Race Report: IM 70.3 Dublin

It's RACE REPORTAHPALOOZA WEEK!!!!  Here's my report from IM 70.3 in Dublin, Ireland in August.  And history IS prone to repeat itself meaning this report is LONG as well.  Thus, I suggest you visit the restroom now (NO!  Don't take me in the bathroom with you to keep you entertained!  EWWWWW...) before you continue reading.  

Ironman 70.3 Dublin
Dublin, Ireland
Sunday August 14, 2016

Another sorrynotsorry for a jumbled race report.  But this is important enough to me that I want to get it all down before I go to sleep tonight.

First and largest issue of this race was the transitions.  I’ve never done a two location transition before.  First transition from swim to bike, we got directly out of the water and went maybe a few hundred feet to a tent with our bike gear and we had to change in the huge tent.  Then we came out of a side of the tent to get on our bikes, but it wasn’t open roaming, they had a chute that you ran parallel to the bikes and when you got to the very last row, you turned into bike holding and found your bike. STUPID and MADDENING!  When I got out of the water, I took the time to dry off my upper body and I put on a jacket (keeping on my tri top) and gloves.  And I dried off my feet and put on socks.

At the bike to run transition, once again, we had to rack our bikes (by number and by number on the bar) and then go to a tent and grab our bag and change again.  The run transition, I changed socks (it rained on the ride) and put on a dry pullover.  And then we came out of transition and began the run.

My transitions were a sum total 21 plus minutes added to my overall total.  This frustrates me, I’d never done this kind of transition before so I didn’t know how to strategically pack for it.  And at each transition we were easily running a city block (or two) before we got to our bikes or to the start of the run.  LOTS of wasted space/poor logistical planning.  And I have no idea how to strategize for that in future races where I have those kind of transitions.  Trying to stay positive, but REALLY?!? I think a lot of the transition aspects just weren’t thought out. 

Clock Time 48:32
Watch time 48:20
Division 25/35
Gender 250
Overall 1432

So I WAS going to provide rankings and stuff, but Ironman doesn’t make it easy to figure out totals for things other than your immediate division.  And I’m way too tired to fight the results site.

While you will look at the time and think it’s a little slower than usual, I look at it and say holy smoley, I was fast.  The swim was REALLY cold (The water temp was reported to be 53 F) and I’m super happy I did the practice swim yesterday so that I knew what was coming.  We were not allowed the opportunity to acclimate ourselves prior to our heat.  It was a beach (better yet a ‘ramp’) start.  You ran in and good-on-you to figure out how the hell to survive in the cold.

There were men and women in my heat
 heat.  Within the heat you were supposed to seed yourself according to how fast you swim with the fastest time being 25:00 and THAT’S where I seeded myself.  For a couple of reasons, I was in the last heat, I needed to push as hard as possible so I wasn’t the last person out of the water altogether.  And, I’m not afraid of swimming with the fast people.  I work to keep pace and when I can’t there will still be folks around me.

My biggest issue with the swim was that I couldn’t see.  Yesterday when I did the practice swim, my goggles immediately fogged up and no matter what I did (spit, drop of water, silicon spray), I could not combat the massive temp differential.  When I talked to the swim techs from the local swim shop monitoring yesterday’s swim, they suggested baby oil…used that today…didn’t work.  So I fought just to see throughout the entire swim.  As a side note, my $45K bionic eyes do not see through foggy goggs.  Thus my slower than usual time is actually a win for the blind.  How in the world do pros keep the fog away?  Do they have special interior goggshield wipers…you know kind of like the useless wipers on Volvo headlights (please note, my Volvo DOES NOT sport those useless things)?!?

Coming out of the water, I was pleased with my swim because I stayed with/came in with a pack of people, I wasn’t alone and I managed to stay aggressive/calm despite swimming in salt water (never swam in salt water before yesterday) that was eleventy billion degrees below zero and makes our early spring swims in Texas look like dips in boiling oil and despite swimming blind, I was able to maintain a reasonable semblance of forward motion.

Funny thought that kept coursing through my head during the swim: “wow these Europeans sure do like to kick!  Well you know Novia, some people kick when they swim….yeah, well some people do crack too, what’s your point?”  True story, life in my head is sometime hilarious

Clock Time 3:36:23
Watch Time 3:35:30
Division 27/35
Gender 246
Overall 1508

I am so in love with this bike.  I was SO glad that I’d done most of my long rides on the trainer, because this was a pure 3.5 hour trainer ride, there were no opportunities to coast.  There were a couple times that I coasted to stand up and stretch out of the saddle.  But even the few times I chose to do that, I should’ve been pedaling.   When you look at the elevation, don’t be deceived.  Yes the first half was a gradual climb, but that’s just it, “gradual” there were four evil/hateful hills, but they were only a blip compared to the big picture.

As soon as we got out of the city into the country, I lost speed because the climb was more pronounced.  I went from 16.2 average to 15.1 average to a 14.9 average.  During TWU Sprint two weeks ago, I learned an important lesson about the bike, I perceive I’m going faster/riding stronger than I actually am.  So for this race, I set the bike computer to show the distance; average speed and time on the first screen to know how fast I was averaging/actually going.  I also rode to HR (per your instruction).  I had to push on some straightaways/downhills to pull back up into zone 3 and I had it at a 155 average for a while, but then the gradual decline of elevation on the the second half of the race kept dropping my HR and I couldn’t push hard enough while still being smart, to pull it back up.  Average for the ride was the top end of Zone 2 at 151 (zone 3 starts at 152).  The only time I did not ride to HR was when it started raining and I had to slow down and ride not to wreck in the rain.

I hit 28 miles at 1:50 and from there on was riding to hit 3:38 in hopes of the negative split by two minutes which I accomplished and am VERY proud of that.

During the second half of the ride, I drafted off of a guy for about 10 miles until he called me on it….and I had to pass him…but he never caught up with me after I passed him…stupid honest Europeans!

Clock Time 3:05:32
Watch Time 3:05:30
Division 25/35
Gender 250
Overall 1432

I liked the route, it was flat and it was (for the first two laps I ran) well populated.  However, around the almost end of the 2nd lap, I began to feel the lung pull and to add insult to injury the legs were heavy.

I walked through every aide station, from where it started to when it ended.  While NOT EXACTLY your plan, I wanted to run between aide stations, too bad they were not regularly spaced and there weren’t more of them.  Huge frustration.  I wanted so badly to hit a low 7-hour number because I knew with a flat run course, overcast skies, crazy cool weather, low humidity and a decent bike time padding the score I could do it.  Turns out I was wrong.  Maybe I should’ve stuck to your run plan. 

Wasn’t burning lungs, more of my lungs tightening more and more the deeper into the run I got.  I did a lot of positive talk a lot of smiling a lot of telling myself, if you wanna walk, then run faster so you can get to the aide station faster and walk…once again not your plan, I know.

By 15K my legs were gone and I was heavy-chested.  Not enough to cause coughing, but enough to be irritating and force me to use my inhaler during the third lap every time I walked through an aide station.  It wasn’t a tight around the back/into the shoulders tightness, just focused in the front in my chest.  Once it established itself, I didn’t get worse, It just sat there like a fat kid on my chest.  And I kept telling myself, I am strong…I am brave…I am strong…I am brave.

I am sad because if I had been a little faster and come in between the 2:30/2:45 mark I was shooting for, it would’ve been a little closer to that low 7-hour number I was hoping for.  On the other hand, I am proud of the first 2/3 of the race, acknowledge my shortcomings in the final 1/3 of the race, but also acknowledge I raced with more courage during that last 1/3 than I have in a very long time.

When the finish line was in sight, the announcers said something about some guy from the Biggest Loser finishing.  I realized the guy was right behind me and as uncomfortable as I was, I was ready to suffocate and/or have my legs fall off so as NOT to be beat by a guy from the Biggest Loser...I know, I know, childish, but true....very, very true.  So I scraped the sides of my empty energy bowl and kicked it in and beat Biggest Loser boy to the finish.  When I turned around and looked at the clock and saw 7 hours and 50 minutes for my time, I began to weep, not cry, weep.  I thought coming apart at the seams on the run had cost me a sub-8 hour finish.  Not so.  7 hours and 50 minutes, in under 8.  Two-thirds of the race was strong, really strong and while 7 hours 15 minutes was the neighborhood I was shooting for, with 21 minutes worth of transitions, a blind swim and a lung taxing run, I'll take sub eight hours with a smile, a ton of tears and the knowledge that strength is a concept that has infinite mechanisms of measurement and today, no matter how you measure it, I was strong.