I had heard so many great things about this race in years past I decided to go and find out for myself this year. I always like going to race in new places and since I had never been to Maine before I was excited to try it.
Pre-Race: Since I has never been to Maine before I decided to go up a bit early and check it out. I should have known when we couldnt actually stay in Maine how remote the location actually was! We ended up staying in Dover, NH which was only 8 miles from the race site, but in another state. While there were some really pretty parts of both states, there was almost nothing to do in either of them. Thursday we headed out an explored Dover while Friday we spent most of the day in Maine heading to a tiny beach, followed by a zoo, before heading to packet pickup. Here is where I got the first view of the powderhouse hill climb challenge. It was a hill between the lake and T1 that was guaranteed to jump start your heart rate! After picking up the packet we went back to Dover to grab some dinner and call it a night.
As I racked my bike and got my transition area ready I looked around at all the extremely super fit people I was going to be racing against. I decided to race in the elite wave because I wanted to challenge myself, I knew that this race always grabs top talent from the north east including local professionals due to the prize purse offered so I was planning on getting crushed from the outset. As I started my usual sprint warm-up I could feel something was off but I just didn't know what. I could feel like I was going to have a hard time getting my heart rate up, which is a problem when you are supposed to be redlining for an hour or so. I asked the volunteers if the run course was marked and he said yea don't worry you wont get lost there will be plenty of people at each turn. He looked at me like I had 3 heads when I told him I was planning on running the run course before we started the race! He eventually sent me the wrong way, but I turned around at 1.5 miles and just headed back to transition feeling a little flat and unsure of what I was going to be able to accomplish.
Swim: .3 Miles (.31 GPS) 7:43 25:00/mi
I knew my only shot to stay close to the rest of the elites was for me to swim in the pack and hang on for dear life since I wouldnt be able to run with most of them. As the gun goes off I start out in the main pack and Im surprised to be holding my own all the way out to the first buoy. The next thing I know the feet that I am on pull up and we are suddenly out of the group. It turns out the guy whos feet I was following had a panic attack and needed to pull back for a minute, in doing so we lost the group and were forced to fend the second half of the swim by ourselves. With only a minute between the first and second wave I was worried about possibly getting passed by a faster swimmer, but that wouldn't be the case today. I came out of the water in 10th place looking to take advantage of my strength.
As mentioned before we had to climb the mountain from the lake to T1, is was nothing short of what was advertised super tough!
Bike: 14.3 Mi (14.3 GPS) 38:22 22.4 Mph
The hill climb took quite a bit out of me, more than I expected it to for sure. While I was getting out of my wetsuit and catching my breath a few of the other elites made it out of T1 before me but not by much. I started to ride and felt like I had absolutely no power in my legs I was able to catch the first one, and I kind of locked into the second one, who happened to be the guy I was drafting off of in the swim. Instead of locking in a trying to pass, I basically sat 3 bike lengths behind him and allowed him to pace the whole bike ride for me. I just didn't have that killer instinct and my legs felt terrible. We ended up passing a few of the female elites before heading into T2 but we didn't make any ground on the men. Looking at my power file I definitely did not have it as I was about 30 watts lower than I normally am for a sprint.
Avg Power:264 WMax Power:538 WMax Avg Power (20 min):274 WNormalized Power (NP):277 WIntensity Factor (IF):0.925Training Stress Score (TSS):54.0
Nothing new here, grab my shoes and out to go run
Run 3 mi (2.96 GPS) 6:29 Mi pace
As I started the run I immediately wanted to stop. The 97% humidity made it feel like I was running through quicksand and going absolutely nowhere. I seriously contemplated just walking it back in and calling it a day, but I didn't. I could see 2 racers slightly ahead of me and I thought I could probably catch them if i pushed but I just had no spark in my legs. I held on to my position and plodded through it until we hit the last hill coming into transition. I came across the line in 12th place overall which completely surprised me given how I felt and raced. I was hoping that this race shook out the cobwebs and I would be able to put together a solid race at the half ironman on Sunday.
I was a little upset when I saw my wattage at 265 for the bike when I was expecting my wattage target for the half iron to be 265 and was contemplating changing it, but decided against it. I felt like I could still hold that pace for 56 miles so why not? While disappointed in my personal performance I can't be upset at where I fell in the overall standings. Given how I felt I will take 12th overall. We headed back to Dover with nothing to do so we played some mini golf before heading to an early dinner.
Sunday: I felt a world of difference when I woke up on Sunday morning. I felt like I was ready to race. Erica was even commenting on how I was acting like I usually do before a race as opposed to the day before. I just had no energy on Saturday and it showed in my performance numbers. While I felt good I knew that this race was going to be much harder to place well at, there were plenty of top half iron guys from around the local area in addition the already deep field that was still racing after racing the Sprint. I knew I had to keep myself in check and just race my race!
Warmup: I decided that I was only going to run for about 10 minutes to get the juices flowing and just see how I felt overall. My legs felt a little tight but I knew I had lots of time on the bike and since I didn't necessarily have to run fast I wasn't too worried.
Swim: 1.2 Miles (GPS 1.21) 32:02 26:27/mile
As I started once again I tried to stay with the main pack and I lasted with them until about the first buoy. Since it was a two loop course I knew I would eventually find some feet on the second loop so I wasn't too worried. After yesterdays performance I wanted to make sure I didn't blow up in the swim so I swam comfortably hard. By the third buoy some of the athletes in the aqua bike wave were passing me. Swimming is not a strength of mine so I didn't let it bother me. I just hopped on their feet as long as I could knowing that I would get it back on the bike. Coming into the second loop I had to swim through the slower age groupers that went out in the later waves. The drafting effect that I got was probably dampened by the amount of time I spent navigating and weaving in and out of people to find clean water. I finally came out of the water and was extremely upset when I saw 32:xx on the clock. I certainly felt like I swam better than that, but 32 minutes is all I had to show for it.
Running up that hill again wasn't any more fun than the day before. Given how I performed yesterday and the swim I just had I could have mailed it in. But I decided that there was still a lot of racing to be done and just focused on what I was going to be doing next, heading out on the bike.
Bike 56 Mi (54.85 GPS) 23.0 MPH 2:22:13 Personal Best!
As I started my ride I was the 24th swimmer out of the water. I felt like I could make up some ground here so I kept my race strategy. As I eased into my pace I felt very confident that I was going to have a good ride. I started to settle in and I clicked off the first 5 miles with ease. The only problem was that I didn't see ANYONE. Shortly after I passed the 5 mile mark I passed a female, but I wouldn't see anyone else for another 5 miles. This was going to be one lonely ride! I kept my head down and just kept plugging away, I was able to pass a few more people before I got to the turnaround where I started to run into the age groupers on their first loop. It was nice because I no longer felt like I was riding by myself, but I also couldn't tell if someone I was passing was on their first or second loop for sure. As I came through the second time I knew what to expect and I felt that I actually rode the second half stronger than the first. I passed a bunch of people but I wouldn't know where I stood until I came into T2. I felt very strong coming into mile 50 and was happy to make the left hand turn back to transition. As I made the final right into transition I could see almost all of them heading out on the run and was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't that far behind. And in the end I averaged that same amount of power that I did for the sprint! I was clearly off on Sat!
|Avg Power:||265 W|
|Max Power:||659 W|
|Max Avg Power (20 min):||276 W|
|Normalized Power (NP):||272 W|
|Intensity Factor (IF):||0.907|
|Training Stress Score (TSS):||194.2|
I was told I was in 14th place and the other guys weren't that far ahead. I knew in my head though since most of them were capable of running 1:15-1:20 I would be losing a lot more time on the run.
Run: 13.1 Miles (13.2 GPS) 1:35:12 7:12 Pace (Half Iron Personal Best)
As I started the run I wasn't sure how I was going to feel since my run training has been lacking lately. I hadnt run 13.1 miles in almost 6 months and the furthest I had run in the last 2 was about 9. Most of runs had been 5-6 miles long. I could feel my back tightening up as I ran down the first hill and kept telling myself to keep moving. As I crossed the 1 mile mark I saw 6:30 and I told myself I need to slow down. My back was still tight but I kept moving along as I looked up one of the spectators was sitting by a tree, and said to me "you didn't get enough yesterday?" before giving me a split that I was 2 minutes behind 13Th place. This was where we started the climb to what was deemed "the oasis" at the turnaround it was a subtle climb, but it definitely took its toll. I hit the 3rd mile in 6:58 and felt I was on pace to where I should be. I had to stop around mile four for a potty break, but then I was back on track. Mile 5 was 6:46, 6 was 7:10 including stopping at the aid stations briefly to dump water on myself or take in nutrition. I kept counting to see if I was getting any closer to the guys in front of me, but I just seemed to be losing ground as expected. Coming into the turnaround I thought I was gaining time on the lead female, but as I faded down the stretch she pulled away. The run started to get really tough for me, as expected, from miles 10-12. And then I nearly broke between 12 and 13. The second place female ran by me like I was standing still on the final climb back to the finish. Running up the hills I couldn't keep my heart rate down and I had a nasty side stitch that wouldn't go away. As I approached the apex of the last hill I had to stop and walk for a few seconds to catch my breath. Once I did and I realized it was only a short downhill to the finish I was super psyched as I knew I had a new Half Iron PR. I rolled my self across the finish in honor of Jon Blais who the race was dedicated to this year and couldn't have been happier!
Some people will question why I decided to race as an elite when there were actual professional triathletes racing. I always, when given the chance, will race against the best of the best. If I would have race in the age group waves on Saturday I would have been 2nd overall age grouper, but I still would have been 12th overall. Sundays race I would have been 4th in my age group, but again still would have been 23rd overall. In both cases I might have actually been faster because of the drafting effect with other riders on the course, but I wouldn't have been able to test myself the way I did knowing that I was being compared to the Pros and pros only. I've got one more race scheduled for the year and I'm hoping the fitness I gained from this weekend will carry me to a great finish for the year. Although I was at the back of the back in the elite group both days, its brought me a ton of confidence and I'm going to be heading into 2013 with a head of steam!