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Swim4Purpose: Doug Saar

Race Result

Racer: Choonghor Woon
Race: Eagleman Ironman 70.3
Date: Sunday, June 14, 2009
Location: Cambridge, MD
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman
Time: 5:28:46
Overall Place: 642 / 1544
Age Group Place: 74 / 125
Comment: My first half IM



Race Report:

Goals:
This is my first attempt on half IM so going into the race, I really don’t know what to expect. However, I know I definitely need to set some goals so that it will keep me focus during the race. Here is what I came up with (according to priority):

Goal 1: Do not walk
Goal 2: Finish below 6 hours
Goal 3: Go below 5:30:00

Pre Race:

Arrived at the transition area around 6am. Body-marked, set up the gears and then went over to the Club tent to rejoin my wife.
Saw Hector at the tent and Hector joked that if my wife pops today(she is 35 weeks pregnant), we will have to name him Eagleman Woon. Mmmm……it is quite a cool name but we will pass…

Swim(00:44:19):
The swim started off well, i got into rhythm and i felt my stroke and breathing were smooth. I am a weak swimmer so I knew my swim was going to be slow but I was still hopeful that I can at least finish the swim within 40 mins. In the middle of the swim, i took a wrong turn at one of the buoy and swan off course for about 200-300 yards. So, that blew my hope for better swim time. Oh, well…

T1(00:04:00):
Off to T1, no idea why it took 4 minutes. Definitely need to improve my T1 next time round.

Bike(Non official, 2:43:55):

Not sure why they didn't capture my bike time as I have the timing chip all the time. Based on my watch, I think I did 2 hours 42 or 2 hours 43.

The strategy for the bike leg was to eat/drink and ride consistently.

I will take a sip at my aero bottle for every 10 minutes, drink my energy drink(300 calories) every 15 minutes, 1 salt tablet for every 20 minutes.

As for the bike, depending on the wind, I will need to find the right pace/speed and maintain my heart rate consistently in the first 30 minutes and progress into higher intensity the next 30 minutes then switched back to the steady pace so that I won’t overtired my legs and bonked before the run.

The first 2 hours went well, then in the last 13 miles, the headwinds became stronger and the perceived level of effort for maintaining the same speed became tougher. At this point of time, I was worried that if I keep pushing I may gain a few minutes but I am going to pay for it in the run so I decided to backed it off and maintain at that speed till the bike finish.


T2(Non official, 00:02:00): No time for T2. Let’s just assume I did 2 minutes.
Off the saddle, wheeling my bike to transition area and I felt my legs were still strong.
I recited and repeated this mantra over my head: Light on the feet, I feel strong, light on the feet…I feel strong….

Run(1:54:32):
My legs felt good in the first mile, my heart rate was 5bpm below AT and my Garmin was telling me i did 7:30 min pace. Good news! That means I shouldn’t have problem sticking to my plan which is to maintain HR of 5bpm above AT for the first 6 mile then start pushing hard from mile 6 to mile 10 and then use what is left for the last 5k.

Just when I decided to pick up my pace, I felt that both of my legs slowly tensed up.
I decided to slow down until the tension went away. At the Mile 2 aid station, took in 5 cups of drinks, 3 GUs and 2 salt tablets. Mile 4, my legs were getting better and I was backed to the heart rate zone that I intended to be, my pace was 8:15 to 8:30 min pace.

I drank 3-4 cups of Gatorade/water at every aid station, at mile 5, took in more GUs. I told myself, I am going to be really focused on being faster in mile 6 to mile 10.

Mile 6 came, I picked up my pace until my HR was 10bpm above AT. I looked at the watch and it read 8min pace. Mile 7, 7:45 min pace. Felt really good at this point.
I told myself let's hold on between 7:30 and 7:45 min pace and then try to go all out in the last 5k when reaching mile 10.

Like any races, things can go very quickly and easily out of your control. At mile 8, I felt a twitch at my left leg. I took in a deep breath and repeated this phrase for the next 2-3 minutes: Go away….go away...go away..
Déjà vu, both of my legs tensed up again. It wasn’t a cramp, it just felt very tight. Every time I took a longer stride, the tension grew. I have been chasing this one runner who past me earlier on mile 2, I was basically 3-4 steps of passing him! So close yet so far..

I backed off my speed hoping that it will ease off after 2 miles just like last time and in time for my last 5k sprint. My HR was now back to 5 bpm above AT which indicates reduction of intensity and my speed was now back to 8:30 to 8:45 min pace. I took in more drinks, GUs and salt tablet at mile 9 aid station.

Mile 10 came, the tension got worst and the legs felt heavier, it was almost like I was going to cramp anytime soon and my speed was slowly drifting to the 9min-10min pace zone. I was contemplating whether I should just picked up the pace and pushed as hard as I could because i don’t really feel the pain although my legs were getting heavier.
Then I decided to go against it because I also may possibly ruin the whole race if I need to walk the last 2 miles which means I may not even achieve my Goal #1!



Came last mile, I was swinging both my hands to get my legs moving and finally I crossed the finishing line after 5hr 28 mins.


After thoughts:

All in all, I am happy and contented with my time because I have given my best and managed to achieve all the 3 goals that I set before the race. Driving home, I felt a sense of achievement that I completed my first half IM.