September 07, 2008

Half Vermont Journey

(Vermont Part 4)

Back in November, Marcy and I made a plan to do a half-ironman this summer. And to everyone's surprise, we actually followed through with this plan. As Marcy didn't want to travel up in altitude to Boulder, we found a race in Vermont to participate in. This was a small, local race with a laid back atmosphere, which made it a good choice for our first half experience. A half-ironman is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. Melanie told me to include all the details, so here is a race report novel:

Heading into the water for a warm-up.

Start of the women's swim wave.

The race took place at Branbury State Park which is in the Green Mountains. We swam in Lake Dunmore. The swim was an odd two loop course in sometimes shallow water. There was one point I got dizzy because I could see the rocks on the bottom moving quickly by me less than 3 feet below (or more accurately I was moving by them). I sort of stopped to look around to make sure I am on course (which I was) and I see a racer standing in the thigh deep water, just taking a break. Normally you can't stand-up in the middle of a triathlon swim.

I found a girl to draft off for half of the first lap, then lost her when we got mixed up with a group of guys who started before us. I swam on my own for almost a full lap (sometimes really on my own, hence thinking I was off course) before finding another set of feet to follow to the end. I was actually having fun on the swim and not pushing too hard, as I knew there was a lot more to come.

I knew the bike course was going to have rolling hills, but I didn't realize how big these rolling hills would be. My plan was to bike conservatively the first half and then pick it up the second half. Unfortunately, a head wind combined with all of the hills left me unable to push much harder the second half. I got passed by two women at the very beginning of the bike and had hoped to catch them before the end, but wasn't able to even come close. I ended up a little disappointed in my bike time and wished I had spent more time training on rolling hills.

Marcy on the bike.

Me coming into the bike finish. Adam bought Marcy and I matching "team" bike jerseys for the event.

As I changed into my running shoes at the transition, Josh informs me that I am in 4th place and that the women in front of me "don't look like runners." I roll my eyes at him, as this seems a little crude to say, but it was nice motivation. I felt fantastic the first two miles (fantastic for just biking 56 miles, that is). Then we headed onto dirt roads, then hilly dirt roads, then the hills got even bigger. The usual run course had flood damage and I believe was replaced with a much hillier run. Sorry, I will now stop whining about the hills.

Anyway, I passed the 3rd place woman at 1.5 miles. At mile 3, I had to use the restroom (I guess that means I was hydrated). I sprinted back from the port-a-potty right before this girl could pass me back. I ran by the 2nd place woman at mile 4, as she walked up the big hill. 1st place was beyond my reach. The run was an out-and-back so I knew how far ahead the lead was and on the way back I could see who was behind me. Soon after the turnaround, I saw a group of women less than a mile behind me chasing me down. This was some extra motivation to keep running hard. Unfortunately, miles 8-11 were in the sun and I really started feel the effects of the heat leading me to slow down quite a bit. By mile 11.5, I was back on the flat pavement, in the shade, and I picked it up. Spectators were commenting on how I was "really cruising." I felt good and probably ran the last two miles as fast as the first two. I did spend a lot of time looking over my shoulder, as I felt uneasy not knowing how far behind me the next woman was (she actually finished about 4 minutes behind, so I didn't have too much to worry about).

Me re-entering the park near the race finish.

Sophia chasing Marcy down to the finish.

Marcy talked the entire week before the race about how she had not been training much and was worried she might not finish. Of course Josh and I knew that Marcy is an awesome athlete, even without much training. She ended up beating her original goal of going under 6 hours and even walked some of the run, knowing that she had time to spare.

My stats:
Time: 5:17:47
2/50 women
1/5 in age group

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