2012 MascomaMan Half-Ironman race report by Greg Indruk
-As luck would have it, I came down with a cold the sunday before the race (less than one week out). As a result I took the entire week leading up to the race completely off. I figured I would call my participation in the race on Friday (the day before the race).
-Friday came and I decided I would NOT do the race. I figured it would do more harm than good.
-By Friday afternoon I started to feel a little better, but still did not think I would race. I did, however, decide to drive up the night before with Chris P to cheer him and Zuzka on in the morning. I brought most of my stuff…just in case; however I left my wetsuit at home, since the water temp was 80 (over the cutoff for awards qualification) for the last week.
-Both Chris and I picked up our packets the night before at Drummond cycles.
-Chris and I met Zuzka at the Salt Hill restaurant in downtown Lebanon. Chis had started to feel like he might be getting the cold I had so he figured he couldn’t possibly hurt his performance by his meal choice…he opted for a cup of chili chased by a large plate of mac and cheese and a beer (remember that!). The food was reasonably good and there was a fair selection to choose from.
-By bedtime I decided I would do the race as long as I didn’t feel terrible in the morning.
-I woke up at 4:30- tired, but willing to give it a go.
-Chris and I drove the 20 minutes from our hotel (Baymont inn) in West Lebanon to the venue in Enfield. The event is fairly small, so parking was not an issue. There is probably a 0.25mile walk from parking to the transition area.
-Be sure to check your packets carefully for helmet numbers and wave numbers. The helmet number is small (I either lost mine or was never given one). I also neglected to check my wave number (on a sticker on the outside of the packet bag), so I went around in the AM asking every volunteer I could find if they knew how the waves were broken down…none knew, but fortunately I was not the only one in this position and the race director was good enough to have one of her volunteers available with a list of bib numbers and waves. It looks like the waves covered at least 10 years (2 age groups). Chris and I were wave 2. Zuzka was wave 1. The heats were separated by 3 min.
-At the last minute the race director changed the swim status to WETSUIT LEGAL. This was obviously a downer for me, since I had left my wetsuit at home. So, the lesson is, always bring your wetsuit! You never know what the weather may bring (rain and cold nights) and many race directors seem willing to stretch the rules a little bit in order to error on the side of safety (read buoyancy).
-SWIM: Start slightly after 7am. I did NOT warm up in the water, as I was trying to figure out my start wave. This was a MISTAKE. When the swim finally started, my goggles fogged up almost instantaneously and stayed that way for the entire swim (worsening if anything). At times I could not distinguish swim caps from buoys (swim caps were hot pink and the buoys were hot orange). I had to stop several times in order to get my bearings…at one point swimming inside one of the buoys and having to stop and swim back around the outside. Sun glare was not a problem…it was overcast.
-Again, I did not have a wetsuit but almost the entire field did. This was definitely a drag (literally) on my performance.
-The swim is a double loop with a short (maybe 30ft) beach run between the end of the first loop and the start of the second. There is a buoy on the beach to help with sighting.
– After the exit there is an approximately 200ft uphill grass run to the transition area.
– 38:20. Around 3min slower than my swim on the same course in 2011. By the time I looked at my watch in the transition area, it appeared as if my swim was 40min—not encouraging.
-BIKE: The transition requires a short (maybe 20ft) run over grass and fine gravel to the bike mounting area. There is then a short (200ft) winding ride on a paved driveway to the main road/course. The course is a single loop with typical NH terrain. The road surface quality is generally good.
-I started the bike knowing I needed to make up time on the head of the field, especially considering my slow (slower than normal) swim. At the same time, I was conscious of not going out too hot. I didn’t have my heart rate strap on, but I was careful to keep my breathing and exertion level comfortable; being especially careful at the start of the ride.
-In the first 15 miles I passed several riders. From mile 15 to 30 I was pretty much alone; passing only one or two riders in this section. I developed knee pain in this section, which stuck with me…not sure at all what this is about, but hopefully it goes away.
-The first 30 miles of the course was hillier than I remembered. However, the hills were all relatively short and punchy. “Rolling” is probably the appropriate description.
-At about mile 30 I saw Chris P and a few other riders. I slowly reeled them in and passed them on the long climb starting around mile 35. Chris stayed with me for a while after the pass.
-Around mile 35 the course starts a long and fairly gradual stepped climb back toward the start of the course. Much of this climb is shallow (maybe 3 to 5%), with only a few steeper sections (maybe 7-8%). There are no very steep headwalls like that found on N. Groton road in the Mooseman course. And, again, it is stepped, even rolling at times, so you do get some recovery here or there.
– The last 6 or 7 miles is rolling to descending; with a few sustained and straight descents.
– The last 4 or 5 miles of the half course overlaps the sprint course, I ended up passing several sprint racers at this point.
– I sat back a little bit for the last 2 miles or so. By this point I was at the head of the race and wanted to stretch my legs out for the run. I also didn’t want to get caught up in a winning the bike split mentality…nor in “hearing footsteps.”
-The bike in is right next to the bike out…and the run out for the (sprint and half); be sure to stay on the correct side of the cones to avoid runners. After the dismount there is an approximately 75 ft run over mostly grass (flat) terrain into the T area.
-Over the course of the run I drank 1 large bottle of water mixed with maltodextrin (carbohydrate) powder and a little electrolyte mix. I also drank ¾ of a small bottle of water.
-2:26:52. Slower than I thought, but I don’t have any complaints.
-Run: Ugg. Need I say more? By this time everything was starting to catch up to me. My legs have never felt so heavy and I had a stomach cramp for pretty much the whole run. My perceived exertion was high for the first 2 to 3 miles (not sure what my HR was, but it was definitely high). I struggled to find my target pace, constantly over or under shooting.
– Again, run out parallels the bike in, so be sure to stay on the correct side of the cones. The run out mat is the same as the bike out mat.
– The run starts with a moderate downhill to flat for just over 2 miles; the first place finisher passed me in this section. There are two aid stations in the first 2 miles and this section is shared with the sprint course, so you may, as I did, find yourself passing sprint runners.
– At mile 1.6 the run turns left onto a beautiful but hilly road paralleling in the shoreline. This road slowly climbs to an apex probably around mile 4.5 (with an aid station around mile 3.5). This section is well shaded, but fairly steep at times. Chris P took his vengeance on me just before the top of the climb and passed me like I was standing still.
-From the apex of the hill, the course descends until you reach a nice rail trail (about mile 5.3–volunteers provide good direction). There is a rest stop at the start of the rail trail. The rail trail is obviously flat and well shaded. Most of the trail is medium sized, and fairly well packed, gravel. The rail trail section is short and includes two more aid stations….including one at the turn around and one which you pass twice (miles 6.1 and 7.4).
-After the turn around (mile 6.7) you retrace part of the rail trail and then are directed onto the street running through a small downtown. This section doesn’t have much shade and could be hot on a brighter day (or later in the day). There is a very slight, but perceptible, incline here. This section is, however, short; it just turns you around so you can start climbing up the backside of the hill you summited on the way out. Be sure to look for course markers; there is a right hand turn near the center of town.
-So yes, you do have to climb back up the hill you crawled over on the way out. On the plus side, you get a nice sustained descending to flat section once you reach the summit. There is one aid station on this road; it is around mile 10.
-Once you make the right turn off the back road (about mile 11.5), you are clearly on the home stretch. The terrain is flat to slightly rising from here. There are two rest stops (mile 11.6 and 12.1) from here to the finish.
-It looks like the course is just shy of a true half marathon; which is welcome relief!
-Over the course of the run I choked down two or three gu blocks and one small cup of warm flat coke. I also took several small cups/sips of water. The whole run felt terrible, but the last 3 miles were particularly brutal. I am not sure precisely why this run felt as bad as it did…it could be due to: inappropriate nutrition, going too hard on the bike (it didn’t feel that way), the fact that I did no long brick runs off the bike, the fact that I was getting over a cold, the fact that I had zero workout time in the week leading up to the race, the fact that this is my first year getting back into reliable run training or just that fact that I am not that good of a runner….of course I’m sure I could come up with any number of excuses…the bottom line: halfs are hard!
-1:38:18. Faster than I thought and much faster than it felt, but, again, the course appears to be a little short.
1) Always (Always!) bring your wetsuit.
2) Always check your packets carefully for numbers and or labels which may indicate heats.
3) Pack your entire race packet in your transition bag. If you forget anything, you will not have to go back to the car.
4) Warm up in the water? At least get your face wet and swim a few strokes. You need to test out your goggles and acclimate them.
Chris P’s effort was good enough to place as the second overall male finisher. I came in third, by a couple long minutes.
Zuska had a strong race, winning her age group.
Eddie also joined us on the half course (his first ever!) and finished in fine fashion.