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Ironman Washington 70.3 - Triathlon

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Maple Valley, Washington
United States
57F / 14C
Total Time = 5h 50m 15s
Overall Rank = 378/1214
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 8/52
Pre-race routine:

Got up at 4:15 (OMG), ate breakfast, packed last-minute stuff and headed out to the parking site in Maple Valley (actually beyond the race site from where we were staying). There was a much closer parking lot to our hotel in Kent, but they were randomly assigned and I couldn't switch. About 45 minutes drive with a little getting lost, as it was very dark and a bit foggy out there. Parked and got on shuttle bus to the race venue at Lake Wilderness Park (about 10-15 minutes). By then I only had about 40 minutes to set up transition and get to the swim start.
Event warmup:

Not much of a warmup. Owing to taking longer to drive over than anticipated, lines for the shuttle, and having to walk a ways from shuttle drop-off to transition, I didn't have much time to set up transition. Got into the swim start line-up and jogged and jiggled till I could get into the water.
  • 36m 28s
  • 1900 meters
  • 01m 55s / 100 meters

It was a decent swim for me. My last two swims have been unaccountably slow despite good pool times--not sure if navigation issues or what. I seeded myself toward the rear of the 33-35 minute group. It was a pulse start with two people sent in every five seconds. Very low-stress; never felt crowded, or forced to start faster than I wanted to. (Which was good as I didn't have any swim warmup--pressed for time due to the shuttle situation, and didn't want to stand around getting cold.)
What would you do differently?:

Probably seed myself a bit further up. Even though my time was actually a little slower than 35, I think most others seeded themselves even more ambitiously--I really never found anyone to draft off on the swim, because I was always passing, rather than being passed. Other than that, I think I did a good job of pacing, navigation, etc. But I would probably swim faster among/behind faster people.
Transition 1
  • 05m 41s

Okay transition. It was a very big, very crowded area, with about 1400 starters. For once my socks behaved themselves. I did have to stop at the mount line to tighten a bike shoe--the strap got stuck halfway engaged--it happens if I don't pull it hard enough.
What would you do differently?:

I REALLY should have put on a warm layer on the bike. I had an insulated long-sleeve jersey in my bag, but did not put it in transition. Long story, but I believed it was 57 degrees or maybe even warmer at the start (I'd thought it said 57 on the car thermometer driving over; clearly it was 51); actually it was 50 lakeside then (says my Garmin) and didn't get out of the 50's for about an hour and a half. I froze! Definitely it would have been worth the additional 20 seconds or so in transition, and the minimal risk of "overheating" once it warmed up.

  • 3h 08m 42s
  • 90 kms
  • 28.62 km/hr

OMG. Non-stop shiver-fest until about Mile 46. I had thought it was warmer than it was, and that the day/my body would warm up a lot quicker than they did. All I could think about was making it to the next patch of sunlight (which only managed to warm my skin, but at least it felt a bit better) or the next uphill (which actually warmed me up for a few minutes). All muscles cramped, including my stomach. I could barely swallow liquids and gu, and it came up multiple times. Stopped once to puke and gagged endlessly. Had trouble squeezing my water bottle enough to drink; had to stop to switch bottles. My hands/fingers weren't actually that cold or numb; it was cramps/spasms from shivering. Yuck!

Anyone doing this race--beware--the first half is COLD because #1 It's the Northwest in the morning. It's always cold then, year-round. #2 The first 20 miles or so of the race is almost all flat or downhill. #3 Probably 90% of the course is heavily shaded. #4 Rising sun is obscured by high hills/mountains to the east, up to and including Mt. Rainier. Dress accordingly!
What would you do differently?:

Wear enough clothing to avoid hypothermia. It made pretty much the entire bike leg a grim survival struggle, and I'm sure it affected my bike performance to some degree. Guessing I could have biked faster if I wasn't expending so much energy keeping warm!
Transition 2
  • 03m 58s

Decent transition. I did walk a little to the run out, just to get my legs back under me and make sure my stomach was okay after the bike fiasco
What would you do differently?:

Not sure. On this course and this day, probably run in with bike shoes on rather than jump off and do it in socks like I usually do. It was a bit muddy and lots of grass and tree roots--my socks were a mess and I had to wipe stuff off before the run (thought about changing them but decided not to).
  • 1h 55m 28s
  • 21 kms
  • 05m 30s  min/km

The first mile was a bit tough due to some uphill and tricky footing. My lower back also felt very tight after shivering/cramping for so long on the bike. But once I got the kinks out, I felt really good and kept a steady pace; passed lots of people. Started to run out of gas a bit after 10 miles, but I pushed myself to keep going steadily and finish strong.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe push a little harder once I felt good. Not sure though--I have struggled with run fitness this year, due to not running enough during the winter/spring and fighting some niggles for part of the summer. So I wasn't sure how hard I could push and get away with it without lockdown cramping. As it was, no cramps at all! I guess it at least partly made up for the bike fiasco.
Post race
Warm down:

Not really. I just walked through the finish area, picked up food and went to find Mom. They were handing out whole medium pizzas--I ate 3/4 of one as Mom ate one piece and said it was disgusting. At that point, anything that wasn't gu sounded good. Changed into dry clothes, retrieved Andreas, wetsuit, etc. pushed him about 1/2 mile up the hill, and stood in line for about 40 minutes waiting for shuttle back to event parking.

Not sure that Starbucks, 5+ hour drive back home, and a salmon pig-out at Red Lobster constitute a warmdown, but there you have it.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Um.....hypothermia on the bike? Just guessing!

Event comments:

I have NO complaints about the event itself. It was extremely well-organized and one of the most beautiful courses I have ever competed on. The swim and run even made the bike suffering worth it. My issues on the bike were entirely my fault, for being unclear about weather conditions and not preparing for their effect on my body. I would highly recommend this race.

But a few caveats about logistics--Maple Valley is a rural area that's a newly developing outer suburb of Seattle, and doesn't have any hotels, nor do several nearby communities. (There are plenty of places to eat, though.) There may well be some Air B and B type rentals, but Mom doesn't do those. There is no race-day on-site parking. Athletes can either be dropped off at a lot about 3/4 mile from the start or, along with spectators, park at off-site lots (one about 2-3 miles away and one maybe 8 miles away) and take.a shuttle. Waits for the return shuttle may be long, but spectators without bikes can jump the queue. Parking at the drop-off lot on race day *may" be possible if you pay an extra VIP fee--there were signs up but I don't recall getting info about this.

So be ready to do some research on the best places to stay and how to get to/from the race venue and shuttle parking. Closer-in Seattle suburbs like Kent, Auburn, and Renton have plenty of affordable lodging, but places near the freeways are very noisy 24/7, and access to Maple Valley is mostly on poorly lit and signed back country roads--a bit hairy at 4 or 5 AM on race day. After the race, we realized that some of the northeastern suburbs like Issaquah and North Bend would also be quite convenient. These might well be quieter and more scenic, BUT access to Maple Valley would also be on winding, hilly country roads--make sure you check out the route in the daylight!

Last updated: 2022-09-21 12:00 AM
00:36:28 | 1900 meters | 01m 55s / 100meters
Age Group: 6/52
Overall: 270/1214
Performance: Good
Suit: Pro Motion Full Suit
Course: One loop course in a medium-size lake. Very calm, clean water. Slightly aggravating that I could smell bacon while swimming past lakeside houses!
Start type: Wade Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Average
Time: 05:41
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: No
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Below average
03:08:42 | 90 kms | 28.62 km/hr
Age Group: 13/52
Overall: 539/1214
Performance: Bad
Speed varied with stops and hills and degree of hypothermia!
Wind: Some with gusts
Course: Mostly flat/downhill through heavily wooded rural areas and new developments for first 15 miles or so; long downhill to a valley through picturesque farmland, steep uphill and back into the hills through rural areas and a few small towns; rolling hills back to town. Figure-eight type course.
Road: Rough Wet Cadence: 80
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 03:58
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Average
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
01:55:28 | 21 kms | 05m 30s  min/km
Age Group: 6/52
Overall: 352/1214
Performance: Good
The splits don't make sense as the mile markers on the tracker and course seemed disconnected from reality. Tracker had everything from 7-11 minutes, but I know I was running a steady pace and effort! That being said, guessing the last 2-3 miles were a bit slower--getting tired and there was a bit of dicey footing.
Course: Beautiful! Across some grass, up a small hill, and a short distance on a fairly well-groomed forest trail in the first and last mile or so; the rest was probably 95% dirt/gravel road through the forest, often beside a river. Several picturesque bridge crossings with very scenic views of a gorge (Green River?). Basically an out and back course with a little variation on the return leg. Nice gradual downhill back around transition and then a short run in to the finish.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %?
Overall: Below average
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: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2022-09-22 9:00 PM

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: Ironman Washington 70.3

2022-09-23 9:33 AM
in reply to: #5282927

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Middle River, Maryland
Silver member
Subject: RE: Ironman Washington 70.3

Wow, Karen.  That sound awful.  Nice work pushing through that.  I have a race tomorrow with similar temps and I'm wondering what to wear besides my tri suit.  Ugh - now you have me terrified! 

Really nice description of the race venue in case anyone searches on it in the future.

2022-09-23 11:36 AM
in reply to: jmhpsu93

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Washington 70.3
I would recommend something that is warm enough to keep you comfortable (or at least safe) for the start. If it's old and can be discarded if you get too hot, even better. But I wouldn't let worrying about discarding or getting too hot stop you from wearing what you need to keep warm--that was my mistake. Best if it has a zip (or partial zip) and sleeves that can be pushed up if you start to warm up, so you can adjust it to cool off a bit without needing to discard. Both the jersey and another long-sleeve top I could have worn have those features. Merino wool is a nice layer if you have it-expensive but seems to be both warm and not too warm and wicks sweat, stays warm when wet. But not very good in windy conditions--I think tech fabrics might be better for that.
2022-09-23 2:52 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Ironman Washington 70.3

Nice race report! You did great under the circumstances. Way to go!

2022-09-23 10:36 PM
in reply to: #5282927

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Lethbridge, Alberta
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Washington 70.3
Great report, especially with all the local considerations. Sorry you had such a tough bike ride but good job pushing through.
2022-09-24 10:15 AM
in reply to: #5282927

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Atlanta, Georgia
Subject: RE: Ironman Washington 70.3
Strong triathlete! Congrats on your day..

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