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Ironman 70.3 Syracuse - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Syracuse, New York
United States
60F / 16C
Total Time = 5h 39m 48s
Overall Rank = 669/2098
Age Group = M25-29
Age Group Rank = 81/188
Pre-race routine:

This is it. 9 months of purposed training leading up to my first and only race of the year. I put in the time and the sweat to make sure I could reach my goals; now all I had to do was execute. I used a very aggressive taper and was filled with energy, good for the race and agonizing to not be able to work on the house, etc...

I set the alarm for 4:59 AM and got to bed around 9:30. I woke up once or twice but was able to fall back asleep, secure in knowing Laura had also set her alarm and I wouldn't oversleep. The alarm went off and I jumped right out of bed, almost fully alert. The best I've ever slept before an event.

Breakfast was oatmeal and OJ, followed by grabbing my stuff and heading out the door at 5:30. We took the back roads to arrive at Jamesville beach from the south, which made it a right hand turn into the parking area and avoided what we later heard was several miles of backed-up traffic.

Immediately went to transition to set up my spot, then headed down to the swim start to hang out and watch the pro's start. Since Laura was with me I didn't have to put my wetsuit on right away, so I was chilling in my sweats very comfortably! The start of the race was delayed by 15 minutes because of the backed up traffic; I waited at a picnic table, relaxed.
Event warmup:

  • 31m 5s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 28s / 100 yards

I figured I'd be fine without a warmup - the water was so cold that I don't think it would have done me any good. My heart rate was already elevated from my nerves, so I figured I would just go with that.

I started out in front and left, but not all the way left. My first mistake of the day, but nothing awful. Since the course was clockwise, the three swam in front of me straight at the first buoy, while I was trying to go directly towards the turn buoy, so I caught an arm or shoulder or something in the face... ouch! I'm usually pretty good at avoiding contact, so I was a little surprised.

A group of four or five in my wave took off immediately, and I made no attempt to keep up. Either they were going to be in a world of hurt after 1000 yards or they were just plain faster than I am right now. No worries, swam my own race. I was surprised how quickly I started to catch the waves in front of me, which in some cases were very close to collisions.

The water was 62 degrees. This is the first race -ever- that I have thought that I really needed a wetsuit. I finally broke down and bought one, and it performed admirably. From a former swimmer - wetsuits are pretty much cheating in my book! But hey, it was cold, so I'll wear it. My feet and hands started to go numb right around the 2nd turn, so I focused on making a fist with my hands during recovery to keep the blood flowing. I'm glad I didn't run into anyone from there on, for their sake.

After the final turn, there was a huge light on the beach right next to the swim exit point. The easiest sighting I have ever had. The rest of the field was spread out over 25-40 yards wide; some were going towards the closest buoy, others towards the light. I was pretty much on my own and just focused on holding form and keeping it smooth. This is not a swim race - I still had lots to do!
What would you do differently?:

Better positioning at the start.
Transition 1
  • 06m 33s

Swimming into the shallowest water I possibly can - I think I swam until it was less than a foot deep, I did a pushup and immediately took off running. My vision was a little blurry and my balance was off. I spotted the strippers and they made short work of wetsuit removal. My feet were completely numb as I ran into T1.

6:33 is a long time to be in transition. In shorter races I would be mad about spending three minutes in T1. However, it was not the focus of my day. I wanted to finish, I needed to be comfortable. I hit the port-a-potty, warmed up with some towels, put on some warm, dry socks and made sure my bike was in order before I even considered leaving.

It was a bumpy jog up to the bike start point, and I lost one of the gu's I had taped to my top tube. Mounting went well for me, but not so well for one of the guys in front of me... he did the infamous "clip left, lean left" and bit it pretty hard. I was not yet on my bike so I waited a second until he was up and out of the way.
What would you do differently?:

For today, this was fine and consistent with my goals. Plenty to be improved on for next time!
  • 3h 02m 13s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.44 mile/hr

I came into the race after riding the course three times, so I was very familiar with the hills and turns. The best part is on race day they close the intersections and give you the right-of-way!

I was completely warmed up by the time we hit the first little climb in Jamesville. I had many, many opportunities to see very expensive bikes pass me. It is so far the pinnacle of my expensive-bikes-passing-me career. Conservatively, I was passed by several hundred thousand dollars worth of bikes.

Regardless, I did my best to ride my own race. I had my garmin with heart rate equipped, so I watched my speed and heart rate and attempted to keep it in check. I must confess that this was very difficult, because the urge to catch up to people and pedal as hard as I could was powerful. The bike was a constant battle of telling myself to slow down, then losing focus and ending up at 23+ mph again.

The climb into Pompey was a climb into the clouds. It was fogg, misty and cool. I was almost constantly wiping the water off the front of my sunglasses, and after a downhill section the inside of the lenses would fog up.

Nothing notable on the descent to Rt 80. I hit about 38 mph on the big downhill section, which was plenty fast for the conditions. The #1 goal of the ride was to stay upright, and I remained intently focused on that throughout.

Coming through Deruyter I was 10 minutes ahead of my fastest training ride, which I had used as an aggressive time goal for the race. Hey, I still have to run a half marathon afterwards! I rationalized that what is done is done and I should just focus more on taking it as easy as I can for the rest of the ride. I was just as successful at slowing myself down as I was for the first half...

Riding up 91 past Labrador mountain was nice and uneventful. Berry to Clark Hollow was very fast, and I worked to maintain my speed in the flat sections between the descents. Back up Apulia road I really dogged it and spun up the final hill at a leisurely pace, taking my feet out of my cycling shoes at the top and pedaling into T2 on top of my shoes.

Looking at my HR data now, I was successful in keeping my heart rate under my estimated threshold. Aerobically I felt great, my legs were a bit wobbly by the end.
Transition 2
  • 03m 32s

Flying dismount worked well, although I didn't check my speed enough before hopping off the bike. At least, my legs had a hard time slowing me down, I'm sure I would have been fine doing it on fresh legs.

Again, three minutes in T2 is a very long time. I really had to pee, and I really, really appreciated the fresh, dry socks that I had in my gear bag. Any other race I'd complain about a long T2; usually I can do it in less than a minute. I'm giving myself a pass, this time.
  • 1h 56m 25s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 53s  min/mile

On to the run! I bounded out of T2, looked down after a quarter mile or so and saw my pace was 7:30 or so. SLOW DOWN!!! So I did my best to listen to reason. I've never run a half marathon before, let alone one after three and a half hours of intense cross training, so I should be much closer to my training pace than to my normal race pace.

I settled on doing what felt good, so long as my heart rate was reasonable. I felt GREAT for the first several miles, and blew by Laura and her family at mile 5.

After that, the course turned onto Erie Blvd, possibly the worst road selection for a race that I have ever witnessed. The left lane was coned off, so we ran between the median and a line of honking cars annoyed that their Sunday trip to the shopping center was delayed by a bunch of crazy triathletes. The crowds of fans began to thin, until it was just aid station to aid station, with urban decline in the interim.

I can't blame the course for what was happening to me at the same time. I gradually began to slow, as I'd expect. My mantra became "Hold on" and I made a goal of just holding 9 minute pace until mile 10. I had my watch and saw that I was well ahead of the six hour mark, which I'd used as an arbitrary goal. All I had to do was hold on and run to the finish.

After many, many miles on Erie Boulevard, we turned onto North Salina Street, where there were at least shops and people, but I don't remember seeing any crowds or fans. The run became very difficult, and by mile 12 my body began to shut down. I could feel my calves beginning to cramp, a side stitch starting to develop, and the blood start to drain from my face.

I had been warned not to underestimate a half mary, and now that I have experienced that first hand, I understand why.

However, I hit the wall so close to the finish line! It worked out pretty much ok. If I had hit it a mile or two earlier, I don't know if I would have had the will to push through. I rounded the final turns and the crowd revived me with a last little shot of adrenaline I picked it up and made it through the finish with power.
Post race
Warm down:

Once I was de-chipped and medaled, I immediately downed a big 24oz sports drink and headed over to see Laura and my fans. Spotted a massage tent and made a break for it, it turns out they were only doing a few hundred - great for those that get it, but for 2000 athletes it seems too few.

Made it through the lunch line, stretched out and got food. Went over to the CNY Tri tent but didn't recognize anyone. I didn't see anyone in BT gear either!

One triathlete approached me and thanked me for passing him when I did - he was having a rough time on the run and my pace was exactly the right one for him to keep going. He was very grateful, and I'm glad to have helped.

I spent some more time stretching and hobbling around before we headed back to Jamesville to pick up my gear. The roads were re-opened so it wasn't too much of a problem, and checkout at transition was quick and painless.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Being my first 70.3, my goals were:

A. Finish
B. Beat six hours
C. Have fun doing it

I met or exceeded all of my goals! It's been a crazy year preparing for the race and I'm very happy about the way it all turned out.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2010-01-05 12:00 AM
00:31:05 | 2112 yards | 01m 28s / 100yards
Age Group: 15/188
Overall: 0/2098
Performance: Good
Suit: Sleeveless
Course: Rectangle
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 62F / 17C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:33
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
03:02:13 | 56 miles | 18.44 mile/hr
Age Group: 85/188
Overall: 0/2098
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Road: Smooth Wet Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering:
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:32
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal
01:56:25 | 13.1 miles | 08m 53s  min/mile
Age Group: 81/188
Overall: 0/2098
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? No
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2010-09-20 9:51 AM

Syracuse, NY
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Syracuse

2010-09-20 10:17 AM
in reply to: #3107647

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Syracuse
Great race and race report.

I did not see that light on the swim. Wow, I could have used that. I had a bad time sighting on the way back. I was in the last wave, not a bad swimmer and man it was hard passing people so I know what you mean.

I did not get to ride the course previously but had read the scouting reports. One distraction on the bike course is watching the bling.

I had completely forgot about the run course. I get into a transe and you description brings back 'fond' memories. The 0 crowds in the last few miles was rough

Congrats....all that training paid off.
2010-09-21 1:10 PM
in reply to: #3107647

Syracuse, NY
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Syracuse
Thanks. I think they will definitely be changing the run course next year, the one they went with was a backup course because the original had a hard time getting approved. Hopefully less cars/exhaust/traffic and more fans/crowds/cheering. Decent race as an athlete but it was a tough race to be a spectator.
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