My first Half Ironman is done! This is a write up of the race experience and some lessons learned. 8 months ago, I started the journey to train for a Half Ironman. I wrote down 2 goals on a white board. First, I want to finish top 200. Second, I want to go under 4hours 45min. I smashed the first goal and just barely missed the second one. I am very happy with how I raced.
The swim felt good. I am clearly not as good as I was in college, but my time was only 2min behind the fastest swim of the day. My bike goal was 2:30 which comes out to just over 22mph average. I did better than expected there and was glad there were a ton of people on the course to chase down and ride away from. There were a few choppy segments on the course but overall it was an awesome ride. The run started hot and ended hotter. On a perfect day, I think I could have run 1:35 or better. On this day, I ran 1:50. There was a bit of walking. There was a lot of soul crushing heat. I am thankful for all the fans and volunteers that had kind words and motivation for every athlete on the course. I will be back next year for round 2. I need to show that run course what’s up. My next 70.3 is Chattanooga in May.
For more hot takes, I broke the race down into Pre-Race, Swim, Bike, Run, and Post-Race.
I woke up at about 4:00am. The first bus to transition left around 4:45am and I wanted to double check my transition bag, get some food in, and move around a little bit. I liked getting to transition early, I had plenty of time to set up all my gear and so much space to do it. The bike racks started getting crowded around 6:15am. I got on the bus back to the swim start at 6:20am, put my bag in my car, and got a small jog in to get blood flowing. The swim start was chaotic, with the booming voice of the announcer reading the water temp, 3000 athletes trying to go to the bathroom one more time, and tons of supporters giving their final “good luck”. From 4:00am to 7:50am I consumed: 1 Liter of water, 1 plain bagel, 2 bananas, 2 GU Roctane, and 1 Red Bull.
Should have peed one more time before the swim. The swim was a rolling start, beginning at 7:50am. I was probably within the first 20 people to get into the water. Goal was a 25:00 at an easy effort. The first 500m was moving a bit too quick so I backed off a little. Most of the athletes were swimming to the far left, almost hugging the buoys. I stuck to the right side, less traffic, I didn’t have to worry about the bridges, and it was a straight shot from the 5th yellow buoy to the final red buoy. I was very happy with how the swim came out. Transition to the bike was easy. Cap and goggles off, helmet on, ate a fun size snickers, grabbed my bike and jogged to the mount line.
100% almost crashed out of the race in the first 30 seconds. I had a pretty good mount, started pedaling to break the elastic bands on my shoes, and got up to speed. I reached down to my right side to slip my foot in and at the same time, my left hand came off the bars. That jacked my adrenaline right up, had a quick recovery and went a bit slower to get the left foot in. My goal over the bike was to hold 18:30 per 7mi split. 8 splits at that pace is just under 2:30. The bike went exactly as expected. My nutrition plan for the bike was 1 GU Roctane at 7mi and every 14mi after, 24oz of liquid (half water, half body armor, 1 scoop of tailwind) every 50min, and 1 stick of a kit-kat every 15mi. I held that nutrition plan perfectly and felt very prepared for the run. Bike to Run transition was also smooth and easy. Helmet off, socks and shoes on, number belt on and go.
Hot. I got off the bike 5th in my division and 33rd overall. The goal was to hold 22min/5k, the sun had a different plan for me. The temperature was above 90 to start the run and only got hotter. My splits went: 22:01, 25:09, 27:31, 32:29. I think if the weather stayed below 85, I would have been able to hold the 22min/5k goal. I was backing off the pace every mile to try and bring the HR down, but it kept climbing from the heat. At one point I think I had 40lbs of ice in my tri kit. I am very happy with how the race ended up even though my run absolutely exploded. I finished 14th in the division and 103rd overall. Finish Time: 4:46
Bike check out did not open until 2:30 pm and I finished around 12:30pm. With 2 hours to kill, I hung out in the athlete area and ate close to my body weight in pizza, had a beer, and drank about half a gallon of water. There was a massage tent that I went to as well which was fantastic. After I ate, the next goal was cooling my body down. I made my way back to the hotel to use the pool for about 20min. Bike check opened shortly after and I want picked up everything. On the way home I made sure to stop every 20 miles to stand up and move a little bit. I felt pretty beat up on Monday, but the real muscle soreness came in hard Tuesday. I will take 1 more day nice and easy before I ramp up training ahead of the New York City Marathon in November.