2012 IM Timberman 70.3

1232 Peter Faulhaber USA
Position in AG M30-34 : 35 // Finish Time: 05:10:41
Swim: 0:34:48 // T1: 0:02:38 // Bike: 2:44:08 // T2: 0:02:09 // Run: 1:46:58

Coach’s remarks: The perfect weekend here Illinois, your wife racing Saturday, you Sunday and what seems a really friendly US event on a very challenging course. We all know how hard you worked for that event and in 12 months, the results speak for themselves asthis course was the full swim and had some “bumps”. Anyway, great read and thanks again for sharing this with the crew. Waiting here for Captain Clipboard final approval as he is by far, the number one fan for race reports!! Thanks Pete and see you this weekend, Coach

Timberman 70.3 was a race a long time in the making

For my first 70.3 I raced Challenge Aarhus in July 2011, a race with a shortened 1km swim due to cold temperatures. I found the 70.3 distance more difficult than I anticipated but I was happy with my Aarhus time of 5:02. Of course, that time only left me about 80th out of 120 people in my age group so I had no ambitions of any kind of world championship. Fast forward one year. I spent a lot of time the past year doing long runs and rides in addition to the slew of local runs and triathlons. Around March I decided to lock in a summer race and soon after finishing the ADIT (very under-prepared) I registered for Timberman.

I chose Timberman because it was near to my wife’s family and because it was within a week of a wedding I needed to attend in the US. So all in all it was a perfectly placed race and it did not disappoint. I read somewhere that Timberman is an age-group race that some pros choose to attend and this couldn’t be more accurate. All athletes and volunteers were friendly, helpful, and the event didn’t have that overly-competitive feel that I find intimidating at races like ADIT. Almost all competitors came from less than a few driving hours away (small distances in the US) and most I spoke with were not doing the race for the first time. It really was a locals race.

In the days leading up to the race temperatures were cool but splattered with rain showers and humid weather. I got plenty of sleep, ate well, and really enjoyed the clean air and beautiful scenery of New Hampshire. The day before the race my wife raced the Timberman Sprint race on the same course, over the same transitions allowing me to see how the race would work the next day. I felt confident from watching her do well and so I didn’t attend the usual race briefing. Instead, I spent the night before at a family bbq relaxing with Denise’s family.

I woke up early on race day tired from the previous day’s activity but calm and focused on the day ahead. We arrived at the race and secured one of the last parking spots next to transition (good start to the day!). After the usual pre-race setup and toilet visits it was off to watch the 10 (yes 10) waves ahead of me. Now, I like wave starts. I tend to panic a bit with that many people clawing over me and since I don’t expect to qualify for anything right now I am happy to not know where I am during the race. For Timberman the waves were divided by age group and gender so I was in the second to last wave, 11, with the men 30-34. I guess this could be a good compromise for those who don’t like wave starts. It was 12C when the sun started rising so most of us waited for our waves in the 22C lake instead.

Swim, 34:48
My goal for the swim was under 35:00. Frankly, I hadn’t done near the amount of swim training I needed to so I set my expectations accordingly. The swim was one counter-clockwise loop and I placed myself in the middle of the pack. When the gun went off we did what every other wave had done and started walking. The lake was knee deep shallow for at least 50m from shore and only after 25m did people attempt to start swimming (some tried only to give up and start walking again). Finally we settled down and starting swimming or in my case, panicking. My wetsuit, newly replaced, was suffocating my chest and my goggles were filling up with water. The first 100m of a 70.3 is probably not a good time to stop and adjust your goggles but I did anyway. Finally I managed to get one eye water-free and my chest settled down and I swam relatively easy. I exited the water in 34:48 feeling good but with one eye a little blurry from the lake water!

Bike, 2:44:08
Having driven the bike course I expected this to be a three hour affair given the number of hills. Exiting T1 we ascended our first hill and that didn’t stop for 56miles on the out and back course. The way out was fast and I was flying past previous waves of people. I pushed hard up small hills and held back on the larger hills while pushing every downhill (I topped 70kph a few times). I managed to get a lot of calories down without any stomach issues and I felt confident of the day ahead. The second half of the bike was tough as all those downhills I smashed became uphills and a slight headwind had formed. Plus, a few steep (14%+) sections I hadn’t thought twice about on the way out now became quad-busters on the way back. My left quad was threatening to revolt but miraculously the ache disappeared long before T2. I rolled into T2 fully fueled and excited to run.

Run, 1:46:58
I felt like the run would be where I could pickup time on the course and really prove to myself that I can run. Technology certainly didn’t help me. My Garmin 405 battery died overnight and I was left holding my bike Garmin as I ran through the tree-covered path. I couldn’t get a solid signal and so I ran “to feel” for the whole run only checking my overall time at the timing mats. The run was two laps through a leafy neighborhood where support had to be second to none. Every quarter mile there was someone handing you sponges, GU, fruit, coke, gatorade, or snow. Yes, snow. At the 1mile marker a kid with a large snow shovel held a heft amount of the cold white stuff out to runners as they passed. I picked up some snow for fun since it was only 70F and the thought of overheating was a bit ridiculous in those cold temperatures! But anyway, the run was not flat and I ended up covering one lap in a time I thought I could hold for two laps, 51minutes and came in a disappointing 1h46. I say disappointing because despite the hills on the run course I really felt like I could run sub 1h40. I’ll have to make my “run to feel” pace quite a bit faster. I’ll have to prove that next race. However, I was really pleased with my overall time and as I got closer to the finish I knew I would be in the 5:05 to 5:10 timeframe which made me happy.

To conclude, Timberman was a beautiful course with helpful volunteers and a laid-back atmosphere and if I lived in the area I would do it every year. One key thing I learned on the day is that I want difficult bike courses. Timberman wasn’t anything crazy but the thought of a pancake flat bike course doesn’t suit me as a cyclist. Any future 70.3 or longer races I do will have a tough bike course.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Denise, my home support crew for encouraging me all these months and for entertaining this crazy habit-forming sport. I’d also like to thank all members of T2A for their camaraderie, advice, and for constantly raising the bar for all of us.