Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Door County HIM Race Report - Him

First time up to Door County Wisconsin - popular tourist and vacation peninsula and home to the Door Country Triathlon weekend. The race venue is just outside of Egg Harbor with the Sprint distance on Saturday and the Half Iron distance on Sunday. I had heard good extremely good reviews about that race and it certainly lived up to its positive billing. I can't say enough about the way the weekend was run - from the race directors, to the volunteers, to the local spectators. Top notch. Sure its a bit of a hike but Wisconsin is a lovely state and I am going to try and fit this race in every year that I am able.

But mind you, its not an easy race. This was a challenging course. Enough climbing (especially late) to make both the bike and run entertaining and wind direction off the lake plays a big part so this race probably sets up completely different year to year. And I'll keep "the bluff" a surprise - lets just say its silly steep and a little bit of a cruel joke. To quote John Candy as Del Griffith - "We can laugh about it now. We're all right..."

To foreshadow this year's edition of the race let us first turn to Wikipedia.
The county is named after the strait between the Door Peninsula and Washington Island. The dangerous passage, which is now scattered with shipwrecks, was known to early French explorers and local Native Americans. Because of the natural hazards of the strait, where the waters of Green Bay meet the open body of Lake Michigan, they gave it the French appellation Porte des Morts Passage, which in English means the "Door to the Way to Death," or simply, "Death's Door."
And with feels like temps in the upper 90s and stupid high humidity its sure felt like it at the end. So let begin shall we?

Pre-Race and Warm Up:
Up at 4 and out for my usual 10 minute shakeout run. Sat down for some oatmeal and coffee at 4:30 and we were packed up and walking to the car by 5:50. Got to the venue around 6:10. Race starting at 8am. Spent the pre-race doing the usual setting up, getting settled and then a warm up swim. Water was a perfect 70 degrees at the start. Hung out with Jen and that was that. Pretty mundane.

Swim 1900 meters = 37:56
I was really happy with this swim. I think I placed 38th out of 106 in my AG for my swim. This is a big deal for me. I had some issues with the current when the swim turned south. It kept rolling me inside the buoy line so I spent the better part of the swim correcting. But I held up well. Nothing else to report other than my entire AG didn't know how to turn at the first buoy which was a bit of a hold up.

T1 = 3:20
Time includes wetsuit stripping which also included losing my timing chip. But yeah this transition time is really slow. Especially since my wetsuit was already off. I had already planned that I wouldn't press in this HIM. Therefore I wasn't pressing in transition. Most of the reason for the delay was hitting up "Captain Commodes" on the way out. I had to go and I'm not hard core enough to go on my bike. I know people do but I don't. Ummgross.

Bike 56.3 miles = 2:51:26 (19.7mph)
Organizers know the course is long and they factor it into the time. Wanted a 20+ average but I wanted to get it without burying myself. Goal on Sunday was to leave plenty in the tank for the run and on top of that I have to start my marathon prep after this week. I wanted to have a solid race without visiting the pain cave. Had a great first 25 or so but was stood up by a pretty solid south wind for a few miles which kinda sucked the energy out of my legs. Not good. And to top that off I was ignoring a pot hole in the road right around mile 48 and it bitch slapped one of the bottles out of my rear saddle was my last bottle and I HAD to go back for it (I might have pissed off a couple riders when I full on stopped - I did pull off - and circled back). No way I could have finished the ride without it. Oh and according to my computer temps to start the bike were 83 and by the time I finished it was reading 95. 

T2 = 2:17
Again, this is terrible but I took some extra time to grab a salt stick and a quick hit from my gel flask. I was starting to realize at the end of the bike that I wasn't quite right and just took a little more time to try and get it together.

Run 13.1 miles = 2:27:27 (11:15/mi)
Oy. I felt terrible the entire time. The only other time I can remember feeling this bad at a race was....oh yeah - the OTHER Half Ironman that I completed. At least during that Half Ironman I was incoherent most of the run....this time around I was plenty coherent (until afterwards as it were). Pride provided me with just enough to run past the spectators and the photographer in transition but as soon as I was clear I was walking - for the entire first two miles in fact. Did not feel well at all. Had the dreaded sloshy stomach and full on nausea. I did manage to take in water and Gatorade at every station and filled my jersey pockets with ice whenever it was offered. And God bless the volunteers, they were every part of awesome but they really are a bunch of liars - "you're almost there!" "you're looking good." Seriously? I'm looking good? I think it would serve me better if they would just give me an honest assessment like - "you look like grim death and you really should quit."

The last part of the course is pretty brutal. Around mile 9 the road kicks up at a ludicrously steep grade (I mentioned the bluff earlier). Even on my best day I would most likely have walked it. You are then put out on top of the bluff for the next three miles totally exposed and on Sunday directly into the wind. No shade and straw fields on either side. I desperately played the 30s run 30s walk game most of the last 3 miles. The last half mile or so is all down hill. And almost embarrassingly I ran like a man possessed. I just wanted it to be over. With how well the day started I never imagined that I would finish over 6 hours.

Post race - Got through the shoot and the next 15 minutes are a bit of a blur. I know I had a conversation with a fellow Salt Creek Tri Club member Jessica who was volunteering in the beer tent. I have no idea what we talked about but I cut it short because I was getting sick. I stumbled around transition and somehow gathered my gear and made it back over in the direction of the med tent...I honestly don't remember walking over....a volunteer must have seen that I was in trouble and thankfully took my bike from me and put it off to the side. I didn't even check in...a nurse looked at me and I just said, "I think I may need some help." And before I knew it I was laying down with a bag of saline hanging next to me. I actually fell asleep for a few minutes but was jolted awake by cramping in both feet. I did have line of site to the finish shoot and all I could think about was how pissed Jen was going to be when I wasn't there because I know how much she looks forward to seeing me at the finish. I even tried to tell the doc that I was ok after one bag but thankfully my poker face looked as shitty as I felt and they hooked me up to another round - on the house. To her credit, Jen smartly went to the med tent when I failed to show at the finish. And she wasn't all that mad. And I'm proud of her for holding up to the conditions of the day.

I still didn't feel great that night but that was no excuse not to order up our traditional post race meal...hand tossed pizza with sausage, mushrooms and onions.

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