Saturday, June 7, 2014

2014 Ironman Raleigh 70.3 Race Report

My last hard workout before Ironman Raleigh 70.3 was 8 days out from the race.  5 miles left in my bike ride, I display my exemplary "triathlete" bike handling skills.  I endo at about 0.2 mph and land on my shoulder.  In retrospect, I'm lucky I didn't snap my collarbone.  I finished my ride, and then of course ran 5 miles as I had a brick scheduled.  Not exactly the best prep for an Ironman brand race, but luckily it was rest week and tried to rest my shoulder as much as possible.  

Welcome Balloons

Initially I thought I had a shot to win the age group.  The shoulder issue really kinda ticked me off.  I swam on Wednesday, but it was a lot of pain.  It got better every day.  Still, I had high hopes heading up to Raleigh.

We followed this guy to checkin
The impetus for doing Ironman Raleigh 70.3 really came out of my wife's high school reunion last year.  One of her high school friends at the reunion also went with her to NC State.  She and her family still live in Raleigh.  So her husband and I were talking and he mentioned the race went right past his neighborhood on Lake Wheeler road.  He said I should come up and do it.  So I'm like OK!  It made it a pretty easy decision as we could spend some time with our friends, and get a free place to stay.
All the check in tables

We drove up Saturday morning and went straight to the convention center for checkin.  It took 30 minutes in line just to get to the first table.  Then, after giving the girl my name (she never asked for ID), she handed me a slip with my number and on through the process I went.  First the waivers, then the race number and swim cap packet, then the t-shirt, and finally the timing chip.  That all took another 15 minutes.  The convention center was a good place for all this, although they used most of the room for merchandise and the expo.  They could have used more room for registration.  Overall I thought IM Augusta was a bit more organized for checkin.  The Raleigh Expo was nicer, though.

Bonk Breaker Booth was quite busy

We then headed back to our friend's house and I set to work on getting the bike ready.  I organized some of my stuff for the next day.  I put the bike stickers on, and the helmet stickers on and loaded everything up into the car.  I then made the 30 minute drive out to Jordan Lake.  This race is a split transition with T2 being back downtown near the convention center.  This was actually my 4th race in a row with a split transition.  Going back to IM Lake Las Vegas 70.3 WC, Rev3 South Carolina, TryCharleston Half, and now IM Raleigh.
Stuff, Stuff, Stuff

Nicer bag than Augusta

Simple, Yet Bold

I made the trek out through Apex and across to the other side of Jordan Lake.  I wasn't really sure where to turn, but just followed all the other people.  It took a little while to get all the way down to Vista Point with the 2 lane narrow road, all the cars, and of course all the people running and biking up the road.  Why do people do this?  My buddy does this.  He says its his routine.  Maybe I'm just old and feel like I need my rest the week before, and especially the day before a race.  I guess it loosens you up, but sweating for a half hour doesn't help me.
Locked and Loaded

Gave me an Extra 5 watts

Anyways, this bike dropoff was less chaotic than most.  They had half the parking area for transition and the other half you could actually park in a space and take your bike into T1.  The bike racks were long.  The whole transition was long and narrow there weren't that many rows, but they stretched from the water to the end of the parking lot it seemed.  Of course I was only about 1/3 of the way in, so I had to trot my bike through most of T1.  And this race you couldn't put your shoes on your bike.  Not sure why.  The RD never gave and explanation and it wasn't even mentioned in the athlete guide.  I wasn't too keen in having to run that far in my bike shoes, but if everyone (except the pros) had to do it, then it wasn't a big deal.
Ready for Business
 I put my bike in my spot, and deflated the tires.  I also put my shoes, helmet and torpedo bottle there in my bike gear bag.  Then I went to check out the swim area.  The exit was a ramp and the entrance was a sandy beach.  It all looked like a pretty good setup.  I bumped into Nathan and talked to him for a while before heading out.
Can't quite see the other end of Transistion
I got back and we all headed over to Pullen Park.  The younger kids did the carousel and the train.  They played on the playground for a while and got some energy out.  We then headed over to Vic's Italian for dinner in downtown Raleigh.  The place was packed with triathletes.  I had lobster ravioli and the sauce was unbelievable.
Small but Excellent
When we got back to the house, I finished organizing everything.  I got my morning clothes and run gear bags backed.  I threw all that any my garbage bag with my wetsuit and my swimskin in the car.  Everyone knew this race would be right on the edge of being wetsuit legal.  Instead of bitching about not knowing, like some people, I just decided to be prepared for either.  I got my morning food ready, and by then it was time to hit the bed.

Race Day
I didn't sleep well.  I kept having all those stupid dreams where I forgot something over and over again. It seemed like forever until 4am arrived.  Finally it did and I hopped out of bed.  I found a free parking spot easily enough on Cabarrus near Wilmington St.  I walked over to T1, found my spot and laid my stuff down.  I stood there for like a minute, trying to decide if I had everything there I needed.  Satisfied, I got in line for the shuttle bus.

It was about a 10 min wait to get on the bus and a 30 min bus ride.  There were quite a few people at Vista Point already.  I walked straight to my bike as I needed to get the tires pumped.  As luck would have it, the guy right next to me had a bike pump.  So I got my latex tubes pumped up right away and was pretty relaxed then.  I heard the announcement of the water temp being 75.4 degrees.  Everything seemed to be going right so far.

I ate some more bananas and had a couple of GU Gels and some fig newtons.  I thought I had left my vitamins in T1 but after emptying my bag, I finally found them.  I had some time to chill and was milling around the swim start and I ran into fellow Big Sexy Teammate Lauren Olson.  We had a quick chat.  She was starting in the second to last wave, so she wasn't too keen on having to bike through so many people.

I got my wetsuit on, did a very short warmup swim and then headed to get into the wave line.  I then fourd my buddy Nathan and Jon getting ready.  They were starting like 20 minutes after me.  We chatted a bit, but soon it was time for me to stand in line and get serious.
Beach Area of Start

37:28 Officially 117/284 AG, 493/1280 Overall Male Non-Pro
It was an in-water start, but it wasn't over our heads.  I started off to the left, to let the real swimmers have at.  At the gun, I started relatively clean.  Pretty much pain in my shoulder every stroke, but that was to be expected.  My goggles were perfect, no leaks, no fogging.  It was pretty crowded to the first turn buoy.  I guess that's what I get now that I'm a MOP swimmer and not a BOP swimmer.  Used to be I'd have clear sailing by the first 200 yards in.

Not my Wave, but pretty similar

After the first turn, it was pretty clean on the back stretch.  Sighting wasn't too bad.  I just tried to keep it even and push.  I made the second turn and could see the finish.  I just tried to push.  My shoulder had loosened up some and the pain wasn't as sharp.  As I got near the last 200 yards, it became crowded again.  I had to dodge the breast strokers and doggy paddlers from the wave ahead of me.
Exit Ramp

I got kicked in the right eye pretty good with about 100 to go.  It pushed my goggle in so far I couldn't open my eye.  I tried to pull it out to no avail.  Since I was so close to finish I decided to just go with my one good eye.  The last little bit seemed to take forever, but finally I was on my feet and headed up the ramp.
Can't Get . . . 
This Thing Off . . .

2:18 Officially
A little slow.  I just can't seem to get the top of my wetsuit off.  So just like Charleston, the strippers did all the work.  I found my bike easily enough.

 I put my shoes on, (since there was no clipping in shoes to pedals).  I grabbed Green Lightning and we made the long trek through the rest of T1.  The mount line wasn't too busy.  I hopped on an away I went.  I actually got clipped in pretty quickly.  I may switch back to doing it that way in the future.

2:22:11 Officially 1/284 AG, 6/1280 Overall Male Non-Pro
Garmin had a 23.7 mph average and 226 watts. After the initial 3 mile climb out of T1, the course was pretty fast.  I passed quite a few people up that hill and the subsequent downhill.  I had wanted to hit a 230 watt average.

Point to Point

At 30 miles, I was right at 230 watts and was averaging 24.2 mph.  The next 5 miles had 282 feet of elevation gain and that slowed me some.  The last 15 miles the hills just kept coming.  I was a little surprised.  I guess I didn't study the elevation map well enough.
Hills, Hills,
I was hoping to break 2:20 on this course based on last year's times.  There was a headwind pretty much the whole way.  As the ride went on and my speed decreased, I was a little disappointed, but figured that I was probably doing pretty well against everyone else.
I figured the headwind was probably helping me.  I did get blown around a couple of times but nothing too bad. 
Aero Baby

Bringing the Pain
I had a GU Energy Gel at mile 20 and mile 40.  I skipped the aid stations.  I came by our friend's neighborhood right at the 48 mile mark.  They were all out there cheering, so that was fun and gave me a boost of energy.
A little power drop near the end

There were a lot of people out on the bike course.  I didn't have too much trouble with people blocking (well after the first 10 miles).  I only saw a couple of people drafting, and no real draft trains.
Scenic coming across Jordan Lake
Finally I made it back to downtown Raleigh.  The last climb seemed brutal.  It was probably the slowest I had ever come into a T2.  I biked my way from 117th out of the water to 7th going into T2.

My dismount was flawless.  Heard a little "wow" from the crowd. I had a better spot in T2 and also found it with no issue.  Put on the shoes/socks, grabbed by Fuel Belt race belt with 3 GU Gels, took a last sip outta my water bottle, and I was off.
I had my race belt in my hand as I took off.  The crowds were cheering pretty loudly.  It felt pretty cool to be honest.
1:26:29 Officially, 2/284 AG, 17/1280 Overall Male Non-Pro
I started off feeling pretty good, and maybe some adrenaline from the crowds.  Of course that faded after going up the big hill near the first turnaround.  I was averaging right at a 6:30 pace through the first 5 miles, but I wasn't feeling that great.
Out and Back, Out and Back
As I came back downtown, it was a slight downhill.  I felt like I had put in a pretty good mile, but my Garmin split a 6:52.  Going back and looking at my distances and the mapping on my Garmin, I can see where it kinda lost the satellite signal between all the big buildings.  By mile 8, I Kinda saw it was off.
Garmin Failed me today
 I tried the push those last 5 miles, but the hills just kinda got me.  I didn't know how much ground I was making up.  But I knew I needed to push it.

That last hill to the final turnaround was tough.  After I started coming back, I just tried to lengthen my stride and get going.  I had 5 Gels on the run, but I did feel a little dehydrated.  I should have drank more, but it really didn't affect my run, I don't think.  It wasn't that hot.

Capital Behind Me
My Wife showing off her Photog Skillz
As I came around the capital building that last time, I saw a guy with a 40 on his calf.  I figured he was going for the finish so I just started kicking it in.  Then as the finish line clock came into view I could see it said 4:59:21.  Since I started a half hour after the pros, I figured it was at 4:29.  That motivated me even more, and I finished strong to break 4:30.

4:29:51 Officially 2/280 AG 13/1280 Male Non-Pro
So I came into the finish chute and was dragging my feet.  Turns out the guy I passed with a half mile to go did put me into second place.  A volunteer took my chip and gave me some water.  I walked with him a little bit and drank almost the whole bottle.  Results Here.

I felt good to finish sub 4:30.  That was one of my goals.  I didn't think I had won the age group because of my fade on the run.  I figured I would have to break 1:25 on the run to win, but I just couldn't pull it off.  I found my friends and family and talked with them.
The Fam
I grabbed a piece of pizza, and we headed toward the car to get something to eat.  I bumped into Jenny Leiser (who raced pro) and talked to her a bit.  She thought the same thing as I did about the hills at the end of the bike.  We all piled into Matt's truck up to Tyler's Taproom for some food.
I had some wings and some beers.  I enjoyed a Raleigh Brewing Big Squeeze and a CrankArm Unicycle.
Beer . . . Wings . . . 
I wasn't too hungry but the beers were really good.  While we were eating, I looked up my results and saw that I came in 2nd.  I was 1:20 out of first.  I was a little disappointed, but felt good about my effort.  We headed back down to the finish to see one of my wife's friends finish, and to check out the awards.
Another Podium Finish
I went to the tent to get my award.  I showed her my wrist number and she checked the sheet.  She handed me the award and then asked me if I was taking my slot.  I said no, as I had made up my mind.  I had waffled on it for a couple of weeks.  Pros: Redemption for Vegas, Wetsuit Swim, Driving Distance (not easy but doable), and the 70.3 WC will be in Europe and Australia the next two years.  Cons: It will not help my performance at IM Chattanooga.  Chattanooga Trumps all.
So then a guy standing next to me hears I'm passing on the Mt. Tremblant World Championship slot and asks what Age Group I'm in.  I show him and he gets all excited. There were 5 slots in our age group.  He finished 6th.  So now, my slot can roll down to him.  He asks me to go over to the registration with him so he can get signed up.  So as we're waiting in line, he's telling me how he and his coach had focused this entire year on qualifying for the World Championships and now they did it.  So I made the guy's year.  Literally made his entire year.  I felt pretty good about that.

After the initial disappointment of not winning, I feel pretty good about this race.  Again, another race with a 100% legitimate swim.  I had a dominating bike and a good run.  It definitely validates that my 3rd at IM Augusta wasn't a fluke (does that mean Vegas was?).  It is now time to officially flip the switch from 70.3 training to 140.6 training.  This race gave me some great power data as the elevation gain is pretty close to Chattanooga (in feet per mile).  It's now 4 months to Chattanooga.  Let's do this.