Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Deuces Wild Half Ironman Race Report

Jamie and I drove up to Show Low early Friday morning so that she could do the XTERRA bike course pre-ride. We stayed at the same cabin in Bison Ridge we rented last year and of course brought the dogs. :) We arrived at the race site at noon and Jamie left for her ride while I went to Safeway to stock up on food, beer, and wine, not in that order of priority. ;)

I went back for packet pick-up and to collect my very dusty wife. Jamie was a little freaked out by the bike course. Being so new to MTB, there were parts she was too scared to ride and she fell a few times and had a big bruise on her knee. She wasn't sure she could do the race. We went back to the cabin and made an early dinner. I was in bed by 7:30....and never fell asleep! I have no idea why, but I maybe slept 90min the entire night! The same thing happened last year before this race, but not nearly this bad. I have no idea why, but when I got up at 4:30am, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I felt ok and just started going through my pre-race motions.

Jamie drove me down to Transition and the usual activities and meet and greets kept my mind away from dwelling that I hadn't slept. The air was warm and comfortable, a bad omen this early in the morning at 6200 feet of elevation. It was going to be 94 as a high, a good 20 degrees hotter than last year. The upside was the lake water temp was awesome. I put on my wet suit and did some easy swimming, curious if I would feel the altitude like I did last year here and at Mountain Man.

Swim- 28:53
I was really hoping for a good swim to start this day off right. I also figured it would show me how not sleeping was going to effect me. Well, the answer was not so much, I felt great. All the Half men started together, so the race was all around me in real time which I loved. I get sick of wave starts and trying to figure out where I am.

I swam hard to the first turn buoy and was well up front. I drafted behind one swimmer a bit but they seemed to slow and I went around. I felt no adverse effects from the altitude either. I knew of at least two great swimmers in the group would be off the front. Once I rounded the first marker for the long down lake leg, a guy I passed jumped on my feet and stayed with me the whole way. He only tapped my feet once and I was cool with him being back there. At the second buoy, I could see the lead swimmers heading back in and I didn't seem to far behind. I picked up the pace, sighted well, and hit the boat ramp with a new PR at the Half swim distance. Good start to the day.

I ran over to the wet suit strippers and then the run up into Transition. My drafting partner ran along side me and thanked me for the pull. He said that was his best leg and wished me well. Nice guy.

Bike- 2:20:23
I had a fast, efficient T1. I had my shoe's clipped in and ran up a slight incline to the mount line. I stood on my shoes and got away quickly. There was ample time to slip into the shoes as I left the park area around the lake and did so quickly and efficiently.

Once into my shoe's, I could see two Tri Scottsdale riders ahead. One was Jon Poisson, one of the great swimmers I had mentioned. He was still trying to get his shoe's on as I went past. Here I am less than 1 mile into the race and I was ahead of a guy who it would normally take many miles to catch up to. I passed by them and left the park and headed out to the main highway. As I went past Bison Ridge, Jamie was out there with the dogs. As I went past she yelled first place was right in front of me. That would be my friend Sam Perry, the best swimmer in the field (he swam a 26:02). I passed him with mile 3 and now I was leading the race! They had a car leading the field which stayed up the road from me with it's flashers on. So cool! I had never lead a race like this before.

I was feeling terrific, targeting and comfortably holding a HR around 152. I had a gel flask and a bottle of water on the bike and grabbed a Gatorade at the first aid station. I began to consider my race plan since I was up front, I could dictate the term of the race somewhat. I knew I had a few weaker cyclists immediately behind me, so any attack was going to come from further back int he field. Any strong bike/run guys would be at least 2-3min back right now and I decided to pull a Lieto. I was going to use the bike to put in as much time as possible to give me more cushion and options for the run. So I stayed down on the bars and went to work. I stayed on top of my nutrition and hydration and kept my effort consistent.

The last 20 miles or so of this course has some pretty long, gradual hills which I attacked aggressively. I would stand and wok hard and then allow for a brief recovery. As I passed by the mile 50 marker, I began to think about the run and pulling back a little on the pace when.....PSSSSSSSSSSTTTT!

My front tire just gave up the ghost. Oh, no. I kept riding and reached back for my can of FastAir which was tapped to my HydroTail. I pulled it off and made the right turn into town. The first thing I noticed was that I seemed to be moving pretty quickly still. The wheel would make a clunk sound every revolution but my pace was still good. Could I make it? Stopping and using the FastAir might work but would take at least 1-2min. If it didn't work, I was just back to riding on it or changing it out entirely, which would take much more time. So I decided to press on as best I could. I knew the course and there were a few turns and one hill left, but I was SO close. The lead car came by me and I told them about my flat. They said the only rider coming up on me was the leader of the Olympic race, who turned out to be my buddy Cam Hill! He went by as we entered the park and we exchanged well wishes. He laughed as he saw me riding on my flat. I took the last turn slow and headed towards the dismount line, very happy with my decision.

Run- 1:39:03
As I ran down into Transition, I could hear the announcer taking about me and my flat! The lead car had radioed it in. I put on my ZOOT TT 3.0's, grabbed my visor, race belt, and another GU flask and I was off. A lead MTB came out to guide me so I still had company. He said I had about a 5:00 lead after the first mile. I thought it would be enough. I was almost wrong.

The run begins along a trail which goes around the lake. It's in good shape and you can run pretty fast on it. I went through he first mile or two feeling pretty good. I ran up through the camping area and out to the dreaded out and back section. It's a rolling, rocky, dirt road that just seems to go on forever and you have to do it twice. There's no shade and it's slow and tough running. It would also give me my first look at who was behind me. Cam and his lead bike guy were coming back the other way and I gave him a high five, he went on to win. I hit the turn which is around mile 3 and headed back. I asked my lead bike guy to find out who was Olympic and who was Half for me and he rode ahead. No need though as soon I saw Brian Folts, who I knew was in the Half running with another guy i didn't know. So there they were, 2nd and 3rd about 4min or so back.

I kept running well and descended back around the lake and then up towards a second out and back only done on the first loop. I was getting my gels in and and water at the aid stations, but it was starting to get hot. I made the turn and headed back towards Transition where I would begin the 2nd loop. Brian and the other guy were still a few min. back and I was hoping they were so preoccupied fighting each other I might slip away. The run on the trail this time was much slower and I knew I was beginning to fade. When I did the camp ground loop, I saw Brian had been dropped by the other runner who was now within 2min of me and I was slowing. I struggled to hold it together as I headed out for the out and back again. Now he was within 1 min. I was going to get caught, I was sure of it. I couldn't lift the pace, there was still over 2 miles to go. If he caught me, I wouldn't be able to respond. There was a hill about 1/2 mile from the finish and I got to it still in the lead. I pushed hard going up and was wasted at the top. I asked the MTB guy where was the 2nd place runner and he said about 25 yards behind. I looked down the road towards where the finish was and decided I was not going to loose this race, not toady, not after all I had done. I started to run harder and harder. My HR skyrocketed and I got a little tunnel vision as I pushed. Less than 200 yards from the finish the MTB guy said he couldn't see him anymore. I had made it and crossed the line.

This was not a very good run for me based on pace, but the conditions were very tough and even the 2nd place guy had the fastest run split of 1:35 so everyone was slow on the course. Once across the line, I stopped , bent over with my hands on my knees, and tried to recover as I waited for 2nd to come in and congratulate him. I found Jamie and the dogs and kept drinking as much water as I could.

This is a great weekend of racing which features a Half, and Olympic, and Aqua Bike, XTERRA, and even a kids race. Jamie woke up Sunday morning with a stomach flu but despite that and her concerns witht he bike course, she started the race and had a great swim. She went on to complete 95% of the bike course before having to stop. She rode all of it except one section and was so happy. For me, it was a great race, especially since I was very unhappy with my perfromance last year. I wanted revenge and I got it. :)

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