Success! Half Ironman Triathlon (70.3)

I just successfully completed my first Half Ironman Triathlon (Ironman 70.3) with a time of 6 hours and 28 minutes.  My only goal was to complete the event without getting injured, and I succeeded!  I can improve my times on subsequent races.   My greatest accomplishment was completing the half marathon portion without stopping or walking as running is my weakest link in this sport.  For those of you that are unfamiliar, a Half Ironman is 70.3 miles total – a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run.  Those of you on the metric system are probably scratching your heads at those seemingly random distances (1.2mi, 56mi, and 13.1mi)  – don’t worry, they seem ridiculous to me too.

I’m not posting this to show off, in fact, many people whose primary sport is triathlon would consider my finish time a total embarrassment – 6hrs 28min.  So what?  I enjoy it and I’m getting better at it every year!!!  As you know, I am a private person and rarely talk about myself but when it comes to my fitness goals its different.  Why?  Several reasons.  First, because its important for me to show that whether you are a newbie or very advanced in fitness, it important to *always* have fitness goals you are working toward and have a step by step plan to get there.  Second, because I want to show that life does exist outside the fluorescent lit gym.  A big part of fitness and health is getting outside and *using* those muscles you have worked so hard to build.  A lot of people seem to have trouble getting motivated to workout.  A big part of their problem in my opinion is because they view bodybuilding as a cosmetic sport, big-ripped-muscles-fast.  When they fail at this impossible goal, they quickly lose interest.  If you view bodybuilding as an integral part of your life which makes you healthier and lets you have more fun, then the motivation is easy!  Regardless of your favorite sport from golf to skydiving, bodybuilding can make your game better and more enjoyable.  Another reason I am sharing my races with you is that I feel its important to practice what I preach.  In my opinion, nobody should be giving out advice that they can’t or won’t follow themselves.  I tell you the importance of cardio and I DO cardio – lots of it!  I tell you how important it is to do cross training with sports outside bodybuilding and I DO it.  Its often said that you need to choose a trainer who has achieved what you want to achieve – not a perfect method of choosing a trainer but there are far worse ways.   Anyway, thats why I feel its important to share when I do my races.  So here is a quick rundown of my race:

The Swim

Although I’m a slow swimming,  I have no problems with distance and the 1.2 miles was easy.  My sighting was good (I was able to swim straight lines) and I was quite comfortable in the open water as always.  As often happens to me, I got calves cramps at about mile 3/4 so the last 1/2 mile I just swam with arms only.  Not a big deal really because I use the Total Immersion swimming technique and don’t use legs that much anyway.  Even without kicking I had no trouble keeping the backs of my legs at the water surface because of the floatation my short wetsuit provided.  A bit of a scare when I was exiting the lake, my quad started to cramp which would have ended the race for me but luckily I was able to quickly stretch it out before it locked up. With my cramping problems during the swim, I guzzled about 2 liters of gatorade hoping that the electrolytes would give me some protection against future cramping.   Either the problem went away on its own or the gatorade helped but luckily that was the last of my cramping problems.  Don’t know my swim time yet, probably I’m probably at the 40th percentile for my age group.

The Cycling

Cycling is my strongest event in the triathlon although I was at a pretty big disadvantage in this race because of my bike.  Most people had triathlon/time trial bikes (TT bikes) and there I was with my touring bike.  It is *very* comfortable and is a thing of mechanical beauty but its heavy and not very aerodynamic, I didn’t even bother to take off my heavy rack nor did I remove my 2 pound thorn-proof tubes.  I’ll pay 2 pounds to keep from getting a flat, seems like a bargain to me :)   I’m used to cycling much longer distances so the 56 miles was quite easy.  Because I knew my biggest challenge would be the half marathon, I didn’t push it that hard so that I would have lots of energy to run.  My average speed was about 18mph over the 56 miles according to my bike computer which wasn’t too shabby considering it was rolling hills. What was totally awesome was that they had police at every single signal and stop signs so we could just blow thru the intersections without even slowing down – thats a treat that rarely happens!  If I had to guess, I’d say that I was about at the 70th percentile for my age group.

The Run

I was apprehensive about the half marathon.  Although I have done a half marathon before it was fresh – I hadn’t swam 1.2 miles and biked 56 miles beforehand.  Because I have such a hard time running, I train 12 months a  year.  As soon as my mysterious knee issue of the winter resolved itself, I went back to running 2-3 times a week and I would usually do two 10k’s and one 5k.  I keep my weekly mileage low to minimize the chance of knee or overuse injuries and the last 2 months.  the training worked very well for me!  I just choose a nice, slow pace and focused *very* hard on my floating head technique to minimize G forces on my knees.  It really wasn’t till mile seven or eight that I started slowing down a bit.  By mile eleven, my left knee and left foot were hurting pretty bad – enough that I was gimping a bit but I knew from experience it wasn’t anything that would do permanent damage.  The camaraderie the last two miles kept me going, everybody was cheering everyone else on.  All in all, not nearly as bad as I feared :)  I’m a slow runner so I was probably at about the 60th percentile for my age group.

Scooby Biking





79 thoughts on “Success! Half Ironman Triathlon (70.3)”

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  6. I have been an endurance athlete for quite a while, doing marathons, aquathlons and triathlons. I recently wanted to try gaining some muscle for cosmetic purposes but have failed miserably. I ended up being heavier and performing worse in endurance events.

    After reading through your website, I feel motivated and want to re-evaluate my goals. You are selfless and offer very valuable advice! Thank you!

  7. Great job Scooby, no matter your time I still find that impressive. Although I’s like to see you do more swimming, I’m a intense swimmer and I’m intrigued to see what your stroke looks like and your overally ability? Maybe you could include more swimming into your fitness goals?

  8. You know what, I was doing some tri training myself and encountered a mysterious knee issue as well. Got so bad I couldn’t run or bike for about 3 months. Xrays, MRI’s, ultrasounds…didn’t find much..a little swelling and a possible fissure in my cartilage but nothing they could pinpoint the pain on. As mysteriously as it came, it slowly began to fade…Did you ever find out what was causing your knee problem?

  9. Congratulations Scooby! Great work!
    Last weekend I completed my 200km race and it is a great feeling.
    However new goals came, next one 400km…
    Thanks for great advices!

  10. Watched the video and recognized the scenery during the run portion! I live a mile or so away from that lake park and run the trail nearly every day in the late afternoon. I remember seeing mile marker signs along the trail a few weeks back and wondered what was going on. Now I know! Scooby ran on the same trail I do! :)

  11. Congrats Scoob!

    It truly is a great accomplishment. I know exactly where you’re coming from; you are not showing off at all (although you have every right to brag), you are simply proud of what you were able to accomplish.

    I literally cried, I mean I was balling with tears, once I crossed the line of my mini-triathlon (0.75mi swim, 15.7mi bike, 3.2mi run) last summer. I had no idea why I was crying, but I’m guessing it’s because I felt so high at that moment -I had a goal and I achieved it. It’s not everyday that happens. I felt clean, fresh, and pure -mind, body and soul.

    I had my doubts in the beginning, others continued to doubt me (“you’re going to drown!”), my loved ones continued to support me, and I was completely frightened that morning… but I did it and boy did it feel good!

    Congrats once again and good luck on your next challenge -Iron Man!

  12. It’s awesome. :)
    Can I ask, what do you it and when during this triathlon. I think, to get your day calories, you will need to eat junk food, because you had a lot of calories burnt in this triathlon. :)

  13. Hey Scooby, I am tentatively scheduled to do a century bike ride July 14th. My longest cycle to date has only been 86 Km which I did last Saturday (3 hours). I did this with relatively no pain. I am doing another 100 KM tomorrow. Is this a long enough cycle to prepare me for the 160 KM I will face in two weeks time? Also If I have future questions, what is the best way to ask questions directly to you?

  14. Scooby, even though you’re a senior citizen with all the passion, determination, the spirit though you’re barely while doing the half marathon but i gotta say you have my respect! Salute! You’re truly become my inspiration in this fitness world!

  15.  Great achievment Scooby i am happy for ya. Its much easier for the skinny-little guys to run then to heavy people(i am 178 pounds),
    I personally have trouble setting goals- i want many stuff but i dont know which i want more for example: i want increase my bench press to 95Kg for reps,lower bodyfat,increase arms size.
    I dont know how to do them because increasing the first and the third require a lot of food, while lowering BF is contradictory.
    Can you write something that may enlighten me about this topic? like dividing goals, or goal setting time?
    Also regardless arms: i do pullups with 28 kg on me (and i am 81kg, which completly tears my muscles and i dont have strenght for Arms-specific isolation exercises. Same with Bench press after heavy pressing i dont have the strength to do low grip press.
    I would be very happy if you comment or write something on your blog about different goals,etc(i know that you have already such topic but for me and for many others i think its not enough).
    Cheers from Israel and sorry about Grammer :O

  16. Hey there ,this is my first time when i have a good fitness goal and want your oppinion about it.
    i’m an intermediate bodybuilder doing scoobys intermediate workout plan,have Healthy(as on your  website section)nutrition and i do 45 min of daily cardio wich includes (walking/brisk walking/jogging/basketball/cycling).

    I’m planning to achieve this thing wich i consider my fitness goal    in 2 weeks wich includes this:
    -1 hour walking, imeddiatly followed by 1 hour jogging, imeddiatly followed by 1 hour fast-biking.

    What do you think?is this resonable enough?
    tx in advance 

  17. Congrats Scooby! You’ve really inspired me to get into the kind of shape that I should have been in for all of my adult life, and it’s opened new opportunities and adventures for me. I’m doing my first race ever later this year – the Warrior Dash 5k and obstacle course, aiming for a time under 30 minutes. Thanks!

  18. Just checked my results from the race:
     – 1.2 mile swim 47 minutes = embarassing
     – 56 mile bike 3hrs 16 min = respectable (considering my bike)
     – half marathon 2hrs 9 minutes = Awesome – for me anyway :)

    The last time I did a half marathon I did it in 2hrs 18 minutes and that was fresh,  not after swimming and biking.  I was quite pleased that I was able to shave off 9 minutes off my half marathon time!

    My transition times were about 9 minutes each, I wasnt in any hurry!

    1. They’re pretty good split times scooby. There’s nothing embarassing about your swim time. You are only 4 mins outside the average time that I posted previously, and congrats on your run time. It just goes to show how much you have improved on your endurance, to be able to better your previous PB for a half marathon after 4 hours of swimming and cycling is amazing.

      To put things into perspective. I averaged 17.2mph this morning on my way to work, which is pretty much the same as you did, only mine was only over 9.5 miles and not 56. I’ve got a long way to go lol

  19. Awesome work there scooby! This has deffinately inspired me to start paticipating in such events. I currently spend my time working out, but doing nothing with my gains.

    PS. I hope you wore sunblock!

  20. I was part of a triathlon club for one full summer and realized that most members would run/bike/swim while injured. Came to me that I would really like to partake in the latter activities when I reach 60. Hence, my decision to quit the club altogether. Congratulations Mr. Werstatt for accomplishing your goals and letting us be witneses of “goal achievement” in its true form. Certainly, you have helped way more people familiarizing themselves with weight lifting than you will ever realize. And not a penny was asked in the process.
    Be safe
    S. (Montréal, Canada)

  21. Hey scooby congratulations to your ironman you really have my respect. 
    One question: Do you think it is possible to run marathons and doing bodybuilding (so that let’s say I maybe get a physique like you :))

  22. Congratulations Scooby!! You really deserve your accomplishment, and I hope all your other accomplishments for 2012 end with a success!! Keep up the good work!!

  23. You were a huge inspiration to get into shape for me. I used to swim for a swim club, but had to stop for time reasons.  For a while I did sports, but never really got muscular or cut. I still had quite a bit of fat. Then i came across your videos, really enjoyed them, and started working out. This lead me to further research, and finally , I now consider myself looking good. I am at a decently low body fat, have built some muscle mass, and enjoy going to the gym. Just wanted to say thanks man!  Also would you have any advice towards a almost 17 year old looking to get too below 10% body fat? Thanks!

  24. Congrats Sccoby. Awesome job! As you said, your actions and insights motivate a wide variety of people, even myself, a 42 year old, out-of-shape dude. But you have motivated me to improve myself, so far with great success. Thanks for all of us and congrats again!

  25. Hey scooby, Great performance!

    Just a brief note from a competitive swimmer…

    Swimming is an odd sport, max effort usually means a slow time while less effort and learning to be lazy & harness the glide is the key. Leg cramps (calf cramps / arches of the feet in particular) mean that either you’re putting too much effort into your kick or your technique is a little off. I would try training with a pull buoy to get yourself into the mentality of trailing your legs & gliding while you swim. This way you can keep doing a few flutter kicks from the ankles. My open water swimming friends swear by little flutters every now and again rather than a full on kick.

    I’d personally say you worked too hard in the water by the sounds of
    things. As a rule I tend to aim for calf cramps towards the final 500m
    of every training session, that tells me I’ve really worked hard. If it
    makes you feel any better though; typically guys are pretty awful at
    kicking (myself included) so I wouldn’t beat yourself up about
    it- we’re good at one of two things – either lots of power for
    sprinting, or trailing our legs with the odd 4 beat flutter every couple
    of strokes. For some strange reason ladies are a whole lot better at
    being able to keep a consistant kick over long distances… odd!

    Please excuse me being critical but I’d go out on a limb and say that the total imerssion technique is really not right for you. You have a lot of bulk to push though the water, a lot more than most swimmers… perpetual motion isn’t going to be doing you a lot of favours. The secret to any distance swimming or any swimming of any kind is mastering your own hydrodynamics and the glide after every stroke. Also T/I forces the swimmer to stare at the bottom of the pool which means the water flow over the head forces the swimmer down -great for the competitive sprinter as your legs raise up to give you room for a 6 beat kick / rapid acceleration. But not so good for the long distance / scoobysided swimmer- you’re pretty chest heavy so you want to get that as far out of the water as possible. Ideally you want the waterline to be halfway up your goggle lenses- looking forwards, not down. This way you won’t fight against the water & your own bouyancy. The less you have to push through the water etc etc.

    I’d head on down to your local pool and ask the coach if you can stand on poolside and
    watch the local college swim team train. Just pick the laziest looking
    male swimmer and walk up and down the poolside watching his long lazy
    stroke- you’ll pick up loads! Take note of where his bum sits in the
    water in relation to the rest of him.

    Glad to hear you had fun and were please with your performance though mate!

    1. I wish you lived around here because I need a coach like you!  I really, really, really need to find a local coach who can help me.  I’m in pretty good shape, there is ZERO reason that I couldnt be in the top 10% of my age group when it comes to my swim times. Thanks for opening my eyes to the fact that TI is perhaps not for me.  It helped me improve a lot 2 years ago but it sounds like it might be time for me to move on.  BTW, I barely kick.  Probably less than 5% of my power comes from the legs. 

    2. Truely a valuable post !
      Makes me realize even more clearly the importance of the advice from someone who knows what they’re talking about.
      I tend to be very much a DIY type of guy, but there are some things that you’re just better off learning from experienced people rather than finding out the hard way. :)

  26. Very cool Scooby. Congrats. I have never done anything like this but anytime I pushed myself in running or triathlon (short ones) it is invariably a “new” experience. You just cannot simulate it and your body knows this. I’m glad to hear you use TI swimming. I was going to mention that. Seems right up your alley in its approach.
    Regarding training, I think there is something to learn from musicians too. Check out this website and read how “practice” is different from “perfornance” physiogically and psychologically.

    1. The TI DVD’s are great but they don’t match being in the water with a coach. T/I technique has been used by loads of people to do much longer swims so it isn’t the approach that’s flawed. In fact, it focuses on a two beat kick (barely a kick) for all longer swims. Decreasing drag by not kicking actually is a better trade-off than any propulsion or balance that the kick can provide unless you are really good at it AND traveling short distances. So not kicking was the best choice for at least two reasons most likely.

  27. Amazing. Well done Scooby :) I’ve had some mysterious knee issues in the past, ended up being ITB syndrome but since this is very common I expect it has been discounted as your issue.

  28. You are the man! You have inspired me to work out my cardio issues (it’s gone from knee pain to my IT band up where the sides of my hips are with running), and push on towards completing a race one day. Mega congrats!

  29. Congratulation on completing another goal.. You truly exemplify what you teach and offer to others. You have inspired me to look into another race.  Three cheers for you!

  30. Congrats Scooby. That’s pretty good going for you first attempt. I read somewhere that the average time for someone in your age group is 6h 15mins, so you’re pretty much there already. I’m sure next time you’ll be pushing the 6h mark. Maybe you should look into a race bike instead of using your tourer. I’m sure that alone would shave off a good few minutes. The average times for each stage for your age group are Swim = 43mins, Bike = 3.04h and run = 2.16h. How did your splits compare with these?

    Well Done again :o)

  31. A true Inspiration! I did a 86 km bike ride saturday in 3 hours and then 14 km run Sunday (1 hour). You have inspired me to plan long term for something like this. I’m biking, swimming, or running everyday. I’m planning on doing my first sprint triathlon in two weeks, and first century bike ride in 3 weeks. I never even heard of a century bike ride and now I’m on target to achieve something I never thought possible. Thanks for the inspiration and keep up the posts and information on Running, Cycling, and swimming. If you developed a whole section of your website devoted to Triathlons I think this would be very well liked. It would also help if you updated your training log, so I could see exactly what your doing in terms of milage/time in each of the triathlon disciplines. 

    Congratulations once again, I look forward to seeing your next big fitness goal become accomplished! 

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