Los Angeles Triathlon Club
Race Report
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Club Member: Jason Healey
Race: Worlds Toughest Half - 2006
Distance: Half - Ironman
Race Date: 06/24/06
Submit Date: 08/10/06

Overall finish: 6:59:30 - (189 out of 282) Not including the 30 DNF's.
This is possible evidence of a strong field and even tougher race. Or maybe it just shows that I finished after more than half of the field.

Age group finish: 28 out of 40 (not any better I suppose)

"First name" in age group finish:
"Jason" Division: 2nd out of 2 (ok....ok... still no improvement)

Swim: 1.2 Mi - 0:41:27 - (34 of of 40)
The water temperature at the start of the race was a perfectly balmy 68 degrees. The swim course began in the water (go figure) at the bottom of a narrow boat ramp. The course heads straight out 150 yards to a buoy at which point you turn left into a 200 yard wide channel of water surrounded by steep canyon walls. You then swim along the near side of the canyon for about 800 yards before you reach the turn around buoy and head back along the far side of the canyon another 900 yard. After you reach the final and third buoy, you turn right and head into shore another 200 yards to the swim entrance/exit area.

I elected to start on land and gave my wave a good 30 second head start. (Why would I do that... well, that's just the kind of guy I am I guess.) This tactic allowed me to have clear and clean water for most of the swim or at least until the second wave caught me from behind about half way through the course. There were no major incidents to report.... just the typical minute or two of bumping, punching & pulling. (And that's only what I was doing) At the exit of the swim I felt Great! I was able to kept my head clear throughout the entire swim and stuck to my race plan of going out easy and staying aerobic.

T1: 0:05:00
I steadily made it to my bike. I shed my wetsuit, put on my bike gear, collected my nutrition & packed my swim gear into my T1 bag so the race volunteers could transport my things cleanly to the T2/finish area for post race retrieval.

Bike: 56Mi - 3:44:00 - (27 out of 40)
The "World's Toughest Half" course tests all of your skills.(it did mine) It has long climbs, short steep climbs (including one .4 mile climb at 12% grade at the infamous "LeMond Walked" hill), roller coaster sections and seemingly no flats. This ride is very tough and very Scenic. The overall elevation gain is ~6,000' before you finish the full 56 miles.

The course climbs steadily for the first 21 miles as you pass the T2/finish area at mile 8 and Aid Station #1 at mile 13.6. The next 5 miles are comprised of a down and up section where you can pick up some speed until you reach the 6 mile Bear River loop. The loop takes you down a steep and technical descent to a short flat section adjacent to the ragging Bear River. After you reach this flat section, you have to climb back out of the pit you just descended into. Once out, you back track the course to the finish line with the addition of a 5 mile out and back sections at mile 43. I felt good throughout the entire bike course. My bike training was spot on.

My hydration & nutrition plan was to drink water for the first 30 minutes and then switch to my Accelerade sports drink. I planned to drink a quarter of a 24 oz bottle of fluids every 15 minutes, gu every 45min to an hour, take sodium tablets every hour & eat a power bar if I needed extra calories. Before the race, I decided to carry two bottles on the bike: one of water and another for Accelerade. I primarily trained with Accelerade and planned on retrieving two fresh bottles of Accelerade from my special needs bag at mile 21. The race was dispensing Cytomax .... a product that I've never used.

My nutrition plan began to unravel at the Special needs/Aid Station #2 at mile 21. My Special needs bag never made it from the registration tent. Wow!...now I have lost 480 calories of Accelerade and was faced with having to switch to Cytomax or stick with water and gu. Faced with the dilemma of trying something new on race day, I elected to gamble. What else could I do? I drank the Cytomax and survived. At mile 30, I decided to start on my power bar but to my surprise ... it was gone. I must have left it in T1.... there goes another 270 calories. Oh well I thought and continued to ride strong with an average cadence in the high eighties and low nineties. Between miles 35 and 48, my lower back started to ache a bit. After stretching a little on the bike, I caught my second wind and stayed strong all the way to T2.

T2: 5min
Racked my bike, change into run gear, headed out on run.... and forgot sodium tablets.

Run: 13 Mi - 2:24:03 (24 out of 40) Total run climb is 1,325'

The 13.1-mile run is described as a "scenic and challenging 50/50 trail & pavement mix in the Auburn State Park." The entire course is completely closed to auto traffic and includes stunning views of surrounding mountains, canyons and the river below. The run is broken into two loops.

Loop 1: 1:25:00
Loop 1 is approximately 7 miles long and finishes adjacent to the finish line. (You actually run right next to it .... so close that you can touch the finish line arch). As you leave T2 you head down to a wooded single track trail that opens up to a wider rolling trail that exposes you to the hot sun. (at least it was hot when I came thru). The run was going great until I reached mile two where I believed I started feeling the affects of the direct sun exposure. I started to feel lightheaded and overheated. I made the conscious decision to walk the hills, run the flats and down sections and keep hydrating and "gu"ing. I did that until I reached the aid station near mile 5. Once there, I stopped for about 5 minutes and poured ice water over my head, body and into my hat. By now I've realized that my sodium tablets were keeping my bike company at T2 so I helped myself to some pretzels... actually I helped myself to a lot of pretzels. Once I got my core temperature down .... I felt like it was time to rock and roll. I cruised down the next half mile until I reached the first of two tough climbs. This first climb is called "Dam Wall" (mile 5.5-7) (400' vert climb). This "Dam Wall" is a paved service road that many walked up (including me). The walkers were just slightly slower than the runners through this stretch. My goal was to conserve my energy for the second loop and not to Blow up 6 miles out.

Loop 2: 0:59:03
Once I started the second loop, I felt strong again. The second loop leads you away from T2 in a different direction and straight down a sometimes paved, mostly gravel and dirt road into an area call "The Pit". After you reach the bottom of "The Pit", you head back up the same road then turn left onto a stretch that takes you to the second major climb called "Cardiac Bypass" (10-11.2mi)... (don't you just love these names... there is an actual trailhead marker that reads "Cardiac Bypass".) Once you're revived from heart failure, the rest of the course is essentially flat & mild with minimal elevation change. I felt really good near the end of this final loop after practically running the entire way. The last two miles are a real treat. You get to run on a beautifully shaded water canal trail which is completely flat. It was during this time that I figured I could maybe break the 7 hour mark. I decided to turn up the juice and pushed for two sub 8 min miles and I did it! I came in at 6:59:30. What a feeling to complete such a race! Especially after 5 solid months of training.... all those early morning swims, tough hill runs and occasional 3 am bike rides.

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