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Patriot Half Ironman- The Swim!

Patriot Half Ironman June 14, 2014

East Freetown, MA


Let me start off by saying, the Patriot Half Ironman was such a fun, well organized race!  It was put on my Sun Mulisport Events (a very well known multisport event company in the New England Region).  I had been hearing about this race for YEARS and about how great it was… now I know why!  I can honestly say, I will be back next year.

The day started early on Saturday… really early. My alarm went off at 3:30 AM since we had to drive about an an hour and five minutes down to the race venue.  I had been freaking out about the weather forecast, so I immediately checked the radar on my phone upon waking.  I got so excited to see no rain on the radar and I was ready to get the day started. The ‘potential’ rain missed us and it was going to be a cloudy (rain free) day on the course!

I ate my breakfast at 4:15 AM, three hours before race start (which is what I was instructed to do by my nutritionist).  Breakfast consisted of 1.25 cups of apple sauce, 1 banana and 1 scoop of whey protein powder.  I also had 24 oz bottle of sports drink (Power Bar Perform, 3 scoops) in the car.  I ate the same pre-race breakfast before the Boston Marathon and will do the same for my Ironman.  The only bad thing is, I have trouble getting the whey down (I hate the taste with water).  I think I will try combining with the apple sauce next time.

At around 4:45 AM we got into the car with Oliver and were on our way!  Luckily I packed everything the night before, so it was seamless in the AM.

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The venue was located at Cathedral Camp in East Freetown, MA (close to the ocean). Parking at the race was really easy when we got there around 5:45 AM, and race packet pick up was seamless.  Once I grabbed my race packet, put my stickers on my bike and helmet, I was off to get body marked and then to over transition.

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My transition station (#203) was on the end of transition, which meant after getting out of the water, I would have to run a little further, oh well, I like running I thought:)   Also, I find that I’m always next to the person who brings a billion things to transition, including a giant towel that is overflowing into my ‘station.’  It’s a pet peeve of mine in triathlons (and in life) when people take over your space. Stay in your bubble people:)

Once I got my transition set up, I put on my wet suit and used the porta potties one last time, I was off to the swim start to warm up. Before getting in the water I took one Power Bar gel with caffeine to get something in my system before the start.  The swim course was a pond swim in Long Pond (the largest fresh water pond in Massachusetts).  According to my training plan, I needed to warm up for 12 minutes in the water with some fast and slow stroke movements.  I got into the water with plenty of time to get this accomplished and I was happy about that!  I hate being rushed. At lot of people were warming up and we were all saying how great the water felt. The water was honestly the perfect temperature.  Around 65 degrees and really calm.

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For the first time in my life, I was looking forward to a swim start.  This year, the Patriot Half tried something new with a time trial start.   They sent athletes in the water 3 at a time every 10 seconds, according to their start wave.  I was in wave 4, which included females 30-39 and males 30-34 and I was amazed at how quickly the lines were moving… before I knew it, it was my turn.  They had a counter that counted down for 10 seconds and then make a loud beep.  When it was my turn, I watched the countdown and then ran into the water to start my swim… talk about an adrenaline rush! It was so fun!  It was great not having to start the swim in a giant cluster of swimmers.  Loved the time trial start!

The course was a large rectangle shape, and it was pretty easy to sight the buoys.  I started off strong from the beginning and was very proud of myself for not getting anxious in the water.  I‘m amazed at how far I’ve come with this!  I played my go-to song Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ in my head to help get me in a groove.  Stroke by stroke, I felt strong and fast.  There were only a couple of times where I felt like I could get kicked by another swimmer, but I was able to move out of the way.  There were also clusters around the buoys (per usual) where people were doing back stroke, side stroke, etc… it was fun trying to maneuver around those people (not).

As I was swimming, it felt like it was taking longer than it should have.  At a few points I thought to myself ‘I feel like I should be finished by now.’  I tried not to think about it too much and just focused on getting back to the beach.  In the distance I could see the ‘swim finish’ sign and the beach… almost there I thought!  I surged at the end of the swim, passing people left and right.  I always swim until I am basically on top of the sand, it makes a HUGE difference when you have to run out of the water.  It’s less tiring to run out of shallow water versus deep water.. something to keep in mind if you have not done a tri before.  Always swim in as far as you can!

(That’s me in the white swim cap below!)

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I got out of the water and looked at my watch… I saw 36 minutes and was really confused/annoyed. I could have sworn I was going faster than that!  My PR is 34 minutes and I had planned on breaking that time.  I also felt fast in the water and did not expect my watch to say anything over 34 minutes.  I tried not to think about it as I stripped off my wet suit and headed to transition.

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When I got to transition, I took one salt tab at T1 (it was so humid, I needed it), threw on my helmet and bike shoes and was on my way.  My T1 time, from swim-to-bike was 2:00:1, almost under two minutes, not bad!

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As a side note, after the race, I heard A LOT of people talking about how the swim course seemed long.  Come to find out, a new person apparently laid out the buoys this year and overshot the course… by about .2 miles (at least this is what I’ve heard). The course was probably closer to 1.4 miles, not 1.2 miles.  No wonder my miles seemed ‘off’ on my Garmin when I finished the entire race!  This being said, I like to think that I DID in fact PR on the swim course!

Official Swim time: 35 minutes 57 seconds 


…. Bike and Run recaps coming up next.. stay tuned!




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  • Reply Courtney @The TriGirl Chronicles June 18, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! That swim, 65 and glassy, is my kind of water. Can’t wait to read about the rest of your race =)

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 1:15 am

      Thank you Courtney!! Yes 65 and glassy IS perfect. Honestly, with a wetsuit on, you can’t get much better with those conditions!

  • Reply Hailey June 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    I look forward to reading your other recaps, I already learned a lot from this one because I’ve never read a triathlon recap before 🙂 like I had no idea people warmed up in the water before starting the swim, but it makes sense that it’s just like anything else you would warm up for.

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 1:18 am

      Thanks Hailey! I hope you enjoy the bike and run recaps just as well. Warming up in the water is very important for a tri (just like anything else, as you mention). One reason is to get your muscles warmed up, but another is to get comfortable in the water… knowing where the buoys are for the turns, feeling out the temperature, the waves, the wind.. etc.. there are so many factors that come into play with triathlons, it’s crazy:)

  • Reply Kristen @ Glitter and Dust June 18, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    You look so strong and fierce coming out of the water! The people behind you in the picture look like they have a long way to run in the water to get in the shore. Great advice about swimming as far as possible. Any tips for stripping the wetsuit? I am going to be doing an Olympic in a week and have never stripped my own wetsuit in a race environment (the wetsuit strippers at Boise were so helpful). That’s a bummer about the course length, but awesome that you were still able to complete it FAST! (I wish I could swim like you).

    • Reply Kristin June 19, 2014 at 1:25 am

      Aww thank you, I feel like I’m always so serious when I’m coming out of the water, lol. But I guess that’s the competitive nature in me! Swimming far into shore is super important… your legs will thank you for it on the bike, trust me:)

      As far as stripping your own wet suit, good question! if I had to break it down, I don’t worry about my cap and goggles until after I have my wet suit unzipped. As soon as I set foot on the ground, I reach behind me and pull the zipper down. I pull my entire top of the suit down to the waist…. and run like that back to transition… then while running, I take my goggles and cap off and run with them in my hand. Once I get to my transition station, I take the rest of my wet suit off. Also another important tip: use hair conditioner and coat your shins and ankles with it before putting your wet suit on. It makes stripping the wet suit at the ankles a lot faster!!

      Thank you, it was a bummer about the course length, because I feel like my final race time was not accurate as a result.. oh well:)

  • Reply Megan @ Meg Go Run June 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    This is fascinating to read… I never read a rec-cap of a tri before. 🙂

    • Reply Kristin June 26, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      Thank you, happy to hear this!

  • Reply Leslie @ Triathlete Treats June 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Great swim!!! I can’t believe it was laid out wrong!! 🙁 Interesting swim start with the TT! Can’t wait to hear about the bike and run!! Hope recovery is going well!

    • Reply Kristin June 26, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      Thank you! Ugh, I know, I was so frustrated about the swim course! The TT start was great, I really liked it… helped with the anxiety.

  • Reply Patriot Half Ironman- The Bike! | Sweat Courage June 19, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    […] Yesterday’s post was all about the Patriot Half Ironman Swim Course… Today’s post is continuing with a recap of the Bike course! […]

  • Reply erin July 8, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Awesome swim! That lake looks PERFECT and so serene! Also, super curious about your pre-race breakfast… what kind of protein do you use? And, have you ever blended it up? OK on your stomach? 🙂

    • Reply Kristin July 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      Thank you! The lake WAS perfect… i just wish they hadn’t made the course extra long, lol. For my pre race breakfast… funny you ask… I am having trouble with the protein. For this race, I mixed it with water and had trouble getting it down… i had to hold my nose. I used Chocolate Whey protein, thinking it would be ok in water, but it was horrible. My coach suggested mixing it with apple sauce, but I was scared to try it. What do yo use? I really need to figure this out before IMMT! Whey tends to be OK on my stomach, for the most part.

  • Reply Rob Henderson July 13, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Great Recap, I look forward to doing this race next year. Can’t wait to read the rest of your recap.

    • Reply Kristin July 22, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks Rob! Appreciate it!

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