It's been just over two weeks since I raced the SC Half so a report is overdue!
Result: 6th place overall in a time of 4:30:18
The day started out early at 4:00 AM and was a very peaceful morning. I made the 1hr drive to the state park in Ninety Six and arrived at 5:30 AM with plenty of time to get my packet, number my gear and body, catch up with friends, and warm up.
Swim: 30:26, rank 10th
Not a good swim for me; I expected to be at least 1 minute faster. The start was slow and easy. Too easy. At about 200 meters a small group switched gears and got a sizable gap. I was too slow to react and they were gone. I had one pair of feet until the first turn but let them go which was a big mistake. Once on my own I got terribly off course. By the time I made my way back on course to get around the final turn I joined with a group that included folks that I'm usually in front of at this stage of a race. A little stumble coming up the boat ramp and I was glad to put the swim behind me.
Bike: 2:24:22 Rank 9th.
The plan was to ride the bike at a conservative pace so I would have plenty in the tank for run when the temperature would rise. My strategy was to ride by heart rate, keeping it in the mid 150s, and take in 3 full bottles of fluid - each containing 220 calories and 200 mg of sodium chloride plus other electrolytes.
Heading out of the park Cameron and I were together and he waved me up to him to work together (legally of course) to try to bridge the gap to the front. This didn't fit my plan for the race so I let him go hoping he would come back to me later, instead focusing on getting my heart rate settle from the swim.
I never really felt good on the bike. I guess it was just one of those days. There was a section of about 10 miles where my HR actually fell lower than I wanted and I had to force myself to increase the intensity to get it back where it needed to be. This is typically not the case with me, especially in race! At some point before the halfway mark I started dry heaving. Sometimes I have this happen in Sprint races because of the intensity but that certainly wasn't the case today. But what can you do? Nothing but press on, keep trying to take in nutrition and hope things turn around
Then around the half way mark Jose Fuentes came past me. I could tell that he was riding above his ability and had no hesitation in letting him go assuming I would see him again on the run. Soon after that encounter the dry heaving turned to full-on puking. First it started out small but when we took the turn onto the bumpy cut-through road I lost a belly full. From there I stopped taking in nutrition for the most part. Soon after I was overtaken by Vavre and then around mile 52 I passed Mike Wendt who stayed with me for the last few miles coming into transition. As you can see from this picture taken on the way back into the park I still had a full bottle on the seat tube. Not good!
For the ride my average HR was 152 with an average speed of 23.27. This was exactly how I'd planned to ride.
T2: 1:00 (put on socks)
Run: 1:33:37, rank 8th
The temps were starting to rise as we began the run and it felt especially apparent coming from the bike where you have the cooling effect of the wind. Fuentes had about a minute on me at the start of the run but I was able to run him down before the first mile. That put me 5th place with my sights set on the $$ and a podium spot. To make that happen I'd need to run down both Cameron who'd built a 4 minute lead over the bike and T2 (3:30 bike, 0:30 t2) and one other.
Again I stuck to the plan and tried to pace it evenly, starting out easy and letting the HR and RPE build throughout the run while maintaining pace. At mile 5 the lack of salt caught up with me and I got a major hamstring cramp just as I was crossing paths with Jeff Allums. He saw (and heard) the agony and yelled "Stretch it out" which is just what I did and was able to get moving again. I was able to close the gap to Cameron a little by the halfway turnaround and then by the turnaround at mile 9 it had come down a lot. Unfortunately around this same point I was passed by a flying Mark Render and pushed back to 6th place. As much as I hate getting passed, there is something cool about seeing a natural runner do their thing.
When I look at the data I see that the first mile was at 158 HR and it rose by 2 or 3 beats every few miles up to 171 giving me an average of 165. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to run down Cameron who managed to keep a 30 second gap between us. Upon crossing the finish line Cam looked awful and was taken straight to the med tent for an IV. Congrats to Peter for the win.
My thoughts on the race:
I'm mostly pleased with this race! This wasn't a PR or a podium and I didn't earn any money but it was a solid performance.
I'm most pleased with the fact that Peter Kotland (the winner) and I were the only two guys that ranked in the top 10 across all three disciplines. That shows a well-rounded and balanced approach to the sport that I can be proud of. Most of others either had obvious weaknesses in a particular area or paced the bike above their fitness level and blew up, sacrificing their run.
I'm most displeased with the swim. Had I swam how I should've I theoretically would have beat Cam by 30 seconds instead of the other way around. But that's all theory!
Thoughts on the course:
This is a fair course. I love swimming in Lake Greenwood! The chip-seal on the bike course is a little rough but the terrain is perfect rolling hills. The run is challenging, partly because of the terrain but mostly because of the heat.
I'm very thankful to God and my family for my health and the ability to do this sport and the support they give me. This sport is hard and it hurts but it is also extremely fun and rewarding and I'm very privileged to be able to participate.