Ironman 70.3 Austin

4:18:45. 36th overall, 2nd in 18-24 AG.

Race morning was hectic. The venue is a two transition race so T1 and T2 are separate. I woke up plenty early and was hoping to get to transition early since I was the first wave to start after the professionals. I had to drop off my run gear bag in T2 and then go get everything ready at T1 before I warm up.  For whatever reason, there was only one gate open to enter where we park. With thousands of athletes trying to get into one gate, it was a parking lot. After waiting in line for nearly 30 minutes to go about 1.5 miles, we finally were able to park. I set up my run gear bag in T2 and headed to the catch the shuttle bus down to T1. The parking situation was such a hassle that the race director delayed the race 15 minutes because people were not yet to T1 when T1 closed at 7:15 am.

Swim: 27:37.

I started on the far left since the course was a triangle shape that had two left turns and because I breathe to my right so I wanted to see the other athletes.  I got off to a very quick start and could see a small group form to my right. Since I was right next to the buoys, I was hoping that when they merged over I’d be able to find some feet and draft. However, once again, I missed the fast group of swimmers and was leading the second group. Halfway to the first turn buoy, two other swimmers passed me. I stayed on the feet of both of them until after the 2nd turn buoy. I swam the rest of the way in alone and tried to catch as many of the female pro swimmers as I could.

T1: Way too slow.

This is where the “fun” began. At Saturday’s pre-race briefing, we were informed that only the professional athletes could have their bike shoes clipped into their pedals, age group athletes could not. This was a complete surprise to me and many other athletes. Every single race I’ve done this year and last year I’ve had my shoes clipped in with rubber bands on the back of my shoes that loop around spots on my bike so they stay in place. So when I get to the mount line, I do a flying start and hop onto my bike and put my feet on top of my shoes and pedal away. The rubber bands break and I’ve never had an issue with crashing (knock on wood). I’ve practiced this many times and am quite comfortable doing it as well as a rolling dismount after the bike leg is over. So, unfortunately, I had to put my shoes on and run in them out of transition, but I’ll get back to this in a bit. First, the transition area is a grass lot with patches of dirt/mud; but part of the grass that grows produces burs. So running bare foot from the lake to my spot in transition was not fun. I had two burs that got stuck in my right foot; one I didn’t notice until after I put on my bike shoe and it poked me since the sole of my shoe is harder than grass/mud. So when I went to take off my shoe to remove the bur, I got a cramp in my hamstring.  I just relaxed as quickly as I could but I couldn’t do anything until it subsided. After getting my shoes on (since I already had helmet and glasses on) I took off to leave T1. I carried my bike roughly 125 yards out of T1 because I didn’t want to get any burs stuck in my tires. Once I reached the road to mount my bike, I tried clipping in. However, I could not get my cleats to click into place. I stopped to clear some of the mud. Started to bike again, but couldn’t get my cleats into the pedals. So I stopped again. At this point I was beyond frustrated so I just took both shoes off and banged them against the road a couple times to clear the mud. I still had trouble with my left shoes, but it finally worked and I was able to clip in. By the time I started to actually bike, I had spent just over two minutes trying to clip in or clear the mud off my cleats (I checked my Garmin, all of which went into my bike split time not my T1 time). This could have all been avoided had I been able to have my shoes clipped in prior to starting the bike.

ImageStop #1 to clear mud

Bike: 2:25:28              http://connect.garmin.com/activity/397324467

If you look at my splits in the link, my first mile took me 4:50, or a whopping 12.4 mph. Clearly I’m very frustrated at this point, but I didn’t let it affect me and quickly put it out of my mind. I knew that with the wet roads, several 90 degree turns, and terrible road surface, that my mental focus would need to be at 100%. I took the corners easier than normal because of the wet roads and made sure I stayed on two wheels. The last thing I needed at this point was to crash. The road surfaces were extremely hit and miss. There were a few times when it was smooth and nice to ride on; but for the most part, they were very bumpy and far from smooth. There was one section that I’m pretty sure a crushed rock running trail would have been smoother than this road. But I guess that’s what you get when you’re biking on country roads. The first 20-25 miles the wind was in my face or at my side, so I just tried to stay aero and not burn too many matches because I knew I’d need a strong second half to salvage a decent bike time. A fellow athlete that I’ve raced in each of my previous two 70.3’s this season passed me around mile 21. Knowing that he is a strong cyclist, I made it my goal to latch on and let him set the pace and drag me along. A group of four of us formed and we worked together until we approached the second aid station around mile 25 and we lost two and were down to just the two of us. Again, determined not to let him go, I stayed the legal distance away and kept pace with him. Unfortunately for him, he flatted around mile 41. I knew that the last 15 miles were mainly flat with only a few small gradual climbs. Since I was still feeling strong, I put in a hard effort and pushed the last 15 miles.

T2:

Took longer than I wanted, had to make a pit stop. One of these days I’ll learn to just relax and go while biking, but I tried and just couldn’t do it.

Run: 1:20:28               http://connect.garmin.com/activity/397324435

Felt pretty good early on and was out quick with a mainly downhill first 1-2 miles. I tried to focus on nutrition so I would not bonk like I did at Worlds in Vegas or cramp like I did in Kansas back in June. I hit a rough patch after the first lap and couldn’t get out of my funk until a little past the end of lap two. Knowing this was my last race of the season, I just tried to dig deep and finish as strong as possible.

ImageImage

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my result. I was hoping to have a faster time, but I played the hand I was dealt and tried to make the most of it. Mentally and physically I knew going into the race that I was not 100%. It’s been a very long season for me in what is essentially my first true triathlon season. So to set a new 70.3 PR (even if it is just 13 seconds) is definitely a positive to take away from the race. It was a far from ideal race for me as I estimate I probably wasted close to 3:00-4:00 minutes on things I didn’t plan for, but that’s racing!

ImagePodium. 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th.

Lifetime Tri Dallas

I arrived race morning early so I could set up my stuff and see where we enter and exit transition for all 3 disciplines because it wasn’t marked at all or explained the day before at packet pickup. It was about 52 degrees around race time and warmed up to around 60 by the time I finished. First thing I notice is the huge uphill directly out of T1/T2 that we have to climb (pictures below of hill). I was warned the day before by a fellow competitor to make sure to have your gears as low as they can go because the hills are very steep.

Swim:

I had the 7th overall swim and 5th out of the water in my wave (amateur elite) with a time of 21:20. My time is a bit slower than I’d hope, but I think the conditions played a big hand it that. On Saturday the water temperature was 78.4 degrees. A cold front and rain Saturday afternoon dropped the water temperature to 69 degrees race morning. The water really didn’t feel as cold as it sounds though. However, the water was choppy. The lake water level was low, so we were able to stand in the water before the horn sounded. I took off fast, as I always do, and tried to find some feet and get in a nice rhythm. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to draft off anyone; and after the first buoy, I swam the entire course on my own. The swim course was kind of set up like a triangle. After making the first turn I could tell I was somewhere between 5th and 8th place in my wave. Eventually I made the second turn and headed back to the dock to exit the water. I was about 30 feet away from the stairs when I started scrapping the mud on the lake bottom. This caught me a bit off guard. I tried standing to run since it wasn’t very deep at all, but that wasn’t happening. My feet sunk instantly in the mud. So I started dolphin diving my way out of the water. I exited the water 1:19 down from the leader of my wave.

T1:

Fastest T1 split!! 2:07, 7 seconds faster than the next athlete. I never have the fastest transitions splits, so this was definitely a plus.

I’ll give you a bit of info on how transition was set up. It was in a parking lot that was multi-tiered. The pros were on the first level and split on the opposite side of the first level was amateur elite and relay teams. However, we were not allowed to run through the pro area, we had to run up to the second tier then back down the other side to tier one. Every age group athlete had to do this, so it’s not like it was unfair to us by any means.

Anyways, I remember my coach telling me after Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee 2 months ago that if you ever have another long run to transition, just take off your wetsuit before you start running and run with it in your hands. The theory behind this is that you can run faster without wetsuit considering the wetsuit restricts your hip mobility and slows you down. So, shortly after getting out of the water, I took off my wetsuit right in the middle of the drive way we were running on because I knew I had a long run and had to go up to the second tier and down before I reach my bike. I definitely think this helped me get the fastest T1 split. So when I got to my bike, I put my wetsuit, goggles and cap on the ground, quickly put on my glasses and helmet and took off.

Running to T1 with wetsuit in hand.Running to T1 with wetsuit in hand.

Steep hill directly outside of T1.Steep hill directly outside of T1.

Bike:

63:02 split, 13th overall, but I had one of the faster splits from the group of five I eventually caught and road with.

Man oh man was that hill not a fun way to start the bike course. I thought I had my bike in a low enough gear, but I had to shift like 2-3 times because I almost came to a standstill after I put my feet on top of my shoes to start pedaling. Eventually got up the hill and got out on the roads. The roads in Rockwall were a mixed bag. Some were really nice and smooth, while others were old and torn up with cracks and bumps all over the place. The course also had several turns. The conditions weren’t terrible, but there was a decent enough NW wind to take you out of your rhythm. I knew the wind would be in our face for basically the entire out part of the out and back. My coach told me to just keep my cadence around 90, stay aero, and try not to grind too much and exert too much energy on the way out. At the turn around point, I was able to confirm I was in 5th place in my wave and about 1:15 back, but I knew I was being caught by someone from behind. I knew that this guy was a strong cyclist and that he would help bridge the gap to the 4 ahead of us. So I made a move and stayed with him. He eventually opened up a 5-10 second gap, but I never let him get any further than that. I could see a motorcycle cop ahead and figured that was the lead of our group, so I was able to gauge my time behind the leader for the remainder of the out and back section. After the out and back section, I was about 30 seconds back of the lead, we turn and headed straight into the wind again and up a hill. I determined here that I was going to bridge the gap and put in a strong effort on the uphill because I was still feeling really good. The last 6-8 miles we weaved our way in and out of a neighborhood before heading back to transition. At this point, I caught the group and was sitting 6th in line. There was a race official on a motorcycle riding with us making sure no one was drafting. I made sure not to get too close because I didn’t want a 2:00 penalty after finally catching this group. With 3-4 miles to go, I decided I felt good still and wanted to get into T2 in the lead, so I put in a strong effort and made several moves up to the front. Boom, I was now leading the race and feeling good. As we approach T2, I eventually got passed by 1 person as I was taking my feet out of my shoes and putting them on top of them, but I wasn’t worried because he only beat me into transition by a couple seconds.

Approaching transition.Approaching transition.

T2:

Fastest T2 split by 0.08. I’ll take it!

The decent into T2 was tricky. Swinging your leg over a bike while you’re trying to also slow down (but not to a complete stop) so you can run was interesting. It’s probably the slowest I’ve ever swung my leg over my seat. I was just trying to keep my balance while also breaking so I would not crash. Success. Racked bike, took off helmet, and put on my shoes. I had a bit of trouble with my right foot. It didn’t slide in as smoothly as the left, so I pushed a bit harder, in doing so, my right quad cramped. Whoops. It subsided instantly so I grabbed my race belt and endurolytes. I wasn’t planning on taking endurolytes with me, but after cramping, I decided I would. Oh, I also passed the guy in transition and exited in first place starting the run.

Run:

34:08.

The first ½ mile was easily all up hill, and a steep hill at that. I just kept it steady and didn’t do anything crazy. The course was hillier than I expected. The profile doesn’t make it seem like it’s that hilly, but it basically had rolling hills the entire time besides one or two flat stretches of maybe 100 yards each. It was essentially a 2 looped course in a gated community. I felt really good early on despite going uphill for the majority of the first mile. I just kept pushing; I knew I had no reason to ease off. I was in the lead and determined to keep that lead and open up a gap if possible. I was eventually caught around 2.5 as we head up a short, steep climb to go toward the u-turn to start lap 2. I kept contact with that guy and ran anywhere from 1-8 seconds behind him for the 2nd lap until we get to the exact same short steep climb where he took off and opened up a gap. At this point I was around 5.25 miles and have been feeling really good up to this point. I dug deep and pushed this hill because I knew the last ½ to 2/3 of a mile was literally all downhill. My splits were: 5:49, 5:29, 5:32, 5:18, 5:17, 5:31, 69.

Note: The guy who beat me was disqualified for 3 rules violated on the bike. Thus, I actually won the race and had the fastest run split.

 

Just over 1/4 mile into the run. Still climbing the hill.
Just over 1/4 mile into the run. Still climbing the hill.
Approaching the u-turn to start lap two. 3 miles into the run.
Approaching the u-turn to start lap two. 3 miles into the run.

Finish:

1st place in amateur elite. 2:01:40.

Earned my elite (pro) card.