Patriot Half Iron, E. Freetown, MA 16 June 2012 by Dave Connery, Team Member and 1K2GO Coach

The Patriot is a big race down just south of Boston. Run in cranberry country, it attracts a big field from suburban Boston run in a gorgeous area that has great roads and a nice lake swim. Since this is a website with a lot of cyclists, I’ll break this report down for the cyclists and triathletes to both understand.

Cyclists: I woke up early and made my way to the race…
Triathletes: Woke up earlier than expected with race day excitement. Breakfast was a 24oz jar of applesauce, blueberry greek yogurt, a bar, and some electrolyte blox and then out the door.

Cyclists and Triathletes:
The day dawned with good weather. A little breeze was blowing and there were whitecaps on the lake. These calmed down, but waves that were 1-1.5 foot were out there. As I got ready, I started to pump my tires up, and I couldn’t get the pump to overcome the valve spring… I unscrewed the valve extender, and long story short, the valve unscrewed as well and is now permanently living inside my 808. No worries, when you go up to speed, it stays put on the outside. But still, it was un-nerving to have this happen. What is important about this? Adam Myerson has a great blog about arriving to a race early…I did so while annoying, I had plenty of time to still get setup.

Cyclists: I swam, got wet, and then got out of the water and took off my wetsuit.
Men 40-44 were in the 3d wave after Elite Men/Women. I have been working hard on swimming lately, but it was not apparent with the waves. They were crashing over you as we swam out, but I got into a rhythm after about a 1/4 mile of the 1.2 miler. For me, the swim is about getting through it, I had no issues with breathing and getting water in my mouth, but at 34 minutes, I was 6 minutes behind the leaders, 93rd swim split.

Out of the water and into T1. I was a little slow getting things on, but out in just over 2 mins with a long run out of the transition. I was riding with one bottle and the second cage was housing food/tire repair.

Cyclists: I rode a solid upper tempo pace, 254W for 56 miles
Out on the course, calculators had shown me that I should ride 250-260 W for this distance, so I was shooting for 270 to average around there. On course I ride with a Garmin 310 XT for all three events on my wrist, but in the bike I keep my powertap computer on the bars displaying instantaneous power all the time. The Garmin tracks 3 mile power average to see the current trends. I mention this because I came out of T1 again, thankful to be alive and AMPED. I was riding 310 W! I kept backing it off to get into a rhythm of 270 and it took about 4-6 miles to get there. The course has a fair number of turns, but is very flat. With the wind, and the turns, you had to be careful with the crosswinds blowing you sideways much more so than last year. For food, I ate 1/2 bar right away, then two gels, one at :30mins, the other at 1:30. In between I munched a sleeve of Margarita ShotBlox to fight cramps. I dropped one gel, but it didn’t seem to matter that much with the blox. I exchanged bottles on 3 of the 4 chances and really felt like I was drinking on or a little below target. But towards the end of the bike, I really needed to pee. More on this later. Anyway, as the bike progressed, I rode through all of the womens field and caught alot of the first wave at 8 minutes ahead. As I rolled through the second lap, I began to catch folks from the latter waves starting their bike. Some Top Gun jetfighter handling through crowds, but not that bad at all. On the second lap, a chocolate lab the size of Bobby Bailey lined up on me and came after me. I just thought “if I swerve on the aero bars, I am going to go down…” I decided to hold the line, keep pedaling and see if I could get past. He brushed my leg, but did not get his nose in the rear spokes. 5 seconds of terror and no problems!

Finished up the bike, 2:15. I would later find out that this was the fastest split of all. 3 mins ahead of a guy that ran a 2:14 half marathon, and 5-6 minutes ahead of the leaders. Yes!!!! Never a good idea to shoot for winning the bike split, but here they have a prize for it!

Into T2, quick change and out on the course. I really had to pee, and ducked into the portapotty…WOW!!! I peed solid for over a minute! Guess I drank a lot…but it was crossed with the extra salt I took and the caffeine in the gels…

Cyclists: we are now running, no need to pay attention, but the run was roughly twice as long as S. Greenbush TT….but you are on foot.
Out on the road, first mile was 7:25 with the pee stop, then I settled into a series of 6:20-6:40 miles through mile 5. Then a pair of 6:50-6:55s for 6/7. At Mile9 I ran a 7:11. This was a little drag of a hill, and well, it was mile 9. Here I made a vow to shorten my stride, quicken the turnover and keep it sub 7. Based on how tired I was at this point, it really worked. 10/11/12 were 6:56-7. Then, for mile 13 I started to really get that “THIS IS ALMOST OVER” feeling and picked it up running a 6:36, and finishing up with a 1:29.37. Split was 17th, but I am making more and more progress on this run. Last year I was 1:32 at this course, after a debacle of a 2:16 ride. This was the first time I went sub 1:30 at the end of a 70.3. Total time was 4:22.47, good for 5th overall, and 2nd in the 40-44. I ran with the winner of my age group for about 5 miles and then he continued to run 6:30s and disappear over the horizon.

Great combo of bike run here at this race, just need to take a few minutes off the swim and a sub 4:20 is possible.

After the race, driving home was pretty brutal. Had to stop every 1 hr and walk around. But, the first 10 steps were just so painful. Everyone would look at me like I was going to fall down in a heap! However, it was worth it after the 6 plus months of preparation for this, including a complete reconstruction of my run training, going back to a more traditional training plan with longer intervals, tempo runs and long runs.

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