Monday, August 24, 2009

Timberman, the full race report

First off I have to mention that Timberman is a REALLY great race to do. I didn't worry once about things going wrong. Transportation was taken care of by the race and there was plenty of space wherever you went. I never once felt claustrophobic by the experience, not even at the swim start. That being said, I HIGHLY recommend this race as a first HIM experience.

I also have to say that this race was an entrance for me into the Major Leagues of triathlon. Overall there was a higher calibur of racer. (and then there was me :) ) So you could just feel the experience in the air of people who have done this stuff seriously for a number of years. (and then there was me :) )

So here goes!

Overall time: 5:55:47

Up @ 3:30 and had gotten 7 full hours of sleep the night before. I felt refreshed. It was dark outside. I put down 2.5 bowls of cereal and half a banana. Couldn't stomach any more food at that point.

Left by 4:30, went to Gunstock to park the car and hopped onto the bus to the race site. It was a mini city at the race site. People everywhere and announcements going off every two seconds. I set up my spot quickly and realized that I had a ton of time to kill. So, I casually walked back forth by the pro area. I was like a little kid! There was Chrissy Wellington and Andy Potts. WOW! That was inspiring!

The race then was postponed for 30 mins due to a truck flipping over on the race course.

Swim: 36:51/1:44 pace

Finally the race got going @ 8:15 for my wave. I lined up in the water and the water was soooooooo nice. It was one of those swims where you don't want to get out. I grew up on this lake, so I knew this water. Did I mention it was really nice?

I held back when they told us to go so there was ZERO contact in the water. I think it was the cleanest start I have ever done.

I got into my groove and started playing the bouy game. I wanted to find some feet, but typical me I drift left and stayed out on my own, which was fine. After we rounded the first turn and about halfway to the next turn, the wave behind caught us and I found some feet. Oh man was it great! I was swimming with less intensity and going faster. Unfortunately I lost him at the next turn and was mostly on my own till the finish. Not bad of a swim for a first HIM.

What to work on: DRAFTING! The difference between not drafting and actually drafting is HUGE. I also have to stay more to the RIGHT. I feel like I could have shaved off a full minute by not drifting to the left. My swimming has come a LONG way this season, even more than the run I feel. I also feel like I have a ton more room for improvement.

T1: 2:35

This is the first race where they have wetsuit strippers. It was great! You flop down on some astroturf and someone grabs ur suit and yanks it off, hands it to you and you go! Unfortunately as I was getting up, another guy was going down and his head wacked me right in the left quad. OUCH! So the resulting charlie horse kinda hurt a LOT! went away on the bike. I also didnt run the transition as much as I did in other races. I was more concerned about the times on the swim/bike/run, then getting changed. When I become competitive @ this distance, Ill go quicker.

Bike: 2:49:47 / 19.8 mph course

I totally surprised myself on the bike. A realistic goal for me on this course was around the 3:10:00 - 3:15:00 range. A 3:00:00 flat time would have been amazing! The fact that I did 2:50:00 and almost held 20 mph on a course this long just shocked me!

Right from the start you climb. I was passing people right there. I thought I was going too hard at first, but my legs were pedaling like normal. I figured that that was an appropriate pace to get me through 56 miles without dying. So I went with it.

Between mile 9 and 10 you hit the steepest climb on the course. People were already walking up the hill. I felt great in my easiest gear and felt even better if I stood up. I was blowing by people!

So this is what I realized right there and then. If you train on hills all season long, guess what you are gonna be strong at? Hills! This was a theme throughout the ride.

At the bottom of this hill (which I would climb some 36 miles later) we hit route 106, which I think of as the bulk of the bike course. The pro leaders were starting to pass me on their way back while I was about 2/3 of the way down the hill. Simply amazing seeing Bjorn Andrerson and Andy Potts cranking out a ride that fast.

So onto 106 I got into the aero position and went into auto pilot mode. Only within about 5 miles did I see Chrissy Wellington flying past in the opposite direction. She was standing up going up an incline and just hammering it! She is amazing...

Route 106 goes for a net loss in elevation, even though it feels like you are on a flat rolly road. There were a few stretches were I was booking a consistent 26 mph! Good thing the wind was non existent and there was an ever so slight downhill pitch. I knew though on the way back that it was NOT going to be this fast.

At the turnaround near mile 28 I started to feel my lower back getting sore. I tried and tried to stay in the aero position but it was just too painful. My lower back was in some really bad shape. So I tried to stand and ride and coast and stretch a few times. It helped and I would get back into the aero position for maybe 15 seconds before it was too unbearable. There is no rule stating you HAVE to be in an aero postition, so I went from there on out with my hands on the bars sitting up. I was still passing people, just not as fast. I felt better this way and it got me through the course.

The rest of the ride was a blur until I got to the final long gradual uphill before one of the route 11s that is a pyschological killer because it just numbs the brain from being so boring and that right pitch that will drag out the climb. So I did a combination of standing and sitting. The standing bits saved the ride for me. I felt SO strong when I stood and hit the gas. Those are usually my reserve muscles at the end of a long ride. My back felt so much better too from standing and hitting it.

Finally, with less than 3 miles to go, I saw the end parts of the run course and people already on it. I didnt realize that the run went this far out. I swallowed my pride and just said to myself that you will deal with it when you get to that point.....twice. haha

Getting off of the bike was easy as they give you this loooooooong flat and straight corridor that gives you plenty of time to get out of your shoes on the bike, if you want to do that. I didn't, but now I know if I do this race again.

What to work on: Riding in the aero position for longer periods of time. I think now that I have my new Cervelo that this might become a non issue since the Cervelo has some correct geometry that will make me more comfy by default.

T2: 3:24

My right foot has had a lot of blisters all season long. I always dress them with moleskin and athletic tape and that does the trick to limit the damage. So I premade the same dressing and slapped it on some wax paper ahead of time and put it into a sandwich ziplock back to stay dry. It didnt work. My foot was too moist and dirty for the dressing to stick. So I threw that plan out and just went with socks and the shoes. This took up a lot of time during transition figuring this out and not going through with it. I also didnt use speed laces this race, which I think have been the reason for my blisters all season.

Run: 2:23:11

I am totally shocked that I pulled off this good of a time considering I felt like I walked half the thing. I blew up on the run. This run was a good learning experience. I really felt like I had never ran before in my life after about 4 miles, which I did non stop and felt kinda good. At mile 5 I met some guy from Rye and we have done similar races so talking with him made the next 2 miles melt away.

At mile 7 I bonked. My brain was flashing a big red "NEED FOOD! SYSTEM CRASHING! NEED FOOD! SYSTEM CRASHING! NEED FOOD! SYSTEM CRASHING!" sign. Maybe it was around mile 8 that I found an aid station that had some. I didnt care, as they had food.

Sooooo, I concocted this masterful recipe because this is all they had:
-Salt and Vinegar Chips
-Espresso GU
-chocolate powerbar sticks

mmmmmmmm....i took it all and stuffed into my mouth and chewed. It was one of the best tasting things EVER. I felt like I was eating Thanksgiving dinner!

Somehow I got to the next aid station and shoved similar stuff into my mouth. Again, soooo tasty!

After that I felt like Pop Eye after he chugs a can of spinach. I even heard his trademark song going off in my head. Not that I went any faster, but I did knock off a few miles.

Finally when I hit the mile 12 marker, I said to myself, whats another maybe 10-11 mins of pain to knock off the final 1.1 miles? So I did it and was super happy to finish that dreadful run. Definately the worst run I have ever done in a race and the first that I ever had to walk.

Things to work on: RUN!.....more. A LOT more. I think before I attempt this distance again, that I need to become a solid half marathon runner. I need to break the 2 hour mark with confidence and consistently do that. My running has come a long way this year, but half way through the season I lost a lot of my form. I'd like to do most of the NYRR Half Marathon's next year in anticipation of NYC 2010.

Post race:
Still was in shock that I finished that thing. That 13.1 of running was long, but it felt short. Not sure why. Maybe cuz it was broken up into 4 parts? Who knows.

Now will I ever do another HIM? Yes. When? Not sure yet. Next year will be full of Olympics and sprints for sure. I want to master that Half Marathon distance first before I attempt another HIM.


  1. Great race - and that 1/2 mary after a great bike is tough!

  2. Ha, I like your report. I was right there on the run with you in spirit man. I was dying after the 5th mile. Legs just felt completely trashed and on the verge of puking and passing out from heat exaustion. Thank god for the hockey team with all the ice and the sponges.

    Nice race!
    acumenjay from BT


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