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Don Oswalt | May 28, 2020

Half Ironman for Water

I know you all are in the same situation as me…no races anytime soon. I had two half Ironman races planned for this year. One of my “A” races on the calendar was Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga scheduled for May 17th, however due to the Corona virus that race was canceled. I had already been training for Chattanooga but now the challenge was staying motivated to continue training.

Over the past several weeks I started seeing other athletes do solo full Ironman and half ironman distance “home races”, this certainly got my attention and therefore gave my motivation a big boost. I think I was most inspired by Karel and Marni from Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition.

Why do a Half Ironman Distance Race?


In addition to being inspired by other athletes and wanting to get that race feel again it got me thinking…I think I’d like to do the same but I wanted to take this opportunity to race for a cause. Back in 2013 I raced my first Ironman, Ironman Florida. With that race I made a commitment to raise money for a worldwide charity that has their headquarters based here in Charleston called Water Mission. As a result, I decided it would be amazing to do that again, so that’s what I did.

So, I decided to firstly, create a fundraising page and secondly, set my fundraising goal at $703.00. Many of you might be asking, why $703.00 that seems odd. Well, if was I was going to race 70.3, I wanted to raise $703.

And, with a little planning and support from Kathleen and some tri-friends we decided Sunday, May 24th would be RACE DAY!

A special thank you goes out to Kathleen for all her support and being my #1 fan and supporter.

Another tri-buddy Dan, and I were committed to doing a full half ironman on race day. Johnny, Eric and Andrew were there to complete their own Olympic distance race and offer support as we all drudged through the day.

I certainly want to thank Dan, Eric, Johnny and Andrew for coming out on Sunday to join in on the fun. I appreciate the camaraderie.

The night before race day I did a Facebook Live where I talked about my nutrition plan and how I would fuel for my solo race.


In addition, these are some of the staples I use when it comes to my triathlon races and recovery.

(some of the above links are affiliate partners and we receive a small commission if you purchase)

Race Morning:

Kathleen and I woke up at 5:30 am Sunday morning to start packing up the car with everything we would need for the day. I was feeling pumped and ready for my half ironman race.

We arrived at Trophy Lakes at 6:55 and started getting everything set up for the swim.

Half Ironman Swim Start Half Ironman Swim Start in water


Half Ironman Swim Course

The water was in the 70’s and felt really refreshing. Dan and I started out together and decided on 2 loops. That would give us close to 2000 + yards. There was little fanfare as we got started.

Swimming at Trophy Lakes for Half Ironman race Done with Half Ironman Swim

The first 200 yards were just trying to get into a rhythm. Trying to stay relaxed, I completed the first loop and then started on the second.

Half Ironman Swim Map



Swim – 2116 yards
Time – 37:17
Pace – 1:46 per 100





T1 (swim to bike) was about taking our time. I wasn’t racing against the clock and I certainly made that clear with my snacking and socializing. But soon, Dan and I were off on the 56 mile bike!


Half Ironman Bike Course

Side note – 3 miles into the bike Dan experienced a double flat and his front tire had a hole in the side wall so he was done for the day on the bike. His half ironman race was no longer, but he was still looking to complete his 13.1 mile run so Kathleen took him back to Trophy Lakes where he would complete that.

Meanwhile, I headed out on the bike course and tried to push the pace a little to make up for lost time. As I was riding I came across Eric, Johnny and Andrew. That gave me a boost to see them out there, I didn’t feel so alone.

We all stopped around mile 26 for a short break. Kathleen was there waiting for me. I could really start feeling the heat of the day so most importantly, I needed to restock my liquid fluid to stay well hydrated and also grab a snack.


I headed out for the next 30 miles alone. Meanwhile, the ride was a long out and back, no volunteers, no aid stations and no spectators just me, the road and my thoughts.  My goal was to try and stay focused and hold my power in the 190’s. I made it in feeling good, but hot.

Half Ironman Bike Course



Bike – 56.29 miles
Time – 2:36:13
21.6 average mph
Elevation gain – 305 ft. 😆






I should probably win a medal for longest T2 transition: bike to run. Honestly, I wasn’t really looking forward to the run because it was hot..hot…hot. This is where I had to dig for the mental toughness.

Side note – after I was done with my run I learned that it was 88 degrees with a “feel like” temperature of 95 degrees with 58% humidity.


Half Ironman Run Course Map






Beginning of half Ironman Run

I started off on the run…finally! There’s a one mile trail around Trophy Lakes. I did 2 loops around the lake then decided to go into a neighborhood next to the lake. It was very warm out and no shade in sight. I ended up back at the lake at mile 5. I decided to stop by the car for a few minutes to cool down and restock on fluid.

My friends…with a “feel like” temperature at 95 degrees, I decided the best thing to do was stay at Trophy Lakes (which had a good amount of shade) and make the one mile loop over and over. Subsequently, I could stop for short breaks each lap, get ice under my hat, in my tri-short pockets, under my cooling device around my neck and even one time straight down the front of my tri-shorts🤣🤣. In addition to all of the ice, I obviously stopped to refuel.


I have to tell you, having ice under my hat and at times in my try-short pockets really helped cool my body down and made the next 8 miles more manageable.

Certainly, it was a mental battle out there on the run, however I always looked forward to seeing Kathleen, Eric and Dan back at the aid station to laugh, joke and hear words of encouragement.

I actually felt pretty good until miles 12 and 13. My pace slowed to 8:14 for mile 12 and 8:23 for mile 13.

I was so happy to cross the finish line!

Above all, this was a great experience to test my physical and mental strength since we won’t be racing long races anytime soon.

Half Ironman Run Course


Run – 13.11 miles
Time – 1:44:02
Pace – 7:56 per mile*

*lots of short rest breaks to refuel and get ice to cool down my body.





Thoughts About My Race

So…It was definitely different. For instance, there was no check-in, no Ironman Village, no Ironman swag, no body marking, not the same energy or vibe, no volunteers, not too many spectators, I had to map out my own route, there was a make shift finish line, no announcer and no medals. But without all of that…I would still do it all over again. It felt good to push my body and my mind.


This is what being a TRIATHLETE is all about!

Half Ironman training buddies

To sum up, it gave me a way to stay motivated with my training. I was able to put my training to the test. It gave me an opportunity to see my tri-buddies. It gave me an opportunity to continue to do what I love.

In conclusion, I wanted to share the response I received in my efforts to fund raise money for a local non-profit called Water Mission. I’m happy to announce that through generous donations I raised over $1000 for this great organization! Thank you to everyone who donated 💓.

Water Mission Donations


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Dietitian Kathleen and Kona-Qualifier Don Oswalt

Welcome to Eat Love Triathlon! We’re Don and Kathleen your go-to dietitian and triathlete. Together, we’re here to share our latest and greatest tips, with you, on how to be a well-balanced triathlete with nutrition, triathlon and keeping harmony in your relationships. We’re excited you’ve stopped by, happy reading and don’t be shy about reaching out. We’d love to hear from you!