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Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas - Triathlon

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Galveston, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
Total Time = 5h 39m 17s
Overall Rank = 698/2341
Age Group = F30-34
Age Group Rank = 11/95
Pre-race routine:

Last year, I raced three 70.3's each 8-10 weeks apart. I peaked for the first one and basically just went off my existing fitness for the next two since they weren't far enough apart to really build between them. My run has always been my weakness, so I committed to doing a run focus throughout the fall and winter. Unfortunately, due to some stress in my life and sucking at running, I actually got slower from my October HM to my January HM....go figure. The really unfortunate part about it was that I stopped swimming and biking altogether during that time period (so I could focus on running...hah!), so when I started swimming and biking again in late January, I had lost a rather significant amount. No problem, right? Should be able to get that back with some focused training and be ready to race in April, right? Hah, it didn't quite work out that way, but I wanted to race and get an idea of where I was. I was actually starting to feel like things were coming back a couple weeks before the race, but needed to start tapering instead of pushing the training....but I am hopeful that I will be back to where I was last year soon enough.

My mom flew in from CA for the race (and a few days of wine tasting after the race) on Thursday night. We mostly laid low Friday afternoon and evening. Saturday had us down in Galveston for packet pick-up. With my three races last year, I had made AWA status, which meant that I had only a short line to go through for packet pick-up -- I was very grateful as I heard of people standing in the other line for upwards of 2.5 hours! And it was hot that bueno! Headed back to the car to grab my bike and was concerned that I might have a slow leak in the tube on my rear wheel, so I decided to change it out. For some reason, I could not get the tire back on and was fighting with it for quite a while until a nice guy came by and asked if I needed help. He struggled with it for a bit and then we decided to pull the whole tire off and try again....finally got it and was relieved to find that it held air throughout the night (will still need to see if the other tube actually had a leak or if I was just being overly cautious!).

We headed back home for a quiet evening, which included dinner, a traditional pre-race beer (Green Flash West Coast IPA), and watching a very interesting documentary called "Somm". I got into bed around 8pm, read for about an hour, and crashed around 9pm -- actually slept pretty well until my alarm sounded at 4am. Morning was uneventful -- packed my remaining gear into the car, prepared race nutrition, ate a bagel with peanut butter, and hit the road just after 5am -- made it to transition about 5:45, giving me an hour to get all situated....more than enough time. Of course, my swim wave didn't start till 8:08am, so I had all the time in the world!

As I got to transition, they announced that the swim would NOT be wetsuit legal (first time ever for this race -- they actually moved the race back three weeks this year because it would have fallen on Easter Sunday if they kept it where it normally is). I hadn't committed to a race kit yet because it was going to depend on whether it was wetsuit legal or not. I had a two piece (with arm cooler sleeves) that I would have raced in if it were legal....and a one piece DeSoto ITU tri suit in case it was not legal. I had never trained or raced in the one piece, but I knew it would be much better for the swim than the two piece (parachute!) and attempting to get the sleeves on in transition. Nothing new on race day, eh? Oh well!

As I was walking over toward the swim start area, there were a couple guys walking toward me (toward the swim exit)....I noticed one looked a little familiar and was looking at me like I looked familiar to him as well -- turned out to be Marc (marcag) and Matt (mcmanusclan). We chatted for a bit and watched the pros exit the water before heading back over toward the swim start (we were waves 17, 18, and 19).
Event warmup:

Did a short run to warm up (and find a real toilet since I knew where one was and figured it might not have a line -- it didn't!) was warm and humid in the morning and took about 15 seconds to work up a decent sweat! After that, just hung around till a few minutes before my wave took off and then did some shoulder stretches to prepare myself for the swim.
  • 37m 52s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 47s / 100 yards

Swimming is usually my strongest leg (I'm slow for a swimmer, but relatively fast for a triathlete, so I tend to swim in no-man's land by myself!), but my swimming paces had been off since I started swimming again back in January. Eight days before the race, I managed to pull my wetsuit zipper off the track and was stressing about getting it fixed in time....I'm plenty comfortable to swim without my wetsuit, but if it's going to be wetsuit-legal, I don't want to give up that advantage. Turned out to be a non-issue since it was not wetsuit legal.

After the wave in front of us started, we jumped in the water and lined up. I lined up in the front, but off to the right side. The horn sounded and we took off. I was on some feet at the start, but they were just a little faster than I was and had to let them go shortly. I settled into a "decent" pace and reminded myself to keep my head in the game....I often struggle to stay in the moment on the swim (I think, because I don't have a good feel for time/distance when I'm not stopping every 50 - 200 meters and checking the clock at the pool!) and get into an "are we there yet?" kind of funk! I actually didn't have that problem at all on race day, so that was nice.

After the first couple minutes, I didn't see another light pink cap for the rest of the swim (didn't catch anyone, didn't have anyone catch me....just swam in no-man's land). I was catching up to other cap colors, so I wasn't feeling overly lonely.

As I was swimming, I was feeling very comfortable. I figured I was probably going to be pretty slow, but I just didn't seem to want to hurt at all. I was cruising along, enjoying my swim....clearly I forgot that I was supposed to be racing! I got out of the water, felt pretty fresh, and saw just how slow I was! Figured I took it easy to set myself up for a good rest of the race.
What would you do differently?:

Swim with a sense of is a race! I don't need to blow myself up, but I know I could have had a couple minute faster split if I hadn't settled into a very comfortable pace.
Transition 1
  • 02m 30s

Transition is just so simple when you don't have to worry about getting out of a wetsuit! Ran to my rack, put on socks, shoes, helmet, and sunglasses....grabbed the bike and ran out past the mount line. Still haven't bothered to work on a flying mount and don't really have plans to do so until those few seconds make any amount of difference (which will probably be never!).
  • 2h 47m 31s
  • 56 miles
  • 20.06 mile/hr

As mentioned before, my power is down from this time last year, so after a number of race simulation-type rides, followed by 45ish minute runs, I determined that shooting for low- to mid-130's would allow me to maximize bike speed while minimizing impact on my run. I got onto the bike, HR low from my leisurely Sunday swim, and felt great! I told myself to keep things in check....race day environment on tapered legs meant that everything felt easy, but I was confident in my power and disciplined enough to not push harder than I should have. I figured if it was still easy on my way back, I could bump it up a few watts, or just bank it and put it toward the run....kept myself in check and was happy with the pacing.

Starting in nearly the last wave meant that I spent most of the ride passing others (while getting passed by some who were just flying by!). Though the course was crowded and it was hard to truly ride clean, it seemed that most people were trying to do so -- I saw very little blatant drafting.

About mile 18, the skies opened up and it started raining....stingy rain that might actually have been hail! At this point, I was kicking myself for not having covered my running shoes back at transition with a garbage bag or something, but it turned out that it was a narrow little storm system that didn't go through transition. It was only a few miles long, and I hit it both on the way out and the way back.

By the end of the ride, I was ready to get off the bike. My legs were pretty fine, but I'm pretty sure it's time to get a new fit on the bike as my left shoulder and wrist were bothering me (this is actually not uncommon for long rides, unfortunately -- ever since I sheared off the aero pad and had to replace the mounting system, it's just never felt the same).

I ate three honey stinger waffles (480 calories) and drank three bottles of skratch (360 calories) for roughly 300 calories per hour. NP 132 / AP 131, so a little on the low side of my target range, but right about what I was expecting (glad I didn't listen to my body when I was feeling great right out of transition!). Average speed on the way out was 21.0 mph and on the way back in was 19.3 mph -- it was mostly a cross wind, slightly favorable on the way out.

I'm pretty happy with this bike split. I exercised my discipline by staying within my power target range, kept my head in the game (didn't let my mind wander too much to the "are we there yet" feeling), and really enjoyed myself throughout. Of course, I would like to work my power back up to where it was in the past and continue to improve.
Transition 2
  • 01m 37s

Coming toward transition, I slipped my feet out of my shoes and slid my right leg over the top tube for a quick dismount. I ran my bike back to my transition spot and had a momentary brain fart when I started to rack my bike the wrong way....quickly realized and turned my bike around to rack it correctly. I hadn't initially planned to change socks in transition (though had a pair ready to go in case I needed to), but since it was rainy, my socks were completely soaked and full of sand, so I took a moment to change socks before shoving my feet into my shoes. Grabbed my hat, race belt, and Gu's as I ran out of transition.

I was feeling a slight twinge of needing to pee (still have not learned the art of peeing on the bike), but the porta potties were occupied, so I figured I'd just find another one along the course if I needed to go.
  • 2h 09m 47s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 55s  min/mile

Oh running....still my weakness, but for the first time ever, I didn't lose places on the run. Coming out of the water, I was 15th in my AG; coming off the bike, I was 14th in my AG; and despite a much slower run than expected/planned, I finished 11th in my AG, so I can't be disappointed with that.

I thought I'd be able to pull off a sub-2:00 run split, but it was just not to be. After getting through a rainy, cloudy bike leg, the clouds decided to part and the sun came out to play. It was hot and humid, which resulted in slower paces. Through mile 4, I was pretty close to the pace that I was shooting for....I was even feeling pretty good and thought I'd be able to pick up the paces for the next two loops.

To be honest, I wasn't paying attention to HR or pace all that much and was really just running by feel. Pace started dropping off steadily after the first loop, but to be honest, I was actually enjoying myself and didn't really care all that much. There were lots of people just walking at this point and I was feeling pretty decent (though apparently unwilling/unable to really put myself in the pain cave) and having fun -- the crowd support is really awesome (three loop course means you are very rarely away from the crowd!) and I knew a lot of people out there since it's a local race for me.

I walked through most of the aid stations enough to drink some water and put ice in my top or my hat. I ate three Gu's along the course -- one at mile 3, 7, and 10. Nutrition and hydration seemed fine to me, but my paces obviously dropped throughout, so something didn't go quite right -- not sure if it was swim/bike pacing (sorta doubt that), nutrition/hydration-related (sorta doubt that as well), fitness-related (very possible), sucking at running (definitely a contributor!), heat-related (probably), or just cumulative fatigue.

Regardless, my run split was much slower than I'd hoped for, but given that I actually gained AG places on the run, I can't be disappointed. I'm fairly pleased....certainly not satisfied, but fairly pleased.
What would you do differently?:

Continue to work on my running. Seriously, though, I often wonder if I should just plan for a massively positive split....throw down 8:00 miles for a few miles and then let it fall way off. Seems that regardless of how easy I pace for the first bit, I always end up with a positive split, so maybe I should just go big!
Post race
Warm down:

Crossed the finish line, was handed a finisher's hat, a medal, and a bottle of water. Matt was right there, so we talked for a few minutes while Marc was getting his blood sugar checked. Did a little bit of stretching but mostly just stretched my vocal cords :)

Headed to get some food after, which was a real let-down. They had some shitty, greasy pizza and not much else....all I really wanted was some chocolate milk and a banana, but they had neither....heard there were cookies at some point, but certainly not when I went through. Cut our losses and headed to Galveston Island Brewery to have a post-race beer with Marc and Matt instead....which beats chocolate milk anyways :)

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Wasted too much time on my run focus, while neglecting my biking and swimming....wasn't able to get back to my paces/power from last year, so I was going into this race knowing I wasn't as strong as I could have been. That said, it was really nice to not have any self-imposed stress to PR or that allowed me to just go out and have fun, which I did. I'm pretty pleased with this race....but certainly not satisfied. I refuse to believe I peaked last year -- I'm not ready to be on the downward slope, so I will work hard to get my power and paces back to where they used to be, and will crush a race at some point!

Event comments:

Pretty disappointing post-race food....and the women's small shirt is closer to a medium/large, so I'm basically swimming in it. The race, itself, was good, but the extras that you come to expect from an Ironman branded race were disappointing this time around.

Last updated: 2015-04-29 12:00 AM
00:37:52 | 2112 yards | 01m 47s / 100yards
Age Group: 16/95
Overall: 0/2341
Performance: Average
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 77F / 25C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 02:30
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
02:47:31 | 56 miles | 20.06 mile/hr
Age Group: 16/95
Overall: 0/2341
Performance: Average
Wind: Some
Road:   Cadence: 91
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 01:37
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Below average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
02:09:47 | 13.1 miles | 09m 55s  min/mile
Age Group: 19/95
Overall: 0/2341
Performance: Average
Course: Three loop run course with very few straight-aways
Keeping cool Average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5]

2015-04-30 8:40 PM

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Houston, Texas
Subject: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

2015-04-30 9:51 PM
in reply to: #5112183

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

Great race (and RR)!  Glad you were able to enjoy it without putting undue pressure on yourself - and race well at the same time.

The heat on the run climbed dramatically as the day progressed, so that gets my vote for the major contributing factor.  It clearly affected most runners - lots of wheels visibly coming off on the run!

I don't think you are on a downhill slide, or anywhere near it, from what you've said.  So, I'm looking forward to seeing you crush a 70.3 in the near future!

Congrats on the day, and it was great getting to hang out.


2015-05-01 4:22 AM
in reply to: #5112183

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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Great job Nicole!  Heat on the run is a real killer but when you move up places in your AG like that you know you did better than most in managing it!

2015-05-01 7:06 AM
in reply to: 0

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

Congratulations!!!  How awesome is it to be "pleased...certainly not satisfied"?!? That is a pretty good place to be in and I think it bodes well for this season of racing for you. Making up places in the run is really cool, great job. I understand it was hot by that point in the day, so you obviously worked through that pretty well.

Edited by cdban66 2015-05-01 7:07 AM
2015-05-01 7:34 AM
in reply to: #5112183

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

I am happy you are seeing the progress on the run. You didn't lose anything on the bike, you just put it aside temporarily to invest in the run.

It will all come back stronger.

No way you have peaked.
2015-05-01 8:35 AM
in reply to: #5112183

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Great job Nicole - really nicely done, and I think that run focus will pay dividends in the long run.

2015-05-01 9:04 AM
in reply to: marcag

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Bronze member
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Great job, Nicole- i think the attitude is spot on. You enjoyed your day but you definitely still have much more to look forward to and to train for ... 

And you AG placing is pretty nice too! :D 

2015-05-01 1:11 PM
in reply to: juniperjen

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Ooooh I love Green Flash! 

I think pleased and not satisfied is a great spot to be. Taking into account that your run specific block was compromised and that you jumped into training late for the S and B, I would say there is 0 indication you have already peaked and are on your way downhill.

Great race! 

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