Race Report: Spirit of Racine Half Ironman

The morning started off with a threat of thunderstorms, high humidity, thick fog (which delayed the start by an hour) and a water temperature of 55 degrees (and my new Rudy Project glasses broke). Not ideal race conditions, but the rain held off and the skies cleared up and then it got downright hot.

Here I am setting up transition and getting the lowdown on the bike course. There's really not much to say about the course. It's flat, very flat. Actually, a little too flat. I would've like a few more hills to separate the riders and give you a chance to get out of the saddle.

The swim is a point to point swim, so you have to walk a mile down the beach to get to the swim start.

The fog was so thick they had to delay the start until visibility was better. It looks like I'm talking to this guy about how cold the water is, but I'm probably just standing there peeing all over myself. Apparently, cold water makes me pee. This would be my last pee until 4 pm (not a good sign).

Can you say crazy (allow me to remind you the water temp was 55)?

Where's Waldo...

The Swim: (Goal = sub 35)

They pulled the buoys in so we didn't swim that far from shore (I think they did that because of the water temp and fog). I'm not sure they lengthened the swim to adjust for pulling the buoys in, so I think it was a little short. There's not much to say about the swim. It was a little crazy at first, but then everyone settled in and it was mostly uneventful from there on out. There were a couple of morons in front of me that kept swimming into each other and I was boxed in so I couldn't swim around them so I swam right over the top of both of them. It was by far the most aggressive move I've ever done on the swim. They didn't want to quit swimming and let me through so I had to plow my way through.

Results aren't posted yet (I'll add them when they're posted) and I decided not to swim with a watch so I don't know my official time. Cheri said it was a sub 30 minute swim, but that's because the swim was a little short. I heard a few people say their swim time was about 5 minutes fast so I think I would've hit my 35 minute goal.

Update: Official Time = 29:38

The Bike: (Goal = 2:30)....Let the stupidity begin....

Every time I do a long brick, I make a nutrition cheat sheet and tape it to my aerobars. I didn't do that today, because I figured I knew what and when to eat.

This course is so flat and fast that I never wanted to get out of my aerobars because it seemed like everyone was going really fast. There was nothing to separate the riders. I only hit one rest stop, and at that one I threw away a half bottle of gatorade for a bottle of Heed that I never touched. I also didn't start out my bike nutrition with Newtons like I always do. I figured Perpeteum and a few gels would do the trick, and they may have had I finished my Perpeteum and taken more than one gel. I took in about half the number of calories I should have and drank one bottle of water. Yep, you read that right. On a hot humid day, I drank less than one bottle of water on the bike (this includes the half bottle of Gatorade).

To top it all off, I'm convinced I'm getting a penalty on the bike, which will really piss me off because I worked hard not to draft, unlike a lot of riders out there. I got passed by a 10 bike paceline about the 40 mile mark. Toward the end of the bike I got caught in a group and I was trying to get around them. I never sat on anyone's wheel, but I think I took too long to pass one of the riders because we were going up a gradual hill and I didn't want to increase my power too much. As this was happening, I noticed one of the USAT officials riding next to me. I guess it doesn't really matter if I get a penalty, but it will upset me because I tried hard not to draft and that can be tough sometimes when you have so many riders on the road. I hope they caught the paceline and hit those guys with some penalties.

My bike computer had my time at 2:30:43, a 22.5 mph average.

Update: Official time = 2:30:05 (no penalties)

Coming into transition after the bike

Heading out of T2 for the run

The Run: (Goal = 1:45)

The beginning of the run was tough. My legs were tired, and I started thinking about how I haven't done any long tempo rides recently and I just did a 56 mile tempo ride. I should've trained a little better for this. All of my long rides recently have been in my Enduranc
e power zone (IM pacing). The run course is really flat except for 2 hills toward the beginning (it's a 2 lap course so you hit those hills twice). My legs were tired and my side hurt so I walked the second hill. My first mile pace was 8:30.

From there my legs loosened up and I felt better. I continued to ignore my gels and I grabbed water in every aid station, but I dumped it on my head instead of drinking it. I didn't drink any water for the first 4 miles (you can probably see where this is going). By this time the skies had cleared and the temp was in the mid 80s.

My next few miles were decent, an 8:01, 7:57, 8:13, 8:13...

I was feeling pretty good by the start of the second loop. I took a gel with a little water and planned on increasing my pace hoping for a sub 8 average.

It's amazing how quickly things can turn. I went from feeling strong to nothing in a matter of minutes. My next 2 miles were an 8:36 and 8:43. Not too bad, but definitely the wrong direction. I had no energy and from here on out I had to walk all of the aid stations drinking
as much Heed and water as I could get my hands on. 8:50, 8:54, 9:12.

I was getting passed a lot - and by a lot of people I didn't think should be running faster than me - and my trips through the aid stations were getting longer and longer. My right thigh was cramping a little and I was having a hard time breathing. My chest felt really tight and I couldn't get a good deep breathe. I swore off half ironmans for good and wondered how I'll get to the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin if I'm struggling this much at a half.

9:21, 9:14, 9:32..

Time according to my Garmin: 1:54:15, an 8:43 pace.

Update: Official time = 1:54:19

Overall time: 4:57:20

Post race was horrible. I was disapointed in my run, but mostly I was completely depleted. I sat in the shade and drank some Endurox, a Coke, some water and contemplated going to the med tent. I was dizzy and felt very sick. Eventually I came around enough to go grab my bike and head home. Cheri had a big ol M&M cookie waiting for me at the car, which actually helped a lot. I felt a lot better after eating that cookie. As Seinfeld says, "Look to the cookie."

I'm a little disappointed in my run, but mostly I'm disappointed in how I handled my nutrition. I had about half the calories I should have on the bike and only 2 gels on the run. I drank one bottle of water on the bike and I didn't drink anything for the first 4 miles of the run. By the time I realized I was dehydrated, it was way too late. I know better, and that's what's so frustrating.

Even though this race didn't go as planned, I did learn from it... 1. Always follow your nutrition plan. 2. Don't wait until you're dehydrated to drink 3. I need to do more bricks with tempo work on the bike and long runs if I'm going to make it through the Ironman 4. Look to the cookie.

And I did get through my first half ironman and 5 hours is a pretty good time so I can't complain. I'll be sure to follow my nutrition plan at Ironman, that's a guarantee.

Here's a picture of Bob on the run. Always smiling...he makes it look easy...

This is Brinkley, the cutest pup at the races...

This picture is for Abby (it's where the cookie came from)...

I'll update this with official times when they post the results.


Unknown said...

Yeah, saw a lot of drafting out there today...ridiculous.
Great race, very jealous here - you had time to go shower, eat a pizza, and take a nap before I came limping in.

You did it and that's what counts, a chance to practice for the big show and learn the lessons of the day on a smaller scale.

bigmike600 said...

Mike it was awesome to hang out with you and Cheri Sat night and for you guys to find me before the race. Cheri gave me a huge scream when she saw me going out of T1 and ALMOST SCARED ME OUT OF MY BIKE SHORTS. It was really funny.
I drank 5 bottles on the bike, and 12(yes 12) bike water bottles on the run and I just took my first pee at 9pm since I got in the water at 8AM.
You learned lessons today that will pay off. Your bike time is amazing. I hope someday I can avg over 20. I saw the drafting too and hopefully they get penalties too.
Look forward to the aquathons coming up. See you soon.

Anonymous said...


I also had five bottles on the bike. I also started the run carrying a bottle in each hand. I looked like a dork, but I know its what I need. I finished them by mile 6 and then started taking cups. I still lost about 7 lbs. You should be happy that you were able to survive.

-Greg Thompson

Anonymous said...

Mike - congrats on your 5 hr half! I struggled on the run too. Delaying the start by an hour only makes it hotter on the run. Can never control Mother Nature. Thanks for the posted picture of "Brinkley - the cutest pup at the races." Glad you think so. We do too!!! He's our little boy and a total show stealer!!! Good luck in Madison!