Ironman 70.3 Syracuse - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Syracuse, New York
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
70F / 21C
Total Time = 00m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

(spoiler alert) My first 70.3, or more specifically, my first 63.16...

  • ..and warning, it's long. Put your feet up, grab a drink and a snack and settle in!

  • In the week leading up to the race, the weather outlook wasn't so great. 80% chance of rain/storms. Another day it dropped to 60%, then went up to 100% yet another day. Eventually on Saturday it settled back at 80% for the race Sunday. OK, it will be what it will be! Can't change the weather.

    Arrived in Syracuse area Friday afternoon with my good buddy LT. Did the registration/packet pick-up bit, then shopped at the expo a little. Met up with friends from our area, R and L. R rode the bike course (he's a crazy boy!) and L went with LT and I to drive the bike course. Later we went into Syracuse for supper.

    Easy 30 min spin Saturday, then dropped bikes off at race site. Had a very good lunch with LT's parents at a completely gluten-free restaurant (LT is very gluten sensitive, so she was in absolute heaven there!). Later we enjoyed a good meal in Syracuse with LT's parents and some other friends.

    I slept MUCH better than I usually do before a race, which was a pleasant surprise. We got up to head to the race site in good time as the traffic situation could get ugly with not many roads in or out of the race site. We had very little wait to get into the park. We hung out in the car people watching a little, then headed to transition with our stuff. As we were setting up, it began to rain very steadily. In no time at all we were soaked to the skin. I put my bike shoes and running shoes and hat in a trash bag to keep them dry until I needed them.

    LT started around 7:20 while L and I didn't start until 8:04, the last wave, so we parted ways early, exchanging hugs and good luck wishes. It was around this time that the rain finally quit. I kept looking for her dad, who was going to take our transition bags for us. I had seen R and L earlier, but lost them now, so I hung out by myself watching the waves of racers go off. I was getting in my head a little much, and a little bit of waterworks was going on. Eventually a lady from Connecticut started talking to me and she was a welcome distraction. I asked her to help me zip my wetsuit.

    Finally it was soon time for our wave to start. I found LT's dad, then L. More tears, so much for getting myself under control. Tears of nervousness, I suppose. L gave me 2 hugs and LT's dad did, too. OK, now quit crying or you'll fill up your goggles, you start in a minute!
    Event warmup:

    Crying, LOL. Some arm swinging, shoulder stretching, etc. We were allowed to swim a little in a roped off area, but I was too nervous, plus I'd never warmed up with a little swim before, so I wasn't going to try it now!

    Every year we go to IMLP to volunteer/cheer for friends and we regularly swim the course there. To keep the negative thoughts at bay, I kept telling myself it was just like Mirror Lake, which I've done many times, although I really wasn't worried about the swim. Masters has brought me a long way from where I once was, speed-wise, and I've always been confident in the water in general.
    • 40m 29s
    • 2112 yards
    • 01m 55s / 100 yards

    Started myself fairly close to the back of the pack (maybe 3/4 back) because I've noticed the longer the distance (of a race) the higher the competition and I didn't want to get swam over. Well, that was a small mistake. I probably should've seeded myself up more mid-pack.

    There was a fair amount of jostling at the start and a slow start at that. I waded out pretty far, stuck behind others who were wading. Finally they started swimming and so could I. I was sighting pretty well, but drifting just a bit left, which is unusual, I typically drift a little right. I tried to stay in clean water when possible, but naturally that plan didn't stick either because of me drifting or others drifting.

    As I swam past buoy after buoy, I began to: 1. wish I knew how many buoys there were supposed to be and 2. wonder if we were ever going to get to the end! Ah, no worries, we got there soon enough. There was some congestion at each turn, but I made it through unscathed. Here and there I'd see a different colored cap from previous waves.

    Only once did I have to do a block to prevent getting kicked by a breaststroker. I didn't see them right away, and instinctively brought my arm up in a TKD block to protect my face. Thankfully I was able to give wide berth to other breaststrokers. I have to confess I accidently swam over someone backstroking and I felt really, really bad. I actually said, "I'm sorry" out loud, not sure if he/she heard me.

    In the 'home stretch' toward the beach I found myself drifting just a bit right and wondered if it was the wind or a slight bit of lake current or me just being a doofus. Who knows. Uneventful trip to shore. I felt very good throughout the entire swim.
    What would you do differently?:

    Not much of anything, I'm happy with this effort. If I had to pick something, it would be to get a better start with less jostling, if that's even possible.
    Transition 1
    • 06m 16s

    Got peeled like a banana by the wetsuit stripper! That was kind of fun!

    As I was trotting through transition, I felt a minor pain in my left butt cheek, as though I plunked myself down on a rock when getting stripped and now had a tender spot/deeper bruise. At the time, that's what I decided was the cause of my pain (a little foreshadowing here - it wasn't). Jogged to my spot, got my biking stuff including socks. I decided I wasn't going to take any chances with blisters or irritations, hence the socks right away. Probably was just a bit too casual with my pace. Failed to grab my sunglasses, which I didn't realize at the time. I had my things laid out differently than I do typically and they got overlooked. Not smart.

    Trotted my bike through the wet, muddy grass up the slight hill to the blacktop and the mount line, clipped in, and off I went.
    What would you do differently?:

    Not forget my friggin' sunglasses.
    • 3h 57m 48s
    • 56 miles
    • 14.13 mile/hr

    OK, here we go! Clipped in to Rico (my bike) and started pedaling. Suddenly realized I forgot my sunglasses. Crap. Can't go back now! Wait, what's this? A very weird, somewhat painful feeling in both my butt cheek muscles. Tight. As though someone shoved bluntly sharp objects straight into the meat of both butt cheeks. OK, let's try to get into aero here where it's flat. OUCH, oh no we won't be doing that! WTF?!?! I could barely sit and pedal the bike. Aero was completely out of the question. I was starting to mentally panic, wondering exactly what was going on and why, and wondering if this is how my entire 56 miles was going to be.

    There was about 1-2 miles of relatively flat ground before the climbing began, which would continue steadily throughout the next 13 or so miles. Heading up the first hill, my butt cramps finally let up some, but still felt a little sore. There really weren't too many opportunities to be in either aero but the few times I tried it worked OK. Good!

    I kept L's comment about staying in the small ring though the hills in my head to keep me from hammering too much. At some point in the hills, I felt a weird pain in my inner thigh, midway between my knee and groin. "Well this is strange", I thought, not knowing what or why it was. After all, I didn't DO anything different, I was just riding like I typically do. I'd never had pain in this part of my leg previously. It got to the point where I'd try to push to take a stroke with that leg and I'd cry out in pain because it hurt so bad. Carefully I soldiered on, hoping it would subside. Nope. It hurt at varying levels with each stroke, but I couldn't find a way to make it not hurt completely.

    The only thing I could think of was maybe it was some sort of cramp (or a pulled muscle, as the jerk voice in my head tried to tell me). I pulled off at a side road to get off the bike and tried to stretch it out or move it in some way that would make the pain stop. Nada. It didn't really bother me standing, and streching didn't reveal the same pain, so in less than a minute total stop, I got back on the bike and attempted to start again. Naturally it hurt when I went to pedal with that leg. Oh, hello weird pain, thanks for flying in again!

    I had a brief happy moment when I saw 3 young farm kids standing at the edge of their property watching the race. The oldest, a girl around 10, was holding something in a blanket. As I got closer, I saw what it was. "Is that a pig?!" I asked her. "Yup!" she replied, to which I said, "Awwwwww!!!" That made me smile for a little, then back to the leg pain.

    On flatter parts, the leg wasn't quite as bad, but each time I had to really engage the muscles to climb or if I did try to pedal harder on the flatter spots, the sharp pain would fly in. I was getting frustrated that it wasn't improving. I worried I wouldn't be able to finish. I wondered why it was doing this. I was further frustrated by never, ever having experienced pain in this area before, so WHY NOW? Inevitably, the tears began again. I had trained so hard for this dang race, would it all be for naught? Since I forgot my sunglasses, my emotions were very evident. I had nothing to hide behind. I began another climb, grimacing and crying out in pain at my stupid leg. A volunteer saw me crying and saw the look on my face and apparently thought I was upset about the hill and he shouted some encouraging words. I thought, "Buddy, I couldn't care less about this dang hill, it's my leg!" I was slightly embarassed but in enough discomfort that I really didn't care. There was probably 10 miles total of on and off crying, LOL. Well, LOL now, not then! What a mess I was!

    The course is very beautiful, and in some ways is similar to roads and scenery where I live. I tried to distract myself by looking around and enjoying the vistas and of course talking to any and all farm animals I'd pass. At the 2nd water stop, I actually stopped to get water and Gatorade in my bottles. Originally I planned to just throw away the old bike bottles I brought and replace them with whatever they gave out, but what they were giving out was grocery store sized water/Gatorade which are too skinny to stay in my cages securely (and apparenly many others' by the large quantities of partially filled bottles I saw throughout the course). A volunteer with orange-stained fingers from the Gatorade helped me fill up one bottle. I moved up the line to get water from the other volunteers. They were all fantastic and had good senses of humor, joking around. By this point my leg had settled down some since we were out of the majority of the hills, yet I was unable to push hard on the flats because it would set my leg off again.

    There is a section of the course where there is a steep downhill (8% grade for .5 miles)immediately followed by a steep uphill (8 & 9% grade again for .5 miles, then it levels out some but still keeps going up). At the intersection before beginning the descent, police notified me and the racers around me (1 or 2, I think) that there was a crash on the hill and to be careful and slow down. Sure enough, near the valley of the hill were numerous emergency vehicles, an ambulance, and a standing but very wrapped up biker. We slowed down and got into the other lane to go around. I looked to make sure it wasn't any of my friends and was glad to see the guy upright even if he was pretty banged up. Slowing for the accident meant less momentum to get back up the other side, so I sat and spun as long as I could, but at some point I needed to stand and pedal. Thankfully my leg didn't protest too much.

    Later I was passing the yard where LT had made a misidentification of a child's playhouse as a pony with a pink blanket when we prerode the course Friday, so I started chuckling as it came into view. As I passed, I noticed chickens in the yard and, of course, felt compelled to cluck at them and talk to them. "Chickie chickie, bok bok bo-...awwwwwwww, BUNNIES!" I said aloud as my (short) attention (SQUIRREL!) span moved from the strutting, clucking fowl to the dwarf bunnies hopping free-range around the yard, so cute!

    OK, so my leg was behaving not perfectly but enough for me to mostly enjoy the rest of the bike leg as long as I didn't push too hard and make it twinge. There were some nice rollers that were fun and some neat little towns we went through. I tried to thank all cops and volunteers I passed throughout the course, not just when I was feeling OK.

    I wasn't too thrilled about the few miles where the bike course overlaps with the run course. One lane of the 2 lane road is for cars. The other lane (plus some of the shoulder) was divided into 3 lanes: 1 bike,1 run out, 1 run back, all lanes divided by cones. In theory, it could've been OK but runners continually were running in the bike lane to pass other runners. I'd yell, "YO!" each time just so they would realize I was coming. VERY nerve-wracking.

    Finally I got past that section and had the one lane to myself (well, to just bikers, there were others around). Ahhh! Finally made it back to the park and was very excited to be getting off my bike because of my crappy ride and for some relief of parts of me that always get sore.
    What would you do differently?:

    Not get weird butt cheek cramps that I've never had before (or since)? Not get weird thigh cramp that I've never had before (or since)? I'd add go more aggressively, but the two things I just mentioned limited my ability to ride how I wanted to and usually do.
    Transition 2
    • 04m 58s

    I walked to avoid setting off whatever craziness was going on with the muscles in my buttocks and leg. I also didn't quite trust running in the wet, muddy grass that far with bike shoes on, nor when I had my running gear on. I still didn't know what to expect of my aforementioned muscles, so I figured I'd walk until I got out to the blacktop.

    Stopped by to get sunblock sprayed on me by volunteers. I walked up to one, smiled and said, "Hit me!" with my arms out in a 'T'. She replied, "I was going to make you stop if you didn't yourself, you're starting to turn red". Yup, sadly that's what I do. Nice lady! :) If I'd known what was to come, I'd not have bothered with the sunblock. I thanked her and began lightly jogging, testing my legs as I turned onto the blacktop.
    What would you do differently?:

    Not walk but jog. Move with a little more purpose.
    • 00m
    • 13.1 miles
    •  min/mile

    Crossed the timing mat and ran tentatively, making sure the previously cramped muscles weren't going to cause any problems. To my surprise, they seemed cooperative, good! Made my way through the park toward the road. Saw some porta-johns and decided to get rid of some of my earlier hydration. Quick pit stop. Not long after that was an aid station where I saw, to my happiness, LT, who was coming back to finish the race! She didn't look so happy, she looked to be in pain. I yelled her full name, twice, until she registered the sound. When she saw me she was all smiles. We stepped in between 2 aid station tables and exchanged big, sweaty, gross hugs and cheers of luck. Brightened by the sight of my friend who was in at least good enough shape to finish, I ran a little faster.

    This section was long, wet, muddy, watery grass, made worse by all the hundreds of feet running over it before me. Oh well, it is what it is. I headed up the mulch trail toward the road. The park section was really was more of a XC course, LOL! Made it to the road and kept my steady, semi-easy pace going, passing some runners going out, seeing other runners coming back.

    This is the section that is shared with 2 lanes of runners, 1 biker, and cars as I mentioned earlier. Some spectators rightfully looked both ways to cross between runners but failed to watch for bikes. Sure enough, a woman on a tri bike was coming in pretty hot and was yelling at them to move, as was myself and other runners around me since this was happening right in front of me. The biker hit the brakes hard, looked like she was trying to find an out, realized she couldn't go into the runners or the car lane, so she did a little swervy thing as she tried to avoid pedestrians, runners and any potential cars. Thankfully at the last minute the woman (the slower of the 2 pedestrians who didn't register the danger as quickly as the man) finally jumped out of the way to a verbal assault by the biker What a mess that would've been! Heart rate is pumping now!

    I think I may have walked just a bit after this on the slight uphill. Crested the hill and turned left onto the next road, a nice little downhill! At the aid station I took water and Gatorade and some pieces of ice to put in my hat and to wipe over my hot, sweaty, salty face. Profusely thanked the volunteer who let me take the ice, although he said that's what it was there for. Ahhh, it felt so refreshing! Jogged past a little pond and saw ripples from rain. It only rained briefly, less than a minute, then stopped. I thought I heard thunder.

    Walked a bit up the next hill, then did the run/walk thing up the next hill toward the turnaround. I didn't remember this being this steep when we drove it the other day! Grabbed some more wonderful ice (and water and Gatorade) at the turnaround. Chatted to a really nice lady who was envious of my ice as we headed back down the hill. Later chatted with another girl who had her race cut short in 2013 because of weather and really wanted to finish this time.

    As we neared the next aid station, it began raining again, this time harder. Didn't hurt my feelings, as I was on the warm side. I grabbed more water, Gatorade and ice, then heard thunder again. I made some comment to a guy racing near me, "That didn't sound too good". "No it didn't", he agreed. We jogged on.

    Eventually I got back out to the main road that heads back to the park. Along the road I saw a female racer who appeared to be on her cell phone, standing off in someone's property. As I went past, she put her phone down and addressed me, apparently noticing my name on the bib. "How ya doing today, Melanie?" she asked. I, too, had noticed her name, and replied, "Not too bad, Tonya, how are you?" "I'd be better if I could get one lap of the race in", she replied. I was processing this, deciding the source of her comment - injury? sick? - when she decided to jog next to me. So I asked her what she meant and she told me that someone had told her she had to turn around. Still not comprehending what exactly she meant, I said something I don't remember that caused her to elaborate and she explained that because of storms they weren't letting people continue out on the run leg. Ooooooohhhhhh, I thought as things clicked into place. That might explain why I didn't see any more racers coming toward me on their second (or first) loop! In surprise, I turned to say,"Really?! They aren't letting people continue?" and nearly ran off the road. Caught myself just in time and chatted with her just a tiny bit more before she stopped again, saying something like she was going to get the most out of the race as she could.

    My emotions were mixed. Happy: I didn't have to run 6 more miles! Disappointed and a bit angry I wasn't going to finish what I set out to do. I wasn't going to get to finish my first 70.3. For me, the thing that took the sting out of not finishing was knowing it wasn't my fault or my doing. The decision was not mine and it was out of my hands. The race would be short not because of my physical or mental failure but because of weather.

    This motivated me to stop dogging it and put forth the effort I was saving for the second lap which I just learned wouldn't be happening. I also wasn't 100% trusting of this secondhand info, yet it made sense. I jogged the whole way up the hill to the turn where the mulch path is. By now it's raining a bit harder. A volunteer was at the bottom of the mulch path moving cones to help keep runners from falling in the worsening mud and mess. I walked here, no sense falling now!

    Down through the wet grass, the wet hill, the mud pit. Back onto the macadam path. Heard other hints of not being allowed to finish and saw droves of people heading for the parking lot with bikes, chairs, whatever. As I got closer to the finish/turnaround, I saw LT and yelled something about finishing my first 60-something to her which she naturally didn't understand right away. It started raining harder. Now I could hear the announcer telling people the storms were 4 miles out with danger of lightning strikes, please head for shelter now. As I neared the turnaround, volunteers were set up to not allow anyone to continue, so I headed into the finish chute, crossed the line, hit my watch, grabbed my medal and hat. I mean, why not? I paid for it and I would've finished had they let me. No guilt here.

    What would you do differently?:

    If I'd have known my day would be cut short I wouldn't have dogged it quite so much on the first half, although it wouldn't have made a difference in the overall outcome. I wasn't dogging it THAT much.

    Otherwise, circumstances were beyond my control.
    Post race
    Warm down:

    I wandered a little, looking for LT or her parents or R and L. Finally she found me, I explained what happened and we headed toward transition to get our stuff. It was raining very steadily. Just as we approached transition, they announced that racers would no longer be allowed in transition for safety reasons. Lightining + metal racks + metal bikes + wet ground could = very bad news. We understood, although were a bit bummed because we wanted to get to the car, but other racers weren't so understanding. Many harsh words were yelled, F-bombs dropped, and I think it was just short of a physical confrontation as some hot-headed racers argued with the RD or whoever was calling the shots.

    Meanwhile, it started raining even harder, and the announcer again told people to seek shelter. We looked at each other - we were in a park. With trees. No real safe shelter to be seen, and the parking area is easily a 10 minute walk from transition. We encountered the lady I was talking to pre-race and the 3 of us first stood under a tree until I protested, then we pressed against the outside wall of the bath house, under the eaves. It did offer some respite from the downpour.

    We chatted with some other racers until we finally got the OK to go into transition, some roughly 20 minutes later. Grabbed our stuff, thoroughly soaked, and squished our way to the car. It was still raining lightly, but not as bad. The parking lot was a madhouse of people waiting to get out, other people stuck in the mud, other people helping them out. Other people just hanging out waiting to get out. We changed into dry clothes in the car, then decided to trek back to the expo area to shop a little and find R and L.

    Walked all that way only to discover they closed up shop early and had almost all the merchandise packed away into bins. Wow. Found R and L, hung out under the tent to see if they would be doing any awards or world championship spots. Hardly no one was around, racers or workers. No awards ceremony, no spot announcements. R finally asked someone who said they would notify people by email. We sat and discussed our races a little, then headed back to the cars.

    Thankfully by this time we didn't have to wait very long to get out and even more thankfully, LT's car didn't get stuck!

    All in all a very anti-climactic finish to what I hoped would be my event of the season, my big accomplishment, my first 70.3. Instead it fell short, literally, then degraded from there. At first those who didn't finish were given estimated finish times based on what they did finish. Eh, I was so-so with that decision. The next day, they changed all the storm-shortened people's results to DNF. THAT did not sit well with me at all! The next day they decided to give us the longest time allowable, either 8:25:00 or 8:30:00, I guess depending on...well, I don't know what they based it on. So my official finish time is 8:30:00.

    What really stank was over half my wave were affected by the decision and had their days cut short by the storm. Of course there were quite a few racers in other waves who were affected, but man.

    I completely understand the decision to pull us off the course because it wasn't just about the runners but about the safety of the volunteers, staff and crew as well. I get it, I really do. I'm just disappointed in not being able to finish what I had trained so faithfully for over the past 6 months, out in the cold, snow, ice, rain, through personal issues, etc., etc. I guess I'll have a do-over sometime, I'm not sure if it will be 2015 or 2016.

    What limited your ability to perform faster:

    Cramps. Being too conservative. Emotions. Weather.

    Event comments:

    Funny thing is, it turns out they used the wrong city's skyine on the medal. They used Rochester instead of Syracuse. Ah, just piling on to the messed up experience that was 2015 Syracuse 70.3! Word is they are going to be mailing new medals with the correct skyline. 2 medals from a race I sort of finished, LOL. Ah, what a hot mess, but it makes for a great story!

    Last updated: 2014-10-07 12:00 AM
    00:40:29 | 2112 yards | 01m 55s / 100yards
    Age Group: 31/
    Overall: 928/
    Performance: Good
    Course: The swim course is a rectangular swim that will start and finish on the shores of Jamesville Beach. Athletes will swim in a clockwise motion that will follow the western shore of Jamesville Reservoir, before turning right at the first turn marker. Athletes will then head east in the water to the second turn marker where they will once again turn right at the large buoy and head back towards the shoreline. Swimmers will turn right at the last large turn buoy reaching the swim exit. The swim will be wetsuit legal, with water temperatures expected to be in the 60s F. This will be a wave start swim with each wave entering the water at 4-minute intervals.
    Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
    Water temp: 69F / 21C Current: Low
    200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Good
    Breathing: Drafting:
    Waves: Navigation: Average
    Rounding: Average
    Time: 06:16
    Performance: Below average
    Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
    Suit off:
    Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
    Jump on bike:
    Getting up to speed:
    03:57:48 | 56 miles | 14.13 mile/hr
    Age Group: 77/
    Overall: 1510/
    Performance: Below average
    Wind: Little
    Course: Cyclists will travel a single loop through Onondaga County as well as Madison and Cortland Counties. This course provides some challenging climbs and gorgeous views showcasing what Upstate New York has to offer. So yeah, hilly especially in the first 15 miles of the race, then more rolly or flat with a few exceptions.
    Road:   Cadence:
    Turns: Cornering:
    Gear changes: Hills:
    Race pace: Drinks: Just right
    Time: 04:58
    Overall: Below average
    Riding w/ feet on shoes
    Jumping off bike
    Running with bike
    Racking bike
    Shoe and helmet removal
    00:00:00 | 13.1 miles |  min/mile
    Age Group: 0/
    Overall: 0/
    Course: Runners will enjoy a double, out-and-back style course set in the countryside of Onondaga County Park outside the Hamlet of Jamesville. Enjoy? Let's use that term loosely. I'm not sure anyone enjoyed the hills, especially the one leading up to the turnaround.
    Keeping cool Drinking
    Post race
    Weight change: %
    Mental exertion [1-5]
    Physical exertion [1-5]
    Good race?
    Course challenge
    Events on-time?
    Lots of volunteers?
    Plenty of drinks?
    Post race activities:
    Race evaluation [1-5]