Thursday, July 29, 2010

Steelhead 70.3 Ironman – July 31, 2010

I’m racing this Saturday in Benton Harbor, Michigan at the Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Ironman . This will be my second 70.3 Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) in three weeks. After this I’m taking some time off. We’re going to accompany our daughter Christie to London in early September – she’s restarting her fashion education at the Central St. Martins College of Art & Design – so I won’t be racing again until after we return.

Here is what I did at the Musselman 70.3 Triathlon and my goal for Steelhead:

                                   Musselman                 Steelhead - Goal

Swim                                41:43                         38:00
Transition                           2:50                           3:00
Bike                               3:07:26                     2:58:00
                                      (18.0 mph)                 (19.0 mph) 
Transition                          4:07                             3:00
Run                              2:25:34                        2:05:00
                                     (11:07/mile)                  (9:32/mile)
---------------           --------------------               ------------------- 
Total                            6:21:40                          5:47:00

I’m ready for the race. I’ve had some good training sessions especially those early morning group bike rides with Craig Strong when I have to get up at 4:30 to make it to the group start. I’m getting very good at riding in the dark.

Now I know I can finish a half-Ironman so this time I will try and be more aggressive on the swim and bike. The swim course is more or less a straight line so there’s a pretty good chance I won’t get lost this time.

And the run course is reasonably flat – no cliffs to scale like at Musselman – and the weather should be cooler. There’s a fifty percent chance of rain, but I’d settle for cool and cloudy.

I will report on the results next Monday.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Musselman Half-Ironman

Before the Race

I finished my two weeks at the Skidmore New York State Writers Conference on Friday and drove the two hundred miles back to my mom’s house in Skaneateles.

It was my plan to post my anticipated (or perhaps hoped for) results for the upcoming Musselman Half-Ironman Triathlon on Saturday before the Sunday race. But Saturday I had to drive forty miles over to Geneva, pick up the race packet, attend a pre-race briefing meeting, go to the local bike shop and get my bike tuned up and then drive the 56 mile bike course so I would have some idea what to expect on the bike segment. By the time I got back from Geneva I had to go to bed so I could get up at 4 am and drive back for the race. So there was no pre-race blog predicting how I would do.

If there had been, I would have reported that my hope was to finish the race in 6 hours. If I swam straight I should be able to get out of the water and on the bike in 45 minutes. If I could finish the 56 mile bike course in about three hours and ten minutes that would leave me two hours and five minutes to complete the thirteen mile run. Earlier this year I ran the Wisconsin Half-Marathon in1 hour 48 minutes. So I thought six hours was possible.

But it wasn’t. Not this time anyway.

I had a good swim. Started slowly and really concentrated on swimming from buoy to buoy. When we got to the channel (the first half was in the lake the second half in the boat channel) I picked up the pace. Passed a number of swimmers and was on the beach in 41 minutes and on the bike in under 45 minutes.

The bike segment was actually fun. Beautiful scenery, much of it along the shores of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, and the breezes were favorable. There were some hills, but not as steep as I had encountered in the last couple of weeks while I was riding around Saratoga. I finished the bike segment in three hours seven minutes, which was 18 mph – better than I had done at Keuka at half the distance. I was on target to finish in under six hours.

I didn’t actually feel too bad after getting off the bike. I had been worried that I might not even be able to stand up straight, but I felt okay. I just didn’t feel like running 13 miles in 98 degree heat . Okay it was only 85, but it was a really hot 85 and there were no clouds.

I started out running nine minute miles, but slowed to ten and then we left the lake and started climbing. I was worried that I would cramp up, but I didn’t. Probably because I was running so slow. It took me over 13 minutes to finish mile 8, which was a ten thousand foot climb over steaming hot asphalt with no shade.

Well, at least that is how it felt. According to the map it was only an 800 foot climb. Whatever it was I was really happy to see that next aid station. Water never tasted so good.

After mile eight we started back towards the lake and the finish line. I was able to pick up the pace, but was still only running at a 10 to 11 minute/mile pace.

I finished the run course in 2 hours 25 minutes. My total race time was 6 hours 21 minutes 40 seconds. I was 497th out of about 800 other crazy people. 14th out of 28th in my age group. But those old guys are really hardcore - hard to beat them.

It was a well run race and the crowds all along the course were really supportive. I especially appreciated those folks with the garden hoses.

I didn't finish with the time I had hoped for, but I was satisfied for my first race at that distance.

I’m supposed to compete in the Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Ironman in Benton Harbor, Michigan on July 31st. I wasn’t looking forward to that race when I finished on Sunday. But two days later, I don’t know. I might be ready. And six hours? Maybe.

At the Finish Line

(It doesn't appear that I'm actually running, but I am. Sort of.)