Swim Bike Run


First Half Ironman Race Recap (Read 26 times)

    Hi all.  I'm not a big poster here but I thought I'd share the race report for my first half ironman.  I'm a runner, turned ultra runner that decided I had enough watching my wife do tris the last two years and wanted to do one myself.  Did my first Olympic distance tri in June followed by my first half ironman (Vineman 70.3) this past Sunday.  Here is my recap:


    Vineman Recap: My First Half Ironman 70.3

    Swim: 43:30

    First, my swimming background. Going into this race, I was confident in my swim. I didn’t start swim training until last September when the thought of doing a tri crossed my mind. Went to the gym, and couldn’t make it one length of the pool without stopping. I continued practicing 2-3 days a week and it became easier and easier. As of l...ast week, I was consistently swimming a mile in 35-37 minutes. Even had a great swim at Vineman Monte Rio (Olympic Distance) last month and thought I was well prepared for my first 70.3 swim.

    So, what happened yesterday? Got into the water with my group and we had six minutes before the start. Spent most of this time swimming around, warming up and getting acclimated to the water temp. About two minutes before the start, I decided to position myself for the start. Unfortunately for me, I picked an area where I couldn’t touch the bottom and had to tread water. When the gun went off, I started my freestyle. Started much faster than I should and within one minute, I developed a cramp in my calf. This is the first time during any of my training that I got a cramp while swimming. So, here I am, cramping up and not able to touch the bottom. Some of you may not know, but this particular swim in the Russian River has some spots where you can touch the bottom. Tried to continue swimming and work through the cramp but it wouldn’t work. Started hyperventilating some because I was panicking. Had to swim several minutes on my side kicking with the non-cramped leg until I could finally touch the bottom and stand. Walked some, gathered myself and my breathing and rubbed out the calf. Then, started my swim again like it was a relaxing swim in the pool. It took the entire first half of the swim, but I finally got into a rhythm. First half of my swim was 24 minutes. After the turnaround, I realized I needed to swim hard to make up time…swam the second half in just under 20 minutes.

    This was the most upsetting part of the day for me because I was confident I could swim this course in at least 40 minutes and probably could have if it wasn’t for the cramp and panic. What caused the cramp? Several things could have led to it. Stood around in the cold for over an hour and a half before my start, treading water at the beginning, going out too fast with all that anxiety and possibly not enough water in me before the start.

    T1: 6:15
    I’m not the fastest in transition, but I had to gather all my stuff and give it to my sister who was hauling everything back for me. Plus, I had to change out of my wetsuit on the dirt/mud. Definitely messy. Had to put on sunscreen too. Transition time is a work in progress.

    Bike: 3:04:32 with an average speed of 18.2 mph.

    This was by far my strongest and favorite part of the race. For somebody that just bought my bike in April, cycling has quickly become my best discipline. The bike course at Vineman is right up my alley. Rolling hills throughout with some decent climbs. I’ve never changed gears that much in my life. I was flying through this course. I thought my time would be closer to 3:10 based on my training, and I beat that. I stopped at the mile 29 aid station to pee and fill up one of my water bottles and spent approx. 4 minutes and 30 seconds there (two portas and several people in front of me). The course is beautiful. Mountains, vineyards and great sunshine made for a great ride.

    One huge mistake I made during the bike that may have affected my run some was my fueling. I carried a crustable, larabar, gu and clif shots with me during the bike along with water and my clif shot electrolyte/perpetum mix. I hydrated great. As far as calories, not so great. I had one gu, 6 of the shot blocks and totally forgot about my crustable. Started getting hungry and pulled out the larabar at mile 31, took one bite and the rest of it fell on the ground. I did take 4 s-caps during the bike though. I definitely need to work on my fueling on the bike. I get going and just want to keep going. Overall, I was extremely happy with my bike and enjoyed doing so much passing.

    T2: 6:30

    There is a pretty long run from the spot you dismount from the bike to my run rack. Once I got there, I had to take off the bike shoes and helmet, put on my running shoes, grab a bag of nuts and spray more sunscreen on. Then, I had to run all the way to the run out area. A lot of running and this was all part of the transition time.

    Run: 2:14:31 with a 10:17 min/mi pace.

    Ugh!!!! Running a half marathon after 56 miles on the bike in temps that Vineman officials said was in the mid-90s isn’t easy. To put my 2:14 time in perspective, my PR half marathon is 1:41:20…it took me over 30 minutes longer during the tri. The first few miles have some rolling hills but it’s in shade. I was running at a good clip here. 8:30 – 9:00 min/mi pace with some stopping at the aid stations. The rest of the course, nothing but hot sun beating down on you. The one thing that saved me was having well stocked aid stations every mile. The Vineman races are great and well run and the volunteers work their asses off. Top notch races with top notch aid stations.

    I spent much more time walking during the run than I expected. I stopped at almost every aid station to hydrate and basically shower by pouring several cups of water over my head and in the front and back of my shirt. Oh, the aid stations also have ice. I dropped ice down my shirt too. As you probably could have guessed, I was far from happy with my run time. But, even as slow as I was going, I passed many people that were struggling just to walk. Talking to people at the hotel, not one person had anything good to say about their run. It was hot and it was tough.

    Finish Time: 6:15:18

    I was hoping for under 6 hours, but happy that I finished my first 70.3 and still loving the tris. Now it’s time to shake off 15+ minutes from the next race.

    After doing my first tri (Oly distance) in June and now my first half ironman, I can honestly say I never thought I’d enjoy the tri thing after coming over from the endurance running world. Being able to train in three different disciplines and not just getting out 5 days a week and running, and more running, is more enjoyable to me right now. Better on this 40 year old body too. Now, the decision I have to make is whether I should bump it up to the 140.6 distance or keep it at 70.3 at least one more time. And, if I do go for the 140.6, do I want to do an Ironman sanctioned 140.6 distance, or possibly the Vineman Full. Decisions need to be made in the next few months.

    on my way to badass

      Nice RR! Thanks for posting it.

      Still waiting for the perfect race picture. 5K PR-33:52 , 10K PR 1:11:16, First HM 2:42:28

        I just replied on the thread within the main forum, but I'll copy / paste it here as well...



        MadDog, Awesome job.

        Excellent race report.

        Thanks for sharing.

        Cramps suck.

        I've heard Vineman is an excellent race. Glad you were able to do that race.

        The run in 90+ degrees sucks. Never easy after a swim / bike combination, and always tough. I have a similar PB 1/2 marathon, and the run portion of a triathlon is 'impossible' to match for many reasons (mostly because of the 90+ degree temperature mid-day in the middle of the summer after a 3+ hour warmup).


        Regarding the jump to a 140.6.... I did 1 70.3 before I realized I needed (wanted) to do a full. I've only done 1 half ironman and I have no regrets. The discipline it takes to train for the full is worthy of consideration, though.

        I invested about 2 years to learn as much as I could about the transformation necessary to go for +/- 12 hours. I chose not to have a coach, and I didn't follow a specific training plan. I coached myself and I built my own training plan. Could I have purchased a plan that would have led to faster results? Maybe. But, I wanted to do this for myself and learn it myself.

        Biggest obstacles to go from 70.3 to 140.6 during training (and also the race)

        1. nutrition

        2. speedy recovery

        3. energy conservation

        Since you've done endurance running with a 50 miler, you likely have a good understanding of all 3 of these.

        I purchased "Going Long" by Joe Friel and Gordo Byrn. I read it over and over until I could build a training plan. Great book!


        Regarding the Ironman vs. Non-Ironman race (ie. Vineman)...

        Up to you.

        I chose an "Ironman" rather than an "Ironman distance" race. I wanted to hear Mike Reilly call my name.... and I wanted the dang MDot tattoo. Smile.

        Vineman is as good as it gets though with great professional athletes in attendance. Isn't that race hard to get into, though?

        2019 Goals:

        #1: Do what I can do (250+ training days, 300+ aerobic hours).

        #2: Race (Hurt the Dirt 1/2 marathon - 4/27, Grand Rapids Tri 70.3 - 6/9, MSU Gran Fondo - 6/22, ODRAM - 8/10, Michigan Titanium 70.3 - 8/18, Grand Rapids Marathon - 10/20)


          Thanks for the reply.  I decided to put my recap in the main forum too because this forum seems to be much quieter.

          Running Rev'd

            Great race report!


            I'm currently training for my first Olympic distance and have done two varying sprint tris so far this year. I realized in the second one that I also struggle with fueling on the bike, so I can relate! I'm interested in jumping up to the half distance probably next season, and I particularly appreciate a fellow "tri newbies" experience.


            Anecdotally, it seems men take to the bike a little more easily and naturally than women. It is by far my weakest sport, so I have a lot of work to do there.

            Called to Endure - Blog

            "Everyone gets the sunset. Only the dedicated earn the sunrise."


              Congrats on the finish!  I have my 1st IM at Mont Tremblant in 2 weeks.  I've done 4 HIM, but still don't know how my body will do.

              Swim , Bike, and Run A LOT

                 I have my 1st IM at Mont Tremblant in 2 weeks.  I've done 4 HIM, but still don't know how my body will do.

                good luck there. you have the experience so i think you will surprize yourself, love it and sign up for next year. it's all mental if you're healthy. having the 2 loop thing really breaks things up and if you've trained to mentally cope with that you'll barely even notice 140.6 as opposed to 70.3 with all the spectatators rooting for you. out on the freeway of the bike seems long and the swim is the only 1 loop portion there if they didn't change that for this year so that seems long. those were the only places i remember having to gather my brain together so my body would respond. good luck again!


                just wanted to tell ya that.

                In order to see the truth, sometimes you have to loose an eye.











                  Thanks for the feedback!  I was very nervous last week, but am ok this week.  Just keep reminding myself of all the training I did to get where I am today.  It's going to be FUN!

                  Swim , Bike, and Run A LOT


                    You'll do great.  Enjoy!  You've got your plan.  You've done your work.  Now you just want to execute on it.

                    The run will be hard.  Guaranteed.  Keep moving.  Do Not Stop.  Walk, but don't stop.

                    Consume your calories based on your plan, and do not 2nd guess your plan.




                    2019 Goals:

                    #1: Do what I can do (250+ training days, 300+ aerobic hours).

                    #2: Race (Hurt the Dirt 1/2 marathon - 4/27, Grand Rapids Tri 70.3 - 6/9, MSU Gran Fondo - 6/22, ODRAM - 8/10, Michigan Titanium 70.3 - 8/18, Grand Rapids Marathon - 10/20)