• Augusta 1/2 Ironman 2015
  • Spring Fling Triathlon 2015
  • Chattanooga Waterfront Olympic distance triathlon 2015
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2016 Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga Race Report

Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga 2016This was my 2nd 1/2 Ironman race and 2nd race of the season. I entered the race relaxed, and treated it more as a training race for my first full IM in September, also in Chattanooga. This race was very tough and painful. I was disappointed when I finished. In hindsight, I have no reason to be, I had a pretty good race despite the challenges. The 1.2 mile swim down the Tennessee River was congested throughout the race, but I never stopped and stayed calm throughout it. I did have trouble getting out the water, I’ll get to that later. The Bike was very windy. I pushed hard to maintain a fast 19.2 mph pace. I paid the price on the run. Finished in 6:14:17.

Race Check-In

Enjoying Ironman Village a day before race day

I arrived early the day before the race at 9:30 AM. It was an easy 90 minute drive from Atlanta. I went straight to Ironman Village to enjoy the expo, check in and attend the pre-race briefing. Registration was a breeze. The only note-worthy info from the briefing was confirming that the race was wetsuit legal with a 73 degree water temperature. I found some training partners, and we all we out for a short bike ride and run. The main goal was to make sure the gears were switching properly, no mechanical issues, and to keep my legs loose and race ready. I checked in my bike, where it would stay overnight. I visualized the transitions so I would be able to easily find my wheels on race day.


Getting fueled up with Hammer Perpetuem and Gel.


I never sleep through the night before a race. I thought I would this time since I watched the NBA playoffs the evening before. My alarms were set for 4 AM, but I woke got up at 3:45. For breakfast, I ate oatmeal, an apple, banana, and pickles. I prepared my fuel and hydration for the day. It consisted of 3 bottles of Hammer Perpetuem on my bike, plus a 1/2 bottle at my transition area, and a full bottle pre-race for the swim start. Also at the swim start, I had 2 Hammer bars and 1 Gel, tablets of Anti-Fatigue and Endurolytes. Prior to race day, I took Hammer Race Day Boost. On my bike, I a flask full of Gel. I carried 4 Gel packets on my race belt for the run.
I left at 4:45 and saw plenty of folks walking to the race, which was less than a mile away from my hotel. I opted to drive and pay for parking. I set up my transition area at 5:00 AM, and boarded the bus for the swim start at 5:30 AM. The swim start was a rolling start, so the first person in line would be the first to swim, while 3,000 other racers followed. I didn’t want to be in the latter half of the swim to avoid racing in the heat of the day, so I got in line as soon as I could. I waited with other folks I train with for about 90 minutes. It was good to have company to keep my mind relaxed. While I waited, I kept myself hydrated with a bottle Hammer Perpetuem, 2 Hammer bars, a Hammer Gel, and 2 bananas. Finally, the sun came up to replace the full moon. The professional men and women started, and 3,000 of the rest of were ready to follow.

Swim (1.2 miles, 2112 yd)

This was my first Rolling Start. I really did not know what to expect. I stayed relaxed as I approached the dock. The line moved very quickly. At the pre-race meeting, it was announced that all 3,000 swimmers will be in the water within 45 minutes. I believe it. We were jumping into the water off the dock quickly and continuously. I usually take a moment to gather myself, clear my head, and get acclimated to the water first. None of that here. About 3 feet from the dock was the timing strip. That means, as soon as you cross it, you want to jump in and start swimming! So in I jump without thinking! I jumped onto the back of one of my training partners who was just surfacing. *Ooops* “My bad”. Lesson learned, jump outward and start swimming while under water.
The river was very congested with NO river current. It was like I was swimming in a lake. There was a short up river, then a U-Turn down river. I didn’t know if there were 2 turn buoys or one. From my GPS route, I lost some distance looking for a second turn buoy. I started following all of the other caps, and fought my way through the entire swim. If someone tapped my feet, I kicked hard to stop him//her from swimming on top of me. I had to push folks away from my sides. I had to make sure I didn’t get kicked in the head. A couple of times, I found myself swimming onto someone else’s back. This was a crazy swim. I one point, I swam towards the middle of the river to get some free space. When I looked up, I didn’t see any swim caps nor any life guards. “Where am I?” Then someone swam into me. So fools were following me off course. *Ha-Ha* I stayed calm by singing loudly, and turned to rejoin the rest of the swimmers. I may have panicked in previous races. Experience has
taught me how to stay calm and stay safe in these chaotic open water swims.
I finally reached the swim finish. Volunteers were helping folks stand up to climb the stairs. When I tried to stand, my legs went limp. I couldn’t stand up!!! I tried again and I just collapsed. A volunteer helped lift me, and then 2 others escorted me through a couple of steps. Apparently, I had gotten dizzy and disoriented being horizontal for so long, and standing quickly was a shock. I was able to climb the rest of the stairs, but I was worried that my legs were not 100% supporting me.
Goal: Finish in the 75% of my age group (AG). I was the last one out the water last year. I finished the swim at 90% of my AG.
Time: 46:32 02:24/100m AG: 254/280 OA: 2074/2296
GPS Distance: 2,255yd (Course is 2112 yds)
GPS Pace: 2:03/100yd - That’s an excellent pace for me!!  But irrelevant on race day.
Race Pace: 2:24/100m - I don't know why Ironman uses meters for stats in the U.S.


As I was running up the stairs, I pulled off my wetsuit down to my waist to find the wetsuit “strippers”. My plan was to find the biggest man to quickly pull them off, but they were all busy and there weren’t that many guys. 2 ladies grabbed each leg, and they yanked the wetsuit off quickly and on the first try!! Thank you!!! Now I know, two ladies are just as fast as 1 big husky man. There were plenty of bikes still on the rack. I found my bike, and quickly exited towards the bike course.
Time: 5:00

Bike (56 mile)

I get to test out my new bike, ¡Rayo! (Lightning in Español) She’s a 2016 QR PRsix Time Trial bike. It is much faster than my road bike, and it handled well throughout the course. I knew the bike course well from the practice ride I did a month earlier.

This gave me an advantage since I knew where the challenging parts of the course were. Most notably, it was the steep climb up Andrews Rd. I was ready for it. I constantly played a game of “Pick ‘Em Off”. Anyone I saw in front of me, was about to get dusted. I wasn’t playing against those that passed me. *Ha* Many of them I passed up later on anyways. The course was very hilly, and very crowded throughout. I did not see any race officials, who are usually on motorcycles. As a result, there were cyclists illegally

drafting throughout course. One time it was so blatant, I said something to one guy. He then tried to make a point by passing me, but he didn’t stay in front of me long.

The hills were not a problem for me. What I was not expecting was the strong wind. It was usually a crosswind that made it challenging to stay in control while riding fast. My practice ride was at 18.5 mph pace, so I set my goal at 19.5. At the 30 mile split, I was averaging 20.7 mph. Even though most of the latter half of the ride is downhill, the brutal winds slowed me down to a 17.6 pace. Overall, my average was 19.2, so I’m pleased with my results. Unfortunately, I paid the price dearly by fighting Mother Nature. I really wore my legs out.
Goal: 19.5 mph, Actual: 19.2 mph
Time: 2:55:02
Rank AG: 177/280 (Passed 77!!) OA: 1196/2296 (Passed 878!!!!)

Beginning of bike course.


Shoes off as I approach T2
For the 1st time in a race, I sped up my transition time by taking my shoes off while I was on my bike. No flying dismount though. I ran barefoot to my transition area, where I only had to put on my run shoes. I saved myself precious seconds by not having to take off my bike shoes first. I put on my Zoot Solana shoes with speed laces, grabbed my visor and race belt filled with Hammer Gel, and I was off to run a 1/2 marathon. I put on my visor and race belt while I was running.
Time: 3:09

Very scenic run

Run - 13.1 miles

The beginning of the run was slower than I planned due to fatigued legs. Fighting the wind really wore my legs out, and the bright sun made it very hot throughout the run. I was hoping to run at least a 9:30 pace. Instead I ran a 10 min pace. After a mile, my legs loosened a bit and I got down to 9:30. The pain my muscles were feeling kept increasing, and I slowed to 11 mins by mile 5. I was not cramping up thanks to my Hammer Nutrition products, but I was sore and fatigued. Maybe I should have ran more. This is my 2nd ever 13 mile run. The first time was at my 1st 1/2 Ironman in September (Augusta). At mile 5, there is a very steep climb. CRUEL!! I jogged up it while most folks were walking. I was thinking to myself, I’m going to pay this later. I pushed on as hard as I could. Then it was time for the 2nd loop. What? Ugh!! As hard as the 1st loop was, I knew the
2nd loop would be more painful. At mile 10, I approached the steep hill again. I was very shocked to see practically everyone walking. I have never, ever, walked in a race before. Today, I had no choice. I humbled myself, and joined the much more experienced racers as we all walked. I ran most of the way to the finish, but there were a few moments I slowed to a fast walk. I have my Garmin to automatically pause if I slowed to a 20 min pace. Fearing that it would pause, I found extra motivation to pick it up. When I saw a camera, I did the best imitation of a Sprint that I could. *Ha-Ha* I tried hard to stay strong on the run all the way to the end, but the reality was I was too beat up. I was very disappointed.
Time: 2:24:34
Pace: 11:02/mi (Slowest ever in any race. Very tough day)
Rank: AG: 184/280 (+7) OA: 1217/2296 (+21)
Overall Time: 6:14:17

Strong Finish!

Post Race

I could barely walk as I crossed the finish line. I gave the course 100% of what I had to give. Big thanks to Andrea, who was volunteering at the finish line. She placed the finisher medal on my head and saw how pitiful my ability to walk was. *Ha* It was sad. My legs were wobbly. She helped me walk to take the finisher photo, and led me to a chair to enjoy some much needed food and drink. As expensive as this race is, I was disappointed with the food options. Pizza and oranges. No Gatorade at the finish line, just water. I gobbled down my food and drink, grabbed my gear, and headed back to my hotel. It wasn’t until later when others told me that I raced well. I didn’t believe it.

Hard earned finishers medal
After I looked at my time, and talked to other racers, I realize I did race well. This was just my second race at this distance, and I’m now proud of how I performed. In my 3rd year of swimming, I’m able to swim an unimaginable distance without panicking, and no longer the slowest in the most competitive age group. This is my toughest sport of the 3, and I plan to continue to improve. I met my goal on the bike despite the tough winds. I didn’t fall on trying my new T2 technique. Then after racing 57 miles, I was able to run a half marathon. This is also early in the race season, so I will surely improve on my strength and endurance as I train for my first full distance Ironman in Chattanooga in September. 144.6 miles.
Thanks to my sponsors: Zoot Sports helped my excel in the Prophet 2.0 wetsuit, Solana shoes, and race kit. And their partners: Smith Optics and Garmin. Hammer Nutrition kept me fueled with Perpetuem, Gels, bars, Anti-Fatigue, and Race Day Boost. And TriSports.com that got me on the blazing fast Quintanna Roo PRsix TT bike, and where I purchased all of my other equipment. The best supports at the race were the Black Triathlete Association (BTA), who cheered me on throughout the race and gave me great support on race day and during training.

Also, thanks to the great volunteers!!! Most notably, I forgot my Zoot bag in the transition area. When I returned, a team of volunteers helped me find it among the huge pile of lost bags. We found it!! *Whew* Thanks a lot.