Okay so this is a little on the late side as the race was more than a week ago, but I had 2 exams the next day and the race coincided with a conference. In fact this race really almost didn't happen for me due to an unwelcome asthma flare-up that left me sitting out a full week right before the race. I never thought I would roll into a half ironman on about 3 weeks of healthy training...
Oct 30, 2005, Tempe, AZ
The course overlaps with the course for the Arizona IM. 3 laps on the bike and 2 laps on the swim. For the wimps (really, j/k) there is also a Quarterman which is something somewhat longer than an Olympic distance. I'll be blunt here: if you are looking for a scenic race, skip this one. However, if you are looking for a 1/2IM PR I would open another window in active.com and register now.
Small note: By the end of the 3 hours in open desert sunlight required to crawl through registration, I was quite possibly in my worst mood ever and considering not racing. For the life of me, I can't figure out why that was such a nightmare, or why the race numbers were made of ordinary paper that fell apart on my way out of transition. So if you do this race, for once, show up LATE for registration to save yourself a tremendous amount of irritation. Fortunately, a wee spin on my bike was the needed mood enhancer.
Swim: Lake Tempe. It was a water start, under 2 bridges and straight into the sun. I'll leave the waters of lovely, manmade lake Tempe to your imagination. The water was warm enough for me to be greatful for the ventillation in my suit, al la places where the seams split over my bludging quads. I aimed in the direction of arms and legs and headed into the sun, which turned out to be approx halfway between the two most distant bouys. I uttered a few explitives (I know this is a family show) and doubled back along with the poor folks who had been drafting off me. I suppose I could have just cut the silly bouy, but somehow that doesn't sit with my sense of sportsmanship and cracking my time goal would simply not have been satisfying...oh yeah, i'd never had wetsuit stripping before. It was definitley not faster as evidenced by the extra 5min on my swim time.
Bike: This has got to be the flattest course known to man. My lungs felt a little tight but I was looking at my computer the whole time, trying to decide whether it was even recording properly. It was also one of the more technical courses with a large number of 90degree turns and 3 180deg turnarounds per lap. Damn, I really should have joined the girls at the Tuesday night criteriums. It would have been worth 5min off my split. I also made a friend on the bike, trading off with a girl on a relay team who was riding a colnago. Too bad it wasn't draft legal as we would have made a fab breakaway team. She dropped back on the third lap but ended up cheering for me later as I ran by the 4 mile aid station. While there was some pretty blatant drafting amongst the competitors, the course was far less clogged than might be expected for a 3 lap course. Despite construction, it was also safe and impecably marked which more or less covers the race directors butt for the outrageous registration nightmare. They also had mile markers every 3 or so miles, so go Red Rock.
Run: I rolled into transition much sooner than I had dared to hope and realized that, yep, I had a half marathon to run. Luckily, I also knew that my goal time was in the bag, even if I totally blew it on the run. The run course is around the "lake," dead, and dead flat. Everyone give three and four cheers for races with mile markers and aid stations at every mile so more race directors will do that. I set off at a pretty steady pace and only lost about 3min on the second lap, but it wasn't enough to hold off one of my gals who picked me off at the end of the first lap (okay okay, so she ran a 1:32 and I really don't stand a chance against that). I think two more girls picked me off on the second lap, but I still rolled inwith a 2+min cushin on my goal time. My lungs pretty much just made it through the race as I immediately doubled over coughing and have been coughing violently ever since, but oh well.
I just saw the pics on asiphoto and had to laugh a little at my pitifull attempt to raise my arms as I crossed the finish line. If anyone is having a bad day, just ask and I'll post a link for everyone to laugh.
Awards banquet: there was beer/food at a local restaurant (free to competitors) for awards. The race director was surprisingly young (25ish and actually kind of cute). It was obviously a homespun race and during the awards he made a huge (okay somewhat long winded) point to say something about many of the placing competitors he knew personally. Probably on any day but the one where a 6hour drive stood between myself and the next morning's two exams I would have gleefully joined my coach and crew for some rowdy post race festivities in the bar strip around the corner, but instead I crammed for my histology exam with my classmates from the conference the whole way home. I rolled into the exam late the next day, in my halloween costume, and just in time to see the first slide but not so early that the whole class didn't get an eyeful of my inability to walk down stairs.