Spirit of Racine

Today was the Spirit of Racine half ironman, a race I wasn't going to do this year because it frustrated me last year. I didn't like the bike course. It's too crowded. I was going to do Door County.

But I didn't feel like going to Door County so I did Racine again.

The swim. Like last year, the swim was short. My time was 25 minutes, and I can assure you I do not swim 1.2 miles in 25 minutes. I did the swim at Rockman in 35 minutes. I did a better job toda
y at staying in groups and taking advantage of the draft so I should have beaten my Rockman time, but not by 10 minutes. Speaking of drafting...

The bike. I go out of my way to try to ride within the rules, but it looks like I wasn't successful today. I got caught up in a few groups, one of them I was unable to lose. The marshals were out in full force and I got caught in the middle of the group just in time to look over and see the marshal writing down numbers. I tried on two different occasions to break free of this group and couldn't do it because they started working together after they all knew they got drafting penalties. In the middle of the bike leg, I attacked a small hill and then did threshold for a while to pull a gap. I was successful, but they caught me again. Later, I dropped the hammer for a minute to pull a gap, and then backed off and rode threshold for a while to s
ee if I could lose them once and for all. It hurt. I was doing 32 mph, and I pulled a gap that lasted until the end when they caught me again. My bike time was 2:21 (the bike leg was a mile shorter than last year so that's why I was 9 minutes faster this year - I should have bike a 2:25 - 5 minutes faster than last year). I averaged 23.5, although they have me down for 23.8.

The run. I paced myself really well today, and pushed hard on the second lap when I realized I had a chance at breaking 4:30. I sprinted to the finish, and finished in 4:29:20. They have me down for 4:41:20. They tacked 12 minutes on to my run, for penalties I assume.

I'm very frustrated with this race because I try hard to ride within the rules, but today I just couldn't do it (I guess). I never sat on anyone's wheel but I could have gotten hit with blocking (riding on the left) or not dropping back quick enough after getting passed. Or drafting. I don't think I drafted at all, but it's not up to me.

Personally, I think they need to limit entries on this race. I'm sure they won't, but I think 2,000+ people on a half ironman course is too many.

But it is what it is. I think I'll stick to races like the Rockman. That one was awesome, although it wasn't organized as well as Racine. There were only a few hundred people so you had no problems riding your own race. The course was measured accurately and was much tougher than Racine. My time was 23 minutes slower, but at least I know that it's an accurate time a
nd it was all I had on that particular day. Today I ran 4:29 (although the official results have me at 4:41) but it doesn't feel accurate to me. I was given 10 minutes on the swim and a couple more on the bike with the course being a little short.

As much as I'd like to say my half ironman PR is 4:29, I think I'm going to scrap this one and stick my old PR - 4:53.

One of the goals I set over the winter (which I decided after the Rockman was too agressive to go after) was to break 4:30 in a half ironman. That goal will have to wait for next

The next goal on my list is to break 1 hour in a 40k time trial. I'll probably only do one 40K TT this summer so I have one shot at that goal. After that, there's only one left on the list and that's to break 11 hours at the Great Floridian.

This is what happens when you run a half marathon with no socks on...


bigmike600 said...

You still did really good. I know the swim seemed a bit short. And those penalties were bullshit. You're not a cheater. There was a lot of people riding closer than the 3 bike lengths. You can't have that many people on the bike course at one time and not expect they will not get bunched up at some point. Plus some of those roads were way rougher than last year. Almost to the point of not bike worthy. I think I'll pass on Racine next year. At least the half anyway. Maybe the sprint or something. You still did great.

Michelle said...

I was just Googling Spirit of Racine 2009 penalties because I got hit with 12:00. I've never gotten a penalty before and I must say it hurts. I agree with what you wrote. It's hard to get away from folks when there are so many out there. Even though the race was well organized and run, it sure seemed penalty-happy given the numbers out on the course.

Mike said...

I just got an e-mail from the USAT ref explaining my penalties. One was for drafting, and I think I know when that was. I got caught up in a group and saw the ref writing down numbers. It happens.

But the other one is irritating. Position. It said I rode on the left for 40 seconds without passing anyone. I won't deny it, but that 40 seconds cost me 8 minutes and that seems a little steep for a course that was so crowded there wasn't enough room for everyone.

I don't get the positioning penalty. If I was stopping someone from passing, it would be blocking. So if I didn't block anyone, why does it matter if I'm on the left?

Oh well. So it goes.

By the way, good job at Racine.

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