Yes, it's long overdue, but just finished it up... :)
Thursday morning: Overcast, as usually. BigMatt, Clarky, and myself stuffed the Subaru to the brim with all our bikes, clothes, wheels, laptops, and one stray can of chicken broth... don't ask. We headed out on the long drive to Boise, Idaho from Bend, Oregon. This was our first journey across this route, but we were confident in our navigation skills and our navigator, and world class backpacker, Clarky.
The trip started out fine, we only needed to make one turn 100+ miles out and that would take us straight into Boise. The ride was fun despite the overcast, rainy weather and seemingly endless stretch of road. If you've ever driven from Bend to Boise you know it's the kind of drive that can make one insane if driven too often. Tumble weed number eighty seven was slightly different than its predecessors giving us a pleasant change and something to talk about outside of triathlon. The rest of the trip was top 5 lists. Top five places to travel, top five endurance events to spectate (Kona and Paris-Roubaix being the consensus), top five places to live, and other top five lists three virile young men discuss... or two young men and one rapidly approaching forty. One missed turn and 60 miles before being discovered we fired our navigator. The missed turn only added 30-45 minutes to our trip so it wasn't devastating in the least. It gave us fuel to harass our world traveler, so worth it.
We all arrived safely and met up with our father, lowercase "F", at the hotel. This was to be the first big race that all three sons and dad got to do together. Our brother, Chris, drove up from California in his van. The nights were tough at the hotel as I drew the shortest straw and had to bunk with the "notorious snorious", the latest Dr. Seuss character, and my Dad. The violent storm was almost unbearable at times. It felt as if I were in a cartoon from the 70's. With each intake of oxygen the room itself collapsed, only to regain it's form on exhale forcing anything not affixed to the floor or walls to shift and rattle. Three nights later I awoke at 4:45. Race day had arrived.
Matt, Dad, Chris, Clarky, Dwight, and myself loaded up the car and headed to the race start. The swim was in a reservoir about 20 minutes outside of town. We dropped our bikes off the previous evening. This morning our only task was to get to the swim start and keep our wits about us. The sun had not yet arisen and the wind was blowing with a mighty force. The reservoir that appeared calm and somewhat inviting the day before, now showed some teeth. Rough waters, wind, and cold was the order for the day. The water temperature was reported to be 59, but I think they padded that a bit so as not to panic this years participants and those considering the race in the future.
I spent a good part of my pre race time trying to calm my jitters. Trying to convince myself that despite a slow start to this years training I could get through this, just pace myself and focus on a constant and steady from start to finish. For the last couple years I've blown up on the run during every Ironman and half ironman. Today's goal was to not let that happen, time was of no consequence, just no walking and cramping.
Swim - After watching the brothers and dad start in their waves, I headed to my group and station in the corral of swimmers waiting to take the plunge. It was time, the the first group of 35-39 men began their journey of 70.3 miles and it was time for group two, the guys in the purple caps to enter the water and prepare for our race. The water was startlingly cold. I focused hard on trying not to hyperventilate. The wetsuit felt as is if it wasn't working, like I got a faulty suit. I stuck my head under water to get over that shock before the gun, and popped up quickly questioning why I was bobbing in freezing cold water wrapped in neoprene at 7:30 in the morning. I don't need to be doing this... Pop. The gun goes off and we are on our way.
The first 200 meters were clouded by a brain freeze like none other I have experienced. I thought my head was going to split open. Thankfully, once I got a few hundred meters in I warmed up and the cold didn't matter any longer, at least not until the end of the swim when I began to slow down considerably. The first two turns of the triangular swim course went well, I felt good, relaxed and calm despite the cold and the occasional run in with other swimmers. However, the last turn for home was tough. Perhaps just due to getting tired, perhaps the cold water took it's toll, but those last 500 meters or so seemed to take as long as the first 1400. I survived and finished the swim with a time of 39:33 ... A bit slower than I had hoped but I think that included the run up the hill to transistion.
T1 - As usual I was pretty slow in the transitions. I really take my time and put on socks, arm warmers, and vest as it was still pretty cold and windy. Time 5:44
Bike - The bike starts with a serious decent off the reservoir. I probably hit 40 miles an hour but it was nice to have a little time to settle into the bike before having to start really pedaling. After the descent there was a steady climb which takes you out to the main section of the course which is mostly farm roads outside of Boise. The course was fair - quick in spots, some steady climbs, some wind to contest, and a nice mild descent for the last 5-6 miles. The weather was overcast for the majority of the bike with rain falling over me during the final miles. For the most part, I tried to stay well within myself on the bike. In the back of my head I was really focused on putting in a decent run and not cracking due to pushing it too much on the bike. I took it really easy on the inclines and was passed often, only to retake my position on the descents. My Trek TTX is super fast and aero once your get to certain speeds. When I'd get it up to 22mph or so it seemed to just want to keep going and the momentum would keep me moving quickly and my cadence up. I drank far too much (probably lake water) and had to stop at about mile 45 to use the porta-potty. I need to work on balancing the intake of liquids with dehydration as two stops for long tinkles really has an impact on your time and average speeds. I felt good coming off the bike and was hoping for the best on the run. Bike 2:54:33, not exactly pumped about that time, pretty weak in my age group but considering the number of rides I have done to date I was satisfied more with feeling good coming off it than I was with the time and speed.
T2 - Again a bit casual. Chatted with a volunteer as I made my change. Was hoping for information on Chris and Matt as they would have been done by now, but nobody really paid much attention to the pro race. I made one last stop before exiting to begin the half marathon portion. Time: 3:54
Run - I started off slow and methodical. I know what it feels like when cramps sneak up on me, so I made certain to allow myself to ease into the run and get the muscles used to the change from cycling to running. About a mile and a half in I felt pretty good and opened up my pace a bit. If I had the run I wanted I'd be in at 1:45 or so. Eight minute miles would be ideal and a perfect run for me. I tracked my time at the markers and attempted to do the math in my head while keeping my pace. Things were going well and I was keeping good form. The course was flat with some winding as we ran along the path on the river. I tried to pick runners ahead that were on a similar pace, run to them and settle into their pace. I did this a number of times trying to work through the course and the miles. At around mile 9 things started getting pretty tight. My hips and gut were beginning to act up. Sharp pains in the gut and hips getting really tight causing my stride to shorten. At this point I began talking to myself, reflecting back on the tough trails I run and that I can suck it up and push through. A few times over the last miles I changed my form/stride to see if that would allow me to keep pace and take some pressure off the muscles that were beginning to fatigue. It seemed to work. It got me thru twelve on pace. The last mile was all adrenaline and knowing I would get this done. A dumping of water over my head to change mental focus and I started pushing myself harder. Running the last 1/4 mile up the street to the finish was awesome. I felt fresh and my stride was strong anticipating a good run time. 1:45:37!
Done - 5:29:21. I was really happy with this. Not my best half distance race, but better than I've done in a few years so I was happy. My run ended up on 8:03 average pace which is very promising. Sub 8's are possible...
Chris had a good race and finished second. The Matt's weren't too satisfied with their results, BigMatt was sick a few times on course and Clarky probably under estimated the travel from Australia. Dad finished strong in about 6:45 and took his age group and slot to Worlds in Clearwater.