Kelly the Culinarian: 2016 Door County Half Iron Race Report

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2016 Door County Half Iron Race Report

Six-word recap: Treacherous weather, shortened course, kicked ass.

This race was really one for the record books. In our second year doing the Door County Half Iron Triathlon, we watched the weather all week and had a pretty scary start, but I couldn't have had a better day overall. Read last year's recap.

Backing up, we retrieved Alyssa Saturday morning and made the drive to Door County. We went straight to packet pick up to get our stuff. One of the many advantages of this race is that bib numbers are assigned at pick up, so the three of us racked our bikes together as numbers 274, 275 and 276. Before that could happen, we went and checked in at our campground. This year, we sprung for a cabin with real beds and air conditioning. It was a good investment, since we knew storms were in the forecast.

We had a super awesome pizza dinner and pre-race beers, because why scrimp when you're about to do a half ironman? We knew the weather rolling in didn't look great, but went to bed by 9 p.m. anyhow.

When we woke up, this was rolling in.

We still left our cabin by 7 a.m. and rolled into transition with about five minutes left before it closes. No biggie, we've done it before. I was so worried about the weather I barely had the chance to get nervous. Transition was about to close when they announced that most of the severe weather looked like it would go south, but they were going to delay the race to see. The most they could delay was 90 minutes, so they told us they would reconvene at 9:30. We saw people completely load out their transition areas and presumably go home. We just went to the car and drank coffee and took a million pre-race poops.

I have to hand it to the race directors. They fought and struggles and bargained to give us a race that day. Ironman Racine 70.3 happened the same day and they just called off the swim. At 9:15, we heard that we would have a sprint swim and a full bike and run. Racine got a 30-mile bike and a half marathon run.

So we dropped off all our stuff and hurried down to the beach. It continued to rain, heavily at times, as we tried to get into wetsuits. Waiting in the water for the start was miserable. I was so cold I was losing sensation in my fingers and toes.

I was the last wave, so we watched Brent took off, then I saw Alyssa leave me. It was raining cats and dogs by the time my wave pushed off and I started to panic pretty early. The water was churning and my wetsuit felt tight around the neck. It was not a good situation. I kept telling myself to just swim because it would only take a few minutes if I stopped being a wimp.

Sure enough, the shore was within sight in no time and I was getting my wetsuit stripped before I knew it. I ran into transition and put on my wet bike shoes. Right off the mount line, I felt great. I started passing people with gusto and was feeling confident pushing speeds in the low 20s. I was worried that I was going to regret my early speed later in the day, so I dialed back to try and meter my efforts. I saw Alyssa in the first five miles, and stopped to use the bathroom about 15 miles in. Our paths crossed again after that, and it was about mile 25 that I realized I was still wearing my swim cap. Nothing I could do about it at that point, and it probably kept me warm through some pretty crappy rain, so oh well.

Elite Pro in the house, folks
It rained for the first hour-ish of the bike, then it was overcast. This probably helped my day overall. I had a gel on the bike, and towards the end of the three-hour ride, I was hungry. I forgot that in delaying my start wave by almost two hours, I was pushing well into the lunchtime hour. I didn't pack any real food, and there wasn't anything on the course. I tried to take a salt stick, but they had dissolved in my bike bag. I drank three Gatorade Endurance bottles and at least as many water bottles, which meant I had to pee again when I hit transition.

I saw Alyssa again in T2, where I showed her my hilarious swim cap mistake. I was totally going to play it off later and say I did it on purpose to keep warm, but what's the use.
Alyssa took off on the run right before me, and I met up with her in the first mile. I actually felt GREAT on the run. Compared to last year, I did so much more running. In fact, I ran way more than I walked. I really only walked up the hills and for a few brief respites in the final 5K. I was hungry as hell, getting hot and just generally ready to be done. I knew I was having a good day and wondered if we had a full swim if I could've finally broke six hours, or if the swim would've tired me out so much my goal would've been out of reach.

The final approach to the finish line is all downhill. There's an aid station at 11.5ish that hands out popsicles, then another at 12.5. After that, it's a roll downhill to the finish line. Brent was already waiting for me, and we immediately got into the ice soaking tanks they had at the finish. My legs were tired but nothing really hurt. No chafing, and no real sunburn, either. I told him at the finish I was fairly certain I couldn't have had a better day. I'm thinking rain is my weather because I felt the same about the half iron I did in Tawas a few years ago, and it was pouring that day.

Once Alyssa came in, we went to transition to get our shoes, then had the super awesome pulled pork and butter-dipped grilled corn that came with our registration, along with the two beers each athlete is allotted. Sadly, all the bagels and snackies were gone already (probably consumed in the morning by athletes smarter than I).

One of the smartest moves we made was deciding to stay the night after the triathlon. With the delay, the absolute earliest we could've left Door County was 4 p.m., and then we had a four-hour drive. Instead, we walked the beach, had our post-race meal, went back to the cabin to enjoy smores and all went to bed by 8:45. BTW, triathletes are the best possible house guests or renters. We have two beers and fall asleep before the sun.

I really love this race. This is my second year doing it and despite the challenging run course, they put on a great show. The three of us will be back again next year and hope to go the full distance then.

Time: 5:33:31 (for an abbreviated swim)
Cost: $120 for a transfer bib, $300 normally
Pros: Free race photo downloads, really nice post-race meal and party (which one day I will stay awake to see), pretty course in a nice area, great volunteers with popsicles on the run course
Cons: The bike course has some bumps and potholes, the shirt this year wasn't very cute, this race is really expensive if you don't buy a bib in the secondary market (which is totally allowed with a $20 transfer fee), there wasn't any food or sunscreen on the course
Would I do this race again? Yes and yes please.

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