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2007 Rock & Roll Man 1/2 Ironman Experience

Today I completed my first 1/2 iron distance event. That’s a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run – all in succession. My overall finish time was 7 hours 7 minutes and 39 seconds (male results female results). Here are my splits:
Swim: 50:56
T1: 4:15
Bike: 3:18:26
T2: 6:42
Run: 2:47:22
Saturday started off uneventfully. I left home around 1pm for the 2 hour drive to Macon. About 15 minutes North of Macon, it started raining. It did not stop raining until 5:45 am Sunday morning. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal except that half iron athletes were required to rack their bikes in transition by 7pm on Saturday. So my bike sat in the rain for roughly 13 hours. I picked up my race packet, attended the pre-race meeting, scoped out the swim course, and headed for Carraba’s for some carbs.
Overnight I did not sleep well. I guess my body was actually pretty well rested. Heck – I’m sitting here writing this after a 3 hour nap and my eyes are wide open. I assumed the on again, off again sleep Saturday night was due to my obsessing over the weather conditions. There was only a 30 percent chance of rain, and that equated to occassional downpours and a constant rain for 14 straight hours. If race day turned out this way it would’ve been miserable.
I arrived at the race site around 5:45 am this morning. After a quick jaunt to the port-a-johns I aired up my wheels and lubed up the drive train. I methodically laid out my cycling and running stuff in transition so that I wouldn’t have to think about what I needed on each when I got in there, I could just grab and go. If you call a 6 minute transition grabbing and going, that is. 7:15 arrived before I knew it and it was time to get out of the transition zone to avoid a 4 minute penalty.
The event was a little late starting. Presumably the late break in the weather did not give them ample time to set the turn buoys. The swim course was triangular. You were to swim out roughly 620 meters and turn right. Swim another 650 meters and turn right. Then swim a final 630 meters back to shore. As I’m watching them put the buoys out, I realize that we’re burning into my water stores and I did not bring a water bottle down to the beach.
Note to self: Take water bottle to beach and sip all the way up to race start
My wave starts and I go out a little too fast. It wasn’t too bad and is a fairly common occurrence. After about 600 meters I settled in and life was good. All except for the calf cramp in the final 400 meters. I pulled up and started doing breast stroke just to figure out my options. USAT rules say you can hang on to anything non-motorized that isn’t moving. So, I could’ve held on to a canoe for a few seconds to gather my bearings and alleviate the cramp. As it turns out, that was unnecessary. A few minutes of breast stroke and I was under way towards the finish. You’re already in a hydration deficit coming out of the water, but I knew I was beyond normal and would have to immediately work on it.
Once in the transition area, I grabbed a spare bottle of water and drank roughly 2/3 of it. I dried my feet off, put on my socks and strapped on my Shimano cycling shoes. Gloves, sunglasses and Gu packets were all in my helmet. I headed out to the mount line and hopped on for a three hour tour, a three hour tour.
The weather started getting rough, the tiny bike was tossed. Ok, ok… enough Gilligan’s Island. If you had told me I’d be in a headwind for 3 hours on a LOOP course I would’ve said you were crazy. But the swirling winds the low pressure system known and tropical storm Barry put off gave me just that. I averaged 17 mph on the bike, which I was pretty happy with. My goal was to not blow up. There was a lot of elevation change on the course. At least 2500 feet according to rudimentary GPS mapping. I’m happy with my time – it was roughly 8 minutes slower than I planned but I didn’t plan on the wind.
Back in transition, I changed socks, shoes, donned a hat for running and took in more fluids. A couple of my friends were in there and said I was looking really good. I was feeling really good and was totally happy to see them. I came in shouting out the Kramerism “Who wants to have some fun??!!”. They had done the sprint and I was looking to see if either wanted to go run a bit of a half marathon with me. I had 1 taker and was on my way.
I was able to get my legs under me pretty quick and tried to run between aid stations. That didn’t always work out. It turned out to be a sunny and hot day in Macon on a course with little shade. I love my hat. The cold rags helped bunches too. As did the ice in the gatorade. My nutrition plan worked out as best as possible, taking GU with water every 45 minutes and drinking mostly gatorade endurance other than that. I saw a lot of people doing a slow death march down the lane line on the pavement. Death probably isn’t the best word to invoke there – it was just a mindless movement of one foot in front of the other with the lane line as a guide. You don’t have to be a marathoner to do an 1/2 ironman, but it sure does help.
Around mile 10 I came up behind a guy and checked out his calf (your age is marked on your calf). He was 33. I checked out how he was holding his head and tried to figure out whether he was going to care if I passed him. I knew that once I passed him, I wouldn’t be in last place in my age group, but I couldn’t say the say for him. As it turns out, there were quite of few in our age group behind us, so it didn’t really matter. After the mile 11 aid station, I ran the last two miles (walking through the mile 12 aid station) and I can’t tell you what a thrill that was. There were still a lot of specators in the crowd yelling “go 347 – you’re looking good!” And I was looking good. I still had some in the tank and my run split would’ve been sooooo much better had the blister in my right arch not developed a blister of its own. But all in all it was a beautiful day. I ran through the cheers, crossed the finished line, and got a really cool finisher’s medal.
1 man. 7 hours. 70.3 miles. Anything is possible.

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