Monday, August 24, 2015

Rhode Warrior 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My 4th half Ironman, and my 2nd Rhode Warrior (the previous two were at the FirmMan). 

Results:  A PW (personal worst) by far, 6:43:42 (last year was my PR in 5:17:50).  Full results here.

Arrived about 6am for a 7am start.  Having picked up my packet the night before, it was a quick setup.  I was on the same rack as friends Tommy and Shara (although they were doing the Olympic distance, as apparently they didn't want the full suffering effect!). 
Just before the start of the race,
with Tom and Shara.
(Photo by Mike B - thank you for your support)

I was late for my wave start, and that part was on me, although I wish the organizers had announced when we needed to leave for the L-O-N-G walk to the start.  We all remarked that the start seemed farther away this year, and a later comparison of GPS mapping bears that out:

Extra swim distance was tacked on for some reason this year.  Yes, as you
can see, I didn't exactly swim a straight line in my struggling, but this also
clearly demarcates extra distance tacked on to starting point.
Why was the start extended even farther than last year?
Swim struggle:  One half hour before the race, Tom remarked how the current was in the direction of our swimming, but Shara quickly remarked this can change.  How correct she was!  Mike B saved me for an on-time start with help with the wetsuit, and I was off.  Meanwhile, the direction of the current was changing, and I would spend most of the swim fighting hard against the current.  Last year I swam the course in 37 minutes; this year I spent a full 1 hour 25 minutes in the water!  All but 3 of the 62 Half Iron finishers would take more than an hour.  Towards the end of the swim, I felt like I just could not get past the Windjammer and contemplating swimming ashore to end this misery, but I plodded on.

T1:  Normally I run out of the water, but I just felt so worn out, plus the woman in front of me collapsed on the beach, so I just walked.  I was afraid mine would be the only bike left, but there were still a good 1/3 of the bikes in the lot.  Fought off the urge to DNF, and got on the bike.

Bike exhaustion:  Being worn out before I even started the bike, it took me a full 20 minutes more than last year to finish.  I stopped twice:  once for a pit stop in Hopkinton (couldn't hold it for another 5 hours!) and then stopped at the bottle exchange at Camp Yawgoo to fill up on water and Clif Shot.  Was looking forward to see Crutch for moral support outside his road, but he wasn't there.  Thought he said he'd be there and at beach later, but I also felt a little delirious at parts of the run.  Passed Beth about 50 miles in, as she was the traffic control at 216 & Buckeye Brook, but didn't have anything in the tank to even acknowledge her.  Sorry Beth!

T2:  Stumbled, fell, stumbled again.  Tom seemed worried about me and I think he came over to talk to me, but if he did say anything, I can't remember what it was.  Finally got the running shoes on, pulled myself up using my bike to hang onto, and got going.

Run - Loop 1:  After another pit stop, the funny thing is I was starting to feel good on the run.  A couple of times my pace dipped into the 6s, and I told myself to back off if I wanted to finish this thing.  Saw fellow Westerly runners Terri and Armon out on the course; we all tried to give each other encouragement.  For the first loop (of two), I smiled and talked to volunteers and police, loved the sprinkler at Terri's house and took advantage of it, and thought I was having fun.

Run - Loop 2:  Really demoralizing to turn around at the finish and start a second loop.  I have never been a fan of multi-loop courses for this reason.  Somewhere early in loop 2 I started to feel really weak again.  The sun was coming out of the clouds and started to bake me.  Took my 6th and final GU of the day, and alternated taking water and whatever vile electrolyte drink they were serving.  By Mile 10, I was feeling delirious.  I had talked myself out of walking thus far, but coming in to the Aid Station at Mile 10, I told myself to take a break.  Scooped up food and at least 4 cups of drinks, and now my big mistake.  Feeling wobbly, I leaned up against the stone wall by the aid station, but little did I know the stone wall was even more wobbly than me.  About 5 big rocks collapsed in my direction, and I somehow jumped out of their way.  I did what I could to roll the rocks back to the base of the wall, but the volunteers said they would take care of them.  A tad embarrassed, on my way I went.  Back through the sprinkler once more before my 4th trip down Atlantic.  Done at last!
I somehow managed to place
3rd in my age group.

  • Hometown race.
  • Great volunteers.
  • Clear materials and course maps on website.
  • Registration and check-in were seamless.
  • The police were awesome, yelling out "Great job, Sir!" and one running the detail at the breachway stopped my car when I was driving out only to tell me my running was fast.  (I didn't feel that way, but appreciated the sentiment.)
  • Sprinkler on the course was heavenly.
Room for improvement:
  • With a $250 registration, I would have appreciated something better than a white cotton T-shirt.  Past years triathlons with same race firm, I received sweatshirts, hats, and tech shirts.  (Full disclosure:  I used last year's award winnings to pay my race fee, but the sentiment remains the same.)
  • The swim course was elongated and ran long (even after figuring my less than a straight line).
  • We were told we would swim with the current, but had to swim against the current.  This ruined the whole race for me, and being worn out, it was just a Domino effect for me with sapped energy the whole race.  Why couldn't someone have studied this better?  Even glancing at the NOAA posted tidal currents for Weekapaug, I could see that the predicted slack water time was 6:47am, meaning at that time there was no current in either direction, as it was changing from a flood tide to an ebb tide.  Did anyone look up the currents, or just base it on the direction it was moving an hour before the start?
  • By the time I finished, given that they added a shorter Olympic distance this year, all the cut watermelon was completely gone.  I'm thirsty and don't want the dry food they have left over.
  • Crossing the finish line, we were handed bottles of 80-degree water (air temperature).  What many of us did was immediately dump out the water, and then fill the water bottle from a nearby cooler.
  • We were told we would be provided all of our splits, but as of this writing (more than 24 hours post race), all that is posted are swim times and overall times, no times for bike, run, or transitions.
This was not a good experience for me.  I'll definitely be back to Block Island triathlon next year, but would have to think long and hard about this one.  Thus endeth my tri season for 2015.  I'll keep the biking up, while focusing on my fall running. 



  1. Honest recap. I am sorry the last tri of the season was this experience, you weren't the only one on the bike course looking miserable, I wondered what had happened. Even if you are concentrating and focused you always acknowledge the crazy volunteer.

    Dave (my "imaginary" husband is also a swimmer) and I talked about the tide and the swim, he wondered if Kathy didn't read the published tide charts and adjust based on what is known information. Even the fishermen know when to move the boat to the tide based on these. Muddy would probably confirm this...

    Sorry this was a rotten experience for you, you gave it a fair write up and I hope you share your very balanced opinions with Kathy.

    Onward and upward to the best running weather of the year, cool dry fall!!

  2. Wow, that sounds like an awful experience. Sounds like the swim really ruined everyone's day. Big props on getting the whole thing done despite the difficulties. Well done!

  3. Wow so sorry that this was not a good experience. Seems like with a little research by the RD things could of gone differently

    None the less, job well done ! You finished and under these conditions that is awesome. Congrats.

  4. Worse. Race. Ever.
    The swim ruined me. Ruined me! ugh
    Great race report. Mine is a freaking novel. lol

  5. Jeff, Just came across your blog from last years Rhode Warrior, it brought back the nightmare for me. All the same exp but add a flat tire and lost water bottle on the smooth RI's roads. HAHA. When I came to the finish line I stood there and thought about DNF, before crossing the line. Then I made the decision to step across the line and recorded that result for ever.

  6. Jeff, I came across you blog when searching for experiences with the Rhode Warrior Tri. I'm considering the Olympic this year and am trying to get a sense of the predicted tide direction for this year's race. You mention a NOAA tidal current chart for Weekapaug. I can't seem to locate one. Would you be able to share a link? Thanks!

    1. Tide will be coming in and we will swim towards watch hill.

  7. James, it appears the NOAA charts this year omit Weekapaug, but you can still approximate with charts that show 2.5 miles east of Watch Hill or 5 miles east: