Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City
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Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City - Triathlon
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The swim was harder than I expected. It was a self-seeded rolling start, so I put myself in the top third of the 26-35 minute category, which turned out fine. I didn't notice anyone passing me (though I'm sure some did), no one swam over me or beat me up, and I was able to see the people i had to pass coming and prepare for them since they were closer to my speed. I took the swim out pretty easy. Apart from having to clear my goggles from fog twice at the beginning, I was able to see and navigate well. I thought the water was surprisingly choppy (it didn't look it visually, but I felt a chop and possibly current while I was in there). It was harder than I expected (and slower), though I wasn't pushing it and I didn't have to fight anyone. In retrospect, since later swimmers complained about a current stopping them in their tracks, that may have been what I was frustrated about. While it was not a hard swim for me, per se, I can't say I enjoyed it much. I just wanted to finish it and get on to the hard stuff.
What would you do differently?:
I might swim a little harder, honestly. I was just focused on staying long and smooth, and rotating better onto my right side, which I've been working on for a few weeks now. Other than that, I wasn't trying very hard - I just did it. I'm curious to know how I'd do if I pushed it a little.
I had the wherewithal to jog into transition and over to my stuff. I made the mistake of putting my tri club jersey on right away and not carefully enough, so it stuck in a big roll underneath my arms. I had to ask another woman near me to help pull it down (thank goodness for helpful strangers in transition!). I took my time through the rest of transition to make sure I didn't forget anything. I think it went pretty smoothly, if a little slow, but it was going to be slow regardless - it was a huge transition area and there was a lot of distance to cover. I was ultimately happy with it.
What would you do differently?:
Either find a new race kit or get that top on more carefully.
I took Darren's advice and took the bike slow. I wanted to get in under 3:30, which was about a 15 mph pace, so I made sure to ride just above 15 mph (and tried to stay below 18 mph) on the first loop. It was fairly easy to stick to my plan then - I'd placed myself very early in the swim corrals - in the water about 10 min after race start - so I was surrounded by some very fast people. I just ignored them as they went around me and stuck to my plan. The course was also not very crowded yet, so it was easier to do. The hard part was holding myself back. I was smart and at the second aid station about an hour into the course, I stopped for a quick bathroom break and to put on my chamois gel (that was my real reason to stop, but I figured I'd use the port-a-pottie while I was off the bike). That was a huge help, because I was definitely starting to chafe. I don't think I put on enough gel normally - the little sample packet I bought before the race had a LOT more than I would use, and I just spread it all on because I had it. It felt amazing to get back on the bike. It wasn't the end of my chafing issues, but it held them off a good long time. On the second loop, there were many more people closer to my speed and slower, so things got more challenging. I found myself passing a lot of people, and having to push myself to get around some of them (but was too close not to pass - I was concerned about drafting penalties). My second loop was significantly faster than my first because of this. On that loop, the wind started picking up on the course, especially along the Expressway, which made it more challenging as well. On my third loop, I was just trying to get through it. My back and neck were stiffening up from holding the bike position and that was making me grumpy. The wind was also more pronounced. I just wanted to get off the bike (which I was referring to as the pain machine at that point) and move on.
What would you do differently?:
I'd like to know if I could have gone harder. I also should have kept my cadence higher, but I was concerned about pushing my legs too much. It was a game of management.
Also, I'd take plain water on the bike instead of electrolyte water, because I started to feel like I'd overloaded on electrolytes early in the run and I was just dehydrated. Forcing myself to eat and drink was probably the hardest thing. I needed to stick with my plan better and DRINK every time my watch buzzed, instead of just eating and then drinking when I remembered. Especially with a saltwater swim. That is something that I need to work on through training - eating and drinking at set times like clockwork, so I don't have to think about it during a race.
When I pulled into T2, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to walk (which is what I said to the volunteer helping me dismount). My legs felt shot. But as soon as I swung off the bike, I realized that the stiffness didn't really transfer to walking. I still took T2 easy. I walked over to transition, took my time getting everything together, put on sunscreen, and then walked over toward the run out. I stopped at a port-a-pottie along the way. When I got over to the run out, I took a deep breath and started jogging, not sure if I'd be able to. I definitely surprised myself there.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing. I needed the reset time and I didn't take all that long at it. Taking it a little slower meant that I was sure I'd done everything I needed in transition and was ready to head out onto that run course.
I started off not sure if I could run at all, but once I started going it felt ok. Almost good, even. I knew, from watching people out there as I pulled in on my bike, that it was going to be a bit of a death march, so I didn't have high expectations. Just being able to run was good enough. The sun had also come out - it had been thickly overcast all morning, but I could see it breaking up as I got through the last loop of the bike. By the time I was running, the sun was out (on and off, at least, or I would be crispy with sunburn right now!). Running around Bader Field was tough because it was flat, open, and the sun was merciless, but I kept up a pretty good pace (my watch said under 10:00 for a bit and my first mile was 10:23 - my fastest by far). When my first walk interval turned up, I started to walk, and then quickly realized that it wasn't necessary and that I should probably keep running as long as I could, only going to those once I really needed them. I ended up running the first four miles. I was joined by Eric Duelfer from CJTC just before mile 3 and we ran together for a mile or so. He definitely helped keep me going, and I'm sure I did the same for him, since he was the first to bow out and walk a few minutes before I succumbed to intervals. Going by the CJTC aid station just before mile 4 and seeing Jeff jumping and cheering was a huge boost. We turned off the boardwalk at that point to go around the block, so I didn't get to see him up close, but I knew I only had two miles to go until I would, which kept me going. The slog down the boardwalk from there to the turnaround was really rough. The sun was out and blasting. The boardwalk seemed to go forever. And I was now doing the intervals. Walking felt better, but it was slow. Despite replenishing my water bottle with ice at the aid station at the turnaround, I was totally out of water by the time I finally made it to the CJTC aid station where Jeff was. Chris was there taking pictures and made us kiss for the camera, which gave me a big emotional boost. Lisa was kind enough to fill my whole water bottle from her pitcher behind the table (before this, I'd been taking a cup or two from volunteers and adding it to the bottle - now it was totally empty, so it was great to be able to get personal treatment at our club station!). I also stopped at the port-a-pottie, because I had started to have an upset stomach about a mile or so back (I was too dehydrated to go - probably a good thing, because I think I would have had diarrhea otherwise). From that point onward, things got really tough. The boardwalk was neverending. I was trying to manage my upset stomach. I was trying to take in enough water. I was keeping up with my intervals, putting one foot in front of the other until my Garmin told me I could walk. I was forcing myself to take shot bloks whenever my Garmin demanded it. I hated my Garmin. But I made it through. One step at a time, running until the Garmin told me I could have a break. It seemed like it took forever. I had a huge boost at the turnaround on the boardwalk's north end - I'd had a chance to stop at another port-a-pottie, I refilled my water one last time, and I was informed (as I knew from my watch) that there were just two miles to go. I felt re-energized and managed to increase my pace a bit, even starting skipping a few walk intervals. I walked my last up the ramp to the pathway around Caesars' pier. I started running again at the top, at 12.6 miles, knowing the finish chute was just around the other side. When I turned onto the boardwalk and saw that chute opening in front of me, with the finish archway, I started to cry. Not just cry, but sob.This was bad, because running while sobbing turns into hyperventilating. I had a few steps of serious distress before I forced the tears back down and focused on running the last tenth of a mile into the finish, seeing Jeff's face a few steps before the finish line. The finish was glorious.
This was a huge mental effort. They tell you that these longer races are all about mental fortitude, but there is no way to conceive of how mentally tough you have to be until you are there. I was never at the point that I could not continue, but I was discouraged and grumpy (inwardly, at least) for a good portion of the race. My thoughts were not positive - or, at least, not very. I felt super-tough, though, at being able to push through these thoughts and keep going. For as bad as I felt on the run course, I'd expected to feel much worse and deal with it much more poorly than I did.
What would you do differently?:
Nutrition. As I exited Bader Field to run over to the boardwalk, I started getting dehydration chills. I was carrying a bottle with half Gatorade-half water, but I think I was overloaded on electrolytes at that point, between that and the shot bloks. I needed more regular water, especially since I took in a bit of salt water on the swim. (The catch is, if I was better hydrated, I think my upset stomach would have been a much bigger problem.) I did, however, manage to improve the hydration situation, because the chills that I'd had toward the beginning were not present by the end. I think I got myself drinking enough to mitigate it and get back to a less severely dehydrated state.
I also want to remember that the first thing I said to Jeff afterward is that I never want to do this again and that it hurt more, and from earlier on, than I'd ever expected. I knew the run would hurt, but I was not expecting the bike to be as hard as it was, nor to (not struggle, precisely but) feel frustrated during the swim. It was tougher than I'd thought, and I knew it would be tough. During the race, I several times thought that I should not do it again. I'm no longer so sure, but I do want to remember that feeling to mitigate any grand ideas I might be getting in the future.
I tried to keep walking around as long as I could, since I felt so stiff and knew I was going to be in the car for a long time. I didn't think I could eat anything at the finish, but I eventually went over to the food tent and got some soft pretzels and a banana (and almost gagged at the sight of piles of bacon in there - I was not ready to smell bacon yet). I also made myself drink a lot of water. I ended up having three soft pretzels and two bottles of water. I felt MUCH better after eating.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Training. While I had sufficient training volume in my schedule, and was clearly in sufficient cardio condition to manage this well, I felt like my muscles were not used to it. When I put together my training plan, I didn't add in enough long runs and rides, especially in the weeks leading up to this. More longer workouts would have helped me considerably.
This was a very well-run event. Delmo does a great job, from keeping athletes informed beforehand to covering all logistics during the event. I wasn't that enthusiastic about the course, though. Cycling on the AC Expressway sounds cool, and the course is technically closed, but having just a line of small cones to protect you from traffic speeding along in the other lanes is terrifying. And while running on the boardwalk is nice, the AC boardwalk is a depressing place to be right now, which didn't help my mindset on that portion of the course (the Ventnor section was really nice, though). I would absolutely do a Delmo race again, but I'm not sure if I want to repeat this one.
Last updated: 2016-11-01 12:00 AM
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70F / 21C
Overall Rank = 1243/2474
Age Group = F35-39
Age Group Rank = 52/139
Woke up 4:15. Had a Clif bar and banana as well as half a big Gatorade. Checked out of the hotel and drove over to transition. We got there way earlier than we needed to (for fear of traffic getting in - at least that meant we got to park pretty close by). There was a lot of dead time for me in the morning.
Around 6:15, I did a very short warm-up run - on Darren's recommendation, just until I broke a sweat. Then we had a team picture and lined up in the swim corrals.