So, to continue this "race(s) report," let's move on to the tough races. For each of these final two races, mental motivation became one of the most important aspects of a successful preparation. To put it mildly, this was pretty difficult. Once we finished the Saturday morning olympic race (at just before 10am) we had 5 hours to recover, re-energize, and refuel (sorry Gatorade) for the Saturday afternoon race. The format was obviously a bit different than your traditional swim/bike/run triathlon as this one put the bike first. It greatly changed the dynamics of the race itself, mainly because the shift from grinding it out hard on the bike (where your body is vertical-ish) to sputtering on the swim (where your body is horizontal) can really cause some serious cramping.
Saturday PM Olympic (40k, 1.5k, 10k)
Bike - 1:00:59 (2nd)
Leading into this race I (and I assume Fletch as well) had no real idea how my body was going to respond to this 40k (well, 25.2 miles actually) team time trial. Since we were registered as a "team" we were allowed to draft on the bike course, which made for a much better experience. We alternated long-ish pulls (8 minutes) for about the first half then shifted to shorter pulls (4 minutes) once we got closer to the finish. This may sound like an overly long pull strategy but it felt right and we didn't want to kill ourselves on this bike ride by doing 1 or 2 minute pulls. We had a couple of solo athletes (well, one in particular) that were drafting off of us for a portion of the ride until we put the hammer down and dropped him and this was just a singular example of a common theme at this race. There was a lot of drafting due to limited enforcement (there were zero marshals unfortunately). Nature of the beast.
T1 - 3:03
This took a lonnggg, long time because we both had to put on our wetsuits (difficult when you're sweaty) and then run (in a full sleeved wetsuit) about 200+ yards to the end of the dock to jump into the water...
Swim - 27:03 (12th)
Jumping into the water felt absolutely AMAZING. I was pretty much just hoping to survive the swim without cramping; I managed to accomplish that, but barely. I didn't cramp during the swim but I did cramp a little bit on the run into transition. There really isn't much to report on the swim; I couldn't quite keep up with Fletch but that allowed him to do some backstroke and loosen up for Sunday!! Once out of the water and up on the dock I ran slowly and then experienced some minor cramping in my adductors that I stretched out before getting into T2.
T2 - 1:32
Stripped off the wetsuit, put on the shoes, hat and sunglasses and headed out onto the run with Fletch.
Run - 43:18 (15th)
We started off pretty easy and progressed each mile. Fletch was really working me over on this run as I think I went a little too hard earlier in the day and the swim might have taken a bit more out of me than it did him. Suffice it to say, I was suffering quite a bit on this 10k. Luckily enough, we managed to finish and place decently and be in a solid second place team by the end of 3 races (halfway done!).
Sunday AM Half Ironman (1.2, 56, 13.1)
Needless to say, waking up and getting going this morning was a little tough. Since the race started at 7am, we knew it would be freezing at the start and waking at 5:30 was...miserable. The motivation factor was pretty low, but we knew we only had one race to go - albeit a half ironman - so we gutted it out, got dressed and headed over to the start.
Swim - 35:49 (19th)
Well, the changed course made for a super long swim this morning. I felt pretty normal throughout this swim and once again couldn't keep up with Fletch so I expected a slow time but dang! This is my slowest half-ironman swim ever! Interestingly enough, every time I've come to White Lake to do a half I've gotten slower: 31:59 '09, 32:08 '10, 35:49 '10!!!
T2 - 4:10
Take off wetsuit while freezing (my entire body was steaming), put on socks, shoes, helmet, gloves, arm warmers and grab gus before finally heading out; all the while Fletch was standing there shivering! Out of T2 in 40 minutes, a new low!! (or high I guess)
Bike - 2:30:46 (5th)
I felt pretty terrible once we headed out onto the bike ride. Fletch and I alternated 10 minute pulls through about 40 miles, so the rhythm of the first hour or so was well established and pretty slow. I was pretty cold for a while even though I had the arm warmers and gloves on and took a long time to warm up (my toes never did). We didn't see many people for a while on the glorious bike route and when we did finally catch people they stuck around us for a long time. We got to the out/back and never even saw Kevin and Scott, which was a bit demoralizing as I didn't think we'd be losing THAT much time to them (the problem was my horrible swim time, so by the time we were to the out/back we were down 13 minutes - 7 out of T1 and 6 on the bike) and thereby had no chance of seeing those guys. We picked up the pace a little bit the last 15 miles and I was actually feeling pretty decent by the time we made it to T2. I wished the bike ride had been 80 miles (just kidding, sort of) because I think I would have continued to feel stronger. I'm amazed I was able to bike a 2:16 and change on this course earlier in the year. No idea how I managed that!
Run - 1:34:12 (11th)
Started off on the run nice and easy and felt surprisingly good. At about mile 3, Fletch started picking up the pace a little bit and I fell in behind him as I was unsure of my ability to lift the pace this early on in the run. I have had issues with blowing up and walking in my half-marathons and I didn't want that to happen today as I knew we would lose BIG amounts of time if that happened. He asked me if I was ok (since I was running 5-7 feet behind him) and I said I was but I wasn't sure if it was the best idea to start cutting down so early (at this point, we had made it to about mile 5). At this point we had seen Kevin and Scott running crazy fast (they ran a 1:24, which is just unbelievable!) the other way and figured we certainly had second place team locked up and we continued running with Fletch about 5 feet in front of me to the turnaround to start the second lap. At this point I was feeling pretty good but was still nervous about lifting the pace and asked Fletch to take mile 7 a little bit easier. I couldn't tell whether he was mad I wasn't willing to go any faster but slowly but surely we continued to drop the pace each mile. I continued my rhythm of taking a little gu and a water cup or two at each aid station; sometimes alternating a cup of Heed in if I felt as though I could use the sodium. As we made our way towards the last couple of miles I realized that we were finishing really strong. In fact, this was shaping out to be my best half-ironman run ever (of the numerous ones I have completed...4!). Not necessarily in terms of time (although it was close), but the fact that never once did I walk or even want to walk through an aid station. We ran steady the entire time, getting faster with each passing mile, and made our way to the finish feeling stronger than when we started (maybe a tad bit of an exaggeration, but it was close!). We crossed the line and I couldn't have been happier with the way that the weekend went. We finished as second place team - a distant second to Lisska and Woodbury sadly - and held off third place by a fair margin.
I definitely underestimated the difficulty of this event. I was quite sore after and have been for several days. I would recommend it to almost anyone, although I'm not sure I'll be wanting to head to White Lake again anytime soon!!