Little did I know that on the same day I was scheduled to compete in the IronStar Half Ironman Triathlon that myself and 600 other athletes had also signed up to take The Polar Bear Plunge!
As you can probably gather from the intro the theme for the race can be summed up in one word: BURRRRR!
Wake up was at 3:30am. I staggered out of bed and started the coffee and grabbed a bagel and headed to the computer to check Accuweather for the current temperature in Montgomery, TX: 33 Degrees. OMG!
Now I live in South East Texas and surely this could not be accurate so I decided to check the temperature the Old School way and walk out the back door! This little bit of sleuthing confirmed, that in fact, it was freaking cold outside. At this point all I really wanted to do was jump in a lake and swim 1.2 miles (not really).
My parents, sister, and her 3-yr old Daughter were in town visiting and all staying at my house. We decided to take two cars to the race so everyone didn't have to be up at the butt-crack of dawn. So Annie and my mother decided to take the red-eye with me and the others would come up a later.
We got to the race and I ran into my buddies Bobby and Dave. We were all dressed like we were ready to participate in the Alaskan Iditard instead of a Triathlon. Transition was pretty funny because none of us fair weather Texans had any idea on how to dress after the swim? We all sort of walked around and looked at each other. Still really undecided I just left a bunch of layers of clothes laying on the bike and decided to make the call when I hit T1.
|Annie and Jeff|
Swim 1.2 Miles:
The swim started on the east side of the resort. My wave was the 2nd to take off. Due to the large amount of fog on the lake they started the race 10-15 minutes late. This was a good call by the race director because you could barely even see the buoys. The bad part was that we were all standing around FREEZING in 38 degree temperatures. The water was 30 degrees warmer than the air and was much more comfortable to be in then standing on shore.
|I could be at home in my warm bed!|
|Great pic of the craziness of the swim start.|
At this point we were swimming parallel with the resort and I used the shoreline to sight. I really was feeling great at this point and actually started to catch a lot of guys from the first wave. The water was a little cooler this far out in the lake and my face and toes were starting to sting some, but this just motivated me to get out of the water sooner.
We made the final turn and headed for the swim exit. I was extremely please with my swim:
1.2 Mile Swim Time: 36:14
Age Group Rank: 17/62
Pace per 100 yds: 1:43/100
Time Behind AG Leader: 3m 47s
Check out these great pics Annie got of me coming into the swim finish (green cap, center):
|I was telling the teenagers to "Man up" and yank these suckers!|
Normally Transitions would not get a header in a race report but due to the significant amount of time I spent in my two transitions I figured some splanin' was in order. Well, once my wetsuit came off something happened that I have never experienced in triathlon before: I was absolutely freezing, like seriously cold! At this point I decided that I needed some layers, lots and lots of layers. The problem was that I was soaking wet and the clothes did not want to go over the wet body. So I toweled and then tried to place the bike jersey over me again - no luck. More toweling needed. Finally I got on the jersey and next came the wool socks and the shoes and the head band and the gloves and then I did my taxes, washed the dishes, and made a sandwich. Finally it was time to roll.
Transiton 1 Time: 7m 17s
Age Group Rank: 49/62
Man points lost for shivering like a wet dog: MANY
56 Mile Bike:
I have been on this course about a half dozen times over the last few months and have become very familiar with it. The first 23 miles are though the state forest and not a glint of sunshine will be present at this time of morning. It is extremely cold on this section and on a cold day it is even worse - today was no exception because it was bad. Most cyclists were bundled up pretty good but I felt sorry for the ones who were not - you could see the pain in their faces. I tried to give them some encouragement because it had to be miserable.
I was about 30 minutes in and reached back into my jersey to take the first swig of my EFS Liquid Shots AND it was not in my jersey pocket? Seriously, I took a vacation in transition and forgot to grab my gel? This was going to be fun! At least I had my Infinit so it really wasn't that bad.
Overall my first 30 miles were uneventful My plan was to hold a pace around 20.5mph until I got to the 5 mile out and back section. In all my training rides this section always had wind, never blowing in the same direction. Today it was a cross wind coming up from the south east. With my bike big pimping in the rented Zipp 808's I did get blown around some. A couple of the bigger gusts moved me a little but I got used to it real quick.
After I got back to the main road after the turn around the route begins to head back towards the south east. Yep, you guessed it - headwind, and a pretty stout one at that! The last 15 or so miles back were really rough! It is mostly up hill on the way back and that combined with the wind made it fun.
My average speed with 15 miles to go was 20.5mph. My finishing average speed was 19.2mph. Glad I pushed the pace early. Only 8 guys in my AG finished averaging over 20 MPH - the wind and cold beat us all! I was moderately happy during the race with my time but after seeing my AG Ranking I was very pleased.
56 Mile Bike Time: 2:54:44
AG Bike Rank: 13/62
Average Speed: 19.2 MPH
Transition 2: 3:00:06
AG T2 Rank: 32/62
Ok, T2 does not deserve a header. It was still about 2minutes too long but it did take a little time to get the layers off to go run. Oh, and my EFS Liquid Shots were laying in the grass in front of my station. It must have fallen out when I was struggling to get the jersey on over my wet body.
13.1 Mile Run:
|Hi, Thanks for your Cheers!|
I finally made it to the 1 mile rest stop and a lovely volunteer helped me pour ice water on my quads. This really helped and I was able to stumble through the next mile and the quads were starting to loosed. My Garmin vibrated at the 2 mile point and I looked down to see that I had covered 2 miles in a painfully slow 26 minutes. At this point the quads were still sore but not to painful to run. I kept moving forward and was able to keep between an 8-8:30/mi pace for the rest of the run.
The run itself was a 3-loop course navigating through the resort. When I say, "navigating" that is to be taken literally. Seriously, this run course looked like a NYC Subway Map - utter chaos. We ran through 2 different little neighborhoods, across the deck of the hotel pool, across a gravel parking lot, out and back on the rough surrounding a golf course, and then through a waterfall and up a cliff - ok, I may have made up some of that.
The "grass" parts of the course were uneven and I saw two different people trip and fall. I should have worn my trail running shoes instead of my racing flats - but I was moving so damn slow that it didn't really matter. My ankles and sides of my knees are really sore today because of the trail run portion of the run.
13.1 Mile Run Time: 2:01:48
AG Run Rank : 23/62
Average Pace per mile: 9:18
Time Behind AG Leader: :48 minutes
70.3 Finishing Time: 5:43:05
Overall AG Rank: 17/62
My cheering squad: Front - Erika, Bonnie, Me, Carol (Mom), Ava (legs up), Liz, Elizabeth, and Baby Walt
Back - Rick, Bruce (Dad), Jim
My niece Ava!
This was a real fun and extremely well organized race. The course lived up to it's billing as one of the more difficult Half Iron Distance courses in Texas and I would highly recommend this race to anyone. It was also very cool to have my family and friends come out and support me. It is amazing how much some positive words of encouragement can give you that extra boost to keep moving. And a big thank you to all of the blog readers who were out there cheering - it was very cool to hear, "Go Carrot!" a few times! Thanks everyone!
My overall performance was about what I expected. I spent close to 11 minutes in transitions and this was because of the cold - nothing that could be done about that except add it to my overall time (or only race in the summer from now on)!
I am kind of at a loss as to why my quads cramped like they did? I have done much longer swims and rides in training and never had quad cramps. I left my EFS Shots in transition but grabbed extra Gatorade at the handups on the bike to get in extra calories and my intake was right were I had been practicing. And physically, my body felt great during the run, except for my quads. I could of held a much faster pace if my quads would have been right. The only thing that I had never done before was race and/or train in these cold temperatures. And I saw a large number of other guys on the run course having quad issues as well. Now this could be normal because this is only my second half ironman, but everyone else seemed to be attributing it to the cold too? Weird. I just wish I could pinpoint the problem so it does not happen in the future.
But the part that gets me is that between the quads and lengthy transitions I easily left 20-25 minutes on the course. My time was good but could have been much better. Guess I have my motivation for the next race!
Thanks for Reading,