I semi quietly bought a half iron bib for Door County a couple of weeks ago, it was right around the time when the “$100 bib for sale” postings became abundant. My desire to break six hours made me do it. With some of my recent bike and run improvements I thought I had a shot. Instead, the conditions laughed, snorted, and said “Not today, sucker!”
On race morning when I arrived at the park, my first thought seeing Lake Michigan was “There’s no way they’re going to let us swim in that”. Not only were there 2-4 foot swells, but the current was moving quick. I’m a confident swimmer, but I wasn’t sure I could propel myself forward in what I saw. While I was setting up my transition, shivering the cool July temperature and having that internal argument with myself over what layers I would wear on the bike the race director made the announcement that our swim would be shortened to a quarter mile.
So, yay, I’d be breaking six hours! Ha. haha. Sigh.
Swim: I’m a rare freak in triathlon and enjoy a wavy swim over a flat swim, so I was actually really excited about our shortened swim, that went with the current towards the swim exit. It was nice being in wave 9, so I could observe the waves ahead of me and get an idea of how to handle the swim. When it was my turn I confidently got in, passed some women, swam strong, passed the wave break and WHAM!! I got slapped in the face with a swell and some water went down the wrong pipe. I wasted a minute flailing around, gasping for air, trying to pull my shit together. I wasn’t panicked, just trying to breath right after choking down some Lake Michigan. Once that was over, I was cruising! It was fun, up, down, up, down, zoom zoom!
Swim time: 9:17
Fuel: granola & almond milk for breakfast, gummi chews an hour before swim start.
Bike: Like I mentioned, it was chilly in the morning and I wasn’t sure what to do about layers. I noticed others in T1 leaving in just their tri kit, so I followed suit. I did however tuck my arm-warmers in my back pocket. The beginning of the bike ride was fun, I was effortlessly flying, averaging around 20+ mph, wheeeee!! I encouraged “nice job!” to as many people as possible. Around halfway through our direction changed, into and with a hefty crosswind. There were stretches when the best I could do was 14mph. The course had enough turns that the headwind wasn’t constant and I could get some relief. When my Garmin hit two hours I had only 18 miles to go, I tried to pedal hard to break three hours. The wind and gradual climb back into T2 turned into a suck-fest for me. I fell into a dark place. The conditions got me.
Bike time: 3:08:20
Fuel: BonkBreaker, 6 fingerling potatoes, gummi chews, one Gu, on course Gatorade.
Run: As mentioned in all of my long distance triathlon recaps, I force myself to run the full first mile, this one I did in 9:43. It wasn’t bad, wasn’t great, just an “okay, I can work with this” pace. After mile marker 1 I took a short walk break and continued on, when a friend caught up to me. She ran with me for a mile, chatting about the day, and lifted me from the funk I was in from the last 20 miles of the bike ride. Mile two split was 9:34! She continued on, and I tried my best to keep her in sight since she got me moving so quickly for that second mile. I eventually lost her, but looking back I really credit and thank her for my strong run. It truly was my strongest feeling half iron run, thanks to the cooler temps and wind which I appreciated for the first time in the day.
Around mile 11 or 12 I was pacing off of a girl who began to struggle and walk. As I passed her I said “You’re doing great, come on, to the white fence ahead!” and she started running again. That’s all it takes, a simple landmark to motivate someone with! It was fun to encourage as many others as possible.
Run time: 2:16:16
Fuel: One Gu, on course Gatorade, on course Icee Freeze-pop.
Though I slipped into a dark place on the bike, I ended up having a great day. My bike time is a 3 minute course PR, and my run time is 3 minute half iron run PR. My TrainingPeaks plan may show more yellow and red than green, but seeing these small victories I know I’m doing the best that I can with what I have.