Given to Tri

Race Report: Jackson Hole Half Marathon

Today I raced in my second B race this year, the Jackson Hole Half Marathon, as part of my prep for Ironman 70.3 Arizona in October. I went in with a few goals:

  • Test my nutrition strategy.
  • Test how the pace suggested by Stryd felt.
  • See if I could actually pace myself properly.

Timewise, I didn’t have any specific goals. Anything under two hours would have been fine, with 1:45 as a stretch goal.

The race started at 8:00 AM on the dot on the bike path just north of Teton Village. I started way at the back because I was trying to stay socially distant, so I was stuck behind everybody for the first couple of kilometers, but after passing that initial group, I ran by myself most of the way. The course followed the multi-use pathway downhill until the Stilson Lot, then turned west towards Wilson for about a kilometer before turning around and heading through Rendezvous Park. After crossing the bridge over the Snake River, it continued on the pathway alongside highway 22 before turning on Tribal Trail Road towards the finish line at Colter Elementary. However, the course wasn’t exactly 21.1 km, with my GPS reporting 20.42 km.

A map view of the race course of the Jackson Hole Half Marathon.

For nutrition, I relied on Maurten gels since it’s what they provide on Ironman courses, using their recommended fueling guide for half marathons as a starting point. Instead of using their drink mix, I had a Maurten Caf gel 15 minutes before race start, then a regular gel at kilometers 5 and 10, and one more Maurten Caf at around kilometer 16 (which gave me a pretty good boost at the end, they’re really caffeinated). I started feeling some slight stomach cramps around kilometer 8, but they went away quickly after having some water at the aid stations. Other than that, I had no GI issues, and ended the race feeling strong.

The Stryd app suggested I hit a target power of 230 W for this race, with a projected time of around 1:51, and I did my best to hit that target. To help with that, I set up my watch to auto-lap every 1 km, and set the data fields to average 3-second power, heart rate, and average power and pace for the entire workout and for the current lap; that way I could shoot for target power for each lap and adjust on the next one if I missed it. In the end, I nailed it, ending up with an average power of exactly 230 W and a finishing time of 1:46:38. At my average pace of 5:13 min/km, it would have taken me about 1:50 to do the actual half marathon distance, almost spot on what Stryd predicted. It felt like the right amount of effort; I’m not sure I would have been able to sustain a faster pace. Good job, Stryd.

Guillermo Esteves, seen mid-stride while arriving at the finish line of the Jackson Hole Marathon, and wearing a black cap, gold sunglasses, gray t-shirt, black shorts, and a race bib with the number 7.
Me, arriving at the finish line. Credit: Jackson Hole Half Marathon

With that total time of 1:46:38, I finished 8th in my age group (male 30-39) and 26th overall.

Guillermo Esteves's results table for the Jackson Hole Half Marathon, showing a finishing time of 1:46:38, a pace of 5:04 min/km, and the ranking: 26/239 overall, 20/95 male, and 8/29 male 30-39.

Although I didn’t hit my stretch goal, I’m pretty happy with this result, considering it’s my first half marathon ever, and also because check out how cool the finisher medal is:

The finisher medal for the Jackson Hole Half Marathon & 5K, which has the Teton Range and fireworks engraved on it, and hangs from a red and blue ribbon.

As for my initial goals:

  • I seem to be able to easily stomach multiple Maurten gels without any GI issues. They're… not cheap, but they’re worth it.
  • Stryd’s suggested pace seems to work very well. I’m not sure if I’d have been able to hit that pace after the swim and bike legs, though, so I’ll probably need to account for that for Arizona.
  • My pacing strategy worked, I was able to hit my targets perfectly. Can I do the same for the bike?

Next up, let’s see if I can shave off a few minutes from my run at the Hole Half in September, my last race before heading to Arizona.

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