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Ironman Ohio 70.3 Race Report

Created: Sunday, 29 July 2018
It was time to finally race in my home state! Both of my parents came down to Delaware, OH, from Cleveland to support me. It was the first time my Dad has seen a triathlon. My wife joined me, so this race was special. This looked like an enjoyable race: 1.2 mi lake swim, 56 mi flat bike, 13.1 mi two loop run with the finish line in the stadium of Ohio Wesleyan University.
 
Leading up to race, all eyes were on the weather. It has been very warm, as heat waves consumed much of the East. The forecast called for cooler temperatures on race day, 79º. Perfect racing weather. Then all eyes were on the water temperature. The race has always been wetsuit legal. The warmer temperatures made it questionable this time.
 
The race was on a Sunday. I arrived on Friday, early enough to check in and attend the Athlete Briefing. Thank goodness I did because the registration lines were crazy long on Saturday. Knocking these two tasks off of my Saturday itinerary kept the pre-race preparation stress-free. That’s important, because the Start and T1 was 6 miles away from the T2/Finish line. Preparation was similar to a Full Ironman, preparing Gear backs, checking them in early, and ensuring I’m where I’m supposed to be on time. The lake temperature was 79º, way above the cutoff of 76.5º. So I planned to leave my wetsuit in the car, and wear my Zoot skinsuit for the swim.
Back in the hotel, I prepared my fueling. Before the swim, I will eat a Hammer Bar, Hammer Gel, and drink Hammer Heed. On the bike, I prepared another bottle of Heed, a flask full of Gel, and carried a bottle full of ice. Having a cold drink on the bike is like eating cheesecake before dinner! Before the race start, I filled my Speedfil bottle with ice, then filled the rest of it with Heed. For the run, I loaded 4 Hammer Gels onto my race belt, with the plan on only drink water from the course. My breakfast consisted of Oatmeal and fruit. Set my alarm for 4:30, now I’m race ready.

Pre-Race

Logistics is a key part of being prepared for this race. The T1 gear bag had a mandatory check-in on Saturday, the T2 bag was optional. My first stop Sunday morning after parking near the stadium was to check on my T2 gear bag. I noticed that others had removed their items and set up their transition area. I was thinking to myself, “Yes!” I had much rather lay everything out for a quick transition. I positioned my run shoes so I could grab them first. The bib, visor, and sunglasses were on top of each other so I could just grab them and run. I didn’t bring my transition towel, since I didn’t think I would use it. I did have a hand towel, so I laid that out as well.
 
Then it was time to take the shuttle bus over to the T1/start areas. There was no signage. Even though an address was provided for where the soccer stadium and buses will be departing from, everyone was asking which way to go. It was a LOOOOONG walk! Maybe a half mile. I’ve taken many shuttles at past races, and they all left from the adjacent to the finish line area. This was just weird. Even if I parked near the buses, I would have to walk to the stadium, then walk back.
At T1 on my bike, I filled up my Speedfil bottle with ice, and Hammer Heed. Then I placed my flask of Gel in the bento bag. After I borrowed someone’s air pump, I positioned my Smith Optics TT helmet for easy donning along with my shoes, and my T1 was all set. I headed over to the Swim Start.

Swim - 1.2 miles, more like 1.4 miles

I arrived at the swim start in enough time to jump in the water and get acclimated before the race. While I was glad I got comfortable with the feel of the water, I’m not sure how smart it was since the air temperature was in the upper 50s!! I tried to stay warm be moving around. I saw some folks were shivering. The lake had an eerie mist coming from it as the sun slowly made some of the buoys visible. It was too foggy to see all of the buoys. It was a self-seeding rolling start. I lined up with the 37 minute crew.
 
4 swimmers ran in from the beach at the same time, about 4 seconds apart. I felt ready and eager as I approached the starting gate. “Ready, GO!” I ran a short distance on the beach, and started swimming as soon as the water was above my knees. The course is a clockwise, triangle. The staggered start was supposed to reduce the contact, but there was plenty of it. Not only was I often bumping into folks and getting hit from behind, I was also swimming into, and trying not to swim on top of other swimmers. There was one moment where a swimmer kept swimming on top of my legs. As a defense mechanism, I know to raise my feet to the surface to stop someone from continuing to swim on top of me. But this guy was straight pushing my legs down repeatedly, so I felt myself about to be in trouble. I fought for my space, and continued kicking hard from whatever position my legs were in. I’m sure this fool felt the pain of trying to swim over me, instead of going around. Mentally, to stay composed, I continued to sing to myself, just cranked up the volume. This kept me from panicking, and allowed me to finish the swim without getting pushed under water.
 
Swim Finish, Zoot skin suit
The first turn was was uneventful. I kept a good distance from the buoy to avoid extra contact. The second buoy was more challenging. It was a very sharp turn, and I guess I didn’t turn sharp enough. After I rounded the buoy, I was heading straight into kayak! I made a sharp adjustment to get around the kayak, then continued on. From listening to other swimmers that had similar stories, I now wonder if the lifeguard was really in everyone’s path.
It took a long time to swim to the exit point, but I finally saw it. It turned out that I swam 300 yards longer than 2100 yards the course was supposed to be. 300 yards!!! I went to my Strava account to compare my swim to others, and everyone else also had long swims. From 200 yards, to 400 yards over the proper distance. So when I first saw my official swim pace of 3:00/100 yards, I was shocked. Now I understand it was calculated using the shorter, incorrect distance. My Garmin shows I swam at a 2:21 pace, which is typical for a non-wetsuit swim. I am pleased. My goal was, “Don’t Suck!”. I used to be the slowest swimmer in my races, so my goal is to move out the bottom. Amongst those that finished the entire race within the time limit, there were only 14 folks slower than me. I have more training to do!
 
Time: 58:23
Rank: 208/222
Pace: 2:21/100 yd

T1 - Where’s My Bike??

 
Ran down wrong aisle, then couldn't find my bike.
I had practiced finding my bike in transition that morning, so I knew to run down the 3rd column of bikes. When I exited the water, my focus was on taking off the skin suit. I passed up my turn and went down the 6th column instead! Ugh. Halfway down, I crossed over, and tried to find my 3rd column. I wasn’t in the right column, and I couldn’t find my bike. I volunteer came over to help, but she wasn’t much help. We eventually found my bike, but I wasted a good minute, at least. I placed my swim gear into the gear bag, and I was off! The volunteers brought the gear bags near the finish line.
 
Time: 5:08

Bike - 56 miles

 
I drove the course the day before, so I was familiar with route. Seems funny, since it’s a mostly flat course, but it makes a difference to know what hills and turns to expect. I started off strong, and was averaging 22 mph. My goal was to maintain that pace. I was flying on my Quintana Roo PRsix, it was fun! Most everyone was following the rules. There were several that were not though. I would often notice someone drafting behind me. At one point, I saw a race official ride behind me for at least 3 minutes. Anyone in my draft zone, 6 bike lengths, has 25 seconds to complete the pass around me. I’m sure he got a drafting violation.
Later on, I was battling with a guy that was drafting me on his BMC bike. Really dude? You’re obviously a strong cyclist, fast bike, why are you drafting? I kept jumping over to the left side of the road, and of course, he would fall back not benefiting from me. That was leaving me open to get a blocking penalty, preventing others from passing on my left. This same guy was also passing cyclists on right hand side, which is also illegal. And made it dangerous for me. After a good 10 minutes of his nonsense, I had enough. I slowed up, and let him pass. You guessed it, he found others to draft off of, and pass on the right. So this is when I got evil! I decided to have some fun. I waited until he approached two cyclists. I knew he would try to split them. I hammered and passed them all, and called out to the slower cyclist, “On Your Left!” When he moved over, I knew he would be block in the cheater. I timed it perfectly!!! The two cyclists effectively blocked in the cheater, who was clearly trying to split them. My move made the gap between them disappear, and I saw the cheater throw his hand up in frustration. I let out a huge laugh!! Ha-Ha. Yes, I did that on purpose.
 
The rest of the race was full of friendly battles, following the rules. I gave well deserved props to the other strong cyclists, and received many as well. It was a great group of cyclists. We pushed each other. Towards the end, folks started dropping. It seems that some were getting leg cramps. My plan of staying well hydrated and taking a Hammer Gel every 10 miles was working. I was pushing my legs very hard, for a long time. I could feel my legs reaching their limits, and Hammer Nutrition did its job!
Towards the end, my average pace dropped as I approached some hills. I also wanted to ease up to get my legs ready for the run. After I started seeing some of the folks I pass catch up to me, my ego kicked in, and I pushed all the way to the end of the course. As I approached T2, I removed my feet from shoes while I was on the bike, and pedaled with me feet on top of my shoes. I was ready for a super fast transition.
 
Time: 2:40
Rank: 77/222
Pace: 21 mph
 
 

 

T2 - Holding my visor, bib, and glasses

T2 - Fast

T2’s execution was flawless. I ran my bike barefoot across the turf football, to the 40 yard line. Racked my bike. Shoes on. Quick lace with a turn of the Boa strap. Grabbed my visor, bib, and Smith Optics sunglasses and ran out to begin the run.
 
Time: 2:08
 
 

Run - 13.1 miles

My goal of getting achieving a sub-6 hour race was in reach if ran a 10 min/mile pace. As I started out on the course, my legs were very heavy and beat up from the bike. I pushed hard, and didn’t ease up to get my running legs as I had planned.
Beginning the all uphill run!
About 2 miles in, my legs begin to loosen up. They weren’t heavy anymore, so I’m thinking I should be able to pick it up. My legs were not responding. I was reaping the results of not getting my brick workouts in. I was traveling the previous 2 weeks, and plenty of travels over the past several months. My legs just were not as strong off the bike as I expected them to be.
I pushed on, mile after mile. I never walked, except for at some water stations. Whenever I saw ice, I took advantage of that and threw a handful down my kit to make sure I don’t overheat. The run course was the exact opposite of the bike course. It was all up hill! Really! The downhills were so short, they were insignificant. It was a challenging run course. Two loops.
 
Red Carpet, Stadium finish!
The other racers were supportive of each other. There was one moment when I heard a lady asking a volunteer when the second loop begin. The volunteer didn’t know. I told her, the second loop is at the 6.5 mi mark. She then wanted to argue with me that I was wrong, it had to be at least the 5.5 mark. I guess she forgot about the mile run before and after the the loops. Sure enough, the second loop was at the 6.5 mile mark. This is why it’s important to study the course before the race, so you know what to expect.
 
After the second loop, it was still uphill to get back to the stadium. We entered on the back side of the stadium, leading to a half lap around the track. The red carpet finish line was epic! Folks were in the stands cheering, music was blasting, the announcer was celebrating every finisher. As I crossed, my wife and both of my parents were there waiting for me and cheering me in! That made the race special. Glad they all came out. I finished with a respectable time, and I was pleased with my results. Big thanks also to my sponsors, Zoot Sports and Hammer Nutrition. This was a great training race for my full Ironman coming up in Maryland.
Finish Line
Time: 2:21:57
Rank: 118/222
Pace: 10:42 min/mile
 
Overall Time: 6:07:34
Rank: Age Group: 116/222
Overall: 926/1957
 
 
 
Nice Finisher's Medal
 
My parents came down from Cleveland! Made the weekend special.
 
I'm so glad my wife came out to support me. Much appreciated.
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