My wife has been asking for several months for me to start writing blog posts for her site. There are a lot of topics that I’ll hopefully get to write about at some point – what I’ve learned and experienced about faith in God, leadership, and family life to name a few. For now though, Christy wanted me to write a race report for a recent half ironman I completed in Knoxville, TN (Rev3 Knoxville). Some free advice for you men out there – do whatever your wife tells you to do and life will be great. So, here goes my first guest blog post on her site and first race report – hope you enjoy!
We arrived in TN on Friday night and checked in to our hotel. On Saturday, covered the expo, light workout bike/run, checked out the transition area, etc…standard pre-race prep work. It was humid and temps into the 80s – not ideal but good prep for the hotter summer races. One interesting thing was that the water on the run course was going to be delivered in sealed 8oz bags…possibly a more eco-friendly approach? All I know is that no one practicing opening these bags on Saturday did it without soaking themselves, and the water tasted pretty bad (like plastic, weird huh). Didn’t seem like the best decision to me. We went to drive the bike course after dinner - after leaving town, we must’ve made a wrong turn and ended up in the ALPS! I am talking climb after climb, it was almost comical. The course begins near a river so I am not sure how they couldn’t find a flatter bike course; but, it was a good test if nothing else. Christy was literally laughing at how hilly it was and was almost relieved to not be racing (had to have emergency dental surgery the week before – doing great now thank God!). I had that hilly ride and a steamy half marathon to look forward to afterwards the next morning.
Awoke early and fueled up, then got rolling to the race. The transition area was in the bottom floor of a covered parking garage, which was awesome for two reasons. First, everything was protected from possible rain/etc, and second, we parked like 100 yards from my bike. Quickly got things set up and started the walk to the swim start.
First lesson learned (again, unfortunately) – make sure you account for proper time to get in the water and warm up. By the time I was ready to roll and wetsuit zipped up, I had probably <2 minutes until I had to get in the water. Not the best swim warmup when you get the 30 second warning as you are jumping off the dock and into the chilly river.
Swim was a “J” where 1/3 was upstream and 2/3 downstream, with very little current. Water temp was cold but not uncomfortable, in the high 60s. I am a middle of pack swimmer in most bigger races; got out at my average pace and swam in a somewhat straight line to the turn, and through to the end. Not thrilled with my time but that is a function of lack of consistency through the previous few weeks of training and the resulting lack of fitness for the swim, and that I didn’t push particularly hard but focused on trying to be efficient in this leg of the race. And I am not the fastest swimmer out there. Oh well, pulled myself out of the water and began the couple hundred meter jog to the transition.
SWIM GRADE: (am I supposed to grade myself in these reports?) B-
Transition and Bike
Rolled through T1 and onto the bike and got my feet into my shoes for a pretty quick transition. Within a few miles was into climbing mode J. I made it a point to try and push myself on the bike while trying to moderate HR. In hindsight I probably overextended myself slightly on the first half of the course. Wasn’t hammering up the hills, but was holding HR probably about 10bpm over where I should have been. I have been riding quite a bit more this year though so again, wanted to test myself. Made it a point to ease off slightly in the back half of the ride, to save some juice for the run. Speaking of juice, I drank too much on the ride…lesson learned #2 for the race – make sure you do your nutrition homework to a high level of precision. I drank between 4.5-5 bottles of 285cal Infinit on the ride when 4 would have been about right. I should have known better based on experience, but now I will remember for next race. It is important to pay attention to all the details to set yourself up for success. Finished off the bike with some TIRED legs due to the challenging, hilly course, and a knotted up stomach. Christy yelled “how was the bike” and I replied “I guess we will see soon”; still had the sense of humor anyway! Got out of my shoes before dismount and flew through T2. I think I passed three people in transition that got in just before me, which is always nice…free speed!
BIKE GRADE: A-
NUTRITION GRADE: C-
Running off the bike is a strange sensation if you have never done it before. You need to manage your pace and turnover on your “tired” legs or you will go way too fast out of the gate. Well, within the first 10 steps of the run I knew it was gonna be rough run…I wasn’t running on “tired” legs, I was running on TIRED legs...not a whole lot extra to give. And, I was running on a full/upset stomach, which is about as fun as it sounds. Clipped off the first 3 miles at ~7:00/mi pace, close to where I wanted to be, and from that point had to take what my legs/body would give me. Pace slowed ~45sec/mi depending on the terrain (some long rollers during the middle 6mi of the run) and focused on staying relaxed and regulating body temperature. The one good thing about those plastic water bags is that I grabbed 2-3 at every aid station and doused my head, top, and arms. The arm coolers I was wearing stayed wet and helped to keep me cool – whether placebo or not, I was getting a benefit. Finally was able to take in some fluid ~11mi into the run, though at that point I probably didn’t even need it. I started to run out of steam at mile 12 and was unfortunately passed by a couple people over the last 2 miles as I slowed a little, but really I was pretty happy that I kept a fairly steady pace for the last 10mi given the heat, my unhappy legs, and the stomach situation. Coming up to the finishing chute is always exhilarating and finished off the run in 1:41ish for an overall time of 5:02+, good for 27th place.
I came out of the race pretty happy with my fitness for early May. I had a few clear areas to work on and since then, training has gone really well. Both Christy and I are pumped for our races this summer so look to hear more about them in the coming weeks!