Ironman 70.3 Hawaii - Triathlon

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Kohala Coast, Hawaii
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
Total Time = 4h 59m 35s
Overall Rank = 74/1597
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 9/108
Pre-race routine:

I'll definitely say that I felt absolutely 100% ready to tear it up. I didn't feel lethargic at all leading up to the race start, so I would say that I just about nailed my taper. The night before the race I ate a chicken katsu bento around 6PM, and then somehow managed to fall asleep around 9:30.

Somehow, I had zero trouble whatsoever sleeping. I had the absolute best sleep I've ever had before any race, without any of the usual feelings of restlessness. Just out like a light, and up again around 2AM. I figured I could squeeze in another couple hours of sleep, so I did and woke up at my planned time of 4AM. I was very much alert and ready to go once my alarm went off. My breakfast was about as simple as could be. 4 cups of plain apple sauce, and half a cup of black coffee. Got my bowels evacuated and that was that.

Headed over to T1 and proceeded to ensure my tires were properly inflated to just under 100 psi. Transition-wise, I kept it as simple as I possibly could. We weren't allowed to have anything on the ground due to the lack of space in T1, but my bike transition bag was essentially empty. Just a transition bag hanging from my bike to put in my slippers, sunscreen, and cap/goggles upon exiting the swim. I had my HRM and glasses on top of aerobars, and helmet sitting on top with the strap done. It was a bit windy and I didn't want my helmet falling off the bike. I racked my water bottle between the aerobars as well, racked my downtube nutrition bottle, and looped rubber bands through the loops on my bike shoes to keep them level on the pedals. Good to go with about 30 minutes before swim start.

The pros got their gun at 6:50 AM. Our turn would come at 6:53. I situated myself close to the front but probably not as far off to the outside as I ought to have. This was a huge mistake on my part and it almost cost me the entire race.
Event warmup:

Just went down to the beach and get into the water, maybe swam about 100 meters, if that.
  • 39m 35s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 52s / 100 yards

What a swim. It was simultaneously the best and worst triathlon swim I've ever been a part of. As I said, I seeded myself in a very poor spot and paid the price early on. I've gotten used to the absolute mayhem of mass start swims like this and I've made it through them all without major incident. That was true for the first couple hundred yards in this race as well, and then finally I had my first scary "oh fuck" experience in the water.

Basically, I got my face bashed in a couple of times. Wasn't sure if I was kicked or punched or what, but the second time it happened my goggles jarred loose. Didn't come clean off, just the lenses popped off my eyes a bit and started leaking. No problem, I've dealt with leaky goggles in open water before. Just pull up a bit and adjust and keep moving. However, I was having real trouble getting them to seal up and water wouldn't stop coming in. All the while I have hordes of swimmers coming up behind me and bumping into me, dragging my legs down, etc. I was entering that bad spot where I did not feel like I was in control of my situation. I could feel my heart racing and my breathing become shallow. My stroke became more of an arm flail. Not the place you want to be in while trying to swim. I knew panic was close to setting in, and I had no choice but to halt all of my forward progress in the middle of the washing machine. The thought of quitting and bailing out onto the beach entered into my mind, because I was seriously doubting that I would be able to finish the rest of the swim. However, I just tried to relax myself with some deep breaths as I treaded water, telling myself not to panic and to chill out. I just needed to fix my goggles and take it easy for a while and space would open up for me. That's what I kept telling myself.

Time kind of warped for me there so I'm not sure how long I sat there, but I did eventually get back to some very uncomfortable swimming. Slowly but surely I regained my confidence and my feel for the water. Sadly, my goggles would be an annoyance the rest of the swim. I simply couldn't keep water from leaking in, and had to come up every now and again to try to get the water out and smush the goggles back onto my eye sockets. The crowd started to thin out a bit, but coming up to the first turn buoy a huge traffic jam formed and I was unlucky enough to be on the very inside of it. Somehow I managed to get through it and tried to position myself as far outside as I could for the remainder of the swim. It seemed to work well, and I didn't have any further incidents from there, just the usual bumps into people every now and then.

After the final turn buoy and heading toward shore, I was feeling extremely confident and eager to ride. Despite fighting the current and some wind chop, I felt as strong in my swimming as any point during the race. Once I emerged from the water and saw my watch I was a bit dumbstruck. I saw that I had swam under 40 minutes, and nearly a minute faster than last year. So fucking crazy. I went from nearly canning my entire race to knowing that I was absolutely on target for my goal time. Nevermind being 66th in my age group at this point, it's time to get into T1 and starting mowing 'em down.
What would you do differently?:

Honestly, I made the best of a bad situation early on AND swam faster than last year. Can't complain with the result. Obviously I would stand to benefit from better seeding at the start, as well as just plain swimming faster.
Transition 1
  • 03m 49s

Transition times trend slower in this race due to a long run up the beach and uphill into T1. All said, despite flubbing a couple of things, I still made it out of T1 faster than last year, 34 seconds faster.
What would you do differently?:

Practice makes perfect. Just tighten up what I already do.
  • 2h 34m 39s
  • 56 miles
  • 21.73 mile/hr

I don't want to call my bike ride flawless, but it sure felt like it. Crossing the mount line and timing mat I No mount line difficulties this year. I ran my bike up the hill at the mount line and I made it up way faster than everyone around me trying to mount and clip in on the incline. It wasn't the coolest way to get underway on the bike, but it was the smartest way. Everyone else on my tri team did the same thing.

The bike portion of a triathlon is a passing bonanza for me as I make up for my weak swim with a much, much, much more overpowered bike ride. The headwind wasn't as strong as it was in the couple of days I rode beforehand, which was somewhat nice, but I knew that meant I wouldn't be getting as much free speed on the trip back home. All the way up to Hawi it was typical passing people, getting into pass and drop with some riders but eventually kissing their asses goodbye. The crosswinds got a bit hairy at times and certainly pushed me toward the center line, but I kept it in control. Unlike last year, I was able to get up to Hawi mostly in the big chainring. All the while I was trying to keep my power around 230 watts. However, it seems that I could only muster power in the low 220s.

Part of the problem may have been losing focus on my power, in part to the wind, but also due to some discomfort on the bike. I'm beginning to think a change in saddle might be due for me. There's also the matter of the descent from Hawi, which made me spin out of my hardest gear. The compact chainrings I have may not be cutting it for me anymore, and I'm seriously considering going up to at least a 52/36 mid-compact setup so that I can get a bit more speed on such fast descents. At any rate, even doing a generous amount of coasting made me fly past people downhill. Dunno if they were simply not as aero as me or if they were on their brakes.

As I got back into the rollers, the headwind returned and it was fairly tough going for another 10-15 miles or so. Even then, I was passing people left (but never right) and I don't actually recall at any point anyone making a pass on me and having it stick. It was a great feeling to know that I was in total control of my race and executing it. Just like in my Ironman last year I was probably overdoing it hydration wise and needed to pee badly at one point. Upon hitting a descent I let it rip and made sure to liberally spray myself down with water.

Coming back into Kawaihae and the final big ascent, I knew I was entering that spot on the course where I've cramped badly in my quads the past couple of years. This time though, nothing. My salt intake was optimal and I was able to get up the climb and back into the final sets of rollers without any trouble. My pace and power slacked off a bit over the final 8 miles or so, perhaps because the wind wasn't quite as optimal, but I did want to make sure I didn't burn up my legs entering into the run. My entry into T2 was just about perfect as I dismounted on the run right at the line and went straight into the transition.
What would you do differently?:

I could have biked a bit harder. My average cadence was down from last year, maybe due to the comfort issue I was having on the saddle.
Transition 2
  • 02m 15s

This year, unlike last, long run to get to my spot to rack the bike. A volunteer led me down the wrong chute, but fortunately with so few bikes in transition I was able to cross over and get to where I needed to go. My much simplified T2 process shaved off a full 50 seconds from last year's effort. It helped that I didn't need to take a leak before heading out, but I still would have saved significant time. All I had to do was get off my helmet and gloves, remove my shoes and socks and put them on, and then take out my hat banded with everything else I'd need. From there I was running out of T2 and would sort it all out on the run.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I did everything right, just need to do it faster.
  • 1h 39m 17s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 07m 35s  min/mile

Fortunately for this year, there was a breeze on the run and it kept things from feeling too hideously hot. Of course, it bears mentioning that this was still a hot-as-balls run, just not as bad as it could have been.

I got underway by taking a bit of water just out of T2, and proceeded to get everything in my pockets that I'd need. 2 packs of Clif gels, sunscreen, and salt pills at the ready. It took some doing to get myself sunscreened, but I made sure to get my arms, neck, and shoulders. Kind of hard to do your legs while running, so I had to skip out on that, but they didn't get burned too badly. Lower part of my back though, the bit of space between my tri top and shorts that usually opens up, I could have done that part up but forgot, and that was my worst sunburn. I made out much better than last year in terms of sun damage.

he run itself got going pretty good without leg cramping. However, I was having some kind of stomach/abdominal issue. It felt similar to a side stitch, but not as localized as they usually are. I was a bit stumped at how to handle it, but just kept on running through the discomfort. I knew I would be cutting it close to 5 hours but I figured I could sort that out later. I averaged roughly 7:45/mi over the first three miles, which was a bit slower than I wanted but fine to get myself going. One thing that really told me I was having a much better run this year was the fact that I didn't need to slow to a walk for each aid station. I was actually able to run through and get what I needed. Mostly water for me and ice though. I wanted to stick to the nutrition and electrolytes I was carrying and knew would work for me. Ice as usual went straight down my shorts when I got one cup, and some down my back when I could snag two cups. Regulating my core temp was not at all an issue.

After mile 3 I heard some footsteps and had a guy pass me. He wasn't going significantly faster though, so I figured I would take the opportunity to use him as a rabbit. As such, I picked up my pace a bit and miles 4-7 I was averaging more of a 7:35/mi pace. It However, around the halfway mark I did end up overtaking him again and didn't see him at all. I really wish he could have held that pace, because miles 8, 9, and 10 were where I slowed down. Mile 9 was easily my slowest at 7:59. Of course, part of the reason was that these miles were on the more annoying parts of the golf course, with lots of camber, ups and downs, and of course the spongy fairway grass. It's pretty hard to settle into a good rhythm here for anyone.

I was doing the mental math by this point and realizing that my present pace wouldn't be enough to get me under 5 hours. Some HTFU would be in order. Fortunately, the course turns onto a long stretch of straight road around mile 11, and you can really open it up. It's also the hottest part of the course, but like I said, that wasn't really any issue for me. My stomach still wasn't happy with me but I was doing a fairly good job of managing it and ignoring the pain. My legs felt fine, so I knew I just had to accept 5kms of suffering. Mile 11 was a 7:35. Looking at my watch I knew it still wasn't going to be enough.

Mile 12 was where I started to kick it into overdrive. I was full-on racing the clock at that point. After doing a 7:22 I felt like I had it, but I needed to go a bit faster just to make for damn sure. The final mile I gave it everything I had. I was seeing my average pace for the mile dropping ever faster, and once the finish line came into view with about 0.4 miles to go I really dug deep and went hard. The last 200 meters or so the race clock at the finish line came into view and I saw that I had a minute to spare. I didn't let up though, and nearly ran down one more competitor right at the finish. That final mile was a 6:56, and it helped to earn me the 48th fastest run of the day. Running those last two miles significantly under my average pace of 7:34/mi for the run clinched it for me.
What would you do differently?:

Guess I could have run a more even pace, but given the amount of people I passed it didn't matter. Just try not to have any cramping at all going into the run, so I'm not held back in any way.
Post race
Warm down:

After catching my breath, just found some shade and relaxed for a while before getting my well-deserved Kona Longboard beers.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

In all three phases, it came down to comfort. Got into a bad, uncomfortable spot in the water, couldn't get comfortable in my bike saddle, and stomach discomfort on the run.

Event comments:

I still haven't done any other 70.3s but this one, but I can't imagine many races having this level of awesome volunteers and near-flawless execution.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2014-06-08 12:00 AM
00:39:35 | 2112 yards | 01m 52s / 100yards
Age Group: 66/108
Overall: 696/1597
Performance: Average
Course: Elongated counter-clockwise rectangle, single loop.
Start type: Wade Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Low
200M Perf. Bad Remainder: Good
Breathing: Below average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 03:49
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
02:34:39 | 56 miles | 21.73 mile/hr
Age Group: 20/108
Overall: 122/1597
Performance: Good
Wind: Cross-winds with gusts
Course: Out and back. Hapuna to Mauna Lani, turnaround all the way to Hawi, turnaround back to Mauna Lani. Mostly on the back half of the Ironman course.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 87
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:15
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:39:17 | 13.1 miles | 07m 35s  min/mile
Age Group: 9/108
Overall: 74/1597
Performance: Good
Course: Half on a golf course, half on baking hot roads. Golf course paths have lots of steep ups and downs, meanders. The roads are fairly straight and flat.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
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] 5