Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The words of Greg Mathe, guest blogger

As what has become a rite of passage or maybe more of a precedent with the completion of an endurance race, I feel the need to capitulate and write a race recap to fully round out my experience of the Duke Liver Center Half Ironman ( Don’t worry, it will be short…I will save the long winded soliloquy for when I complete the New Zealand Ironman in March.

Before I begin, I want to send a few thank yous and accolades to some important people.

First, to my coach, Thys Wind of Wind Speed Endurance Training ( I cannot say enough about his coaching style, philosophy, and overall support of his athletes. It works, whatever it is, it works!

To my swim coaches, John Pace and Karen Holloway, you masterfully tweaked my stroke and provided key words of wisdom that I carried throughout my training and on race day.

To all my friends, family and other supporters, thank you for your patience and encouragement along the way!

And a final accolade to Kenneth Schweighofer, a friend who also completed the race, who showed tremendous heart and strength. Starting the event with a bum IT band/knee knowing that you were about to run one of the most difficult run courses around - not liking to run to begin with - and being able to preserve and digging deep to finish was more of a victory than any time goal that you could have had. Congratulations!

Pre-Race, Sunday morning, 4:00am wake-up.

There is something about waking up well before sunrise and knowing that you are about to do something special that makes your hair stand on end. The preparation you go through, the focus your mind has, witnessing the pageantry of an event like this screams something of an 80’s theme song, I am thinking something from Rocky, Rudy or some coming of age John Hughes flick.

Anyway, it was cold. For September in North Carolina I was expecting 90 plus degree heat and some humidity, but who would have guessed it would be sub-60 degrees, you would be able to wear a wetsuit, and the wind would be more than just breezy. Needless to say, it was brisk outside and the warmest place was in the water.

I finished up the usually check-in, body marking, transition set-up, and warm-up. The only thing going through my head was—“What are you doing, leave now, don’t start. You are about to do what to your body?” Then the gun goes off.

Swim, 1.2 miles, 7:04am

The lake swim was a choppy out and back course with a floating start. Never did a floating start before but from what I remember people saying it is truly a floating start, don’t tread water, too much energy needed…just float. Ok, so I floated, for four minutes before we started. Then it was swim as hard as you could against the “current” up and over these massive waves -- note, they probably weren't massive, but they seemed like it. One thing that I didn’t plan for: orange colored goggles, with orange buoys and an orange sunrise…what to sight, what to sight…thank goodness that the waves were so big that sighting was a non-issue.

Came out of the water in 32 minutes and 57 seconds, pretty much on plan.

Bike, 56 miles

We drove the course the day before which was helpful…until I got on the course with the bike, then everything I thought I knew went out the window. What was once thought of as some nice downhills, some good uphills, but for the most part a fairly rolling course quickly turned into uphill and more uphill. The wind made for an interesting and cold start out of the water…my thought at this time was, “Brrrrrrr.”

It was a scenic course with mainly rolling to not-so-rolling hills and a wind that pushed you around like a big sister – mainly annoying, but sometimes hit you in just the right spot that made you want to cry a little. Felt good and strong, even passed a few elites…and then got passed by a few elites. For the most part, the course was manageable and was a fun ride, especially this one part where you rode pass the nuclear power plant to a turn-around point to come back up a hill and see all the folks behind you – kinda felt like the beginning of the Simpsons, but not really. My goal was to go hard but stay patient since I knew the run was coming.

Came off the bike in 2 hours 39 minutes and 50 seconds, pretty much on plan.

Run, 13.1 miles

So, the run course is a two loop, more than hilly epic that makes me think back to Rocky IV, the one where he fights the Russian, when he runs up the mountain at the end of his training and in the background you hear Hearts on Fire by John Cafferty. Well the run course was like the mountain, and I felt more like how Rocky looked at the end of the fight, only to have to turn around and do it again.

This was an amazing experience to go through. Being a two loop course, you got to see different people along the way dealing with the race however best they could. I liked this format because at this point you don’t know who is where on the course and you just concentrate on your legs and making it up that next hill rather than placement…well, ok, maybe not, but it instills a false sense of confidence that everyone needs at nearing the completion of 70.3 miles.

Came out of the run in 1 hour 55 minutes and 29 seconds, a few - or ten - minutes slower than I expected.

For a total finish time of 5 hours 10 minutes and 25 seconds. Here is how it broke down:

Swim, 1.2 miles - 32:57 (35 overall males, 3 in age)

T1 - 1:17

Bike, 56 miles - 2:39:50 (37 overall males, 4 in age)

T2 - :54

Run, 13.1 miles - 1:55:29 (100 overall males, 11 in age)

Total - 5:10:25 (48 overall males out of 286, 6 in age out of 27)

Overall, I am pretty happy with how I raced my first half ironman and it looks like my age group placement qualifies me for the Halfmax National Championship next September (

With the season at an end and my preparation for Ironman New Zealand yet to begin, I have to reflect on my accomplishments (in what is really my first year truly competing) by sharing them with those that understand that this is important to me and support me in more ways that I could ever describe.

Season Wrap-Up:

Competed in 6 triathlons – 1 half ironman, 1 olympic, and 4 sprints:

Age Group Results:

Finished top 10 in all races
Finished top 5 in 4 races
Placed in 3 races -- 1st in the olympic, 2nd and 3rd in two of the sprints


Finished top 50 in 5 races (my first sprint was a top 60 finish)
Finished top 25 in 3 races


TriGirl Kate O said...

So what is it with guys and the songs from Rocky movies? Joe loves to run to all of them. Yuck. Many congratulations to Greg--awesome job!

jones said...

congrats greg! was it the drag from the neoprene strap that slowed you down?

tryingtotri said...

Greg, congrats! Now am I allowed to meet you?

Melissa said...

i am sure you will meet him soon. hmm i might have to rethink this idea...he might get scared of all the pink, esp when mixed with alcohol.

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