Bassman Half Ironman – Race Report

Swim: 32:35 (1:32/100 yds)
T1: 3:59
Bike: 2:54:44 (19.9 mph avg)
T2: 2:55
Run: 1:43:07 (7:52/mile)
Overall: 5:17:19

In lieu of a pretty uneventful taper week training report, I figured I’d jump right into the meat and potatoes of the week.  If you recall, about 3 weeks ago I was up practicing on the Mooseman bike course with Noah and I suddenly got the itch to race again, so I went home and immediately signed up for the Bassman Half, convincing Momoko to take on her first ever multisport event – a sprint duathlon, which she completed and had 2 of the 3 fastest runs of the day – nice work Mo!

So I went into the race with a pretty normal race routine – wake up at 4:00 a.m., drink skim milk with Carnation Instant Breakfast, a banana with peanut butter, and a Nature Valley bar, shower, drive to the race, set up transition, and wait around for the gun…just with one major difference – no nerves!  Nope, the pre-race jitters didn’t hit until about 60 seconds before the gun – weird, but I think it’s a function of this being season #2 at this distance, and I felt much more confident.

So the gun went off and I made the STUPID mistake once again – not even thinking, I lined up towards the front of the swim.  I got CLOBBERED for the first 150 yards – so much so that I couldn’t get a breath and started hyperventilating.  I popped up like a buoy, caught my breath, waited for the group to pass, and started again.  I forgot how much triathletes – even slow swimmers – jump out of the gate because of nervous energy and then die later on!  “Crappy start to the season” – that was the only thing in my head – along with “oh crap, am I gonna drop out during the first 150 meters of my first race of the GD season?!?”  But inevitably I settled in and hit my stride – enjoying the buoyancy of the long-sleeve wetsuit and slowly passing folks 1 by 1.  Because of the  start, though, I was sure I had blown it, and my goal of sub-6 hours was put into question.  I got out of the water and into transition – as always completely disoriented and dizzy, and passed through transition in a moderate 3 mins 59 secs.  Without a race clock in transition, I had no idea where I was time-wise and just went with the thought that I needed an ultra-fast bike to make up for it.

Onto the bike and my HR was soaring after transition – sitting at 165.  I had to get aerobic, and fast.  So my focus was on water and deep breathing – to hell with speed or I wouldn’t even finish.  So within about 90 seconds I was down to where I needed to be and built speed.  I was at a HR of around 137 and pumping out about 20 mph on the early flats, and feeling good.  The course was pretty flat all around, so I wanted to make up some time that I thought I had lost in the swim.  Keeping my HR around 140 (my anaerobic threshold is around 152), I stayed aero for about 85% of the ride and just crunched.  I adjusted my nutrition a bit, advancing a few gels to get some nutrition down early, and kept my plan for hydration right on track.  At first I got passed by a few people, but they were pushing really hard and I figured I’d see them again.  Even got chicked someone who should not have been passing me, but she slowed down pretty fast so I un-chicked myself early enough to stay happy.  I ended loop 1 just under my goal of 1:30, since I was shooting for 3:00 overall, and was thinking I might fade a bit.  At the bottle exchange on the turn, though, I still felt great, so I let my body guide and just shut up the voices in the back of my head.  Despite lower back pain I even upped my average mph on the second go-round as I started to target people ahead of me to pass, and ended the 58-mile course in 2:54:44 – woo hoo!  Finally a bike split under 3 hours, and this one was 2 miles longer than the norm!

T2 - Nathan Byrd - Bassman Spring Half Ironman


Not only that, but Momoko (who had just finished own her duathlon!) was standing outside of transition and told me that it was only 11:33 a.m. – I did some quick math (based on an 8:00 a.m.-ish start), and realized that I hadn’t botched the swim…in fact, quite the opposite!  I figured in my head a time around 33 minutes, and spent the first mile of the run trying to see how that could’ve been possible.  But it was, as I saw the race clock right as I started the run, and my confidence soared – barring a completely botched puke-fest on the run, I would be going sub-6 today!

Starting my run.

Calculations to hell, I wanted to fly on this half marathon.  I was tired of going 2:15+ on 1/2 IM runs, and had something to prove to myself.  I knew the risk of going too fast too early, though, so I settled for an 8:30/mile pace for my first mile.  I ended up leaving the 1.5 mile water station with 2 women who seemed to be pushing my 8:30 pace, so we settled in between 8:00 and 8:10, as I was feeling pretty good.  We stuck together for about 2-3 miles, but then they dropped off as they were starting to get tired.  Needless to say, though, it was nice to have some company after several hours of racing on what seemed to be an empty road at times.  The run course was really amazing, though – weaving, twisting and turning on trails and road through the Bass River State Forest – the nicest I’ve ever run by far.  Soaking in the atmosphere, I settled in my pace at 8:15 for the next few miles, getting plenty of water down and keeping myself well hydrated (well, better than the last few races at least).  Come mile 7-8, I started to slow down, but I was still in the 135-142 HR, so I kicked it up a notch and let myself get up to 146 to keep my pace.  This carried me to the last 5k, and it was time to kick it up a notch.  I went to 7:15, and fluctuated within 15 seconds of this pace for the last 2.5 miles, then came  the wall.  Hard-core cramp in my left side, and I could hardly breathe.  I thought “good, I used all my gas…but damn this last .5 miles is gonna suck!”  It did, but lo and behold, a sub-2 half mary for the first time in a 1/2 IM!  I crossed the finish line doubled over in pain, but thrilled with the day as I saw the clock flash 5:17:19.  Holy crap!

Bassman Half - Finishing

10 feet from the finish line, in pain but happy.

I stuck with just water on recovery for 60 minutes, then went and ate everything in sight, happy as hell and ready to hit the sack and start dreaming of race #2 of the season.  Race #1 down, and with it went goal #1 of the season: break 6 hours at the 1/2 IM distance…check!


4 Responses

  1. Great job and great write-up!! Best of luck to the both of you this season and I hope to see you at one of our races again…or perhaps at next year’s half for a sub-5 hour 1/2….YES!!!!

  2. Thanks George! Hopefully both of us will be back next year and taking home some hardware 🙂

  3. Got your post on BT. I got a foot in the face that nearly sent my goggles flying in that race, but then remembered I could stand up in that lake, ha! So you could, quite conceivably, stood up, got your bearings and kept going.

    The bike for me in the fall version of this race was soooooo windy, my legs were trashed by the run. I still managed to better my time by 20 minutes over mooseman, but I was done halfway through the run. I also decided October races are not for me; too long a season.

    Congrats on breaking 6 and reaching your goal!

    • Thanks Regina! Yah, that lake is ridiculous – looks so big from the shore, but is really just a puddle given the depth! I’m glad to know the parody between times at Bassman & Mooseman – I had been thinking about what I can expect, as Mooseman is next on the docket for me.

      Good call on October races – you must’ve been toast by then, wind or no wind. Good luck with the rest of your season, though I’m sure I’ll see you on BT again between now and the Fall.

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