Monday, June 7, 2010

Ironman Mooseman 70.3 The Full Race Report

I have never experienced such highs and lows in one race. As Matt @ Venerable Companions wrote to me, "He looked very relaxed at the swim start," I thought that made me an Oscar worthy actor because as I met him at the swim start all I wanted to do was find the bushes to hurl my breakfast up. I was sooooo nervous at the start of this race due to the theme of the race: SUCKAGE. aka shitty weather!

The lows of a nervous start went to the highs of an awesome swim (I didn't want to get out of the water!) to the lows of a tough bike that really sent me soul searching to the highs of an incredible run that I am still questioning myself with, "Where the F did that come from!!!"

I always say that I have a complete race, but THIS race, was a complete race and is an absolute victory considering what I had to overcome with weather and terrain to accomplish crossing the finish line. Grab some popcorn! Its gonna be a long one...

But first! I want to congratulate my fellow Mooseman comrad, Regina @ Chiu On This. This was Regina's first Half Ironman distance race and she rocked it! The day before the race @ the pre-race meeting, I gave her a 70.3 sticker and I was questioning whether it was a little premature so as to not jinx anything, but I knew that she was going to finish strong, no matter the circumstances. She did awesome!

Regina, you picked the HARDEST Half Ironman to start your Half Ironman career. I already told you this via text, but considering the Mooseman terrain and the weather conditions, I think its going to be hard to find a harder race than what we experienced. Its all downhill from here! Look forward to shredding your Half Ironman PR by a LOT in the future! I am glad that we raced this together, because knowing someone was out there that I knew helped a LOT. It was also that "someone is looking over my shoulder" thing so quitting was not an option, so thank you for pushing me!

Now onto the actual report! I promise this time!

Pre race:
Up @ 3:30 after tossing and turning dreaming about God knows what about the race. Out the door @ 4:15 and on my way. Arrived @ Parking @ 5 AM and rode my bike to transition. Totally relaxed environment. I even got body marked by this big burley guy who had really nice handwriting. That was the strangest moment of my morning....

Met Regina @ Transition and we kept each other motivated despite the announcer guy going all George Orwellian on us with, "Its not a matter of if you get wet out on the bike course, but when and by how much."......Thanks buddy! I'll give you the Debbie Downer award for the day cuz we ALL KNOW!!!

My row in transition was adjacent to the pros. SO COOL to just look over and see Kate Major, Sam McGlone amongst others. I actually went over and said hello to a somewhat local Pro, John Hirsch, from Block Island, RI. He slaughtered everyone exactly one year ago @ the Tri Ridgefield Sprint, and we both were bummed that it was the same weekend this year, otherwise we would have been doing that race instead.

Donned the wetsuit and hopped into the water. It was 69 degrees! PERFECT!

Swim: 35:36
This was the most comfortable swim I have EVER had in a triathlon. The secret? DRAFTING. I found a pair of feet that were the same speed as mine and I just stuck to em from start to finish. I was saving so much energy and still moving at a great clip. Did I mention that the water temp was awesome?

Which one am I? 6 men in black, 5 wearing caps. Its dress alike day!

I came out of the water feeling great. Usually by 1.2 miles I am just surviving to get out of the water. This time was like, "Oh, 1.2 miles, that was fun! Can we do it again?" This is in stark contrast to the Timberman swim, which I did about a minute slower, but I was working what felt like 10X harder to finish.

Ok, NOW which one am I? Hint: I'm in the water swimming ;)

The swim gets an A+ in my book!

T1: 2:54
Coming out of the water, it was starting to rain. Not super hard, but they were big drops of rain. I felt really warm, but I knew that I was going to freeze out on the bike (it was only 62 degrees outside), so for the first time ever in a tri, I had to put on extra clothing.

This took extra time of course, but I would rather be somewhat miserable out on the bike for 3 hours, rather than be totally miserable out on the bike for 3 hours.

Bike: 3:07:17
Got out onto the course and my legs were frozen. I was pushing some big gears despite my legs hurting, so I had to mentally cool it, since I still had 55+ miles of hilly terrain ahead of me.

Upon hitting the first mountain, my legs were being stubborn. They didn't want to climb! So going up that last pitch, the pressure my body was exerting was just incredible! It was total suckage.

Speaking of suckage, this was my mantra during the day, especially going up a hill:
"Embrace the suckage."
I would say it worked? Basically I just mentally told myself that this pain you are currently experiencing is short term and that it will be over soon, just get through it. This is where the "race song" popped into me head. It was a good one! When I left the house @ 4:15 this morning, the song that popped on the radio was "Wide Eyes" by the Local Natives. I love Local Natives and this totally got my day going in the right direction!

This song kept me calm while "Embracing the Suckage"

I also suddenly understood an article that I read earlier in the week about gearing choices on harder courses, especially when you are training with power. I was pushing too hard of a gear up that hill. I was using a 39x25, but I should have been using a 27 or 28 to spin up it more. I probably would have gone just as fast since my cadence would have been faster, but I also would have been saving my legs instead of mashing it.

After the big uphill, comes a huge downhill, which they imposed a 30 mph speed limit going down it due do to slick conditions and windy s-turns. Didn't matter, I wasn't going that fast anyways! I was just worried that some yahoo was going to go flying by me, lose control, and take me out. Fortunately everybody was smart and took it easy as well. Phew!

This is where I was glad that I put on the extra clothing. It wasn't so much as to stay warm, but when you are going that fast downhill, giant raindrops HURT when they hit bare skin. So my exposed shoulders felt like they were getting nailed constantly by pins and needles. OUCH!

Then comes the flattest part of the course, which allowed me to hold 20+ mph for a good stretch and let my body finally even out and relax. I felt the best on this section.

Then you do that loop again. I guess my legs felt better going up the giant hill the 2nd time, but my back was really hurting! This was due to pushing too hard of a gear. If your lower back hurts from climbing, its due to putting too much strain on your hamstrings, which connect to your lower back == pushing too hard of a gear. Lesson learned for future hilly courses!

I also went by the scene of the dog bite crime 2X on the course. That hill sucks too, but is not as bad in comparison to that monster hill. I knew the dog didn't live there, so I was fine.

It was a huge relief to pass the 2nd loop sign and go straight for home, even if you had 11 miles left. I just endured the pain at that point and finished. Between the terrain and weather, my soul was sucked out of my body!

T2: 2:41
Getting off of the bike going into T2 I saw my family and just shook my head and said "I am NOT in a good place right now." I really didn't want to go out and run. My legs and body were trashed and I was like, "Stick a fork in me, folks! I am well done...."

At my transition spot, the rain flooded everything and all of my gear was soaked, EXCEPT for my running gear, since I had that in a plastic garbage back. Phew! The rain had actually stopped at this point, but I my towel was soaked and covered in dirt/debris, so I had to use the inside of my vest to dry off my feet to get my socks on.

Speaking of putting socks on, have you every tried doing this with frozen feet? Its kinda hard...

Run: 1:50:03
Coming out of transition my legs felt AWESOME. I was like, "What the hell? Not two minutes ago my legs were giving me the middle finger?!?!?"

I'd say about 100 yards into the run you come out on the main road and everybody is there cheering you on. They were blasting music and you know what happens, right? Whatever song that is playing is what will be stuck in your head! I had 13.1 miles of suffering ahead, so it better be a good one!

They were playing.....


Well, it got me through about the first 2 miles, then it left my brain. The biggest hill on the outward bound leg is around that part, and I had to "Embrace the suckage" at that point. Its one of those hills that if you were doing a stand alone run, its a rather easy-ish hill, but after 56 miles, its freaking hard. So I just slowed my pace and crawled up it, making sure to not walk.

@ Mile 4 I popped my first Gu and started running with a guy from CT on the way back to transition. I felt great at this point and was pushing the faster miles of the run.

Heading towards mile 7, feeling the best

Here are my mile splits for the run:
Mile 1: 7:58
Mile 2: 8:13
Mile 3: 8:29
Mile 4: 8:30
Mile 5: 8:18
Mile 6: 8:23
Mile 7: 7:59
Mile 8: 8:09
Mile 9: 8:52
Mile 10: 8:35
Mile 11: 9:31
Mile 12: 8:53
Mile 13: 8:06 (includes last .1)

After mile 8 I popped Gu #2, but things started to change, especially the weather. Right @ mile 9, the heavens opened up and we got DUMPED on. I recall hitting mile 9 right @ ~1:15:00. My legs suddenly switched from awesome to survival. The rain never stopped....

Mentally at around mile 11 I was spent. I was anxious to finish and I knew that I had less than 20 mins left, but those last 20 mins were some of the longest of my life. I had a super slow mile 11 due to the inward bound big hill, then mile 12 was regaining composure before hitting the gas and holding on for mile 13.

I didn't mind running in the rain since it keeps you cool, and my feel were fine! I was actually completely blister in free in the usual spots that I hammer my feet. I did get a blister on the inside of my right foot, but that was due to a tiny tiny rock or piece of wood being on my foot when I put my sock on. It was just a raw spot for the entire run, but totally manageable.


In SO much pain!

Sorta smiling but HURTING

Post race thoughts:
I still have NO IDEA where that 1:50:03 run came from. That run was the highlight of my day and basically saved the day. I had a great swim, and despite the conditions, did the best I could on the bike. I guess I have gotten used to going much faster on the bike this season that holding almost 18mph is slow? Its the terrain, stupid! haha!

I really want to go out there and bust out a stand alone half marathon now. I came within 5 mins of my stand alone time even after a super hard bike. I guess my hard work has been paying off?

So now I am looking forward to resting for about a week before starting to build back up again for Timberman in 11 weeks. Thanks for reading!


  1. congrats on a GREAT race Jon! I don't know what I would have done with torrential guys are amazing for racing in that this weekend!

  2. wow Jon, congrats!!!
    i am not even gonna compare my small duathlon to your victory over there.
    u did amazing!!! congrats, buddy!

  3. Great race and RR Jon! Way to hang in there with the tough conditions and great run Dude!

  4. Jon, great race and well-written report! Sounds like you're ready for a full Ironman.

  5. AHHH!! What do you mean 11 weeks until Timberman!? Oh man.

    Awesome race report and great race in sucky conditions! I was SO thinking about you guys yesterday - I love the "embrace the suckage" I am totally stealing that one. Way to finish the run strong!!

  6. Congrats again, dont you just love when you think your done, your body flips on the reserves!! Its the best!!

  7. Great race report! Awesome run!!! Maybe the rain makes you run faster so you can finish and get inside...

  8. Hi Jon,
    This was one of my favorite race reports! I love all of the pictures:) You look awesome! Congrats on a great race!

  9. Congrats on a great race! We were feeling your pain as we tracked you on line up at our NH house. We were at the beach to watch the swim & then headed back home. It was some rough conditions out there. Way to hang tough! So glad that you & Matt got to meet briefly!

  10. Great Race!!! why the disapointment at the LG song, I thought you liked her? or just not that tune

    lol one last slap in the face rain again at mi.9! fantastic run, Impressive Effort

  11. Holy Crap! I Can't believe you experienced the same shit I did at the same times of the race. I had the back strain on the hills, the dark moment at mile 11 on the run, just hanging on and the rain hurt!!! It was stinging my face on the downhill.

    It's nice to know that I wasn't the only one feeling all this. BTW, thanks for the kind words. It was tough. I am still riding high though; I'm so happy. I was already talking about a possible next half with my coach, premature, I know.

    Congrats on an amazing race and let's do those beers and trade war stories. Rest up!!

  12. Great race report! You really rolled with punches and knocked out a great time!

    Hopefully you give yourself at least a little break before gearing back up for Timberman.

  13. Great race & report! Way to tough it out despite the rain!

  14. Congrats on the awesome run to salvage the in crappy weather is just extra crappy.
    Lady Gaga for life!!

  15. Woohoo! Congrats on an amazing race! I cannot believe that you had to race in that crazy, rainy weather! I've never biked in the rain, so I don't know how I would have done, but you did awesome with the hills and the rain! And, hooray for an awesome run!


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