2012 Utah Half Review – David Black

I woke up to the sound of my phone alarm and  got out of bed, thanking the ear plugs for helping me get a good nights rest.  I got ready and went down to eat oatmeal, a banana and a piece of toast with peanut butter.  The plan was to meet my cousin Rob Johnston at 5:15 at the park, so I was already running late as it was 5 a.m.  I got all my kit in the truck, spilled oatmeal on my foot running out the door trying to balance a water bottle, my phone, my wallet, keys, a banana, and the bowl of oatmeal.  I missed a step and oatmeal went all over.  I got in the car and I was off, too bad there wasn’t any good music on that early in the morning, even NPR was a rebroadcast.  I ended up listening to a Spanish station that was sort of rocking out.   I got to the park and was pleased to see Aaron directing traffic in the parking lot – that guy does it all!

I rode my bike to transition to save myself a good spot, then went back to get my kit.

The bathroom situation was already looking rough, the lines were gathering and I had to go.  My stomach gave me problems that whole day.  My only suggestion for improvement on the whole race is that they have more port-o-potties at the transition area – since a lot of the athletes are going to use them before the race starts.

I set up my transition stuff and chatted with all the great folks around me.  My cousin Rob and I were set up together and spent the morning getting things ready, and psyching ourselves up for the swim.  It was fun talking to all the other athletes and seeing and sharing in their excitement and anxiousness.  The fellow next to me had his wetsuit on inside out, and we all knew how he felt – pre-race brain crash.  It’s a good thing he got it sorted out, otherwise he would have never gotten his zipper undone if he swam with it like that.  Aaron called for everyone and started giving his instructions after a while the crowd got restless, but I knew that his speech was coming so I stayed with it.  Then Aaron gave his prep rally speech which was just awesome.  He threw the clipboard down and we were pumped.

After the speech I got in the water and warmed up.  I’m always surprised at how many people don’t get in the water, that was lesson one – get your heart rate up by swimming around before the race.  I really enjoyed being in a sleeveless suit, made life much nicer for me.  I watched the two waves go ahead of me and then swam to the starting line.  My heart was racing, but I was really focused on keeping my head calm and not freaking out.

 SWIM – 44:50

The horn sounded and off I went, I focused on long arm strides and getting away from other swimmers.  The goal was to keep myself in rhythm and not get clobbered.  I got around the first lap and was really happy with my swim, the second lap had a few moments where I thought – my arms feel tired.  I told myself they were fine, with all the swimming training I’d done I knew I could do the distance.  Rounding the turn after the second lap, I wanted the exit ramp to be right there, but nope.  We had to swim back to the start.  Everyone around me kept popping up looking for the exit, but with the sun in your face there wasn’t much to see except for arms reaching up and splashing down in the water in the direction we had to go.  I was just hoping that I didn’t make a wrong turn.  After a long time I looked up and there was the ramp two feet away.  I carefully stood up and used the helpers to get out of the water and up the ramp.  I was really pleased with my swim, I didn’t freak-out – that’s a first.

 T1  – 2:28

I ran to T1 and I had beat my cousin and that was awesome.  I got the suit off, got the shoes and socks on, helmet glasses, packed Gu, and was off.  On to the bike.

 BIKE – 2:50:41

I was really focused on keeping my heart rate low and keeping as much energy for the run as I could.  I kept my pace at 19-20mph, though I could have pushed it, I played safe. My cousin Rob passed me around mile 10.  I could have rode with him, but I was riding my race.  I had a gu every 7 miles and drank just enough to finish a bottle at turnaround.  As I came to West Mountain I was pretty much on pace with the fellow next to me.  “27” was on his leg.  We rotated back and forth and after turn around we started chatting.  Ryan was from Las Vegas, it was his first Half just like me.  The whole rest of the ride we kept each other going.  I would take point then he would take point, it was a lot of fun and we were really on the same pace so a lot of side by side riding but keeping enough distance to be legal. Oh did I have to pee though – two water bottles had been consumed.

 T2 – 1:58

We got to transition and I ran to my spot, got the shoes off, got the other shoes on, took a bite of a protein bar and was out of transition.  The protein bar was a bad, bad idea.  Dry chocolate protein all over my mouth and I needed to wash it down.

Utah Half Ironman - RaceTri August 25,2012

RUN – 2:33:45

I ran to the first aid area got a few drinks and repented of eating a protein bar (never again). The run started out just as I suspected, slow and arduous.  I was working my way on the first out and back when I saw Rory Duckworth and knew that he was on lap 2 of the run – awesome!  I still had to pee but there wasn’t a good duck and hide spot, so on I went.  When I got to the “long hot road”, I finally peed and boy that was great.  Another fellow pulled off and we saluted each other in our time of relief.  I really enjoyed the run, sure it was HOT, felt long, and I was so slow. The energy and camaraderie of the other athletes, the high fives, and encouragement was just fun to be a part of.  The aid stations were great! I got the first lap done and saw my family and was really happy to see them, had a split second of over emotion but caught myself.  I ran past them – if you can call it that – and prepared myself for the heat of lap 2.  Oh lap 2, curse you!  I got slower and slower.  I felt for the folks working on their first lap.  My cousin Rob wasn’t too far ahead of me and Ryan (from the bike) was just behind me.  I started having a lot of stomach problems, and I’d have to walk until the intestinal cramps passed, then I’d run again.  Every aid station was great (said that twice now).  The last 2 miles were pretty hard.  My pace was way off and the stomach was going to explode.  I knew I was close so I just kept going.  At mile 13, I was ready for the grand finish but I knew I wasn’t really that close, I was still in the trees by the river.  At 13.6 the finish finally came.  I hit the grass and ran.  I had done it.  I knew my run time would kill me, but I had finished.  I ran through the tunnel and raised my hands high.  Aaron gave me a shout out and I gave my cousin a hug.


My final time was 6:13.  I’m still pleased with my effort and my race overall.  I had a great time and that afternoon I was contemplating a full Ironman.  Oh there’s a lot to improve on, especially in my run, but for my first Half I’m very happy.  My thighs were sore most of the second lap and my body didn’t want to move for quite a while after the race.  I probably had 20 cups of Winder recovery milk.  (the bathroom was my first stop and I felt for the guy in the stall next to me throwing up – a lot!).  That afternoon I was just glowing with pride and the IBUprofen was doing a lot of talking.  Overall I’m very pleased, love the metal, and thought the whole event was awesome.

Utah Half Ironman - RaceTri August 25,2012

What to Eat During a Half Ironman

Hammer Gel RasberryA great blog post from Gordo Byrn on what to eat and how to pace yourself during a half ironman.  Here’s a link to the full article

11 Steps to make your half ironman an amazing experience.  What to eat and how to pace yourself for your half ironman.  

[1] Go out easy on the swim – the swim makes no difference to your overall performance. Use it as a warm-up for the bike. Two minutes faster on the swim can result in 20 minutes slower on the run. I ran past 250+ people at Wildflower last year. In an IM race, I typically pass 5-800 people with this strategy.

[2] Go out easy on the bike – your body will need about 6-10 minutes to make the adjustment from swimmer to rider. Take the first part of the ride easy in an easy gear. Initially drink water or highly diluted sports drink. Don’t start eating until your HR has settled to your normal bike pace. It is okay for the HR to be a little high at the start but if this is the case then you should feel like you are pedalling VERY easy. Remember, it is a long day – there will be plenty of time to hammer later.

[3] About 15-20K into the bike it is time to start eating. By now you have let your HR settle and you have found a pace that feels comfortable. Personally, I will be racing Vineman at 10-15 bpm below my AT. On my first 1/2 IM I was 20-25 bpm below my bike AT. For your first race, remain aerobic at all costs.

[4] 45-75K is, for me, the crux of the bike – this is where you should be fueling up and maintaining concentration. It is easy to get distracted in this period. Maintain concentration, maintain fluid intake and EAT.

[5] Overall, the purpose of the bike is to replace what you lost on the swim and prepare yourself for the run. There are ZERO benefits to hammering – let the hammerheads go. You will see them later [if you don’t then they are faster than you anyhow 😉 Find a steady, comfortable pace. Stay aero, hydrate and focus. Remember that good body position is golden in a long race.

[6] Now the run. Start the run SLOW – are you noticing a pattern here? Many people do 1-5 above and then arrive at the run feeling great. They then blow their load in the first mile. Remember that you are about to run a half marathon. I normally leave a frozen bottle of drink at T2 so I can have a cool beverage to start the run. I run the first two miles real slow. Normally, my stomach is full of food and water from the bike. Stitches are common as is a feeling that your legs will never come right. Believe in yourself, believe in your legs and they will come right somewhere between the 3-5K mark (assuming you listened to me about the bike!).

[7] Personally, I like to think about the run as really 4 x 5K. My strategy is to run the first 5K slowly. All I want to do is find my rhythm, hydrate and ensure that I am fueled up for the real race, about to begin shortly. Don’t sweat your HR. The name of the game is getting your running muscles going.

[8] The second and third 5K pieces are where it all happens. You are still focusing on running steady. Here you can use your HRM to make sure that you don’t run too fast and also make sure that you are not dogging it. If you are having trouble getting your HR up then get on the sports drink or cola if available. If your HR is running very high but you feel OK then this could be a sign of dehydration – water, water, water.

[9] Somewhere in the 8-16K region, you will have a period that feels absolutely awful (at least I always do). Stick with it. It will only last about 5-10 minutes and then you will be through it. Push through these problem times and you will get out the other side. Believe in yourself as an athlete.

[10] Hopefully, you are now around the 15K mark. You are tired but a bit stoked that things have gone so well. You can sense the finish line and you can do the math to see that you are going to beat your goals. You have run a smart race to here and will achieve/exceed your goals. Now it is HAMMER TIME. If you feel like it then rev your pace up. You will know the right amount to increase. Keep it aerobic but it is OK to get a good sweat going. Remember to continue to take fluids at every aid station, particularly around the 15/16/17/18K marks.

[11] Once you hit mile 12 (19K) spend everything you have, or simply enjoy the tailend of the race. I have done both.

To get Hammer Gel at a great price visit our sponsor Hammer Nutrition. 

Your Thoughts:

  • What do you like to eat durning a triathlon?
  • How do you pace yourself in a long endurance race?

Utah Half Ironman 2010 Review

We are getting excited for the Utah Half – so we thought we’d post some reviews of previous years Utah Half Ironman’s.  Send us yours!

2010 Utah Half Review by Trent Perry August 27, 2010

It was only 1 week before the Utah Half that I decided to enter.  I had competed in various triathlons and bike races earlier in the year so physically I was prepared.  It just required some guts to finally commit to a half distance triathlon.  I have only been competing in triathlons since April of this year beginning with the Icebreaker in American Fork.

With the transition area in the State Park, Provo Harbor at Utah Lake, there is only one entrance and everybody is trying to get in at the same time.  So I recommend arriving early enough to avoid traffic.  The transition is on grass which makes it nice to transition on.  It is a ways away from the water so once you finish the swim you have about 200 yards to the transition.  It wasn’t a big deal though because it was nice to move on land and have some time to overcome any dizziness.

The bike course was well supported with police at the intersections guiding traffic.  I never had to slow or stop at any intersection!!!  It is a flat course so you’ll never feel burned while biking and you have complete control over how much you want to push yourself.  In addition to the course being flat, the course had long straight routes which are a dream for a TT bike; flat and straight!  The course rides very well and is really cool to ride around the lake at West Mountain.

The run course was also very flat which of course, everyone loves!!!  It was a hot day but much of the course is shaded by the trees along the river and along the bank of the lake.  Flat run course, good shade, the only thing that could have made the run better would be a pair of rollerblades.  But instead of rollerblades, the equipment I used was Saucony Kinvara shoes, Cannondale SuperSix bike, and in the water I wore a sleeveless TYR wetsuit (though I prefer XTerra).  The pre-race meal was a bowl of oatmeal mixed with a banana, topped with Agave.  The pre-race song was Sail by Awolnation!!!

Overall the Utah Half is well directed with a fantastic course layout.  And of course nothing gets you motivated like one of Aaron Shamy’s (race director) pre-race speeches!  This is an event I will do every year!!!