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Race Result

Racer: Jeff Wolfe
Race: Musselman Triathlon
Date: Sunday, July 19, 2009
Location: Geneva, NY
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Age Group: Male 45 - 49
Time: 6:11:17
Overall Place: 475 / 701
Age Group Place: 44 / 63
Comment: Quest for Sub-6 Hour ˝ Ironman Continues

Race Report:

Background: I started doing triathlons 6 years ago. My second triathlon ever was the Duke Liver Center ˝ Ironman. It took me over 7 hours. I was one of the last people out of the water (no wetsuit), one of the last off the bike (no aerobars) and one of the last to finish the run (no energy). I swore at the time, I would never do this again.

Two years later, I was at the ˝ Ironman again where I completed Timberman. I vastly improved my swim by 20 minutes (new wetsuit), my bike stayed the same but my run got worse (still no energy). I was under 7 hours but not by a lot. Again, I wasn’t sure I would do this again.

The following year, I entered White Lake ˝ Ironman in North Carolina. The course was pancake flat for the swim, bike and run. I finished in 6:10. My swim was about the same but my bike improved by 15 minutes to 3 hours and 2 minutes. My run also improved by almost 30 minutes. One key change for me was aerobars on the bike but most important, I learned how to eat on the bike so I had energy on the run. Now I was convinced on the right course, I could break 6 hours.

The following year I did the Black Bear ˝ Ironman. It was clearly the most difficult of the bunch. My overall time was 6:48 but I felt good about it since the course was so hard. Later that year, I did my only Ironman race in Florida. I finished in under 13 hours so once again I got to thinking about the sub 6-hour ˝ Ironman. If I took the first half of the swim, first half of the bike and the first half of the run from IM Florida, I would have a ˝ Ironman PR.

Last year was a year off from triathlons so this year I decided to try again for a sub 6 hour ˝ Ironman. I chose the Musselman ˝ Ironman in Geneva, NY. It wasn’t flat but it looked like a fun race. I did the Ironman thing in Florida so I was trying to avoid the 70.3 race hysteria and race a good local race.

We drove up on Friday. It took about 8 hours from Reston, straight up 15 from Leesburg until we hit NY. One right turn and then one left turn and an hour later we were in Geneva. One cool thing about this race is that the race headquarters was on the campus of Hobart & Williams-Smith college. They opened up the dorms to the athletes for $35/nite per person. I haven’t slept in a dorm room in over 25 years.

Saturday was spent checking out the course. The bike ride was rolling. The first 15 miles were slowly uphill, the next 15 were along Lake Cayuga and was mostly downhill. Around mile 35, we had the most difficult uphill (it was hard but easier than Woodburn in Leesburg). The last 15 miles were mostly flat along Lake Geneva. The run was flat for the first 2 miles, slowly uphill for the next 4.5 miles. There was a huge hill between 6.5 and 7.5 miles and then steady downhill the rest of the way. We rode the hard hill on Saturday and ran the first and last mile just to check them out. Saturday nite after a fun race meeting and dinner on campus, we went and setup our bikes in transition. As tradition goes, I didn’t sleep at all on Saturday nite.

Sunday morning was easy. Packed up the bags and just left the room key in the dorm room and headed over to the race site. Parking was easy and we had an easy hour before the race.

Swim – 39:55: The water was only 70 degrees so wetsuits were allowed. It was a new swim course with the first half of the swim in the open lake and the last ˝ mile in some more protected boat canals. I was in heat 5 out of 6. We started in the water. The first 100 meters of the swim were still to shallow to swim so we were all aqua jogging. Once we were able to swim, the water got very choppy. I didn’t have too much trouble getting banged around but I was thankful to have my wetsuit on. Sighting was easy since the buoys were all on my left. After the first left turn, the water got even rougher. I passed a few folks from earlier heats and I heard some were holding onto kayaks. Once we made the next left turn, we finally had the current behind us. Although choppy, it was now a much easier swim. Once we hit the canal, the swim was easy. I was sure I was going to be closer to 45 minutes when I got out of the water so I was thrilled to see 39 minutes on my watch. This was my hardest 1/2 Ironman swim to date.

T1 – 3:47. Non-eventful. Easy to find my bike but I felt good that there were still plenty of bikes in the racks. I had not worn my wetsuit since Ironman so I took my time getting ready for the bike.

Bike – 3:17. The bike was my big disappointment for the day. I thought on this bike course, I could do a sub 3 hour bike ride even with just my trusty old Bianchi and clip on aerobars. Well, I should have remembered IM Florida. I just do not have the right bike position to be on my aerobars for hours at a time. My hamstring tightened up on me and I kept trying to stretch it out so I lost momentum when I wasn’t pedaling. I really lost the most time on the flat parts of the course. All the people I passed going uphill, screamed past me going downhill.

T2 – 3:02. Again it was uneventful except for the 2nd race in a few, I tore my number off my race belt trying to put it on. I had to wedge it under my race belt to keep it in front like required. I had to use the bathroom but the bathroom in transition was in the wrong side (not near the exit), so I just took off since I knew there was a bathroom past the 1 mile mark.

Run – 2:07. My first mile was 8:43. I didn’t think I could make up time for sub 6 but I was feeling ok. After the bathroom stop, I kept going right under 9 minutes per mile even going up hill. I walked up the big hill at mile 6.5 but I felt ok. Once I started the downhill, my legs actual hurt more. Maybe now I understand how the Boston marathon feels. For the last 5 miles, I only walked thru the rest stops usually drinking coke and water. Either the last 1.1 miles was short but it came up very fast.

Overall – 6:11:17. So I missed the sub 6 hour race again. I also missed my PR by 21 seconds but this course was definitely harder than White Lake. My run was 9 minutes faster than White Lake and if I didn’t stop to go to the bathroom, I would have a PR. Good news is that at 48 years old, I am still as fast as I was 3 years ago. I think I might try Eagleman or White Lake next year (and maybe get a new bike!!). My quest for sub 6 is not yet over.

Next up is Reston but I will be training for the Twin Cities Marathon in the first week of October. This will be my first stand alone marathon since 2005.

Thanks for reading.