Sunday before last I did the Duke Liver Center Half out at Jordan Lake or maybe I should say the Duke Half did me. To get an idea of the conditions, I lifted this from the race website,
"Congratulations to everyone who toughed out the brutal conditions on a course that's difficult enough even under the best weather conditions"
Mother Nature wasn't quite ready to let go of summer and the forecast for the day was 94. We got lucky and the actual high was only 92, ha ha. Then to top add to it, the USAT official that measured the lake water temp came in w/ a reading of 79. 79 degrees is one, yes one degree above the limit for wearing wetsuits. I mean it seems like he could've dropped that thermometer just a little lower in the water and hooked us up w/ a 78 degree reading so we could wear our wetsuits. I can't control Mother Nature, but she sure could controlled me that day.
We had a deep water start for the swim, so I had to tread water for a minute but it wasn't too bad. But I have to admit I was ready for that horn to go off so I could use my energy for swimming and not for treading water. The horn went off and we were on our way. I didn't get much contact until some of the later waves started passing me a little past the half-way point. I ended up w/ a 46 minute swim, which was only 4 minutes slower than my White Lake Half swim where we got to wear wetsuits. It was good for 19th out of 24 in my age-group, so I have a little consolation that I didn't come in dead last.
Now on to the bike split. This is where I felt the best during the race. The bike course had a bunch of rollers with a few short climbs that kept it interesting. I spoke w/ my coach http://www.johnhirsch.org/ the day before for some hot weather tips and he told me to really make sure I didn't get behind on my hydration, so I kept up w/ the fluids and I felt like I had a pretty decent bike split coming in at 2:54 (19.2 mph avg). I moved up 9 places in my age-group and had the 10th fastest bike split. I did make one big mistake on the bike though in taking in too much Hammer Perpeteum which has contains protein and it just never seemed to entirely empty from my gut.
Now on to the run. This is where the race got wicked, damn near evil. The course is pretty much all on trails in the park where you get a these fairly sustained climbs and they just hurt. Then you'd get a long downhill and you quads would hurt too. Remember about overdoing it w/ the Perpeteum, well my stomach just wouldn't empty and each time I drank something at the aid stations, some of it would come back up (hopefully you're not reading this during lunch). That's a lesson I won't ever forget. The same thing happened to me at IMAZ, you would've think I learned my lesson. When its hot and you're racing hard just stick to the sports drinks that don't contain protein. I don't think it slowed me up, but it just made the run more uncomfortable.
Like I said the run course was difficult and w/ the 90+ temps we were having and it basically just broke down to just shuffling from aid station to aid station. I did manage to run the whole course (except for walking the aid stations) and finished the half-marathon w/ a time of 2:06 (9:39 pace). I saw a bunch of folks walking and even one person was being loaded onto an ambulance. It was just sick hot out there.
I have to give props to Setup Events for doing an awesome job w/ the aid stations. They always had ice water, icy towels, sports drink, etc... It got crazy out there but the volunteers did a helluva job.
One of my goals for this race was to break into the top-10 for my age-group and I finished 9th which made me feel good. This is the highest I've ever placed in a half. I do gotta confess though there were only 24 in my category (M45-49) though. I ended up w/ an overall time of 5:51. All in all I felt good about the race, especially on the mental tip. I felt...courageous. I know it sounds corny, but it took some bravery to hold up through that race.