Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island

RESULTS
Swim: 38:14 (32/112 AG)
Bike: 3:26:29 (80/112 AG)
Run: 2:27:27 (77/112 AG)
Total:   6:40:46 (75/112 AG) (837/1400 Overall)

So my prep for this race was less than ideal, but far from poor.  After a 7-day recovery from Florida, I counted 41 days until the next race and planned my training more meticulously than ever to get my toe to the line.  I was improvement-focused this time, realizing that I’d be facing hills on the bike and run, and waves and salt water on the swim – both new to me, as Florida was a lake swim and, well, the entire state has about 100 feet in elevation change.

When work hit a heavy period, though, I ended up paring back my training a bit.  I did, however, manage to focus pretty well on the swim, which shined through on race day.

THE RACE

The day before the race, I decided to take a quick warm-up swim after racking my bike.  So I slipped on the wetsuit, and took off with a sprint through the surf.  About 10 meters, in, though, I realized my mistake and collapsed in pain.  The shallow water was littered with 1-2 foot wide stones sticking out of the sand, and I had come down so hard on one that I was pretty certain to have broken something rather important.  I then remembered the warning from a random guy walking by as I was putting my wetsuit on: “watch for the stones about 25 meters out, they hurt!”  Well dammit, these were only 10 meters out!  Stupid me.

Race day came, and my foot hurt like hell.  I just taped it up and figured I’d just deal with it.  Walking was painful, but I just forced the negative thoughts out of my head.   Compared with Florida,  the swim was CRAZY.  I felt a bit less comfortable, this being my first race in both a wetsuit and in 3-4 foot swells.  Siting was hard – it would take 2-3 strokes just to SEE the buoys at some points, as I had to time my looking with being on top of a swell to get a view.  I learned to place myself correctly (i.e. further back) at the start of the race, so not many people ended up passing me from my age group.  I also tried to grab some feet, but in the end I got frustrated with inconsistency and just took off on my own after about 10 minutes.

Though I felt MUCH slower, I came out of the water in about 38 minutes – about a 17% improvement on my time in Florida and a testament to both wetsuits and better swim training.

I hopped on the bike, and felt great through the first section of flats while my mph soared (for me, this means averaging 20) and I didn’t feel like I was expending that much energy.  Hitting the hills, though, I realized I had not trained much on hills, and this was going to hurt.  I started tentatively, but watched my pace drop so much that I just decided to hit it hard and deal with fatigue on the run when I got to the run – figuring it was either that or have a 4.5 hour bike time.  So that strategy worked ok, and I found a bit of a rhythm on the hills.

There’s always a guy or two, I find, that I end up pacing with on the bike (no, not drafting – just going back and forth with).  This time it was a guy named Sullivan, and when I met up for drinks with a buddy of mine a few days after the race, he said one of his friends thought he was racing right next to me on the bike – craziness!  The only guy other than me in the field of 1,400 was a good friend of the only guy I’d talked to about the race after finishing – a small world it is.  I lost Sullivan about mile 45, and it turns out that he got a flat, rushed and popped his only tube, and had to wait 30 minutes for the sag wagon – rough.

At mile 45, the volunteers all were screaming as we were climbing the biggest hill out there, “it’s the last hill!! Keep going!!  It’s all downhill from the top!!”  LIARS!!  There were like 7 more hills!  Oh well, maybe the momentary glimmer of hope was enough to get up that hill.  I finished the bike, but the last 5 miles were killing my left foot, so I figured the run would be tough.  I strapped on the laces after taking a hard shot to the right hip from my handlebars coming over a curb into transition, and was off in less-than-good shape.

Well the pain in my foot went away, but about 1 mile in I realized I was in trouble – my legs were dead, and I couldn’t get my normal nutrition down.  I realized that my major mistake may have been not training with Ironman Perform leading up to the race, and using it as a straight-up replacement for Gatorade.  I was super dehydrated – a stupid mistake – and had locked up my GI track more than normal.  This made the run hell, and it took everything in me to not just pull up on the curb and fall asleep.  There were a few “big” hills on the run (to me they were big!), which added insult  to injury.  Add to that a deathly BORING route, and I was quickly going downhill.  I managed to cram some water down, and added to it some flat soda and a much-needed gel (that took me about 15 minutes to down completely) to build electrolytes back up.  I was in a bad spot, though, and there was really no getting out of it.

The foot pain had all but gone away, and simple exhaustion took over.  I sincerely think I was better trained for this event than my time indicates, but I think I really just screwed up my hydration and nutrition.  This I will have to work on going forward.

I finally crossed the finish line, and couldn’t stop coughing so I went to the medical tent for some cough drops.  They looked me up and down, and forced me into the back for a double IV.  This hurt more than the race, though, as they poked me no less than 6 times trying to find a vein – yeah, bone dry would be generous.

So although I was slower than in Florida, this was my first race on hills and my nutrition/hydration broke down.  All in all, I am happy with my improved swim time, and happy that my time didn’t slip too much from Florida.  I will be looking to speed up both the bike and the run in a big way for next year, though.

This is the one bit of race wisdom I can now offer: RECOVER WITH AN IV!!  I felt like a champ in about 90 minutes, and had a perfect evening after that, hanging with friends, watching reruns of Alf, and curling up with a giant plate of chicken parm, pasta and a beer.

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