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Ironman 70.3 Pucon - Triathlon

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Pucon, Chile
World Triathlon Corporation
75F / 24C
Total Time = 5h 33m 33s
Overall Rank = 470/1319
Age Group = F30-34
Age Group Rank = 6/34
Pre-race routine:

This report is going to start from July, 2015 and work forward to January, 2016. After a few lackluster (disappointing) races early in the season, I sent Marc a text and asked if he would be willing to take on another athlete. Whatever I was doing was not working and I wanted a coach I trusted and knew his philosophy meshed well with me. I was targeting Miami 70.3 in October, 2015. I had a wine tasting trip planned in California the second weekend of July, so I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather and pretty surroundings to get in some running -- what I didn't account for was the fact that it was hilly and my training for the past 10 months had been nothing but flat terrain. My right foot started hurting at the end of the trip, but I figured it was nothing and continued to train through it. By the end of the month, after a couple weeks of running through pain, I finally had to come clean and say that I might be injured. I went to a doctor and was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my third metatarsal. This did not bode well for Miami....

Marc talked me off the ledge multiple times during this period and we put together a plan to (hopefully) get me to Miami. I aqua jogged my ass off and we ramped up the bike training. I was holding out hope that I'd be able to start running fairly quickly and salvage the race, but every time I tried a bit of running, the pain was still there. By mid-September, I was back in the boot and it was clear that Miami was out.

I had this hair-brained idea that maybe I would race Pucon 70.3, a race that's been on my bucket list for years, but one which I was never willing/able to pull the trigger on because it's in January, which either makes for a really early start to the season or a really late end to the season....but with a mid-season break due to a stress fracture and expectations that work will be very busy for a few months in mid-2016, it was perfect timing. I went on to register and was disappointed to find that it was sold out. I then re-learned about traveling with Endurance Sports Travel (which is how I first learned about this race) and found that they still had space available -- I booked through them as soon as I could and was all set for the race....oh, except for the fact that I still wasn't running...

I was finally able to start running at the end of October (basically the weekend of Miami 70.3) with no pain. Marc was smart and forced me to ramp up slowly, despite my best efforts to re-injure myself ;)

Started out with a run/walk plan for a couple weeks and eventually got to the point where I could do 30 minutes continuous, 5x a week. We ramped up by 10% from there, keeping everything easy (not focusing on pace at all) and stuck to softer surfaces (trails, tracks, treadmills). In order to compensate for the low run volume, I was biking quite a lot and happy with my bike fitness.

I flew to Chile Wednesday evening before the race, arriving in Pucon Thursday afternoon. I didn't sleep much, but was feeling great. I got in a few runs, one ride, and one swim before the race and it felt like everything was coming together. I dropped the bike off on Saturday, had a late lunch / early dinner (pizza and a couple glasses of wine), and then went to the athlete briefing (which, unfortunately, was all in Spanish, so I only caught bits and pieces of it!). I was very excited and a little nervous the night before the race and it continued right through to race morning.

This was my first real race with a coach and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I didn't want a bad performance to reflect poorly on him (I could just imagine him saying, "oh god, that one's not mine!"). Any shortcomings were completely my fault and should not be a reflection on him....between injuring myself, getting sick three weeks out from the race, having family in town for a week over Christmas and basically being drunk every day (seriously, I'm dumb!), and being unable to sleep in the days before the race, I was more than a little concerned, but was also feeling good, so I was hopeful. And for what it's worth, everything I did well in this race is due to him....everywhere I did poorly is all on me! Because, again, sometimes I'm dumb ;)

Event warmup:

Set up transition, pulled on my wetsuit, and seeded myself for the time trial swim start

  • 38m 3s
  • 1900 meters
  • 02m / 100 meters

The sand on the beach was more like small pebbles and my feet weren't particularly happy, but I knew it would be forgotten as soon as the race started. Since it was a time trial start (three athletes every five seconds), I wasn't able to rinse my goggles out before starting, so my goggles were fogged, despite spitting in them / licking them. After I first dived in, I knew it was going to be necessary to rinse them out, rather than fight with fog the whole race....I didn't do a very good job because they remained foggy, which was irritating.

The swim was packed the whole time -- I never found clear water, so I settled in and tried to find feet that were moving at a reasonable pace, but never found a great set and continued to work may way through the course and around the slower swimmers.

At the half-way point, you get out and run 80m on the beach (with the pebbly sand). Since my goggles were still foggy, I tried to fix them again when I got back in the water....did a better job the second time! With the horizontal to vertical to running to horizontal again, my HR and breathing were way up when I got back into the water; I took it easy for a few strokes and settled back in. The swim was already feeling really long -- I wasn't sure if it was actually long or if I was just anxious to get onto the bike.

When I got out of the water and saw 37:XX, I knew either the course was long or I was way slower than I had expected. I'm pretty consistently in the 33-34 minute range if the distance is correct. Marc told me that the female winner was three minutes faster last year and another AG competitor who consistently swims right about 30' went 34', so the swim was 3-4 minutes longer, which puts my time at about typical (which, of course, is not where I want it to be, but that's a whole different thing...).

What would you do differently?:

It's hard to say if I should have seeded myself further forward, in hopes of finding some better feet....or further back given that my time was quite a bit slower than anticipated. I would like a fool proof way to make sure my goggles weren't foggy, but given that getting in the water was not an option and I didn't have anyone there who could pour water into my goggles before the race, I'm not sure how to fix that problem.

Transition 1
  • 05m 11s

This was the longest transition I've ever seen! It's five city blocks long!! It's a flow-through transition, so actually quite nice, but definitely did not make for quick transitions. Coming out of the water, I got the wetsuit half off before making it to the wetsuit strippers -- I scoped out my options and picked the strongest looking guy I could see and went to him. He yanked my suit off, but one of the heels got caught momentarily. As I was grabbing the wetsuit back from him, I bumped the "lap" button on my 910, so it wanted me to start biking when I still had five blocks of running (without shoes) to even get to my bike.

Once I got to my bike, I put on my socks and shoes, pulled the helmet on, and then slid on my sunglasses....grabbed the bike and ran (a very short distance) to the mount line. Mounting was pretty uneventful, and finally time to start the ride!

What would you do differently?:

Be a better runner so it doesn't take me so long to get through the long transition area!

  • 2h 43m 6s
  • 90 kms
  • 33.11 km/hr

It was cool and misty when I started the bike and my legs felt great. The early part of the bike course was crowded and many people were not riding legally, though did not appear to be blatantly drafting or working together (yet). I had to burn some matches early on in an effort to ride clean. Marc had said to take it easy at the start, but my legs felt good and I wanted to ride a clean race, so I decided to put in a few harder efforts and figured I could recover from them later. In hindsight, I think this was the right decision, but there was a long stretch during which I was cursing myself because I was feeling bad (more about that in a minute).

Between the misty weather, the cooler temperatures, and me warming up, I was struggling with my sunglasses. They were fogging up and difficult to see through, driving me nuts throughout the whole ride. I didn't have anywhere to stash them, so I continued to deal with it and figured I'd ditch them at transition.

Marc and I have talked about the mental aspect of training and racing pretty extensively. He always reminds me that there will be dark moments and that they'll eventually pass. I know myself pretty well, so when I get into them on the bike, I need to do three things: 1) eat, 2) hydrate, and 3) back pedal to confirm my power meter isn't lying to me. I saw the first pro heading back to Pucon at 17.5 miles in and instantly wished I was there instead of just on my way out. And suddenly my legs stopped feeling good and the dark moment started to creep in. I used all of my coping mechanisms and reminded myself that it would pass. RPE and power were not jiving, but HR and power were exactly where I expected they'd be, so I pushed through and reminded myself again and again that it would pass. And it finally did -- about an hour later!!

Marc and I also talked about bike strategy leading up to the race and while target power was in the low-150's, he said to not be afraid to surge a little when necessary and ride in the 160's if I could stay draft-legal distance behind someone. I found someone perfect for this and settled in....this is when my dark moment passed and I enjoyed the "chase". I think we did this for about five miles, and then at mile 42, I got swallowed up by a 30+ person peloton. I coasted and let myself get spit out the back, but was extremely irritated that a) they were cheating, and b) I was having to hold low power to stay out of there, but was not willing to burn that many matches to pass them and stay ahead! After maybe a mile, a marshal on a motorcycle was passing in the opposite direction and I started pointing wildly at the peloton -- he turned around and handed out penalties, breaking up the group.

At this point, I settled back into my power and was feeling great. This is the net downhill portion of the course, which (despite being small) is my strength. I was flying by people and enjoying the hell out of myself! I took a couple small moments to try to pee on the bike, but no-go....I'm hopeless! Pulling into transition, I slipped my feet out of my shoes and got ready to dismount.

I was pretty pleased with this ride, but still felt like I biked "scared" a little bit. I'm not a good runner, so I tend to undershoot power goals in hopes that I can run. At least this time I didn't undershoot by too much, but I suspect that's part of why I had a long dark moment. The plan was to ride 154-155 on the way out and bring the power down to 152 on the way back in. At the turnaround, NP was 151W; as I was making my way back in, it dropped to 150W, but when I finally started feeling better again, it came back up to 151W. At the end of the ride, I was at 151/149 NP/AP, which I was pretty happy with, but also kind of wish I had been confident enough to push through the dark moment just a little stronger.

In the end, however, I had the 14th fastest female bike split, including the pros. I was exactly seven minutes slower than Rachel Joyce!!! That's pretty cool :)

On the ride, I ate three full Honey Stinger Waffles (was expecting to only eat two of them, but this is how I managed the dark moment and I'm grateful that I was smart enough to put three in my bento box), and drank two bottles with Skratch mix and one bottle of water that I grabbed from the aid station.

What would you do differently?:

I managed the dark moment pretty well, but do wish I'd been able to push a little stronger in here.

Also, in talking with EST's bike mechanic, he says I'm leaving a decent amount of time on the table due to my bike maintenance skills (I really suck at maintaining my bike, which is a bad habit given I use the trainer as much as I do). My chain is rusty and stretched out....definitely in need of replacement. He said there are a number of other things that could be cleaned up, which would minimize drive train losses, so same power would translate to higher speed. Need to get better about this....or just take it to my bike mechanic back home and have him clean everything for me on a regular basis.

Transition 2
  • 04m 41s

This was kind of a shit show....can definitely tell I haven't raced in a long while! I noticed one of those sandy pebbles in my sock while on the ride, so I wanted to change socks in transition -- I know this is a waste of time and probably shouldn't ride with sock anyways, but I haven't yet built up my tolerance to ride without socks. Anyways, pulled the bike socks off and slipped on the socks I had ready in case I wanted to do this, then slipped on my running shoes. I grabbed my hat, race belt, and nutrition and started to run out. About five steps away from my transition area, I realized I was still wearing my sleeved top that I had on for the bike and did NOT want on for the run. I unzipped and ran back to drop it at my spot before making my way through the long transition (which worked in my favor, I think, since the start of the run course is I had five blocks of flat running to get my legs back under me).

What would you do differently?:

Remember to ditch the sleeved top -- probably just need to race more often!

  • 2h 02m 34s
  • 21.1 kms
  • 05m 49s  min/km

As I say in pretty much every race report -- I need to learn how to run! Of course, I was coming off a three month injury and only had two months of run training under my belt at this point, but still, I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO RUN!!!

This is not an easy course. The run has as much elevation gain in 13.1 miles as the bike course had in 56 miles! It's a three loop course and all of the climbing and descending are in the first 4k, and the last 3k are flat. With it being a three loop course, there was crowd support the whole time. Even if I don't speak much Spanish, you can still tell they're excited for you and it did help!

The plan was to take the first loop easy (letting HR go up into the low-150's on the ascents, but bringing it back down into the low- to mid-140's on the descents and flat sections) and increase effort a bit for the second loop, and give it what I had left for the third loop. Marc said "you should hit the 1/4 point thinking it's manageable, 1/2 point thinking it's going to be work, and the 3/4 point wishing it was over but able to slog it out". I was actually very pleased with my execution of this plan.

Everyone was blowing by me on the first loop as I was being conservative. I was starting to pass a number of people on the second loop, which is always a confidence booster. By the time I hit the flat section, my HR was steady at 152 and miles were ticking off at a sub-9 pace (8:40-8:50), which I was really pleased with, given that I was nearing my longest post-injury run distance at this point. It was still feeling manageable, but I was starting to feel the fatigue set in. I started the third loop and was feeling okay on the "out" portion of the hilly section, but coming back was starting to feel painful! I hit ~9.5 miles and had my last Gu and hoped I could hold off the dark moment that I could feel coming on. I hit 10 miles and knew there was only a 5k left....pace was slow at this point since I was still on the hills. My HR was sky rocketing up the hills, my quads and big toes were screaming on the downhill portions. I was keeping a running tally in my head of how many ups and downs I had left, and how much time I figured I had to go....I kept my mind preoccupied (and continued to pass people) and as soon as I came out of the peninsula and into the flat section, I knew I was home free!

The flat section in the final loop had my HR in the 157-158 range for most of it, but my pace was a few seconds per mile slower than what it was during the second loop. At this point, I had run further than anytime during training, so I knew I'd reached my fitness level and that it was purely heart and will power going to get me through to the finish. I never once stopped to walk (didn't even consider it!) and was incredibly proud of myself. As I neared the end, I finally got to take a right to the finish line, rather than continuing on for another loop, and just soaked in the experience that is finishing a challenging race that you've trained hard for. I crossed the finish line, arms raised high, and felt proud of myself for getting there with a well-executed race -- time be damned, it didn't even matter! It was a bonus when I learned what my actual time was and realized it was a PR, despite a challenging course and less run fitness than desired.

Nutrition and hydration: I had three Gu's on the run -- one at 3 miles, 6 miles, and 9.5 miles. I grabbed a cup of water at each aid station, which were plentiful. This worked out very nicely! And despite not being able to pee on the bike, I had a little chat with my bladder and told it that we weren't if it came down to it, I needed to go without breaking stride. Turns out, I never had to go badly enough.

What would you do differently?:

LEARN HOW TO RUN!!! Then learn how to run up hills and down them (my soon-to-be black toenails are begging for me to learn how to run down a fucking hill!). Oh, and don't be a moron and injure yourself :)

Post race
Warm down:

Drank some Gatorade (because I couldn't find water), did a little bit of stretching, headed to the hotel room to take a quick shower, got result updates from Marc since the IM tracker was showing swim times based on the pro's start time. I didn't find the food or massage area until much later, at which point the line for the massage was crazy....and the food spread was pretty dismal

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Swim -- need to figure out why I'm not able to put together a good swim consistently. My best swim was 32:XX, but I can't seem to replicate that, and this swim time was pretty disappointing. I seem to be better in the pool than my OWS times would indicate (or worse in OWS than my pool times would indicate...)

Bike -- confidence in my run is probably the biggest thing, but actually taking care of bike maintenance should be very high on my priority list

Run -- NEED TO LEARN HOW TO RUN!!! I think Marc is working on a plan :)

Transitions -- race more often so they're smoother (or at least not a total shit show!)

Event comments:

Absolutely beautiful race, but there are some improvements I think that could be made. I know most people speak Spanish, but for those of us who don't, at least having material written in English would be nice (I'm not asking that they do the whole race briefing and everything in English, but at least being able to read it would have been nice).

It didn't affect me, but they didn't hand out any nutrition on the bike or run courses, and I know they had said they'd have Gu on course (well, the translated version of info on the website said they would....assuming the translation was correct). Again, it didn't affect me, but there were no toilets on the course anywhere (not in transition or on the bike/run course). Tons of people were stopping at the turn around point on the peninsula to pee!

Post-race food (and access to it) could have been better. After a HIM, I need to replenish calories, but there weren't a lot of options.

Last updated: 2016-01-12 12:00 AM
00:38:03 | 1900 meters | 02m / 100meters
Age Group: 7/34
Overall: 475/1319
Performance: Below average
Suit: Tyr Cat 5
Course: M-shaped course with an 80m run on the beach
Start type: Run Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Below average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 05:11
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Average
02:43:06 | 90 kms | 33.11 km/hr
Age Group: 3/34
Overall: 368/1319
Performance: Good
Wind: Some
Course: Out and back between Pucon and Curarrehue
Road: Rough  Cadence: 87
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 04:41
Overall: Below average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Below average
02:02:34 | 21.1 kms | 05m 49s  min/km
Age Group: 13/34
Overall: 639/1319
Performance: Good
Course: Three loop course -- 4k hilly, 3k flat
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
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: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2016-01-13 8:21 PM

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Houston, Texas
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Pucon

2016-01-14 8:03 AM
in reply to: #5161604

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pucon

Fantastic PR Nicole, and incredibly well executed race.  Enjoy the rest of your vacation!

2016-01-14 10:08 AM
in reply to: GoFaster

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pucon
Great job!! I enjoyed reading your report!

Have fun on vacation!
2016-01-14 6:23 PM
in reply to: mtnbikerchk

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PEI, Canada
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Pucon

Great job Nicole, congratulations on a great race!

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