Soma 2013 Half Ironman Race Report
This weekend was a lot of fun in the Arizona sun with friends and some high heart rate racing. I have raced four different half ironmans now but more than half of those have been as a tune up race for racing an Ironman. After racing Leadman, I have focused more on some speed specific sessions and I was excited to see how things would shake out for this race. We also had a bunch of friends racing and getting to hang out before and after the race laughing-it-up just got me super amped to give it a go.
i love this crew!
When we were swimming at a local pool the day before in the sunshine and splashing around like kids it set my motivation for going into the race. Its painful when your trying to push a pace your not ready for or trying to force a training/racing session. When the fitness comes, it is not painful and I feel you don’t have to force it. Racing is FUN and pushing the pace comes naturally when your ready. I felt ready but you never know until that gun goes off so it keeps the excitement real.
I started 3 waves deep and got in a good warm up swimming. The pros were in the first wave then four minutes back males 35 and under and four minutes behind them was the old guys wave that I was a part of. When the gun went off I was gone off of the front and didn’t look for feet. I was pushing but not killing myself. I had two themes going around in my head all day – Don’t force it and let the race come to you. It worked perfectly. There is no power or checking your HR on the swim. I just simply did more training at or above race pace and during the race stuck to the plan. If I was pacing incorrectly I would find out and be able to fine tune it in the future. Knowing and trusting that feel is a massive confidence boost that you can only really get from racing.
By the time we got to the turn around I had swam through the majority of the wave that started in front of us and then just focused on getting back to that bridge and planning my T1 in my head.
swim was a little long – only 4 people broke 30min – probably an advantage for me in the long run
When I got on the bike it was the same protocol. I had my GPS set to display time and I checked it from time to time but I never looked at my watts once. My goal was to ride three laps of this crazy bike course that had more than 30(!) turns with over a dozen of them being 180 degree turns as fast as I could possibly go while finishing my mega calorie bottle of Vitargo. Simple. The first lap was sketchy taking a lot of turns at high speeds but by lap three there were over a thousand people on this tight ~18 mile loop crit style bike course. Gnar!
I am really stoked that Charissa told me I should practice my turns heading into this…it worked. So did my pacing. I rode a 2:17 which was about a minute faster than my fastest half bike split at HITS last year on a course with a lot less turns and traffic. Best yet, I got off the bike trusting I had a good run in my legs. Party time!
Out of T2 – “Lets Do This!”
When I got out to the run I found the specific run sessions I was doing are actually working! I have only ran over 10 miles two times since Cabo earlier this year. Leadman and this race at Soma. However, my focus on frequency and pure quality goodness is paying off. I was running quick but with nobody in sight at all. When I came through on the fist lap Brynn told me I was about 7min back (with wave adjustments) from the first pro so I just focused on trying to visualize someone ahead and keep my pace up. Shortly after that, I got my first ever abdominal cramp deep inside. Strange feeling that had me digging my fingers into my gut. I figured I was actually using my core more now running so took it as a positive sign and did what I needed to do to keep pace but I was slowing down for sure. I kept my plan of “don’t force it” and “let the race come to you” in check and little did I know the former was about to come see me.
Right at about mile 7 I was caught by Adam Folts who started in the wave four minutes ahead of me. So at this point, I had four minutes on him but we had over 6 miles to go. Time to RACE!
It is not often you get a chance to run shoulder to shoulder, mile after mile, all the way to the finish line in a race for the lead. This was exciting, a true test of mental toughness, my ability to trust my run and some awesome training! Adam took off and our pace quickly fell below 6min miles. It’s on! I matched him stride for stride and just kept focusing on form. My breathing was up but very manageable and my cramps were gone. I was ready and I have wanted a moment like this for a long time! We dropped back and then had surge after surge. Adam was making all kinds of noises, grunts and talking to me… ha! Good times. At one point he said “let the band snap man” and I finally said “I am not going anywhere”. The way I saw it, I just needed to run with him and I would finish four minutes ahead and have a pacing partner to the finish. I focused on getting to mile 10 with him and figured there is no way he would put 4 minutes on me in the last three miles. The only way he would gap me would be if I blew up and I was not going to let that happen. There were a few times when I was in front and just thinking I should run off the front but I just kept focus on not forcing it and running smart. We were running faster than I would have alone and I felt like it was a very manageable pace that would allow me to sprint if I needed to.
This was also the first time I have ever ran a half (or any miles over 6) without any walking breaks. The miles were just ticking by and I was not focused on anything but RACING! Adam was saying “how can I catch up to you and now your running faster than the first half?”. I replied, “I have been resting”. We were now running over three hours into the race…I was warmed up and stepping into my zone! While I don’t feel I have the speed just yet, I have trusted my endurance and trained my limiter. It is coming together. When we got to mile 12 we got to talking more but kept the pace just as high. Adam said he was a runner and thought I was just going to sit on it and sprint across the line first but I knew I had the time advantage for the win, I was running with the confidence I have been searching for and would end up beating my open half marathon time. I remembered the finish at day four of Tantuco and when we got into the finishing chute I let Adam pull ahead and followed him across the finish line. Dream Crushing worthy experience for sure!
4:18 minus 8min from 2 waves back = New half Ironman PB!
The race came to me and I felt like I answered the call. I was really stoked with this effort, pacing, where my training is going. Getting to experience the weekend with friends and all the stuff outside of the race is exactly what gets me fired up to race.
Stoked to pace it in with Adam. Racing is FUN!
Farting around with the Bike Religion boys made the race and weekend such a good experience. I am really stoked to see what we have lined up for the BR team over the next couple of years.
Ryan won his age group and his bro Chris set a new personal best (PB) half ironman AFTER hiking Mt Whitney the day before the race. They are both racing IMAZ this year and are on track for some solid dream crushing. Nick got off the couch for the first time since IM Lake Tahoe ;-) and had a solid race. He keeps me motivated because I know he will be running me down soon enough. The girls kept us motivated all day long and I was fist pumping on the bike with the excitement they were providing. Grateful for such awesome teamwork.
I managed to take the overall amateur race in 4:10 and Jozef Major took the pro win at 4:01. That dude is fast and nice! Due to one pro having some cramps on the run I was able to finish 3rd overall with the pros even if it was not a stacked pro field it gives me hope that I can still get close enough to stay motivated. Until next time…next weekend actually at Austin 70.3, its time to wrap myself in some 110% gear and enjoy some R&R