Monday, September 10, 2007

2007 Odyssey Half Ironman Race Report

Since I had a good learning experience from last year, I decided not to make the same mistakes this year. It was my scheduled day to work, I have every other Friday off, but I decided to take a vacation day to eliminate the last minute shuffle of getting up to Lake Anna. I was determined to get my tent set up in the daylight this year. Things worked out really well. Nikki had to work and had already planned to take the kids to my Mom’s house. I had the day completely to myself. No excuses for being late this year! Everything went smooth and I left my house about 5pm. Made a stop at Chick-Fil-A, for my pre-race evening meal to go, and hit the road. Again, another beautiful drive up Route 1, only about an hour drive.

I arrived at Lake Anna at 6:45pm and went straight to the Park office. Got all checked in and drove over to pick out a camp site. There were a lot more campers this year, given the weather, not cold like last year. Picked my site and wasted no time getting my tent set up. I love the tent sites at Lake Anna, just a large pea gravel bed. No worries about finding a smooth place in the woods. Again, not making the same mistake two years in a row, I attach the rain fly. Now, to the right is my new tent. Last year I had a little one person tent. I wanted to use my new tent for this trip, thus the desire to get to the Park early enough to set it up. Yes, it’s a 6-person tent, but that’s much better than a little one person tent that squeezes you in. Well, as you can see in the above pic, the two sides are half mesh, great for warm weather camping, as it lets the breeze in. With the rain fly on, not so much. More on that in a bit.

This year, Odyssey was actually doing their check-in at the Lake Anna beachfront. This was so convenient since I was camping there. Not like last year, at a hotel 30 minutes away. After I had the tent set up, I sat down and ate my Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich. Good stuff! Once I was finished with dinner, I went ahead down to the beach to get through the race check-in and bike check. This would save time in the morning, by not having to worry about those things. Got checked in, received my race number, swag bag, and t-shirt, which was a really cool black dry-fit shirt! It was recommended that we get body marked that evening to avoid any issues in the morning. Wow, never been body marked the night before a race. Now my concern was to avoid getting permanent marker all over my stuff, especially my nice sleeping bag. I know, “the things I worry about” even drive Nikki crazy! Got my helmet and bike checked out and I was good to go. The only thing I needed in the morning was to pick up my chip.

I’m getting pretty tired by this point, it’s close to 9pm, so I get my air mattress blown up and into the tent along with my sleeping bag. Now, since I have already been body marked, I have a huge 17 on both quads and both shoulders. I end up wearing long flannel pants, other than shorts, was all I had, and the new black dry-fit Odyssey shirt to bed. Well, as you can see from the pic on the left, the rain fly on this tent goes all the way down to the ground. Very scared that it might rain, I just loosen it up a bit to try and let some of the night breeze in. Didn’t work very well at all. I ended up sleeping on top of my sleeping bag all night. Didn’t even get into the bag! It was HOT and muggy all night.

“ring, ring”, “beep, beep” – both my cell and watch begin alarming me at 4:30am. I get up, grab a slice of my wonderful homemade Banana bread for breakfast, and get the tent pulled down and packed up. Once I’m changed into my race clothes, I head over to the beachfront, eating my pre-race Cliff Bar. No issues getting my timing chip or setting up my transition.

The whistle blows and I’m off on the very short beach run into the lake to swim the upside down triangle course. As I get started on the swim, I realize that I’m so glad I rented a wet suit for this race. The water temperature was a bone chilling 85 degrees. Folks, that’s like warm bath water. Way too warm for a wetsuit. As you can see by the picture on the right, a diamond swim is longer than an upside down triangle swim. I found myself, several times, swimming up and away from the “hypotenuse”. This, coupled with my lack of attention to my swim workouts, led to a ridiculously slow swim for me. 53 minutes, 78th overall. Obviously, I need some work in this area before the Ironman in July. No worries though, I felt okay, a little heavy in my hips, but managed to complete the swim without issues. With only about 110 participants the water was not crowded at all, so no bumping or pushing around. Just had some ground to make up.

That’s where the bike comes in. To say that I had a great bike leg would be an understatement. I had the ride of my life! I love this bike course, especially compared to what I’ve been training on here in Mechanicsville. It’s a 2-loop course of 28, mostly flat and fast, miles on beautiful country roads. Lots of brand new pavement which makes riding unbelievably smooth. There were several sections that I classify as “zero effort” zones. Where I was hitting 23-24mph, for several miles at once, and did not feel any resistance at all! To me, there isn't any better feeling in a race than that feeling of no resistance while going all out on the bike! I was in the zone and totally stoked! Hitting all my nutrition and staying on top of my hydration kept me going strong. Nikki, the kids, and her Dad made it there and I was able to see them at the turnaround of the first loop. It always brings a huge smile on my face to see them while I’m racing as they are so excited to see me. The only small setback happened about mile 40 as I was opening up the baggie that contained my 3 Endurolytes (salt tablets). I could only watch as the baggie got swept out of my hand and ended up far behind me on the pavement. Knowing that I had one left in my fuel belt for the run and plenty of Powerbar Endurance sports drink remaining, I was okay. I always pack a few extra GU’s just in case anyway. Final bike time – 2:51:08, 20th overall on the bike! 19.6mph! Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a Tri specific bike soon and see how much faster I can go. I did not get passed by a single competitor until about the 45 mile mark. That’s where the one and only guy passed me. I wanted to reel him in, but knew that I was close to the 13.1 mile run I had to complete, so I just stayed within my pace and headed back to transition.

As with T1, T2 was very smooth with no issues. I get my running shoes on and grab my hat, which has my race number belt already attached to it so I don’t forget it, and my fuel belt. After a quick kiss to both my kids and wife, I’m off to run.

I had a good run. In hindsight, I’ll add longer brick workouts, runs immediately following a bike workout, to my routine. I didn’t do too many over the summer and those that I did complete were not too long. Oh well, as my family constantly reminds me that I do have a family and life outside Triathlon. I did run very hard, pushing myself to make sure there was nothing left when I crossed that finish line. The heat, and sore legs from the bike, had me take a few walk breaks. No worries, I'm not one of those "have to run the whole thing" people, so I just take the walks as I need them and push hard when running. As with the bike, I was nailing my nutrition and hydration so I was feeling pretty good. The run course is not too bad, one really nasty hill, the rest pretty flat. All contained inside the State Park. Said hi to my family at the turnaround, and headed out for the final 6.55 miles. About mile 10 is where I picked it up a little bit, knowing I had a bit more left in me for the last 5K. I begin the downhill to the finish and let myself fly down the hill, leaving every ounce of energy I have left out on the course. As I cross the line, I get my finisher’s medal, too bad they didn’t have them last year, and slide over a bit to catch my breath. I’m totally spent and gasping a bit for air. Final run time – 2:05:21, 37th overall on the run. Not too bad at all. After I catch my breath, I head over to see my family and give nice big sweaty hugs to everyone. “You’re wet” the kids exclaim!

I change clothes, drink my Endurox while packing all my stuff away, and head over to the Bar-B-Q lunch. The food is great, but so hard to eat. My body just spent almost 6 hours ingesting Cliff Bars, Cliff Bloks, and GUs. Now I'm trying to send down a Bar-B-Q sandwich, baked beans, cookies, and a brownie! Well, at least it stayed down. I end up winning a Jug, 26-servings, of Hammer Strength Gel from the raffle! Sweet! Once all the awards are given out I get up and decide to check my
results. There it is, 4th in my age group (30-34)! I’m stoked! Once my bike is picked up and racked on the X, I send a text message to almost everyone in my phone book to let them know how I did. My last stop is at Five Guys back in Mechanicsville for a single bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a sprite. My perfect post race meal.

I’m really liking the 70.3 distance and this has to be my favorite 70.3 race. I’m positive that I’ll continue to keep this one on my calendar. Odyssey does a wonderful job in putting on this race!


1HappyAthlete said...

Sounds like you had a great race. Congrats!!

Ben said...

Hi, this is a weird question, but do you have your race bib from this event? If you do and you'd like to sell it please email me (This is the only bib that I'm mission from my collection).