Patriot Half IM 2012
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012
|Larry with super volunteer Alyssa|
Larry Bowers (aka. HML, Dr.Hammer) - 3rd Men (50-55) - 5:14.21
Race Report (Larry Bowers)
As usual, it was very dark and very early. All “three” of my alarms went off at 345AM. Yes, “three” alarms. As expected, I tossed and turned all night and jumped out of bed when the alarm staccato went off. Nice head ache (from lack of sleep not the alarms) to add to the equation. Glad I slept well the previous nights. Everything but my refrigerated fuel (Hammer of course) was already in the car. Alyssa, my 12 yr old daughter, and I lathered up the sun block, made the dog do her thing on the front yard and then jumped into the car for our drive to Chuck’s house. We transferred the goods to Chuck’s nice corporate ride (very nice) and rolled out by 445AM. This time, no storm clouds or lightening were on the horizon like the previous race at Jamestown not that long ago. I down a bunch of Hammer pill supplements one hour before the race. Down they go.
Alyssa heads to volunteer station for her duties and they load her up. Body marker girl, race medal finisher girl, cold wet towel girl, hey girl this and hey girl that. She loved it. Plus all the pizza, salty snacks, fruit and jelly beans you can eat. And ice water and Gatorade. A tween’s delight. Chuck and I set up camp in the transition area and we are very near the far end which is fine with me. I make a mental note of where I am this time. Don’t ask why. Yeah all tri bikes look the same … get the drift?
Yep, it even looks far. Can barely see the buoys but I know the course. The current is heading out which means we fight it on the first leg, cross it on the second leg and ride the waves (so I wish) on the last leg. Chuck and I are in the same AG wave. Off we go. No wet suit, no sweat. I try to pull hard and breathe deep but I am still limited due to my chest injury. BUT, I do feel better than I did a week or so ago. That is good. Like everyone else, I fight other swimmers. I try to pick off the slow ones of the waves ahead of us. I run smack into some swimmers and vice versa. Someone kicks me hard directly on my left chest wall that sends me almost to the bottom of the James River. Dang, that hurt. If that happens again, I am out of here. I don’t feel prepared to cheat death twice in the same month. It does not happen again and I keep stroking and buoy sighting. All is going well and I am actually getting thirsty, which means I am working hard and breathing semi-well. Made one mid swim adjustment to my goggles but other than that, I just keep sucking down wave after wave of water chop. I dread the turn buoys because everyone gets crunched up. I decide to go under the edge of one to avoid the flaying body parts and to ensure I don’t nailed in the chest again with another foot. And I pray I don’t intercept its mooring line. I make it. Alas, I am on the final leg and sight for shore. I eventually hit the bottom with my “hands” and I am still 150 yards off shore. Eventually you have to stand and try to walk/push yourself in. I make it to shore and yank my goggles and swim cap off. I know it’s a long run to T1 and I am ready to fly. This is where I can make up some serious time. I do fly and get a bit winded. Maybe I ran to fast. I almost take out 5 other tri athletes at every turn because they are going to slow and blocking my way. Into T1 I slide.
I look for Chuck as I enter T1 and he is nowhere to be found. I certainly know I am not ahead of him for the swim so he must be gone. That is good. Lots of bikes in T1 which is another good sign. However, quite a few bikes from the old dude’s rack (my area) are gone already. That sucks, but at least I have the bike and run segments to catch them on. So I hope. I down my T1 round of Hammer supplements. Down they go with or without water.
On the bike I mount and the adrenaline fires me through the transition area crowd. I see lots of bodies lying all over the place on the bike portion. Quite a few accidents. I hear clanging behind me and look back and the second person behind me is on the road surface about 150 yards back, bike parts everywhere. I slow and move to the center of the road to access the situation behind and see if help is needed. Several other riders help the him or her so I press on. A few more miles and few more accidents and then the guy about 50 feet in front me loses focuses and starts fish tailing on the edge of the road gravel. I steer clear and remind him to watch the road. He is white when I pass clear of him. I am cooking on the bike and likely pushing too hard but its fun passing people, especially when you really zip by them. Of course this happens in the first 20 or so miles and toward the end there is no more “zipping” by anyone. Eventually I look up and see Chuck at about mile 40 of this 58 (not 56) mile ride. I look around for the drafting police and then pull on the side of Chuck to talk a bit. I ask how he feels and he says great. I say my legs are starting to feel like toast. He is doing well with fuel and everything. He has the groove going for his first Half. We play tag team for the next 8 or so miles and then the “incident” happens. I pull ahead of Chuck and a group of about 5 other riders at about mile 50. I am maybe 1 to 1.5 minutes ahead of them. I come to a major 90 degree turn which then sends us back to Jamestown. The police are there as well as volunteers directing traffic. I slow a bit and swing wide for a nice turn and final dash to T2. As I enter the turn, I see it. A friggen weekend cyclist stopped smack in the middle of the road and directly in my turning radius. Looks like a startled deer. He tucks down when he sees me coming. My options are limited. (1) Continue my path and take him out (along with myself). (2) Swing tight and lay the bike down and then take him out (along with myself). Or (3) swing wide and apply the brakes and pray. I know brakes and turns at the same time are a no no but I have no choice so I go for option (3). I tap the brakes while semi straight and then try to turn but the darn missile I am on goes straight (no duh, it’s called inertia) and off the road I go. I see where I am heading and really become an unhappy camper (for about 2 micro seconds) because I am heading for a ditch and a metal stop sign on a bike trail (where the weekend cyclist must have just rolled through). I envision flying off the bike and the then hearing sounds of breaking stuff, like bones. I hit the ditch and semi stay on the bike, and then pop out of the ditch missing trees but heading for the sharp edge of the stop sign when I nail the brakes once again and as soon as the tires find earth. I pop out of my cleats at the same time … and stop against the stop sign. Wow. I am lucky again. I almost got cut in half by a stop sign. Geez. I quickly lift my bike and move it to the edge of the road and try to mount it before Chuck and the small group of riders comes around the same curve. I get a bunch of muscle cramps for jumping off the bike so quick without any warm down. I eventually get part way on the bike when I hear more yelling … opps, they are coming around the corner and it might be “me” now that causes another incident. They see the chaos and slow enough to weave through me and the other weekend rider and his buddy. We are on opposite sides of the road. On the bike I go and it appears ok with twigs and dirt slinging off of it as I build up to terminal kill velocity. Eventually, I make it back to T2. Chuck and I are there about the same time. And I do suck down two more rounds (hourly) of Hammer supplements while on the bike. Along with a 3 hr bottle of Perpeteum (soy protein, carbs and even some healthy fats) and 2 bottles of water.
All went well. Chuck and I both need to pee (a good hydration sign) but I forget to do it and see the last port a john in T2 over my shoulder as I hit the running trail. I figure I will do it somewhere else if necessary.
I do see Chuck early to mid-way on the run and he looks good. The clouds were still overhead and we had lots of tree coverage. At this “point” the heat was not oppressive but as usual, that would change soon. The running segment is great as it weaves through the woods and even over some wood plank cat walks (some spring that I could really use about then). I like it and have been on this running trail 4 previous times. My run is my strong segment of the tri but I am not as strong on this particular run as I have been on the past. The plantar F followed by the swimming incident in Destin FL about a month ago has really taken a toll on my run mileage. The jarring of the run really hurts my chest and the entire left side rib box. I trudge along and about mile 5 or so the sun is really coming out now. I aim for shade on every new turn of the path. I take mostly water at the aid stations and down another 6 Hammer endurolytes (2 every 20 minutes at the beginning of the run), and I consume about 3 Hammer Gel packs. Nutrition wise I am feeling great. I tag team another 51 year old runner and we soon start gauging one another for our AG. He asks if I know my current position in the overall race and I sort of play dumb and say “no clue.” Anyway, I finally take my pee (at least a 45 second process) and he passes me. I stay behind him the rest of the race with hopes of kicking past him in the last mile or so. He looks back several times. Ole high mileage Larry has no kick for this race so I glide in behind him about 1 minute later (he places 2nd and I 3rd for our AG).
Post Race Food
Why did they do that again? Pizza. And not even supreme with a bunch of veggies. Cheese and pepperoni. The venue is great. The course segments are great. The staff and volunteers are all great. But they gotta ditch the junk food pizza. I want the bar b q spread back. Or the fantastic healthy wraps we had at the Lake Anna Half. Enough griping.
Don’t Judge a Book by the Cover
Ok. Check out the podium foto. You will recognize the number one guy because he dominates the AG in the mid Atlantic area. And yes, he is short and plump; heck I would even call him fat. His address is Alexandria VA but he has an Australian or British accent AND he kicks butt. His swim is amazing. It is in the Chuck territory but Chuck looks like a swimmer. He rides a good bike. He and I ride similar times. His Half run is 3 to 5 minutes better than mine and better than any of ours. And yes, he is short and fat and wins all the races. Go Dougle go.
Hammer Nutrition Plan
Went down like a charm. No cramping, plenty of energy. No GI issues. Here is the short of it:
Race Day Boost – 4 days dosing ahead of the race (helps to minimize lactic acid build up)
1 hr before the swim – race caps supreme (3), endurance aminos (2), anti fatique caps (3), endurolytes (2)
15 mins before the swim – about 12 oz water
5 mins before the swim – breakfast, 2 Gel packs mixed with water
T1 - endurance aminos (2), anti fatique caps (3), endurolytes (4)
Bike 1 (1 hr into the bike) - endurance aminos (2), anti fatique caps (3), endurolytes (4)
Bike 2 (1 hr into the bike) - endurance aminos (2), anti fatique caps (3), endurolytes (4)
T2 - Bike 1 (1 hr into the bike) - endurance aminos (2), anti fatique caps (3), endurolytes (4)
While on the bike – 3 hr premixed bottle of Perpeteum with 3 powder doses of YET more endurolytes; 2.5 bottles of water picked up at aid stations on the move
While on the run – MORE endurolytes (6), Gel packs (3), and water but obviously not enough of water seeming I drank about 1.5 gallon after the race and barely pee’d the rest of the day … bad me.
Recovery – Recoverite mixed with cold water within 10 minutes of finishing. And endurance aminos (2).
Chuck Alt - 10th Men (45-50) - 5:45.18
I guess as they say - the third try is charmed. For me it was the third try
to train for this race so I really wanted to complete it. Plantar Fasciitis
prevented me from making a good training effort in 2009 and 2011. In 2011 I
had to get a refund as I had already signed up! So my number one goal for
2012 was to train smart, stay healthy and complete this race - my first 1/2
After completing the Jamestown race in early July I was still healthy and
feeling pretty good so I felt pretty confident that I would be able to train
through the increased volume leading up to the half. What I did not
anticipate was the heat of this summer and the quantification of my sweat
rate, which prior to this summer I thought was just pretty normal. Since I
had read many bad race reports about the heat of this race I am glad that I
did the work to learn about my sweat rate and how to deal with it as best as
I could. Many of the training events this summer put me over 4% weight loss
and the race itself was going to be longer in time so I was sure to hit the
5% loss and most likely get cramps or have to completely shut down.
Most of the race day was pretty uneventful. Larry was at the house on time
and we made the drive in an hour arriving at 5:45. We got a good parking
spot, the check in lines were short and I had the transition area set up in
plenty of time to take care of other things before the race started. Larry
shared his pre-race Hammer plan so I used some of that along with what I
learned over the summer training in the heat. I did not eat any breakfast
before the race and just drank some electrolyte water before heading down to
the swim area. With that water I took two AFC and two E-caps. I carried
two gel packs (Clif - OMG!) down to the beach and consumed them about 10
minutes before the start.
No wetsuits is a good thing for me so I felt I would get a little boost on
swim time. I felt fine swimming, passing through the white caps, then the
blue caps. Only had some congestion near the turning buoys Ok, the swim
was done and I felt great coming out of the water. The transition area was
fairly empty so I felt I probably did well. No clocks in sight anywhere
My bike was pre-loaded with 2 bottles of water/endurolyte fizz and one
bottle of perpetuem (3 hrs or 3 scoops). I really like the fizz and the
perpet/fizz combo worked great for me this summer on the bike. So I just
took off on the bike after putting on socks and my more comfortable cycling
shoes (left those T1's at home).
The bike course was really nice. The big loop that is added to the Olympic
course has lots of nice rolling hill sections and great scenery. For the
most part the roads are nicely paved. People started passing me around mile
8-10 but I had a goal to only average around 21 and save it for the run. It
was hard to let people pass me on the bike but I kept thinking how I would
be feeling at mile 10 on the run and that kept my pace at bay.
I stopped at the 1/2 way point and filled an empty bottle with water and put
in the endurolyte fizz tablets. This gave me all the water for the bike
that I needed. While on the home stretch into Jamestown Larry comes along
and we chat for a while. I'm still spinning fairly easily and am on track
with the nutrition plan. He wants to go a little faster so I hang with him
for a while and we trade back and forth a bit. When I finally let him go, a
little bit after the bridge, I found him again on the side of the road
looking quite irritated with the apologetic biker standing in the middle of
the road. This must have gotten Larry fired up as he passed me like a shot
about a mile later. I saw him again in T2 getting ready for the run with
Now for the run. For me this is the whole race. I'm not a strong runner
anyway and I know that somewhere during this run I am going to dehydrate.
Even though I consumed the 3 bottles of electrolyte fizz and 1 bottle of
perpetuem, at this temperature my sweat rate far outpaces the water
absorption rate so I know it is just a matter of time before I hit the
dehydration wall. In T2 I changed socks, put on some glide and then
actually had to go to the porta potty and lose some fluids. I forgot my
watch so ran back to my spot to get it. A long T2 I know but hopefully this
lowered my core temp a bit. I also took two AFC before leaving. My plan
was to get all my liquid, electrolytes and calories from the HEED and gels
on the course. Time on the board when I hit the porta john was 3:39 (less 9
for my wave start) so a 5:36 was looking possible.
The first 6 miles of the run were really quite nice. I love running on the
trails, reminds me of the ones I run on in France each spring. I stopped at
every station and took some HEED. Throughout the run course I consumed 3
gels spaced out fairly well. My goal for the run was a nice and easy 2hrs.
I had taken the ride easy to support this goal and at this point it seemed
Then, sometime between 6 and 7 I felt the chills and saw my skin was not as
wet as before. I knew from experience now that I was crossing past 4% body
weight loss. With 6 miles to go and the weather only getting hotter I knew
I was in uncharted waters. I just kept up my routine of running slowly,
stopping at every station for HEED and water. For the next 5 miles my 9
minute pace had slowed down closer to 10 minutes (of course all miles had
water stops). This was OK with me and would only add 6 minutes or so to my
time. I was OK with this and kept running along.
Around mile 11 the cramps started. At first it was just some twitches that
would try to grab and then both of the calves were trying to lock up. I
stopped and walked for a bit then tried to run. 150 yds later - cramps
again. This cycle repeated for the next two miles with the run/walk ratio
getting lower all the time. I couldn't even run through the chute - had to
power walk in - how embarrassing! Funny thing was I had plenty of energy
and really felt like running. The leg cramps would just not stop even after
repeated massaging. In hind sight I should have followed Larry's advise and
popped some e-caps during the run. I've noticed in training that I don't
respond as well to HEED as the endurloytes/perpetuem combo so I see now why
the e-caps are popular for the run - you can't really carry around a bottle
of fizz to keep up with your body's needs, which are even higher on the run
than the bike.
So I finished in 5:45 and in the end I am quite happy with that. I think
you have to successfully experience one of these races before you can start
planning how to do it faster the next time.
I hope all my work on sweat rate this summer will motivate some of you to
get a good scale and measure your sweat rate. For years I thought during
longer races or training I had run out of energy, when in fact it was most
likely running out of water. One full 24oz bottle of water per hour is not
enough! I know you read a lot about Hyponatremia and it seems to be a
threat, but after seeing I lost 1.2 lbs in an hour bike ride Wednesday
morning this week when it was 55 degrees, I doubt I will ever have to worry
about being overhydrated!