We arrived in Egg Harbor, WI Thursday afternoon after a long drive (made longer after I got a speeding ticket only an hour into the trip). Thursday night we grabbed some fantastic barbecue at Casey's BBQ in Egg Harbor and just walked around. Beautiful area for sure.
Friday morning we checked out the race site. The lake dropped 20 degrees overnight and was 56 degrees, brrr! Then we drove the run course. It seemed long after not having run a half marathon in over a year. That coupled with the predicted heat made me start getting a little anxious about the run. Friday night I hardly slept a wink. I don't know why, buy I saw just about every hour on the clock.
Swim course pre-buoy
beach at the swim start
Part of the run course
Another run course pic
Part of the run course is shaded
Most of the run course isn't shadedSaturday we drove up to the Maritime Museum then drove through Penisula State Park in the morning then met up with fellow blogger and BT mentor Dave and his really nice family. It's always nice to meet up with online friends and this was no exception. Dave and I were able to talk triathlons and our families talked about who knows what :-). Dave has done a bunch of 70.3's as well as Ironman Wisconsin last year, so this is old hat to him :-). After lunch, Dave and I went to packet pickup then a little s/b/r. We put on our wetsuits and swam out to the first buoys. The water had warmed back up to 74 and was quite pleasant, though a little choppy. After the swim I commented that if the water is that choppy on Sunday, I'm going to have a slow swim, but oddly enough, I wasn't worried about it at all. After the swim, we went for a short 20 minute ride. Dave had some problems with his new Garmin 910xt but once he got that set, he dropped me handily :-). I was working a little harder than I wanted to the day before a race but in hindsight, it was probably the proper intensity. After the ride, we went for a short, "easy" one mile run in 8 minutes! Dave's easy pace, is my fast pace. Once again, probably the perfect pace. That evening I had pizza and beer for dinner then went to bed early. I slept like a brick since I slept so poorly the night before.
Sunday morning I woke up at four a.m., ate a banana and some yogurt, drank a cup of coffee, did my business then fell back into a dead, drooling sleep until my alarm went off at 5:30. Then more coffee, more business then headed to the race site at about six. Parked right next to Dave then headed over to the transition area and set up. Dave and I were in the same wave which didn't leave until 8:33, so we had plenty of time to chit chat about all kinds of stuff. It was really nice and helped keep me from getting nervous at all. This is the first race where I was more worried about the run than the swim, in fact, I wasn't worried about the swim at all even though it would be my first 1.2 mile swim in open water.
Race time was here before we knew it and we worked our way down to the water, sat in the water and did the prerequisite peeing in the wetsuit, got back out when our wave was called, walked through the timing mat, then waded out to the starting gate which was waist deep in the water. Once the horn went off, I started swimming, near the back of the wave and got into a decent grove pretty much right away. I wasn't nervous at all and just got to work. I sighted every other stroke while things were crowded then went to every five strokes after that. Contact was minimal and my sighting was the best yet! It helped they had buoys about every 100 yards. That was also nice because you could see you made progress every five strokes unlike races where the buoys are hundreds of yards apart where you can take 20 strokes and feel like you made no progress. On the long leg back, I could feel the swells in the lake and managed to get in sync with them which made it feel like a current pushing me along. I wondered if the bobbing up and down would be a problem when I stood up, but it wasn't. When I got out, I felt great. I wasn't tired at all and wasn't thinking about the next legs, just about the task at hand, get out of the water, let the strippers take off my wetsuit and head into transition.
Dave and I just before the race start
Headed to the swim start which was in waist deep water
Expected swim time 50 minutes, actual 43:05. Woohoo! Faster than my pool time for 1.2 miles.
The run up to the transition area was really short and the transition area is pretty compact, but not crowded. It made for fast transition times. Socks and shoes on, glasses and helmet and it was time to go. As you will see later, I could have used some sun screen, but if they had volunteers applying it, I missed it.
Expected T1 2-5 minutes, actual 2:01
Time to bike. My goal on the bike was to take in a thousand calories and not go too hard. Every 15 minutes I took a drink of my home made energy drink, then a drink of water. I watched my cadence and tried to keep it about 90 and watched my breathing. Whenever I started breathing too hard, I backed off. I executed the plan, just about perfectly. Early on a woman passed me that was going the perfect pace, so I followed her ( about 5 bike lengths back so as not to draft). She coasted on the downhills and I pedaled so I passed her on the down hills, gave her a rabbit to chase, then when she passed me, I paced off her. It was win-win as far as I was concerned. We ended up chatting a bit then she blamed me for pushing her too hard and proceeded to drop me :-). The route was beautiful, along the lake on the way out, then through farm fields for the rest. I felt great the entire ride, no knee pain, not too hot, no real issues at all. That said, I was ready to get off my saddle by about mile 50, but that's to be expected. It's hard to describe, but it was like my mind and body were disconnected. My legs just kept turning while my mind thought about fueling, cooling, and bottle exchanges. The aid station volunteers were like pros. I pointed to the volunteer I wanted, slowed slightly, made the grab and they didn't let go until I grabbed it out of their hand, I thanked them, they told me the bottle was already open and away I went. I don't think I slowed down to much less than 15 mph which is a bit fast for an exchange for me.
Expected bike time 3:10, actual 3:00:07, woohoo! I thought I would have to hammer to be at 3 hours. Makes me want a TT bike even more :-).
Once back in transition, Dave passed me on the way in! That was pretty cool, I figured I wouldn't see him until after he had a couple beers after the race. Anyway, another quick transition and I was off.
Expected T1 2-5 minutes, actual 1:55
This is where things got interesting. I was starting the run at the 3 hour and 47 minute mark and my original goal was sub 6 hours, a 2:10 half marathon is "just" 10 minute miles, and I was feeling pretty good. The down side is that it was hot and humid and I was a bit bloated. I started the first mile thinking about going for the sub six instead of sticking with the plan. I ran the first mile in 8:30 and my heart rate was starting to red line. I was still thinking about hurting myself then saw a guy up ahead blowing chow on the side of the road and I thought to myself, I want to enjoy this race and the post race, I really don't want to be that guy. I wasn't up tight or anything before this point, but after I made that decision, the race became even more fun. By mile two I knew I was going to finish and I knew I wasn't going to go sub six, so I decided to have fun. I ran when I felt like it and walked when I was overheating, had skyrocketing hr, had side stitches, and was in an aid station. Yes, I walked a lot and had a great time. I high fiver lots of spectators, thanked all the volunteers and several spectators, experimented with keeping cool In warm temps, encouraged everyone that passed me and just enjoyed the long run.
This run took forever, yet oddly enough didn't seem that long. The volunteers were awesome again. Seriously, when I went to every aid station, I had a staff of people in a line offering me Gatorade, then water, then ice, then more water then more ice, oh and throw in some cold towels. Not only did they offer these things, they were fully engaged. They looked me in the eye ( may have been like looking into a deer's eyes at many points :-)), asked me what I needed and got it for me quickly. They worked their asses off in the heat and treated us like rock stars. Kudos to the volunteers!
As I mentioned, I experimented with keeping cool. At every aid station I took a couple cups of water, a cup or two of ice and a cup of Gatorade (at every other stop). I had never poured ice down my shorts before and thought I would give it a try since it was pretty hot out. First or second station, I poured a whole cup down my shorts and things got pretty cold, pretty fast. After a quick flashback to a Seinfeld episode where George had shrinkage due to being in the pool, I pulled one of the legs of my tri shorts open and let most of the ice fall to the ground :-). After that it was a third of a cup in the drawers, a third in the back of my shirt and a third down the front. Would it be wrong for a dude to wear a sports bra just for holding ice? I know Patrick did a dude band, maybe he could do a dude bra?
So while the run was longer than it should have been and hot, a couple funny moments pop into my mind while writing this. About mile eight I grabbed a couple cups of water, a cup of ice and a cup of Gatorade at an aid station. I came to a complete stop in the aid station trying to figure this out. The two water cups were in my left hand. The Gatorade and ice cups in my right hand. I stood just past the aid station table staring at my hands trying to figure out how to pour the ice in my right hand into the water in my left hand without spilling the Gatorade in my right hand. As I was standing there trying to solve this extremely hard problem, a wonderful volunteer came over and said "what do you need?". I said, "I have no idea, maybe I just need to be done with this race". He said "there is beer right over there in that cooler if you want one", I don't remember what I said but I solved my problem by setting my four cups down on a table and moving on. :-)
Not much long after that I was walking toward the big hill of the day and random people were cheering me on like I was a rock star, while I was walking. Since I was walking, they had plenty of time to cheer :-) and they kept cheering! Finally I said thanks then asked if I was winning the race :-). They said that they thought so and I said, just kidding, I'm getting my monies worth out of the course. We all had a good laugh and I trudged on.
Mile 9 has a nasty hill leading to the final 5k which had no shade and a nasty, steep downhill to the finish. I was pretty happy to be done but I was still feeling really good. My family commented thatbinlooked way better than I did after New Orleans and I actually felt great considering having just finished propelling myself 70.3 miles. I got my medal, then sat in the lake to cool off.
Cooling off in the lake
After cooling off, we met up with Dave and his family and rehashed the race and had a couple of beers. That evening, I had a hard time sleeping between a pretty bad sun burn and some significant pain in my left calf. I had a hard time rolling over and getting comfortable.
You can see where I sprayed one spot that ran :-)
All in all I'm very happy about this race, how my body felt, how my knees didn't hurt, and how I stuck to my plan. Overall time was 6:25:30 and I wasn't worried about time at all, I was focused on feeling good, thinking about what I needed to be doing at each moment, and having fun.