Outer Banks Half Ironman 70.3 Race Report

     Again, competing in races like this, I realize how God has blessed me and I always remember that the glory is his, not mine.  Having said that, it’s been a while since I have been in the blogging game.  Its been busy and I had to keep my priorities in line, of which this blog was not near the top.  The training for the race was substantial and I knew it was going to be time-consuming after watching M complete the Kinetic Half back in May.  I thought it would fail in comparison to the marathon training, but it didn’t.   Hopefully someone in the future can benefit from this report.

We left town on a Friday morning with my sister who had driven up and spent the night with us.  Got to the Outer Banks, dropped off the kids and M at my dear friends house and headed to packet pickup with my sister and hopefully for a dip in the sound to check things out.  The site was a beautiful spot right on the water by one of the bridges leaving Manteo.  Pickup was uneventful and we jumped in the water for a swim.  The buoys had been set up and as usual looked far to say the least.  They were doing the Olympic distance simultaneously so there were extra buoys for that fortunately.  The sound was warm and I was still debating on a wetsuit for the race.  I swam without it to see how it went.  We started off fine just wanting to do maybe 300-400 yards and get a feel for what the water felt like and how it looked underwater.  You could feel swooshes or brushes of water around your fingers on the way out which I figured out after a short time were baitfish scooting by.  Pretty cool.  Made it back in and headed back to friends for some rest and dinner at Mama Kwans (highly recommend).  Hit the sack at about 10p and slept surprisingly well.  Woke up a bit before 4:30a, race started at 7a, transition was open at 5:45a, and we left the house at 5a.   On time no problems.  Set up transition, got bodymarking, put on timing chip, and waited for the start.  The sound water in the early morning is usually pretty calm.  Not today.  There was a significant chop and wave action coming at us from the right along with a right to left current (as if just swimming isn’t hard enough).  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit worried.  My sister and I headed out for maybe 200 yards and I could tell this was going to be a doosy of a swim. 

 The Swim:

With only 100 or so people racing in the half ironman, it was a 2 wave start, boys and girls.  The horn went off and I waded out into the water.  You could actually walk a fair distance out, but that’s no fun and we all began to swim.  I realized very quickly that this swim was like no other.  The waves were smacking me in the face as I was going up and down over the crests of each wave.  I had to begin timing my breaths to be in between the troughs of the waves.  Got this down and knew that once I made the turn at the first buoy things would improve.  The first right hand turn was uneventful.  Sighting the buoys was a bit difficult because of the waves in the water.  The backstretch of the course was shorter than the other 2 legs.  I was swimming into the current a bit, but it didn’t affect me too much.  Just kept breathing and making smooth strokes.  Approaching the next right hand turn and last buoy, 2 things crossed my mind.  The first was I should be swimming with the current going back in and breathing away from the waves. The second was how bad is the sun going to be since I would be sighting directly into it.  All I could see looking back towards land was a flagpole, so I figured that was the park where transition was located.  I kept following some guys in front of me until I could see the markers on shore and soon enough I was on dry land.  Time was 34:33 for the 1.2 mile swim.


Transition 1 seemed slow, but there was a 200 yd run up to where the bikes were which accounted for most of the time.  I also took the extra time to put socks on which I don’t normally do.  Otherwise uneventful at a time of 2:44.

The Bike:

This was my first attempt at a completely flat bike course.  Sounds easy right?  Wrong.  I am not used to the constant sustained effort of flat roads.  Add in some coastal winds and that will make it a bit tougher.  All in all I can’t complain.  It was a 2 loop course of 28 miles each, so I was able to see M and the kids after the 1st loop which was cool.  By mile 40 the sun was really starting to beat down and I knew I needed to hydrate and get my nutrition in to be able to survive the run.  Came back in off the bike feeling pretty good.  Total time 2:51.35.


I am not sure why, but my transition from bike to run is always fast in comparison.  It was a 57 second transition and my only regret is I forgot to pick up my visor.

The Run:

The support on the run course was great.   They had an aid station every mile which I originally thought was crazy, but my mile 6 I could not have imagined any less.  I began to see a lot of walkers from the Olympic distance race in the first couple miles and that worried me a bit.  The course was not shaded by any means and the sun was at full tilt.  They were passing out ice cold towels at each station and I began shoving them down in my shirt to keep my body cool.  It worked great and my legs did not begin to tire until around mile 9.  My goal was to beat 6 hrs and I knew I was going to manage that, but I also knew I was in decent position based on the number of guys that I passed that were headed home when I was nearing the turnaround.  My gas began to run out around mile 11.  I approached an aid station and the lady was very kind.   I asked for a cold towel and she said she had 1 left.  I grabbed it and she asked if I wanted water or HEED (a sports drink.  I said I would need 2 waters.  She handed me one which I drank and she asked if I wanted the other over my head.  Finally, someone who understands how hot it was out here.  One tip of the cup and it felt great.  Only problem was it was HEED and not water.  At least I would smell like strawberries at the finish line.  The last 2 miles were hot and brutal.  There were a couple of short stretches where I walked for a second to clear my head and catch my breath.  The last part is back across an air field that felt like an oven.  About halfway across the field were my wife and son to greet.  My son vividly remembers my first words to him which were “it’s so freakin hot out here”.  He got a kick out of that.  The 2nd place female came blazing by me in that field.  Hats off to her, she was flying.  I ran in the last ¼ mile and felt spent at the finish line.  Run time 2:11.26.

Overall time 5:41

Finally Done

Hot and a little tired of waiting on dad for almost 6 hours

My 3 biggest fans

 Post Race:

The best part of the post race activities was undoubtedly the king medical guy at the finish line.  He was hosing everyone down as they came through.  Felt awesome.  It was a blessing to get to do this race and spend this weekend with my family and friends.  My sister and I finished the race unscathed and smiling.  Mission accomplished.  There was a sprint race the next day that our good friends were doing which was a blast to watch.  I think I like watching races almost as much as I like doing them.  Took a couple weeks of easy workouts to recover.  It is a little over a month after the race and I feel pretty good.  Just trying to decide what to do next.  Is it possible for husband and wife to simultaneously train for a full ironman, manage daily life with the kids, and work?  We might find out.  Still discussing.  Stay tuned.

Finish line pose from my sister and I.  Priceless.


  1. I enjoyed reading your RR...it sounded HOT out there, I had a similar experience at Racine...great job. What did you and your wife decide about IM's? We're trying to pull that off over here too...it's been a rocky start to say the least.

  2. Was this the OBX Tri in Manteo? I am doing my first Tri (sprint) there at the end of the month- Sept 23. I just did my first open water swim- 3/4 mile in fresh water. I heard the salt water makes you a bit more bouyant. Do you find this to be true? I have a full wetsuit and I am not sure if I like it yet but everyone swears by them. It may be too hot but I am not sure. The chop definitely has me concerned. We have a house in Corolla and I kayak and paddle board and on a windy day really has a current. I cannot really swim there because of the water moccasins in the water. THanks so much for your tips!!

    1. Laura, sorry I do not check my Gmail account often. Yes it was the OBX Manteo tri. WHen we did the swim it was very rough and wetsuits were allowed. I will assume that will be the case this year. The sprint race the next day had very nice calm water, just like you will I am sure. I did not notice the buoyancy difference other than my times were a bit faster than usual (but rmember I had a wetsuit on as well which makes you float high). My biggest piece of advice for anyone swimming in a tri in open water is to start out swimming slower than you think you should. I ususally start out way wide of the field until I get in a rhythm. Starting wide does not add much distance at all. Your heart rate will spike in the first 100-200 yds so if you swim very easy and get past that point you are fine. A lot of people make the mistake (as I have done a couple times now) and they go out a bit to hard and go into oxygen debt too fast because of the hr spike, then you are stuck breaststroking til you can calm down. Swim as easy as you can. at first. When I swam that course the current was coming towards us and a bit too the left at the beginning, but was at our backs on the way back in. Remember the course will look way longer than it feels when you see it from the shore. Don't be intimidated. Just swim your race, good luck, and God bless.