A couple of years ago when WTC announced that 70.3 Worlds was coming back to the US, I was in. I mean I wanted to do it again. I did 2013 Worlds and it was the worst half iron race of my life. Initially the location of the 2017 race came down to Lake Placid, St. George, and Chattanooga. I actually kinda wanted it to be St. George, to be more of a destination race. But Chattanooga it was, a venue that I'm quite familiar with.
|Lots of Signage Up|
As avid readers of my blog know (don't judge), I qualified 14 months ago at Muncie. I kinda petered out at the end of last year. But this year started out strong with a 2nd place AG finish at Chattanooga 70.3 in May. I rested, trained hard, and felt I was ready. Or as ready as one could possibly think they are.
We headed down Thursday morning after the boys had gotten to school. We went the Asheville/Knoxville route from Charlotte instead of the Atlanta route. For the May race, I had gone through Atlanta. This time, we figured with the Hurricane Irma evacuations going on from Florida, that it was best to avoid all of that.
Mostly uneventful, as we stopped at Subway for lunch, and eventually pulled into the Hilton Garden Inn right at 3pm. We were able to check in and get all the stuff into the room. We freshened up a bit and walked over towards the Aquarium for the Parade of Nations.
|Line for Bike Tech. Suckas!|
|Parade of Nations Staging|
They had Mark Allen and Dave Scott at the beginning of the parade. At the end at Ross's, they were up on the pier and they both spoke a little along with Andrew Messick. We hung out there for a little bit and then made our way over to the souvenir tent. We checked that out a little, noticed the long line for check in, and then headed over to Chili's to meet up with the rest of the BSR crew.
We had quite a big group there. I got to meet quite a few sexies for the first time. We ate dinner, talked, hung out, and of course got a pictures. #chilislove
|"The Name Wall"|
|BSR Crew Pre Race #ChilisLove|
Quintana Roo hosted a breakfast for all the teams that they sponsor (BSR, QT2, Dynamo). It was over at Puckett's Grocery and Restaurant. Honestly until this weekend, I didn't realize that it was a restaurant as well. I've always seen it right next to the aquarium but never went in.
|With Chad aka "The Stache"|
The CEO of QR, Peter Hurley, was there. Along with some marketing guy for WTC. But the new head of USA Triathlon, Rocky Harris, was also there. We sat with BSR people at one of the tables. I got to meet a few more sexies that weren't at Chilis. I also got to talk with BSR Lisa, who I hadn't seen since Kona. (I just like saying that). We had a good buffet breakfast. All the aforementioned people spoke a little bit.
We went back to the hotel and my wife chilled. I changed and went down to Ross's Landing to meet BSR Chad for a quick spin. We headed out on the course all the way until we hit the start of "the climb". At that point we bumped into BSR Harold. We hung out and talked a little bit there. Then we all headed back to Ross's. After, I went for a quick run, and felt pretty good. I had strained my hamstring a couple of weeks ago, and hadn't run much since then. In fact, with this run I had only logged 10 miles in the last 17 days.
We met up with some of my MSA swim 'mates, CarolAnn and Karen at Mellow Mushroom for lunch. We had fun catching up and I got some good nutrition lessons. After lunch we went back to the hotel and my wife chilled. I headed down to check in.
|Pro Women's Rack|
One difference is that it doesn't empty out into the merchandise tent. This IM Village was set up a little different. You had to go through the merch tent to get into the village. Then you had to snake your way all the way through all the vendors to get to check in. And no, there wasn't an exit over on that side, you had to snake your way all the way back through the vendors to get out. The marketing people put some thought into that one.
Back at the hotel, I organized my stuff a little, but not everything as I wasn't racing the next day. We walked over to Big River Brewing for dinner. I knew it was a big place and I didn't want to have to wait to eat. I had a 10 oz beer and the dinner was good. We hit the bed early.
|My swim 'mates|
We just had breakfast at the hotel. We went down to check out action at Ross's landing. We found my swim mates and got to talk with them. For some reason, the race was miraculously wetsuit legal. They were starting in the last wave like I was so they still had plenty of time. We watched them get into the water, and then hung out until they were on the bike. We were down there from about 8 am to 10 am.
|Ramp down to Swim|
|Swim Wave Staging, Self Seed by Time|
|The Swim Chutes|
|Off they go|
|Swim Start Area|
|T1 Changing Area|
We walked over to Panera Bread with BSR Paolo (originally from Italy) and had lunch. We then went back to the canopy. We watched the rest of the BSR women go through and my swim friends. We then went back to the hotel and I got all my stuff organized for gear check.
|Ryf for win again|
|BSR Jonathan's Tent|
I then spent quite a bit of time figuring out the race flow, picking up bags, dropping them off and such. I picked up my chip, which kinda makes sense that they would want to use chips from the women's race, for the next day.
I dropped the Red Run bag off near the Hwy 27 bridge. The tables were jammed packed and bags were piled on top of one another, and some on the ground.
They really needed more room for bags. I kinda found my numerical spot and put my bag there.
I walked around transition and dropped the Blue Bike bag off on the water side of the road. We went down the hill and they had an area setup with red carpet just after the swim exit.
|Run Bag Tables|
I put my bag down there in order and it was on the middle row, so I figured that would be easy enough to remember
We walked over to Taco Mac for dinner and again were pleased that it wasn't too crowded. We had a quiet, early dinner, and early bedtime.
|Bike Bag Layout|
I didn't really feel nervous. I mean I really didn't put much pressure on myself like I do for a normal race. There was nothing to qualify for, no podium to make. Plus I didn't know how my hammy would hold up. I had basically decided to try and enjoy the day. Quite possibly a first for me.
Sunday (My Race Day)
I actually slept pretty well. Woke up a little before 6. I went down to transition around 6:30 or so, since it was closing at 7:30. I saw people with the wetsuits on. I still couldn't believe it. Never in a million years did I think this race would be legal. My wave didn't start until 9:23am. I checked my tires, got my hydration setup, put my garmin on. There really wasn't much else. Everything else was in the gear bags. I didn't see anyone I knew at all, so I just headed back to the hotel.
So then I just hung out for a bit. I did feel a little nervous then. Just the hanging out and waiting kinda stunk. I got my wetsuit on my legs and headed back down around 8:30. Hung out for a little bit there. Then eventually dropped my morning bag off, and headed over to the start corral.
Going from the bag drop, we had to cross over the athlete swim to T1 chute. I had to wait a little bit there, but then got through. Walked all the way to the other side of transition, near the bridge to walk down the sidewalk to get in the corral. Basically, the start of the run course.
Got down there and got my Gold cap. Finished another gel, salt cap, and pickle juice. I had an aussie guy help me get all the way into my wetsuit. We talked and hung out a bit. Then I peed in my wetsuit. Yeah, full disclosure. Once you got past that swim chute, there was no where to pee. What did they think would happen? At least I didn't pee on a T1 chair. So then they started herding us like cattle. I lined up 2/3 of the way toward the back. They had swim time signs, so I actually tried to be honest.
Then at 9:23 they started us. It wasn't a wave start, though. They had these chutes that you lined up in, like you were getting on a roller coaster or something. Maybe that is an accurate description of the day, now that I think about it. There were about 10 lanes, and we went off every 15 seconds. I patted the guy in front on me on the shoulder and wished him good like. Pretty soon I heard my beep, started the garmin and I was off. So I didn't get into the water until 9:30am.
Officially 40:50, 289th AG of 334
Garmin had 1.27 miles in 40:25 for a 1:49 per hun yard avg
I jumped in feet first. One hand on my goggles and the other on my nose plug. Even with the staggered/rolling start, it was pretty congested at the beginning. I got knocked in the face a couple of times before I could really get going good.
|Hey! Look at Me! I'm a Horrific Swimmer!|
I just tried to push, like I always do. I had planned on trying to increase the turnover during that segment, and that lasted maybe 10 minutes. My arms just get so tired. It always annoys me that I can push hard on the bike, but I just can't on the swim. Somehow I need to learn how to push. It took me 20:30 during that upstream section.
Honestly, once I made that turn at the buoy and knew I would be with the current, I did take it easy. With the wetsuit, it's easy to glide. I just glided home. I was thinking, I could kill myself and try and swim 1:35-1:40 pace, or I could glide and swim 1:45. I took the easy way out. Interesting to look at the splits and see that the one split I had totally against current was 2:05 / 100 yards (500 yards) and totally with the current was 1:28 / 100 yards. As always, I was happy to hit the ramp.
Officially 4:09, 141st AG
Garmin had 0.33 miles
Popped up the ramp, saw the 40:xx on my garmin and that was pretty much what I figured it would be. I got some strippers to help with the wetsuit, then took off for my bag. One upside of being one of the last people out of the water is that there aren't many bags left. A volunteer had it for me and I grabbed it. Saw my wife and gave her a smile.
I got up to the changing area on top of the hill and took a seat. My lense had popped off my helmet, so I had to put that back on. Also the little magnet wing had fallen off. Unfortunately I put my helmet on first then realized it was off, and then tried to put it on. Total failure. After trying for like 15 sec I gave up. I grabbed my shoes and ran with them in my had around transition to my bike.
Once at my bike I put my shoes on and started scampering toward bike exit. Nothing was really too congested. Got past the mount line and had room to get on easily. Then I was off.
Officially 2:32:21, 31st AG
Garmin had 56.03 miles in 2:32:12 for a 22.1 mph avg on 206 watts (NP 219) and 163 avg HR with 87 avg cadence (3,255 feet of gain)
Since this was my 3rd race in Chattanooga in the last 16 months, and I rode the course in May, I kinda knew what to expect these first 5 miles. Some of the road is rough, watch out for the railroad tracks, and it is pretty much a parade with the congestion and blocking.
As we made the turn onto 41st Street I knew we were hitting 'the hill' quickly. I shifted down into the little ring and got ready. The first part is the steepest, and I shifted down into the 28. The 28 felt pretty good and I was able to crank away.
After an initial 370 watt surge to get started up the hill, I mostly maintained 250 to 280 watts up the hill. It was long and slow. I seemed to be cranking for a while, but then looked down and I was only at 5.6 miles. Ugh. It was just long, I didn't seem too bad, just took a while. Definitely made the right decision to go with the 28. Seeing the "Rock City 2 Miles Ahead" sign didn't help matters.
|Elevation and Speed|
I jokingly asked some people along the side of the road if we were almost there yet. I was consistently passing people on the way up. I felt pretty good about that since I'm not normally very good on the hills. It was probably just because I was at the back of the pack for the entire race.
|HR, Cadence, Power|
Now come the rollers for a while. Got some speed through that section and hit over 44 mph. Overall didn't get through that section with a very fast average. I felt good with a 228 watt average over the first 20 miles. Turns out I probably should have cranked more watts at the beginning.
After hitting the top at mile 23 and then making the turn, really just coasted all the way down that mountain. For 3 miles, I didn't turn the pedals. But that only took me 4 min and 20 seconds (41.5 mph average). My top speed was 48 mph. I continuously passed people, even some who were pedaling. It pays to be aero.
I kinda expected my power to be crap to mile 30. From mile 20 to 30, I only averaged 164 watts, so that brought my average way down. But now it was time to go to work. The problem was that I just couldn't get it going again. I only averaged 212 watts for the next 10 miles. There wasn't a lot of traffic, I was able to pass people continuously. The watts just felt hard.
They changed the out and back section that was originally on the course map. I saw something about it earlier in the weekend (not sure where). We did it at mile 30 instead of later on Hwy 341. I think they moved it so they could get the whole 56 miles in. My prerace ride had the original course short at 55.5 miles.
I didn't push too hard. I kinda knew with my swim and no faith in my hamstring, that I wasn't gonna kill it today. I was still passing people and felt good about that. I did not see hardly any drafting. No draft packs at all. I did hear about some, so I'm sure that part of it was that I was all the way at the back of the race. But being able to split the men up so much and start them in the water over a 2 hour period definitely helped.
From miles 30 to 55 my speed was good, but it should have been a lot faster. I averaged just over 24 mph, but my watts were only 202. My HR was steady at 161, and my cadence was good at 89 for that stretch. Seems the last couple of years in these late season races, I can't seem to push on the bike. I lost a lot of time in the back half of the course.
I knew it coming into town. I did the math on a 22 average, and figured I would be about 2:32. Best Bike Split had me 5 min faster at my target watts, but I couldn't hold that target today. But I brought it in, with a perfect dismount to see what I could do.
Officially 2:31, 96th
Garmin had 0.17 miles
Bike catchers are nice. Just gonna throw that out there. Took me a little bit to find my run bag. There were more of the bags there and the volunteers hadn't grabbed it for me, despite me yelling my number out. Grabbed the bag, ran to the seat, and changed pretty quickly. I got going as best I do for a T2
Officially 1:45:11, 150th
Garmin had 13.18 miles in 1:45:16 for a 7:59 avg on a 168 HR and 157 cadence (866 ft of gain)
I got out of the chute and felt pretty good. Some racer next to me yells 'Hey Runner Rick', I'm like hey man. He goes, I better make your blog! And you did. I wished him good luck and off I went.
I started out pretty conservative. The plan was to go out at a 7 flat pace, and see how it felt up that first hill. I was a little slow in that first mile with the hill, but felt ok after that. Felt relaxed on the road and the first section of Riverwalk. I came through 3 miles with a 7:02 average, right on track.
Then the hills started coming. Didn't feel so great on the hills, but the first one is a short one, so not too bad. As I came out onto veterans bridge I saw some old BSR friends and gave them a high five. I pushed across the bridge to the next hill.
That one was a little tougher and slowed my pace some. I didn't feel hot, the weather was pretty much perfect. (Translation: weather cannot be used as an excuse). I crested the hill there on Barton ave and tried to make up some time on the down hill. Up until this point my hamstring was fine. As I came to the bottom of the hill and made that right turn, Bam, somebody punched me in my right hamstring.
I mean I had already slowed some, but still I was at a 7:15 pace through 5 miles, that still would have put me in the mid 1:30's for the run. I hobbled up the hill somehow hoping it wouldn't get any worse. I had to cut back on my pace as it felt like someone jabbing a dull instrument into my hamstring every step.
As I came across the walnut bridge, I saw my wife there at the Ironcology tent that BSR Jonathon had set up. I told her my hammie was bothering me and she just yelled at me that I was doing great. Then I was back out on the flat and down hill section and I was hoping that would help. But by mile 7, even on a slight uphill, it hurt so much I had to walk.
|Elevation and Pace|
I'll admit, that at that point, I was in a bit of a dark place. I still had 6 miles to go to finish. I was suddenly worried about cutoff times, if I had to walk the entire last 6 miles. I just couldn't DNF. I can't bear to have that on my record. I just couldn't. I will also admit that I did really want that sweet finisher shirt, hat and towel. I'm not gonna lie, that stuff I saw the girls get the day before was pretty nice. Call me vane or materialistic or jealous or anything you want. Just don't ever call me a DNF'er.
|Suck it up Buttercup|
On that short steep hill just after Mile 9, right before Veterans bridge, I walked. I walked the whole thing. I grabbed some Red Bull from the guy and thanked him for it. So mile 10 was a 9:33 mile.
|HR, Cadence, Temp|
After that, I just decided, screw it. I can't walk up and down Barton avenue. So I don't know if I just got used to the pain, or it got better. But I didn't walk again on the last two big hills. Now I wasn't exactly lighting it up., as I was averaging 10 to 10:30 miles on the uphills. Once I got to the Girls Prep school, I knew the worst was behind me.
I came down that hill striding it out well below 7 pace. I just pushed. I wanted to be done. I wanted to finish strong. I just ate the pain. The more it hurt, the more I pushed. I saw BSR Matt on the bridge and his yelling spurred me on. Saw my wife after I got off and I was hurting. So after averaging 8:40's from mile 5 to mile 12, I split a 7:18 for mile 13.
I came down the hill to the finish at just over a 6 flat pace. I was pretty happy to be done! I came onto the red carpet and heard my name over the loudspeaker. I came through, hit my garmin, and I was done.
Officially 5:05:02, 115th AG, 1,126 Overall
Garmin had 5:04:40 for 70.98 miles, My results here.
Passed the chute, they threw the towel over me. A guy came up and checked my t-shirt size. Then he gave me the shirt and the hat and a food ticket thing. I grabbed some water and walked through. I saw a couple people and said hey. I didn't feel that bad. I mean I didn't run hard, I just couldn't push through that dang hamstring. I didn't feel hungry but a cola sounded good, so I asked where the food was and headed over there.
It was on the water side back past the finish chute. I started walking and then saw this huge long line. I'm like, come on. But what else was I gonna do? I got in line and it was moving slowly. There were a couple of guys from Asia, I think, in front of me. They weren't really moving with the line and people were constantly jumping in line ahead of them. So I just walked past them and got back in line. I tried to congratulate the guy in front of me, but he just smiled, gave me a thumbs up and said 'China!!'.
I finally got to the tent and they were making sure people only grabbed one thing of food. I just grabbed whatever, the tacos. They had 3 things, but nothing looked good. If Muncie has the best food on the IM 70.3 circuit, then this was the worst food I've had at any IM70.3. I found the drinks, slammed 2 cokes, and grabbed a 3rd for the road.
Inside the food area, I saw Andrew Messick. I went up to him and said hey. I told him how I shook his hand in Kona right before I got in the water. I thanked him for putting on this great event. He said that every year they want to make this race a destination event where ever it is. Like every race will have a theme and showcase that location's best parts. Then he goes, if you'll excuse me, I have to do something about this long food line.
I walked back over to the port-o-lets on Power Alley road and found my wife. We walked back up to the hotel. I was obviously pretty dejected. We got back to the room, and I showered, ate the rest of my tacos, and rested a bit. I kinda checked my splits some, but I really wasn't into it.
I started feeling better, and started wanting some beer. Luckily it was time to head over to Big River Grill and meet up with some of my Sexy teammates. We got there and Ed already had a table. We ordered beer and food. Soon Mark and his wife showed up. Then Chad and his girlfriend and aunt came, so we moved to one of those long high bar table things.
We had a good waiter, but I do believe that smokin' the Chronic your entire life has some effect. Like no memory of what people ordered, and possibly an inability to split up a bill 4 ways. Especialy when different parties start ordering at different times. In his defense we did test his limits. Anyways after we settled up the tabs we headed over to Moccasin Bend Brewing Company. I was pretty happy about this since I had been to Chattanooga Brewing and sampled some Hutton and Smith (another local brewery) but had not had any Moccasin.
|BSR Crew Post Race|
|My main man Chad|
Slept in a little, showered, packed up and then drove over to the Maple Street Biscuit Company. Ran into a Dynamo Multisport guy who I seem to see all over Chattanooga. Finally introduced ourselves, and I recognized his name and his buddy. They are pretty fast guys.
|The Man, The Myth, The Legend, The Chad|
It was a rainy morning and we hit the road. We went back through Knoxville/Asheville again, stopping at Wendy's for lunch. We got so lucky with the weather. It literally rained on Wednesday, the day before we got in town. Was perfect for the 4 days we were here, and then started raining as we left. Took a while to get home and we were pretty spent when we got there.
|Kitty Cheering us on|
But as has been well chronicled, I am a glutton for punishment. Evidenced by the fact that I am doing 70.3 Worlds next year. Third time's a charm, right? First order of business is learning how to swim. I've always kinda joked about my swimming. And the fact of the matter is that I have been pretty successful in triathlon with being a terrible swimmer. I have always said that I am the worst swimmer in the history of organized triathlon to qualify for Kona without a rolldown. Look it up.
So I'm getting with my masters coach for some individual instruction. I've actually decided I want to swim faster. Next September we'll have wetsuits again. If I can come out of the water at least middle of the pack, I think I can break 5 hours. If not, I'm going on one of those walking safari tours. Without a gun. And getting a selfie with a rhino.