Thursday, September 12, 2013

Toughman Half : Part 1

It's hard to believe that half Ironman training is over, just like that. Poof, one exhausting morning/afternoon and my months of training are over. Well, that's not true but it feels that way. Just like after every marathon cycle, I have that "what do I do now?" feeling. You didn't come here to read about my post-race slump, however, you came to hear about those 6 uphill hours that were the icing on the cake of 4 months of training.
The swim:
As usual I had no plans to wear a wetsuit and despite 15 mins of getting stares (I kid you not, someone pointed at me and whispered to a friend) because I stuck out like an albino dolphin in a pod of Orcas, I have no regrets about my decision. I stood there among the wetsuited, fielding stupid questions and comments from idiots who said "I could never swim without one, it's my security blanket" (do they wear them in the pool? I don't get it) and "why don't you wear a wetsuit?" My response to that is always simple: I don't need one. The proof is in the numbers, I placed 4th in my age group for the swim. The swim was warm (72-74 degrees) and a little murky. We had to walk/run out probably 150 yds before being able to dive in and swim. The field was spread way out and I didn't experience that washing machine feeling at all. Whew, it was nice not to get smacked by a flailing orca. I suspect that this was due to a combination of smallish waves and the fact that the buoys appeared to be drifting hard to the left. The course is a "V" with the point of the V being the turn buoy, which I made a beeline for while many others hugged the drifting buoys. Everyone commented on how close it looked and I'm not sure if it was an optical illusion, but my watch clocked the swim at 0.86mi vs 1.2 mi, but it's not always that accurate. Oh well, I swam it in around 25mins and only whacked one guy on the side of the head. He popped up to look around and I accidentally gave him a slap on the side of the head, it made me laugh underwater and still makes me giggle. I ran out of the water (another long walk through the muck from 150yds out!) and charged into transition. I noticed with a little bit of glee that there were no wetsuit strippers. They're part of the wetsuit cheating scheme, no one's ever helped me change my outfit in transition...
T1: As usual my transitions were too slow, I try to hurry, but I worry about forgetting something so I just use the time to catch my breath and make sure I have everything I need.
The Bike:
I dropped off my bike in transition the day before the race and was glad to not have to worry about it early Sunday morning, but riding home on Saturday gave me a chance to preview the southern section of the bike course, so I had an idea of what I was getting into. The first uphill, which we did twice, was a steady, long 8% grade. On Saturday I saw an oil truck struggling up it with his flashers on, so I knew to get into an easy gear pretty quickly and hang on. I felt great as I headed up the hill and south for the several miles to the turnaround. The course consisted of two 28 mi loops on RT9A from Briarcliff to the south up to Peekskill at the northern turnaround. The section heading north was great, there was the downhill on the 8% grade (Weeee!) and then a somewhat flat section for several miles with views of the river to the west and some cliffs in Peekskill (I think) to the north. Much of the road heading north was smooth and the hills felt like speed bumps in comparison to the big hill. I made a friend at the first southern turnaround and we chatted for a few minutes while we recovered from the first big ass hill and we met again in the exact same spot on the second loop and stayed together for quite a while. We were working hard, but it was really nice to talk to someone other than myself! I mentioned that my knee was bothering me and she offered to pray for me and my knee. The Atheist in me stepped aside and I thanked her for her really sweet gesture. I really enjoyed talking to her and was glad to bump into her again later on the run. Thanks for the company, Carolyn!
It's kind of funny, going into the training I was most concerned about the bike. Was I really going to be able to do those LONG training rides and not be a complete poke? I mean, I'm pretty fucking slow on the bike because I'm either daydreaming, sightseeing or just worried that I'm doing something wrong or I'm going to fall over. After months of training and actually enjoying the long rides for their solitude and scenery, I went into this race without a thinking twice about the bike ride. I was ready, I knew I could do it and I really enjoyed it. Now, it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns, I actually had to take my inhaler around mile 48 because I had tightness at the top of my inhalations and felt weird, but it eased up a bit after two puffs (the first one landed on my upper lip, eww). I also had a lot of knee pain from the nagging hip and ITB tightness I've been working on and holy crap were my neck and shoulders painful!
I'm really proud of my ride though, I placed 12th in my age group (out of 24) in 3:30 or so and I rode on my aerobars nearly all of the flat and downhill sections of the race. They're so much fun!
While I think my fueling was really good while I was riding, I think it contributed to the rough run I had, but we'll get to that.
56.3 mi, elevation gained (and lost) 3,218.5 ft
Avg speed 16.0 (the range is crazy) with Max speed of 37.7mph! Wow, that's fast!! 

Next time: the run and the elusive burp.

posted from Bloggeroid

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