The FS Half is a local race for me run by Jason Biggs and his terrific crew at FS Series. It is a late summer/early fall race that has uses the same swim venue as the Raleigh 70.3 Ironman. Also, the bike course follows the Raleigh 70.3 course for about the first 15 miles. Given that I live in Holly Springs, NC I am very familiar with every inch of the bike course as I ride some or all of it during my training rides. I had also trained on the run course a few times.
I decided to do the FS race at the last minute. My head was recovered from the unfortunate concussion I suffered at IMMT a month prior which led me to drop ut of the race after the bike. For the full story read my IMMT Race Report. Also, a week before the FS Half it was pretty clear that we were going to have ideal weather, mid 50’s at the start with a high in the mid 70’s and low humidity. Had the forecast been humid with temps in the mid 80s or 90s I likely would have skipped the race.
The water temp leading up to the race was 83 so it was very unlikely we would be permitted to wear a wetsuit. Since I had broken the zipper on my wetsuit at IMMT I did not have one anyone so that was fine with me. Naturally by some minor miracle the announced water temp was 77, wetsuit legal. Oh well, so I wlose about 3 minutes. I wasn’t shooting for a PR so no big deal.
We start standing in shallow water. Jordan Lake, on this day anyway, continued to remain shallow for a quite a ways. As a result most everyone continue to run for about 100 meters before it was deep enough to swim. There was also a shallow section about 400 meters out that caused us to walk for a about 10 seconds. I got into a nice rhythm and made my way toward the first turn buoy. There were fewer than 200 people in the race and we started in a couple of waves so there was very little contact in the swim. The water got a little choppy from boat traffic after the 1st turn but not to bad. The chop ended by the last turn and I cruised to the finish. My time was 26 minutes which made me instantly realize the course had been measured short. Typically without a wetsuit my swim time would be about 33-35 minutes.
After a very short jog to my bike I proceeded to get on transitioned and on my way.
A local race is always fun as there are loads of friends on hand to cheer you on. This race as no different in that respect. After an easy flat 1/2 or so the next 3 miles of the bike are uphill. It is nothing too difficult or step, just a fairly constant climb up to the turn on highway 64. Nevertheless it is not an easy start as the HR spikes early on the bike as your legs are not used to working much and thus the capillaries are not yet open. Once the bike turns onto 64 it is a nice downhill followed by a flat section over Jordan Lake and eventually an easy climb up to the next turn on Beaver Creek Rd.
I am not going to describe every section of the course but suffice to say it is fairly easy until about mile 40-42. Yes there a re a few climbs but nothing too step or long, mostly rollers. And there are some long flat sections where you can stretch out. Once you make that turn off of Moncure-Pittsboro Rd onto Gum Springs it is game on! Gum Springs is about 6 miles of up and down hills. If you went to hard up to mile 40 on the bike here is where you will pay for it.
Eventually the course makes its way back to 64. Whereas highway 64 was mostly downhill and flat early in the race this section is mostly uphill and by this point in the race it is usually pretty breezy. Eventually we turn back into the roads that lead to Seaforth Rec area (transition) and it is now a welcome 3 mile of downhill. I felt pretty good throughout the bike and backed off enough that the hilly section didn’t punish me too badly. I split a 2:48 (20 mph) which all-in-all was good, but not great.
I took an extra minute or so to put on compression socks. I know some people say they are useless but for me my legs always feel better wearing compression during the race for longer runs.
My Achilles heel is during the run is cramping. I am physiologically predisposed to cramp very easily. As such I must pay very close attention to my bike effort, especially if it is hot. My avg HR was a couple of beats high for the bike, but in an acceptable range. It had been very cool on the bike for the first 90 min so I didn’t lose too many electrolytes. I did however supplement as always with Salt Stick to help offset any potential cramps.
The run course is a rolling 2 lap out and back. The first mile or so is uphill followed by some rollers and then downhill for about a mile before the turn around. About 1/2 mile of the course leading to the turnaround is on a dirt road.
As with the bike I felt good but not great. I was running around an 8:20 pace for the 1st lap. The good news was that I did not sense that any cramping was close at hand. The 2nd lap was more difficult but not horrible. I had slowed to about an 8:40 pace and ended up with a split of 1:52. I had hoped to be under 1:50 so I was not far off my goal.
My overall time was a 5:11. Given I had not done much of anything since IMMT I was pleased with my time. I ended up 4th in my AG, but time-wise a far cry from the podium as 3rd place was a 4:57.
The post race food was excellent. FS employed a local Mediterranean restaurant, whose name escapes me, to cater the event. Compared to most other race series, the FS food is top notch.
I did like the event. As I mentioned it was nice to have a lot of friends cheering you on as well as friends as fellow competitors. Also, the familiarity with the course meant there were not likely going to be any surprises. One surprise however was the mystery Brazilian who was the overall winner of the race. He apparently had just won the World’s 70. 3 in Vegas the weekend prior in the 55-59 Age Group! How on Earth he ended up at Jordan Lake that day I do not know. But I do know that he smoked that course with a 4:24. That is a fast time for anyone, let alone a 57 year old! Congrats to you Joachim Doeding.