2004 Duke Liver Center Half-Ironman

Bri's first Half

Marty and I had decided to do this particular 1/2 Ironman earlier in the year for a number of reasons: He had a good friend in Raleigh, my sister had just moved there, nice venue in cooler weather, and itís for a good cause (cancer research). I was not only going to be doing my first half ironman, but also my first half marathon - including training runs! I would not recommend this approach :)

The race itself was awesome and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to do a half outside of Florida. The swim was in a nice lake, the bike was all rolling hills, and the run was (very) hilly on all hard packed dirt and grass in the shade. The race organizers up there (Setup Inc) put on a number of races throughout the season and they do a top notch job.

The Swim

Marty went off in the first wave of elites and I was to start 23 minutes later. I knew the swim was going to be long when I didn't even see Marty near the finish before I started. People estimated that it was 300-400 yards long! It was a nice lake, though, and the waves were small so you weren't crowded at all. It was such a big lake that there was actually a current and it was choppy at the turn around, something I hadn't experienced in a lake swim before. It was also a non wetsuit swim. I took it easy and drafted off of a couple girls almost the whole way. My swim yardage has been relatively low all summer so I knew I wasn't going to set any records, and I wanted to stay comfortable the whole way. Mission accomplished.

The Bike

They told us before the start that the bike was about a mile long, and 57 miles is still a long ride for me, so I stayed relaxed the whole time. I spun up the hills and pushed a bit on the flats and down hills. I felt really good until about 48 miles or so when I was totally ready to get off my bike. I broke 3 hours, which was my secret goal the whole time (and that includes one pee break :).

The Run

This was what I was most nervous about, having never run this far before. I started off really comfortable onto an immediate long uphill and was surprised to see 7:50 on my watch. I thought I was running much slower than that. I felt really good and started picking people off, holding about 7:30-7:45 pace the whole time. Although the run was very challenging with all the hills, it was a really neat course. I finished the first loop and still felt really great, until I went up the first long hill again. It felt like it was 10 times harder this time and it also felt like someone had decided to stick a knife in my right quad. I struggled up it and picked it back up on the flats, but the next steep hill at around 9.5 did me in and I had to walk (incidentally, most of my long runs were about 8-10 miles, so this wasn't a total surprise looking back on it). Very disappointing. I jogged with a little walking the rest of the way in and couldn't formulate complete sentences when I finally finished.

I ended up finishing in 5:33:58, 13th women overall, 5th in my age group. If I decide to do another I will definitely prepare better for the run, and be more aggressive on the bike, but I am pretty happy with the race all in all. Marty had a great race and it was a good gauge for how his training has been going for the GFT in October. He ended up winning overall by 9 minutes.

Brianne Gaal