Ironman 70.3 Branson - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Branson, Missouri
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
55F / 13C
Total Time = 5h 43m 2s
Overall Rank = 135/
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 24/82
Pre-race routine:

The day before race day started like any other Saturday in the fall. I left at 7am to go setup our tailgate for the Razorback game, this week against the Troy Trojans. The difference this time is that I wouldn't be attending the game - my first missed home game since sometime in the mid-90s. I still had a job to do, though, and was happy to do it. The problem - rain, and lots of it. In the early hours it was intermittent but heavy at times. A sign of things to come.

I finally got on my way for the short 2-hour trip to Branson. It had cleared up a bit until I got about 20 miles out from the Chateau for check-in. The heavens opened and the rain would not stop for hours. It was so bad I couldn't see the road, though I knew it was there, because I had been on it many times before. Well, "knew" is a strong word. As hard as it was raining the road could've been washed out.

Finally made it and got checked-in. Found some killer deals in the expo. Went to check-in the bike, in the rain. I had a mild panic worrying about the stupid bike sticker, because it wouldn't stick to the bike with all the moisture. I brought extra tape for this but it wasn't working very well either. I finally got it good enough and made my way to the hotel - about 10 miles away. The run transition and finish line was right near my hotel. Great move staying there versus close to the start.

Took a while to get prepped for the race. The race called for warm, dry, cool and wet, which meant taking a lot more stuff than usual. Finally got all my bags ready for anything and everything. Met my tri club for dinner. Had salad, bread, grilled chicken and fries. Pretty safe meal.

Watched some football and fell asleep. Woke up at 3:50. Took a shower. Had a couple cups of coffee. Ate a Snickers bar. Yes, a Snickers bar. I forgot to bring something good, so I got one of these at the hotel. It did sit well on my stomach and gave me some carbs, fat and protein. Not a first choice but it worked for me.

Headed to T2 to drop my run stuff and then got on a bus and headed to the start. Funny sidebar. The buses were "ducks" that are used for tourists. These buses are amphibious and can go in water, which was fairly fitting given the weather.

15-minute ride to the start and then played the waiting game. Saw some friends. Visited the potty a few times and it was finally game time!

Event warmup:

Not much. Did some stretching. Was able to get in the water to dunk my wetsuit. The water was said to be 70 degrees but it didn't feel that cool.
  • 41m 32s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 58s / 100 yards

I'm still a slow swimmer but I couldn't have imagined a better start to my day. I got very near the back and to the outside. I didn't want to get too much into the mix. A lot of other people felt this way, too, so there were a lot of people to the back and the outside. So much for planning.

A little tussling at the beginning but soon I got far to the outside and settled into a rhythm. I had no idea if I was doing well or not. I did pass a few people, which was new for me. I didn't get passed by anyone from the group behind us until almost the final turn, which was also new for me. The water was fairly smooth but there was a little chop on the last stretch, which was 900+ yards.

I was definitely not swimming straight. My Garmin showed I went over 300 yards too long. No big deal in the end, but I will have to get comfortable with swimming inside at some point.

I had no idea how well or bad I was doing. I got out of the water and saw a couple of my good friends cheering us all on. That was very nice. Made the long run to my bike. It was a good 1/10th of a mile to my bike. The good thing about that was that my bike was very close to the bike exit.

Had very little trouble getting out of my wetsuit and into my bike gear. I was prepared with socks, arm warmers and a rain jacked if needed. It wasn't raining and wasn't too cold (around 55 degrees), so I skipped all that stuff. Had a really good transition for me. Less than four minutes total and I was out. I planned for 5 minutes, so I was very happy.

What would you do differently?:

Just keep working on swimming. I got coaching this summer and dropped 18 minutes from my first half Ironman. I just want to get down to a 35 minute swim for a half.
Transition 1
  • 03m 40s

Very little trouble at all. Was prepared for cold and wet temps. Skipped all that stuff and went no-socks, no jacket. Considering the long run to my bike, getting out of the wetsuit and getting the clothes bag filled for transport, I was extremely happy with sub-4 minutes.
What would you do differently?:

  • 3h 02m 21s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.43 mile/hr

What all can I say? This is a tough, tough course. 4500+ feet of climbing over 56 miles. Nothing very steep, but fairly long climbs with little break from one to the next. My strongest discipline is the bike and I do fairly well on climbing. It has helped me finish well in several races. That being said, this was an abnormally hard ride.

I had a good start climbing out to the top of the main section. So, you climb to get to a point to do a lot of climbing. Yeah, makes sense. For a sadist.

The roads were a bit wet from the rain. It was just to a point where I was a little scared to go hard down hills and around curves. I kept on as hard as I could go, passing people along the way. The only good thing about being a slow swimmer is that you pass a BUNCH of people on the bike.

I was carrying some good speed on the first lap of the hilly loops. Got up to 19.5 mph average at one point. Then the long climbs hit. Settled down in the 18-19 range the rest of the race. Two types of carnage started to be prevalent. Hills and flat tires. Never seen this many flats in a race. People were everywhere. I guess the rain washed up a bunch of crap and it got people left and right. I just kept praying not to get one.

I got to my second loop and the sun came out. Yes, the SUN. Holy crap! I literally smiled. I thought the day would be perfect. I just kept going and going as hard as I could without getting into difficulty. I took liquid every 15 minutes and gels every 30. Everything seemed to be going well.

One funny thing, though. My speed averages would get to 18.8 and then after a climb would go to 18.2. It happened almost every long climb. It was almost comical. It's really the small things that keep you going when you're hurting.

The last 9 miles were finally off the loop and down to T2. It was mostly downhill with a couple of small climbs and a couple miles on a trail system. The trail system probably cost me a bit of time but nothing bad as it was nice to throttle down before the run.

What would you do differently?:

Transition 2
  • 02m 5s

Not much to say (shocking, I know). Got in, bike stuff off, running stuff on, stretch a bit and gone. Quick and easy.
What would you do differently?:

  • 1h 53m 24s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 40s  min/mile

I felt really good starting the run. My first half Ironman (Kansas 2011) I got about a quarter mile down the run and my quads cramped so bad I had to stop and get the cramps gone. Well, this time I made it a mile longer.

Got a bit over a mile in and my right groin started twitching. Dammit! I thought I had done so well and this was not a good sign. I finally seized up and had to stop. I stretched, squatted and slapped my groin until the cramp subsided. Started a slow walk and then was finally able to run again.

About mile 3 I started feeling okay. I got settled into a pace that was just shy of causing cramps on my quads and hamstrings. This was just over 8 minutes per mile, which was more than enough to hit my goal of under 2 hours.

About the time I finished my first loop there was lightning and thunder - big thunder - off in the distance. I just begged for it to hold off. I hadn't ridden than damn bike course to not finish this race. I saw several friends as I went through the end of the first loop. What a great boost to see people you know cheering for you.

Fast forward a couple of miles. Mile 5 the rain started and it didn't start lightly. it became a downpour within seconds. Well, crap. Yeah, it sucked but I had to keep going. What's a little rain? Well, a little rain got harder and harder. Before long it was raining so hard you could barely see. By mile 8 there was standing water everywhere and little rivers where the water was flowing down the roads toward the lake just east of the Landing.

At this point I just started laughing. What else could you do. It was raining so hard you couldn't see. You couldn't run anywhere without stepping through 6-8 inches of water. Oh, yeah, it was thundering and lightning.

I was still on the edge of cramping but kept at a pace where I never had to stop again, although I did walk through most aid stations. At one point I needed something solid. I was sick of gels and sports drink. Was able to get a PowerBar and it was like a prime rib. Goodness, it hit the spot. Toward the end I started to take coke and mountain dew. Very good for a quick energy boost.

I hit mile 11 and was feeling pretty good. Much better than Kansas where I had stomach cramps. I hit the gas a bit and went a little harder to the finish. I had a goal of 5:45, which I felt would easily have been 5:30 at a "normal" course. After the bike I really didn't think I had a chance but when I crossed the finish line I saw the time and calculate back given my start time and thought I had a small chance.

A short while later I found out I finished in 5:43 and I just about jumped out of my shivering cold skin. That was a 15-minute improvement over Kansas and this was definitely a much harder course. I trained hard and it worked well. I just wanted to get under 2 hours and hit 1:53. Very, very happy.

What would you do differently?:

I'm not sure what to do to help with the cramping just after transition. I have to work on this. If I hydrated any further I would get sick. I think it's just a matter of going beyond my fitness. So, MORE TRAINING.
Post race
Warm down:

Got some quick replenishment and talked to some friends. I was so cold I couldn't stand it. I quickly made my way back to transition to get my bike and gear and go to the hotel to get a hot shower. I was literally shivering and was miserable.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Still need to work on my swim and plan to do so. My run off bike needs more work.

Event comments:

What can I say. This is one of, if not the most brutal 70.3 races in the world. The weather stunk but the volunteers hung in through a torrential downpour. They were OUTSTANDING! Other than the weather, I have zero complaints. A great race.

Last updated: 2011-06-19 12:00 AM
00:41:32 | 2112 yards | 01m 58s / 100yards
Age Group: 61/82
Overall: 82/
Performance: Average
Suit: Yes
Course: Sort of a trapezoid.
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 70F / 21C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Average Navigation: Below average
Rounding: Good
Time: 03:40
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
03:02:21 | 56 miles | 18.43 mile/hr
Age Group: 24/82
Overall: 82/
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Several miles climb before doing a 2.5 loop, very hilly route, before finishing with a mostly downhill final few miles to the finish.
Road: Smooth Wet Cadence: 80
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:05
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:53:24 | 13.1 miles | 08m 40s  min/mile
Age Group: 24/82
Overall: 82/
Performance: Good
Course: 3 loop course through the Landing shopping center over through a neighborhood park, almost all flat.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5