Ironman 70.3 World Championship! Wow, still can’t quite believe I actually had the opportunity to race with the Who’s Who of triathlon!
I met Julie Moss on a brief training run
Craig “Crowie” Alexander…hotter than the Vegas sun!
In the days leading up to the race I was nervous but felt prepared from a training and nutrition perspective. I’d anticipated blazing heat in the Nevada desert and did plenty of heat training.
The logistics of this race were a bit daunting since there were many unknowns–1st travel race and 1st point to point meaning two separate transition areas. Going forward, I’ll know what to expect and Ironman managed events are SO well run that there are plenty of folks to ask and all of them were pretty darn helpful!
I shipped my Felt bike “ACE” via TriBike Transport, which worked like a charm. And, I’m SO glad I rented a car versus relying on taxis. Also, I got a Garmin GPS from the rental car company which really helped a ton…yes, I know I can use Google Maps on my phone but having the Garmin on my dashboard made things a ton smoother. Setting up T1 and T2 on the day prior to the race was interesting and was completed without issue.
Setting up T1
Learning #1…make sure IF (as I may not ever do this again) I ride with someone to the race start ensure that they are on the same page from a arrival to race venue perspective! I hitched a ride to the race with some other athletes friends-of-friends, they were to pick me up at 4:30 a.m (transition opened at 4:00 and it was planning to close at 6:00, I was in the 1st non-pro swim wave and we were about a 25 minute drive away). They showed up at 4:45, we got lost (they didn’t have a Garmin, which cost us 10 minutes) plus when we got close to the race venue traffic was seriously bumper to bumper for hundreds of cars. It was 5:20 a.m, then 5:30, 5:35…I needed to load up my bike nutrition and I was starting to FREAK! The folks I was driving with were much more seasoned triathletes and were also in later swim waves. Somehow I had previously gotten the phone number of Ironman 70.3 Worlds “command central” of the race (true). Anyway, I called them and said “Do you realize that there are hundreds of cars waiting to find parking and are you still closing T1 at 6:00?!” To which they answered “Yes, Mamam, our plan is to still close transition as planned at 6:00”. OH CRAP!!! Now I was really starting to FREAK OUT!
Oh yeah and it was raining, not just a sprinkle but like we needed to build an ARK! So, I said “Stop the Car!” and I joined the many other athletes that were running toward transition which was about 1.5 miles away…hey that’s one way to get my pre-race run warm-up in!
Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Henderson, NV swim course
I made it to T1 and loaded up my bike with gels etc.. Guess what?! Electrical tape doesn’t stick too well in the rain. But, I made it work. My bike was in an awesome spot close to bike out so I only had to run with my bike a relatively short distance although much of it was up a hill. After getting my bike prepared I headed down to the swim start which was already lining up. And, by the way, they did NOT close T1 at 6:00 it was likely 6:15 or so, but still I was somewhat pressed for time. I lined up, the pros were off and going, my age group got in the water and we swam to the start line treading water (first time I’ve done that type of swim start) and we were OFF! Once the race started I felt better.
Except it continued to RAIN! And as I ran through swim exit toward my bike, which was about a ½ mile…I started to worry. Until then, I hadn’t EVER ridden my TRI bike or actually my road bike in the rain. On bad weather days I just opt for a spin class instead. And it wasn’t just a drizzle it was really RAINING! Water was pouring off the brim of my helmet, thankfully I have TRI bike shoes so the water was running out the bottom, I wear socks when I ride which were soaked, but somehow my prescription sunglasses (photosensitive) didn’t get completely water spotted. Still, I was nervous and with my recent loss of biking buddy plus the fact that my son so kindly shared his nightmare dream of me dying in this race…I was more than a little cautious.
The bike course was tough and I did see a pretty major wipe-out of three bikes colliding and all riders down and out. The rain stopped at around mile 40, which made a huge difference when looking at my bike splits…once the rain was over my average mph jumped from around 16 to almost 22 since I was comfortable putting the pedal to the metal…and that wasn’t a super easy part of the bike course either. Still it helped improve a marginally effective, BUT safe, ride.
Transition bags and changing tents were a new concept for me also. It wasn’t bad and once again, now I know the drill for future reference. The run was a 3 looper with about 2 miles up and 2 miles down. I did run thru a few aid stations but also walked on some hills. Still my pace overall was similar to Boulder although the course in Henderson was much more difficult and toward the end of the run it was starting to heat up with blue skies.
Nutrition once again worked really well. For fear of dehydrating, I seriously drank ALL the time. All water bottles on the bike plus one from an aid station, every run aid station I refilled my handheld water bottle plus drank coke (love that nasty stuff) after mile 8, a full water bottle at finish, 3 mini chocolate milks and two pints of Stella mid afternoon after the race. You’d think I’d be spending a ton of time in the porta potty (or other) but nope…after all that I must have still been dehydrated. But I felt fine.
Overall an awesome experience! My sister in-law Melissa traveled to Vegas to support me which was FANTASTIC! Mel and her extended family were there at the race cheering me on and I saw a few other Colorado tri friends there too. Having folks who actually know you call out your name during the race is an amazing lift!
With a 6:35:47 finish time, I wish I would have had a faster race but it all came down to a slower ride and if I had “do overs” I wouldn’t change a thing. I qualified for and finished the Ironman 70.3 World Championship race and I have one of the worlds BIGGEST finisher medals to prove it!