Monday, July 20, 2009

Door County Half Iron Distance Triathlon - Long Report

My goal for this post is to make it as long as possible so it takes you the same amount of time to read it as it took me to finish. (That fulfills D's request - I aim to please.)

We got to the house we stay at in Door County, Wisconsin, unloaded all the clothes and junk and then I drove across the peninsula to pick up my race packet and go for a short swim. I decided to use a full wet suit as it was pretty fricking cold last year - water temp was estimated to be about 60 degrees. As I was walking up to get my stuff I caught part of the pre-race presentation. 

Apparently, the sprint (which was held earlier on Saturday) had such horrible swim conditions - heavy chop and cold water - that they shortened it from 1/4 mile to 1/10 mile. They said they would make the determination on whether or not to hold the full swim in the morning, but assured us they would have a swim - even if it was shortened. 

With that in mind I suited up and hit the water. It wasn't too bad until you got past the pier. It was pretty up and down, but nothing I felt I couldn't swim a full race in. Of course that is me and I would probably swim in a septic tank if I had to. This was the FIRST time I had ever swam in this full suit. It fit great, but felt a little "weird" but I was able to stroke cleanly with little effort. I decided I would race in it, but lowered my expectations and chucked my beginning of the season swim goal and decided to just go for the same time as last year. I figured I would be OK.

The rest of the night was just settling into our abode for the next two weeks. Along the way I forgot to eat lunch. I was getting hungry and downed a bunch of grapes and a big glass or OJ. Later, this combo did not agree with me (if you know my past issues you know what I mean.) Needless to say I wasn't real hungry for dinner so I didn't eat much - even though I tried. I had a nice dessert of a couple of Immodiums.

After we got the kids to bed I mixed up all my liquids and packed my bag so I could get going without waking anyone up. 9:30 - in bed.

I got up about 4:45 and got moving. I slept well for the night before a race and wasn't feeling any stomach issues. I got packed up and on the road about 5:30. Setting up transition went fine. Got marked and stood around. I really hate that part of the race - I am there alone so I have no one to talk to and no where to go really. Finally I got my wetsuit on to warm up - I had to burn off some nervous energy. 

I was the first in the water. The water was no where nearly as choppy as the day before and the temp was about 65. The full swim would be on. I warmed up and as I was bobbing around out by the first buoy another guy swam up. We chatted about the course a little bit, he was a nice guy. I swam back in, made one last check of my transition to make sure nothing was moved, because there were still a lot of empty slots around me when I left. It looked good so I went back to the start to wait. 

The Swim
I started in the first wave. The "elite" wave. To qualify for that all you had to state was whether you were a strong swimmer. I am, so I did. I was a little nervous about a mass start with a bunch of aggressive guys. Don't get me wrong, I can be as aggressive as the next guy, but I was not sure what to expect. It was a little physical at the beginning, but I got through it to the first turn and then it got easier. I told myself to take it easy and just get through the swim, not to push it too hard. It was really feeling good and easy - much better than the swim the week before at Lifetime. 

After the turn for home it got a little sketchy for me. I started to catch a few people and others started to have problems tracking. I got pinched off by a couple of guys two or three times and had to stop to get away from them. Kind of pissed me off. 

My exit this year was flawless. I hit sand with my hand twice, stood and ran up the ramp. I skipped the strippers again and got to my bike. I checked my watch and it said :31. I struggled to get my wetsuit off and after being head down trying to get the damn thing off my foot I felt a little lightheaded. I finally got the thing off, grabbed my bike stuff and was off. I got on the road and struggled a little to get my shoes on again, but nothing major. I did pull out the short toe strap so I had to fish that in on the fly, but I had so much practice I did it without a problem.

The Bike
I got settled in on the bike and it went way better than last year. Initially, I thought I was going to have problems because my shoulders were so tight and sore when I was in my aero bars that I was thinking I might have ride on the brake hoods. Once I got warmed up it was all good. 

The ride was pretty funny - to me anyway. Riding trough rural Wisconsin you see a lot of crazy shit. I had to dodge a dead porcupine in the middle of the road. I'll tell you what, if someone didn't see that thing and hit it they were in for a world of hurt - those quills looky nasty. I passed a field of cows who looked at me as I went by and mooed. A few miles later I dodged a dead raccoon in the middle of the road - that was just gross with guts and broken teeth and other assorted gore. Still further on I saw two adult wild turkeys with about a dozen chicks crossing the road. When I shifted, the noise startled them and they bolted across the road in a quick hurry.

At about the half-way point there is a small loop that we do. My family was camped at the common corner so they got to see me go by twice. The second time by they were able to count the people ahead of me. I was 19th at this point. I am never 19th!

Now what race in rural Wisconsin would be complete without a near death encounter with a tractor pulling a massive plow?

Just past halfway we start to double-back so we have bike traffic going both ways. I am making a sharp left and there is a tractor pulling a big disc cultivator that takes up the full width of the road. They stop him to let the bikes behind him get around the corner and then one person waves him on while another waves me on. I start to go through the intersection, realize that he isn't stopping and clamp on both brakes. I was able to keep my balance and not have to unclip, but was bugged that I was almost run over by a fricking tractor. 

I have been feeling good the entire ride and have subsequently forgotten that the last quarter of the course is pretty much all uphill, but kind of sneaky uphill. The legs started to feel it, but the last four miles is back the same way we started and the road is smooth and relatively flat so I was feeling pretty fresh. 

Once again, I had to pee for three-quarters of the bike. Every time I saw a clump of trees or a port-a-potty I thought about stopping, but I didn't want to ruin the good time I was having. My final plan was to sacrifice a fast T2 for a potty break. 

Coming into T2 I had my feet out of my shoes early and was able to make the quick dismount and get my bike racked. As I racked my bike I shook another bike loose and it fell over. I toyed briefly with the thought of picking it up, but I was getting into my running stuff and I still needed to pee. Some guy waiting around for his relay partner was nice enough to re-rack the guys bike, because I probably would have left it. (Isn't racking your bike securely part of your responsibility? I know - karma will kick my ass for even thinking that.) Unfortunately, the port-a-potties are in the opposite direction of the run out so I had to back track. I peed and was on my way. My T2 was twice as long as last year and my T2 last week.

The Run
It started out great. I was feeling fresh and light and was running about 7:25 miles, which is pretty good for me. I felt good through the halfway turn and then ran out of gas. Just past the turn is a fairly long steep hill. Last year I trucked right up, this year I walked in the middle. I was able to get going after only a short walk and was doing alright, but knew my run wasn't going to be what I had hoped for. I was hanging in there, until mile 10. This is "The Bluff." 

Again, last year I just gutted it out and ran up the whole thing. This year I walked the majority of it. I just didn't have that extra gear. At the top, I took my time and walked through the water station and then got back to running. I did great until the middle of mile 12 and I just had to walk again. I only gave myself between two telephone poles and then I got moving. I walked through the last water stop. 

From here on to the finish it's downhill with a very steep downhill at the end. I was able to get the wheels turning and had a good strong finish. I was super excited to see my time on the clock as I was coming in.

The Post Mortem
At the beginning of the season I looked back at last year's races and wrote down some goals. Here are the goals for this race:

Last Year:

Swim - 34:10, Bike - 2:51:58, Run - 1:51:32, Final - 5:20:27

This Year's Goals:

Swim - 30:00, Bike - 2:40:00, Run - 1:45:00

How'd I do?

Swim - 30:10, 18th fastest overall, 5th fastest in AG

Bike - 2:38:07, 73rd fastest overall, 12th fastest in AG - Both not bad considering I don't do much bike training compared to swimming and running.

Run - 1:49:47 - 107th overall, 15th in AG - what can I say? (sad trombone)

I am incredibly happy with 5:02:30. Especially with an incredibly long T2 and an average run.

The swim was a nice surprise especially considering it felt so easy and with the log jam at the end. 

My bike blew me away. Way better than expected. 

I am a little disappointed in the run, but when I looked at my splits I was actually running well at the half way point and not so horribly the last couple of miles, but those two hills absolutely killed me. The run felt way worse than last year and it was still faster, if only by a minute - that says something. 

No GI issues. I was gassy and bloaty during the run, but I just chose some lonely times on the road to let that take care of itself (if you know what I mean - toot, toot.) I may have figured out the cause of my GI problems last week. Every liquid, gel and chew I had all day had caffeine in it. I can't drink a cup of coffee before I run or I have the same problem, so I went caffeine free on everything this race and no problems. I also took three Immodiums when I woke up so that probably helped. 

I will not pee on my bike so don't even suggest it. I have a bashful bladder so peeing in the open might be a challenge as well. 

After over two and a half hours in the saddle I am still waiting to get full feeling back in my "man-root." (I should write romance novels, shouldn't I?)

Here is the tape from the results page:

I will post pictures if anyone got any good ones.


D said...

I'm not reading it because you know the rule: pics or it didn't happen.

Maggs said...

Nice job on the race. And a 1/10 mile swim? Wow, what's the point of that?

NJ said...

You definitely do have some unique ways of saying delicate words! LOL

Congrats on the improvment over last year...aren't you the one who put a comment in someone else's blog to the effect of "don't you love it when it doesn't all feel right, but turns out to be great"

Are you not doing Chisago this weekend since you're on vaca?

Mary said...

Todd, sweet job! Good lord you have got to feel good about that.

Onward to TC Marathon.

No rest for the wicked.

D said...

Since you posted video AND a pic, I decided to read. You had me until the detailed dead animal talk. I'm moving on now.

Charisa said...

NICE job on the race!! Your bike was smoking fast! And the tractor - haha! You do realize though because you were so close to breaking 5 you might have to do another one?! :)

burt c said...

A late congratulations on your success! Great to hear it went so well- I'm impressed.