Last weekend I did a thing. I finished my third half iron distance triathlon. I highly recommend this race. I do not recommend finishing it the way I did.
So here’s what happened, and what didn’t. I make it no secret that I live with depression. There were some events in my life that made my summer training derail after mid-June. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say it was a tough summer. Mid-week runs were nonexistent, and swim-bike brick workouts never happened. Swimming barely happened, actually. I’ve been training for a 50k ultramarathon this summer as well, so I did spend a lot of time and miles on my feet.
Race day weather was near perfect — for me at least. Water temperature for the swim was 78°F (25.5C), making it wetsuit legal. I opted to not deal with one. Air temperature was around 65-68°F (18-20C), and a dense fog hung over the lake when the Full distance athletes started at 7AM. The day would prove to be quite humid but not blisteringly hot. There was cloud cover much of the morning hours, changing to partly cloudy, transitioning to full sun by the time I finished. I didn’t bother with sunscreen until I went out for my run.
The swim went well enough, considering I didn’t swim much at all in training. I finished a bit over the hour I anticipated. Transition times are painfully slow for me. I can’t ride barefoot. I can’t put sandy feet into socks. I use a hydration pack for water that I mentally told myself not to forget to put on this time.
My bike computer tells the temperature coming off the pavement, a pretty cool feature, I think. When I started the bike portion the road temps were 70.9°F (21.6C). They were still around 75° (23.8C) until I hit the halfway point. The clouds started to clear and suddenly it was 85° (29.4C). I was hoping for a stronger and faster ride. It turns out that a couple small adductor muscles in the upper inner thigh can cramp. Who knew!? They were very unhappy with me by mile 15, complaining loudly at 25, and ready to quit by 30. I had a shot of my Special Sauce, aka vodka/sport drink blend, at mile 36, and by 40 I couldn’t feel them. Road temps peaked at 95° (35C). I was glad to be done, and really felt badly for the riders heading out for their second lap in the heat. The ride took an hour longer than I was hoping.
I froze my sport drink for the run hoping it would still be a little cold when I needed it. I was wrong. Note to self: don’t bother next time. With my tokhis and upper thighs cramping I knew running for any length of time was not going to happen. I didn’t even try to trot out of transition. I posed for a picture for my hubs, and again for a Sole Sister about 50 yards later, not worried about my finish time at this point. I knew reaching my projected finish would be a miracle, and making a PR was an extreme long shot. I walked out of transition and throughout one of the slowest half marathon finishes I’ve ever had. I trotted a little on the first of the two loops when my legs felt okay, and that didn’t happen until 2 miles into the course. I wore the cooling towel that came in the swag bags from sponsor HexArmor . I discovered it works much better if it is soaking wet and wrung enough to not be dripping. (Other brands work just being damp, fyi.) It saved my “run.”
I crossed the finish line to see my sweet hubs smiling at me. My Sole Sister friend was there, too — her hubs did the Olympic Tri — and she took this nice picture of us.
Finish line celebrations included pizza, sodas, fresh fruit and beer from Saugatuck Brewing. I opted for their refreshing Blueberry Lemonade Shandy. It’s a little sweet, a little fruity, and not hoppy; all the things my hubs doesn’t like. We hung around for a little over an hour then headed home. After a warm shower I relaxed for a long soak in the tub with a bath bomb I’d been saving (with the gifter’s knowledge) since Christmas.
In the end I finished in 9:32:58, a full two hours behind my projected finish. The ultimate goal for the day was to just finish so I could complete part two of the required events for the AIM High Endurance Challenge Award. Mission accomplished!
As I said, I do recommend this race. The Race Directors and staff are top notch. This was the 7th year for Half/70.3 and [Michigan’s only] Full/140.6 distance triathlon; Olympic distance was added a couple years ago. Aquabike and Duathlon, and Relay options are offered for all distances.
What I can’t recommend is going into a 70.3 mile triathlon severely and inadequately under-trained. All of your whole person will thank you. My whole person has been complaining for the past week.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Postscript: The indomitable Susan Haag, who I met in 2016 when she borrowed my tri bike, Fancy, came and finished her 112th full 140.6 tri. I came back hoping to see her finish but she beat me. I promised her Picklebacks. So at nearly Midnight we sat in the open hatch of my car and downed shots of Jameson and pickle juice.
~~~~~~~ Gear for the day: BIKE — “Search” by Norco; BIKE SHOES — Shimano MTB; RUN SHOES — “Arahi” by Hoka One One; VISOR — Headsweats, custom for Sole Sisters, Michigan; SOCKS — Smartwool (bike & run); HEADBANDS — Skirt Sports partnered with Boco Gear (bike), Buff Bands (run); BIKE SHORTS — Cannondale; SWIM SHORTS — Skirt Sports Shorties; BASE LAYER — Under Armor compression shorts; HYDRATION PACK — Hydrapak; FUEL BELT — Nathan; RACE BIB BELT — made it myself; DRINK MIX — personal blend of HEED and Gatorade powders; NUTRITION — Honey Stinger Chews (bike) and Gels (run); ELECTROLYTES — Endurolytes by Hammer Nutrition; TRI TANK — Huub; RUNNING SKIRT — Happy Girl by Skirt Sports; TRANSITION BAG — Tyr; TIMING TECHNOLOGY — Forerunner 920xt and Edge 500 by Garmin; HELMET — Giro; ID BAND — Road ID.