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6947 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Dec 13, 2011 1:03 PM by BenMcDonald
LMWEL Pro 82 posts since
Aug 27, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

Nov 4, 2011 5:44 PM

First Half Ironman...WoW!!

Saturday I raced in (and completed) my first HIM triathlon, The Washington Half in Washington NC.  I've been planning to do this race for almost a year and training for it all season. In short, I've been obsessing about it for months.  Now that it's over I don't have anyone to talk to about it other than my wife.  She's been listening to it for a long time.  She's had enough.

So here I am.  The triathlon season (for me anyway) is over,  and I need to tell someone about my triumph.

In all of my training and obsessing I decided to set my target time at six hours.  My wife is the only triathlete I told, and she doubted I could do it, although she never said so until after. The math all worked out though.  I'm not a strong swimmer, but I figured I could be on the bike in 50 minutes.  The bike, my strongest leg, shouldn't take more than three hours under ideal conditions.  A two hour half marathon didn't seem out of the question considering the flat course.  The numbers just worked out.

For the last week or so leading up to the race, doubt began to creep in to my well laid plan.  All of the training I had been doing all season long had been giving me confidence, but tapering for the race was causing my confidence to fade slightly.  To make matters worse, every time I turned on the news, I was reminded of the windy, cold, and rainy conditions expected for race morning. 

I decided I would stop pressuring myself.  I wasn't going to worry about it. I can't control the weather, right?  I told my wife that my target time... that was under ideal conditions.  So I didn't have anything to prove.  Uh Huh...

So... Raceday.  There were white caps on the Pamlico River.  Uh Oh.  I've never swam in those conditions.  On the bright side, the water wasn't as cold as I expected.  The Washington Half was a very small event this year with only 97 competitors registered.  The Race Director decided that with such a small field, we would all start the swim together.  At 8:00 am the gun went off and about 90 of us swam out towards the middle of the murky, cold and very choppy Pamlico River. 

  The swim was awesome. No kidding.  I was able to remember the hardest lesson from all of my swim training. RELAX!!!  I was so relaxed for almost the entire swim that it seemed like it went by in an instant.  The only issues were, taking on some water while rounding the last turn buoy, and being blown off course near the swim exit.  We can discuss times later, because at this point I had no idea. 

  Wetsuit transition is what it is... So on to the bike.  I ride alot, so 56 miles didn't concern me.  I do, on the other hand, I have an issue with pacing.  I like to hammer the pedals.  As we all know, that could have a major impact on the run.  For the first 25 minutes or so, I kept repeating to my self " It's a long ride ".   That's when the course made a right turn on to Hwy 264E.  The pavement was so smooth that I couldn't hear my tires on the road.  I spied an American flag waving strong in the direction of my travel.  My bike computer said my speed had increased to 25+ mph, and yet my effort had not increased.  So naturally, I found a way to justify going fast.  Logically, if I had a strong tail wind during the first part of the bike leg while racing to the East, then I would have a strong head wind later, while racing to the West.  I said to myself " Get it while you can ".  What a Blast!  I felt strong.  Tail winds will do that.  A little over an hour in to the ride I made a right turn ( East ) and hit the wall, literally, a wall of wind.  I knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any easier to take.  The competitors I passed, or the ones who passed me, were all suffering.  I was trying to ignore my computer, which was telling me that I was going less than 16 mph, and that my average speed was falling like a stone." Don't struggle"  I kept telling myself.  I thought the bike leg would never end.  It was torturous.  Eventually, the landscape became familliar as I got closer to transition.  Now I get to find out if I have anything left. 

  Transition to running was pretty fast. Lose the jacket, helmet and glasses, and change shoes.  Quick... But I was sore.

   So, the run.  Two hours of thinking about what hurts.  Calf cramp for the first three miles.  Burning quads for the last three miles.  My wife and I passed on the run course, and she mentioned the time.  Oh No... pressure!  As much as I tried not to think about it, now it seemed like my target time was still atainable.  Wind, cold, fatigue...keep running.  I walked through the aid stations to make sure I took in enough water etc.  The run course was a double out and back, which meant I'd be running out 3.3 miles and back, and then turning around at the finish line to do it again.  The last leg was brutal. 

  The home stretch was a quarter mile down a scenic, tree lined lane.  I decided to ramp it up for the finish.  I was running so fast when I crossed the finish line that I almost missed the Race Director reaching to give me a high five, and the time...5:49.44.  I did it. I DID IT !!!!

  The Times

   Swim- 36:45  T1- 3:15  Bike- 2:58.59  T2- 1:25  Run- 2:09.23

I know it doesn't sound as impressive as I've made it seem, but considering I quit smoking just 25 months ago, I'm pretty proud.

   Thanks for listening. I figured you all would understand.

The Monster Dash 5k . Halloween day - 26:08

The Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8k . Thanksgiving day - 41:57

The Jolly Elf 5k Trail Run . Dec 11 - 26:09

The Tobacco Road Half Marathon . March 20, 2011- 1:53.13

The Triangle Orthopedic Sprint Triathlon . April 23, 2011- 1:21.53 / 5k- 25:48

The White Lake International Triathlon . Sept 10, 2011- 2:59.45 / 10k- 56:27

The Washington Half Iron Triathlon . Oct 29, 2011- 5:49.44 / 13.1mi- 2:09.23

The Tobacco Road Marathon . March 18, 2012- 4:37.56

Currently Training For -

  • IronMakeover Community Moderator 738 posts since
    Jul 7, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Nov 9, 2011 6:27 AM (in response to LMWEL)
    First Half Ironman...WoW!!

    You TOTALLY did it!!! Well done! And I'm glad you took the time to tell us your experience.


    Way to take on the whitecaps! And so much fun to have a tailwind at any point of a long day, feels so good.


    It sounds like your finish was smoking? :-) Congratulations on quitting, that's definitely something to be proud of. And, stand behind your times, it's your experience - be proud!!!!!!


    I've seen so many people finish happy and then pick apart their whole experience or get hung up comparing to the agegroup/field etc.

    Hang on to the excitement and keep a piece of it with you always.


    Good luck with your next event, it appears to be a marathon - cool.

    Best to you,


    Sara Cox Landolt

  • ACKMANN Amateur 22 posts since
    Jul 27, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Nov 9, 2011 11:49 AM (in response to LMWEL)
    First Half Ironman...WoW!!

    You figure we would understand?  Of course we do!  Congratulations!


    I just do sprint duathlons, and I'm proud of you.


    Your times, do they really matter?  In one sense, no they don't.  You finished, you accomplished something great that few will ever do.  In the other, heck yes, they matter.  You made your time.  WTG!


    I just started the sport this year, and love all the support an praise from other competitors.  I plan to move to sprint marathons next year.


    Congratulations from Ohio. 

  • NzAndy Pro 77 posts since
    Oct 23, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Nov 14, 2011 3:46 PM (in response to LMWEL)
    First Half Ironman...WoW!!

    Excellent effort and determination.  I'm there with you, I finished my first 70.3 this year in Boulder, CO.  Welcome to the club, take pride in your accomplishment and very understandable joy in finishing.


    Nobody who hasn't pushed themselves to accomplish a goal like that will truly understand what it means to us at the finish line, regardless of the distance.  I just find that the more difficult the goal the more I get out of it at the finish line.  Everything else you had to do to make it across that line just adds to the experience so bask away and wear the finisher's hat with pride.

  • Freddy Castaneda Rookie 1 posts since
    Oct 8, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Nov 17, 2011 12:09 AM (in response to LMWEL)
    First Half Ironman...WoW!!

    Congratulation! Thats is great. very insperational. I just did my first Sprint triathalon and I hope to soon be able to accomplish what you just did. Maybe not that fast, but just get it done. Thanks for posting up your experience.

  • Michael716 Rookie 2 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Nov 17, 2011 8:26 PM (in response to LMWEL)
    First Half Ironman...WoW!!

    That is awesome!!  I can appreciate not having people to share our passion with; I think everyone I know has had enough triathlon talk from me.

  • Brjann Brekkan Rookie 1 posts since
    Mar 29, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Nov 25, 2011 3:09 PM (in response to LMWEL)
    First Half Ironman...WoW!!

    Thanks for sharing. Great writeup and so nice to read about another first timer. Great job finishing strong! I just started doing Triathlons this year and finished my first half in late September with very similar experience except my legs decided to take a vacation on the run. Write up on


    Now on to next season with some more biking and leg strength training planned for me.



  • TamaraSutton Rookie 1 posts since
    Nov 1, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Nov 27, 2011 7:51 AM (in response to LMWEL)
    First Half Ironman...WoW!!

    Congratulations on the HIM!  Great to read your recap.  I'm doing my first one in July, and I hope for a great experience too.

    Congratulations again! 

  • BenMcDonald Rookie 1 posts since
    Jan 14, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Dec 13, 2011 1:03 PM (in response to LMWEL)
    First Half Ironman...WoW!!

    Thanks for posting about your first 70.3.  I am hoping to do my first one this summer.  I just got a tri bike after completing a sprint and olympic distance tri this past summer.  Congratulations on beating your goal time.  That's something to be proud of!

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