Well, I’m 0 for 2 at Half Ironman distance triathlons. Here’s a race report for the parts I did, and the reason behind my second DNF here in a row…
After the Chisago Lakes Sprint, I took all of August off of racing to train right for a Half Ironman, like I did last year. Training was going great; I was biking fast and long, and I was running strong. Last Friday I drove up to Duluth with my girlfriend Claire who was about to begin her senior year at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Saturday felt more like a normal day than a pre-race day, as it involved shopping and a nice dinner out with Claire and my folks.
Race morning started at 5:00. I woke up and actually ate a little, unlike when I do sprints. Claire and I left her apartment and met up with my dad at their hotel, and then I biked over to transition. I got everything ready and walked over to the Vista Star, the boat we’d be jumping off to start.
Around 7:10 the long course athletes began jumping off the boat in time trial fashion. I didn’t mean to, but I ended up going dead last, which was fine because I could then pass other athletes (putting me ahead of them AND allowing me to put less of an emphasis on spotting in the water). I hadn’t been swimming much, but I felt really strong throughout the swim! I was keeping good form, I was surprisingly going in a straight line, and I wasn’t feeling tired as I continued to pass athletes. I came out of the water and immediately hit my watch… “39:59?!? Oh well, it must have been long and was long for everyone.” (By the way, my official results probably have my time as a little longer, as the timing pad was near transition and not right at the water’s exit). So, I jogged to T1 and got a quick shout out from Jerry on the mic, and I heard that Ted Treise was right behind me.
T1 was wetsuit off, helmet on, and gone.
I had to stop and get on my bike because I couldn’t do a flying mount due to the waterbottle mounted to the back of my seat, and then I fiddled with my new Giro Aerohead MIPS visor for the first half mile or so. The first 4.5 miles are very technical, with sharp turns and short but steep hills, so I tried to take it relatively easy and not crash like I did last year. Once I got onto London Road, I picked up the pace to 24/25 mph, just to bring my average up. Then the rest of the ride involved some long rolling hills, and I did pretty good at staying between 22 and 23 mph (my goal pace). I hit the turnaround at Two Harbors, and then started to bike back on the same route that I ran in Grandma’s Marathon 2 months earlier. I was starting to feel my legs get a little heavier, but I was still pushing along at my goal speed. Then, at mile 43, I rode over some rubble at the end of a driveway and got a flat tire…. Just like last year. I got off my bike and checked, and it was my disc wheel which is tubular…. Just like last year. So, I waited on the side of the road for the mechanic’s van to find me. After the 40 minute wait, he arrived, and filled my tire with sealant. He tried this last year but it didn’t work, but the sealant took hold this year and I was able to air my tire up. I continued for the last 12 miles, now as one of the last riders on the road.
I got back to T2 and stood at my rack for about a minute. I decided to go out on the run and see how I felt.
I ran 1.8 miles, which felt really good and was done at 7:00 pace. But then I decided to call it quits for two reasons. 1, I was still pissed off about getting a flat, ruining my race for the second year in a row. 2, even if I ran the half marathon, it wouldn’t have been an accurate reflection of what I could do in a half ironman because I essentially had a 40-45 minute break during the bike. So, my day was over and I walked back to transition and handed my chip to a volunteer.
I’m mad that I got a flat, but I didn’t do anything wrong to get it and it was nobody’s fault. Guess it just wasn’t my day, again. However, I am mad that the swim was long. My Garmin had it at 1.48 miles, not 1.20. In the GPS age, it’s unacceptable to be off by almost 1/3 of a mile. Don’t believe me it was long? Well, tell me the last time Sean Cooley had a 36 minute swim split….
Anyways, I’m bummed that I still haven’t finished a half ironman. My season is over now. I’m going to take a short break, and then spend the next 7 months preparing for next season (I’m beginning my senior year at St. Thomas in a few days. I only have 3 classes each semester, giving me tons of training time. Plus, if I get accepted into a medical school, next summer will be my last chance to train and race hard, so I’m going to give it all I’ve got). See you in April.