Twenty years ago I did my first half-iron distance tri (FirmMan in Lancaster, MA). On Sunday, August 18th, I did my 12th and I set a PR by 19 minutes for the distance and 25 minutes for the course. Holy guacamole!
Timberman was my third half this season. My first, Eagleman (aka, Tough Mudder meets 70.3) was a huge disappointment. I had bike issues to add to the extremely muddy conditions and set a personal worst. The second, Musselman (where I also had mechanical issues plus two competitors crashed on the bike course and died), wasn’t much better. All I wanted at Timberman was to have fun, enjoy the day, and finish my season on a high note. Mission very much accomplished.
I love this swim. The water is clean and there’s plenty of room for the field to spread out. Aside from the body surfing necessitated by some really big boat wakes, my swim was relatively uneventful. I got hit hard 3 times by some Michael Phelps wannabe but I returned the favor-his bruises should be cleared up in a week or so… I tied my half-IM swim PR (down to the second!).
My transitions are usually pretty leisurely (a nice way of saying slow) but somehow I managed to get in and out fairly fast. I think bypassing the wetsuit strippers helped me because flopping down on the ground, then trying to get back up wastes time for me.
The bike felt effortless and I felt awesome. Even the climbs after mile 40 didn’t bother me. I did have two scares: one testosterone-fueled dude cut back in so soon after passing me that our wheels touched. Hey guy, you’re not going as fast as you think and I’m not going as slow as you think. The second scare came from another testosterone-laden dude (sorry, but it usually is the guys who cause problems) who passed on my right on a left-hand turn. Our bikes were probably 3 inches apart. That got my heart rate up!! Anyway, it was a bike course PR for me.
Again, I managed to get in and out pretty fast. Could this be a trend????
Ah, the run-always my worst event. My “run” is so bad, that my run time is often longer than my bike time. Not this time. Even though I did my patented shuffle, I shuffled faster than I usually do. I PR’d the run. Seeing other BTTers on the run just made it all the more fun. One funny incident to report-pro winner (and all-around nice guy) Andy Potts was standing by the transition fence at the halfway point. When I went by, he told me that I needed to run more erect and speed up my foot turnover. Ummm, Andy, it may not look like it, but I’m sprinting right now!!
Despite posting my best time ever on the course, I missed the podium for the first time (by 3 minutes). It truly is all about who shows up on the day. Anyway, I can always buy maple syrup (the podium finishers’ prize). I can’t buy a PR.
This race was satisfying in so many ways. I had hoped to better my half-IM time but I was realistically thinking in terms of a few minutes. To set a PR by 19 minutes at the age of 63 is surreal. Yes, the weather gods were very generous but the distance is still the distance. Now, of course, I have my mind set on going faster next year.
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