Sunday, September 23, 2007

Black Diamond Half Iron

Sometimes I actually like being a slow swimmer...

Came down on Friday to stay with Debbie's parents, nice easy and relaxing. Up early to get the worm, or at least a good parking spot within the state park. As usual I'm an early bird and got there before the park gate was open, but not first in line (second).

Sat and read and eventually someone came an opened the gate to let us (1o or so) early arrivers in. I probably could of slept in a bit more as I noticed some spots as late as 6:30 but I was up anyway so oh well.

Got my packet and put the numbers in the correct spots and went to get body marked and find my transition spot. They provide lots of bike racks, but put about 20 per 20 feet and they are numbered in 20's so I try to find a kinda open spot in my grouping, but not much bigger than a postage stamp.

With the great parking I was able to leave some stuff in the car and not use up as much space in transition anyway. There must of been 200 bikes on 15 or so racks and about 20 more unused racks. I (along with quite a few others) asked about spreading out into an unused area so I ended up moving and had a whole rack to myself, it was great.

I had some stomach issues going on too, just a bit unsettled, gurgling and such. Wasn't sure if I was going to have to stick close to the porto-lets or actually get to race, maybe it was just nerves because as once I started getting my wetsuit on and fully ready to go my stomach settled down.

The swim is a two lap course and I hadn't done much swimming since Coeur d'Alene so was just hoping for anything under 45 and as it turns out I only missed last years time by about 20 seconds or so. I was a little worried on the second lap as I swam and pretty much only saw the pink swim caps of the second wave of all women, not many green (men's wave) caps. Once I saw my time coming up to transition I was happy.
Swim: 43:32 (1.2 miles - 2:04/100 yards)

It was great to have the whole rack to myself, I was able to stomp my wetsuit off, dry my feet, get socks and shoes on, jersey, sunglasses and helmet and was off, faster than last year.
T1 - 2:40

They changed the bike course this year (from 62 miles to proper Half Iron 56 miles) so I knew I was going to improve on my time, but I started out strong and started passing people right away. This is where I really like being a slow swimmer, I had the 180th fastest swim (out of 219). I like having these rabbits to catch, so I count them, helps keeps me focused, plus one for everyone I pass, minus one for when someone passes me.

They added two out and backs to the loop to the north we have done in the past for this course, this turned the north loop into 24.75 miles (same course they use for the Olympic tri) and the middle loop to the south was cut considerably shorter and skipped the Mud Mountain road (2 mile uphill).

I had ridden most of this course in previous years, but wasn't sure what to expect on the new out and backs and part of the south loop. The first out and back was on a dead end and nice and wide and a little uphill, but we got to come right back down that. The second out and back was a turnaround on a busy main road. I was a little worried on how they would work this, but it was great, they had two police officers with stop signs and only letting cars through if there were no bicyclist, the gap between was a couple football fields of wide open road and we had the whole width to turn around, didn't loose too much speed.

I finished the first loop of 25 miles in 1:13 and change and knew I was flying (for me at least). I was up 39 positions by then, still feeling good and not tired or anything. My goal for the bike was to hopefully break 3 hours and my quick math told me had a good shot if I get the south loop done in 20 and 1:20 for the repeated north loop.

We head south and it got a bit windy, but not too bad, my pace of counting slowed quite a bit on the south loop and the repeat of the north. We were getting further strung out and the space between riders was much larger. We stayed on the main road for a couple miles with no protection from the wind, finally turning over to a side road for the route back and got to use some of that (now a tail) wind.

Passing back in front of the state park at 1:33 meant I was still on pace and I hit the 1:33 right on, just need to keep the pace for the final 25 miles.

My right knee started to talk to me about mile 40 or so. I started to ease off just a bit. I had been leap frogging one rider. I'd pass on the hill, she'd pass me back, then another rolling hill and I'd get my spot back and then finally she was able to get away as I just had to slow a bit to not hurt as much.

There is a long straight before the first out and back and generally downhill, but rolling and I was able to fully hammer through this without any pain and the hill on the out and back was fine too. My number had gotten as high as 48, but with the knee pain and easing I got back down to 41, I kept thinking I gotta keep going, I can't give these all back, I earned it. I was happy to be able to ride pain free all the way back to the state park and in doing so, got my final number back up to finish at 49. Very happy, what a great ride!
Bike - 2:54:24 (56 miles - 19.27 MPH)

Coming back into T2 I stopped and used the porto-lets and still had a pretty quick T2. I did a test run this week with bungee laces and (thankfully) decided to stick with regular laces and run a comfortable half marathon. Changed the shoes, got rid of the helmet and grabbed the race belt and took off for an afternoon run.
T2 - 2:08

I had one goal for the run and that was to run and not walk. The previous two times I did this event I ended up walking a good portion of the half marathon. I know I can run a pretty decent half marathon, but after swimming and biking it just had not come together.

I started out slow, a secondary goal was to break 2 hours, so I tried to stick to 9 minute miles and hope for the best. The course was not as well marked as previous years, but the few mile markers I saw, I was ahead of the 9 minute pace.

I keep count on the run too, I think mostly to keep my mind on something other than my feet and body. So I look and count other peoples feet and bodies.
I kept picking off the miles and before I knew it I was at the furthest turn around and headed back, its all downhill from here , right? head home now! gotta keep going as its the only way back. I was still feeling good at this point, I had some water at every aid station alternating my own gels or thermolyte tablets. On the way back though I started to not want to eat, I tried my clif blocks and started chew, but just ended up spitting it out as it didn't want to go down.

No problem, I'm almost home, I can make it. There is a section of a dirt road that is not gravel and not really dirt. I'd say it is mostly fist to shoe sized rocks, not the best or most fun to run on, but I kept on keepin on passing a few more in this section as I think my trail running helped some through here.

Back on the road you have to run past the state park to enter through a back trail and then you are so close you can hear the music, hear the announcer calling peoples name at the finish, but they send us on the final 1.4 mile loop around the lake.
I had gotten up to plus 18 at the start of the lake loop, but I was hurting, I kept on running though. very slowly. It is not like running around Green Lake (flat paved trail) not like running around Lake Padden (wide well groomed gravel with ups and downs). This is more like an extra wide single track you might find while out mountain biking. The path is exposed root after exposed root, they do mark them, but the ground is almost all powdery white from all the roots that are marked. not to mention to brutal ups and downs (not too bad, but at mile 70 of this 70.3 adventure) I was hurting and they felt brutal.

8 people passed me in the final 1.4 to finish at plus 10. I had no energy, I usually have something to kick it in and across the finish line, but I had nothing. I did get a smile and thumbs up in for the photographer, but was happy to be done. I even had the volunteer taking my timing strap off open my water bottle for me.

Run 1:57:55 (13.1 miles - 9:00/mile)
Total 5:40:39 (83/202 Overall - 22/26 Male 35-39)

I went down and soaked in the nice cool lake for a bit while I thought about the great race I just had. I actually felt like a raced it too, first time I felt like I raced a triathlon of this distance. I hit all my goals and then some. I was hoping to break 6 hours and smashed that out the door, broke 3 on the bike, sub 2 on the run, ran the entire run. all in all a great race.

Weird tidbit of info: final place of 83 matched my race number of 83

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