Jocelyn’s First Half- 5430 Long Course on 8/12/07

14 08 2007

So, I have completed my first Half Ironman as of 12:50 PM yesterday, August 12th, 2007!  One word to describe the race and the feeling of crossing the finish line – AMAZING.  I don’t use that word to describe feelings often, but this moment and this race certainly deserved it.  I want to take a minute to thank everyone that has supported me in my training this year – my family, friends, co-workers, coaches, fellow F4 team members – you all have made a tremendous contribution to getting me through this great accomplishment. 

The week leading up to the race, I did the prescribed workouts (one bike workout was a little longer than scheduled, but it was a beautiful night and the pace was easy), ate well, rested well, and just had a very positive feeling about the race – I was ready.  I did all the training, maybe missed one or two workouts, and did a few too long and too hard, but overall, trained smart, rested well, and followed my coach’s advice.  I prepared my nutrition plan well too – a very key element in such a long and hot race – I had to consume 7 gels, 7 electrolyte pills (e-caps), and 72 ounces of water – and that was just on the bike.  I also consumed about 100 ounces of water on the run, 2 more e-caps, and 3 gels on the run.  For you sodium junkies, that is over 4000 mg of sodium over the course of the race.

The night before the race, I went to dinner at Pasta J’s with a friend for my final pre-race carbo load.  After dinner, I got up to use the restroom and my big toe and the ball of my foot were very achy.  By the time I arrived at home, it was starting to swell.  I could not pinpoint what could have caused this.  Training injury free all year, all I could think of was ‘why now?’ the night before my coveted race – my ‘A’ race.  So, I took some advil, iced it, and made some phone calls to friends to get advice.  At this point, I could barely walk.  I had to roll on the outside of my foot because I could not bend my big toe at all.  That morning, the boys did their kids triathlon and I ran alongside Alex as he biked and ran.  I was not wearing the best shoes for this, so I thought maybe I tweaked something.  But it came on so suddenly.  Then, I thought maybe I got bit by some insect, but there was no red mark anywhere on my foot.  So, I went to bed and hoped for the best.

When I woke up the next morning at 4:30 AM, the swelling had gone down substantially and the pain was minor. I took some more advil, just in case and followed my race morning routine.  Every race has to have some kind of obstacle, but we have to remain positive and overcome any hurdles that stand between failure and success.  I have trained too hard and sacrificed too much this year to let a little toe pain stand in my way!

I entered the transition area around 5:40 AM and found a great spot – how did all these people that arrived before me miss this one?  I ended up in the last wave, so I did not start until 7:05 AM (the first wave started at 6:30 AM).  It is good and bad to be in the last wave.  The bad part is the waiting around in the morning, but the good part is there is no rushing around either.  And of course, you finish later and it is hotter when you finish.  It is also nice to not be overtaken on the swim by the shark-like swimmers in the wave behind you – and they are often not too friendly either and will swim over top of you, or grab your leg on their way by to pull on you as leverage.

No warm-up for me today – it is a long race – the swim will be my warm-up.  I entered the water about 5 minutes before my wave start and positioned myself in my usual starting place for the swim – on the inside, near the back.  I had a panic attack in the water in a race earlier this year when I tried to go out with the fast swimmers and will not repeat that mistake again.  I started my swim slow, calm, and easy – there is a lot thrashing at the beginning of any race, but there was noticeably less in this particular race – maybe it is the distance and people are not as anxious to get a fast swim split.  I had a very comfortable swim and it was over before I knew it.  The deceptive thing in this race is when you round the last corner – you are only about 300 m from the swim exit, but you don’t really realize it until you turn.  It is refreshing, yet I wish I knew how close I was little earlier because I would have picked up the pace a little sooner.  As I ran up onto the beach, I did a quick watch check and was surprised to see a time about 4 minutes under plan – 38:20 – I still had a little uphill beach jog to get to the transition mat, so my swim split ended up at 38:42 – goal was 42. 

Transition was fast!  1:45 – plan was 2:30 – it was that great spot!  I was off on the bike.  For the first 10 miles of the bike – I kept hearing the words of my coach ‘don’t go too fast on the bike, I know you are a strong cyclist, but you will end up blowing up on the run if you go too fast on the bike’ – but I felt so damn good!  I saw a lot of folks with flats, including a couple pros.  I had a flat in my last race, so I could feel their pain.  I must have passed 20 or 30 women from my wave on the bike.  I made sure to say ‘Good Job’ to every woman I passed because I always felt good when others did that for me.  I played cat and mouse with one guy for 20 miles.  Every time we would go downhill, he passed me and then I would pass him on the hills and flats.  Men have the advantage on the downhill – all that dead weight – just kidding!  As I turned the sharp u-turn at the half way point, I checked the time and realized my first 28 miles passed in just 1 hour and 26 minutes – I was in line to go 2:52 on the bike – a full 23 minutes faster than plan!  Fast forward to the end of the bike – I came in just over 2:50, meaning my second half of the bike was faster than the first half.  That breaks down to a 19.7 mph avg. I stayed with my nutrition plan on the bike and it really worked – no bad feelings in my gut and I felt very hydrated (and needed to pee for most of the bike, but just could not let it go).

Transition 2 was also fast – 2:04, but 4 seconds slower than plan.  I put my fuel belt bottles in the freezer the night before and had it in a cooler – the bottles were still all frozen which really was great on the hot run.  It was like an air conditioned belt.  The temperature was probably up to 85 degrees already when I started the run.  We were thankful for light cloud cover on the bike, but the clouds burned off just in time for the run.  I have been doing a lot of heat training this summer to prepare for this race, so the heat was not too much of a factor for me. 

As I started the run, I noticed a port-o-potty that was vacant, so I ducked in there real quick and took care of the pee problem. 20 seconds later, I was back on course.  I felt surprisingly great on the start of the run. My legs still felt pretty fresh – even after the 56 miles on the bike.  I kept checking in with my pace watch to see if I was on track and I was running much faster than I thought.  I felt like I was running 10 min miles, but my watch indicated 8:30’s – so I kept pulling back because I really wanted to feel comfortable for this race – the goal I set for myself was very attainable and at this point, I knew I would crush it, as long as I stayed smart.  The other goal of this race was to gain confidence that I can double this distance next year and finish an Ironman.  As I came up to the first water station, I saw that they had cups of ice and I remembered someone saying to put it in your cap on your head.  I did that and put the ice a couple other places to keep my body cool.  Boy, did that help.  I also kept my race suit pretty saturated to stay cool.  The next station was my team’s station – they had a ‘car wash’ theme which was great!  It is fun to have so many people call out your name in support and I felt so good passing through.  They were passing out ice cold sponges too – I stuck one inside the back of my race top and it kept my back cool for many miles. 

The run course is two loops around the Boulder Reservoir on dirt roads and trails.  It is a place I have run hundreds of times, so I know the terrain very well.  As I came back to the point where I had to start loop 2, a bunch of the folks ahead of me were finishing – it is a bit discouraging because I sure would have loved to go through the finishing shoot at that moment, but I still had another 6.55 miles to run.  Oh well, onto lap 2.  Lap 2 was certainly harder than lap 1, but I kept up a pretty good and consistent pace.  I passed by the ‘car wash’ again and still felt good – that was about mile 10.  I started to kick up the pace and was back to the pace at which I started the run – about 9 minute miles.  My last mile was around 8:30 – there is a nice downhill section in there, then you go through the finish shoot where I heard my name called multiple times.  I got chills as I neared the finish line and actually felt the back of my throat start to well up.  It was such an amazing high to cross the finish line and I had so much left in the tank that I felt I could go do another loop (I did not, that would be crazy). 

After the race, I checked the results and was pleasantly surprised to see that I placed 16th out of 60 in my age group – not bad for my first half ironman distance race. 


Here are the final results.  I will send some pictures once they post them on the race site. 


















Again, thanks to all for the support and encouragement – even the disbelief that I was capable of finding the time to train with my crazy schedule.




One response

14 08 2007

great race, great report Joecelyn!


not just a PR at your first half-ironman distance, but top 20!

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