Republic of Texas Triathlon

I headed down to Corpus Christi on Saturday for the Sunday half ironman distance race. The entry price was right, no day before racking your bike, and the timing was right for me to test out my ironman fitness, with Challenge Roth only around 100-days from now; the field was also ripe for a podium position, since the entries for first year long distance races is almost always low, in the USA.

However, the conditions were not right. The sprint race on the Saturday had been a bike/run only, and the wind hadn't dropped, some said it was worse. Once I got out into the street, it was obvious unless there was a significant change the swim for the half would be abandoned, but I also couldn't see how they could realistically send us up onto the harbour bridge.

And so it came to pass on race day morning, the swim was cancelled and the bike course had the bridge removed, and so we found post race, about 4-miles at the far end of the bike loop cut off because a traffic signal was downed in teh wind and blocking the course. I'm not complaining about the decision, in fact Dan, Nick and the High Five events crew made exactly the right call and I'm grateful we got the chance to race at all.

So after giving an interview in transition to the local Corpus Christi newspaper, I'd pretty much decided that what coach had asked me to do, try to keep the bike at 130BPM and see how my legs were for the run wasn't needed, I'd go out and do what I always do, blast the bike and see if I could hang on for the run. This decision was confirmed as I watched everyone line up rack by rack for the time trial start. Personally when the swim is cancelled, I prefer a short hard run to separate people out before the bike. At least as far as my age group went, there were only four people that left before me, and I passed one of them in the first 3-miles. Battling into 33 MPH wind was hard going, and required an easy gear, high cadence and low profile. I passed the other 2-guys in the first ten miles, which meant, at least as far as I was able to count, I was leading.

The bike picture shows me leaning into the wind at the end of the first loop. It was ripped from the official photographers web site, Liz Kreutz, who I met the week before at Lance Armstrongs house, and now I feel really bad about ripping off the pictures.

Just before the turn around, we got a short respite from the wind in a dog-leg out-and-back, getting the wind behind you felt so good, I was soon cruising at 30MPH+ and I came across the most dangerous part of the course. A long section with the wind, followed by a sharp right onto a bridge into the wind. At this point I was leaning over, still in the aero position and got swept onto the opposite side of the road, doing 29MPH. I wouldn't make that mistake on the 2nd loop.

Bike dataThe ride back into town was a total blast, it was mostly totally flat and more or less straight, with the wind behind me, I managed a 5-mile split of 28MPH back into town on the first lap and reached 35MPH,and completed mile 20 at 31MPH, and just under 27MPH on the 2nd lap. You can see the data by clicking on the attached picture, which clearly shows I did all the bike in Zone 4, and mostly 150BPM or greater. Despite no swim, and a shorter bike, I'd pay for this, and I did.

What you can see from the data apart from HR through the roof, is the dog-leg out,with the fast ride back, the turn into the wind, and then the turnaround. I made it into transition with a running mount, but running downhill with the wind blowing a gale holding just the saddle, as I tell all my padwans, was tough going. My bike was a full 9-minutes faster than anyone else in my age group.... and my transition time was fastest in age group and only 2-seconds slower than the overall winner, James Bonney from Austin.

Despite looking pretty good as I headed out on to the run, my heart rate was soaring, I won't bore you with the data but my first mile was over 150BPM, and I only managed a 10-min mile; it got worse from there; I walked most of the aid stations on the first loop, as I went out on the second loop, I knew my race was over. At least to the best of my knowledge I'd only been overtaken by one from my age group, and at the turnaround at mile-10, I was passed by Tom and Michelle. I knew Michel was in my age group and Tom in the 50-54. They were walking when they passed me, try as I might when they started jogging together, I could keep up.

In the last 2-miles Tammy passed me, I asked her to do anything to stop me from stopping, since the guy behind me was in my age group and would take 3rd from me. In the zone she just ran on after a few short words. Shortly after, or before, I can't remember, my right calf went into severe cramp. I stopped to stretch it out, but it would go. Kathleen Woodhead stopped, massaged it for me until it at least eased up and I started down the last mile. I beat the guy behind me, but it turns out Tom was in my age group, so that meant 4th. I didn't deserve to podium based on my performance, and have a lot to work through before Roth, not least starting to be scientific about hydration again. My weight was down some 6lbs after the race.

There is a great picture of how I felt among the official Kruetz race pictures. We I was suffering and really fed-up, another half, another blow-up. Overall though, despite the conditions a great race from High Five Events and Jack and Adams.

Swim: Cancelled
Bike 41-miles, 2:01:44, 20.2MPH, 1st in Age group by 9-mins, 27th overall
Transition: 1:02, fastest in age group by 12-seconds and top-20 overall
Run 13.1-miles: 2:52:33, slowest in age group, 91st out 121 overall

I got the 115% of age group winners time that I needed to qualify for the GB ITU Worlds Long Course team, but without the swim and a short bike, it wouldn't count.

The full results are here.

Next up: Aside from wrapping up this trip to Banglore, and thinking through what I learned from Corpus, I'm doing the Sheiner century from Austin on May 5th, I'll be doing the whole thing as close as possible to 130BPM come hell or high water, and then trying to at least do 5k run afterwards. Memo to self, no one ever says they wish they'd gone harder on the bike after an Ironman.