Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens, Lake Stevens, WA – 8/14/2011
This was my first “Ironman” branded event, and holy cow was it ever huge! There were 3-4 times as many participants as any other event I’ve done, and the organization of it all definitely felt a bit crisper than other events.
The bike corral was huge, and kind of in three different sections across one continuous area. My spot happened to be near the swim exit. This was good in that I didn’t far to go after exiting the water, but bad in that it meant I had the other two sections to get through with my bike. This picture is from the day before, with the red arrow pointing at my bike. The next day it was just a bit more packed.
I again drank several bottles of Gatorade and loads of water the day before the race, while checking in and racking my bike in the corral. At home, I put my bike bottles full of Cytomax in the freezer, staged my gear by the door, and went to bed super early, as I had to get up at 3am. Ugh!
I’d vacillated quite a bit in my head as to whether I should try for parking near the event or take the shuttle from the nearby high school. I ended up trying to parking, and scored a great spot just a couple blocks away!
At the park, the air was alive with the excitement and nerves of 1K+ athletes getting ready to kick some ass. Somehow my parents infiltrated the corral to say hi and good luck and whatnot, then I walked them over to the swim start area. They decided that since they wouldn’t be able to see me start the swim anyway (it was an open water start, at the end of a long dock), and couldn’t hover near where my bike was, they would stake out a spot near the exit from the corral to catch me as I started the bike leg. That’s my dad behind me. Except where noted, the pics are by the official race photographers, who I think did an excellent job.
Getting back to the start, though, the pros were first up at 6:30am. In all these events, there’s always big speakers blasting peppy music. As the final countdown started they were playing AC/DC’s For Those About to Rock, and they timed the countdown so it was “for those about to rock… BANG” and the pros were off. Then the age group waves got going in 3 minute intervals (18-21 year old men, then women, then 22-25 year old men, etc).
I did my usual slow start to let the competitive sorts get ahead and thus reduce the risk of getting kicked in the face. Then I meandered over to the outer edge of the remaining group and found my rhythm. I had a lot of trouble staying in a straight line for some reason, but still finished the swim in about 44 minutes. No PR there, but still just fine for me.
As I set out on the bike, I discovered that my bottles were still quite frozen, such that it was hard to get any fluid out. The first bottle slowly melted over the first hour, just barely quickly enough to keep me hydrated.
Since this was a local race for me, I’d been able to do a couple practice runs on the course before race day. The planned 1 loop course (which I’d decided I didn’t like) had to be scrapped 2 weeks before the race due to road construction, and they went back to the 2 loop course from last year. This meant a crapton of rolling hills followed by a super fast flat section, then several steep, long climbs. I liked the 2 loop course a LOT more.
It was weird getting passed on the uphill bits by groups of people on disc wheels, as they make this odd whirring noise with each downstroke. On the flats and downhills they were past you before you realized you were hearing anything. And getting passed by the pros was simply terrifying, as they’re going so fast that you can look behind you, see nothing, and a couple seconds later FOOOOM, and they’re gone.
I checked my average speed after the first loop and was shocked to see 17mph. Woah! I was flying! My second loop was a little slower, but I still beat my Chelan time by 20 minutes.
About a mile into the run my abs betrayed me and started cramping up. This has been a recurring problem for me that I’m still trying to figure out, but I think is most likely just due to me never doing any sit-ups… because I hate them. It might also be a problem in my nutrition plan on the bike, wherein I still have too much undigested gel/perpetuem/cytomax left in my gut. In any case, it meant that I had to alternate between walking until my abs loosened up, then running for a bit, then walking again, and so forth. It was especially frustrating because my legs were full of energy and my mind was sharp and clear, and I was ready to KICK ASS… but couldn’t.
As I was starting my second lap of the run, and I slowed again due to my gut, I ended up walking next to a gal who was suffering from the same malady. As she recovered and set off ahead of me, I noticed the age mark on her calf: 61. Dammit. I tried to keep up with her but she was going much faster than my gut would allow.
In the last few miles of the run, my gut finally relaxed enough that I was able to put on more speed. A half mile out, I spotted the 61-year-old ahead of me, and decided I was going to catch her. My mom took this great shot of me right as I started my sprint finish:
I just barely caught up to her right before the line, just as the announcer was going into a big congratulations for the 61-year-old grandma finishing and the crowd roared for her (and rightly so). I felt like a bit of a dick, but dammit, I wanted to beat her… and so I did.
All in all it was a great race in a gorgeous area that, though very near my home town, I’d never been too. That’s definitely one of the things I’m loving about all this triathloning: the places it takes me to.
swim: 44:20 / bike: 3:24:42 / run: 2:26:44
(distances: 1.2 / 56 / 13.1 miles)
placed: 96/106 in my division, 794/1005 overall.