Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin – Race Report

19 06 2017

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve said hello in this space! Well, hello, friends! Long time no see!

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I wanted to take a few minutes to write down a race report for my 2nd 70.3 of this season: Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin (Madison).  Yes, I didn’t write up a report for my April HIM, Florida 70.3, but in short: despite a sloshy tummy on the run, I had a solid day and ended up with a PR!

 

IMG_9183Unfortunately, I can’t say that I walked away from Madison with a shiny new PR. In fact, I walked away with the complete opposite: it was my slowest HIM. If I said I wasn’t disappointed, I’d be lying. Going in to this race, I felt prepared. I felt strong. I felt fit. I was confident because I had been consistent in my training. But, things happen and the day unraveled differently than what I had envisioned in my head. And we learn. That’s all you can do is learn and move on.  🙂

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Pre Race:

My alarm buzzed at 4:30am and I was up and at-em. I prepped my overnight oats and all my bottles the night before, so I could quickly get my self together, eat breakfast, check out and be on my way to the race site. I was staying about 15-20 minutes away and I was out the door just before 5am.

Parking was easy-peasy for this race. (Almost) Directly across the street from Olin Park (the location of transition and the Ironman village) is the Alliant Energy Center, which has a huge parking lot. Cars entered and went left to park and be close to the school bus shuttles to the race site, or went right to park on the other side of the lot and walk to the race site. I went right and quickly found a spot and walked myself over to transition.

I had racked my bike the day before, so getting myself set up in transition was quick! After getting all set up, I mentally ran through T1 and T2. Yup, everything’s here! Today was going to be all about managing the heat, and I was okay with that (though I’ll be honest, I was certainly hoping for a cool-weather 70.3 when I signed up for this!)

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I went over to the Ironman Village and schmoozed with some folks in the Endurance House tent so I could leave my bag there (why oh why are there no bag drops at Triathlons??) and then did a short jog to warm up. They announced there’d be a short warm up swim from 6:30-6:45 so I checked my watch, looked at the Port-o-pot lines and opted to get in line rather than continuing my warm up so that I could make it to the swim warm up. I made it through the line with just enough time to get on my wetsuit; but then they kept pushing back the warm up time and eventually cancelled it because there was no ambulance on site. Whomp whomp.

Oh well, it was close to go time, so I funneled in the chute and awaited the cannon!

Swim: 1.2 Miles

The swim was a rolling start and OMG that was amazing. They grouped us by expected finish times: 27 and under, 27-30, 30-33, and so on, and let us into the water one at a time- a constant flow of athletes into the cool Lake Monona. I lined up at the back end of the 27-30 group; I’d gone 31 and some change at Florida in April, and with my new wetsuit (Xterra Vengence full suit) on, so I was feeling pretty confident that I could hang with this group.

I dove in to the brisk 70ish degree water (hey- it was cool for this Florida girl!), let some water into my wetsuit and then started swimming. My stroke felt pretty good, and I had open water. I cannot tell you how awesome it was to not slam into a wall of slower swimmers and attempt to swim around and/or over them. I think rolling starts are definitely better for both the faster and slower swimmers!

The swim was an out, over, and back, and I was putting in some good effort. I think I was probably pushing a little too hard, since this was the first time where I thought to myself, “Ugh, this swimming thing is SO HARD. I just want to be on the bike!” Being a swimmer, this is an odd statement to cross my mind, and I’m not sure if this speaks to the effort I was putting in (too hard?), my general feeling of being at a plateau in my swimming, or just the confidence I was feeling in my biking ability? Regardless, that thought crossed my mind in the first half, but by the second half of the swim, I  had backed off a little in my effort and was really enjoying the swim. The water was absolutely the perfect temperature and I was experiencing a balance of passing a few people but also maintaining my position. The swim was mostly flat, with the exception of some chop out by the turn buoys, and once you were halfway through the swim, the yellow buoys were now orange, so you knew approximately how much you had left in the swim.

Soon, I could see the shoreline, and eventually my hand hit the ground. I popped up and ran out, lapping my watch and catching a glimpse of my time. When I saw a “29:XX” I was super happy, but didn’t want to get caught up in times. My goal for today was not to worry about times, but to have fun, and race by feel. This course plus the heat would not make for a PR day for anyone!

Official time: 30:00.

T1: I got out and ran to the wetsuit peelers- they were awesome! And then kept running. and running. Around the long side of the transition area, into transition, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 rows and then finally down to my bike. Thankfully there was carpet and grass the entire way and my feet didn’t get torn up! Helmet, sunglasses, shoes, and off I went!

Official time: 3:47

Bike: 56 Miles

There was a bit of a jam at the mount line, but I was able to get on and get going. I spotted a girl in a Coeur kit on a hot pink bike right in front of me and for a split second I thought I might be able to race her. Um, not so much. And, earth to Steph, you don’t start the bike leg of a 70.3 “racing!” (I wish that “earth to Steph” message had actually come in on Sunday morning).

Right after leaving transition, I spotted one of my coworkers and waved hi! It was fun to have people I know out there! That gave me a boost and I was confident I’d have a good day out there.  The first few miles (maybe 2-3? ) of the bike were on a bike path which in theory sounds great. But, it was a bit bumpy and a little narrow. By the time I was nearing the end of the trail part, my legs were feeling blah. I tried not to let it get to me- because it was early on. I told myself to back off,  spin the legs; this is only the first part of the day and there’s a long way to go. At the left turn just before mile 5, I was passed by a man that was probably in his fifties, had a bit of facial hair, and was probably close to meeting the requirements for a Clydesdale. A woman passed me right after and asked me, “Can you believe he’s wearing Teva’s?” Um, what? I did a double take, and sure enough, the guy that blew by me was wearing sandals! Anyhow, I tried not to let the fact that people were passing me bother me. It was inevitable, since I’m a swimmer and started near the front.

My plan was to lap my watch every 20 minutes- to treat each 20 minutes as it’s own section: nothing before it, nothing after it. Be present. The first interval I constantly reminded myself- this is warm up, it’s okay that your legs don’t feel awesome. By the end of that first interval, I was craving a drink of water. It was hot and I was thirsty. I hadn’t planned to stop at any aide stations, except maybe the last one, but at the one at mile 13 I grabbed a bottle, squirted some in my mouth, some on my head and then tossed the bottle.

The hills kept coming. Nothing was too steep, but I definitely found myself out of my saddle quite a bit. Mental note: change to a climbing cassette if I do this race again (Yes, I said that last year too). The course was pretty but the roads left something to be desired. Around mile 20, Erin passed me going up a hill, and she asked how I was doing. I wasn’t feeling as snappy as I would have liked, and my stomach was starting to get grumpy. Where was my power? I couldn’t believe I was only 20 miles in and starting to have GI issues. No, no, no!

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I told myself I could handle this, and if I just backed off and sat up some more, it would help. Yes, it did help some to sit up, but I don’t think I backed off enough. By mile 35 I was seriously considering a DNF. I still had over an hour to go at the pace I was holding, and there were so many more hills. But, I couldn’t stop- there were people out there tracking me from afar who I didn’t want to worry, and I knew I had some coworkers waiting for me on the run. I will not quit!

At the last aide station, around mile 4o I got off my bike. I never get off my bike in a HIM. But, I was hopeful this would be worth the stop and that I’d be able to “save” my race by stopping. I asked them if they had Tums, but unfortunately, they didn’t. I took a bottle of water, and drank some of the cold gatorade they had there. Not gonna lie- that orange endurance Gatorade was like magic elixir. It gave me the boost I needed, and I got back on my bike, gave myself a pep talk, and rode. The good feeling that I had lasted only a few miles, and I wished I had taken that bottle of Gatorade with me. I spotted my friend Emily and her kiddos around mile 45, which was so fun; I just wish I had been feeling better. :-/ For the rest of the bike I just took in water because my stomach did not want to have any Infinit. When I finally got back to transition, I was ready to be off my bike and upright, but I knew that I was going in to the run depleted (I think I had only taken in ~500 calories for the entire ride) and would need to manage that challenge.

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(no, this pic was not from race day, just from riding some of the course the day before!)

Oh- the one thing I don’t want to forget to point out is the spectators! This is probably one of the first HIMs where there were spectators smattered throughout the bike course. Like, a lot of spectators! On big hills there were groups of people with signs and cow bells, the town of Paoli had LOTS of people out to cheer, and there were small handfuls of people at other times on the course. I loved the support we got out there- Thank you!!!

Official time: 03:14:08

T2: Honestly, I don’t remember much about this transition. I took my time getting on my run shoes, race belt and hydration belt, stopped for sunscreen and saw my friend Kathy waiting for her relay.

Official time: 2:54

Run: 13.1 Miles

Oh the run. The half marathon at the end of a HIM has been my nemesis for pretty much the entire time I’ve been doing this distance. And today, I was going in to it with not enough calories. Maybe I could turn my day around, but I was fairly certain the focus of the run would be about taking care of myself.  The run starts on the same bike trail as the bike course- with a short out and back before heading around the lake. I know this route fairly well- I did the race last year, and earlier this spring I ran the first half of the course with my friend Kathy. There are some small hills throughout, but nothing too crazy.

When I started the run, my stomach was still feeling a little off, but it was much better now that I was vertical. But, I took two tums at some point in that first mile and honestly, it was a life saver! However, I then started to get a side stitch! I focused on breathing through my nose to try and get rid of the stitch, and walked a bit with my hands on my head. At the first aide station, I took a coke. Yes, I know that was early, but I figured that would be good for my still trying to settle tummy. Thankfully, it was. I recall feeling the best I had since the swim, and looking down at my watch to see paces I had hoped to hold. I felt confident as I ran up one of the hills and didn’t walk. Wow, this was a tough hill for me last year, and this year I hardly noticed it (Thank you TriMarni training).

Unfortunately, the good didn’t last too long. The heat plus being low on calories plus the mental game caused me to walk much more than I had planned. I knew I was going to walk the aid stations, but I found myself going about half a mile before needing to walk, and then walking for longer than I should have. I grabbed ice and water and coke at pretty much every aid station, and started on some pretzels a little later on. By mile 8 I could feel myself starting to bonk and my tummy was getting agitated again. I took another two tums and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. “Just get to the next aid station” was all I could think about. In the last few miles, I saw two girls in my age group: one, I kept trying to catch up to and the other who would pass me while I was walking and then I would pass her back when I switched back to running. It was those two that kept me going- the desire to catch the one girl in front of me (I didn’t) and to not let the girl behind me pass me (she didn’t). Finally, I was in the final stretch! The last tenth of a mile in this race is downright cruel- it’s up a short hill to the finish. And on top of that, there’s a photographer to capture it all! I dug deep-real deep to get up this hill without puking and without collapsing. My hamstrings started to get tight and oh my goodness all I wanted to do was walk. But, you’re SO CLOSE. Those moments to get to that finish were tough, but to cross that line was such a sweet, sweet feeling. I truly feel like I fought hard and earned that finish today.

Official time: 02:22:03

Final time: 06:12:52

25th AG/106

154th Female

687 OA.

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Reflection:

Yes, this was my slowest HIM time by FAR. (I’ve never been over 6:00.) But, all in all, I can’t really be too disappointed. I still managed to be top 25 in my age group, and I learned a heck of a lot about racing a 70.3. I’ve been talking to my coach a lot about what happened out there, because it was really odd for me to have GI issues so early on. I train with INFINIT and haven’t had any issues on my training rides. I think the issues stemmed from a combination of things: my food choices 24-48 hours before the race and starting out the ride with too high of a heart rate. The heat may have contributed too, but I think I started pushing too early and my heart was pumping blood to my muscles rather than to my stomach to digest! I’ve got several months now until my next and last HIM of this season (but am considering throwing in one more for good fun), so it’s time to file this one away, and gear up for some fun summer training (aka HARD training!).

I’m super thankful for the abilities that I do have- that I can run, bike, and swim and push my body to new limits. I’m thankful for an amazing coach, teammates, family and friends. I wouldn’t be here without their help and support! Thank you!

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Photo courtesy of my SOAS sis Jess!

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9 responses

19 06 2017
Steena

I think a lot of people had their slowest time on that course! Congrats on your 2nd HIM! You put out a solid. strong day!

19 06 2017
321delish

Thanks girl! Kudos to you on a job well done on that course!

19 06 2017
Beth E.

Great job! I also had my worst time there (except for my very first one 6 years ago when I didn’t know what I was doing). That bike just killed me, and I was prepared for it. Most everyone I’ve talked to also had way slower times than usual. I decided that I can’t compare my time on this course to my times on a flat course, because they were just too different. And with the heat and the wind, those were added challenges. I was just happy to have finished! And who is the sadist who put the hill in the last .1 mile of the run?!

19 06 2017
321delish

Thank you!! It helps to know others had a hard day out there too! This was definitely a tough one- and we’re all tougher for finishing it!

20 06 2017
Chuck Feerick

Way to go Steph!!

20 06 2017
321delish

Thanks Chuck!! I hope you’re doing well!

18 09 2017
Ironman 70.3 World Championships – Pre Race | 321delish

[…] race on my schedule until October, my response was HECK YES! Still feeling a little bummed from my less than stellar performance in June and lacking motivation to train since my next race wasn’t for a few more months, this […]

22 09 2017
Ironman 70.3 World Championships- Race Report | 321delish

[…] the race Marni had reminded me to be patient. I have a habit of going after it right away- see my race report from Wisconsin to know my HR was 170 very soon after starting the bike. So, this first part of the […]

20 10 2017
Maria

Very impressive!!! Our team really wants to do it , thank you for the motivation!

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