SOMA Half Iron 2013 Relay Race Report

It was a gorgeous morning today. The temperature was perfect, there was a gentle soothing breeze and the atmosphere was quite electric. Things just lined up nicely for a good race.

3:30AM: Woke up after a restful but short sleep. I had eaten a full, heavy meal last night and it was sitting somewhat heavily in my stomach, but I have no issues with morning motions (insert smiley face here). I took a shower, shaved, had a banana, yogurt and a half-a-glass of iced coffee. I proceed to get ready for the race. Since all I was doing was the bike leg and the bike was already in the transition area (dropped off yesterday), race prep was brief!

4:55AM: I left my house after packing in nutrition, my helmet, gloves (I had a hard time finding them this morning), headband, sun glasses and shoes. I also took my TWO shirt to show it off to the ONE folks!

5:45AM: After a bit of traffic, I parked in the US Airways arena and arrived in transition. It was still dark but hundreds of people had already arrived and you could sense the nervous energy with random people doing random stretches, pumping tires, jogging and speaking in high-pitched voices. The idea is to remain calm and conserve energy. Easier said than done! I helped Colleen with her wetsuit, took my bike to the Landis area to pump my tires, arranged my nutrition, helmet, shoes, headband and sun glasses. After getting body marked, I walked over to the swim start.

6:30AM: Colleen was revving to go. She was lined up with the relay start in the front and promptly at 6:40AM, she began her swim.

SOMA Relay Start (yellow caps)

7:20AM: I waited in transition for Colleen. After eating a stinger waffle, putting on sunscreen and getting dressed for the bike ride, away I went as soon as she arrived. I had two goals. First, I wanted to maintain a heart rate of somewhere between 138 and 145 throughout the race. Second, I wanted my cadence to be around 90RPM. If all went right, I would average about 18MPH doing the race in just a bit over 3 hours.

The course is relative flat and pretty fast. There are, however, a few lefts and rights and even some hairpin u-turns.The course meanders around Tempe town lake and all bicyclists must do 3 loops of around 18.5 miles each. During the first couple of miles, my heart rate was higher than I wanted. My speed was at 19+ per mile for both miles. I needed to settle down.

8:00AM: After about 20 minutes of a relatively high heart rate, I had settled down into a smooth rhythm. I was down in my aero, my cadence was smooth, my speed hovered between 19 and 20 and I felt good. A bunch of faster riders passed me. I passed a bunch of slower riders. I maintained my own speed. I was biking my own race. At around the 15-mile mark on a slight uphill, Mark passed me. Normally, my adrenaline would kick in and I would race him, but not today. I smiled, said hello, and let him go.

8:20AM: I finished the first loop in about 57 minutes. I was averaging 19+MPH which is about a mile faster than expected. The breeze was gentle, blowing from the southeast. As I traveled south or east, I would slow down to 18MPH, but my speed would pick up going north or west. I took a couple of salt pills and ate my first stinger waffle just after I finished the first loop. I felt great!

9:15AM: The second lap took around the same time as the first lap. My speed remained consistent, my cadence remained consistent, my heart rate remained consistent. I still felt good. I was about two hours into the ride and felt good. I ate a couple more salt pills and another waffle. I had eighteen miles to go and I had a lot left in me. Ironman training was paying off.

9:45AM: Now I had less than ten miles to go. I had finished my first bottle of nutrition (a combination of Gatorade Endurance and CarboPro). I needed to exchange bottles from their cages. I picked up my favorite bottle (the one from the Puerto Rico Half Ironman) and placed it on my clip-on tri-bars and was reaching for the other bottle. Just then, I hit an uneven manhole cover. My bike shook violently and my Puerto Rico bottle went flying on to the road and I lost it. For now, it is gone, but I hope it turns up in the lost-and-found section.

I had less than ten miles to go. I picked up the pace. I still felt great and wanted to finish strong.

10:15AM: I finished the race strong. I took the final two turns comfortably in aero, dismounted and gingerly ran into the transition area. I finished with a time of 2:52, a good 15 minutes faster than expected; Stephen was somewhere else warming up. Colleen had to run to fetch him. After about a minute we exchanged the timing chip and away he went. My portion of the race was over!

With Colleen after finishing

Our TWO (Training Wheels Optional) shirts were a hit. A bunch of the ONE folks wanted to take our pictures. I made it clear that we were one up on them!!

I saw a bunch of my friends who did either the relay or the whole race. Will was quite amazing finishing 17th overall and doing the half-marathon in an amazing 1:28. I too had a good race. I am happy and it certainly boosts my confidence for IMAZ. 28 days to go…

Here is my Garmin data for the race.

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