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Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Triathlon

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Chattanooga, Tennessee
United States
Ironman Corp.
75F / 24C
Total Time = 6h 09m 10s
Overall Rank = 960/?
Age Group = 45-49
Age Group Rank = 126/191
Pre-race routine:

Sigh. I do not recommend the following "routine": 48 hours before race morning, I woke up with a pretty violent case of what seemed to be food poisoning or stomach flu. Major vomiting Thursday morning, diarrhea all day, too exhausted to do much but lie in bed. Barely survived the welcome banquet; all I was able to eat all day was a few crackers. Friday felt a bit better and was able to do a short practice swim and keep down a small amount of easily digestible food (toast, bananas, rice, miso soup), but got woozy and nauseated just setting up my bike and transition stuff. Decided I would try to at least do the swim on Saturday and then see how it went from there.

The bike course has a brutal 2000 foot plus climb at about 10 miles; figured my body would quickly let me know at that point whether or not it was up for a HIM!

Up at 5:30; three granola bars, little bit of coffee, but the latter was upsetting my stomach so gave up after half a cup. Walked to start about 1/2 mile away, finished setting up the bike. (At least no Garmin drama this year, not that it really mattered. I was mostly racing by feel due to being ill.) Stomach still touchy and feeling quite drained, but no major GI symptoms, so decided to start. No more food prior to swim start--didn't feel like it would go down well. Just tried to keep hydrated.
Event warmup:

None, except for dancing/bouncing to music. There was no swim warmup set-up for age group athletes.
  • 40m 31s
  • 1900 meters
  • 02m 08s / 100 meters

I felt okay on the swim and was pushing a typical HIM effort level, but just seemed to be going nowhere. I had seeded myself toward the back of the 31-33 minutes group as per my coach's advice, and felt like everyone passed me. Clearly too ambitious given what my body had in it today. Last year I was about 1/3 of the way through my AG, this year just back of MOP. Just tried to keep a steady effort and navigate well. Navigation was a challenge as the upriver portion was directly into the rising sun. Mentally I stayed focused and did not get distracted by Worlds hype (helicopters, announcers) like last year. Just kept swimming, but I don't think I ever found Nemo,.
What would you do differently?:

Not get sick two days before! Time was hideous--five minutes off a typical HIM swim for me, and eight minutes off my best swim split. Not sure how much to attribute to upriver portion, and how much to being sick.
Transition 1
  • 06m 3s

More efficient transition set-up than last year, maybe as men and women were separate races this year so there were fewer athletes on course at once. Nasty vertigo coming out of the water and up the steps; I had to walk most of the way to the bike bags. Felt better after I got my bike stuff and was able to jog through the rest.
What would you do differently?:

Not get vertigo so I could keep moving a little faster. Usually I only get it in cold water (unless I wear earplugs) or rough current. Not sure if due to current today or having been sick--unusual for me for pretty warm conditions.
  • 3h 11m 46s
  • 90 kms
  • 28.16 km/hr

All I can say is that I did what I could with what I had on that day. I didn't really hold back on the bike. I knew that given that I've been unable to run normally for over a month (tendinitis in one foot that makes it painful to push off my toes when running fast) and that I was doing this race in a weakened, underfueled state, the run at best would be a survival shuffle, at worst a death march or DNF. I decided to bike fairly conservatively to the hill, see how I felt going up at normal effort, and base subsequent effort on that. From the way I was feeling before the race and at the swim exit, I thought there was at least a 50% chance that I would either need to abort mission at that point, or just proceed at a leisurely "tourist" pace, and not actually push race effort on the bike. I'm normally a strong climber (probably because I don't weight much but have pretty high watts/kilo for my age and gender), but have had mixed results in hilly races. I actually felt quite strong on the hill (better, at any rate, than CDA) and seemed to be doing more passing than being passed. (Admittedly, I was passing mainly slower riders from the AG ahead, but still.....) So I decided just to ride by feel at race effort.
What would you do differently?:

I would be healthy! I would normally handle nutrition a bit differently than I did. I was having a hard time getting the gu down and it didn't seem to sit too well. I'd only brought half a dark chocolate bar (usually I do the whole bar as my main bike fuel for HIM, plus a back-up gu or two) on board, thinking my gut might not handle it well due to the fat, but actually that seemed to work better than the gu. I was so under-fueled that I ate most of the chocolate in the first 10 miles! I only got three gus down, and those in tiny increments of 1/3 pack per time every 20 minutes. What really worked was bananas. But it's hard to eat a banana and stay aero--I think I should stick with chocolate and gu when healthy!

If healthy, I could have pushed the bike harder. My NP was 156, and I felt like I could hold that for quite a bit longer, even in my weakened state, or push more into the 160's for HIM distance. I think my bike fitness has really progressed this year; I just haven't been able to have a strong bike and strong run in the same race for various reasons--illness, injury, inadequate recovery from training, travel, or other fatigue.

Maybe some pacing issues--I noticed that Nicole, who had a faster split than me by almost 20 minutes, had very similar NP to me (we weigh almost the same). But my average power was considerably lower than hers. I think pushing the uphills too hard and not hard enough on flats. Probably a case of feeding my own ego--overdoing the one thing I'm good at on a bike!
Transition 2
  • 02m 49s

This was one of the only races I've done where they've had "bike catchers"--you didn't have to actually rack your bike, just hand it off to a volunteer. So nice! Transition was a fairly straightforward matter of having a volunteer hand you your run bag, putting in helmet, and sitting down (they had chairs) to change shoes, then running out with hat, race belt, etc.
What would you do differently?:

Run faster?
  • 2h 07m 53s
  • 21 kms
  • 06m 05s  min/km

Again, it was a matter of doing what I could. I knew going into this, even before I got sick, that the run would not be ideal. I haven't been able to run pain-free since CDA, and no treatment has really worked consistently. Pretty much all of my running in August (anything beyond 30 minutes; mainly some brick runs and easy runs) had been in the pool. I figured that on a good day (without the food poisoning) my run would probably be around 1:52 to 1:55. But I was very underfueled and had pushed the bike pretty hard. I knew as soon as I ran out of T2 that the only realistic goal would be to finish, which was what I did. Pretty much a survival shuffle. There just wasn't enough left in my system to fuel anything else. For some reason, I felt more and more tired until 11 miles or so, then I actually started to feel better. By the end, running at almost normal pace. I did have three Gus with caffeine en route. Maybe it was the sugar and caffeine hitting the system, or there realization that at least I was going to finish! I was very careful to stay hydrated and keep on top of electrolytes so I think that helped.
What would you do differently?:

Not get injured; not get food poisoning (or maybe a virus) before an important race.
After how I felt the last few miles of the run, wonder if I could have pushed the run a bit harder earlier on. But not sure.
Post race
Warm down:

Not really, just walked around a bit and talked with some other athletes. Tried to eat but everything on offer seemed disgusting. Gagged down a chicken fajita and some Sprite. Got some ice for my foot and waited to welcome in a woman I know who was having a very hard time out there.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Being injured in the two months before the race. Getting food poisoning 48 hours before, which resulted in serious under-fueling. I would guess I got down less than 1000 calories total over the two days prior to the race. No "bonking" or death march, but I felt hungry and a bit weak most of the race. Sadly, my guts just weren't up to dealing with more food before or during the event (or even until about two days after). I tend to do pretty well even when healthy on minimal race nutrition (never ate anything or took in anything more than a few cups of Gatorade or de-fizzed Coke in any of my marathons), so I guess this helped me finish, if slowly.

Really baffled how the gut issues happened--I have spent most of my adult life in the developing world and in fact have rarely had any GI issues beyond the occasional rushed potty trip after questionable food. I think the last time I was this sick to my stomach was a decade ago in rural Laos during a record heat wave. This was NOT the usual nervous butterflies in the stomach--I woke up at 4 AM Thursday with intense cramps and vomiting.

My mom mentioned that she had been sick a few days before she met me in San Francisco the previous weekend, so maybe I caught it from her. Also could have picked up a bug on my travels before the race, or from one of the athletes at the expo. I'm very careful with what I eat before races and really hadn't had anything at all adventurous the day before--hotel breakfast buffet (eggs, cereal, yogurt) and a sandwich and soup at Panera for dinner.

After what transpired at Worlds last year, beginning to think I just don't have good karma with this event. I probably won't make qualifying for next year's event a goal. It's in South Africa, and even if Im healthy and racing well, I just don't feel it makes sense to go to Africa for a few days just to do an event--if I'm going to spend that kind of money to go somewhere that far away and exotic, I want to go when I have time to see and do more.

Event comments:

The race was very well-organized in general, especially considering the large number of athletes. Transition was set up much more efficiently than last year and the bike course was very well marked, UNLIKE last year. Lots of volunteers; aid stations plentifully stocked and volunteers were skilled at getting athletes what they needed. I am generally self-sufficient but was living off the course this time for bananas--the volunteers were really a godsend with those and the ice chips that keep me going on the run in hot weather. I would expect this level of organization from a world championship, and they delivered.

This course was almost ridiculously hard, with the possible exception of the run. (I would not consider the latter particularly hard if healthy, but it was rolling, with temps in the low 80's by the time my AG started, and many athletes would consider that challenging.) I kind of enjoyed it, though. I think the tough conditions would have played into my hands if I were healthy. Unfortunately, I wasn't. It was the slowest of all the HIM I have done, including my first one and the only time I've ever been over 6 hours.

Only one complaint--traffic control was lifted while I was still on the bike course. At several locations, beginning at around 60 km, cars were on the course, in my lane, in some cases impeding my forward progress and that of others. I and some others had to do a few risky maneuvers to continue forward. This was not just a matter of letting vehicles cross the course, or drive in one lane, but full restoration of traffic on some stretches. And it was not emergency vehicles, just local traffic. I realize I was MOP at that point in the final age group to start, but I think the organizers owe it to offer the same traffic control to all athletes who are within the time limit. It is simply unfair and unsafe otherwise. That was the only part of the whole event--pre, during, and post-race, that I felt was not up to the standards of a championship event.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2017-09-13 12:00 AM
00:40:31 | 1900 meters | 02m 08s / 100meters
Age Group: 101/191
Overall: 903/?
Performance: Bad
Suit: ProMotion Sleeveless Shortie
Course: Dive off a dock; swim across the Tennessee River (about 300m) to about 50m off opposite shore, swim upriver against moderate current under some (2? 3? Seriously, it seemed like 5, but it can't be that many!) bridges for about 900m, about 300m back across river, swim diagonally toward shore (with current) about 400m on opposite side to swim exit (stairs).
Start type: Dive Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 75F / 24C Current: Medium
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Bad
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 06:03
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Average Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Average
03:11:46 | 90 kms | 28.16 km/hr
Age Group: 117/191
Overall: 959/?
Performance: Average
Wind: Little
Course: Basically, flat about ten miles to an enormous 2000+ foot climb (Lookout Mountain), up very steeply for about 4 miles, rolling hills and false flats along top (ridge) of Lookout Mountain; one more steepish climb around 15-16 miles, net descent beginning around 60 km, back to town and transition on mostly flat roads. Total climb of 3400 feet.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 77
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:49
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:07:53 | 21 kms | 06m 05s  min/km
Age Group: 0/191
Overall: 0/?
Performance: Bad
Mostly 10-minute pace; for some reason I picked it up to 9-minute pace the last two miles and then finished at 7:40 pace for the last 1/2 mile. Not sure why--I just started feeling stronger then. Maybe psychological or nutrition-related.
Course: Two laps of a rolling course on both sides of the Tennessee River. Basically, out a parkway, back on a multi-use path, across a bridge, loop around residential neighborhoods across the river, back across a pedestrian bridge, repeat. No really long hills or anything terribly steep--similar difficulty to CDA run course.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %?
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? No
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

2017-09-14 7:36 AM

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

2017-09-15 12:38 PM
in reply to: #5228030

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Congratulations! You are one tough bird!

2017-09-15 12:48 PM
in reply to: #5228030

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

First, congratulations on competing at Worlds (again)! Second, what a great job - especially considering your illness and injury.  I agree with you about opening the bike course early - it stinks! 

2017-09-21 6:19 AM
in reply to: amd723

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship
those stomach bugs are airborne and they are RAMPANT - you put sick people in a metal tube and shut the door and keep them there for hours on end it's bound to make it's way around (that's why when 1 person gets sick on a cruise ship EVERYONE gets sick).

I felt your pain reading that post - way to push through. CRAZY STRONG!

2017-09-21 6:42 PM
in reply to: #5228030

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Bummer about the few days leading into the race, and sorry about the foot issue.  Hope you get it all worked out and will be back at it soon enough.  Way to push was a HARD course!

2017-09-22 12:40 PM
in reply to: ligersandtions

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, Minnesota
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Sorry to hear about your sickness!  I saw the review that Liz posted on Facebook and noticed you had been sick.   Definitely a curse for you.   Although, it would be really fun to go to South Africa... 

2017-09-23 7:10 PM
in reply to: BikerGrrrl

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship
Forget it! #1 I will be 49 next year; my chances of qualifying are very, very slim. #2 I cannot get more than 5-6 days of leave, no matter where in the world an event is, or how prestigious. It's the beginning of the school year, and I'm an elementary teacher. I felt bad just about leaving them for this race. Last year I had a much tougher class, and was paying the price for leaving them with a sub for months afterward. Fortunately, this year they are "easier" kids and bounced back better. It's way too much money, time, and sacrifice for one event. Not exactly a "been there, done that" thing, but I have "been there" twice, with pretty sucky results, and now it's become a lot less compelling.

On the plus side, this ghastly race yielded one awesome photo. This must be well into the final 200m--maybe I'm just excited to be almost done. Almost all my other tri and run photos are awful, even if I'm actually having a great race. One of my kids said, "Maybe it's like when two ugly parents have a really cute kid." This is the way I always wish I looked/felt like when I race.
2017-09-24 2:51 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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, Kronobergs lan
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship
You are one tough (crazy?) cookie!
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