Since successfully completing Physical Therapy earlier this year on my right knee (knee injury last July) I’ve had the urge to get back to Half Iron Distance racing. So in this July after going to Lake Placid and volunteering with Anh for her IRONMAN debut next year that itch for racing widened. As any Tri Geek I took to TriFind This time of year most popular races were already sold out or priced up. I also wanted to give myself at least 8-10 solid weeks of training. I got excited when I saw a new 70.3 race in Princeton (IRONMAN brand race) around that time frame, but oops “Sold Out” and also higher priced (premium brand). I landed upon a race that was in a perfect time slot with training and price. It was the Waterman Half in Rock Hall, Maryland. Approximately 3-1/2 hours driving from New York City.
However before signing up I wanted to get some long distance bike and run volume underway to test my fitness, mostly knee fitness. It took me about 3 weeks of training and confidence before I pulled the trigger and registered for the Waterman Half. The race only cost $190 compared to the usual $250 – $300 of similar types. In the race description the bike and run course was deliberately described as being pancake flat and a “triathletes dream”. I’ll take that especially the fact that I would be limiting my run volume in training.
Race morning was preceded by torrential rainfall and strong winds. Fortunately it all ceased up leading into the start. I was skeptical of my choice of goggles being Amber. That would hurt me on the first loop of the swim. The only two pairs I had was Amber and Mirrored. Swim start was at 9am so I thought the sun would have been out by then. Unfortunately with the weather conditions it was very cloudy and visibility was poor. I had to stop on a few occasions to clean the goggles and verify the course buoys. Visibility was way more enhanced on the second loop of the swim. I got in a rhythm and was just enjoying the swim at that point. Being a slower swimmer “white caps”-the second wave were passing me at that point. My wave “red caps” were first and consisted of men under 39. I Took my swim cadence up a notch heading to the finish, I also did a bit more kicking at that point. We were aided onto the dock with the help of an in the water ladder and volunteers. I came across Anh and Miles cheering me along and made my way to T1 (bike transition).
The usual at T1, wetsuit off, helmet and bike gear on and made my way to the bike mounting area. Temps were in the mid 60s. I went with my regular Tri kit. A jacket wasn’t needed although I knew it would be a bit windy out there.
The wind. The wind was present throughout the bike course. Especially the last 20 miles or so. In training my “A” goal was to keep 20mph on the bike. I did quite an amount of strength and interval work to get my bike fitness up to that level. After moving to Forest Hills I was a bit skeptical of my long bike rides on the weekends. Usually being closer to the Queensboro Bridge it was biking to Nyack via 9W which made for a great ride with hills and flats. But being further East in Queens it would be more bike commuting before I got to a favorable bike section for quality training. After doing some research on bike forums, bike maps I discovered that using the Long Island service road would be perfect for outdoor bike training. At first I thought Long Island was pancake flat but even the Waterman bike course was flatter. Out of transition I quickly got my bike legs. I was able to hit 20+ mph right out of the gate. I still mostly rode inside my comfort zone and kept using perceived effort . **A disadvantage to not owning a power meter** At this point my goal was to keep a cadence of 80-90. Whenever I found myself spinning above 95rpm I took up the gear a notch or two. I may have stayed in aero for at least 85% of the ride and big chain ring 90%. Got out of the saddle and stretched out a bit to loosen up once in a while. The course wasn’t by any means crowded. There were maybe 200 or so participants. At a few times it was just like a training ride with the occasional rider encounter. Took in nutrition about every 20 – 30 mins (Main bottle had Accelerade and Maltodextrin). Made sure to take in two salt tablets every hour. Finished the bike with 139 bpm average heart rate (my zone 3) and 20.5 mph bike with a 2:43 bike split. A few seconds better than my “A” goal.
Photo by ChessiePhoto
Rode with (M)iles and (A)nh on my arm :-)
Felt a bit tight running into transition. Wasn’t worried because I knew I would get my run legs back within a few miles. It was a bit slow getting out of T2 part being that I placed my running shoes in a plastic bag to keep them dry in case it rained again, also made sure to put socks on. (I opt not to at shorter distances)
For the first 6 miles of the run I told myself try to be as conservative as possible. My left calf was getting a bit cramped. After mile 8 I started walking at every aid station and pouring ice water on my head and calf. That aided with the cramp tremendously. From about mile 9-11 I found a second gear and was able to push the pace. Slowed down a bit pass mile 12 so that I wouldn’t jeopardize the calf and resort to walking.
I love the small community of Rock Hall. The volunteers were great as with most small towns. There were kids handing out lemonade and orange slices along the way. A bit on the weather and run course: We all should be quite grateful for the overcast weather on the day because as the athletes guide said there is almost no shade whatsoever on the run course. With a higher temp day or cloudless sky I think the run would surely take more out of us. Nutrition on the run course was okay in that the heed was pretty watered down. I did choose to run with 2 gels and one of those I took at the half way point with 2 salt tablets.
Photo by ChessiePhoto
– took a gel before the swim
– two bottles on the bike
– (1) aero bottle consisted of about 800 cals (Accelerade and Maltodextrin)
– (2) water
– took 2 salt tablets every hour
– used the on course aid station water for taking in salt tablets and gel
– took 3 gels every 45 mins
– took a gel halfway into the run
– had heed at the water aid stations every other mile
– got rid of nutrition twice, once on the run and once on the bike :-)
My training for this race couldn’t have been more spot on. The only disappointment was the swim. As always my swim is the weakest of the sports. But today my sighting couldn’t have been worse on the first loop which may have been the main cause of a slower swim than predicted. I was expecting about 36-38 minutes. Swimming in race conditions with a higher tempo has to be my goal going forward if I want to achieve better swim times. I have always addressed my race swim more relaxed compared to training. Being more comfortable to go harder in races is one of my main goals going forward like every triathlete out there. I have found this to only be possible with more open water races during the season like I did a few years ago. Just doing pool or solo open water sessions is not adequate. I love the venue. Biking through the quiet corn fields and open roads and shoulders of Rock Hall, MD was incredible. The roads were mostly smooth except for about a 3 mile section on Bay Shore Rd. which has a fresh gravel top. The quiet bike course may be a bit hard for triathletes that like bigger crowds and don’t like being isolated on the bike course. But for me it was just another training day. I was a bit worried when the race director gave us recommendations to drive the course to make sure we were familiar with it. I thought at this point we would have been solely responsible. However it turned out there was at least 2 volunteers along with sheriff deputies assisting on the course with directions. So don’t be like me up the night before trying to do mapmyride to familiarize yourself with the course specifics. The run course was pancake flat as advertised but the logistics of the 2 loop course wasn’t my favorite part of the day. My favorite part of the day however was catching Anh and Miles at all 3 triathlon legs of the course cheering me on. They were amazing fans for Dad. Super psyched with my performance and overall fitness. Long term goal is to stay as injury free as possible. This will continue to mean less aggressive run training. I’ll also be addressing more strength sessions in the off season.
Finish Time minus T1+T2
Waterman’s Medal and Ale
Official Finish Time: 5:17:48
Places to Eat:
Waterman’s Crab House
Waterman Half Video Clip