This Weekend, I Tried To Beat Dan Loeb's Time In The Half Ironman Triathlon

About five weeks ago, I wrote a post about hedge fund manager
Daniel Loeb’s “pretty lame” triathlon times.

Admittedly, the post was tongue-in-cheek.

There’s absolutely nothing lame about finishing a 70.3-mile race involving swimming (1.2 miles), biking (56 miles) and running (13.1 miles) no matter how long it takes you, let alone running a hugely successful hedge fund at the same time.

After writing that story, I decided to sign up for the “Mighty Man” Half Iron in Montauk. Loeb finished this race in 2011 with a time of 6:15:01 (3:02:44 bike and 2:20:30 run).

I had never done a triathlon before.

The race was scheduled for Sept. 29th, so I had only a few weeks to train.

It’s not like I started completely from scratch; I lift weights about five to six days a week doing high intensity interval training. I occasionally run 10Ks after work, too.

As for the swimming, I grew up doing swim team from fourth grade until I graduated high school. Even though I had not been swimming lately, I still felt comfortable in the water.

What freaked me out the most ahead of the event was the cycling. Before this, I had very little cycling experience.

The first time and last time I used a road bike was a 78-mile charity ride from Philadelphia to Avalon, N.J. on Memorial Day weekend. I crashed my bike during that ride and finished last.

After pushing myself for the last five weeks, I accomplished my goal yesterday by crossing the finish line.

I finished the 1.2-mile swim in 38:38 (100th overall); the bike ride in 3:31:49 (228th overall) and the 13.1-mile run in 2:07:18 (146th overall). My final time was 6:26:47. I came in 188th out of 265 athletes.

I didn’t beat Loeb’s 2011 time. And that’s OK. There’s always next year!

Competing in a Half Ironman was one of the greatest mental/physical challenges I’ve faced. It was also an incredibly humbling and gratifying experience.

I’ve included highlights from my journey in the slides that follow. I’m looking forward to doing another race. For now, I need to rest and recover.

On Aug. 22, I published my post on Loeb's triathlon times.

Later that day, I decided to sign up for a Half Ironman that was only five weeks away. First, I had to buy some gear.

A friend of mine let me borrow his 10-year-old steel Specialised road bike. It's really heavy. Most people at the event had carbon bikes that are incredibly light. This bike got the job done though.

I followed a strict workout schedule. Most of my time was spent biking, since that was my weakness. I didn't learn how to use clips and bike shoes until two weeks before the event. They made a huge difference.

I also had to get back in the water. Swimming laps in a pool is easy compared to the open water. I didn't have a chance to try an open-water swim before this.

The workouts wore me out. I found myself going to bed earlier and taking more naps on the weekends.

My diet changed, too. I was eating more carbohydrates for energy. I carbo loaded ahead of the big day.

Nutrition is key before and during the Half Ironman. For breakfast, I had a bagel with peanut butter and banana. During the bike ride (a.k.a. the 'rolling buffet'), I stuck with Hammer Perpetuem in my water bottle and tossed back packets of Hammer gels. I also swigged Gatorade and kept protein bars on hand.

This is the race site. That's the transition area for athletes where we would change from our wetsuits into our bike gear and later slip on our running shoes.

We had to get marked with our bib number ahead of the swim.

This is Fort Pond where I had to swim 1.2 miles. It looks more like a lake than a pond. About 200 yards or so into the swim, I briefly panicked. I couldn't really see where I was going and I thought my wetsuit was super tight. I did breaststroke to calm myself down and I continued on. I felt fine for the remainder of the swim.

After we finished the swim, we had to run to get on our bikes. My legs felt heavy after kicking for 1.2 miles.

My transition time was 4:31, which was slower than I would have liked.

And we're off ...

I'm still new to using cycling shoes and clips. I wanted to be careful when I mounted my bike. I fell practicing in Central Park. It was smooth during the race though.

If you're not familiar with Montauk, it isn't flat like you'd expect the beach to be. There are rolling hills and bluffs. For the run, we had to run up a hill called 'Murder Hill.' It should be renamed 'Murder Mountain.' I refused to let myself walk during the run.

When I crossed the finish I started crying. It wasn't because I was in pain. I was just really overcome with emotion.

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