As the evidence of a hard fought race fades away, race reports stand the test of time and are here for years to come. For that very reason, I wanted the race to settle a bit before I began to talk about it. This was my second Ironman brand event. The first was last year in Muncie where I showed up with a torn tendon in my foot and full knowledge that I couldn’t run and would need to take a DNF. In actuality, the weather did not cooperate and produced dangerously high temps resulting in the race being downgraded to Olympic distance but I still took the DNF since I couldn’t run. Details of Ironman 70.3 Muncie 2012 are HERE if you are interested.
I didn’t care much for the venue in Muncie (although I loved the town) so I decided to try out Ironman 70.3 Racine this year. The weather leading up to Racine was hot, Hot, HOT and I couldn’t help have a feeling of déjà vu. However, as the weekend approached the winds picked up and things started to cool off! I rolled into Racine on Saturday afternoon for packet pickup, athlete briefing and to get my bike into transition before the 5pm cutoff. Not all triathlons, or even Ironman brand races, require you to rack your bike the day before but some do and if you’re not in by the time it closes, then just kiss your registration goodbye cuz you won’t be racing.
Packet Pick-up was organized and smooth, the “expo” had a few vendors and a large Ironman store to purchase goodies. The race goodie bag included a blended cotton type performance shirt, a bag, the swim cap & race numbers.
Athlete briefing was not required but I always think it’s important to attend. It was lengthy and boring but the view was nice. Then I was off to rack my bike in transition which was a couple miles away.
Fast forward past the shitty hotel & the shitty pre-race dinner to race morning and we awoke to a beautiful day. Nice wind and cooler temps.
However, that wind brought with it some waves. My girl over at Finding My Happy Pace posted an amazing pic of what the wind brought us in terms of “choppy” waters and little wave action. I touched on it briefly yesterday. This was our swim.
It was tough getting out even far enough to start swimming because the waves kept pushing us backward. It was tough to gather enough courage to put our heads down and attempt to swim. It was tough to keep trying to move forward with the never-ending swells. We needed to travel 1.2 miles in these conditions. How far did we actually swam fighting the waves? We’ll never know. I commend every single athlete who was brave enough to get into the water. You had to really want it to even step off the beach. Seriously, pat yourself on the back right now. You’re officially a badass.
My swim didn’t go well. Shocker, I know. I wasn’t scared. I even took time to encourage the athletes around me who were visibly panicking struggling. I thought I was doing okay but I was just having trouble keeping my head down and taking more than a few strokes at a time. If I took 5 strokes before I put my head up and rechecked my position, that was a lot. Then my calf cramped, which was a big issue. Thankfully I was within site of the finish when that happened so I was able to finish after taking a bit of a break while chatting up a lifeguard with a handy surfboard. When I finally made it out of the water, I saw that it took me nearly 55 minutes to swim 1.2 miles. Yikes, that’s bad!
Once I stumbled up to the beach, I started taking off my wetsuit and a kind man just told me to sit down and he pulled it off me. Thank you, sir. I know you weren’t an official “wetsuit stripper” but you have no idea how appreciative I am of your kindness. Then I walked into transition with my wetsuit. Attempting to recover from the swim. Attempting to wrap my head around the fact that the race had barely started and I was in fact EXHAUSTED. I was so tired, that I in fact walked on the wrong side of my transition rack and had to circle back around. But I was too tried to care.
The bike portion started up a big hill. Many people crashed before they even got half way up. I was mounting my bike (off to the side) and a lady came rolling back down the hill with her bike. Yikes. So I was being extra careful, clipped in and pedaled up in an very uneventful manner. I knew immediately that I was in for a long ride. 1) My new aero bottle canister was not sticking to my handlebars. It took me several miles to get it locked back into position (then it came back off in the last 1/4 and we fought again!). It just wouldn’t stick, and it kept knocking into my computer and changing the settings. I thought about tossing it to the side many times but I knew that I needed it. Finally got it to stick after a couple miles. 2) My calf was still sore from the in-water cramping. 3) As soon as I got down into aero my neck and shoulders were already tight and sore from fighting the waves during the swim. Not ideal.
The bike course was one loop of mostly country roads that seemed to always be going up or down. I didn’t see any hills bigger than the one in and out of transition but there were small rollers almost all the time. And the country roads were bumpy, very bumpy. Aid stations were stocked with performance drink, water & gels every 15 to 20 miles. It always amazes me how brave the volunteers are standing roadside holding a drink out for us to grab. None of this would work if it weren’t for the volunteers so I am very thankful for their hard work and dedication.
The first half of the bike was decent although I was much slower than normal. However, the second half was just rough bringing more hills (or maybe they were the same ones, just looking bigger due to my fatigue) the wind, and more bumpy roads. My neck and shoulders were BURNING with pain & fatigue. All of this really took a real toll on me and I fell way off pace. But I made it back to transition. 56 miles on the bike DONE. 3 hrs & 29 minutes. Super slow but DONE. Screen shots below from FinsherPix, the Ironman photog:
Transition 2 was all good. Such a relief to rack the stupid bike and be back on my own two feet. At this point, the race is over for me. I know that I can run, walk or crawl 13.1 miles if necessary. BRING IT! The run was an out and back course with two loops. The temps were well into the 80s by this time. However, I did enjoy looking for my friends amongst all the other runners. It helped with the monotony being able to look to see if I could spot people I knew. The aid stations were well stocked with water, ice, bananas, pretzels, oranges, energy gels and performance drinks. The residents of Racine ROCKED in the spectator department, bringing out their water hoses, sprinklers, kids with squirt guns and just doing what they could to help keep us cool. I will also acknowledge that the course was well shaded in many places and the wind that caused so many problems in the water and was a nuisance on the bike, was now a welcome relief. And the views of the water in several spots were breathtaking. Screen shots below from FinsherPix, the Ironman photog:
Not what was in the plan but I finished in 6 hours & 50 minutes and I was super happy to hit that finish line. Swim – 53:46, T1 – 5:02, Bike – 3:29:19 (16.05 mph), T2 – 2:54, Run – 2:19:52 (10:40 pace)
Ironman picked a great venue in Racine. Beautiful area & race site. Aid stations, volunteers and medical assistance were plentiful. However the race is very expensive ($225 to $250) and they ran out of food at the finish, which I think is unacceptable for the cost of the race and the duration for which the athletes compete. In fact I left as soon as I finished my race because I needed to go find food to refuel.
Finisher medal & Hat:
All in all, I think it was a well ran event, minus the food snafu at the end. The athletes were all very nice, even the fast ones. The race officials were serious but helpful. The volunteers were amazing. However, I probably won’t go back to Racine for an Ironman event. It’s a long way from home, traffic to Wisconsin stinks and I’m still not convinced that the cost of the brand endorsement is worth the extra money to race. I’m a small town girl and like small town races with small town price tags but as with everything, it’s all in personal preference.
** Get Out and Give It A TRI ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **