Sunday, June 20, 2010

Half Iron Man Report

Where to begin?

Pre Race

I got up at 2.45am after not getting to much sleep. Luckily i know for experience the night before a big race is going to bad for me so the night before that i try to get extra sleep. I still had a balloon i wanted to pick up and some kind of bar i could eat on the bike portion. I picked up an Elmo Balloon and a South Beach Bar. I also grabbed some flip flops that i could trash if i need to (they were $2).
The park charges $7 to park your car and you can just park outside the park and walk/bike the mile or 2 in but i had no idea how i would feel afterwards so i paid my money. Last year i did the sprint here so i knew how it worked. My car was parked by 5.30 am and the race was due to start at 7am. I headed over to packet pickup right away as i did not have a chance to do it the day before.

 I took my time using the bathroom as i knew the line would be huge later as it was last year. Hear is picture of the line at about 6.25am way way after i had been there and there was no line!
I got my transition set up and used the tricks i had learned before. This is a big race so it is hard to find your bike when you come in. This is where the Elmo Balloon comes in VERY handy. A guy near me was doing the sprint and it was his first. He asked me about pinning on the race number and if he was doing it right. I had my spare race belt and i gave for him to use and told him how much easier this would make it for him. I always bring spare things for just such an event. I normally bring a spare bike helmet, spare swim cap and spare goggles in case someone around me has forgot. Here is a picture of my bike set up and a general pic of transition.

After i got that done i took a walk around. There was a free Yoga for runners class going on that i was tempted to join however not ever having done yoga before i chickened out fearing i would look like a complete fool. See below picture.
I took a walk around to try and find anyone i knew that was doing it. I found absolutely no one. Either they were all hiding from me or there was just too many people here to find them. So i was on my own for this day. I did get a few shoots of the area that were kind of nice.
The weather was predicted to be windy and 75-80F with lots of Sun. Sure enough you could feel allot of wind already. The swim is in the biggest lake in Wisconsin (94 miles around) it it was getting allot of chop. The waves were 3-4 feet high. I tried to capture them on my camera but it was kind of difficult. Here is the swim area.
You can see some of the waves above. The temperature was not that cold but i did not measure it. At 6.50am transition close and i moved down the the swim start in my full wetsuit (thank you!)

The Swim
I was in wave 5 and the first wave went promptly at 7am and the played the national anthem. Watching my heart rate monitor i saw my HR get up to 85 and i was just standing still! I closed my eyes and focused on getting it down. going to be OK. I wondered how i would deal with those high waves. I found someone to help my zip up the back of my wetsuit. I was looking around as the waves went in but still i could not find anyone i knew. I had worn my $2 flip flop down to the shore and talk them off and set them to the side when as i was about to start. Then i was up.
The start was very surreal. I could wade for a good bit in the water and felt like i was walking along. I knew this was going to be the start to a very long day. The waves were 4  feet now sometimes. As i got to the swim position i settled into my stroke. Sighting was difficult as the buoys would disappear with the high waves. You almost had to swim in a 45 degree direction to where you wanted to go as the waves kept sweeping you in. I was SO glad i had done all that swim training as i felt strong and my pace felt good. There were times i would bump into people but nothing major. Allot of the times i just followed people and let them sight hoping 10-20 of us were not of course! I had used ear plugs as i hate the water going in my ears and also had found this would make you less dizzy.
I had meant to take off my wedding ring but had forgot. It has been getting loose lately but it is not worth sizing as it was pretty cheap. It is not the ring i got married with and i think it cost me $26. It kept slipping down my finger and i would have to move it back up. Sure enough half way through i felt it fly off. No big deal, i told myself this is not bad luck just bad planning. So now it is on the bottom of lake Winnebago some where. I have to get a new one anyway. I felt OK in the swim but thought all these waves are going to make my time very slow. It is one big loop and when i got back out i looked at my timer and it was at 30mins!!! Wow i fully expected it to take 45mins on a good day! YES! There were wetsuit strippers to help me get my suit off in no time, then a run up the hill. I was worried about my suit getting stuck on my timing chip so i took it off before they stripped me, then slipped it back on. I had been intending to hide a dollar bill somewhere to tip them but i had forgot that too. I just wanted to see if they would be shocked. So the extra time here include the run up the hill and the suit strippers helping me.

Actual swim time : 31:42.5

Not bad really, the thing i struggle with here is always getting socks on my wet feet. So i had put talc powder (baby powder) in my socks already and i dropped some on my feet to. This works great. Helmet on shoes on and go. No need to put a jersey on or arm warmers today!! I had strapped my cycling cloves on to my handle bars so i could put them on later. It was a long transition area so it took my a little while to run through it. I ran in my bike shoes and it is a grassy area.

Total T1 time : 3:02.2

I knew the first thing on the bike is the huge climb. I was not going for any hill climb records here so i took my time on this climb. The winds were 10-20mph and when they were behind you it felt super fast. Of course experience has taught me riding the other way is coming! The ride was good, i passed by allot of people as i had got out the swim so fast. No problem. I took it easy keeping my HR at 140BPM. It was sunny but the wind made it feel just right. I ate my first gel at 30 minutes in then i would drink every 30 mins and Nathans electrolytes every 30 mins. Had my second gel 1 hour after the first. They had places on the course you could grab bottles of water or Gatorade from them and toss you old ones. I didn't know they would be doing this as this is my first Half Ironman.
In my head i would just concentrate on how long was my next feeding or drinking interval. I also made sure i had fun! I was thinking i have been training for a whole 6 months for this one so make sure you enjoy it. I saw cows, horses and very beautiful scenes of the lake.
One fellow had has brake rubbing on his front wheel at mile 5 so i told him how to release it or he was going to get a blowout from the heat of the friction. Then i told him how to shift the whole brake hub over and his rubbing was gone. Told him to be REALLY careful on the heels if he only had a rear brake now.
The course was well marshaled.
I came up upon a woman standing with her bike by the side of the road at mile 9. Asked her if she needed a tube or a tool. Then i noticed she was crying. She said she just wiped out and her saw her leg bleeding a little bit. I told her i would send someone back for her. I felt really bad for her and i wonder if she kept going or not.
I saw one guy pull over ahead of me into the grass and i wondered what he was doing. Well he put down his bike and started to go into the bushes. Wow you see some crazy stuff on these longer distance Triathlons :). When you have to go you have to go.
The only time i stopped was to refill my water bottle at an aid station. I had a good time on the bike. Made sure i enjoyed the scenery and even sang a little.
At mile 7 my right knee was hurting a little bit so i kept my gears light as i did not want to have trouble in the run.

A fast T2. I grabbed some sunscreen and at the aid station i made a volunteer rub some on my shoulders, it was just a free little bottle i had got at another event this year so i did not mind losing it. Sunglasses with my and i am ashamed to admit it because it does not make me sound hardcore but MP3's were allowed on the run so i grabbed my ITouch.

Total T2 time : 3:00.8
(my T1 and T2 were almost exactly the same!)

The run was amazing. All on trails and shaded in the woods mostly. There were sections that were not shaded but they were not too long. I love trail running. I used the long striding method i have been practicing lately and i could not believe how fast i was going when i hit mile markers. I ate a little bit of banana on the run, grabbed some Gatorade here and there but kept a fast pace. The only pain i had i was in my back. My lats were hurting so i need to do allot of pull ups before i do this distance again (if ever). The push ups i have been doing helped me on the bike but i can see i need to get a stronger back to help me on the run. No cramps or anything. I was on pace for my fast 10k time last week. In fact i was breaking my 10k pace. I tried to get my HR down a few times but it was not having it. So i let it go. I could not believe how fast my run was!!!!!

total Run time : 1 Hour 34:13.3.

I do not know if i can ever ever do a run that fast again. My Half Marathons are normally just over 2 hours. The run seemed like a blur to me and i was very worried i would collapse near the end.

The End
I got my medal, and i knew there was no way anyone i knew had hung around after the sprint. So took my time and ate some fruit then packed up. Called my family to let them know i made it then went home. House was empty which was a bit weird but at least i could make a mess and not feel too bad about it.
I started feeling sick and think i defiantly got some heat stroke, a cool shower helped with this a good bit.

My total time was
5hours 34:35.8

I did not place in my age group. I was 44th in men 35-39. I thought i had chosen Clydesdale but i would not have placed there either so no big deal. I got my finishers medal. It feels weird to know i can do that distance.

Just less than 3 years ago now i weighed 440LBS and now i got an Ironman under my belt.
Sorry this one is kind of long. Look for the podcast soon!


  1. GREAT race report and awesome race, Jon! Your run time is amazing and you did so well on the swim and bike too! You are such a kind-hearted soul, taking extra stuff and helping people out along the way - good man. Well done!!!

  2. Wow! Awesome race and fantastic run to wrap it up.

  3. Congratulations on an awesome race and a great attitude! Cheers!

  4. Great race report!! Wow, fantastic race Jon! I was telling my husband about how you always have spares at a race and share with people, you're so kind. Looking forward to listening to the podcast. Again, fabulous job!


  5. Great report Jon!
    It's so cool to hear your perspective... and I hope your wife wasn't too upset about the ring :)
    You did such a good job and I can't wait to hear what's next for you :)

  6. Thanks everyone! No she was fine about the ring. It was a fairly cheap one anyway. I was due to get it sized and that would probably cost more than a new one, this is a reason i do not buy expensive rings too.