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Ironman 70.3 Vietnam - Triathlon

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Da Nang,
Ironman Corp.
93F / 34C
Total Time = 5h 34m 30s
Overall Rank = 207/1055
Age Group = 45-49 W
Age Group Rank = 4/26
Pre-race routine:

Up at 3:45 (ugh); three granola bars and coffee; shuttle to the Hyatt at 4:30; set up transition. Had to wait to finalize things as they weren't sure the swim was on. The announcement was made at 5 AM that we would swim. Finished setting up; stood in line for world's grubbiest porta-potties, on to swim start and "warmup".
Event warmup:

Very strong shore break quite a ways out, so really no swimming as such, just spent about five minutes jumping around and diving through waves to acclimatize to water temps, check goggles, and practice diving under waves.
  • 34m 13s
  • 1900 meters
  • 01m 48s / 100 meters

Getting out through the break was pretty crazy. Big swells of 2m, some a bit higher. Luckily it was quite shallow through about the first half of the break. It was actually faster to walk/run/dolphin dive and then dive under the waves as they broke. Those who tried to swim too early just got tossed around and often pushed back toward shore. My mom said some of the people in the slower waves had no clue what to do and ended up tossed back on the beach! Some were being coached wave by wave through the break by rescue kayaks. Even once out beyond the break it was rolling. Just tried to keep a high stroke rate and not get messed up with navigation by the current. A few times on the way out I felt like I was veering too far toward shore due to strong onshore current.
What would you do differently?:

Not sure. I did the best I could. Maybe try to find a line to the course rope earlier on the first horizontal part of the T so I could follow it (since I prefer to breathe to the right anyway) and not veer toward shore as much after the first turn.
Transition 1
  • 03m 57s

Felt pretty good out of water and ran at a decent clip into T1. Time should be a bit faster than in previous years as run is a bit shorter (but longer for T2; it would balance out). They messed up with the T1 exit--were supposed to let the people at that end (pros, Asian Elite, and AWA) out the front, but my mom said they closed it after the pros, so AWA's actually had to run around the back and we ended up with a net disadvantage to the other age-groupers!

What would you do differently?:

Not sure. I was pretty efficient. But still I think I lost time on transitions. I was 23rd, 28th, 24th woman on each leg respectively, but ended up 29th overall. Unless they mixed a few relay people into the results (which has happened before), I must have lost 3-4 places based on transitions.

  • 2h 48m 34s
  • 90 kms
  • 32.03 km/hr

Pretty even pace of 31-33 kph except for one section between 62 and 68 km where there is a really substantial headwind (I think all three years I've done this race) and it was 27 kph. Unlike any other hot race I've done, I felt uncomfortable and awkward right away on the bike. Glutes and hamstrings felt tight and unusually fatigued, although I'd felt fine out of the water and in T1. Something just seemed not right about my position. But maybe it was an efficient one--time was fast although power was low! (See below.)
What would you do differently?:

My coach said cadence seemed low, especially in the last 25-30 km. Much of that was into a stiff headwind; I think I needed to use an easier gear. When I did that, it seemed too easy and I couldn't get power even into the 140's. But the next gear felt a bit too hard. I really think I need a new bike--gears have been getting more and more temperamental in the past year or two, despite repeated maintenance. Power seemed low for the distance and effort (NP= 145) but I was over seven minutes faster than my previous best on the same course in nearly identical conditions. When I tried to hit 150-160 (goal), it didn't feel at all sustainable. Possibly a PM issue. Position may also have been off. I accidentally set the seat height with running shoes on the day before the race. Don't do that again!
Transition 2
  • 03m 29s

My legs were really in bad shape off the bike--I could barely feel them--so I ended up walking a lot of T2. I think partly a function of the seat position issue, partly pushing too low a cadence and too hard a gear into the headwind (bad habit of mine), and partly just lack of anything that might pass for HIM run fitness.
What would you do differently?:

Put on the extra pieces (race and hydration belts, hat, sunglasses) as I run/walk out of T2. Don't stand there by the bike and do it!

  • 2h 04m 18s
  • 21.1 kms
  • 05m 53s  min/km

I knew the run would be rough, as my run fitness really isn't there yet to do much more than "complete" this leg of the race.

It's a long saga, but I lost at least four months of training from last August till the end of last year with an apparently misdiagnosed injury (Morton's neuroma misdiagnosed as capsulitis and a partial ligament tear). The MRI I finally got showed nothing wrong with the joint or ligament and no sign of previous injury to them; the neuroma that was missed on the ultrasound in Vietnam (because it was UNDER the ligament in question, thus causing what appeared to be pain from that) was found by a podiatrist in the US.

I am still dealing with sone lingering effects of the neuroma, but they seem to be under control. The main issue is getting back resilience and fitness after four months of no running and two months of partially immobilizing that foot. I don't think I even did the race distance in training before this race, or at any time since Worlds in September. My long runs got up to 1:50, twice. My long run in March was still 1:10 at one point. I've struggled with all kinds of random niggles that seem related to losing resilience from time off running, and the rest of my body adjusting to the orthotics that control the neuroma and the shoes that will fit them

It's really only been in the last two weeks that I'd done any substantial attempts at run speedwork. So basically I did what I could with very marginal run fitness. I was no doubt more conservative than I would have been had I actually been able to train properly, and had conditions been cooler.

I really struggled at the start. Literally could not feel my legs and had to walk much of T2. It seemed to take nearly till the turnaround to get into what felt like a normal stride/cadence, then it just got really, really hot.

Some cramps (calves and shin) in last 2-3 km, but the worst of it held off till just after the finish. I really think if I'd pushed the earlier part any harder, I might have ended up regretting that and walking a lot of the last few miles.
What would you do differently?:

Not get an injury misdiagnosed and take almost four months off running unnecessarily?! There were points where I think I "might" have been able to push the pace a bit harder, but with the heat and the cramping late in the race, I really don't know.
Post race
Warm down:

Not much of one. I really felt overheated although I wasn't dehydrated. This is actually the best I think I have handled nutrition and hydration in a race of this distance. Never felt unusually hungry or thirsty during or after the race, and no electrolyte issues. But many of the aid stations did not have ice and the water they were pouring over us was lukewarm!

I jumped eagerly into one of the "cold pools" and it was also lukewarm. Disappointment of the day. Someone brought over a big block of ice but with all the hot bodies in the pool, it was just cool-ish. Then suddenly what felt like every single muscle in my legs cramped. It didn't go away, so I kind of rolled out of the pool and into the sand. Managed to stand up after a minute or so, and went to get a massage but they wanted me to sit and wait 20 minutes and I knew I wouldn't be able to get up, so I just helped myself to some recovery drink at the Hammer tent (at least THAT was cold) and wandered to where I thought the post-race food was while trying to find my mom.

Never did find either; I did find a student at our school and her mom who told me my results (her husband was still out on the course). Kept looking for food; ran into a volunteer who told me it didn't start until 3 PM. What? Found Mom at agreed upon backup meeting place in hotel lobby and eventually we found the food. Rest of "warmdown" consisted of retrieving bike and transition stuff in what felt like 150 degree heat and dropping it off with BikeLife (LBS) who were handling the transport for me.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

*Tough conditions on the swim and relative rustiness in dealing with them; did better than a lot of people, though. Thank goodness for those two years bodysurfing in Hawaii!
*Possibly improper (or maybe just unfamilar?) bike position; poor gearing choices at a few points on the bike.
*Lack of anything that might be described as run fitness
*The usual heat and humidity

*Utter life chaos and crappy luck over the past several months. I really worked hard on swim and bike over the winter, as I'd planned to do Challenge Wanaka in February, even if I'd had to DNF or walk much of the run--it's been on my bucket list for a long time. But my dad passed away hours after my last brick two weeks before that race, so I returned to the US for three weeks instead. Very minimal training during that time and lost a lot of the gains I'd made. Since then have been trying to balance work, training, and caring for Mom.

All I can say is "faster" was beside the point today. I'm just happy to have arrived at the start line reasonably healthy, pulled off a strong swim and bike, gotten a result in the ballpark of my previous times here despite really limited run fitness, and not aggravated any injuries.

Two of the best women regionally and possibly worldwide just moved in my AG and were in this race; #1 and 2 wouldn't have been in the cards for me even with the race of my life; I was closer to them than in past races so pleased with that. I think had my training/life worked out better, or maybe just execution of this race, I might have had a chance at podium. But I can live with my results.

I've had a love-hate relationship with this race. I started my triathlon "career" here in Vietnam and was there for the first IM race in this country on a hideously hot day when I was really sick with the flu. I also qualified for Worlds from this race by winning my AG the following year. I am leaving Vietnam at the end of this school year, and felt I needed to do this event one more time as a "goodbye" to the people and events that have helped make these years such an adventure. I was happy to leave with a strong effort despite a very tough past year or so.

Event comments:

The event is well-organized but its setting in a tropical developing country poses some unique challenges. Swim was tough--I question the wisdom of having it for AG athletes when many are weak swimmers. To me, the safety setup did not look adequate for the rough conditions and numbers of people, but I guess I am not the expert in these matters. Luckily no one drowned, though my mom said there were a lot of DNF's and DQ's (people getting assistance or not meeting the cutoffs). This included the oldest man in the field, who is a SE Asian legend.

The new transition was extremely exposed to the sun and miserable. They ulitized porta-potties at a public beach, which were honestly the worst I have ever seen at an athletic event anywhere. Hopefully no one will get typhoid. (Yes, that bad.) No flush, no chemicals, no TP, no way to clean hands; excrement and water on floor, most doors did not latch shut.

Volunteers accidentally closed front exit to transition after pros, giving AWA's and Asian Elites a disadvantage over other athletes (we had to run out the opposite end). Mom tried to ask about it and they didn't speak English. No porta-loos on bike or run course--your only choice would be to use a public beach toilet or enter a restaurant--either might require money. This is due to some city ordinance special to Danang. Traffic is basically controlled but some people got through anyway--one needs to be very alert on the bike.

Despite these challenges, it is a beautiful course that showcases coastal Central Vietnam. Volunteers are enthusiastic if often limited in experience and English skills, and there is great support from the local sponsors. Marou (a local artisanal chocolate company) created a special dark chocolate energy bar for the event and gave everyone two. You also get a custom china event cup from Minh Long, and this year there was even a special one with AWA on it for AWA athletes.

Aside from resolving the potty issues and transition snafu, my only comments to organizers would be:

1. Bring back the Ru Nam Coffee sponsorship, and the three days of unlimited java for racers!
2. Keep Revive as the energy drink for the future. Never, ever bring back "Nuoc Tang Luc #1". It tastes like a combo of pee and cough syrup. You have no idea how grateful we all are.

Actually I know the RD's personally, so I may just tell them this next time I see them at the bike shop.....

Last updated: 2018-05-14 12:00 AM
00:34:13 | 1900 meters | 01m 48s / 100meters
Age Group: 6/26
Overall: 146/1055
Performance: Good
Suit: 2XU plus Roka Viper speed suit
Course: Basically a big T shape. About 300m out to sea past breaks (BIG breaks), 300m left, 50m more out to sea, about 600m on rolling swells to right, 50m back toward shore, about 300m back toward the "vertical" part of the T, 300m ride back to shore. That equals `1900m, right?!
Start type: Run Plus: Waves
Water temp: 82F / 28C Current: High
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 03:57
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Average
02:48:34 | 90 kms | 32.03 km/hr
Age Group: 6/26
Overall: 314/1055
Performance: Good
Power was only two watts higher than two years ago but time was 7 1/2 minutes faster on same course and in very similar conditions. Not sure my PM was accurate. I tried to hold 150's-160 early on but it didn't feel sustainable; it does in training. It was only 145. My coach said maybe the PM malfunctioned. Either that or I somehow got into a position that was more aero than my usual one, though not very comfortable!
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Basically same as two years ago, with the only difference being that transition was in a slightly different place, parking lot for a public beach a few hundred yards up the road from the hotel. But total distance would have been the same as this meant the final loop beyond the hotel was a bit further.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 80
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Average Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:29
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Below average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
02:04:18 | 21.1 kms | 05m 53s  min/km
Age Group: 4/26
Overall: 194/1055
Performance: Bad
Hard to say as the km, markers aren't terribly accurate. If they can be believed, I slowed down about 10 seconds/km in the second half.
Course: Basically 10-10.5 km out and back. Most of the course runs parallel to the beach past about three km. of resorts, then through the city/public beach area, and back. Then past transition, behind the Hyatt, and a hundred meters or so down the red carpet to a blazing hot finish on the beach. Almost no shade anywhere. It was 90 degrees with 83% humidity when I got off the bike. I don't want to think about what the temp or heat index was two hours later. I just wrote 93 as an average for the whole race, but guessing temps on the run rose well into the 90's, not counting humidity. I thought I would puke retrieving my bike around 1:30 PM. Imagine what the poor souls who were out there until 2 or 3 PM (I finished at noon) had to go through!
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %0%
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
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] 3

2018-05-15 7:31 AM

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam

2018-05-15 9:09 AM
in reply to: #5243292

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam
Mighty fine performance on a course that would have just crushed me - between the waves and the heat!

Great job
2018-05-15 4:06 PM
in reply to: #5243292

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Rio Rancho, NM
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam

Wow, what an incredible race (and report)! Congrats on rocking it in spite of challenging, and nasty, conditions.

I love that you felt the need to do this race once more before leaving Vietnam.


2018-05-16 8:01 AM
in reply to: #5243292

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Aledo, Texas
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam

Great showing, particularly given the climatic and your physical circumstances. Once you're fully recovered, those #1 and 2 ladies better watch out!

2018-05-16 2:12 PM
in reply to: mtnbikerchk

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam

4th AG is great no matter what but especially given race conditions today and the challenges you've faced over the past year.  Nice work!

2018-05-16 10:24 PM
in reply to: melbo55

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam

Way to get 'er done, Karen!

2018-05-18 12:57 PM
in reply to: #5243292

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam

Congratulations! Tough, tough swim! So proud of you!

2018-05-18 2:12 PM
in reply to: jmkizer

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam

Tough race, tougher racer!  Congrats.  I almost couldn't read any more of the report once i read food didn't start until 3! What? That's nuts, I need my race food!!  Once i recovered from the shock of that, I was grossed back into shock by reading about the port a potty conditins. That would have sent me over the edge!!

Way to get through it all!!   

2018-05-18 5:36 PM
in reply to: 0

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam
Thank goodness, that volunteer didn't know what she was talking about. For some reason she had it mixed up with the award ceremony. Mom and I did find the post-race food, which had been there from 11 AM ( 4 1/2 hours after the AG start). I would have died otherwise!

But the potties....yeah.....they were horrific. Coming from someone who's pretty much spent her adult life living in developing countries and traveling to the back of beyond, that's really saying something. Toilets in Vietnam are generally clean, even if pretty basic in rural areas. So I'm not sure what the problem was. Maybe just the organizers not thinking things through, or poor quality supplies. We were supposed to "flush" with water scooped out of big bins, a common enough set-up in the countryside. But this was in a porta-potty, not a long drop, and there were about 10 toilets for 1000 plus athletes plus spectators and volunteers. So the water had nowhere to go but out, with all the other stuff. Plus the water level in the bins got low--a couple of smaller women nearly fell in. Then eventually people gave up and were just going on the floors. It was BAD!

Edited by Hot Runner 2018-05-18 5:52 PM
2018-05-22 4:27 PM
in reply to: #5243292

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 Vietnam

Sounded like a great race!  I'll take your 'just complete the run' time any day!  Glad to see it all went pretty well!

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