Monday, July 12, 2010

Ironman Rhode Island 70.3 Race Report

First, I want to give some shout outs to a few fellow bloggers who were out there on the battlefield with me.

Emily @ Sweat Once a Day: Awesome job for your first HIM! Your run time (1:47:xx) is a goal of mine one day @ a HIM. And you did it out in that weather! Phenomenal! Did you get signed up for Lake Placid?
Jason @ Tech-Tri: Same to you! Awesome job for your first HIM! I actually recognized Jason by seeing his bike in transition (he posted a sweet picture of it on his blog). I'm a guy, ok! He was there with his brother and I was able to meet him again at the finish line. So running in the heat sucks, right?!?!
Maija @ NJ Tri and Dog Tales: Awesome job finishing in that heat! I think I saw you out on the run course. I was going down that steep hill, you were going up it. I think the look on your face described those conditions pretty well.

Oh, and SURPRISE! So this was a very last minute race, obviously. About 2 weeks ago I was out on a bike ride and this thought popped into my head: You are doing Rhode Island. Later at work that morning, before I knew it, I was filling in my credit card info for a hotel and for race registration and clicking "submit." Then the regret about being impulsive!

Well, I had to do almost the same volume this past weekend and I have a scheduled rest week this week anyways and I was starting to see a peak in performance, so what the heck, right? That is my reasoning, and I am sticking to it! I am glad that I did the race.

So logistically, this was a busy race. Its a point to point race. The swim was held down on the coast, then you biked north to Providence, then ran around Providence a few times. This meant that you had to Athlete Check-In in Providence on Saturday, get your run gear all bagged up and placed into T2 that afternoon, then drive your bike down (45 mins-1 hour) to the coast, drop your bike off, then return to Providence to the hotel. It wasn't that bad, except for all of the additional driving.

Now the race! Overall time: 5:41:11
2:30 AM wake up call. I had strange dreams that night, especially one where I woke up, saw 5:00 AM on the alarm clock and panicked. I then actually woke up, and saw 11PM on the clock. Phew! But I was awake...

Out the door by 3:30-ish to get to the shuttle bus down to the beach by 3:45. It.Was.Dark.

The weather forecast was calling for cloudy and possible rain. I was dancing with joy because I do WAY better in those conditions. The weatherman needs to be fired....

The Swim: 38:15
This was not as bad as New Orleans, but it was the 2nd worst swim that I have ever done. It was rough out there! Have you ever swam through breakers? I haven't!....until now. Kinda cool though when the breaker lifts you 5 feet up and then drops you straight down.

After the breakers, it was a bit "easier" to swim but the rollers out there still did a number on you. My sighting was great, it was just swimming through that was plain old hard. There were 9 buoys out, and 9 back, so counting the buoys helped break the swim up.

On the way back, the swells felt like they were propelling you forward, but they really didn't. They just threw you into fields of seaweed. Gross! Some portions were so thick it got all wrapped up around your goggles and your arms. It was like swimming through spaghetti!

I was quite happy getting out of the water, and despite it being a slow swim and rough and being beat up, I still had a ton of energy.

T1: 3:27
Because there was no returning to the beach post race, you had to bag up all your swim stuff before you headed out onto the bike. This was good because it limited the amount of extra crap that you normally bring to a race (i.e. 3rd and 4th pair of backup goggles, backup Body Glide, backup sun screen, etc).

The sky at this point was basically clear and the sun was shining bright. It was going to be a hot day!.....and conditions perfect for nasty sunburns, so I took the extra time and covered myself well with sunblock.

Bike: 2:48:53
Rhode Island is a fairly flat state, right? Well, it is, but they do have some rollers to keep it honest. Each roller by itself isn't bad, but after roller after roller after roller it started to add up. I was averaging over 20mph throughout most of the course, until the very end, when the course starts to come into Providence.

I basically went too hard, and it proved fatal later on. I thought I had learned from my mistake at Timberman last year! NOPE! I figured, hey, I have been averaging near 200 watts for 56 miles during my last two rides, I can do it today! Well I did, but this terrain was very deceptive and I knew I cooked myself a bit too much by mile 50.

This course is harder than Timberman, even though it doesn't appear to be. This is how I know. At Timberman last year, I averaged in the 170's for watts and went about the same time as yesterday. Yesterday I was near 200 for the same time AND I am lighter than last year, which means it takes MORE power to accomplish the same feat == hillier course overall. This is good because that means I guess I can let it rip @ Timberman next month and be ok, but bad in that I let my ego get the best of me. I have a power meter and I wasn't respecting it!

Lesson learned! (again)

So the final 6 miles of the bike course were through the not-so-great parts of Providence. A woman was hit by a car. People were pulling out on the bike course. It was turn after turn after turn like a Criterium race. We went over about 4 sets of railroad tracks and after each set of tracks the road was littered with bottles, entire cages, sunglasses and all kinds of other miscellaneous stuff. I swear those last 6 miles killed my speed average. My right hand was actually going numb from all of the shifting and death gripping the bars.

Not my favorite bike course...

T2: 2:51
When I finally pulled into T2 the heat was starting to get to me, but I was happy to be off the bike. Sprayed more sunblock on me and I was off for misery....

Run: 2:07:44
That. Sucked.

Going too hard on the bike meant one thing: a long and painful run. The heat at this point in the day didn't help. I think it was approaching 90 degrees and the humidity and LARGE lack of shade wasn't contributing. I was feeling "off" right from the start.

At the first aid station I was already walking and there was a woman there with sunscreen. I had her slather it all over me. Meanwhile I was already dumping water over my head and chomping on ice. I was melting!

Right at mile one you hit this short, but really steep hill That.Just.Sucks. I walked halfway up it and then ran the 2nd half. Fortunately there was a nice downhill after that.

By mile 3.1-ish @ the timing mat, I was so cooked. That was the fastest part of the run for me, but also the MOST dreadful 3.1-ish miles of running in my life. Around mile 4 you get to back up that nice downhill, but this time I finally settled in a bit and ran up the entire hill without stopping grasping chunks of ice in my hands. Man oh man does that cool me down!

On the ensuing downhill a big cloud showed up and blocked the sun. It was such a relief! So running in the heat is one thing, but running in heat with the sun beating down on you is something entirely more painful. There were a few sections of the course where you would run under bridges and the shade under there re-energized you, only to lose it once you stepped back out into the sun.

At the turn around to start loop #2 I couldn't mentally take it. I did NOT want to go back out there and repeat that again. It was too painful! But because I knew what to expect, I sucked it up and just went. I knew where to walk, and I knew where to just take it on the chin. This helped and mentally the 2nd loop went faster than the 1st.

At mile 9.3-ish near that aid station at the timing mat, I hit my 2nd to last low. The mental garbage started to flood my brain. Suddely Timberman was out. I was done with triathlon for the season. The marathon was still in, but Lake Placid was definately gone and all I wanted to do ever again was sprints and year. I was seriously done for.

At mile 12 I did my last bit of walking. I said to myself, "There is one mile left. ONLY 1 mile. You have done only 1 mile as a warmup for race and thought nothing of it." That 1 mile fortunately went by quickly and there was the finish line. I saw people going out for their 2nd loop and I felt so bad for them.

Actual finish time: 5:41:11

The good points that I am going to take from this run are that I was hydrated and nutritioned well on the bike and I held this over onto the run, so fuel wasn't the issue, just willpower and melting conditions and going too hard on the bike.

Post Race:
Saw Jason at the finish line and told him that I was going to go find a rock to crawl under and die. I felt awful and just collected my stuff and trudged back to my car at the hotel. The blister on my ring toe on my right foot hurt more than anything else on my body! haha!

I didn't sign up for Lake Placid.

Because of the condition that I was in and the mental state that I was in, signing up for Lake Placid was the LAST thing that I wanted to do. I will still have another opportunity in a few weeks when I am up there to volunteer. Not going to go into details right now. I will be saving that for my next post.

Here are some highlights!
So this morning I checked out the compiled results. I did a LOT better overall than I thought/felt! Apparently everyone struggled yesterday. Came in 340/1163 overall, or in the 29th percentile. 33rd/112 in my age group for, get this, the 29th percentile in my age group. I had the 208th fastest bike split of the day! top 20%. I am REALLY happy about that, even if it nuked my running legs ;)

Like I mentioned before, I am going to go more into details on my thoughts about doing an Ironman. It is still very much on the radar, I just need to decompress from yesterday's torturefest.


  1. OK, now that I have read your report - swimming in breakers sounds freaking sketchy! Sounds like a challenging bike course - I can't believe what you saw on the bike, and that you had multiple sets of RR tracks...That run sounds so tough.

    Top 20%! That is freaking awesome! That is super impressive - especially in that heat!

    See you at IMLP! :)

  2. Wow! 29th percentile! I'm usually happy if I can be in the top 50th percentile.

    You did awesome in light of the tough swim and bike courses.

    Congrats and hope you recover quickly!

  3. great report-

    Crazy end of the bike course! Nice Nice job completing the race. Way to SIU on the run. Great result overall, especially the bike. Feel you on those mid race thoughts. This weekend I was also done for the year with 2 miles to go in my race.

    Saw your note this afternoon on my blog...while you were out:


  4. Wow awesome race!!! It was cool to see you out there. I knew you would kille the bike based on your previous rides! I am putting the pics together for my RI 70.3 race report but all I can do is agree and say the run SUCKED!!! I pulled my hamstring in the last few miles of the bik and basically did a run walk (not on purpose) because of the legs. By the way you passed my cage and bottles on the railroad section..lost it all. Congrats on a Great race and great to meet you there!

  5. These summertime HIM's really suck the life out of you! Your run description sounded just like the one I did in brutal heat too. Just kills ya and nothing you can do about it!

    will be interesting to hear your thoughts about IMLP --- You could always come down to Texas and do our IM in May!

  6. Sounds like a rough race. Now take your recovery.

  7. First of all, congrats on finishing in the top 29th percentile! Woohoo! With the crazy swim waves, rough bike parts, and a hot run, that course just sounds tough all around. But you did awesome!

  8. Holy cow! I can't believe you just impulsively did a 70.3! You're much stronger than me! Great job, despite the conditions. You're going to blow everyone away in a month in NH.

  9. I can't believe you did the race last minute! Congrats on your race, the bike time is solid with the headwind we had. I was in my own world on the run, I had no idea you were out there.

  10. Only you! Way to go Jon! Congrats on an awesome last minute pick up Tri! Are you going to take a few days to relax and recover? Please tell me yes:)

  11. I remember I got an email from Jeff stating he was gonna sign up for an impromtu HIM, he was drinking though, YOU WERE SOBER!!!!

    Congrats on the race, despite the heat and going out too hard. Nice times and impressive finishing results.

  12. Dude... you did awesome! I heard that the conditions were brutal and it looks like you still had an amazing day! Congrats!

  13. I felt like I was melting just reading that! Who would have thought a state to small could be so deadly?

    I thought you did really well. Talk about impulse purchase!!

  14. hey jon! good job~
    i am very proud of u. u always do so well and amaze me~

    sorry to be late with commenting. i have been missing for a while~

    keep up the great work, buddy!


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