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IRONMAN North Carolina - Triathlon

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Wilmington, North Carolina
United States
Total Time = 5h 46m 32s
Overall Rank = 243/1060
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 44/131
Pre-race routine:

Arrived in Wilmington on Thursday around lunch time. Stayed at Hilton Riverside, a few blocks from the convention center and finish line. Short walk over to check in and found no line whatsoever! As a matter of fact there wasn't anyone else in line or in the check in area at the time. Packet pickup was without issue, quick browse through the vendors and Ironman store, then back to the hotel. Short ride with my fellow Fat Frogs teammates Thursday afternoon was great but we should have tried going out before rush hour! It was a nice, easy ride for the small group of us that ventured out. Friday morning my brother and I did a brief practice swim with the Frogs and a short 15 minute run immediately following. Headed back downtown to pack transition bags, hit the last athlete briefing, and dropped off the run bags at T2. Finished the evening off with bike drop off at T1 and dinner with the Frogs, families, and friends.
Event warmup:

Took the shuttle from downtown to T1. Liquids on the bike, threw a few things in the bike bag, and took another shuttle to swim start. Warm up for the swim consisted of just trying to stay warm overall! Doubled up on layers to stay warm during the long wait until my swim wave started. Since a warm up swim was not allowed, stayed moving with some active stretches as the start time drew near. Changed into the wetsuit with about 30 minutes before my wave started, ditched an old pair of sneakers as we prepared to walk across the road to swim start. I was very prepared for cold weather considering my participation in IMFL '14 and IMMD '15 and never felt cold while waiting to get started.
  • 32m 57s
  • 1931 meters
  • 01m 43s / 100 meters

IMNC is known for the swim current and the boost it provides you. While awaiting the swim waves for the 70.3 to start, I saw the first swimmers from the full distance swim past our entry point 20 minutes after their scheduled start time so I knew it was moving particularly well! Our practice swim the day before included swimming parallel to the shore, first against the current and then back with the current. We opted not to swim across the channel because of existing boat traffic. While a few of my teammates ventured across, most chose not to do this. I wish I had just to get a better feel for the course. Although the sighting and turn buoys were not yet placed, being able to get an idea of the expected turns based on landmarks would have helped me. I studied the course map provided in the athlete guide and anticipated yellow turn buoys and red sighting buoys. Once in the swim, however, I had a hard time picking a good line to swim because I was seeing some red, some orange, and some yellow. I probably stopped swimming 8 - 10 times trying to ensure I was sighting correctly and wasn't missing any turns. The athlete briefing said to keep the buoys on your left and I did that but I really struggled. A pretty steady NW wind was creating a pretty good chop on the water and that didn't help. I had hoped for a 30 minute swim with the speed of the current and if my sighting had been better I would have gotten close but I am not sure I could have met my goal otherwise.
What would you do differently?:

Increase familiarity with the swim course.
Transition 1
  • 06m 12s

It was a long run from swim exit to T1 but I felt like I was flying! I did not stage shoes in which to run and the surfaces were not the best (or the worst). I picked out a wetsuit peeler early, had no issues getting the suit off, and made it into T1 and through without any issues. The air temp and wind speed led me to put on arm warmers but, otherwise, my attire was the same as if I were racing in the heat.
What would you do differently?:

As I sit here in my warm home writing this, I question whether I needed the arm warmers. I still think I would opt for using them if I had to do it again with the same conditions.
  • 3h 03m 7s
  • 56 miles
  • 18.35 mile/hr

It felt like a repeat of IMFL '14 and IMMD '15 riding with those winds but it wasn't nearly as cold so I was happy. My goal was to go sub-3 hours on the bike. Considering the conditions I am happy with my time. I train using HR and planned to keep my effort between 3.5 - 4.0 and kept it right there the entire time so I was pleased that I was able to hit those marks. I underestimated how starting in the final swim wave with probably 90% of the full and 70.3 participants ahead of me at the start of the bike. I received a drafting penalty at IMMD last year and wanted to make sure I didn't get myself in that situation again. It was very difficult though! With the new drafting rules in place, I had several times throughout the bike that I found myself trying to pass a line of people who were all drafting off of one another! I feel like I passed groups of people 4 - 8 people long who were all 2-3 bike lengths apart. I also had several times when I felt like just sitting back and getting out of aero was the best option for me because I didn't think I could clear the pack I was considering passing in the required time. If I had been more aggressive I would have hit my sub 3 long as I didn't get a drafting penalty. Over the course of the bike, I saw the motorcycle(s) with the referees four times. Each time they passed the ref was just kicked back on the bike! I didn't see any bike penalties issued on folks in my immediate vicinity.
What would you do differently?:

I may be a little more aggressive on the bike but overall I was pleased with my performance, all things considered.
Transition 2
  • 04m 52s

Because of construction in the immediate area of T2, we had a narrow carpet that led across a rock/dirt construction entrance. There was a traffic jam on the carpet so I went around them and ran through the rocks and dirt while pushing my bike. I am glad I left my bike shoes on my feet instead of taking them out before dismount. This allowed me to probably cut 1 minute off of my T2 time. The bottom of my shoes are evident of the rugged surface we were running on...they are scratched pretty badly! I ditched the arm warmers quickly, threw on the run shoes, grabbed my visor and race belt and was out of the tent pretty quickly. I think the total distance of T2 was about 1/2 mile!
What would you do differently?:

Nothing different on T2.
  • 1h 59m 20s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 09m 07s  min/mile

My goal was to run sub 2 hours and I made the goal! I really didn't think it was going to be possible though. I felt great coming off of the bike and through T2. I ran a lot through T2...and ran pretty hard I thought! I made it out of transition and on to the riverside boardwalk and within 1/4 mile I started feeling both hamstrings tightening up. I have never had this issue coming off of the bike before, either in a race or doing a ton of brick workouts over the last 3 years. I did have a couple of issues with this on some really long runs in the past but it was only one leg. The tight feeling was in both hamstrings very high up near the butt. As soon as that feeling hit me I immediately wondered what my run was going to have in store for me. I am a firm believer in S-Caps (or something similar) and have used them with great success. Although the temp was cooler, I tried to hit my hydration goal while on the bike and came pretty close. I also routinely take 2 s-caps per hour and did so on the bike. Knowing these would be needed sooner rather than later in my run I reached around to the pocket on my tri top to grab the baggie I had placed there in T2....only to find that they were still in my run transition bag! I had forgotten them somehow. After the race I looked through my transition bag and could not locate them so I am guessing they fell off to the side when I dumped the contents of my transition bag on the ground. Oh well! So then I went in conservative mode. I figured if I backed off a little bit and hit the first few aid stations pretty hard to load on on electrolyte containing items that I would be okay. And this plan worked! I actually think the rolling "hills" helped me out as well. While very slight, the down-grade sections on the run gave my hams a break and helped me tremendously. I made it into the park actually feeling really good. I was satisfied with my effort and really wasn't paying attention to pace at all. I felt it was in my best interest to run a little bit conservative and just see how things played out. I passed a few of my FFT teammates on my way to the run turnaround and that is always a boost. It is likewise a boost to hear the "Hey Fat Frogs" from the random stranger along the way too...and I heard a bunch of those! As I approached the turn around that feeling in my hams started creeping back in. I committed myself to walking through a few aid stations to ensure I was getting enough electrolytes in my body. I took a splash of cola at a few of those as well and that always tastes great when my diet over the last 5-6 hours has consisted of Infinit, water, and gu chomps! As I approached an aid station that I felt was at the 11 mile mark, I allowed myself a glance at my watch and saw 1:45. I was disheartened to see that because I knew my legs wouldn't stand for two 7:30 minutes / mile pace. But then I realized my Garmin was also telling me that I was actually at mile 11.5 so there was still hope! This boost of adrenaline renewed me a little as did the increasingly crowded course that was entering downtown. I made the left turn off of Front Street to a steep but short down hill segment that put you out on Water Street. I knew at that point that the finish line was about 100 yard away! After all, I had walked this segment multiple times in the previous two days since it was the area in front of the convention center. WRONG!! We had to run behind the convention center, do a few short hairpin turns first, and then hit the finish line chute! The finish line was electric as always with so many people cheering. I caught a glance at the Fat Frog Tri Team tent adjacent to the line but couldn't see or hear anyone in particular. As it turns out my family was on the opposite side of the chute from where I ran. No biggie! I crossed the line, grabbed one of the protein shakes they were handing out, and proceeded to find my family.
What would you do differently?:

The biggest thing for me would have been to have my S-caps with me. I was tempted to hit the BASE Salt booth at the mid-point of the run but opted against it as the words of all of our Fat Frogs coaches echoed through my head..."NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY!!" Overall I was pleased with my run. I hit my goal...not because I ran harder but because I ran smarter. I will take that as a win any day!
Post race
Warm down:

I was a little chilled within about 15 minutes of finishing. I grabbed some warm, dry clothes from my bag and was very comfortable the rest of the day.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Hydration, nutrition, electrolyte replenishment.

Event comments:

I knew going in this was going to be a race where consideration of logistics was important. Point to point to point is not hard to do but you just have to ensure you are organized in your preparation. Even though this was a 70.3 for me I planned my bags just like I did the last few years doing full distance events. I feel it was well supported by volunteers, especially considering everything the locals had to deal with in the weeks leading up to the race with Hurricane Matthew. I understand the frustration the full distance athletes experienced with a shortened bike. The initial plan by the race organizers to cut the bike to 50 miles and subsequent move to include 6 miles back into the route required them to have a few extra turns in the course. While some people were upset about this, I thought it was a good move. I was surprised with the number of times the bike course cut across traffic, however. I never felt unsafe during those instances but the potential exists for some bad things to happen. And, I can't imagine the level of frustration the residents who were caught up in the traffic experienced.

Finally, I would like to offer a huge congratulations to my younger brother, Jonathan Whitehurst, for completing his first Ironman 70.3 event! I so very much enjoyed the opportunity the previous 5 months had provided us to talk triathlon and train together. To think that 14 months prior he did his first sprint triathlon and since had really raised his game in all facets of triathlon is amazing. Great job bro! Also, thank you to my wife, Sherry, Justin, Julie, and Emma for being there for both Jonathan and myself. What a great support crew! And, finally, my Fat Frogs Tri has been a wonderful year working with you all. It is the most amazingly supportive group that you will ever find. We push each other to be better and to make each other laugh. Seeing each of you who were competing out on the course was great. To see your families there supporting you and the others was awesome. And to see those whose race season had already ended my the drive down to support each of us was humbling. You are all so very special. Lastly, much love and respect to some awesome coaches...Scott Taber, Walt Gonzales, Jonathan Harris, and the beast-mode himself, Chris Hepp, thanks for creating an awesome season. I will step away from triathlon for a few years while I go back to school but please reserve a spot in the Fat Frog Family for me....I will be back!

Last updated: 2016-11-08 12:00 AM
00:32:57 | 1931 meters | 01m 43s / 100meters
Age Group: 55/131
Overall: 321/1060
Performance: Average
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation: Bad
Time: 06:12
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
03:03:07 | 56 miles | 18.35 mile/hr
Age Group: 55/131
Overall: 291/1060
Performance: Average
Wind: Strong
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Below average Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks:
Time: 04:52
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike Below average
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:59:20 | 13.1 miles | 09m 07s  min/mile
Age Group: 44/131
Overall: 244/1060
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
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: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2016-11-08 8:54 PM


Subject: IRONMAN North Carolina
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