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Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains - Triathlon1/2 Ironman

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Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
65F / 18C
Total Time = 5h 06m 8s
Overall Rank = 156/1329
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 31/193
Pre-race routine:

Left the family home and went up solo. Stayed in a villa of the host hotel - the Fernwood. Got up at 4AM, ate a banana, bowl of oatmeal, drank a coffee. Took the shuttle bus to Tamiment Lake from the hotel.
Event warmup:

Did a good 10' of dynamic stretching. Jogged up and down the Swim exit to transition.
  • 31m 14s
  • 1931 meters
  • 01m 37s / 100 meters

The lake was a crisp 64 degrees. My left big toe had actually gone numb from standing outside on the grass for 50 minutes. I was in the 13th and final wave. Getting in the water all the racers groaned but it didn't bother me none. I'd done the Harryman a few years ago when Lake welch was 55 degrees. I also have been regularly swimming at my local lake, Wildwood, and the temp was comparable.

These water conditions really suit me as I can hammer hard and not overheat (like I did at Lake Placid earlier this year). While at the USAT Level 1 coaching clinic last month, one of the swim coaches showed us the exact mechanics of his stroke. Ever since I've begun implementing this new technique I'm a lot faster, with a lot less effort, and I have no arm fatigue.

From experience I know that we only need to go around the yellow corner bouys and that the orange bouys are for sighting. Some of the orange ones were way wide and I swam inside them, while pretty much all of the field swam outside of them. Cutting these tangents is 100% legal and really worked to my advantage. For the first time ever in a swim I would see a buoy, swim, put my head up and BOOM it was in front of me. I was really cruising; usually it feels like forever going from buoy to buoy.

My goal was to time trial the swim and I did. I pushed and pushed. I tried to keep an eye on the leaders of our wave but we quickly ran into other waves so I just focused on swimming to the next yellow bouy.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I was hoping for a sub 30 swim as I train in a lake exactly like this one, but I'm thrilled with this result and it's a PR.
Transition 1
  • 02m 35s

Very good transition. I had run up the swim exit three our four times, and it's a nice little climb, so I knew it would keep my HR elevated; but I also knew we had a 3.5-mile screaming descent right off the bat so I'd have plenty of time to let the HR settle.

Just like my first 70.3 (the inagural Rhode Island in 2008) t1 & t2 were at opposite sides of the race course, so I knew the key was going to be stuffing my wetsuit, goggles and cap into my transition bag as quickly as possible. Threw on my drymax lite running socks. Ran to the mount and was sloppy with trying to get my feet in, as usual. Some poor guy wiped right on the first turn out of transition. Felt bad for him.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Many people bundled up because they feared how cold the descent would be after being wet from the swim, I only had my tri top and bottom, and my drymax socks and I was fine.
  • 2h 41m 24s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.82 mile/hr

This is my 10th half-Iron distance race. I've trained consistently for five years now, dropped my running volume and focused on the BIKE. It was time to roll the dice and hammer. The opening descent was steep, and then we made a left onto 209 for a straight out & back. We had a tailwind and I just pushed. My goal here was to race and try to get a top 10 AG placing. A few guys in my AG passed me and I pushed to stay with them. I let one guy go and passed two other guys back. All the while we were whizzing past scores of athletes who had gone out before us.

In training my friend Wynn and Derrick have been hammering the bike and leaving me digging deep to catch them. The whole race I just kept pretending they were just ahead of me. I kept telling myself "PUSH!" When I found myself cruising in a gear that didn't hurt, I flicked the gear down until it did hurt and held it. At the first turn-around we got smacked in the face with a headwind and I just maintained my same level of hurt and 'turtled' my head even lower.

About 20 miles or so in we made a left onto River Rd and we hit some steep rollers. I was surrounded by a few guys in my AG and they would pass me on the flats and I would cruise past them on the climbs. Quickly I decided not to get sucked into the leapfrog bullshit and I just dropped the hammer. I'd read several times in Race Reports from elite cyclists that the biggest mistake the average ag'er makes is when they crest a hill they relax and stop pedaling, and as a result considerable momentum and speed are lost. So I rolled the dice and I hammered up the next steep climb, and I continued to hammer over the hill, down the hill and up the next. IT HURT - but I was able to still recover while pedaling downhill.

And I continued to do this through all the rolling back hills - hammer up and down each hill. I dropped all the guys in my AG and my legs burned a little on the climbs but they felt great on the descents and flats.

Due to my effort I spit up a few mouthfuls of powerbar and water. I had broken up a powerbar fruit smoothie and put it with some shot blocks inside a plastic bag, inside my bento box. I only had a few bites and my body was happier with just gel.

Many times on the narrow descents I found myself crossing the double line to pass groups of people. I think I ended up passing around 1,000 plus people on the bike. Many were riding to the left and I don't blame them in some instances because the right-side of the road was pretty 'country' and beat up on some roads. The thing is, they amazingly had orange cones lining the center line, ever 25 yards, for the ENTIRE COURSE. Although this is good for safety regarding keeping cars on their side, it SUCKS and is DANGEROUS when you are passing hundreds and hundreds of cyclists and if they swerve left you are gonna smack into one of them.

On a few corners I saw riders hurt with medics working on them. Hate seeing that. On one pretty tame corner, the guy in front of me just totally went too wide and fell into the woods. He was OK though as he got right up. At Mile 43 was a nasty bump and some poor athlete bit it HARD. Lots of medical attention and we saw him in the med tent later and his whole shoulder was a raw bloody mess. Felt bad for him.

One guy in my AG caught me and we worked together, legally of course, setting the pace. He started faltering on some of the climbs though and I dropped him. The entire race I kept thinking of the Rev3 Quassy course, and this bike course was child's play compared to that course. Around mile 51 or so the course is on a service road beside route 209. Once again there are cones and the whole road is a fast, straight descent. The road was empty of cars to the left, and by this point there weren't many athletes either but there was one in front of me riding right in the middle of the lane, perhaps even a little to the left. Once again, I didn't want to chance screaming past him and having him move just a smidgen to the left and sending me careening into a cone, so I hammered past him and quickly crossed the center line around a cone, then crossed right back over. Five seconds later I heard the unpleasant sound of a motorcycle right next to me. Fuuudge. I think the official was the race director. She was very forthright and not nice at all. I didn't argue (and I could tell she wanted me to) and I understand it's a safety issue; but the athlete in front of me was blocking and truth is: yeah, I didn't want to slow down, lose momentum, and scream On Your Left!, so I just simply crossed the line. I wasn't too concerned cause I knew it wasn't a time penalty. I hate that just like the time in Eagleman, back in 2009, the ref was just overemphatic and confrontational. (At Eagleman once again I was in the last wave and i was passing a MILE-LONG train of people and got a blocking penalty). The same as the official in Eagleman, the official screamed at me and said if I get another penalty I will be disqualified from the race. Why do I always get the overzealous officials begging to DQ people? I didn't litter, wasn't drafting, didn't cut anyone off, oy vey.

Like Eagleman, I stayed positive and I wasn't going to let this incident ruin a great day. The last few miles were some gradual climbs and nice decents so I was able to spin the legs to prepare for the run while still maintaining speed.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. I pushed outside my comfort zone and burned only a few matches on some of the climbs; however the climbs were all short, nothing sustained. I moved up from 29th in my AG to 21st.
Transition 2
  • 01m 10s

Perfect flying dismount. Stopped at the penalty tent next to transition. Yelled out my Race# way ahead. A guy in Captain America outfit put a red mark on my helmet sticker and bike sticker; not sure WHY? as I was at T2. He asked for my race belt but I said "As per the Athlete Guide we don't have to wear it until the run." Thankfully he didn't follow me into transition. It would've been shitty to run 13.1 miles with a red slash through my bib and having people wondered what terrible thing I did. And for the record, if they spaced the damn orange cones out I would have no problem attempting to pass people and ride right next to or even on the double yellow line (which is not a penalty. It becomes a penalty once you cross it). But when I'm not going to risk hitting a cone and going over my handlebars at 25 mph trying squeeze in between hundreds of cones and hundreds of swerving cyclists in front of me. And all the times I did pass on the other side of the cones were on long straightaways where there was clearly no oncoming traffic. And for the record, there were ZERO oncoming cars on the back roads and this particular service road.
What would you do differently?:

Moved as fast as I could.
  • 1h 49m 45s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 23s  min/mile

My legs felt great to start the run. In training I'd been running 6:50 to 7:00 miles off the BIKE. And although this hurts; it's sustainable and often I can cruise and feel good. And this is supposed to HURT! :-) My plan (hope) was to run 7:30's for the first 2 to 3 miles, settle in, and then drop the HAMMER to what I've trained for. I planned to run 'my race' but I also planned to try and stay with anyone in my AG who passed me; and I was hoping to pick off the uber-cylists/slow shufflers in my AG. (p.s. there weren't any!)

My first 2-miles I nailed 7:30 splits but then the first climb I started losing a little bit of form and gumption. The guy in my AG who I was working with and dropped the last 10-miles went cruising past me. Dammit. I was passing other athletes but I only cared about my AG. I tried to stay with him and I kept him about 30 yards in front of me, but then I felt like if I kept pushing I may risk blowing up, so I let him go.

Smack dab in the middle of a decent climb, around Mile 4, I hit a dark patch. My body got cold, I felt like crap, and I felt like any second I was going to be needing to empty my bowels in the woods! I quickly reassessed my goals and dropped my pace. Thankfully the dark patch passed within a few minutes and I made the decision to risk taking Coke . Coke settles my stomach and gives me that sugary, caffeine boost; but sometimes it also bloats me and makes me gassy. So I played it conservative and just took a mouthful at each station.

Within a few miles I started feeling good, but I just wasn't running the hills as strong as I'd liked and trained for. I definitely slacked on my hill training the last month and it was showing. My focus was just to get to the 6.55 mile turn around and then I knew the return home would be gravy. The weather conditions were perfect for me; overcast and a cool 65-ish breeze. I knew weather conditions like this only come around once in a while, and realistically it may be two or three years from now till I race a 70.3 again with such ideal conditions. This notion motivated me to keep the legs turning over. Part of me knew at this point I was just in 'survival don't walk and just grab a Sub5 PR' mode.

On the back end a few more guys in my AG passed me and I wasn't willing to risk a meltdown and blowing a 70.3 PR to chase them. PLUS, honestly, they looked a helluva lot better than me and in a duel they would've beat me. The final miles of this course are really nice as they are mostly downhills. There is one steep climb with 2 miles left. I had some drool streaming out of my mouth by this point because I was determined not to walk. I didn't walk a single step of the 13.1 miles. After the hill I looked at my Garmin for the first time and saw that I would need to run back-to-back 6-minute miles to go Sub5. Dammmit. Yeah I wanted a top 10 AG, but I also have been chasing a Sub 5 70.3 for about 8 half Ironman's now. Siiigh.

The last mile hurt, but I held it together. There was an athlete dangling in front of me for the last mile, and I couldn't tell what AG he was in due to the compression socks, but it was pointless as this point to wreck myself and kick past him. I let him go and enjoyed the finish shoot all to myself. Nice to hear my name announced "Robert MacDowell from Wading River, New York!"
What would you do differently?:

I was a little concerned I'd biked too hard; but really - I wasn't. I feel like I invest an obscene amount of time in this sport; I BRICK regularly, and since Ironman Louisville a month ago I've been focusing on threshold work and running off the BIKE at a Race Pace. My legs also never threatened to cramp once during the run. Truth of the matter is A.) Somedays your Run just doesn't show up. And to be more brutally honest B.) Barefoot I'm 5' 9" and carrying over 170 pounds around. It's just too heavy a chassis, really. For shorter BIKE rides and for stand-alone Road Races I can run 6:45 to 7:00 miles and my body will tolerate this just fine. But after a 1.2 mile Swim and 56-mile Bike my body is just too fatigued to carry the extra 15 pounds up and down 13.1 miles of rollers.

The nice thing is I did OKAY with my nutrition, for a change. But this was also made easier by the cool weather conditions.
Post race
Warm down:

The warm-down included lots of walking to get bags. The VOLUNTEERS were ALL AWESOME; but if there is a negative to this race it's the logistics. I had to walk down a side street to get my morning bag (not so bad) but then walk a mile to the high school to get my BIKE and Bike gear bag with my wetsuit, and then walk all the way back to the finish line (bags in tow) and walk the length of the festival to get to the bus to take me back to the Fernwood. The logistics were well-handled, but it makes me really appreciate events were T1 & T2 are in the same place.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

A.) Rule#1 is - you're not allowed to complain when you PR. Having said that, my honest assessment so I can continue to grow in this sport and get faster is B.) My fat a$$ and love handles are fine for training; bad for racing. Very bad. I was actually introduced recently to a concept called 'Metabolic Efficiency' which involves 'Periodization of Diet'. Just like we Periodize a training plan for a Macrocycle, we should be doing the same with the diet. I've been making changes - like I haven't eaten red meat since Ironman Louisville (a month ago) and I've cut out a lot of sugars and I'm eating a lot of lentils and chick peas. Now that Poconos is behind me, I can try and implement this eating lifestyle 100%. It's going to be a shock to my system, and I didn't want to start it right before my race.

I could also play the 'I just did an Ironman a month ago' card. But truth is, I feel fully recovered and actually believe I gained a lot of fitness from IMLOU. The sport is also 80% mental, and I was mentally recovered, too, and hungry for Poconos. I was hungry and felt prepared to to compete for a top 10 AG spot, and was hoping for a Roll-Down spot to Vegas Worlds. But honestly, even if my Run did show up, with my current fitness/abilities I would have only been 10 minutes faster, which would give me a 4:56 and that would've put me at 18th in my AG. So yeah, I gotta keep training and the goal this winter is to focus on Threshold work, Strength, and drastically changing my Body Composition.

Event comments:

The logistics of having T1 and T2 in two entirely different spots is a nuisance, but the beauty of the Poconos mountains, the AWESOME VOLUNTEERS, made this event a huge success. I was very happy this race was moved to pristine Tamiment Lake. The beginning of the bike course is fast and smooth, the rest is very manageable rollers with some rough country roads - but with some decent cycling skills they are manageable. The run course is pleasant but has some semi-challenging climbs but is a lot of downhill on the way back. Overall this is a well-run race and I hope it sticks around for many years to come.

Last updated: 2012-03-23 12:00 AM
00:31:14 | 1931 meters | 01m 37s / 100meters
Age Group: 29/193
Overall: 223/1329
Performance: Good
Course: Counter clockwise loop around the lake.
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 64F / 18C Current: Low
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 02:35
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
02:41:24 | 56 miles | 20.82 mile/hr
Age Group: 21/193
Overall: 123/1329
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: 3.5 mile descent, followed by a 10-mile straight out and back with some gradual rollers, then a left onto River Rd for some steep rollers, gravelly roads, and then some technical neighborhoods.
Road: Rough  Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 01:10
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
01:49:45 | 13.1 miles | 08m 23s  min/mile
Age Group: 31/193
Overall: 156/1329
Performance: Below average
Course: Out & Back on the Poconos Marathon Course.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
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] 4

2012-10-01 10:33 AM

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Subject: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains

2012-10-01 11:32 AM
in reply to: #4434901

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Awesome race!  Great PR!!
2012-10-01 11:51 AM
in reply to: #4434901

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Guilford, CT
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Great PR Bobby!  Solid throughout.  Can't wait to see what next year brings for you.  Well done and good finish to the year.
2012-10-01 11:52 AM
in reply to: #4434901

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Goodyear, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
WooHoo! Nice job! Congrats on the PR (but I am not at all surprised)
2012-10-01 12:14 PM
in reply to: #4434901

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Smokin time!!  Congrats on the PR!!
2012-10-01 12:15 PM
in reply to: #4434901

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2000500100100100100 home in The ATL
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Congratulations Bobby, what a great way to finish up the season. But God forbid, it sounds like you have some intervals in your future...

2012-10-01 1:27 PM
in reply to: #4435149

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South Windsor, CT
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains


Great job pushing yourself on the bike. I'm not sure how this course compares to the one I raced last year, but I was so green that I'm not sure I would remember well enough to compare. I do remember that it was much colder than I expected...

rest a bit...let the fire burn a bit hotter before you tackle some hard training...there is some damage there that needs to repair itself before you tear it down

strength begets speed and i will be focusing on power, threshold and intervals throughout the winter, too--can't wait for the Rev3 prerace brick in the spring!

2012-10-01 2:14 PM
in reply to: #4434901

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2012-10-01 2:44 PM
in reply to: #4434901

Gettysburg, PA
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains

Well done. Great way to end the season.


2012-10-01 4:47 PM
in reply to: #4434901

Ann Arbor, MI
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains

Sterling performance all around and huge congrats on the PR!  What an incredible way to close out your tri year.  

2012-10-01 4:59 PM
in reply to: #4434901

Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains

good work.  sounds like you had fun...

yes- we call this torture 'fun'.

2012-10-01 5:41 PM
in reply to: #4434901

Long Island, NY
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Nice job, Psycho
2012-10-01 5:59 PM
in reply to: #4434901

Mastic Beach, NY
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Bobby congrats on the PR yesterday. You've had a pretty remarkable season this year. I don't think I've ever seen anyone as driven as you are or work as hard as you have this year. You really earned it, continued success and as always I'm very appreciative of all the help you've given me this year.

Edited by strikyr 2012-10-01 6:02 PM
2012-10-02 10:55 AM
in reply to: #4434901

Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Nice job dude! I am not at all surprised that you had a great race, nor that you are dissecting the not so great parts. Give yourself a day or two to enjoy the results! Well done.
2012-10-03 6:20 AM
in reply to: #4434901

Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains

Woo hoo!  A great report to read - feel as though I was riding shotgun and watching you go for it! 

Thanks for sharing and CONGRATS!!!!

2012-10-03 11:33 AM
in reply to: #4434901

Not a Coach
Media, PA
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Great job, Bobby!  Nice swim and congrats on the PR!

2012-10-03 12:41 PM
in reply to: #4434901

Extreme Veteran
Rochester, NY
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Great Race Bobby!!  That's how you finish off a season. 
2012-10-04 1:06 AM
in reply to: #4434901

Timmins, ON. Canada
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains
Thank you for the race report, I really enjoyed reading it and am
Definately inspited by it!

Congrats on the PR!
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