I finished my third 70.3 distance triathlon on Saturday morning at High Cliff State Park. My first two were at Ironman 70.3 Racine, this was the first time I ventured onto a new course. I’m a person that likes to know the course, when I know it I’ll let loose and race harder. When I don’t know it, I’m timid, I hold back, unsure of what’s to come.
My numbers truly show my uncertainty with a new course:
Here’s a rundown of the day…
Woke up Saturday morning in a tent, also a first, to camp the night before a race. I surprisingly slept really well, the white noise app on my Iphone helped. Stepping out of the tent was a shock to my bones, 45 degrees cold. So, shivery cold. Teeth were jittering, I wished I had mittens, just down right cold and uncomfortable while putting myself and gear together for a 70.3. Nonetheless, we headed down to the race site.
Just like last week’s sprint triathlon, my transition set up seemed too easy. I had to go back and re-check it because it seemed too easy. Maybe I’m just getting comfortable and good at setting this up!
The swim start was confusing for me. It was beach start, I watched the first wave trample into the water and walk the first 400 yards of the swim. Huh. I was wave 3, the spot where we started was cramped, and I unfortunately was in the back. We started, and I walked with the mass of my wave until it was deep enough to actually swim. Once I was swimming I felt like I was cruising. Passed a few people, when fast people passed me I tried to draft off of them.
Out of the swim they had wetsuit strippers, but I chose to run past them straight to T1. Reason I didn’t stop is that my left calf muscle cramped up badly on Wednesday night, and I remember my calf cramping at Ironman Wisconsin when I stopped for the wetsuit stripper. It cost me more time in T1, but a calf cramp might have costed me more time.
Onto the bike. It was brutally windy out, with the first 25 miles into 18 mph headwind. I am easily frustrated with wind, so I made a decision to not fight it. Just keep it slow, relaxed, enjoy the scenery, get to know the course, don’t get angry at the wind. It really was a great course with a view of giant Lake Winnebago in the distance. Around mile 20 a girl rode up to my side and we chatted for a few miles. It was nice to have a pal to distract me from the wind!
Once we looped around we were headed back with a cross wind that helped push me. On the way back I was averaging 18-20 mph, which motivated me to actually try! My bike computer average read 15.7, 15.8, 15.9, 16–YESS I squealed, 16.1–YESSS I squee’ed, 16.2–YEAHH!! I held onto that as tightly as I could. For some reason I don’t remember having a better bike time at Ironman Racine last year. In my head I thought it was a bike PR. Whoops! I’m really happy about the bike time considering I didn’t try for the first half of the ride.
T2 I sprayed myself with bug spray instead of sunblock, that was a first. I also used a porta potty and tied my shoes while I was doing my business. I’m getting good at multitasking in transition!
The run started off with a rude 200 foot climb that lasted for a half a mile. I ran up the hill until it seemed like I could walk faster than I was running. At the top of the hill I got onto the trails. The first part of the trail was literally on a flat portion of a cliff. It was a new, neat experience to run on. There isn’t a lot of crowd support, and other racers were pretty quiet keeping to themselves. It was quiet and gave me too much opportunity to go to that dark place in my head. I was walking several times each mile. Nothing wrong, nothing hurt, just lacking the will to run.
By mile 8 I was starving. Why don’t they have cheeseburgers at the aid stations? After mile 10 I tried to get down a HammerGel but I just couldn’t. Gel, ugh, no. I wanted potato chips, or a hot dog, or chicken wings, anything but sugary gels. It was also around mile 10 when I kept nearly tripping over roots and rocks. DAMMIT I’d yell, and keep plodding on. Before mile 12 suddenly I was flying, and then face down on the ground scraped and bloody. I scrambled up quickly, sobbed for 12 seconds, walked a few steps to take inventory on my limbs. The girl behind me asked if I was okay, “I’m okay, thanks” and I took off running as fast as I could.
I was on a mission to PR my 70.3 run. Even though I was walking a lot, I knew I was on the edge of PR’ing the run. Before I fell I knew I had 12 minutes to get to the finish to make it happen. Luckily my limbs were intact, and the last half a mile goes down that big hill I had to go up in the first mile. I PR’ed the run by one little minute.
When I got my results I was perplexed that this 70.3 was 10 minutes slower than last year. I felt like I had a decent race! But I’m comparing apples to oranges. Ironman 70.3 Racine is a completely different course than High Cliff. High Cliff is slightly tougher. I’m not being fair to myself if I compare my times between these races,.. I think, I hope.
All in all, I’m happy with the race. I’m looking forward to going back next year to crush it!