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Saturday, 20 July 2019

2019 Ironman 70.3 Muncie



After a great start to the 2019 season at Oceanside, I was ready to keep the momentum going. Ironman 70.3 Muncie race would be special for several reasons. First, my goal was for this race was to get a PB (more on my goals later). Second, my wife was coming with me. Third, my parents would be at this race. Everything was stacking up for great race with a lake swim with a flat bike course in my home state.

(photo from ironman.com)
We flew into Indianapolis Thursday morning and headed straight to our Airbnb. After a supply run we drove the bike course. I made mental notes of areas were I could hold back, go hard, and landmarks that would help me break up the monotony of the flat farmland. Right before the first turn around was a little residential area with an American flag in one of the font lawns. 

On the way back to our Airbnb, we stopped off at Ironman Village to get a prepaid parking spot at a house across the street. If you do this race, I highly recommend this. It was $20 (US) and guaranteed you a spot all weekend. Granted there was free parking at the venue, but it was first-come-first-serve.  Plus, it was right across the street from transition and made leaving super easy.

We woke up early Friday for Athlete Check-In and the race briefing. After check-in, we checked out the vendors. We also found out that the swim course was changed. Instead of being a triangle, it was now a skinny rectangle. They did this to reduce the time swimming into the sun. Of course they did this after I bought new polarized goggles specifically for swimming into the sun.

We had some time between check in and the briefing, so I went for a little swim. The water was very warm and I began to ponder using my wetsuit or not. Andrew had said, if given the option, use the wetsuit. But I was afraid of over heating.


At the race briefing, the race director informed us that the race was 'wetsuit optional.'  BUT, if you wore a wetsuit, you would start at the back of the swim start and be ineligible for awards. While in no danger of getting any awards, I did worry about starting in the back.  It would not put me in a good mental place knowing I was that far back. And it would mean more time in the sun later in the day on the bike and run. After a quick chat with Andrew online, we opted for no wetsuit.

After the race briefing, I did my transition recon. I was in a good spot for bike out and run out, but not the best for swim in or bike in. I did however have a great visual landmark to find my row.



Afterwards we drove the run course. It was long, very rolling, and had almost no shade. This would be a challenge. Luckily, there would be aid stations every mile. With the weather predicted to to be 95F with the heat index, hydrating would be essential. Just like the bike course, there was a large American flag just before the turn around.

We went back to the Airbnb for final prep before meeting my parents for dinner. Then it was final prep and a very restless sleep.

Before we get into race day, let's chat about my goals for this race. I knew this course played to my strength on the bike. Monday before the race, I met with Andrew for my race plan meeting. We went over my previous 70.3 races, my training data, and the Muncie course. Andrew and I were very excited and confident I could get a personal best at this race. 

I set 3 goals: Come in under 3 hours on the bike, come in under 3 hours on the bike, and come in under 7 hours overall.  I've done the bike under 3 hours once at Arizona where I also came in under 7 hours (my current PB). I've come under 3 hours on the run at both Tremblant and Oceanside. I felt very confident with all 3 goals.

We got up at 4am to pack up the car and make it to the race by 5:30. We parked and went to setup my transition.

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
After setting up and doing my walk through, we waiting for the warm up swim area to start.


After some stretching and warming up, I went in the lake for a warm up swim. After the warm up, my parents were there. I spoke with them for a bit, but needed to line up and focus.


In the line up, I kept moving back and forth between the 43-46 minute start and the 40-43 minute.  I ended up settling in the 40-43.  

After the usual long wait with a rolling start, it was time to go. I could see Jen and my parents off the left watching me. I acknowledged them, but was focused on my race.



Then, I was in the start chute and my race was underway.

The Swim

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Everyone around me was wading gingerly into the water. I took a few big steps then went right for it.  I looked more bad ass in my head, but after seeing the video (and hearing my dad's commentary), I realized it didn't look as cool as I thought.


The water was very warm and I was glad to not have a wetsuit. I passed quite a few people and soon found myself with lots of room. 

Since the water was super flat, I went with my 5 count sighting pattern. I kept a tight line and was soon approaching the first turn buoy. It was a bit more crowded as we made the turn, but it was easily navigated.

After the first turn, there was a slight pull to the right. I adjusted and was able to swim past those taking a wider line.  

Turn 2 got crowded again and soon we were on the long swim back. There was still a slight pull to the right, but not as bad as before. The course was much more crowded now as people in front of me were slowing.


At one point, it looked like one of the buoys had floated off course. Some swimmers were going far left to go around it, but I knew from the course map this was wrong. I kept going straight.

Soon we were at the last turn. I made the turn and swam to shore. As usual, I swam past all the people wading through waist deep water. I swam all the way in and popped up as close to shore as I could.



There was a long uphill from the swim exit to T1 and I began to run it. I had to stop and resort to a walk as I started to wretch a bit.

As I made it up the hill, I saw Jen. I had asked her to give me my swim and T1 time (since my watch was on bike). She told me my time. It was not great, but not terrible.


I was a bit disappointed. I felt faster, but nothing I could do but keep focused and keep going.

At the top of the hill, I manage a jog. I followed the giant yellow Gatorade to my row and counted the 6 racks to my bike. I put on my helmet, compression calf sleeves (usually under my wetsuit but illegal to wear in a non-wetsuit swim), socks, shoes, sun glasses, bike, and was off.

I stopped for sunscreen the exited T1.

The Bike


As I exited T1, Jen told me my swim time, T1 time, and total time. I must have made a face, because I could hear my dad say, "It's alright. You'll make it up on the bike."

I ran to the mount line, got on my bike and was off.

The first part of the bike course was crowded as we rode out to Highway 35. My power was a bit higher than my target, but it had to be in order not to get a drafting penalty.

I rode past the first photographer and gave him a thumbs up.



I had 2 bottles and my aero bottle filled with 3 hours worth of INFINIT, a gel flask with some HUMA gel for extra calories, and salt pills for the extra heat/humidity. 

I hydrated and then went for some gel. The gel flask must have gotten too hot, because when I opened it, chocolate gel shot out all over my hand. Guess I was going to do the bike with sticky hands.

After some turns, we were out on the main highway and I settled into my power target. It felt like I was working harder than my power indicted, but I remembered that the first part of the bike was a slight uphill.

I was passed by alot of riders out on their second lap. This was good, it meant my second lap would be a bit more open. It was easy to know they were coming because I could hear the sound of their disc wheels.

Even though I had all I needed on board, I still went through the aid stations. At every aid station, I grabbed a water, took a few long swigs, then poured the rest over my back, chest, and legs to help with the heat.

 

Soon, we were at the turn around. I rode over the timing mat and thought about Jen, my parents, and all my teammates tracking me. 

The next part of the course was more downhill and I felt I was able to make up more time.

There was a long stretch of spectators who were all super encouraging.

Soon, I was at the end of the first loop. I made the turn and was out for my second loop.

I continued to maintain my power target and kept up with my hydration/nutrition plan.

As we closed in on the end of the second loop, a bee hit me in the face. The rider behind me saw it and asked if I was ok as he passed. I told him I was fine and it could have been much worse. Soon after, a bee flew right into my helmet. I could feel it buzzing around and frantically shook my helmet to try and get it out. Eventually, the bee flew out. Crisis averted. 


Soon we passed the turn around. With the second loop done, we turned left heading back toward transition.

In my mind, I was almost done, but there was still a long way back to transition. 

During this stretch, we rode up a slightly bigger hill. As I slowed, I could feel the heat on my back and arms. The run will be HOT.

Then, transition was in sight. I rode up to the mount line to the sound of Jen's cheers. I unclipped and made my way into T2. 

I ran into transition, found the giant yellow Gatorade and turned right. I made my way to my spot and racked my bike. I had everything I needed for the run a bag. The plan was to put on my shoes and race number, then grab the bag and run out of T2. I ended up just doing my usual slow and steady transition. 

I stopped to get more sunscreen before heading out on the run.


The Run


The first part of the run course was nothing but rolling hills. I had to walk up some of them to ease into the run after a great bike.

When I ran, I eased into a pace that felt comfortable. I looked at my watch and realized that it was a pace similar to Oceanside. If I kept this up, I would hit my goal.

As we ran along the lake, there was a group of boaters blaring music and cheering us on with a PA system. I knew their encouragement would be needed on the way back.

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
As we approached the first aid station, I remembered my race plan. I had INFINIT on my belt, as well as gels and salt pills. With the heat and humidity now turned up to 11, I made sure to get water at every aid station. My aid station routine consisted of: Grab 2 waters, drink one and pour the other over my head. Grab a cup of ice (or 2), pour half the ice down the front of my trisuit, and and pour the second half down the back. I did this for every aid station. 

I kept my pace up as best I could, only stopping to walk when I ate a gel or went through an aid station. I made sure to run in the shade when the scarcity of shade presented itself.

I saw the big American flag on the right and knew I was almost to the turn-around. The aid station at the turn-around was one of the best aid stations ever. All the volunteers were super encouraging, the music was loud, and we got everything we needed with little to no stopping. As I ran out of the turn-around party, a young boy gave me a fist bump and told me that I was an inspiration. This type of aid station is exactly what you would want at a halfway point.


I was still on track for a sub 3 hour run, but the second half of the run seemed to drain me the closer I got to the finish. The rollers were not big hills, but there were lots of them. In addition, the heat/humidity was in full Indiana blast.

I made it to the last 5k of the race and got a much needed pep talk from another young man at an aid station. I turned left and knew I was getting close. That mile felt so long, and soon I was at the last left turn. I knew I was close, but the closer I got to the finish, the bigger the hills got.

I began to think about how I would feel if I didn't hit my target. I told myself that if I missed my goal, that it would only be by a few minutes. It was a tough day and I would be proud of whatever result I ended up with.

With 2 miles to go, I told myself I would run the rest of the race. Yeah, that did not happen. I ran when I could, but my walk breaks increased. 

I passed the boats and got some much needed encouragement. That got me going until I hit another hill. 

As I walked up what was promised to be the last hill, I saw Jen. I said to the guy next to me, "There's my wife. I guess I should run."

Jen told me I needed to pick it up, but I told her I had very little left. She said I was so close. I thought she meant to the finish, but she meant for my goal time. She was about to tell me my race time, but I didn't want to hear it.

I ran over the hill and sprinted onto the grass into the (very long) finishers chute. I could feel my body tell me to stop, but I was so close, I had to keep going.


Halfway down the finisher chute I saw my mom cheering me on, and as I finished, I could hear my dad. Turns out that the 3 of them knew I was close to my goal and strategically placed themselves to cheer me all the way in.


I crossed the finish line with no pose or reaction. I was too tired. I saw the time on the clock and knew I was close to my goal, but all I wanted to do was get off my feet and out of the sun.


I got my medal, hat, and water. Jen and my dad met me outside the finisher area. Dad gave me a big hug and wanted to talk about the race. I told him it was nothing personal, but I needed some time. He understood.


I found some shade under a tree, sat, and drank my water. When I was ready, I asked Jen for the breakdown of my times. When she got to the overall time, she slowed down. "6 hours, 59 minutes, 35 seconds," At the time I thought it was a PB, but after looking back, I realize that I was off by 43 seconds. 

My swim was not great, but it was non wetsuit swim so I'll take it. I got a new PB on the bike and met my bike goal. The run was HOT with no shade and I did not hit my run goal. But I did hit my overall goal of under 7 hours and only missed a PB by 43 seconds.



All in all, I am still extremely happy with my results. I will continuing to keep up with my training, with a focus on weight loss, running, and transitions. I feel that even with an average run time, if my transitions were a bit faster, I could have hit that 43 seconds.


After the race, we spent several days in Indianapolis visiting with family. All in all, a great little vacation.




Thanks for taking the time to read this race report.  Next race is the Cultus Lake Triathlon (half iron distance) in September. I've done the Olympic distance at this race twice and feel confident I can get a great result here as well.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

2019 Ironman 70.3 Oceanside




The 2019 race season has now officially kicked off with the completion of the Ironman Oceanside 70.3 in Oceanside California.

I arrived in Oceanside Thursday afternoon and decided to check in early. I walked to transition only to find that the athlete check-in was elsewhere. After finding the correct location and checking in, I proceeded to Ironman Village (aka the race expo). I arrived just as the 4pm athlete briefing started so I stayed and listened. Afterwards, I went to check out the vendors and buy my race sticker. Later that night, I assembled my bike and planned my Friday.

I woke up early Friday morning and packed my swim and cycling gear into the car. I then drove to the closest parking lot near transition. After putting on my wetsuit, I headed to the swim start.

The water was cold, but I acclimated quickly. I practiced diving under the 2-3 foot waves and dodged the local surfers before making it to calmer waters. Once out of the breakers, I just floated in the water, taking it all in. Athletes who race in Kona (where the World Championships are held) talk about 'becoming one with the island.' I have adopted this, but for the bodies of water I swim in. By floating calmly and quietly, it's my way of getting to know the water and for the water to get to know me. It may seem silly, but when you boil it down, most rituals are. But it helps calm the nerves, so I do it.

I swam back to the breaking waves and practiced diving under then some more.  A woman asked for my help, so I helped her figure out how to get under/past the waves.


Afterwards, I walked back to the car, dried off, and took the bike out for a bit. By the time I was finished testing the water and my bike, it was 10am. Transition did not open until 11am. So I found a nice place to sit on the beach and waited.  During which I recorded the following video for Instagram:



Once transition opened, I made my way to my spot.  It was right in the middle with an excellent landmark for finding my bike on race day.


After racking my bike and letting some air out of the tires (to prevent them from popping in the heat), I walked transition to familiarize myself with the routes. I found the swim exit and saw the LONG route I'd have to take to get to my bike.






After dropping my bike off, I headed back to Ironman Village to attend the Pro Athlete Panel.  The Pro panel consisted of (from left to right) Sarah True, Heather Jackson, Holly Lawrence, Daniela Ryf, Eric Lagerstrom, Ruedi Wild, Ben Kanute, and Sam Appleton.


After the Pro Panal, I walked up the pier to head back to my AirBnb.  After snapping a photo, I realized that Daniela Ryf had stuck around to take photos with fans.  I went back down and got a photo with the 4 time Ironman and 4 time Ironman 70.3 World Champion.



Then it was back to the Airbnb to prep, eat, relax, and hopefully sleep.


Race morning I woke up early, showered, got dressed, grabbed my gear and was on my way. About a block away I realized I forgot my pump, so I turned around to get it.

I walked down the street and along a bike path. As I walked, I was joined by more and more athletes.  As we walked in the dark with all our gear it resembled an evacuation. As if we were all leaving to avoid some disaster. I began to think about the actual things some of these athletes may be leaving behind. Maybe some were overweight and triathlon helped them to become healthy. Perhaps some were doing this for a loved one, or a charity, or maybe just for the challenge. We all had something we were running from, but more importantly, we all had something we were running towards.

We made our way into transition and I began to setup. I chatted with some of the athletes around me and found out that the bike-in was the same as the swim-in. Meaning we had to ride down the same long, narrow path we would run to get into transition after the swim.


As we setup, the announcer said that the waves were "measured in inches." I laughed and said out loud, "Yeah but 36 inches is still 3 feet." After setting up, I walked though the long transition.

After putting on my wetsuit, I made my way to the beach. Only the pros were allowed a warm up swim, but we were allowed to get into the water as long as we did not pass the breakers (which were actually 36 inches... Or 3 feet). While the waves were higher, the water was warmer.

After a while we were called out of the water to line up. I seeded myself in the back of the 40-42 minute section. With my best time being 38 minutes and my average of 45, my coach and I decided to have me start in the 40 minute section.


While waiting for the start, I chatted with the athletes around me. Then the pros started. We all cheered as we saw them sprint into the water, leaping over waves at full speed. I looked around and joked, "We are all doing that right?" Everyone laughed as we watched the pros dive under the waves. The pro women went in a bit more gingerly but still aggressive.


Then we slowly marched forward until I was in the start chute. I thanked the volunteer and walked into the water.

The Swim


I waded into the water, diving under the waves as they came crashing over me. It was way more difficult than the day before, having to dive under the waves, then swim, then time the next wave, all while trying to keep my heart rate down. I ended up doing the breast stroke more than I wanted, but it kept me calm and got me through the rough waves.




Once on the other side of the breaking waves, I tried to get into a rhythm but was tossed around until I got to the first turn.

After the turn, it was a straight shot into the harbor. I could see a boat off to the left and the current was pulling me right. I found that if I sighted the boat, it lined me up with the buoys.


At the second turn, the sun was directly in our eyes. I put my hand up to try and block the sun to figure out where to swim. A volunteer on a stand up paddle board told us the sight the building. I could not tell if this was correct or not, but it was the easiest thing to sight.

As we continued, another volunteer told us we were swimming to far right and to swim into the sun. Soon we were at turn 3. It was easy to see as we were now fully into the harbor.



I sighted and saw another red buoy. It was the exit. I swam into the exit and all the way up to the ramp. I may have swam into a volunteer, but I wanted to make sure I swam up as far as I could.




I got up the ramp and tried to find the cord to my wetsuit. You can see from the pictures that I was having issues finding it. I soon realized the reason I could not find it was because my wetsuit was already unzipped. I have no idea how or when it was unzipped, but it didn't matter.


I walked down the long walkway and all the way down transition to my bike.  I made a quick transition and made my way to the mount line. I got in my bike and started to ride.



The Bike



After riding out of transition we hit a small hill. I knew to keep my power low on this hill as it was too early to hit anything hard.


This year, I started training with power rather than heart rate, both on the bike and the run. After some tests and reviewing some data from my last 2 outdoor training rides, my coach recommended keeping my power around 175 watts for the majority of the race. We knew once we hit the hills that I'd probably hit threshold, but staying at 175 would save my legs for the hills and the run.

The bike course took us into Camp Pendleton. Because this is an active Marine base, we were required to wear our race bibs on the bike. This was not a huge deal and actually added to the race experience. Our names were printed on our bibs, so when we passed or were being passed, encouragement could be given on a first name basis.

As we rode onto an overpass (and throughout the rest of the race), I spotted lots of lost bottles, C02 cartridges, saddle bags, and even lost aero bottles. I was glad I upgraded my aero bottle and saddle bottle setup this year and could ride without worry.



Around 5 kilometers, we rode behind a small shopping center and over some speed bumps. I was again glad for my upgrades, knowing that everything on my bike was secure.


At 8k, we hit a hill. I knew from my research this hill was coming. Most race reports I read said not to start racing until you were up this hill. At the top, I joked with athletes around me saying, "That was the big one right?  We are good now? No more hills?"

From here the course had some nice rollers but was predominately flat. I stuck with my power goals and pressed on.

The views were great. As we rode north, the ocean was to our left and the wildflower spotted, green hills were to our right.


Down one of the first decent descents, I almost ht a rather large crack in the road. that would have ended my day fast. But I was able to bunny hop it. I have never bunny hopped ever before and most likely will not be able to do it again. Somehow, I knew how in the moment and it most likely saved my race.


At 16k we started a small out-and-back. Once past the 180 degree turn, an athlete joked as he passed me, "Seems easier going this way.  At least until we have to go up the small hill we went down."

At 20k the course took us off the main road and onto a bike path. It was a very rough surface so we all tried to find the smoothest part of the road. The course narrowed here and the lack of "on your left" warnings made for some close calls. Very few athletes were communicating their passing, so when one did, I made sure to thank them. And of course I made to sure to communicate when passing another athletes as well.

At 22k we hit our first aid station. I rode on through. I had everything I needed on board. My new aero bottle held 35oz of my Infinit electrolyte drink as did my 2 bottles. Each had 1 hour worth of fuel. I also had a gel flask with Huma sports gel to make up for the 3 hour plus ride.

At 24k the pavement became smoother and we took a sharp left under a bridge. The change in lighting conditions messed with my eyesight, but the course was well marked.


Most of the athletes around me had been playing leap-frog with me all day and we became familiar with each other. One man commented, "Joseph we meet again!  I seem to be faster uphill, but you kill me on the flats!"  I replied, "We play with the gifts we are given."


I saw this man again at 32k. He had accelerated to try and catch his wife, only to realize it was not his wife. I joked with him, "Don't worry. I won't tell your wife you were chasing after another woman." We all had a good laugh.

We were soon back on a main road for a bit before going back to a bike path around 35k. This lead to the first No Passing Zone. The path was very narrow and had a bit of a climb. I apologized to the people stuck behind me as I kept my power at 175w. Once at the other side, I exclaimed, "You're free!" as I let them pass. They wished me luck and they were on their way.

We were back on a main road again enjoying a gorgeous view of the green hills. It was as if this part of California existed as it did hundreds of years ago.



The course continued with more easy rollers until 42k as we passed though another gate. The name on the gate had the same name as the road the big hill was one, so I knew I was getting close.

At 45k I rounded a corner and I saw it.

The Hill.

Hell Hill.

It didn't look bad, just long. As I got closer it seemed to rise out of the ground before my eyes. This will be tough. Half the athletes around me showed determination as the other half showed dread.

As we started to climb, we saw a sign that said something to the effect of "You are about the climb Hell Hill. Elevation blah blah blah.  ENJOY!" All I remember is 'Hell Hill' and 'ENJOY!'

I gave a fist pump and began to climb. It was hard. I was climbing steady but at a very low speed and cadence. My goal for the bike was to not walk any of the 3 big hills. As I climbed, I thought about how handy it is to have legs that can squat over 300lbs.

Halfway up the hill, I saw a man walking his bike. He had shirt that showed he was racing in memory of someone. As I passed him, I said, "Tell me about the man on the back of your shirt."  He said it was his dad. I responded, "You are doing great and your dad would be proud."

I kept climbing and climbing and climbing. And then it was done. I let out a loud "Woooooo!" at the top and enjoyed a nice, steady, downhill recovery.

Making it up Hell Hill gave me confidence for the next 2 big hills. I knew nothing could be worse than that.

The course continued through the base with more steady rollers. At one point, I dropped my gels, but knew I had enough Infinit left to make it.

As we rode though the base, several Marines were volunteering on course. Some were in groups just listening to music from their cars, but most were very encouraging as we rode by.

At 56k I saw a sign that read "You are about the climb Hell Hill Jr. Elevation blah blah blah.  ENJOY!" All I remember is 'Hell Hill Jr.' and 'ENJOY!' As I hoped, this one was not as bad. It was still a challenging hill, but after Hell Hill, it seemed much easier.

As we descended, we reached Dead Man's Turn. Apparently the first year this race was run, someone died on this descent, hence the name. For safety, this was another no passing zone as well as an enforced speed limit. Timing mats ensured no one exceeded 40kph. I took this curvy downhill very conservatively.

Once finished with the infamous descent, it was back to a more relatively flat course.

At 64k we reached a sign that read something like "You are about the climb Mini Hell Hill. Enjoy the headwinds after." This hill was much easier, but the sign lied. There was no headwind. There were cross winds. This made the descent a bit nerve racking.

At 72k we crossed a bridge and I saw a runway with lots of helicopters and Boeing Ospreys. Then there was a right turn and the course got BORING.

The next 10 or so kilometers were dead flat with a head wind. No hills, no turns, just flat. The only thing keeping my moral up was that I was almost done with the bike. But even that didn't help because the run was up next!

At 83k, we were back behind the shops from the start of the race. I knew I was close. Soon I was going down the first hill and heading to transition. I could see runners out on the run course.

I rode down the narrow walkway from the swim start and dismounted at the dismount line. The walk to my spot was very far, so I decided to take my bike shoes off.

I found my spot, racked my bike, and started to prepare for my run. But not before getting some sunscreen.

The Run


As I started the run, the small refill bottle I had slipped out of my back pocket. I decided to carry it. This small bottle had a concentrate of Infinit in it for the second half of the run. I also realized that my hydration belt was not tight enough. I stopped, tightened the belt and figured out that the refill bottle would fit in the zipper pocket.



Ok. All set. I turned right onto the bridge and was off.


The course then took us down to the beach and the first aid station.  I took some water, drank half of it, and poured the other half over my head.

The run course was full of spectators cheering us on.  The runners coming back for their next lap cheered us on as well. I would be sure to do the same.


We then ran under the pier near Ironman Village before a very steep ramp took us up onto the pier.  I walked the steep ramp.  From the high vantage point of the pier, I could see the finish line. "Soon," I told myself.


We ran a section of the main road before runni.. errr walking down another steep ramp back onto the strand. The ocean crashed right up against the run course and drowned out all other sounds. It was very relaxing and helped keep my motivation up.


Soon I was walking up another steep ramp onto the man road. I was keeping a good pace when running, but still took walk breaks when I needed them. I kept to my nutrition/hydration plan and ran on.

This section was all residential, beachfront homes.  And everyone was outside cheering us on. One house even had speakers setup and were BLARING inspirational music for us.

After this long stretch of road, with a couple hills sprinkled in, we took two left turns. There was an aid station there with ice. My left knee and lower quad were killing me, so I took some ice and stuffed it into the leg of my tri suit.

Then it was the turn around. I ran over the timing mats and thought about Jen, my coach, and my teammates all tracking me at home. I knew they were cheering me on and it helped propel me forward.

As I ran back, I decided to run along the sidewalk rather than the road. It was a hot day and the sidewalk was in shade.

I went back down to the strand along the water until it was time to climb back up to the road. When I got there, I noticed the signs.  Once said "Second Lap" and the other said "Finish Line." It was then that I realized that the second lap was shorter! No need to go back up onto the man road. Once you got to the strand, it was a straight shot to the finish. I took a quick glance toward the finish chute and with a quick "See you soon" I walked up the ramp to the man road.


I ran on the main road, back to the pier, walked down the pier, and ran back up the beach to finish my first lap.


I rounded the turn around at the bridge and joked with the volunteer, "Ok. Now I'm warmed up!"

I was still keeping good pace, even with frequent walk breaks. I stopped at the first aid station, poured my refill bottle into my big bottle, and filled the rest with water. I was all set to finish this thing. I poured some water over my head and ran on.

I ran down the beach, to the pier, walked up the pier, and took a look at the finish line again. Let's do this.


Soon I was at the turn around again. As I began to run back, I saw the man from Hell Hill who was racing in memory of his dad. I cheered him on and told him we was making his dad proud. A woman next to me said it was very nice of me. I told her I saw him walking up Hell Hill and she responded, "Oh that was you! I was right behind you and though that was the nicest thing!"

We passed the house with the loud speaker system and then were down the ramp onto the strand. I promised myself that once I got here, I would run it all the way in no matter what.

I ran down the strand staring intently at the pier until I cold see the faint, black and red archway of the finish. I kept staring at that finish line as it became clearer and closer.


Before I knew it, I was in the finish chute. I pumped arm in the air to get the crowd behind me and they erupted into cheers as I ran by.



This was the first race I've done since getting married and Jen was upset she could not make it. I promised her I'd blow her a kiss so she could see it on the livestream. And after I crossed the finish line, that is exactly what I did.




I stopped my watch, got my well deserved medal and hat, and made my way to the finisher area. I did not swim with my watch this race. It's one less thing to worry about during transition. The time for the bike, T2, and the run was about 6 hours and 45 minutes. This meant that if I got my average swim time of 45 minutes, I would have hit my goal time of 7.5 hours.



I am very happy with my swim time given the technical start. Even though the bike time was long, it was not my worst and this course was tough with 3 major hills. I am extremely happy with my run. Although I took walk breaks, I still got a sub 3 hour run. Even though I was aiming for 7:30, and very happy with 7:39. Every race is different. They all come with their own unique challenges and personalities. I feel that if it was not for the long transition setup, I would have been able to achieve my goal.  All in all, I am very happy with this result.


Looking forward, I have Ironman Muncie 70.3 in July and Cultus Lake Half Iron in September. I feel I have reached a plateau with what I need to do as far as race prep. I have all the gear I need and it's working well. I have a bike setup and nutrition plan that works well for me. I have the strength and endurance and my training with my coaches is consistent.

So what is next?

Weight.

I know I've said this before, but if I can lose 40lbs and keep my strength, I am sure to make vast improvements moving forward. It's the last piece to the puzzle.

So my goal for Muncie is to continue to train hard and (healthily) lose what weight I can. Then continue that on for Cultus Lake in September. Then in 2020, I can train all year at my 'race weight' for my first FULL IRONMAN. I set a 5 year goal in 2015 and I am on track and determined to reach it!

Thank you for taking the time to read my race report and sharing in my experience.