Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Route 66 Half Iron Race Report

I needed a 70.3 before IMWI in September and I did not feel like traveling to Racine, Muncie or Steelhead. So, I was thrilled (somewhat) that there was going to be a 70.3 about 90 minutes from St. Louis. The Route 66 Half Iron Triathlon in Springfield, Illinois. I was not thrilled about racing in July but the weather ended up surprising everyone.

As usual everyone wanted to know if the race would be wetsuit legal. Really? A lake in the midwest in the summer wetsuit legal? Yeah Right. I was worried about the opposite, the water being too warm. When race day was finally close enough to be in the 10 day forecast it didn't seem to bad...low 80s for a high. I was still a little worried about how my body would handle the heat and how easy I'd have to take it. Then the RD posted the water temperature...89 degrees. Not the ideal swimming temperature.

I kept checking the forecast and the high temperature kept dropping until it was 77, I think. The low temperatures that week were very low as well. I thought this was going to turn out to be the ideal conditions for a race. Three or Four days before the race the water had dropped to 87. Not as bad as 89 but still fairly warm.

When packing for the race, I realized it was going to be in the 50s on race morning and I might need a jacket. It seemed like a dream...I need a jacket in July? At packet pickup the water temperature was down to 81...wow! Crap, why didn't I bring my wetsuit? The nurse was also racing and we were both worried about being cold on the bike.

Then on race morning they announced the race would be wetsuit legal...are you kidding? In July? Whats going on here? I don't really care, last summer sucked. It was in the 100s for at least a month. I don't remember the last time there was a summer this "cool" where I've lived. Even though the race was wetsuit legal you weren't eligible for awards if you wore one. Since I still weigh 221, I figured I might have a shot at placing as a clydesdale so I wouldn't have worn one.

Pre Race:

The Nurse and I headed down to transition from the hotel all bundled up for the cold summer morning. We both got our stuff set up and just barely made it before a giant swarm of racers hit body marking. I walked down to listen to the prerace meeting which was barely pre race. I was in the first wave and they were starting the race at 7 no matter what. They waited so long for the briefing that not everyone made it into the water before the horn went off.

Swim: 41:01

Not my best swim but I'd like to think I was taking it easy. I'm still drifting to my right when I swim for some reason. The water was slightly choppy and most people thought the swim was really choppy. Given the OWS back in June and the Angry Ocean Triathlon I did last year, this water was a piece of cake. Not much to say about the swim. Tried to draft but failed. I was drafted off but they kept hitting my legs and I was getting pissed so I slowed down and moved over. Seriously people, I can understand hitting someone's legs once or twice if you're trying to draft but if you're going to do it over and over, GO AROUND and STOP DRAFTING. It's not like I'm a fast swimmer. There are 60 people in our wave, it's not that crowded. Ruining my kick and body position is not good for either of us. It can't be good for your stroke either.

Bike: 2:56:21, just barely 19 mph...19.01

The bike course was mostly flat with a lot of crappy roads. There was a sign that said "Enjoy The Mother Road." (Apparently Route 66 is known as "The Mother Road.") Yes, Thanks, I'll enjoy your crappy roads. The only problem with flat courses is wind. When you get the tailwind first, the strength of the headwind it difficult to determine. I suspect I could have gone a little faster with the tailwind but, I'm happy with the way things turned out.

I felt really good on the bike and did a great job of keeping my heart rate down. The low temperatures made it a bit easier. I even put my arm coolers on just to have something dry on my body in an attempt to stay warm. My goal was to keep the bike under 3 hours. I was averaging about 19.5 mph until the last 10-15 miles. The wind picked up and it was in my face for the rest of the ride. I managed to keep my pace high enough and my HR at a decent enough level to feel pretty good getting off the bike.

A couple of interesting things I noticed on the bike...

-Grabbing a water bottle at 20 mph is fairly dangerous. I didn't realize how fast I was going until I grabbed the bottle. I slowed down a little at the next exchanges.

-There must have been a decent number of first timers or people who don't know how to pace. I was surprised at how many people passed me between miles 5 and 15 only to re-pass them in the next 5-10 miles and never see them again.

-I drank too much water on the bike and thanks to the cooler temperatures I peed THREE times...the first, second and third times I've peed on a bike. It's not as hard as I thought it would be. The hardest part was checking to see how close the person behind me was.

I hit transition and took my time getting ready to run. It was no surprise when I had to pee again. I think the only thing that went wrong in this race was having to wait a minute for the port-a-potty.

Then I was off and running.

Run: wait for it

I felt good starting the run but things got off to a bad start. I popped a salt pill right after the bathroom without realizing I didn't have any water. I figured I could run with it under my tongue until the first mile but about 2 minutes later it opened in my mouth. I started coughing but kept running. I had been trying to save up saliva so I could swallow the pill so my mouth was back to normal pretty quickly. Amazingly, that was the worst part of the run.

Due to the bathroom break I wasn't quite sure of my pace so, I settled into what felt comfortable. My HR monitor decided not to work after the bike so that wasn't any help. It turned out that my lack of HR info was a good thing. After I hit the first mile, I watched my pace for a bit and noticed I had settled in at about 9:50. Knowing how my running goes, I thought this was a bit too fast. However, I also wanted to break 6 hours and I had 2:18 to do it. Somewhere between miles 2 and 3 I decided I was going to hold this pace for as long as I could. It was sub 6 or bust.

Strangely, my pace kept getting faster and I was feeling great after 5 miles between 9:18 and 9:38. I think around mile 4 there were a bunch of guys hanging out in the front yard with a football. It was clear one of them wanted to throw a pass to a runner. So, I raised up my hands like I was open and he threw it. I caught it and threw it back, I felt spectacular after that.

The run course was mostly flat but there was some little hills. I kept wondering which one I would blow up on. I couldn't believe that I held sub 10 minute miles for 9.5-10 miles. I also couldn't believe I had 4 gels on the run without and GI issues.

Up until that point I thought I might be able to PR for a half marathon. The slowdown was on a gradual uphill but I was determined to hold it together. I passed someone from the tri club but we stayed close enough to chat for a bit. He passed me after the last turn around and slowly pulled away. I was running 11 minutes miles at that point but I felt Okay. I think the only thing that kept me running was knowing I was going to go sub 6. With a little less than a mile to go, there were some tri club peoples screaming and cheering for me. It was a great boost and I picked up the pace again. It started to hurt. I knew I could walk the rest of the way and stay sub 6 but there was no way in hell I was going to walk after having that great of a run. I crossed the bridge and rounded the corner. The clock said 5:53:30...holy shit, I'll be under 5:54. I couldn't believe it. I crossed the line at 5:53:48 and ran my second fastest half marathon in 2:11:42. Then my body hurt for a couple hours.

Run: 2:11:42

Race Time 5:53:48

I can't figure out why it's rotated.

It took four 70.3s to finally have a nearly perfect one. Although I think I just got lucky with the temperature being so low. Oh well, they don't show the temperature in the race results.

They also gave us some nifty socks

Sadly, I missed the podium by 4 minutes. I was a minute ahead of the 3rd place guy after the bike (I had no idea who he was) but, he ran 5 minutes faster than I did. I don't think there was any way I could have run faster. I probably could have made up 3-4 minutes on the bike if I used the tailwinds a bit better. There was also the ~1 minute bathroom break. No matter, I'll take a 1 hour and 25 minute PR any day.