Pumpkinman Half Iron 2009.
The most amusing part of the Pumpkinman experience happened about a week before race day. Balance Multisport athlete Mark Dugas was telling a friend about the race, the distances, order of activities etc. "It's a Half-Ironman" he explained, the friend's reply; "why are you only doing half?"

While the Half-Iron distance may be downplayed in it's name, 70.3 miles is a distance to be respected, and respect was earned on Sunday! Mark came through the finish line of his first ever 70.3 in under 6 hours! He had a solid swim, a very strong bike and a great run which was remarkable after battling shin splints throughout his training. Kudos Mark - what's next? Oh yeah - Reach the Beach in 4 days - better rest those legs!

We were lucky with the weather on Sunday, after Saturday's downpour we were blessed with dry skies. There was  a little cloud cover for the bike and then some steamy sunshine during the run.  My race went pretty much according to plan for the first two thirds, then the plan was somewhat altered. I had a good swim, it took about 100 meters to get my rhythm and then I was able to follow some bubbles and make my way through the mass of pink caps, a 2 loop swim is interesting but it does give you a chance to re-set and my second loop was considerably faster than my first.
Pumpkinman has the painful feature of a steep hill climb from the pond to transition (they time this separately and make it a competition!) so by the time you get to your bike your heart is racing. Quick transition; shoes, helmet, sunnies - off!
The bike course is beautiful and has lots of great open flats where you can fly. Because my wave was the first to go after the elites I was surrounded by speed demons, they must have motivated me because I had a great bike and was able to hold onto a 20mph  average speed. I followed my nutrition plan, ate my Gu's and drank my Accelerade regularly.
I finished the bike feeling great, could have kept on riding! Sadly it was time to run. Sometimes you just have those days, from about 500 meters into the run I realized that this was one of them. Heavy legs, slooshy belly, it was a slog. I tried to find my run rhythm but it was alluding me so I focused on fighting the mental battle and putting one foot in front of the other. It worked, I made it and the finish line felt sweet.

All up, a fantastic race. A strong finish for me and for Mark and it was amazing to know that I had been a part of helping him cross that finish line.
Jumping right in here to the very first post on the BM blog.
As I get Balance Multipsport started I am also going into my last race of the season; the Pumpkinman Half Iron. Balance Multisport athlete Mark Dugas is also racing the Pumpkinman and this will be his first half iron!
I know Mark has been working hard, 70.3 miles is not a distance to be taken lightly! But now, only 4 days out from the race  it's Taper Time.
What is a taper?
According to triathlon legend Joe Friel a taper, when done right "peaks all of the abilities, boosts confidence, and allows for psychological rest as well"*.  Simply put, a taper is when you reduce the volume and intensity of your training. This typically happens the week leading up to your most important race, your "A" race. 
Tapers differ according to race distance  and the amount of training you have accomplished, but  some things are consistent across the board. 
  1. Use your taper time to prepare your equipment for race day, make sure your bike is working well, smooth shifting, no wheel rubs and clean brakes - if there are any problems now is the time to deal to them.
  2. Reduce the time of your workouts but don't stop working out all together! Studies have shown that better performance is shown after a week of reduced activity than of total rest - plus you'll go nuts if you stop cold turkey! That being said, it is completely ok to take an extra day or two of rest.
  3. Insert some brief bursts of intensity, for example a 30 minute bike ride with 3 x 90 second pick ups at race pace.  These little bursts will get your anaerobic system working and insure that you don't feel flat on race day.
The taper week is a funny time, I always feel a bit conflicted. I know that my body needs to take a break and I will be better for it come race day, but part of me just feels as though I am being lazy! Add to that a bit of pre-race anxiety and it's a recipe for grouchiness! So my last thought on taper week is - warn your loved ones!! I can see my husband Matt grit his teeth and mutter "taper..." then shuffle the kids out of my war path. I am lucky in that Matt is a triathlete too, he's been there and knows what's happening in my head. If your family has not caught the multisport bug (yet) a quick primer on the taper might be in order!
Happy training (and even tapering!) and best of luck to Mark Dugas, i'll see you on course!
*The Triathlete's Training Bible" Joe friel, Velo Press 2004