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Ironman 70.3 San Juan - Triathlon1/2 Ironman


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San Juan,
Puerto Rico
World Triathlon Corporation
85F / 29C
Sunny
Total Time = 5h 53m 44s
Overall Rank = 460/1411
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 81/170
Pre-race routine:

Coming into this race, which was my first 70.3, I had so many uncertainties and unknowns that it was almost comical. I would be racing in the tropics, when my training was being done in frozen Cleveland. I had new race wheels, new hydration setup, and a new race helmet... never ridden with any of them (aside from on the trainer). Race day was my first outdoor ride (sans one single 3 mile hill workout) since the end of June when my season was wiped out by a bike crash. I did all of my training indoors on the trainer with absolutely zero idea how any of it would translate to outdoor riding. I didn't bring my nutrition with me as I was planning to use Perpetuem and I thought that flying with powders and TSA was a silly mix, so I figured I'd just get some at the Expo... they didn't have it, so I changed my nutrition plan two days before the race to be Bonk Breaker bars. That would bite me later. The swim was my first non-wetsuit legal swim. In fact, other than the run, it felt like I had some sort of unknown going on at just about every turn; and I was comfortable with that.
Event warmup:

I packed up my transition bag the night before and was in bed by 8pm. I woke up at 4:30am and made a pot of coffee and slowly got ready. At 5:15 I walked over and set up my transition area, then returned to the hotel room to finish getting ready. I grabbed a water and a chocolate chip cookie from Starbucks while I was there, but only managed to eat half of the cookie. At 6:30 I walked over to Swim Start and just milled about taking in the sights & sounds. At 6:50, I watched the Men Pros start and 5 minutes later, the Women's. With 20 minutes before my wave's start (Wave 9, 7:24am) I at two GU's, finished my water and then hit the port-o-john before getting into line with my wave. Faster than it seemed it could be, it was our turn to get into the water.
Swim
  • 36m 20s
  • 1900 meters
  • 01m 55s / 100 meters
Comments:

I positioned myself in about the third row back and almost all the way to the inside. I don't think that I'm an exceptional swimmer, but I figured I would be about right in the middle. The salt water had me feeling super-buoyant. Coming into this race, the swim was one of the bigger question marks in my head... would I be able to do it? What kind of time could I expect? How would my sighting be? I was about to find out.

They sounded the horn and I just sat there a moment and waited for those in front of me to get going. Within a second or two, I was impatient and just swam between a few guys, pushing them aside. I skipped the whole "sprint 200m and settle in" thing and just went right to settling into a nice, comfortable pace. I then made myself start sighting - something I had not worked on since the summer. It came back to me easily and as long as I remembered to do it, I tracked the course pretty well. On the out leg I hugged the buoy line the whole way. Of course, however, I swim like I golf... everything goes to the right. So, I spent a fair bit of time correcting myself. I only ever ended up way far off twice - once on the out leg, and once after coming through the bridge just before Swim Finish.

By the time I reached the first turn buoy, I had passed quite a few people and was surprisingly all alone in some weird no-man's land. There was NOBODY near me as I made the turn. A minute or two later I made the second turn and then my mind settled in to knowing that I was on the return leg. I focused on trying to stay long and smooth and focused on trying to feel the catch.... basically, I just did all the junk I do in the pool. I didn't go hard and I didn't push... I just kept going. With about a quarter mile remaining, you come into line with the bridge over the lagoon, and under it water flows in from the ocean pushing you away from the bridge. There were moments that I was certain I was swimming on a treadmill and at one point I swear I was swimming backwards. I started to feel the beginnings of some calf cramping just before getting to the bridge. Because of the added buoyancy of the salt water I was able to just stop using my legs completely for a bit and let them trail behind me... cramping abated. I swam probably 15 yards off course once I got to the other side of the bridge (just fighting the currents), but then I got back on track and pushed to the finish. Before I knew it, I was standing up and climbing the ramp out of the water. I paced it perfectly for me and came out of the water feeling very, very solid and ready to roll. I hit the Lap button on my 910 and saw my time and was very pleased.
What would you do differently?:

Absolutely nothing. This was, quite simply, the most enjoyable swim that I can recall.
Transition 1
  • 05m 31s
Comments:

This was a LOOOONG run... perhaps as long as 1/3rd mile. Either standing up at the exit, or right at the start of the run to transition, I cut a toe. Sliced about a dime-sized chunk off the underside of my left middle toe. No real pain, and there wasn't enough blood to warrant worry, so I just ignored it. It would remind me every so often throughout the day that it was hurt, but it wasn't enough to slow down for.

I took my time in T1, rinsing my feet with an extra water bottle, being deliberate in making sure that I had what I needed, that I loaded my pockets with my new nutrition, etc... Then, I grabbed my bike and trotted to the Bike Out, crossed the line and then did the stop-and-mount. This was my first time riding with a behind the seat mounted water bottle, and so I wasn't going to try to leap onto the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Next time, I would leave an extra pair of run shoes at Swim Exit for the run to T1. They allowed people to do it, though it was "unsecured" and "unofficial". I didn't have any shoes to leave there other than my actual Run shoes, and I wasn't going to risk leaving those there. I would also force myself to move a little faster... I could easily shave 90-120 seconds here.
Bike
  • 2h 46m 47s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.15 mile/hr
Comments:

This was "The Giant Unknown" for me. Was the training I did adequate? How would the all-indoor training translate to outdoor riding? Would I be able to figure out decent pacing?

The Bike and Run courses follow the same path for about 0.3 miles out of transition. The run then turns right while the bike continues straight and then takes a left onto a very bumpy road. So bumpy that I ejected my Speedfil A2 perhaps no more than 300 yards into it. It hit the ground, dumping water all over the place. I cursed, stopped, and picked it up. The straw was about 30 feet from the bottle. Got them both, reassembled, and got back on my way paying better attention the rest of the day to the position of my arms so that I'd catch the bottle if it tried that again. The part that sucks is that the straw would no longer hold suction. Water would not stay in it and every time I tried to use it, I'd get half air bubbling into it. Fortunately, I had two more water bottles, so I kept on going. As soon as I got onto the flats I broke open my first Bonk Breaker and tried to eat it. How in the Hell are these things popular? I found it to be nearly inedible, and with a broken aero bottle I couldn't easily get water to wash it down while holding the rest of the bar. So, I quite literally choked the one bar down as best I could and that was the complete extent of my nutrition on the bike, with the exception of some salt pills. I had two more bars with me, but couldn't bring myself to eat them. So.... I'm on the bike, have no real calories to put in me and a handicapped water source. Only 54 miles to go, lol!
I kept a pace/cadence that felt very easy and very relaxed. Once I got past the industrial areas, I settled into a zone and just took in the sights. This is one INCREDIBLE bike course. Palm trees and rainforest-looking vegetation on one side of the road, beautiful beaches and waves crashing on the other side, and squooshed iguana all over the roads. :)
In training, I'd recalled on here the axiom that 'x' amount of time on the trainer is like 'x amount outside. As such, the bulk of my trainer rides just happened to be about an hour and forty minutes (due more to the TrainerRoad workout chosen than a choice about time), but I figured that it'd have me "ok" for a ride of up to about 2 and a half hours. I had figured wrong. There is no x=x.5, or whatever, correlation. Time is Time. My average trainer ride was 1:40:00 and sure enough, I started feel fatigue at around 1:45:00. As I was finishing up the first inner loop, it started to rain. It stopped shortly after I started the second loop. The rain felt great, but then the sun came out and turned the course into a sauna. By the time I hit the last turn around at mile 36 to head "home", I was feeling it in the legs.... and then, the headwinds kicked up. I knew before the race started that there would be headwinds on the way back in, it's just that I didn't know they would be this difficult. I was quickly burning matches in my legs trying to hold a semi-decent pace all the while fighting the gusts buffetting my FLO90's and disc cover. The unsteadyness that the winds caused made it difficult to get to the rear water bottle while on the aero bars. Coming off them to get the bottle meant getting slowed to about 13mph. When I got to where I had only about 8-10 miles to go, any thought of hammering it home were gone. The legs were used up. It was around this time that the race started to look like an ITU event as peloton after peloton blew past me.... like, groups of 25-40+ riders. I finally made it back, nailed the dismount line and trotted my bike to the rack.

I totally hosed up using my 910's Auto-Multisport feature, so I don't have any Garmin data for the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Train harder. Train a LOT longer.
Train and race with power so that I have some constant between indoors and out.
Transition 2
  • 03m 19s
Comments:

Knowing that my legs were fried, I took my time in T2. I racked the bike and took my time putting on socks and my shoes. Ditched the helmet and put on a white run cap in the hopes of helping with the heat & sun. Took an extra moment to do a quick mental check that I had all I needed and proceeded to start jogging the wrong way to Run Out. A volunteer quickly stopped me and pointed me in the right direction, and I was off and running!
What would you do differently?:

Nothing at all.
Run
  • 2h 21m 47s
  • 13.05 miles
  • 10m 52s  min/mile
Comments:

"Running" is a misnomer. I was shuffling.
In training all winter long, I trained at paces anywhere from 7:15/mile to 8:30/mile for runs up to 16 miles. At the start of this run, it was hurting like hell to hold 9:15/mile. When I got to that spot where bike & run diverged, it was the start of the first hill..... and I walked to the top. This was a death march from the start. I walked every hill and every aid station. I chugged two waters, a Gatorade, and sometimes a Pepsi at every single aid station (3 of them that you passed four times each). I was dumping ice in my shorts, in my hat, holding it in my hands, volunteers were dumping water over our head, necks and shoulders a half gallon at a time. Staying cool seemed impossible. I was feeling lightheaded and dizzy several times during the run and about a half dozen times, I swear I was a millisecond from falling asleep on my feet. My eyes just wanted to close. The whole first loop was about "just keep moving" and "try to get cooled off". There was one part of the run that was on the outside of the old city walls and it was a freaking furnace. The walls radiated heat and there was ZERO wind and zero shade. At the last aid station of the first loop, I took a GU. I didn't think anything of it, but what seemed like only a few minutes later I actually started to feel better. It was then that it occurred to me that I hadn't had anything since that one BB bar on the bike. I took GU's at the next two aid stations as well and I was able to feel like I could move a lot better. Hitting the turn-around on loop 2 was a big boost mentally, but even so, I was checking the Garmin constantly those last couple of miles. "Just 3 more miles". Shuffle, shuffle, plod, shuffle. "Just 2.9 more miles"..... and so on. I did manage to run almost he last 2 miles non-stop. Finally, I was heading toward the end. I ran past the final aid station, up over that last hill (so rude to have that right before the finish, lol!) and down to the finish line and hearing my name called. I'd done it!
What would you do differently?:

I don't know. I'm definitely trained for the distance; that much isn't a concern. I trained all winter on bigger and steeper hills than this race has.. what I don't have is an extra 65 degrees of air temp and a 1.21 Gigawatt light shining on my head the whole way.

My bad run started with bike fitness and almost zero nutrition on the bike.
Post race
Warm down:

I crossed the finish line, got my medal, my finisher shirt, a bottle of cold water, and a bottle of Gatorade. I exited the chute quickly, spotted the food tent but couldn't think of eating. I sought out the nearest bit of shade I could find, which was a tree and I plopped myself down under it. I chugged both beverages and then closed my eyes and took a nap. About 30-45 minutes later, I woke up and was ready to eat and generally feeling good.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Heat, humidity, nutrition, bike fitness... pick an order, I'm sure it'll be right in one way or another.

Event comments:

“Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.”
-Steven Wright


This race was such a learning experience on so many levels. I learned a TON about myself, my training, and my racing... and not just at this distance. I look for my second HIM to be a LOT stronger :)


Profile Album


Last updated: 2012-09-28 12:00 AM
Swimming
00:36:20 | 1900 meters | 01m 55s / 100meters
Age Group: 52/170
Overall: 342/1411
Performance: Good
Suit: no wetsuit
Course: 'J' shaped point-to-point course
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 78F / 26C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
T1
Time: 05:31
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
Biking
02:46:47 | 56 miles | 20.15 mile/hr
Age Group: 70/170
Overall: 386/1411
Performance: Below average
12 mi 12 mi 31:44 1:13:35 22.69 mi/h 20 mi 8 mi 22:56 1:36:31 20.93 mi/h 28 mi 8 mi 22:58 1:59:29 20.90 mi/h 36 mi 8 mi 23:56 2:23:25 20.06 mi/h 44 mi 8 mi 26:24 2:49:49 18.18 mi/h 56 mi 12 mi 38:49 3:28:38 18.55 mi/h Total 56 mi 2:46:47 3:28:38 20.15 mi/h 70 386 339
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: A very flat out-and-back with a 16 mile inner loop starting at mile 20.
Road: Smooth Wet Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
T2
Time: 03:19
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Good
Running
02:21:47 | 13.05 miles | 10m 52s  min/mile
Age Group: 81/170
Overall: 460/1411
Performance: Bad
0.3 mi 0.3 mi 4:21 3:36:18 17:24/mi 1.4 mi 1.2 mi 11:44 3:48:02 10:12/mi 3.4 mi 2 mi 21:58 4:10:00 10:59/mi 5.4 mi 2 mi 24:22 4:34:22 12:10/mi 6.6 mi 1.2 mi 11:55 4:46:17 10:21/mi 7.7 mi 1.2 mi 10:40 4:56:57 9:16/mi 9.7 mi 2 mi 23:00 5:19:57 11:30/mi 11.7 mi 2 mi 20:55 5:40:52 10:27/mi 12.9 mi 1.2 mi 11:34 5:52:26 10:03/mi 13.1 mi 0.3 mi 1:18 5:53:44 5:12/mi Total 13.1 mi 2:21:47 5:53:44 10:49/mi 81 460 390
Course: Two loop course. Rolling terrain with one big hill that you go up and over twice on each loop. No shade anywhere.
Keeping cool Bad Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Evaluation
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

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2013-03-21 3:42 PM

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Elite
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Cleveland
Subject: Ironman 70.3 San Juan


2013-03-21 4:05 PM
in reply to: #4669435

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Melon Presser
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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Smokin' hot and smokin' fast on a firstie ... PR in PR indeed! Lots of unknowns and non-ideals going in; the unexpected always happens during, too--and you plowed through with great aplomb.

The pics are hot. Especially like you signing on the bike.

2013-03-21 5:28 PM
in reply to: #4669435

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Great effort for your first HIM with a lot of unknowns.

2013-03-21 6:08 PM
in reply to: #4669435

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Seattle
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Aweome job! I like that you decried the Swim and the Bike as unknowns/question marks and did great anyway. Smile Awesome!

2013-03-21 6:19 PM
in reply to: #4669617

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Elite
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500010025
Cleveland
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Thanks all

I am soooo pleased with how I did.  On that day, with the situations being what they were, I left nothing in the tank when it was over. I do not think I could have gone 30 seconds faster, and I guess that's all I can really ask of myself for a first attempt.

 

With better bike training and not hosing up my nutrition, could I do better?  I think so.  Mostly, I KNOW my run can be a whole lot better than it was... I just have to better set myself up for that

2013-03-21 7:01 PM
in reply to: #4669435


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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Great Job!!

Very detailed account of the experience. I would have forgot most of it before I sat down under the tree. Smile



2013-03-21 9:32 PM
in reply to: #4669435

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Champion
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Lost in the Luminiferous Aether
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Excellent job Chris! Congrats!!

2013-03-21 11:15 PM
in reply to: #4669435

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Expert
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C-bus
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Nice job, fellow Clevelander.  You learned a TON, had beautiful weather, and had an experience you'll never forget.  It takes devotion to train in the winter (indoors) for a tropical race when your body isn't ready for it.  My question is, did you bring any of the warmth back with you???

Good job, my friend!

2013-03-22 5:54 AM
in reply to: #4669435

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Regular
1023
1000
Madrid
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan
Chris outstanding job. I'm both inspired and in awe at the same time. Well done.
2013-03-22 7:49 AM
in reply to: #4669435

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Member
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Cherry Hill, NJ
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Great write up.

 

Nice work!

2013-03-22 8:48 AM
in reply to: #4669435

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Elite
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N Carolina
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan
Congratulations on your first HIM!!!!!!!!!!


2013-03-22 2:15 PM
in reply to: #4669856

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Elite
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500010025
Cleveland
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan
sungirl919 - 2013-03-22 12:15 AM

Nice job, fellow Clevelander.  You learned a TON, had beautiful weather, and had an experience you'll never forget.  It takes devotion to train in the winter (indoors) for a tropical race when your body isn't ready for it.  My question is, did you bring any of the warmth back with you???

Good job, my friend!

 

I wish I had

I am super sunburned and freezing my butt off now.

2013-03-22 2:21 PM
in reply to: #4670693

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Champion
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Lost in the Luminiferous Aether
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan
cgregg - 2013-03-22 3:15 PM
sungirl919 - 2013-03-22 12:15 AM

Nice job, fellow Clevelander.  You learned a TON, had beautiful weather, and had an experience you'll never forget.  It takes devotion to train in the winter (indoors) for a tropical race when your body isn't ready for it.  My question is, did you bring any of the warmth back with you???

Good job, my friend!

 

I wish I had

I am super sunburned and freezing my butt off now.

Told you you should have stopped for a visit on your way home!!!

2013-03-22 2:31 PM
in reply to: #4669435

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Expert
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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan
Nice job Chris!  Two things:  First, did you really never try a bonk breaker before this event?  Tsk, tsk.  Secondly, were the roads on the bike that absolute hazard it sounds like they were?
2013-03-22 2:54 PM
in reply to: #4670744

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Elite
5145
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Cleveland
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Yup, I never tried one

I knew better, yet I still did it, even knowing while I decided it that it was stupid.  I figured "it can't be *that* bad, right?". lol.  My original plan was Perpetuem, but they didn't have any at the expo. Well, they had the orange-vanilla death flavor, but that's it.  Next race-cation, I'll fly with my nutrition and just deal with TSA.

 

The roads were, for the most part, really nice.  There were just a few stretches where they were pretty rough.  One of those stretches was a couple of miles long out near the first turn-around, so we had to go over it more than once.  Overall, though, I found it to be really nice. 

2013-03-22 4:19 PM
in reply to: #4669435

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Champion
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New York, NY
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

great job - and now maybe you will follow the adage of nothing new on race day :p

and those roads were NOT smooth!!!!



2013-03-23 9:34 AM
in reply to: #4669435

Master
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Northern IL
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan
Nice job Chris!
2013-03-24 11:05 AM
in reply to: #4669435

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Expert
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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Great write up and super pics. You look awesome on the bike. Wish I could see a pic of you sleepin under the tree.

Way to persevere on the run man. Super job :=)

2013-03-27 9:34 AM
in reply to: #4669435

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Roswell, Georgia
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 San Juan

Just catching up with you! Loved reading all about this race. KILLER bike split.
I have to disagree with you on the Bonk Breaker bars, but I'm totally biased

GREAT JOB, when's the next one??? 

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