Having raced what is supposedly one of the hardest Half-Ironman triathlons in the States (Wildflower), I can confidently say that this race makes the Wildflower run course look like child's play.
I'm going to make this quick, because I'm exhausted and I need to nap (post race party will go until 4am en la manana).
Jessa snapped a pic of me as I headed out to pump up the bike in transition...got to sleep in for this race with a 9am "late" start. My pre-race night's sleep is hugely enhanced by this stuff I've been taking called "Somnidren" made by a company called Millennium Sports. Breakfast was Bumblebar and banana.
The Specialized steed awaits...
I did a quick 400m warm-up in the water. It was nice to have the hotel so close to transition, as I was able to get my wetsuit on back at the hotel, and still have time to hang out with the kids...
Dad is strange:
My swim was executed as planned, at about 29 minutes even. Halfway through the swim, you have to get out of the water and sprint for about a football field down the beach, then dive back into the water. This was in interesting twist. As usual the Blue Seventy Helix felt like a freakin' GLOVE!
There is a buoy line in the swim that you can basically follow if you stay close enough to the buoys, so I kept my head down most of the time and made good progress following a white cable. At one point, I was so focused on the cable that I swam over another competitor, literally driving my elbow into the back of his neck and forcing him under the water as I crawled over his body. Sorry dude.
The pro swim start:
The amateur swim start:
The transition chute, as expected, was exhausting, with about a 300 meter run while pushing the bike. Here I am transitioning - haven't seen results yet, but I think I came out of the water around the top 20...
The bike course was incredibly difficult. The roads are very rough, and the wind rivaled Hawaii. I was not ready for that. It was my understanding that the bike course was non-technical and a bit understated, while the run course was the real kicker. As mentioned in an earlier post, I was using a combination of GU Gel and GU Roctane, and the stomach felt very solid. But my legs were pretty smoked by the time we finished the second loop of the bike.
I really flew, however, and from what I can tell, I was 2nd place age-grouper coming off the bike with the second fastest bike split on the day...I hit about 2:23-ish on the bike by my clock, and this was with a ferocious wind coming back.
I made the mistake of ditching a pack on the last 20K of the bike and riding off the front. In retrospect, this was a mistake, because I rode solo into the toughest wind, and it really took alot out of my legs. But despite massive sweat and decent heat, zero cramping (from both bike and run) using Hammer Gel E-Caps, exactly per the recommendations from Steve Born, their supplement guru.
I headed out of transition area feeling strong. You get about 200 meters, then you run straight up the side of the hill and onto the "Peninsula" which is a series of 10-20% grades that keep coming, and coming, and coming.
Knowing that these would be a problem, I tried to conserve energy, but felt the life sucked out of me by the time I finished the first loop of the peninsula. Feeling as I did at this point, I knew accomplishing a 1:30 would be very hard.
Throughout the run, I ate the equivalent of about half a banana, and 4 electrolyte pills. My stomach felt fine, but my legs were *dead*. Running on a treadmill in snowy Spokane, WA just did not get me strong enough for this run. I must say that the Avia Bolt racing flats I was using felt VERY good, and I love these kicks for this distance or anything shorter.
I literally crawled through the last bit of the Peninsula and struggled through town to the finish line. Despite coming off the bike 1-2 minutes ahead of schedule, I ended up almost 10 minutes off my goal finish time, taking what I think was about 1:39 to run the half-marathon. Again, I have yet to see official results, but I think I finished at about a 4:36.
The run really kicked my ass. I took an entire bag of IV fluid and could barely walk back to my hotel afterwards. I'll be walking funny tomorrow, for sure.
But good news - I CLINCHED A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SLOT WITH A 2ND PLACE DIVISION FINISH!
So despite feeling like I've been run over by a train, I'm pretty happy.
This was one of the hardest races I have *ever* done, and by far, the hardest Half-Ironman on the planet. No doubt.
I've got 48 hours to recover, then it's off to climb a volcano. I've supplementing with "Recoverease" by Wicked Fast and it massively speeds up healing, so I'm not too nervous...that plus the IV and post-race massage and I should be OK.
Off to party with Pisco sours. Ciao.