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Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Triathlon

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Lahti, Tavastia Proper
65F / 18C
Total Time = 5h 56m 38s
Overall Rank = 1376/2001
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 123/210
Pre-race routine:

Got up at about 4 AM, ate "breakfast" (Finnish instant oatmeal and a Cliff bar) and coffee, got ready to go. The shuttle bus left at 5:20. No choice but to take it as taxis couldn't go anywhere close and anyway it was a 60 Euro round trip by cab. Got to the bus stop at 5:50, about 10 minute walk to T1. Last-minute check and set-up for bike from about 6 to 6:30. Hoped to find somewhere to buy coffee as there were cafes nearby but they didn't open till later. Walked down toward the swim start. Luckily it was not raining and not too cold, or this would have been awful. It was very foggy, however, so they ended up pushing back the start times by 30 minutes.

I wandered back to the cafes around 7:30 and two had opened. Stood in line for about 20 minutes to get a coffee and bottled water. Wandered back to swim start. During this time, consumed a bunch of gu chews. Maybe too many. but with no ill effects that I noticed. it was almost five hours between my breakfast and the start of my race! Pro women started at 8 AM; my wave did not go until 9:11. I got in about 9:15 (starting us in groups of 10).
Event warmup:

Walking around a lot between T1 and the swim start (maybe a half mile between them). Tried to jump up and down and swing arms around, but once I was in the swim start staging area, it was very tight quarters.
  • 37m 54s
  • 2110 yards
  • 01m 48s / 100 yards

Very nice swim course. The start was pretty low-stress. Due to getting into the line-up a bit late (porta-potty visit), I ended up a bit back of MOP in my wave at the start, but that turned out to work out well because I tend to start slow anyway. I was passing people continuously but it was never crowded. Felt strong throughout the swim.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe start a bit further up in my AG so I could have more chances to draft. Keep better track of the swim corral situation and go pee earlier so I didn't get stuck further back. (It was very tight and just no room to squeeze up further by the time I entered!)
Transition 1
  • 08m 13s

Transitions at Worlds are different than at most other races. Bike and bag with bike gear are in different locations that you run between. Also, there are a LOT of bikes and bags. I did my best to keep moving.
What would you do differently?:

Attend the briefing so I'd know that you have to grab your bag and take it to a "staging area" to do your changing, then hand off the bag to a volunteer. (I had thought you did it right in front of your bag, then hung it back up. That's not the case, in T1 or T2.) It's been a while since I did Worlds!
  • 3h 07m 58s
  • 56 miles
  • 17.88 mile/hr

Never felt good, ever. Felt horrid even just biking up the first hill out of T1. I even looked down to double-check that this was actually my bike. Position felt very wrong. Everything felt wrong. I was hoping to hold power around 160-165 but it was averaging 20 watts lower. Even when climbing, I was getting power in the 140-180 range (normally 200+). After a while, I figured I must have a slow leak, since it was taking so much effort to go so slowly, but actually the tires were fine after the race, so I didn't. The issue was just me. I also managed to drop the chain once, and have a "wardrobe malfunction" with the zipper on my vest (which I really didn't need anyway; my long-sleeve jersey was warm enough) that caused it to get stuck at the bottom and flap all over. Not very aero. But I don't think that would add 20 minutes to my bike split?? Maybe 2 minutes or less of stops to address those issues--the first successfully, the second, not. My hands were just too cold to solve the zipper issue.
What would you do differently?:

Probably not use TBT so I couldn't train on my race bike for almost a month prior to the event. But in this case, due to my job, pleasure travel had to take place prior to the race, and it just wasn't practical to haul a race bike around, or find a safe place to ride it while traveling in urban areas like Helsinki and Tallinn.

Maybe get in some more pre-race workouts on hotel spin bikes. That might have helped if it was more of a bike fitness or muscle activation issue. But maybe not if it had more to do with bike position.

Don't wear the vest, just the long-sleeve jersey. I put it on last minute (over my trisuit and long-sleeve jersey) as it was blustery and threatening rain when I got out of the swim. But it never actually rained and warmed up a bit. I would have been fine with just the jersey and probably even okay (albeit uncomfortable) without it.

I think I need to consider whether a different bike or race wheels might make me more competitive, or whether I just don't have it in me to be that competitive on the bike. I have trained as hard/long as I can right now, given work and other commitments. To be honest, biking is my least favorite of the three events, and I feel like I've maxed out in terms of the volume and intensity I can handle while working full time. It doesn't seem to lead to consistently improved performance on the bike, and makes me feel burned out at times, about bike training and sometimes tri in general.
Transition 2
  • 07m 34s

Again, a big transition area, with bike racking, gear bags, and changing area in different places (inside a sports arena). At least this time I understood the flow, after my mistake in T1.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe have my running shoes a bit looser. Between cold hands and feet swelling up a bit on the bike, I had the worst time pulling them on!
  • 1h 54m 59s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 47s  min/mile

I think it was an okay run for me, though not an outstanding one. Time was comparable to Washington 70.3 last year but course was MUCH harder. Lots of climbing and the metal pedestrian bridges also slowed things down. One thing I noticed was that unlike a lot of my races, I never cramped. Fatigue, yes--my legs were feeling it, especially on the uphills and in the final miles, but not cramping. I think this has to do with the course--I tend to have fewer problems when there is a lot of up and down on the run, maybe because it's what I'm used to in training. (I train in a very hilly place.)
What would you do differently?:

Not sure. Have better bike fitness so I could run more up to my ability, maybe.
Post race
Warm down:

WORST "warm-down" ever. Due to the delayed start and my starting in a later wave, plus a slow race time, I only had 1:45 from when I crossed the finish line to 1. Grab post-race swag and food (long line for that). 2. Retrieve morning clothes bag and put on a jacket (finding a bathroom to pee and change into dry clothes was out of the question). 3. Pick up heavy bag with wetsuit and other swim stuff (thankfully it was taken to near T2 from T1, which was about 1.5 miles away). 4. Retrieve bike and bag with bike stuff from T2 5. Transport all of this including bike through large crowds and over several steep metal pedestrian bridges to TriBike Transport, which was in a stadium several hundred yards away from the finish and T2 6. Remove various items from the bike, such as pedals, bento box, repair kit, and Garmin and put them in one of the three large bags I was now carrying 7. Turn over bike to TBT. 8. Schlep the bags more than a mile to a bus stop.

I never had time to sit or lie down for a bit to recover, eat something, change into dry clothes, use the bathroom, etc. By the time I got the bus I was about to pass out. Honestly, the post-race hustle was worse than the last few miles of the run, which is really saying something.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

*Most likely, lack of proper rest in the two weeks prior. The timing of this race (just before the start of the school year) left me no choice but to do any pleasure travel before the race. The reality of traveling with an 85 year-old parent (Mom) is that one never really gets much sleep. The reality of any travel, period, is that you are on your feet a lot, every day. The ideal way to do this event would be to get there (traveling solo or with another athlete) maybe 5 days in advance, rest up, do some last-minute training and acclimatization, and then (maybe) join family or friends for pleasure travel after the event. But with my job and family commitments, that was never an option.

*Not having access to my tri bike for about a month prior to the event, due to shipping it with TBT. I only did one bike workout in the two weeks prior to the event, on a hotel spin bike. Probably should have committed to doing more. Not sure if it would have helped, or if my issues were specific to not having been in aero on my tri bike for a while. Might have helped some if it was more an issue of muscle activation or losing bike fitness.

*Possibly my bike or related equipment. Andreas was definitely one of the lower-end bikes in this event. Almost everyone else had race wheels. Does it really make that much difference? I already feel like an imposter just putting on an aero helmet!

*I probably need to work on my biking more/differently, or else resign myself to the fact that I'm never going to be truly competitive in my age group at the level of Worlds and major IM events. Looking at performance relative to my age group, I was in the top third on the swim and run (nearly top fourth on the swim) but the bottom fourth on the bike, and this completely ruined my overall performance. Not sure if I need a better bike, race wheels, more or different training, or what. I have trained with a well-regarded coach for several years and have worked very hard for this race and others. I'd always assumed that work = progress, at least relative to my age group and within my physical capabilities, but after all that work I haven't progressed nearly as much as I'd hoped--maybe I just don't have much physical ability for biking??????

Event comments:

This was a beautiful course and, overall, a very well-organized race. Swim was well-run and never felt crowded or unsafe. That being said, the course took us quite far away from shore relative to most other events I've done. I heard that a woman died of a cardiac issue on the swim. While it's reasonable to expect at Worlds that most if not all athletes are competent swimmers, medical issues do happen even with highly fit people, and maybe keeping people closer to shore would been a bit safer. I don't know if it would have made a difference for her, though.

Bike course was scenic, but the constant rolling hills and wind gusts made it hard for me to ever get into a rhythm, making whatever issues I had brought into the race feel a lot worse. But again, it's Worlds, so it's a reasonable expectation that people are strong bikers and can handle challenging conditions, and the fact that I couldn't do that was my fault, not theirs.

Run course was likewise challenging (the two-mile long hill up to the cemetery, twice, plus two or three times over the stupid metal bridges near T2 and the finish) but fine for this kind of event. I do wish they could have figured out the run lap/finish/T2/expo area a bit better--there were a lot of things happening every day with a lot of athletes and spectators in a very small area. The metal bridges used really weren't that safe for runners, spectators (especially young kids and elders), and people carrying bikes and gear in very crowded conditions during check-in and post-race.

Tons of community support, with people cheering even way out in the country. Traffic was stopped throughout the bike leg for all groups, and there were no issues on the run, either, unlike in Chatt. Lahti seemed to be a real sports town, and everyone we met was friendly to us and enthusiastic about the event.

The only logistical issues were really IM's fault. In their communications, they misrepresented how much transport would be provided to/from the race hotels. Because of this, I never was able to get into Lahti to sightsee, enjoy the men's race, or go back to do more shopping later, since it was a 60 Euro round trip taxi ride, there was no public transport to/from our hotel to town, and only the one race-day shuttle there (at 5:20 AM) and back (at 5 PM). We were charged about $10 each way, per person, for this shuttle. In my mind, this should have been included in the race fee or hotel cost, since this was an official race hotel. (At Worlds in Australia, it was included, and there were several shuttles each day to/from all events from check-in to post-race awards banquet.)

I was only informed of the shuttle schedule (and asked to purchase tickets onliine) the day we left (August 16), when it was too late to reserve a rental car or obtain the needed permits. Shuttles were not delayed when our start was delayed. I made it with 15 minutes to spare; one older athlete at our hotel nearly missed the shuttle and only managed to catch it because it passed her as she was leaving the finish/T2 area after picking up her things. Had I known earlier how difficult pre and post-race logistics would be without my own vehicle, I would have planned to rent one. Other than that, no complaints. It was truly a world-class event, even if my own performance was not!

Last updated: 2023-08-31 12:00 AM
00:37:54 | 2110 yards | 01m 48s / 100yards
Age Group: 58/210
Overall: 916/2001
Performance: Good
Suit: ProMotion Full Suit
Course: Out in a lake, basically. Jumped off the dock, about 500m out, left turn, about another 500m out, right turn, another 500m, right turn, back to shore. My watch had it at just over 2000m. So maybe a bit on the long side. Race announcer said water temp was 67 but my watch said is averaged 64. At any rate needed the wetsuit but not the ice-cream headache, gasp for breath type of cold!
Start type: Dive Plus: Waves
Water temp: 64F / 18C Current: Low
200M Perf. Average Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 08:13
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: Yes
Getting up to speed: Average
03:07:58 | 56 miles | 17.88 mile/hr
Age Group: 160/210
Overall: 1589/2001
Performance: Bad
Slow and slower, and slower. I thought I was doing okay for the first 20 miles, not realizing I had a tailwind. Then it just started to suck more and more and more. Roughly 19 mph for the first third, 18 for the second, and 17 for the last.
Wind: Strong with gusts
Course: Up and down and up and down.....I think there may have been a few minutes of flat in there somewhere....maybe. Nothing extreme (except maybe the final very steep short hill behind the stadium before the turn to the dismount line, which was just uncalled for), but continuous ups and downs that made it very difficult to get into any kind of rhythm.. Nice scenery (when I noticed it) and passed through several small towns.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 87
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Below average Hills: Bad
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 07:34
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
01:54:59 | 13.1 miles | 08m 47s  min/mile
Age Group: 68/210
Overall: 1080/2001
Performance: Average
Course: Two-loop course. Out of transition, up and over a metal pedestrian bridge, around track in a stadium (which seemed odd--one expects this at the END), and then up a very long hill (almost two miles) to a cemetery. Then flat to rolling along a multi-use path, downhill through some residential neighborhoods to lakeside, past the swim start, around a small lake in a park, up a gravel path towards T1 (but not all the way there) U-turn and back to near swim start, slightly uphill back to T2/finish and then wash, rinse, repeat.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %?
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
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] 4

2023-09-01 9:36 PM

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

2023-09-02 7:22 AM
in reply to: #5286664

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Congratulations on a great race! Sorry the bike was so uncomfortable for you. I am by far an expert in the area, but feel sure that if I had a month off from cycling I'd lose some bike fitness, so your result is even more impressive. The shuttle situation sounds very stressful and not something you need in an already stressful day.

2023-09-02 8:56 AM
in reply to: amd723

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship
I had my road bike at home and was able to train on that till we left for Finland on August 16, so it was only about 12 days with no biking (one spin bike workout). Probably some fitness loss but shouldn't have been that extreme. Maybe more of an issue that I wasn't doing any riding in aero on my race bike since August 1 (since it was in transit).
2023-09-02 10:17 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Ah, I misunderstood the bike access issue! It can be so frustrating to figure out why a race didn’t go as expected. I’ve gone into races thinking I was in great shape only to get on the bike and have no oomph. Very maddening! Hope you figure it out!

2023-09-04 6:02 PM
in reply to: #5286664

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Atlanta, Georgia
Gold member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship
Congrats on your day! I think of Worlds as the icing on the cake for a whole lot work that happened over months/years prior.

Well done and now on to the next one..!
2023-09-05 12:54 PM
in reply to: #5286664

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Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Congratulations on getting to Worlds and having a good race to boot!  Some of the hiccups you experienced sound frustrating but you found a way to persevere.  Nice work!

2023-09-05 2:07 PM
in reply to: #5286664

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

Congratulations! I really enjoyed following your training up to the event and then following along the race. I'm super impressed! 

Now, I need a pleasure travel Finland report!

2023-09-06 9:01 AM
in reply to: jmkizer

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Simsbury, Connecticut
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship
Sub 6 at a Worlds half sounds pretty good to me!

Congrats on your finish! Sorry you had a rough bike - but sounds like the course was beautiful so at least you had something nice to look at
2023-09-06 9:28 AM
in reply to: mtnbikerchk

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Middle River, Maryland
Silver member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship

Originally posted by mtnbikerchk Sub 6 at a Worlds half sounds pretty good to me! Congrats on your finish! Sorry you had a rough bike - but sounds like the course was beautiful so at least you had something nice to look at

Ditto here.  That's a lot of travel for you from the west coast plus doing a whole bunch of vacation stuff beforehand.

2023-09-06 9:35 AM
in reply to: jmkizer

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Eugene, Oregon
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman 70.3 World Championship
Will put some travel pics on Facebook when I get the chance. It's the first week of school here in Oregon so I've been a bit busy lately! Atr least after all those years of teaching overseas, getting through the unpacking and classroom set-up process while extremely jet-lagged is now second nature. At least I am not (as in some years) moving household at the same time!
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