Race Report: Door County Half Ironman

Before I go into my race report, I should say that I stole this picture from one of my Facebook friends.  She must have had Focal Flame photograph her at Door County because she was tagged in a ton of pictures they took and they're incredible.  I don't know anything about this company, but this is the second time I've seen their pictures and they're really good.  I might have to talk to them about getting some pics at Ironman.

The other thing I want to mention, is that this was my first time doing the Door County Triathlon and it is really, really well run.  The swim course is the best I've ever raced on (better than Ironman) and the whole race was flawless.  We could have used one or two more aid stations on the run, but they made up for it with ice baths at the finish line.  

Anyway, on to the race report...

The swim.

I've been working hard on my swim lately and putting in some big volume.  I complain a lot about swimming being unrewarding, but I refuse to give up on this sport.  I felt I needed to mix things up a bit, so I've been doing more volume and working on my stroke rate by swimming with a metronome (I do metronome sets because constant swimming with a metronome will drive me mad).  I started in the elite wave with the plan of focusing on keeping my stroke rate higher than in past events and working hard to stay with a group as much as possible.  

The swim course was incredible.  Not only was the water great, but these guys really know how to set up a swim course.  A lot of triathlons could learn from them.  They have a huge orange buoy every 150 feet (numbered too if you want to know exactly where you are - yes, you can see the numbers while swimming) and huge yellow buoys marking the corners.  Sighting was super easy because you only had to glance up and make sure you can see orange or yellow and you know you're on course.  I stayed with a group for the large majority of the race and kept my stroke rate high and tried to focus on good, smooth form.  I pushed hard, but never felt like I pushed too hard.  I stayed within my comfort zone.

I came out of the water in a little over 32 minutes, a PR by about 3 minutes.  I wanted to break 32 minutes, but I was so close I didn't care.  Finally, a return on my investment in swimming.  So I promise my complaints are over for a little while.

T1 - Not much to say.  Just under a minute.

The bike.

The bike course was flat.  I focused on my nutrition more than in the past.  I tend to hammer the bike during halfs and forget about eating and drinking.  I stayed on top of my nutrition, drank more than usual and even remembered to take a salt tab every hour.  Since this wasn't an A race for me and I didn't taper, I knew my legs wouldn't be 100% so I kept my power a little below half ironman power.  I averaged 24 mph with a time of 2:20 at 232 watts.

The bike was great until I got to the halfway point.  I worked my way up and caught two guys pretty quickly.  Then they started working together, and by that I mean this was the most blatant drafting I've ever seen in a triathlon.  They then pulled a bit of a gap on me and I couldn't catch them.  They traded pulls for 25 miles.  It was so blatant, someone must have notified the officials because they flew by me at about 50 mph and pulled in directly behind these two clowns and nailed one of them for drafting.  It was clear the officials were looking for these two.  Unfortunately, one of them got away with it, beat me by 4 minutes and took home 3rd in his age group.  It pisses me off because I still out biked him by 7 minutes and know I would have pulled at least 4 more minutes on him if he had ridden without help.  Plus his run would have suffered.  

But, there's not much you can do about those things and the officials did what they could.  These guys were dead set on cheating.  They didn't care about the officials because that didn't stop them.  I saw them after the race and they looked like friends so I wouldn't be surprised if they've done this before.

The other thing worth mentioning on the bike is that I grabbed a bottle of water from an aid station and it was open and I squeezed it too hard when I grabbed it and sprayed a quarter of the bottle directly in my face.  I'm sure it was quite comical for the volunteers that saw me do that.  I can only imagine the look on my face as I unexpectedly showered myself with cold water.

T2 - This was a bit of an Ironman test.  I plan on eating in transition so I thought I'd do a race day test of this.  I quickly did a flask of gel/water, put on socks (I'm tired of blisters so I gave in), grabbed my visor, belt and water bottle and was out of transition in just over a minute.

The run.

This was where I could tell my training lately has been focused on Ironman distance rather than half ironman.  I rode below half IM power, but still felt the effects.  I haven't done a long tempo ride in several weeks so my legs were pretty sluggish the first couple of miles of the run.  Around the 3 or 4 mile mark my legs came around and I felt better.  It was right about the time my GG teammate Matt Amman came running past me at about a minute thirty per mile faster than me.  He was absolutely flying (ran a 1:21 half marathon). 

The run course is pretty tough with as much climbing as the bike course.  I felt decent the whole time and stayed on top of my nutrition and sodium intake.  I wanted a faster run split, but I just couldn't get moving like I wanted to.  I did manage to negative split the run, and run faster than I did in MN so I'm happy with the run.  It's just tough because my run fitness doesn't match my bike fitness so I work my way up on the bike and drop back on the run.  It's tough to get passed for 13 miles.  But I did the best I could.

With a little less than a mile to go I got passed by Jackie Arendt, the first woman finisher.  I can't match her run pace, but she wasn't running a lot faster than me so I tried to pace off her to get me to the finish.  She pulled a gap, but not a huge gap before the finish line so when the crowd cheered for her winning the women's division, I got some of the leftovers.  Not a bad way to finish a half ironman. I'll take it.

I finished the run in 1:41, a 7:45 pace.  Overall, my time was 4:36, good enough for 28th overall and 7th in my age group.  I'm really happy with my race, had a lot of fun and can't wait to do this race next year as an A race.  It's so well run, and the course is so good that it's worth tapering for.  

I think there were 10 Geargrinders at Door County and we had 6 guys in the top 30 overall (4 guys in the top 11). 



jenez_world said...

3 minutes is huge !!. well done.

Robyn said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Mike! Glad you liked the photos, it was a blast profiling Kitty.

We launched Focal Flame Photography this spring, and do custom sports photography. Think of it like hiring a wedding photographer for your race day. We also do custom writing - interviewing you, your family, coach, teammates, etc to craft your narrative. Put them together for a book that captures your story.

Please do contact clint (at) focalflame.com - we'd love to connect.

Great race report - congrats on a strong D.C. half-IM!!