TBF Half-Ironman 2012 Race Report

TBF Racing always puts on a good show. The whole crew is so positive and energetic – I always have a fun race with these guys. Highly recommend any of their races. Before the countdown to the swim, the race organizer announced that this would be the last of the TBF Half-Ironman race. It’s the second year they’ve tried it after a few years off – just hard to find half-iron racers. I suspect those stepping up to this distance either want to do a fun event locally like the Santa Cruz half, or they’re sold on the M-dot Ironman brand races that are over-priced and over-branded. But heck, I’m doing my third Ironman next March because there’s no competition out there…

Plenty of numbers and great competition for their Spring and OLY races.

Pre-Race

Got there in plenty of time, picked an open rack. There were many because this is was a small race. Fewer than 100 total athletes.

Swim

The lake doesn’t allow motorboats and I’ve swam it many times in Sprint in OLY distance races, so I already knew my sighting markers and distances. Once the the race started, I focused on nice, easy, long strokes to warm up and keep down my heart rate. After the first few hundred yards, I realized that there were just a couple of fish way ahead and then I was a trail pack of about 5-6 swimmers.

After the first turn, it seemed like the pack (or me) was swimming crookedly. I did mostly tuck in with the pack to the second buoy before the final 1/4 mile swim to shore. During this last stretch, I definitely swam alone because I thought the other 3-4 swimmers left around me were off course. I would have been better to swim with them if only to take advantage of the drafting because when we got to  shore, I was losing some distance and lost the advantage of any drafting. Sigh.

Out of the water in 0:34:55. Slower than my 0:30:0 goal. After the race, it was explained to me that the last leg was clear against the current developed by the 8-10 mph wind, which explains the time.

Rank: 10th/68 overall, 3rd AG(out of 8)

Swim-to-bike transition
Went smooth. Hit my goals of standing while stripping my wetsuit, moving swiftly to the bike and rolling quickly.  Was very happy to see my HR at 138 as I mounted the bike. A great sign that I keep things mellow in the swim.

Transition time: 3:15

Bike
The goal here was to ride confidently and with just a touch of aggression, with a low goal of averaging 19mph and a high goal of 20mph, though I thought I might be able to hit 21 mph because the course hand little elevation change (expected to be <1000′ in total elevation).

Had a headwind and then a crosswind for the first 15 miles or so, which I expected to be more of a tailwind according to the weather forecast. I was still about to cruise north of 20mph and then gained even more speed once I turned east at mile 15 and caught a straight tailwind. I was >21mph at one point before the steady incline of the course hit. I was able to maintain decent speed, though by mile 22 I felt my first twinge of muscle fatigue.

I pushed through awaiting for the end of the incline which I expected to be around mile 28-30, but did not appear until mile 35. That kind of sucked and took some wind out of my sails. Additionally, the road surface was mostly pretty choppy which also sucks the life of you.

Around mile 35, there’s a long descent that was hard to enjoy because of the road conditions. At the town of Ione there was the last turn towards home around mile 42. This last section is a  road section I’ve ridden before for the aforementioned Sprint and OLY races. Mostly a gradual descent with occasional rollers and risers to get in the way of big progress. By now, I was achy and ready to dispose of the bike. The headwind didn’t help and I had bled down to 19mph on the bike. Still in goal range but I felt a little disappointed after seeing a 21mph average through the first 22 miles of the course.

I did pick up a little speed in the last miles with a hard push and finished the bike at 19.6mph average pace. I saw very few riders on the course – I passed a couple out of transition and in the first 3-4 miles, then was passed by 3 riders early and 1 rider late in the course. Mostly, it was just me, George, the traffic, and the bumpy road. Kind of took the sails out of the race compared to the Sprint races I’d done earlier in the summer where there was always a rabbit out there.

Bike time (w/o transition): 2:52 (12th overall, 3rd AG)

Bike to run transition
Stayed relaxed, changed efficiently, hit the Port-o-John and out of transition without a hiccup.

Transition time: 4:10

Run
The run was all about maintaining an 8:15 pace. I had to really slow myself down in the first mile to stay at an 8:00-8:05 pace. I was raring to go. There are some undulations on this trail run and then a twisting trail for a couple of miles. I mostly felt strong and took the race in three sections – the first 6.5 miles, then the next 3, then the last 3.5 miles. By the turnaround, I knew my pace was slower overall and that I was slower in the most recent miles. The bottoms of my feet were a little sore – feeling blisters develop. I then decided to focus on form and to run strong. I usually have some gas in the tank for a good push at the end where I could make up some time.

I had my running belt and Hammer drink but it wasn’t going down too smoothly so I focused on water at each aid station and Electrolyte pills every 30 mins or so as planned.

Once I hit the twisting trail on the way back from the second lap, I started picking up the pace and hit the last 2.5 miles pretty hard. At this last aid station, I knew it would be close even with a good push to make it under my run time goal of 1:45. The last mile was strong and I finished at 1:44:56 – just under.  My mile-by-mile run times were almost perfectly symmetrical:

1     8:03.5    1.00    8:04
2    8:02.5    1.00    8:03
3    8:09.4    1.00    8:09
4    8:29.4    1.00    8:29
5    8:22.8    1.00    8:23
6    8:30.4    1.00    8:30
7    8:26.7    1.00    8:27
8    8:27.6    1.00    8:28
9    8:27.6    1.00    8:28
10    8:29.8    1.00    8:30
11    8:11.7    1.00    8:12
12    8:02.0    1.00    8:02
13    5:12.9    0.74    7:01

Run time: 1:44:55 (6th overall, 1st AG)

Total Time: 5:20 (10th overall, 3rd AG)

Final thoughts
– Met my time goals
– Didn’t get hurt
– My running was strong and I felt good after (no calf injuries than have persisted)
– Bike is getting better and plenty of room for improvement
– Swim was comfortable

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