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Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas - Triathlon

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Galveston, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
80F / 27C
Total Time = 5h 22m 13s
Overall Rank = 479/2340
Age Group = m30-34
Age Group Rank = 69/239
Pre-race routine:

Up at 4. Had two pieces of bread w/ peanut butter, two bananas, water bottle w/ nuun, and some coffee.

Walked across the resort from the hotel to transition w/ all my stuff. Got body marked, got all my stuff set up, then took my bag back to the hotel room and used the facilities there. I had forgot my tri-slide spray in the room so I walked back to transition with it and sprayed down both pairs of shoes and inside the sleeves of my T1 steath bike top.

I still had about an hour before the race start, so I walked the mile or so over to the dock for the swim start. I found a nice beach lounge chair and relaxed until they started lining up the waves.
Event warmup:

About 30 minutes before my start time they were organizing the waves. So I took a clif goo and did some light jogging then lined up. Once we jumped in the water we had 4 minutes to warm up before we were sent off. I swam for about a minute then made my way to the start buoys.
  • 34m 5s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 37s / 100 yards

I originally lined up kind of in the middle of the buoys, but it got pretty congested with people jockeying for position. I was afraid of getting kicked, etc. so I moved out to the far right hand side.

Gun went off, started my watch and was on my way. My goal for the start was to pull hard enough at the beginning to get myself into clean water and get into a rhythm. I was surprised that from basically the very first pull, I never saw another blue cap until well into the race. I just settled in and started slowly making my way to the left/buoys as I had started out to the right.

Surprisingly I came upon a huge group of purple caps (previous wave) only about halfway through the first leg of the triangle. I just stayed to the right and passed the big group in one big chunk. After that I moved more left as I was getting closer to the left turn.

First turn went good and I saw my first couple of blue caps leading into the turn. Once through the turn I lost track of them. I was bobbing and weaving through purple caps until I got to the halfway point and saw a blue cap to my side. I thought it was a good time to try and draft so I fell in behind him. I drafted pretty well until the second and final turn. It was just a short distance from there to the exit and I just coasted in from there not trying to hard to stay on his feet. He was not going in too good of a straight line at that point.

Made it to the exit and jumped out feeling pretty good. My wife said I looked awful though, ha! Clicked my watch as I crossed over the timing point and was surprised to see 34 minutes (slower than I expected).
What would you do differently?:

I probably should have been braver and stayed in the middle of the pack. This would have allowed me to draft earlier in the race. I wasn't expecting not seeing another from my age group at all until basically halfway through the race.

User error on the garmin left me with no GPS data to confirm, but I'm guessing I swam a bit farther than 2112 yards. I don't think my sighting was terrible but who knows.

I also would have liked to have seen the difference in my pace when I was drafting vs when I wasn't. I know I wasn't trying as hard when I was drafting, but that's why you draft right?

The actual swimming went great. I held a comfortable pace the whole time.
Transition 1
  • 02m 55s

Quite a long run from the water to transition. I knew I was going to, but I struggled with getting the castelli T1 stealth top on. Based on data, I figured even if it took me 30 seconds to get it on I was still saving time on the bike.

Helmet went on fast and I was off. I'd been practicing leaving the shoes clipped in so all that went well and saved me time.
What would you do differently?:

I went back and forth on the T1 top. Any distance shorter than this and I definitely won't mess with it. It was probably worth it here.
  • 2h 38m 56s
  • 56 miles
  • 21.14 mile/hr

My power meter freaked out on me on Friday before the race. I hadn't checked my mph at my race pace wattage after making several aero mods in the previous few weeks, and I just put latex tubes and a disc cover on. So the goal was to go out for a quick ride and see where I was at. Well the power meter was telling me I was pushing 400 something watts during warmup. Ha!

Anyway, I thought I had it fixed before the race, but didn't trust it 100%.

There were a lot of turns at the start of the course, so no really getting up to speed for a bit. I took this opportunity to slip my feet in my shoes and tighten them down.

Once out on the beachfront it was about 25 straight miles until the turnaround. I settled into a comfortable pace and was hitting 20-21 mph which was where I wanted to be. HR had recovered from the swim and I was feeling good. Power output was lower than expected, but I didn't trust the power meter enough to bump up the effort. I was cruising and really enjoying it. And getting passed by really fast folks, it was amazing to watch them fly by me.

About 25 miles into the ride you pass over the San Luis Pass Bridge. This is about a half mile from the beach house my grandparents have owned since before I was born. Riding across the bridge on my bike was awesome. I sat up out of the aero bars and just looked around soaking it all in. Other than my kids cheering me on the run this was the highlight of the race.

After going over the bridge I seemed to pick up speed seemingly without upping my effort. Well I quickly realized after making the turnaround that the wind had picked up and was now blowing right at me. I was pretty demoralized at this point. I was staring 25 miles of headwind right in the face. I used the power meter at this point to make sure I wasn't pushing too hard and just tried to settle in.

To my relief, once back over the bridge you turn slightly more to the East, and there is more protection from the wind. I settled back into a very comfortable pace and was now hitting 22-23 and sometime 24-25 mph. I was starting to get pretty excited that I was going to have a chance to run for a sub 5 hr finish.

I cruised all the way back comfortably, stretching my lower back out several times in the process as it was getting a little tight.

Nutrition went well when I was on the bike, not sure if it contributed to my stomach pain once I started running though. I carried about 70 oz of water w/ nuun on the bike and didn't have to stop at any aid stations. I ate a full honey waffle 15 minutes into the bike, then ate a half a waffle every 15 minutes thereafter until I was about 20 minutes from being done. Then I ate a clif mocha goo, and another just before getting off the bike.
What would you do differently?:

Not have my power meter freak out 2 days before the race?

I really don't think I over-biked here. I was comfortable the whole time and never felt like I was pushing it at all. In fact, I held back on the first half deliberately. I negative split the bike where as most folks seemed to have faster first half due to the winds (there wasn't much though).
Transition 2
  • 01m 34s

Textbook transition here. Got out of my shoes and unzipped the T1 top on the bike. Running off the bike into transition. Racked the bike. Ripped off helmet and T1. Sat down, put on socks & shoes. Grabbed visor and race belt and ran out putting on belt and visor in the process.
What would you do differently?:

  • 2h 04m 43s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 31s  min/mile

I don't have a good memory of the details on the run, especially the second half.

I know I started out good and was hitting 8:00/mi and had to slow myself down to 8:30/mi as I was planning on running the first 5k at that pace and then speeding up if I felt good. I wasn't having any trouble hitting that pace but at some point my stomach started to hurt, especially when I took gatorade or coke from the aid stations.

About 1.5 miles into the first loop I saw my kids holding up the signs they made for me and it gave me the biggest smile I've probably ever had. Seeing them and stopping to chat for just a moment was awesome and the highlight of the day!

I had 5 clif goos in my belt and was planning on taking one every 20-30 minutes. With my stomach hurting and not seeing how I'd be able to get one down (and feeling them bouncing around as extra weight), I chose to ditch them around mile 4.

What first started as short walks to make sure I got enough water to drink and dump on myself along with gatorade or coke turned into walking the whole aid station. And then there were several times I had to walk in between aid stations as well. My legs weren't failing me, I just felt exhausted and needed to get my HR down. As you can see from the splits, I had about as bad of a progression as you can.

The last 5k was absolutely miserable and I wasn't sure it was ever going to end. I thought the adrenaline of finishing would hit me sooner, but it didn't until I rounded the last corner and saw the finish line a few hundred yards up. At last, it was over.

What would you do differently?:

Looking back, ditching my nutrition plan was obviously a poor choice, even though my stomach was hurting. I should have tried to stick to my nutrition plan. I think eventually the stomach pain went away, but don't really remember. I should have tried to get more calories down but wasn't thinking clearly. The sips of coke and gatorade weren't enough calories to keep me going.

I might have also overestimated my running fitness. I had put down some pretty good times this spring, but about 2 weeks before the race I was realizing that the plan I was following just didn't seem to have enough running on the tail end of the plan. If I had stuck to my nutrition plan, I'm fairly confident that I could have hit sub 9:00/mi the whole time. But heading into the race I was hoping for closer to 8:00/mi. I don't think I was fit enough to do that, but I was admittedly unsure of that going into the race.
Post race
Warm down:

Got a water and went and sat down by my family. Managed to get up and take a photo.

Eventually made my way over to the athlete tent and grabbed some pizza, cola, banana and cookies. Got a short massage. After that I went and cheered folks on for about an hour while waiting for transition to open back up. Once it did I grabbed my bike/gear and walked back to the hotel. Took a shower and then took the kids to the pool where I drank a few beers.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

1. Fitness - just have to keep building my base. I think I need to focus on running going forward, it's definitely my biggest area for improvement.
2. Failed nutrition plan - it's really hard to recreate the demands a race like this puts on you in training. I think some longer bricks would have been beneficial to further test my nutrition plan. Long rides followed by 20-30 minute runs really don't do that.
3. Not trusting my power meter. I was planning on hitting 200W for the bike. I ended up at 184 because I didn't trust it and wanted to be conservative. An extra 15W would have saved me at least 5 minutes.

Event comments:

The volunteers at this race were incredible. I tried to thank every single one I passed and did so until I was in survival mode on the second half of the run.

The bike course is amazing. Loved every minute of it.

The run course left a lot to be desired. Too many turn arounds and bends and too many spectators having to cross in front of racers.

Last updated: 2015-01-07 12:00 AM
00:34:05 | 2112 yards | 01m 37s / 100yards
Age Group: 14/239
Overall: 192/2340
Performance: Good
Suit: Zoot One-piece (no wetsuit)
Course: triangle-ish
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 77F / 25C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:55
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Average
02:38:56 | 56 miles | 21.14 mile/hr
Age Group: 60/239
Overall: 468/2340
Performance: Good
Avg HR: 145 Avg Power: 184 28 mi: 1:20:21 56 mi: 1:18:35
Wind: Some
Course: Out and back along the coast.
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence: 77
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:34
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:04:43 | 13.1 miles | 09m 31s  min/mile
Age Group: 69/239
Overall: 479/2340
Performance: Bad
Avg HR: 160 8:18; 8:37; 8:46; 8:51; 8:46; 9:10; 9:40; 9:59; 10:18; 10:09; 10:50; 10:39; 10:12
Course: 3 twisty loops. Sun came out halfway through and it got hot.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2015-04-28 2:09 PM

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Katy, Texas
Subject: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

2015-04-28 2:40 PM
in reply to: #5111510

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Great race!  You really killed it!

It's tough nailing down nutrition and always a moving target.

2015-04-28 3:09 PM
in reply to: jmkizer

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Great job! Congrats on breaking five hours!

2015-04-28 3:32 PM
in reply to: #5111510

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Katy, Texas
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Looks like I can maybe attribute some of my run collapse to the heat.
2015-04-28 3:43 PM
in reply to: ponderingfox

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East Texas
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Very nice job on your first 70.3! It was great meeting you and Matt. It's very interesting how different times of days effect our bikes differently. I had a huge head wind coming back in on the bike. I negative split my power and lost 2mph due to wind. Crazy.

Great job again!
2015-04-28 3:47 PM
in reply to: #5111510

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Wow, great race, Sean!  For a first HIM especially, that's crazy good!  And yeah, there's no dodging the heat.  No doubt that added to your run misery.  I loved seeing the pics of your little guys cheering for you, so special!  Congrats again, and keep up the good work.

2015-04-28 3:50 PM
in reply to: JJ-

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Super race! This is so great. Love the pictures of your beautiful family (yeah, you are included in that )

As for the nutrition plan, I imagine you can get a much better idea of what works and doesn't work on longer runs, too. Not just bricks. 

You set the bar nice and high for your first half and the best part is that you have all kinds of things to continue to improve on! 

2015-04-28 7:39 PM
in reply to: 0

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Katy, Texas
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Thanks so much everybody. It was a really good experience and has further motivated me to train HARD! Looking at how I placed in my age group in the swim really has me motivated to kick some arse there. If I can get my fitness to where I'm at least a little competitive on the bike and run I should really be able to crush the swim.

Adrienne - I practiced my nutrition on the run with the same goos I had in my belt but I never started a run with stomach issues in training. That makes me think that my bike nutrition may have been the culprit. I suspect I may have been taking in too many calories. I've got to continue to test that out. Good news is I don't have any races coming up to taper for so I can go out and really hammer on the bike and see what works and what doesn't. And you're very kind, thank you.

Edited by Jet Black 2015-04-28 7:40 PM
2015-04-29 6:34 AM
in reply to: 0

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Sean, YOU rocked it! First one of these and to go as fast as you did is really impressive. Even more so is the education you took out of there. Keep building on that base, big guy!

Congratulations on your awesome day!!!!

Edited by cdban66 2015-04-29 6:36 AM
2015-04-29 9:26 AM
in reply to: cdban66

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
I echo what everyone else has said - you did awesome!

I don't know how anyone races in Texas - the THOUGHT of the heat scares me - well done!

And I love the pics. You're kids must have had a great time too.

You'll figure out the nutrition - like Janyne said - it's a moving target.
2015-04-29 2:09 PM
in reply to: mtnbikerchk

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas


Congratulations on a great first race and a great race period!  Super results and you seem to have taken a lot away from the race with you (double win).

It sure did get warm out there!

Terrific getting to meet up, even if briefly.  Looking forward to racing with you again soon.



2015-04-30 6:39 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Western Australia
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Great job Sean. And it sounds like you learned a lot too, just imagine how much you will be able to smash this race next year.
2015-05-01 11:05 AM
in reply to: StaceyK

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Bellingham, WA
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Congrats Sean on a truly great race.  I knew you were going to be fast but for a first time HIM you killed it.  Amazingly fast bike leg.  HIM run is always tough but heat can bring the suck to another level.  I see next year sub 5.

2015-05-01 6:59 PM
in reply to: #5111510

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
I'm doing my very first tri (a Try a Tri) on Sunday and I was very inspired to read your post! You did awesome and I hope to do a half iron one day. I'm looking forward to learning all the tricks and tips for successful transitions. Thanks for posting and good luck on your next race!
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My personal experience to complete the Ironman 70.3
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I just finished the NYC marathon on Sunday and I think I'm going to venture into triathlons. I am doing an Olympic distance and I want to do a 70.3 next year too. Any advice?
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I thought of all the times I didn’t attempt something I wanted to do because I was too afraid of trying something new or of failing completely.
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How Pilates training helped a wanna-be triathlete realize the goal of completing a half-Ironman, Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island.
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It was the morning of Ironman Newfoundland 70.3, I felt queasy. I didn't want to eat or drink anything. I had a full blown case of the pre-race HEEBEE GEEBEES.
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A bad race left me smoldering, but time and a gentle breeze ignited my passion to race again.