Ironman 70.3 Racine 2015

Fifty miles on the bike is too far to worry about your spouse who started in a wave 20 minutes behind me, and 57 miles is too far for a half iron distance triathlon. That’s what I learned at Ironman 70.3 Racine.

For the first time since 2011 when I started triathlon, I had a scare in my swim start. I started in the front, and took off wayyy too fast. Maybe 100 yards in I was gasping for air and my heart rate was entirely too high. I had to flop onto my back to collect myself, meanwhile being thrashed into by the hundred swimmers who started behind me. I was shocked at myself to think “I need a kayak back, I can’t do this” because I’m a strong swimmer! I’m not really a quitter either.

I doggie-paddled for a bit, tried a side stroke, back stroke, and finally after the first turn buoy I got back to my regular strong swimmer self and took off. I was able to catch up to the next two swim cap colors, so I thought maybe I made up enough of my lost time in my swim start biff, but my swim finish time was 37 minutes. It’s a decent swim time, but I know I could have done 35 minutes or less if I didn’t have an out of character panic attack in the start.

T1 is a fairly long haul from the lake to the transition area. I ran it knowing that in previous years my T1 time was always grossly long. It still took 5:03.

On the bike my legs felt heavy to start and it was windier than the weather forecast promised. I didn’t fight it, just did what I could. My Garmin read an average anywhere between 16.8 to 17.2 mph. I was okay with that, for not pushing very hard. My friend Jeff passed me somewhere after mile 10, so I expected John to be passing at any moment as well. Mile 20, 30, 40, where the hell is John? I started to really worry about him getting out of the swim. If I struggled in the swim, he obviously drowned in it! What if he DNF’ed? What if he quits triathlon? Worrying about him really put a strain on my energy levels. How the heck was I going to run 13.1 knowing he didn’t finish?

Finally mile 50 he passed me, I yelled at him, “What took so long? I was so worried!”  He didn’t slow down to explain, he just blew past. But seeing him lifted me back up and I started to book it at 20+ mph and got my Garmin average to read 17.5 by the end. It’s too bad the course was a mile too long, because the official results show 17.2 mph.

Some how we both exited T2 at the same time. We giggled down the T2 chute and he took off into the distance. The run felt just like it normally does, hot, hard, slow, sluggish. I managed to run all of it and only walk through aid stations. With it being 84 degrees, sunny, it was necessary to cool down at the aid stations. My splits were reading 10:40s. I want to get my 70.3 run down to 10:00 minute miles, but given the heat, survival comes first. At mile 11 I did half marathon math and saw it was possible to PR the run, so I picked up my pace as best as I could. I squeaked in just under 2:20, making it a 1 minute 70.3 run PR.

It’s also an eight minute course PR! This was my sixth half iron distance race, third time in Racine. It’s a fickle sport, anything can happen. I know I’ve improved since my first one in 2012, and the desire to keep getting better grows with each race.

I’m also really proud of John and glad he continues to kick ass in his race!

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Triterium Sprint Triathlon

I raced(?)/participated in my fourth triathlon this month on Saturday morning. With it being just one week after a 70.3 that I did race and PR at, and then take a full week off of workouts, I had no goals going into it. Just show up, enjoy the triathlon fun!

The triathlon was Triterium Triathlon in Verona, WI. I did the Olympic distance in 2013, and I remember it being very difficult two years ago. Two years ago I was a much weaker cyclist, and it poured crazy, bad rain. On Saturday it was a perfect 70 degree day with little wind, little humidity, and I like seeing the sun!

It felt weird to not overthink packing my gear and setting up transition. That’s what happens when this triathlon thing becomes routine I guess. My transition was set up promptly, and I spent the rest of my pre-race morning chatting with my triathlon buddies.

Thankfully the swim was an in-water start. I placed myself next to the buoy line and behind one girl. The gun went off and I took off like I normally do, except I didn’t feel like I was ahead of the white swim caps. There were quite a few people passing me. It felt off, I probably shouldn’t have worn a wetsuit!

T1 was the usual, fight with the wetsuit, and go! The bike course is tough. John asked me to compare it to Capitol View Triathlon, but it’s apples to oranges. The thing that makes Capitol View Triathlon’s bike course tough is that you can’t take your downhills at full speed, because there’s a sharp turn at the bottom of that hill, and then go straight up another hill. That’s really hard! At Triterium you get non-stop hills, but you get to ride those downhills. Within the first ten minutes of my ride I realized that my legs were still fatigued from the 70.3 last weekend, so I took it easy. No sense in fighting fatigue.

T2 was quick, just socks, shoes, running belt, and GO!! The run course was immediately confusing. There was three-way traffic. What the heck. It was so weird, and I wondered where this three-way traffic was leading. I was running comfortably strong, passing several people. I tried to be encouraging as I passed, but I just don’t have a cheerful voice when I’m running. It probably comes off the wrong way. I’m probably overthinking that.

When I got to the end of the road there was a turn around, or a turn to the left. I did the turn around, which was the right choice. If you guessed left, you cheated yourself and only ran approximately 2 miles. I know this because I have a friend that accidentally went left. Why wasn’t there a volunteer here giving directions to disoriented runners? It’s completely frustrating looking at the results and seeing people with 20 minute run times, but slower swim and bike times. There’s a chance they are super gifted at running, but it’s more likely they didn’t do the full 3.1 miles.

I did my full 3.1 miles, and finished feeling pretty good about my results. The timing receipt read that I was 5th in my age group! A huge goal of mine is to win an age group award, so I was pleased to see how close I came while still recovering from a 70.3.

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Speaking of my goal of age group placing, I only have one sprint distance race left this year to compete for that, in my current age group. I’ll enter a new age group in 2016! I peeked at the next age group division results to see how I would have done in that division…Outlook not so good. I’m going to really have to work a lot harder next year to get there. Let’s not worry about that right now though, let’s celebrate this finish!

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Lake Mills Triathlon

On Sunday I got to break in my triathlon season at Lake Mills Triathlon. It’s a sprint distance, 400 yd swim, 16 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. Going into it, my intentions were to race and evaluate my triathlon-fitness while I was still finishing up some peak mileage training for Toughman 70.3 in a couple of weeks. That meant I had a 12 mile long run on Friday, a two hour bike ride on Saturday afternoon, and then the sprint triathlon Sunday morning. I wasn’t sure how race-ready my legs would actually be!

As per usual, Mother Nature threw some challenges at me for race morning. 100% chance of rain and 19 mph wind. Woof. I’m okay with racing in the rain, but I am extremely cautious on my bike in the rain. Last thing I need right now is to crash my bike.

I bitched and moaned, I shivered, I was impatient, but finally my wave started at 7:49 AM. The lake was delightfully calm, and was a perfect temperature. My sighting must need practice because I felt like I was way far away from the buoy line, but it was peaceful out there. No bodies to claw at, no one grabbing my ankles. It was just a swim. I was 6th out of my age group out of the water.

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I got into a fight with my wetsuit in T1, and then headed off on my bike. I knew the wind would be a bother for the first half, so just hunkered down and got into an easy gear to keep the cadence at 85 or higher. All of my tough training rides in the wind last month paid off, because I was cruising! I was passing people on the itty bitty uphills that the course had to offer. When the course went with the wind I was flying at 28 mph! Definitely my strongest work on the bike!

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On the run my legs had the usual whoa, wtf is happening feeling, but it’s just three miles. I absolutely refused to walk any of those miles. My first split surprised me at 9:00, my second was 9:22, and third was 9:19. When it felt hard my mind went to positive pep talk “Just pretend this is Toughman 70.3, you want to PR, you gotta earn it. If you ever want to train to qualify for Kona it’s going to hurt way worse than this

Just the positive mental self talk is a huge success to me. In the past I’ve slipped down a black hole of negativity. I’ve been training hard, the results are showing, and it helps keep my head in a good place.

My official finish times
SWIM 400 yd:  8:25
T1:  3:23
BIKE 16 miles:  54:12, 17.7 mph
T2::  1:46
RUN 3.1 miles:  28:26, 9:10 min/mile
total:  1:36:10, 15/28 in AG

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I’m very happy with all that. After the race, on our drive back to Madison John and I debated whether or not we should last-minute sign up for Capitol View Triathlon this coming weekend. It took all of 2 minutes to decide, duh, yes we should! So we’re in for another weekend of last minute taper miles and a sprint triathlon…it’s the tri-life yo!