Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ocean Shores (WA) Toughman Race Report - Jeff Kirkland

So let me start this by saying, this was my first ever half Ironman. I started racing sprint triathlons three years ago and have been working hard to increase my distance with the ultimate goal of racing full length Ironman races. This race was my 12th triathlon and it was in an entire other level from where I started. I absolutely love to race and compete. I love the thrill of the finish line but more so, I love that feeling of the starting line.

This race was great. Very well organized and on a flat course which was a welcome sign as I am used to hill after hill. The weather was cold! It was cloudy and a high of 59 degrees. I was warmest in my wetsuit in the water.

On Friday night before the race, I made the mistake of going to the swim start and looking at the buoys which directly contributed to my lack of sleep that night. It was more like a night of panic.

The swim was a staggered start and I chose the third wave just to be safe. I started at the front of the pack and about 1,000 meters in, I caught and passed the second wave. By the end of the swim, I had caught the back of the first wave. My swim time was 38 minutes. At this point, I could have quit and it would have felt like victory. That is a PR for me! Last year I couldn't even swim an Olympic distance at that pace.

I hopped on my bike and set off on the two lap course that was along the Pacific coast. The temperature was still very cold (56 degrees) and I was soaking wet. My hands and feet were numb the entire ride but I was happy because I passed a few people and never got passed. The biggest advice I got before the race was ride slower than you think you should so I made that my goal. As I was riding, I felt like I tried to keep my effort level down a bit as to not crash on the run. When I got to mile twenty my average pace was 20mph which is moving pretty good for me on a longer race. I managed to hold a 20.1mph pace for the full 56 miles and my ride time was 2:51 which was well below my 3:30 goal and even below my "inside my mind" goal of 3:00.

Off the bike and on to the run. One thing I didn't know about this race was that 5 of the 13.1 miles was on the beach. Holy moly did that make it more difficult. By this time my training partner and I were together which made the run much more fun. As we ticked off the first mile he said only 12 more to go! I thought "ok just don't die." Two and a half miles in we hit the beach. It was brutal. It made my IT bands burn like no other but we kept on pushing. The first 6.5 miles seemed to go by fast but the last were a grind. Thankfully, I didn't bonk and kept up an ok pace. I am a runner first so my mind thinks that I should run faster than my body says after a long race. My final run time was 1:46. This is not my best half marathon time by a long shot but it is solid, all things considered, and with 5 miles of it on sand.

I crossed the finish line with a total time of 5:20 and good for 20th place overall and 5th in my killer age group of 30-39. Overall, I am very pleased with the race and the way my body felt. I have an Olympic race just 14 days after this one. It will be interesting to see what a recovery week followed by a taper week will do to that race. I will say that I am thankful for my Triple Threat team for the encouragement during this journey. Also, I would like to thank Rolf Prima wheels for hooking me up with an awesome wheel set and Honey Stinger for the nutrition. Overall, it was fun and a lot less scary than I thought it was going to be. I am already looking forward to Ironman 70.3 Henderson in October.

Related Posts:

Triple Threat Profile: Jeff Kirkland - Oregon

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