Monday, July 26, 2010

First Half Ironman - In the books!

It is done! Yesterday I completed my first half Ironman ever. Atually it was not a real half Ironman, the distance were off a bit. The swim was 2.3km, the bike 90km and the run 21km. But it was close enough to the real thing for me to consider that my first HIM is done :)

Since this was my first Half Ironman I tried to give me all the chances so we slept at the hotel the night before. My start was at 7h10 and it is almost a three hours drive from my place. I woke up around 5am, got ready and tried to eat a bit but the nerves were killing me at that point and the food didn't want to get in much. Anyway I forced an oatmeal and a yogurt down and figured it would be ok for now. After that we packed the car and went to the site.

I grabbed a gel before the swim start, trying to get some more calories in.

At the beginning I knew that the swim portion was not where I could gain time so I just went in there with one thing on my mind. I wanted to swim the best that I could without pushing too hard and burn too much energy for the rest of the day. I knew it would be a long day and that I had to keep as much as energy as I could.

The start was a beach start, I let the fast swimmer outrun me at the beginning and jump behind them. The swim course was not really intuitive, we had two loop to do but it was two different loop. Something like a 800 meters loop and a 1500 meters loop.

Heading out the winds was mostly head wind and we had a lot of big waves on the lake. At some point I couldn't see the buoys because the waves were too high. I guess that all those waves didn't help my already awesome form in the water ;)

Anyway, I tried to find some feet but no luck in there, everyone was either too fast or too slow for me. Mostly too fast though!

After maybe 1800 meters or so I heard someone yell while I was swimming. I stopped and saw that women next to me. I asked her if she was alright and she told me that she had a cramp. There was no kayak close by so I stayed with her a little bit waiting for her cramp to pass. When she told me that sh was ok I restarted swimming and completed my swim.

We got out of the water together and she thanked me to stop by her in the water. I told her that I was happy that she was ok and then proceeded to the transition zone. I saw my wife and my daughter and smiled to them while running out of the water.

I can't explain why I was that slow. I am not usually a fast swimming but I never swam slower than 2:30 during training for the same kind of distance so it is hard for me to explain why I was that slow today.

I knew from the start that the bike course was not perfect for me, a lot of hills which is not really my strength on the bike. But whatever I chose this race to be my first HIM and I had to deal with the course.

My plan on the bike was to keep the HR at 140 AVG, and I did exactly that. I wanted to get a bike split faster than 30km/h but I knew that if I pushed too hard then I would pay for it on the run. So I kept my HR at 140 and tried to push as much as could with that.

At the 30th km I saw the race leader, that meant he had 30km on me at that point. This is a lot mid race if you know what I mean :p I wanted to get back to my friend Jacques on the bike so we could run together but I never made it back to him. He was 10 minutes faster than me on the swim and we basically had the same ride so it was a no go for that goal.

I had an avg of 29.2km/h at the turn around which didn't quite make me happy, I was too slow. So I tried to push it on the way back. At first it went ok but around km 60 or so I was mostly alone with no one to pass and I got into an easier pace for a while. when I got to the 70th km it was the turn around of the Oly and there was a ton of bikes around me on the road which gave me some strength in the legs. I had people that I could try to pass again.

At one point Steve passed me, we talked a little bit and I told him it was tough. He then went away trying to complete his Oly as fast as possible. This guy is damn fast so I was not unhappy when I saw he just left me there like I was sitting on the side of the road ;)

The rest of the ride was ok, legs were tired but I knew it was about to end, well for that part.

When I saw the transition line I saw my wife and my daughter on the side of the road cheering on me and taking picture. I got out of my shoes and got ready to jump off the bike and run into transition. I then realized that maybe the legs wouldn't be too happy about it so I got a little bit slower than usual to make sure.

1900 feet of climbing sure are not easy ;)

I can't say if it was my run training, my bike training or both but my run didn't go as planned.

I was hoping to run a 1h50 or sub half mary but the legs didn't feel the
same way.

I got out of the transition zone and I had some good speed so I pushed a bit, after 1km I got a cramp in both quad which stuck with me for maybe 500 meters. That made me realize that running too fast was not a good idea at that point.

I can't say if this was because I didn't drink enough on the bike but those cramps were not welcome at the start of the run for sure.

My run was mostly at the speed I wanted it for the first 5km or so, but after that it started to fade slowly. The first two loop were not too bad, at the start of the third one though it started to be harder and harder.

At least on the third loop the cloud were back and it gave us a nice shade, because up to there I was getting hot. I ran the third loop, with some walking break at the aid station but nothing too long.

Then the fourth loop came, I knew it was my last and that I should push through it to get some time back. But at that point it was really tough on the body.

For the first time since the beginning I walked the hill on the last loop. I didn't had much left and even if I didn't want to I did it.

Then I was in the final stretch, a little bit over 1km to go to cross the finish line. I then had another cramp in my left quad, at that point there was no way I could run on it though, so I stooped and figured I needed to stretch it. Grabbed my feet and started the movement to stretch the quad. It seems that this really PISSED my hamstring because it decided to cramps too.

I that point I was there standing on that stop sign, trying to find a way to get ride of both cramps. I started massaging my leg and hoped that I had some massaging talents. After a little while the cramps left me alone, and I restarted running, if we can call that running at that point. I was mostly running with my right leg and jumping on the left one because the cramps were still hurting.

I did that for 200-300 meters maybe then it seems like it was better because I was able to run to the finish line. I crossed the line with a huge smile, well I think I was smiling ;)

Half Ironman done

Finish time 6:11:41
Swim 1:05:26
Transition 1 2:20
Bike 3:00:32
Transition 2 1:45
Run 2:01:26


  1. Great job on your first HIM!!! To be able to knock out a 2 hour half mary at the end is awesome! Sub-6 hour your next goal?? :)

  2. Way to push through all the obstacles!!

    Congrats on your first HIM!

  3. congrats on your first HIM! many more to come, it seems?