Racing for Recovery half ironman

Aussie Rob, Bruce MacDonald, and Rob Reddy all raced in the Racing for Recovery half ironman in Monroe, MI on June 7th.  The swim is in Lake Erie, followed by a bike around the farm land of Monroe and a run around a lagoon.  Of course, this leads to the bike and run courses being very flat – touted by the race website as ‘probably the flattest half ironman distance bike course you will ever ride on.’  Well, this fast course handed PRs to Aussie and Bruce – great job boys!  Bruce gave a short summary of the race, noting a PR by about 20 seconds.  He “suffered on the swim, had a decent bike, and ran a very painful 1h 40min half marathon.”  Aussie had a bit more to say:

Going into this race I had put a little pressure on myself by setting an ambitious goal, and I really wanted to hit it. That started backfiring the night before the race when I was too nervous to sleep. The last time I saw on the clock was 2:30am; not good! Getting to the race though I felt OK still, and still wanted to have a crack at 4:30. I knew I’d either hit it, or crash and burn trying. Well, there was smoke towards the end of the bike, and flames on the run.

The swim course was great as they had you swim way far out into the lake, and come back before going parallel with the shore. With the ocean like swell (not white caps though) the lake was generating, it made for a true open water type experience. The only problem though was the course was long; most peoples’ estimates were somewhere around 5 minutes long, but it was such a fun swim I didn’t really mind.

Caught up to Bruce leaving T1 and we wished each other luck and set out on the bike. I had been concerned my bike legs weren’t really there earlier in the week after I had a bad ride the Wednesday before. The bumpy roads were annoying and made it difficult to find a rhythm on the bike, but at mile 40 I was riding well averaging 25mph. Not long after, however, it started to come apart in the form of a cramp in my right glute. I tried everything to make it go away, but no dice, and it slowed me way down for the last 15 miles. I’d like to say it was just a freak thing, but I can’t. I probably cramped because I was pushing too hard on the bike. Had I backed off just a touch I might have been fine. Rolling into T2 though I was still close to being on pace for my target, and I remained hopeful.

As the run started the cramp remained. I hoped that the change in movement would make it go away, and it did, after 3 bloody miles! Through 5k though I was on pace for a 1:35 half, but I didn’t feel very good, and by mile 4 that started to manifest itself in my splits as I slid into the mid to upper 7’s over the next couple of miles. At mile 6 what I feared would happen did; I cracked like an egg. From there on out I just tried to hold on to whatever I could. Knowing Bruce and Reddy were behind me kept me moving however, and Bruce was slowly and steadily making up ground on me. If he was hurting you couldn’t tell, and I goaded him a few times to come and get me. By mile 12 I just wanted it to be over, so I made a final push to try and end it sooner.

Crossed the line in 4:55, missing my goal by a long shot, but still managing to PR the distance by over 5 minutes….so that’s something. Learned a thing or two about racing and pacing that day too. As always, valuable lessons I’ll try to apply next time. Congrats to Bruce who hit his goal, Mark Durno of CTC who finally put together a good half (4:45, 8th OA), and to Reddy for listening to his girls and not being a puss. The post race wings and beer were well deserved.

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