmers and create some space around me. Not this time, lots of good swimmers, and I ended up battling for position and space in the middle of the pack. It was challenging swimming with people in such close proximity the entire time. I swam a comfortable pace about 80% effort keeping in mind that it was going to be a long day and this was just the beginning. I get to the finish and swim until my hand touches the bottom of the lake, then its time to jump out and run. I’m running and reaching back to unzip my wetsuit, when I hear my friend Aron yell my name and shout encouragement. 1.2 miles done and I’m thinking one down, two to go.
I had decided that I would wear a shirt with my race number on it and not do the race number belt. The main reason was because I would be in the sun so long and didn’t want to burn. When I got on the bike it was chilly and I was happy to have that shirt on. The course is very hilly within the Innsbrook complex and then it’s pretty flat. I’d say the first 5 miles are hilly. Hydration and nutrition were going to be important so once I got rolling out on the flats I popped a hammer e cap. (Electrolytes) I ate a cliff blok and drank Gatorade. I took an e cap every hour throughout the race. Finished off around 13 bloks and a bottle and ½ of Gatorade during the ride. Thought I had the nutrition covered. Once out on the flats I encountered a head wind, and then it decided to get mischievous and became a cross wind. So you would alternate pushing forward or leaning to the right.
For both the bike and run you had to do a two loop course. Around mile 20 there are some rolling hills and one substantial hill before you enter the complex again. I knew that there was a bottle exchange in Innsbrook and I wanted to do this so I emptied my bottle into my aerodrink. Stupidly I filled it too high and got to those bumps and hills. Ha ha every bump had Gatorade splashing back at me. (Aerodrink is a bottle that sits in front between your aero bars, and you can just lean down and suck out of the straw. It does not have a lid, but a sponge in the top sort of like a kitchen scrubby, so you can refill it on the go.) The course was two 28 mile loops. One down, one more to go I thought to myself. Soon I was approaching the bottle exchange; I’d never done this and was kind of excited to see if I could. You ride up and there is a sign that says something about bottle exchange discard, so I throw my empty bottle to the curb and then you come to a bunch of volunteers who hand you a new one. You have a choice of water or Heed. I took the Heed. Yippee I did my first bottle exchange!
Here is an editorial about the race:
Halfmax Championship course is already challenging, and strong winds on race day
only exaggerated the difficulty. Even with those challenges the age group
competition was intense. Over 30 states were represented in the Championships.
The age group champions list reads like a Who's Who...
Here we go again, biking the course a second time. It’s sunny and getting hot. All I can say is it got harder. I thought about quitting and I got tired. On the second loop I hardly saw any other participants. Occasionally I’d pass or be passed, we’d give each other a word of encouragement and then I’d be alone again. Some intersections had policemen, sometimes race official vehicles would go by and wave. Mostly I was alone. I talked to myself, talked to God, and sang songs in my head. That big hill into Innsbrook laughed at me as my legs screamed while I pulled my big butt up that hill. There were volunteers there yelling “Great job up that hill” “It’s all downhill now” “Watch for the cars and speed bumps.” It was so nice to ride to the finish, spectators along the course shouting encouragement. 56 miles down. Now I get to run a half marathon. One of the nice things about this being a championship race was that the bulk of the field had finished riding by the time I got in and there was this porta potty right by the dismount. I leaned my bike on the fence and went in. No line! T2 smooth and now I’m running and my legs are saying “what do you think your doing?” The start of the run is on grass, like cross country and all up hill. There is a guy taking pictures. That really sucks because you’re trying to get your act together and it’s up hill. I smile and hobble by. Here is a picture of the run profile:
I guess around mile 2 I started to feel nauseous and I noticed that I had stopped sweating. Not a good sign at all. The temperature was probably around 84-88 and it was sunny. I was determined to finish and thought I had better monitor my health. I drank at all the aid stations which were about every mile and when they had oranges took one of those too. At the beginning my strategy was simple-pick your battles. It was a very hilly course, so I would run everything but the uphills and power walk up those. The nausea stayed with me and it got hotter. I was next to this tall lanky guy for a while. He and I powered up a hill. He walked with his hands in fists and was mad, thought it was the hardest course he had ever done, didn’t know how anyone could train for it. I wondered, didn’t you read the course description? Soon my strategy changed, just pull yourself over the hill, get to the top. The course is out and back, two times. The first loop was mentally hard because you knew you still had to turn around and run this again. To add insult to injury you have to run down alongside the finish chute and then turn and go back-ugh! Finally I started the second loop and mentally I thought just get to the turnaround and it will be better. All of us on the course are suffering and we would say things to encourage one another. You can do it, almost to the turn around. I told one woman that she looked good, and she shouted back I don’t feel good! During the last 4 miles, my strategy became ok, just walk when you need to but try to keep running. Three miles to go and I felt pretty crappy and thought just finish, keep moving, running will get you there faster. Interestingly, walking hurt just as much as running-only different muscles. At the last aid station I knew I was going to finish, and got pretty elated. I’m thanking the solitary volunteer at that station and telling him that this is my first half ironman. Funny thing was I got about ¼ a mile away from the finish, and out of no where I got this surge of energy. I’m running hard to the finish and people are cheering me on and I’m thrilled. The announcer broadcasts my name and hometown. I finish and look up and there is Maurice cheering for me at the end. He reaches out to hug me and I start to cry. But only for a moment, I was choked up and then a friend is taking our picture. I’m smiling and looking for a soda with some caffeine. Six and a half hours, 70.3 miles completed and it all began months ago-Thank you God!
In looking at the results there were 14 in my agegroup. Three of us were general entrants and the other 11 officially qualified. I beat the other two general entrants J
Saturday night I was too tired to unload my bike. Sunday morning when I took it off the rack it had a flat!