Monday, May 17, 2010

Race Report: Impulsive HIM

Another Very Cool Texas themed Finisher's Medal

First a shout out to KC @ 140 Point 6 Miles and Mandy @ Caratunk Girl for having great races this weekend.  Do yourself a favor and check out their Race Reports!

TexasMan Long Distance 70.3, Lake Ray Roberts, Denton Texas, Race Report:

Okay, this was my first HIM which I registered for about 2.5 weeks ago (hence the header).  I didn't train specifically for this race and new very little about it since it was the first year this group was holding a half iron distance along with the normal Sprint and Olympic distance.  As a matter of fact, I have never even been to this part of Texas before.  But I had a buddy doing it and it was cheap (for a 70.3) AND I am by nature, Impulsive. Here we go:

Saturday Before the Race:

After a nice little 5 hours in the car listening to XM radio I finally arrived at my hotel in Denton.  **Minor Rant Sidebar - I know Kelly Clarkson is a major recording artist and all but she must have nude pics of the XM Radio President because she is on every freaking station.  At one point she was on 4 stations at one time.  Enough XM, Enough!  End Rant **  My buddy Bobby (He has done 4 HIM and 2 IM) from my Tri Club was also doing the race so we decided to make the 20 mile drive north to check out the bike course.  I had read earlier in the week that the bike course had been recently chipped and sealed.  Well, after our ride we realized this report was accurate.  The RD seemed to do a good job of cleaning off the shoulders of debris but it was going to be a bumpy ride. And did I mention the hills? We ain't used to those in Houston!  Then we turned onto a 6 mile stretch of road called North Hemmings.  Oh.My.God.  This road was an extremely rough ride in my car and Bobby and I actually started to laugh at how bad it was going to suck on our bikes.  Here is the bike map with some very fancy photoshop work by yours truly describing the road conditions (N. Hemmings is in Red):

After we got back to Denton we went to the Olive Garden to carb load and meet Bobby's cousin, Vicki, and her mother, Julie.  Vicki was doing the HIM as well and it was also her first HIM.  Very nice people.  After a nice dinner it was back to the hotel early to get some shuteye!


Forecast One Week from Race:  79 Degrees, Overcast, 40-60% Chance of Rain 
Forecast One Day before the Race:  79 Degrees, Overcast, 40-60% Chance of Rain
Forecast Three Hours before the Race: 79 Degrees, Overcast, 40-60% Chance of Rain

Bookmark in your mind until later!

I had a power bar, coffee, and a banana for breakfast.  This led to the most important part of every triathlete's pre-race routine.  This part, which I will not mention, went very well!   Drove to the race site and took in a bottle of Infinit to start the nutrition early and got a great transition spot.  I checked my bike over for any maintenance issues and all looked fine.

Bobby, Vicki and I got into our wetsuits and headed down to the swim start and got in a little out and back to warm up. The water temp was around 68-70 degrees and felt really good.


This was a mass start swim from the beach, but since only like 200 or so people were doing this race it wasn't all that violent! After the singing of the national anthem one of the RD's walked down to the front of the pack and told us that they were going to send off the handicapped athletes first and then we would start a few minutes after.  He did a quick, "3..2..1...go" and about 20 or 30 people started who were not the handicapped athletes.  Everyone sort of looked around at each other and the guy (RD?) up front was yelling to the guys (RDs?) in the back and they finally just said go.  I started my watch and jumped in.

I was feeling very good when about 300-400 meters out I looked up to sight and saw a guy walking next to me???  I slowed down and realized my feet were touching and about 20 other were walking.  We hit a sandbar!!  It was sort of funny and we all made some jokes and before you knew it the sandbar was gone.  I started towards the back of the pack in the swim and passed a few people and got passed a few times but for the most part I had open water and it was very nice.

After the final turn buoy it started to get crowded in the water.  The Olympic Distance began 15 minutes after the HIM Distance and our waves began to intersect probably 500-700 meters from the finish.  I got hit a few times here and did some hitting.  My sighting was good up until this point.  I think I felt the others coming from my right and drifted a little to the left.  I looked up when I was about 300 meters away and realized I need to get back on course.  This probably cost me a minute or two but overall the swim when well.

I ran out of the water and found the closest wetsuit stripper and headed up the trail to my bike.  It was a good  400 meter run and I was feeling great. A couple of people were saying the swim was 200 M long according to their Garmins ... I'd like to believe that (-:.  I looked at my watch and it said I had done the swim in 47:03.  According to the timing results it said my swim time was 50:03?  My guess is they started the clock at the first gun when we all stood around looking at each other on the beach?  Either way I was happy with the swim and still felt really good. Here is the swim map with the sand bar and Oly folks illustrated:


Now the fun begins!  After a quick 3:35 transition I was off and on my way.  I looked down at my bike computer and NOTHING was registering?  At this point I realized that I need this data to help me pace myself over the 56 miles and made the decision to unclip and fix the computer.  I jumped off and checked the connection on the spokes and it was perfect?  WTH?  After a second I toggle through the settings and the whole thing goes dead ... battery is out.  Damn, that battery is only a couple of weeks old and was working fine when I checked it earlier.  Oh well, nothing I can do so back on the bike and it will be riding blind using nothing but RPE!  I should have put on my garmin 305.

The roads were rough and beat the hell out of me.  At times I was really wishing I had dropped the extra coin on a carbon bike and wheels. A couple of miles in I got a horrible pain under my right side rib cage.  It felt like a knife was stuck in me. I think it was because I needed to pee and figured I would stop at the first port-o-potty.  The hills were tough but I actually enjoyed them as they broke up what was an otherwise uneventful ride. Until I got to N. Hemmings, man was this brutal.  My average speed couldn't have been more than 13-14 mph on this broken down excuse for a farm road.  They need to bulldoze this sucker and start over.  At this point I was dreading coming through here again.  Everything was going fine as I finished the first loop and all the Oly people left the course. It really spread out the field after that and a lot of the ride was done alone at this point. It was here when I realized not a single port-o-potty was on the bike course and decided to go pee on the bike.  I tried, it didn't happen - I refuse to practice this - and the pee would have to wait.  I passed a guy shortly after that and he told me it was 9:30am and we were at mile 28ish.  I did some quick math and figured that was about a 19mph average.  My legs were feeling good and I figured if I could keep this place it would put me in around 3 hours.

Then it happened.  Remember that "Forecast" I mentioned above?  Well, they missed it, they missed it bad.  The sun came out and it came out with a vengeance I tell you.  It started to get hot and humid.  To the tune of 90 degrees.  Well, this wasn't the worst part.  I was on that yellow part above on the bike map labeled "Bad" and I dropped my last bottle of Infinit as I was putting it back. Just slipped right out of my hand.  It was only about 2 miles to the turn around and the bottle could be picked up on the way back.  Yep, you guessed it - the bottle was not there?

I still had enough water but I knew with the heat that I was going to be hurting for sodium and electrolytes.  About a mile before the N. Hemmings Rd turn I was starting to feel a bonk coming on.  N. Hemmings road just destroyed me.  I granny geared the entire part.  Even the flats.  I was wasted and needed some nutrition.  I struggled back to T2 and figured that I had Gatorade and GU packs in my run belt and could slowly get my energy back.  I was also starting to feel the lack of sodium as my quads were getting tight (foreshadowing).  I was hoping for a 3:06-3:10 bike and ended up with 3:19.


Okay, my ass (literally) was extremely excited to be off the rocky roads and my Brooks felt so great on my feet.  I strapped on my Nathan's Hydration Belt and grabbed the GU pack I had sitting in transition.  I was down but not out.  According to the race packet they were going to have Powerade (Electrolytes), Salt Tablets (Sodium) and water at all the aid stations.  Right outside of T2 they had the first aid station set-up.  I ran up and the nice volunteer informed me they only had ice but another station was a mile up the trail.  I asked her where a port-a-potty was located and she said she did not know.  A girl next to me was upset about this and we ran off together.  She said, "I really have to go!"  I replied with, "Me Too!!" She replied in a sarcastic tone, "It is a lot easier for you, go find a tree!"  I ran off the trail into the woods and took the best pee of my life and the pain in my ribs went away!   Go figure?

Now I am passing Aid Station #2 and my quads are getting really tight and of course they only have water.  WTF?  Mr. RD it is 90 degrees out and you have 200 athletes on the course in need of some nutrition! I needed Electrolytes and sodium and I needed them bad.  It was about at the 1.2 mile maker and my quads had enough.  They didn't just cramp they went into a complete spasm and it hurt like hell.  I actually sat down on the side of the trail and stretched.  This happened at least 4-5 more times and at every station I stopped and poured ice water on my quads.  It helped a little. My first 4 miles was done in 50 minutes ... ouch.  Aid Station #3 - No Powerade or Salt.  Aid Station #4 - No Powerade or Salt.  Aid Station #5 - Powerade, Salt tabs, pretzels and some tunes to boot!  These guys saved my race.  I took two 400mg tabs and filled my bottle with powerade and took off.  About 5-10 minutes later my quads started to feel better and I ran miles 5-8 in 23 minutes.  Then the quad cramping started again.  I ran up along side another guy and he was walking one of the hills and we started to talk.  His name was Jerry and he offered me a salt pill.  He was my hero!  A couple of minutes later I was able to run at a pretty good pace and made it back to the #5 Station for some more salt and caught up to Vicki.  She passed me on the run when I stopped to pee in the woods and I was trying to run her down the rest of the race.

Vicki and I ran the last 3 miles together and pushed each other until the finish.  Total 13.1 Mile Run Split: 2:30:27.  Garmin time: 2:08:xx ... auto-pause was on so the Garmin shows how much time I wasted (22 minutes) stretching and at Aid Stations!

Total finish time was 6:46:41.   Followed by the best slices of Pizza ever!


- Finishers T-shirts (tech) and socks.
- Cool Finishers Medal.
- Really great and supportive Volunteers.
- Decent Post Race Party.
- Good Swim Venue.
- Jerry and his extra Sodium Tablet! Jerry if you read this - You are the man!

- Poor Bike Course Road Conditions especially N. Hemmings.
- Weather and Forecast.
- Lack of PowerAde and Sodium Tablets especially with the high temps.
- No Outhouses on Bike or Swim Course.

What did I learn about racing a 70.3?
- Never Trust a Weather Forecast.
- Never Trust a Bike Computer Battery.
- Bring Extra Nutrition on the Bike and if you drop your last bottle stop and pick it up.
- When you think you need to Pee, then stop and go Pee, or learn to do it on the Bike.
- I sweat a lot.  Up my Sodium on my Infinit mix and add Sodium to my Hydration.
- Never do Another Long Course Triathlon in Texas after the Month of April - Gets too Damn Hot Here!

This was an extremely difficult race mainly because of the heat and humidity BUT I had a great time? I am beginning to think I am a little sadistic because the races that I face the most adversity (aka: pain) are the ones I seem to appreciate the most (50K Trail Run)?  Even though my performance was not as good as I wanted I still had an awesome experience.   The frustrating thing to me is that I still had a lot left in the tank when I finished. My legs just broke down.  And I actually feel pretty darn good today as well. I believe my limiting factor was not conditioning as much as it was my nutrition intake.  Does dropping the one bottle of Infinit make me not Bonk?  Does having PowerAde or Sodium on the run course prevent the quad cramps?  Only way to find out is to nail it next time!

Anyway, Would I do this race again?  No.  Mainly because of the roads. The lake is a great location for the swim and the run was a good course but the roads are just too rough.  I'd probably do the Sprint at this location but nothing longer.  Overall, it was a pretty decent put together race but the RD must have put to much faith into the weather forecast and the lack of nutrition on the course was disappointing.  I saw two ambulances during the run taking athletes away and many others really struggling because of the heat and lack of nutritional support.  Lots of complaints on the run from people about this.

Wow, just looked at the preview and I apologize for the length of this race report.  Time to wrap it up.

June 21st is when I begin training for the IronStar 70.3.  That is about 5 weeks away so my goal until that time to gain 10-15 pounds!

Thanks for Reading,



  1. Woohoo! Congrats on your race! I think you did awesome considering the circumstances!

    I can't pee on the bike either...I just can't! Oh, and I am a firm believer in having more nutrition in a race than I need b/c you just never know how the day will unfold. That sucks that the aid stations weren't properly stocked, but you made it through! :)

  2. Congrats on finishing despite all the challenges. Lessons learned! Good for you for being so positive about it. Loved this race report! The "go find a tree" comment made me crack up! You men are lucky.

    And a sandbank? How random!

  3. Dude I love the map. Amazing. Congrats on your first HIM. I'll tell you what - though I have no direct experience in this I would bet that now you have one done (regardless of your issues, etc.), the next one will be so much easier to execute, psychologically speaking. I think yesterday was an important day in your career. Well played.

  4. First of all, congrats on your finish!

    I can't imagine having to pee on the bike. I read about it all the time, but I think I would have a hard time concentrating on peeing an pedaling at the same time. Heck, I can't even pee when I am swimming.

    Talk about swimming, I had to laugh when you said you looked up and saw a guy walking.

    Hopefully they will learn a lot from their first 70.3 event and set up their aid stations appropriately next time.

    Btw, a mountain bike may be a better choice for those roads!!!

  5. You DID IT. Way to go. For all the cramps and lack of stuff at different stations I bet you are very proud of yourself. Fantastic job.

  6. Awesome job Jeff! Nice race report too. Funny how having the "Best pee of your life" cured your issues. Hilarious!

    So now that you have experienced both short and long courses, what do you like better?

  7. Great job! Congratilations...I learned a lot about your race report...and will try to avoid in my next 70.3 IM uring this year...when not yet decided!

    Great job!

    Cheers from Hong Kong!

    "XTB" Xavi.

  8. Good race
    Great Lessons!!!
    You are exactly right, expect the unexpected. It is tuff but possible.
    Also, you now have a flavor of what a tuff IM day can bring and this is psychologically a very important deposit for your BANK account!
    Congrats and Cheers!!

  9. Congratulations! You did really well in not perfect conditions. Very nice report! Goal to gain weight...I'm on the exact opposite.

  10. Wow! Jeff, if you did that race in those hellish conditions, you can do anything! Congratulations for hanging in there during those tough parts that challenged you mentally and physically. That map of the bike course cracked me up. I was showing to my husband and I told him that this is one race i'm never doing unless like you said, they bulldozer it and build a new road. Even though it was an impulse decision to do it, I would have done the same thing too. What a great experience in the sense that now you have experienced some of the worst conditions and know that you can handle them succesfully. Maybe not as fast but you did it; you finished on your own two feet and for that, you should be stoked. Looks like you had a comfortable swim too which is great since you weren't able to do that at the last race. The race medal is awesome. I like how they incorporated the 2 boots, a horseshoe and the small cowboy hat in it. By the way, your wellsphere blooger pic and your profile pic look like 2 different people now that you are so much leaner. I'm jealous, you already have a next goal. I've been going crazy the last few days trying to find the next one. I'm hooked!

  11. Hi Jeff,
    Congrats on a great race! I think you did great considering all the circumstances:) I really have a feeling that you will continue to see improvements and that you will be knocking time off of your events...for sure! You should feel pretty proud of yourself! Nice work Jeff!

  12. First Congrats JEff on finishing you 1st HIM in those conditions! That is something to be very proud of. 2nd I am reminded never to complain about heat to you and KC since I live in NY and hearing about this FL and TX temps sounds crazy. Not sure my body can handle those temps. IT sounds like you were nailing the race. It looks like poor weather and road conditions did you in and plus the fact nutrition was probably messed up with the lose of liquids. If you look at the number of things that went wrong and the heat and nutrition this sounds like you still did a great job! Congrats!!!! so when is the first ironman???? J/k relax for now :) since you still have another HIM :)

  13. Awesome!! Love that medal -- so cool. Not sure I could have survived that bike route without a portapotty!! Congratulations!

  14. Congrats Jeff, you made it sound easy! Everytime I read a race report I a get excited about my half!

    So now, can expect an impromtu Ironman?

  15. Jeff, SWEET JOB MAN! You were all over that thing! This was a perfect first HIM for you. You did not kill it, which means you have found your areas that need improvement and you will work on them and kill the next one.

    I think this was a great learning experience for you which is why I have the same thoughts about just doing one FOR FUN and learning about my body during the race. You learned that you needed a certain nutrition to keep going.

    This race was worth its weight in gold for the knowledge gained.

    Great job and way to stick it out!!!

  16. Jeff-
    Congrats on finishing the race - especially in those conditions!! Nice job hammering out the bike and the run, impressive.

  17. Oh man, what a race. Congrats on conquering it! Cool medal. Love the hand-labeled map.

  18. great job sticking it out and finihsing! Never underestimate the nutrition! I am a heavy sweather and learned on my first run race, more is better! And don't rely on the race organizers! Awesome job on an impulsive half IM!

  19. LOL, I still remember the night when I got the email "I been drinking and I am a mouse click away from signing up for a HIM"

    Congrats my friend.

    Did you get your half tattoo, after your next him, you can finish the other half.

  20. Congrats for finishing a tough race! Sometimes it goes smoothly and sometimes it just goes. Great job for sticking with it and doing well - my heart was in my stomach when you said you dropped your Infinit!

  21. wow, you kept me on the edge of my seat as I read about the dropped water bottle then search for the right energy to refuel...happy it all worked out! Congrats!

    I have such a one track mind, the first thing I thought of when I saw your race medal is that is looked like chocolate.

  22. I could feel your agony on that run! That was a tough break--too bad there were no bottle exchanges on the bike; that could have saved you. Way to rally under those conditions!

  23. ok
    seriously sweet medal. I wonder if I can buy one on eBay?

    sounds like an insane race.

    way to go. amazing.

  24. Congrats on a great finish in some super tough conditions! Awesome race report - I loved it. The maps are great, I really love the bike map. Ouch. I could feel your pain on the run, with your quads cramping and you just dying for some fuel. That sucks, but way to get through it. Three cheers for Jerry! I can't pee on the bike either - I haven't really tried too hard either though...

  25. Jeff,

    Even though there were parts of this race that were less than "optimal", overall I think you learned a lot about yourself and the distance. I'd consider this a success.

  26. Congrats Jeff! It sounds like that despite a really tough course you did well and kept it all together. Positive attitude!!

  27. Congrats Jeff on a a great race! Every race is immeasurable in the lessons learned. Way to stick with it and finish strong.

    As for peeing on the bike, sometimes it doesn't always work the first time, but try standing up and stop peddling, oh and don't forget to think about running water. You may coast awhile but it's still better than stopping. Good luck next time.

    Great race man for doing it on a whim, keep up the good work.

  28. Jeff - what an adventure for your first HIM!!! I think you'll find that every race has its own flavor. Something interesting happens each and every race, and I guess that's what keeps us racing, eh?!
    I love the race report, with its ups and downs. Keep 'em coming!!

  29. Wow, that sounds like QUITE the race. Congrats on getting it done. I know a lot of people that would've stopped after the first quad spasm. Inspiring :)

  30. Thanks for the comments everyone!

  31. I cannot believe you did a HIM with only 2.5 weeks of "training". I love it! A few years ago I did a marathon and didn't train for it. I signed up right before the race. funny funny!

    btw---I do p90x too, combined with HIM and IM training. It's just the perfect mix of insanity and training.

  32. Congratulations on finishing your first HIM! Those sound like incredibly tough conditions.