Mansfield Run With Heart Half-Marathon Race Report

As I build up for my marathon in March and Comrades (fingers crossed) in June, I have to do longer and longer runs. I started to try and find races that were of the equivalent time or distance I needed to run. Today called for a 2 hr 40 min run, so I signed up for the Mansfield Run With Heart Half-Marathon.

This is probably the most convenient race I would even find to do including shorter distances. It takes place just a 5-10 min drive from my home.

There was only one negative to the whole experience and it was around the packet pickup. Their website indicated that packet pickup could be done on Thursday at Academy Sports from 11 am. I got there around 11:45am and no one was there. The store employees mentioned that other runners had also come by to try and get their packets. It turns out that they had wrong information on their website, or perhaps they originally planned to have a packet pickup on Thursday but changed their mind. I was able to get my packet on the Friday.

On race morning, I had a decision to make…what to wear. The temperature was around 40F. I was originally going to go with tights, but I decided last minute to go with shorts and just two layers on top. A short sleeved t-short and a long-sleeved over it. I think this was the right decision. I was a bit cold while waiting for the race to start and for the first mile or so, but after that I was dressed perfectly.

As I’m accustomed on my long runs, I carried all my fluids, SOS Hydration, so I didn’t need to depend on any water stops.

My race started well. I was very concerned about going out too fast. I wanted to run this like a normal training run so I focused on that for the first two miles ensuring my pace was where I wanted it to be.

I was in for a shock after the first mile. I had two overpasses to go over. I ended up walking to them and taking advantage of the downhill on the other side. I ended up averaging right around 11 min miles for the first 8-9 miles. It seemed that I was constantly going up hill. Who would have thought that Mansfield had so many hills?

Around mile 9 I had to start taking walking breaks….the first since the initial overpasses I had to go over.

Once I got to the two hour mark, I realized I could finish within 2:30. I ended up finishing in 2:29.

In the end, I was glad I use this as one of my long runs. It was much more enjoyable, and it seemed easier to do the long run with other people around. They provided good pacers once I found folks that were going at my pace, I just hung back and followed them. Towards the end, the folks up ahead provided great motivation to try and either keep up or even pass them. I managed to pas 2 people within the last 100m.

If I find myself needing (or wanting) to do a half-marathon in January 2021, I wouldn’t hesitate to do this one again.

Addendum – Jan 27, 7:15amWell, in looking at the results for the race, it appears that I have a second complaint about the race. They show me as not having actually done the race. I wore my bib on the front of my t-shirt. The back had the timing chip

I have reached out to the race organizer to try and figure out what is going on. It’s strange….this is not a race I tried to get a PR and it was only a training run, but not seeing my name amoung the list of participants with an official time is quite distressing.

Addendum – Jan 29 – My race results eventually got posted

28-Day Vegan Experiment

A while back I came across a documentary on Netflix called The Game Changers. At the time, I added it to My List so I can watch it at some point in the future. It languished in my list for a few weeks until I eventually watched it after some prodding by a co-worker.

It was interesting. Basically, the documentary was about the benefits of eating a vegan diet especially for endurance and high-performance athletes. I am a die-hard meat eater. It is not uncommon for me to have a 16 oz Rib Eye steak for dinner….and nothing else. Just the steak! So the thought of eating a vegan diet seemed like an impossibility. Despite that, I decided to do my own research.

I read a few books like Finding Ultra by Rich Roll and Eat & Run by Scott Jurek, both of whom are endurance athletes that eat only vegan. I also explored what kinds of foods I currently eat that are vegan and what kinds of foods I can start to eat. After a couple months, I decided to try it for 28 days. One of the books I read was the Engine 2 Diet which is encourages you to try it for 28 days. Also, when I decided to try this, I had exactly 28 days before my next trip to FL and I figured it’ll be easier to eat vegan while at home and not have to try and find vegan food while traveling.

Most folks that are vegan choose to do for ethical reasons. They will not even wear leather or use products based on leather. That is not me. I will still wear leather belts and shoes. My car seats are leather. I am choosing to try a vegan diet with two purposes in mind:

1) To see it helps with recovery. One of the benefits is to supposedly help with recovery after training sessions

2) To see if can lose weight

It has now been 9 days and I have managed to stick to a vegan diet. While not al that healthy, I have discovered that many things I ate in the past are in fact vegan, for example Lays Original Potato chips, chips and salsa, french fries etc. Pasta with a vegetable pasta sauce has been a main go-to dinner.

I am making one exception that vegans avoid and that is honey. I’m not eating much and it is only in some honey roasted peanuts I bought.

I am a bit worried about my protein intake but we’ll see how it goes. I am taking a multivitamin and another supplement that provides my Iron and B12 needs.

I don’t think I’m losing weight but that is because while my diet is vegan, it still isn’t as healthy as it can be. I’m not going to stress too much about that aspect as yet though.

Ironman Arizona 2019 – DNF

Yes folks, you read the subject title correctly. I have managed to rack up another DNF. My second. My first was at Ironman 70.3 FL. Once again, the swim was the cause, but more on that later.

My day started off a little hectic. Transition opened from 5-6:30am. I was doing the Ironman with my sister Alana and a few other folks from Trinidad, two of whom were staying at the same hotel as us (Abeo and Giselle). We decided to get to transition for 5:45am figuring that 45 mins was a good amount of time. It was just barely enough time.

Lesson Learned: Next time allow a full hour.

While in transition, I realized that we needed to get our wetsuits on as we had to put our clothes into the morning clothes bag and leave it in an area within the transition. That is, we couldn’t put on our stuff outside of transition. Time was running out and in my haste to put on my wetsuit, I tore a 2″ hole on the right side of the abdomen area. That raised my stress level a bit. We managed to try and patch it with some electrical tape, but we knew it would not hold and it came off in the first few mins of the swim. In the end I don’t think the hole caused any issues.

Lesson Learned: Have some duct tape and possibly a wetsuit repair kit as they can repair it in 5-10 mins and can be used right away

I then heard the start of the pros and I was no where near the swim start so that was a little stressful. I hugged my wife and hurried off to find my self-seeded position. Since I swam 2.4 miles in the pool in 1:40, I figured I would start near the back of the 1:40 group. And then we had to wait…I think it must have taken about 20-23 mins from the time I got to my corral till I got into the water.

As I got it, I pulled on the neck part of the wetsuit to let water in. It was cold, but not too bad and that helped relieve any suction of the wetsuit. I then started swimming and within the first 50-100m I started to feel the way I had at my Ironman 70.3. I was out of breath and started to panic a bit. Not to the level as before, but it was there. I rolled over on my back and took a few breaths and then continued swimming. I just could not get into any kind of rhythm. I would swim for a bit and then have to roll on my back to rest or grab a kayak. This continued for a while.

I would look at my watch to see how far I had swam and the time. At one point I saw 1100 yards on my watch and I think it was about 30 mins. That was a bit slow, but knowing the race was 4200 yds I figured I was OK. I then continued swimming and resting. I got to about 2000 yds and my watch said about an hour. I was half way there and still good on time, but…I recall at the Athlete Briefing, the announcer said that when the buoys change from yellow to orange you are half-way there. I was still seeing yellow buoys. I then thought that perhaps the announcer was just trying to help boost our spirits and the orange buoys started past the half-way mark.

When I finally got to the first orange buoy I asked someone on a kayak if that was the half-way mark and they confirmed it was. I looked at my watch and I think it was about 1:15 or thereabouts. I was totally deflated at this point! I knew in my heart that I was not going to make the cutoff. Sure, I could swim 2100 yards in the pool in 45 mins, but based on how I was swimming in the lake, I was not going to suddenly swim faster. I debated if to just pull out, but I remember my wife saying to just keep swimming no matter what happens. I decided to carry on.

Interestingly, it was at around the half-way mark that I did manage to get into a rhythm and feel more comfortable swimming. I still had to take breaks but they were a little less frequent. That same volunteer I asked about the distance at the half-way mark kept kayaking alongside me and encouraging me. She was so great. I was surprised after seeing her for the next several hundred meters and in the end she actually stayed close and kept encouraging me for the entire remainder of the swim until I got out of the water.

Then my watch hit 2:20 and I was still no where near the exit. My day was definitely done. I kept going. By the time I hit the exit, I was swimming for 2:31. I missed the cutoff by 11 minutes!

The volunteers helped my out of the water as I was a bit wobbly after swimming for 2:30 and one told me that I missed the cutoff. I told them I knew and they took my timing chip. Later that day I was thinking about the volunteers and I have to believe that having to pull someone from the course is probably one of the hardest things they have to deal with during the day. As I was walking to the transition area to collect all my stuff, I was walking alongside another lady that came out of the water around the same time as me. She too did not make the cutoff. She mentioned she had completed 4 other Ironmans and realized she didn’t train as hard for this one.

When I uploaded my swim, Garmin Connect said I swam 3.05 miles. I doubt the course was long by 0.6 miles so the GPS while swimming was just way off. That accounted for my thinking I had enough time. Interestingly, while I didn’t stick to each buoy, the map didn’t show me being much off course, but it did show me swimming on land a few times 🙂

Lesson Learned: Don’t trust any distances I get when open water swimming

After all the work I had done for the last year, my day was done in two and a half hours. Surprisingly, I was not as devastated as my DNF at the 70.3, but I was massively disappointed. Leading up to my race, I had told myself that regardless of the outcome, I was done with Ironman racing. The training was too long. I was prepared to continue doing triathlons but only up to the 70.3 distance. Not the full 140.6. I think that is why I wasn’t as devastated or depressed. In my mind, I tried, I failed, and I was done. I would just move on to other challenges. I think the other factor that made this DNF easier to swallow is that I actually finished the swim. I did not quit! Afterwards my wife was encouraging me to try again and I told her I would consider it.

For the remainder of the day, I relaxed at the hotel and headed out on the course at various points to cheer on my sister at the bike turnaround, at T2, and at the finish line.

Out of the group of us racing, Abeo didn’t finish either. She couldn’t make the bike cutoff for her third loop. Everyone else finished. Alana bettered her IM time and one of the guys came in under 14 hours.

So what is next? I’m actually thinking of trying again next year. More on that once I make a firm decision.

T-minus-one-day to Race Day

I’ve been in Tempe since Thursday and the last couple days were spent preparing. There was registration, building up my bike, gathering last minute items like water for mixing drinks, and packing the all-important gear bags.

There is only one last task left and that it to drop my bike and gear bags off at transition. That will be done early this afternoon.

With IM tomorrow, I now find my myself looking at my watch regularly and saying to myself “tomorrow at this time, I will be starting the swim“, “tomorrow this time time I’ll be coming out of the water“, “tomorrow this time I’ll be almost on the bee line highway on the bike“. I can only hope this is all true and disaster doesn’t strike on the swim.

Yes, the swim is still my biggest concern and memories of Ironman 70.3 FL will not fade away any time soon. I know that if I get out of the water, I can overcome anything that may occur on the bike or run.