Cannonman Half Ironman race, August 23rd.
This was kind of a last minute entry. A friend e-mailed me the details a week or so before and I looked it up. It was a first year event put on by Piranha Sports and was about a 3 hour drive away from home and looked to be in a nice little state park. I had been looking for a late season half to get in because I was still mad about not going sub 5 hours at Jerseyman after all the course problems there, and knew sub 5 at the upcoming Savageman Half was going to be out of the question so I talked it over with Coach John and we decided to do a mini 1 week taper and use the race for a tuneup to Savageman, which is to be my A race for the year. Drove down the night before, scouted the course, got some pasta and pretty much relaxed most of the evening.
Swim 29:30 (1:24/100 yds, 3rd overall, 2nd male, 1st age group)
The swim was a 1 loop course in a nice little lake. Got off to a quick start and soon found myself on the feet of the lead swimmer with only 1-2 people behind me and another group about 5 seconds back. The pace was good and hard but the guy leading was swimming all over the place. It didn't help that the RD had used very few buoys and the lake was foggy. Compoudning this was the young kid in the lead kayak was going along side us until we made the first left hand turn and could not see the next buoy. I yelled for him to lead us from buoy to buoy and he did. At this time the lead swimmer followed the kayaker and was just a touch too fast for me to hang onto and opened up a small 5 second or so gap. As we got to the last buoy to turn and make the long stretch back a woman came flying buy me. I got on her feet for a while but she was on a mission to catch the leader about 10 seconds in front of us. The rest of the swim was uneventful except for the last 2-300 yards where it was really poorly marked as to where to make the turn to go into shore for the finish. I felt good the whole swim and with a few more buoys and better marking think that this should have been a sub 28 min swim easily. Note to the RD: You need more than 5 buoys for a 1.2 mile swim!
Bike: 2:30:16 (21.6 mph, 4 oa, 4 male, 2 ag)
After a long run up the beach and to transition, very reminiscent of the Damtri, I got on the bike and began the climb out of the park on the park roads. One guy that was not too far behind me on the swim caught me and he and I left transition together. I followed him out of the park, we quickly passed the female that led the swim, and we were about 20-30 seconds behind the leader/lead vehicle.
The bike started with the climb out of the park then a nice little climb before a fast descent on some pretty windy roads. The two of us traded 2nd place a couple of times until we got through the descent and onto the first of 2 loops of the main course where I sat in 3rd, just riding legally behind 2nd with 1st about 30 seconds up the road. The bike course was a two loop affair with the first 10 miles or so of the loop a constant uphill. There were only a couple of semi-steep climbs but nothing too bad but it was a never ending grind that just kept going up and up. Finally there was a short steep straight downhill where you lost all the elevation you had spent the last 30 minutes climbing in about 5 minutes and then a long flat open stretch before the second loop.
I rode behind the 2nd place guy for the entire first loop, then at the start of the second loop he motioned for me to come to the lead and followed me for about 3-4 miles at the start of the climb. Apparently my pace was just a touch too slow for him because he passed me back and I again just stayed behind pacing off him. About this time a dot appeared in my rear view that grew faster and faster until it went by me at an impressive clip. This turned out the be Josh Beck, who would go on to win the race. My 'rabbit' tried to go with him for about a minute or two but he got dropped and then just stayed several hundred yards up the road where I continued to pace off him for the rest of the ride.
The bike course was a nice fair course, but it was at least 1.5 miles short.
Run 1:44:00 (7:56/mile, 19th OA, 19th male, 2nd AG)
I came off the bike feeling good, in 4th place, ready to run and determined to go 1:3x for my run. The run also reminded me of the Damtri with a nice mix of park roads, trails and run across a small dam. Unfortunately, like the Damtri, it was a hilly run and in fact was one of the harder runs I've ever done. Like the bike it was a 2 loop course, starting with a nice climb out of transition on park roads, a quick downhill to another climb, on a trail for a brief spell, then a short steep uphill to a meadow to another short very steep rocky climb up the side of the dam, across the dam, onto more trails going up, up a short steep grassy trail to a park road that was an out and back up a hill, then it was through some more rolling park roads to a short downhill on a trail that followed the lake down to the dam, back across the dam and then split from the trail out to a gently rolling trail back to the second loop/finish.
I ran steady but not too hard the first loop because after seeing all the hills I wanted to save something for the second loop. About 3/4 the through I got passed by 2 guys a few seconds apart, neither were in my age group and I now knew I was sitting in 6th place overall. I finished the first loop in about 46 minute so I knew I was on pace for a 1:3x run if I could just hold it together. Then my mind started doing math and I was thinking a 4:3x overall time was very much within my grasp. The second loop started ok, but it was starting to get hot out and the hills were taking their toll. I ran all the way to the out and back section about 2/3 way through the loop but then I had to walk a short ways up it but I figured that was better than blowing myself up. I continued on the trail but I was really starting to get loopy by this point and was trying to take in Gatoraide and Clif shots to keep fueled as I knew I had blown my nutrition on the run. About 1/2 mile from the end of the dam on the return trip I ran up a small incline on the trail and just stopped. I was shot, wanted to lay down right there and nap by the trail but knew I only had less than 2 miles to go. I forced myself to get going again and unfortunately got passed by another guy at this point. I got across the dam, took in some water and Gatoriade at the last station and tried to run the last mile home. While passing a couple of people on their first lap they told me I looked good and so on, but I was a wreck. The legs felt fine but I had screwed up and not taken in enough calories and was really goofy by this point, and at one section where there is 2 way traffic I almost ran into some poor girl coming out as I just never saw her. I got to the part where the trails split and then went up the last few rollers until I crested the final one and could see the finish line about 200 yards away and all downhill. At this point my body was done and I simply stopped, bent over with my hands on my knees and unable to move within spitting distance of the finish. I thought about just walking in and then saw someone running strong coming at me also trying to finish, so I just focused on the line and ran as hard as I could to the line holding off the guy that was coming from behind. I finished and collapsed in the grass after they got my timing chip completely drained of all energy and unable to move for 20 minutes. After getting a coke and some Gatoraide from a volunteer I finally started to feel human again and was able to get up and get moving after laying there for what seemed like forever, got some recovery drink and went and floated in the water at the beach for 20 minutes.
Final Result 4:47:06 (7th OA, 7th male, 1st AG)
While this was still a 20 minute personal best at the half iron distance race it was still a little bit of a let down as I know I can go faster. The combination of a really tough run course along with not taking in enough nutrition on the run really hurt me. I estimate I lost close to 10 minutes in the last 2-3 miles that would have put me in the 4:3x time zone.
It was a fun race however, and the run was perfect training for the upcoming Savageman run that is also tough and hilly. The park where the race was held had a really nice beach, nice showers and changing area and the run course was tough but fun. The only complaints I would have is that there were no markings on the run and post race food and extras were pretty minimal for a half.