Ironman 70.3 Austin - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Austin, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
75F / 24C
Total Time = 6h 56m 40s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Everyone says don't change anything before a race. What I did instead was rent a bike with a fundamentally different geometry and groupset than I was used in training. I'm all for evolving to SRAM from Shimano, but maybe not with more than 2 rides to get used to the differences. In the days before the race, I also changed my race goal a few times: first goal was finish in under 6; second goal, finish; third goal, finish and enjoy the race. I nodded to myself, yes, I will lay aside silly goals and simply race to enjoy myself -- the real work had been done. I'm 20lbs lighter than I was in January, I love cycling again, I enjoy swimming almost as much as I suck at it. 'Have a good time, all the time,' That's what I told myself.

Friday, we picked up my buddy's bike and my rental at a bike shop which appeared to be not just a bike shop, but some sort of temple to a recently discredited Austin professional cyclist. The steps of the bike shop urged me to live strong. 'Have a good time, all the time,' I chided the stairs. I was wise, I was zen. I was confident.

We took a short ride around Austin on Friday to acclimate me to the bike [I'd brought my own seat and pedals]. Saturday we went about 30 minutes on the hills around the race event, after which I ripped off the aerobars and lowered the headset. I was as ready as I was going to get.

  • 51m
  • 2112 yards
  • 02m 25s / 100 yards

I made the course longer by mistaking kayakers for buoys and getting pretty close to them before realizing my error. If you want to do well in the swim, you should choose another methodology than mine.
What would you do differently?:

Fighter pilots used to have these little identifying cards they'd hold up to ID other planes in the air. I should do something similar--I could draw a guy on a kayak on a card, and on another card draw a buoy. In the race, I'd hold up the cards and be able to differentiate them more easily, perhaps.
Transition 1
  • 05m 41s

Coming out of the water, I knew my race was blown. My watch read 52:00 minutes -- I can't even confess how far off my suddenly re-instated and simultaneously destroyed 6-hour goal pace this was, but the mistakes were made navigating, and I was about to multiply them. Part of me was saying "Have a good time, all the time" but in reality way deep down, I started thinking I could make up for the mess on the bike, and before I even stepped out of T1 I had already screwed myself mentally, profoundly and it was gonna get worse.
  • 3h 20m
  • 56 miles
  • 16.80 mile/hr

The course was what it was. Neither good nor bad --- with one exception, and I should have noticed and taken a moment and figured out what was going on: with about a mile to go, having tried for over three hours to hammer the hills flat with my Chicagoland quads, I crested a hill and looked over to the right and could see the transition area only a few hundred yards away. It was close--but there were a couple more hills and substantial minutes to ride before I got there.
Point is---I don't think a course that brings you that tantalizingly close to the end before throwing you back out onto the roads---that doesn't just happen by accident. It's Texas---it's not like it's short on geography, right? It's a psychological obstacle. It'd's's genius. I piss my dog off now and then by making him wait an extra second before letting him out of a sit-stay, or making him perform one more trick before I give him a snack. I got home from this race and hugged my dog. Sorry, dog, I didn't know. I'm a better man than I was before Sunday morning.
What would you do differently?:

Slow down. Don't muscle up hills. Be nicer to my dog--to all animals--to everyone, always. Just slow down.
Transition 2
  • 03m 10s
  • 2h 37m
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 59s  min/mile

One could argue that a three-lap course allows spectators and loved ones to see participants more than an out-and-back course would. One could argue that three laps allow easier judging, better medical support, and lower impact on traffic.
Those arguments miss the point. The point is: three laps allow participants to see the 9 mile marker and the 5 mile before they see the 1 mile marker. Participants from flat lands who have completely screwed up the bike leg have not only time to contemplate those previous failings, but to anticipate future failings --and know exactly where those failings will occur. It's "Groundhog Day." Lather, rinse, repeat.
If the previously mentioned glimpse of the bike finish from the little hill above the arena can be considered the appetizer, then the run can be considered a three course meal.

The first 800 yds or so of the run I actually believed I could maybe pull off a sub 2-hour half marathon, but the lactic acid from the bike segment never went away, and coming up the slope toward that first aid station [before we'd even left the parking lot] I knew I was in trouble. That 9 mile marker hit me mentally pretty hard. "Have a good time all the time?" I never once thought that throughout the run. I struggled through the first lap, then started walking in earnest on the second. My run was over, but I jogged the downhills and walked the ups.

In hindsight, I'm really impressed at how much a burden those little signs, and the laps presented. Later Sunday night, as my wife and my buddy and I were parking downtown, we bumped into a contestant who'd finished the bike leg in under 2:30, and who just shook his head at the tough psychology of the run course. So it's not just me--and I'm not complaining--I'm just suggesting that the course design has a certain brutal beauty to it, and it beat me. Badly.
Yet: I finished, ,and I got to talk with some cool people.
What would you do differently?:

Run more hills between April and October.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:


Event comments:

If I lived near Austin, I'd be entering this race again [and again and again and again until I got it right].
I'll just have to chock this one up as a certain kind of failure. For all my pre-race talk of listening to my body as I trained [I never used a heart rate monitor and rarely used a watch] I abandoned what I knew for what I thought I knew.

A great race for my first HIM. The race was well-supported. No complaints.

Last updated: 2012-10-31 12:00 AM
00:51:00 | 2112 yards | 02m 25s / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 75F / 24C Current: Low
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 05:41
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
03:20:00 | 56 miles | 16.80 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Wind: Strong
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 03:10
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
02:37:00 | 13.1 miles | 11m 59s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Bad
Course: 3 laps. Three @#$#**!! laps?
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5]