Ironman Chattanooga 70.3

The Carmel Marathon just ended, I’m sorta injured and I’ve gotta half ironman distance triathlon in 5 weeks?!  Oh crap.  Add a little rest after the marathon and a few days rest before the 70.3 and we are talking 4 weeks of real triathlon training.  Ok.  Let’s do this!

So, yeah…with 4 weeks of good training I came in to Chattanooga trying to be realistic with myself.  Don’t set crazy goals on what you think you could do, what your friends think you could be capable of or some random number that you would like to be in the future.  I had two purposes for this race.  See alot of the course that will be Ironman Chattanooga in September(double the distance) and to PR the run leg of a 70.3. 

Meggan and I left Saturday morning at 6am to drive to Chatt.  We dropped Lillian off at her mom’s place so she could spend Saturday and Sunday with both sets of grandparents.  The drive for us went smooth and we got in town with plenty of time.  We went down to transition to setup my bike.  I loved where my bike would be located.  I was near the bike exit/bike in.  Which would mean I would have the least amount of time to actually run with my bike in hands.

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My bike in front with blue tape

After setup, we went back to the hotel to crash for a few hours and so I could get off my feet and relax.  We met some friends for pasta/pizza/beer dinner.  Afterwards we had to make a quick stop at Walmart for breakfast foods because I had forgot to bring stuff and our hotel didn’t have anything.

4:00AM ring ring!!!  Phone alarm goes off and I feel like I haven’t slept at all.  No time to worry about that.  I ate my banana, bagel with hazelnut spread and got everything ready.  Meggan and I went down to transition to finalize my gear setup and take the bus across the river for the swim line up.  We waited about an hour in line and it was our turn to jump in.  “OK goggles, dont leak.”  I thought to myself.  I had problems, recently, with them leaking. I jumped in and was instantly surrounded by a dozen other swimmers it seemed.  I didn’t dare put my head under water and I quickly grabbed for water.  Of course my heart rate was pegging at this point.  I moved 20 yards and finally tried to get into a rhythm. As soon as I out my head under water, bam, goggles leaking and another rush of panic hits me.  I start looking for the nearest canoe so that I could fix this.  I tightened up my goggles and prepared to get going again.  6 strokes later I am mentally struggling and head to a floating platform.  “What the hell am I doing??”  “This is going to be a long day,” “am I going to make it if I keep acting like this?”  Negative thoughts are swirling through my head.  One more time I grab a canoe.  This time taking deeping breaths, waiting a bit longer and calming myself down.  I head off one last time.  I am pretty much in my own little area at this point and that helped big time.   I kept wondering how much time I had spent holding on and wasting seconds.  The rest was uneventful and as I got on shore, struggled to unzip my wetsuit, I look at my watch and see 38:xx on it as I hit my lap timer.  “Holy crap, still a 4 minute PR.  Thats some current,” I thought to myself.(swim goal: sub 40, actual: 38:27)

T1 was slow.  Too slow really.  I ran the whole way after getting my wetsuit stripped off.  Got my stuff on in decent time.  I struggled with my sunglasses for a minute.  Ran out and got on the bike.  (T1:  7:10 ouch)

The bike course isnt difficult.  It isnt flat like a Muncie 70.3 course, though.  I had a power plan that would net me a 2:48 split and a stress score of 170 that would set me up for a maximized run.  I was planning t be a little conservative so that I could run well off the bike. 

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Clipped in and ready to roll

I knew the wind was at our back on the way out.  Within the first 30 minutes I dropped my chain going from little to big ring in the front.  I’ve never dropped a chain going that direction before!  I stopped and got it back on in 10 seconds or less and got going.   There is really only one short climb on the course.  The rest is rolling.  There was a bit more car traffic than I would have liked to have seen.  Several times the cars slowed me down.  They get stuck behind slower bike riders and can’t pass.  I’m quicker than that bike rider and have to pass the car on the right to keep momentum.  At one point going through a town, I had to ride my brakes behind a car because there was no way around.   Anyways, for the ride back you could feel the headwind hit you as we got back onto the highway home.  Ugh, it was heavy.  As I came into T2 I could tell I would disappointed with my bike time.  The headwind slowed me down and I didnt quite maintain the power I wanted. Still, I felt like I passed a lot of riders. (Goal: 2:48, actual: 2:55:22)

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Coming in from the bike course

T2:  I flipped my bike back up on the rack and got my Newton Tri-Racer shoes on.  Had a few chuckles with the guy beside me and as I turned to make the long run out of transition I noticed my legs were feeling great.  I got to the end of transition and decided to make a stop at a porta-potty.  It seemed like I had an endless supply!  I actually yelled at myself, “Aren’t you done yet?” at one point. (T2: 3:42)
Back on the run, I had a really good bounce in my step.  I was happy to be running.

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Start of the run

I pulled up my top right from the get-go.  Yeah, it looks kinda odd/silly.  But, it helps keep me cool.  About a half mile in I looked down at my pace showing on my watch and just chuckled.  It was showing 5:50min/mi!  Not gonna happen!  So, I reeled my excitement in and went for 7:30-7:40s. This run was fairly hilly. Especially coming from a flat area like Plainfield.  I kept a good pace through most of the run.  The one steep hill I chose to walk the 2nd time through.  It was fairly hot and each aid station I would take 2 cups of water.  Take a drink and dump the rest down the back of my neck with each cup.  I had 2 servings of Infinit Napalm(2 gel replacements).  The stuff worked great!  First time I had ever used it, actually.

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Holding a cup of ice with my Infinit Napalm flask

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Grimmace and fight the hurt

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2nd lap, final bridge and final mile. Exhausted.

Coming down the final hill I looked at my watch again to realize I wasn’t quite going to get a 70.3 PR but my run was going very well.  It was to be a 10 min run PR!(goal: sub 1:50, actual: 1:45:09)

Coming down the chute I see and hear Meggan yelling at me and smiling so I swoop over to her for a high-five.  It would have been a quick hug and kiss at a full Ironman haha.

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Coming across the chute for a high-five.

Cross the finish line and I am exhausted and happy.  I felt pretty good all things considered.  I didnt want to collapse at the end like I have in the past but I know I gave it a 100% effort. 

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Where's the beer?

Looking back, I am very happy with my race.  I was within 2 minutes of a PR on a much more challenging course and with 4 weeks of proper training.  I maximized my run effort and know my nutrition is where it needs to be.  My recovery is going slow.  I’m still very sore and it is now Thursday after the race.  But again, that is to be expected.  Up next will be a local sprint triathlon next weekend and then IM Muncie 70.3 in about 7 weeks.   Until then, run strong.

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