Sunday, 13 July 2008

Race Report - Graham Beasley 113 Half-Iron

Swim: 2km @ 50min13 (rank 23)
T1: 4min04

Bike: 90km @ 3hr04 (rank 25)

T2: 3min05

Run: 21km @ 2hr19 (rank 37)

Total time: 6hr21

  • 7/8 M35-39,
  • 28/34 gender place,
  • 32/42 overall

Where do I start? I know. I effin did it!!!! I am so proud of myself, and even more so because I stuck to my plan, and dealt with a difficult swim and bike.

Grab a coffee. This might take a while.


The swim took place in the Mississippi River (not the same as the one down in the south) and was touted as a great swim for beginners. But there were two things to be mindful of. First were the zebra mussels. Holy crap there was a lot of them, and they'll slice your feet and hands without you knowing. Second was the current in the river, which is normally tame but thanks to the heavy rains last night turned into a serious issue. There weren't going to be any swim PRs today...well, except mine since this was the first time for me. :)

The swim was twice around a 1km loop (500m out and back), starting upstream. After planting my feet on the bottom so I didn't get pushed over by the current (thank goodness for water shoes), I waited for the start. And when the horn went off, so did we...sort of. It was like we were in one of those Endless Pools - we just didn't really go anywhere. I don't know how long it took to get to the 500m turnaround, but it was quite a while. And when we did make that turn, zoom! I took the opportunity to return to an aerobic swim and let the current push me along.

Then came Buoy D - the turnaround at the end of lap one. I sighted it great, and rounded it perfectly even with the hard current. Feeling good, I started back at the tempo pace from the start...and went absolutely nowhere. I had no one in front of me to draft off of, and I was in the middle of the river. It was just me and the current...and someone rounding the bouy with me. We were at a standstill. I had the thought of drifting over towards shore to get out of the current, but I had to swim hard just to keep from being pushed back. Finally, I was over far enough that the current was slower, and I started again for Bouys B and C.

Rounding the 1500m turn, I felt great, and knew that the swim was over. Past Bouy D, under the bridge (where you could actually hear the water rushing around the bridge footings - underwater) and a hard right to make the swim exit before the falls about 75m away. Don't worry - there were kayakers there to catch you just in case.

My first 2k swim! And my first swim with heavy current!


It was at this point that the rain started. Thankfully I had remembered to tilt my aerobars up to have a better stance, otherwise I'd have slipped around all morning on them. The rain made the bars and pads slick, and the horrible stretches of rural pavement would have been horrible if I hadn't made this adjustment.

I left T1 with two Hammer Bars, 3 Hammer Gels, and about 2L of Sustained Energy. I returned with a single Hammer Bar and a bit of Gatorade left over from an aid station at about 65km. I'm happy with my bike nutrition and hydration today, and thankfully the heat and humidity stayed away to help with this. And although it was windy and rainy, I really didn't mind all that much, 'cause I'd rather be cool in a wind.

The part of Ontario we were biking in is called the Lanark Highlands. Heard of it, but never been there until today. Apparently there isn't a single flat piece of land in all of the Highlands. For 3hro4 all I did was climb hills and descend hills, and there were some large hills there too (not large like Chuckie's Fig run, but large nonetheless). I quickly figured out that by backing off on the uphill, and letting gravity push your gears downhill, you can survive the hills rather well. I just kept doing this over and over and over, and before I knew it, the ride was over.

I was "welcomed" with an amazing surprise coming back into town. As part of the races, the town and the Legion put on a parade in honor of the war veterans, full with bagpipes, firetrucks, and the veterans themselves. I came down Bridge Street towards the T-zone right beside them! I got a chill down my spine, a tear in the eye, and really felt honored by their presence. Those men and women did what they did so we could do what we were doing today. I really doubt that I'll ever forget that moment, because it was at this very moment that I realized what I was doing, where I've come, and just what everyone in my life has done to help be get here. Wow - I can't thank all of you enough.

What a great ride. And now it was time to see just how well I rode and ate.


Starting the run, I felt surprisingly good! The food and drink on the hills, and the proper management of my heart rate left lots in the tank. But I was under a 5min/km pace again! "Slow down and enjoy the journey!" I told myself. Eventually I got myself back to a 5min45 pace, right where I wanted to be and I just stuck it as long as I could. I got through 1.5 laps of the 5km loop before I took a walk break and grabbed some water and Gatorade. I just kept this pattern up as long as I could, making sure to watch that heart rate (which stayed below ~85%max) and take walks when I felt I needed to.

By about 14km, my legs were starting to get spent, and I regretted waiting until about 10km to take in more gels. I had one left, which I took at 16km, and just run/walked as best as I could. But with 1km left to go, I found a bit of energy somewhere in those legs and just stretched that stride out enough to finish nice and strong. It's been a very long time since I've run a half marathon, and the 2hr10-2hr20 mark is right where's I've been in the past. And I'm super proud that I held that mark after doing 4hrs of activity before this.

After roughly 24wks of focused training, followed by an additional 6hr21, the journey is finally over. There's so many emotions going on right now - it's just amazing that I've trained for this and that I've successfully completed this. And for as much as I'm going to miss this specific training, it will be nice to have some flexibility in what I do now.

What a ride this has been. I went from swim fears to a solid swim today. From a maximum of 60min on the bike to over 3hrs averaging nearly 30kph in windy and rainy conditions. And after all that, I stuck my run to match my previous performances in the half marathon. I did this all while keeping my responsibilities to myself, my family and my work. I managed to do it all successfully, and with a great deal of learning and enjoyment.

See! You can have it all! Well, as long as you're willing to give up something. In my case, it was sleep. :)

So what's next? Not sure yet. Could be another half-iron. Could be some Oly's and/or sprints. Could be nothing. But I'm sure it will be something - this is too much fun. Stay tuned readers! I'm not done yet! :)

And now, some rest and recovery. Again, thanks to everyone who helped me through the months!


Kim said...

Wow, what a great race!! Rain and swimming in a river! Excellent race report and a great time!! Congratulations!

Closet Artist said...

What's next you ask?
Helping me clean a house that has been neglected all these weeks while you have trained!! LOL Now that is going to be an accomplishment!!

Trevor Oseen said...

Good job man! Welcome to the long distance club.

Cliff said...


Your first race going long :). I always remember my first Half Ironman. It is an experience all to itself.

Way to have a solid swim, bike and run. The uphill and down hill on the bike can ruin someone's nutrition. By the way you come back with not much left shows that you eat enough to get yourself fueled for the run.

Have you consider doing the Half Canadian? I believe it is early Sept (labor day weekend) at Ottawa.

That was my second Half Ironman and it is a good course. You can go pretty fast along Rideau Canal :)

Now go get your beer and enjoy the memories ;)

i am Susan said...

Awesome job on the race...Yup, you did it!!!

Eric said...

Congratulations and well done!

one and one + two said...

so when is your next one?...just reason...

{we were in Lanark last weekend too - camping, eating, racing}