Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Race Report: Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island

Ok, here it is.  My recap of my very first Ironman 70.3!!

My alarm went off at 2:30AM and I thought "Why the heck do I have to get up this early when I don't get to race for another 4.5 hours?!"  Oh, the qualms of not racing in your back yard.  To be fair (in some way), I was awake even before my alarm went off.  My body has this odd way of knowing when I have to be up.  Anyways, I got up and had some breakfast - oatmeal, salad, fruit, multivitamin, and an Airborne (heaven knows my body's going to take a beating!).  I packed my stuff in the car and made it to Providence by 3:50AM and got the first set of shuttles up to T1.  When we got there, the bus ahead of us parked in a lot about 0.5 mile from transition and we were about to, but some of the athletes in the front convinced the driver to continue on.  I have no idea how the driver ended up turning around because I don't think it was possible, but I appreciated not having to walk that far before the race.  If the bus driver reads this, I am sorry!  We got body marked, prepped our bikes, and chatted with other athletes.  I walked down to the water and took a quick swim to warm up and test the temperature.  The official Race Day water temp was 79.5 and it felt it!  Thankfully there was a breeze, so as your arm came out of the water, it got cooled off, but warmed right back up as you entered the water.  I dried off, redressed, and waited around until I got to start at 7:05AM.  I did get to see the pros start and get into transition before I started too.  I'm still hoping I can be one of them some day.

My Morning CT Crew (Maddy's taking the picture though)

They called Wave 14 and I toed up to the line.  I waited for the horn - continually adjusting my cap and goggles (it's a swimmer thing), and was OFF!!!  Now, let me start by saying that we noticed the previous day that the actual swim route was different than what was in our Athlete Guide; they never decided to fill us in on that bit but we all knew what was up.  Tricky, tricky!

I'm somewhere in that mix
In the first 500m, I honestly started thinking "OMG, what did I get myself into?"  After another 250-500m, I found my rhythm and held it out, but that start was tiring.  I'm pretty sure I went out a bit fast, but either way, I've resolved to get more swim practice in before Las Vegas.  Overall, the swim was quite boring.  You stare at murky brown/green/blue water for most of the time and pop your head up to site every so often.  I did two bilateral breathes and then sited and kept repeating it.  What I spent most of my time working on was repositioning to my right; apparently I curve to the left (that's what she said) when I don't site enough.  When I saw the swim finish arch, my brain totally switched gears and I was prepping for transition.  "Towel, socks, shoes, suntan lotion, belt, shirt, helmet, glasses, GO!"  I had practiced my transition the night before and figured out the best order.

When I finally could reach the sand with my fingers, I popped up, Baywatch-ed it to the shore and took off like a bat out of hell.

TIME: 35:47
DIV: 30/354

I've watched a lot of people exit the swim and run to transition and the one thing I never have understood is their pace; why run so slow?  Your legs haven't been working that hard yet, you should have energy, right?  For whatever reason, when I pop up out of the water, I'm running probably around 6:00-6:30 pace and charging ahead.  I even ran to the side of our racers shoot forcing spectators to get out of my way as I went around other athletes.  I passed at least 10-12 people in the run to transition alone.  I got to my bike and it went like clockwork; dried off my feet, got my socks on, shoes, sun tan lotion, race belt, shirt, helmet, glasses, and off we go!  Given the spacing of our bikes, it was a bit difficult to get my bike out - took me a good 10s - but I man handled it and took off.  Now I understand why a lot of people ignored the rules and racked their bikes by the BACK of the seat.  

Time: 3:23
I was very happy with that time!

Overall, I felt the most comfortable on the bike leg of the race.  The first thirty miles were mostly hills followed by 15 miles of relatively flat road and another 11 miles of Pothole Central!  In the first thirty miles I focused on the hills - easy up and fast down.  I got passed a number of times on the uphill, but repassed most of them on the down and flat levels.  Overall, I did much more passing than being passed.  I do have to say that one of my favorite things of the entire race was watching what looked like great cyclists power up a hill only to die off at the top (digging will get you nowhere on an endurance race).  My second favorite thing was passing anyone with a high end aero bike or aero helmet.  I was on a craigslist bike with a helmet from Target that has a blinking light in the back; I loved every minute of it!  I did cheer them on though as I passed, but silently laughed at the same time. 

I stayed in my aerobars 95% of the bike leg, only getting out when I had to make a tight turn or when we got to the extremely bumpy roads in the last section of the leg.  I also only got out of the saddle twice.  Once I tested my legs on a hill around mile 20 only to sit back down 5s later (wasn't worth digging into my energy).  The second time was to get off the bike at T2.

My nutrition plans went rather well on the bike.  I downed two powerbars, one pack of clif shot blocks, three bottles of water, 1 bottle of Gatorade Endurance, 1.5 bottles of Ironman Perform, and half a banana.  Every so often I got a slight upset stomach and held off for a bit, but I felt it went rather well.  I stopped eating at 2:30 into the bike to give my stomach time before the run.

At mile 48, we hit pothole central!  In the race briefing we were told that mile 48-49 was a "no pass zone".  They made it that way because the road was in such a bad state that passing would be risky.  As soon as we hit that section of road, water bottles went flying and everyone spread out width wise; we were all trying to find the smoothest way through the holes.  Overall, I was surprised half of us didn't end up with flat tires.  I did end up passing a half full bottle of Perform to another racer after his bottle ejected.  After that section of road, we hit lots of potholes and multiple sets of rail road tracks all the way back to T2.  Plenty of people I know said that they will not race Rhode Island again because of the road conditions alone and I have to admit they have a point.  It felt like we were mountain biking with road bikes!

And within those last few miles I had another mini battle, this time with a white VW New Beetle.  Picture this:  You're riding 22mph down the back roads of Providence making turns about every 0.3 miles and the cops are only stationed at the lights.  You come up to one turn with cones directing you to make a right, but there's a VW Beetle stopped at the stop sign.  You think "What's a car doing on the race course?"  You guess it just got lost or whatever and continue to speed up to its left side.  Then just as you pass the rear tire, you notice that the car starts moving forward.  "HHEEEEEEYYY!!!" you yell as loud as you can.  You hear two guys on the sidewalk to your left yell at the car because they know there are plenty of cyclists coming up behind the car as well.  You see the car moving.  You have to make a right turn and you have about two feet and closing between the car and the cones.  Your front tire clears the front of the car and you bank right.  The car is still moving and then you hear it; that sound of the plastic fender bending.  Then you feel it; your back end swings out to the left.  Before it hits you, you're cleared of the car, they slam on their brakes, and the guys on the sidewalk continue yelling at the car.  You've just been hit by a car during a race.  I stopped pedaling for a moment, looked down at my tire and didn't see anything wrong; the wheel was turning free, no issues.  So I sped up and continued on thinking "if the car has a scratch, good!  They deserve it."

Another couple miles down the road I passed my CT entourage and headed into T2

I'm too fast for pictures

At this point I'm thinking "Ok, here goes the T2 legs.  Just hold on, just hold on!!"

Time: 2:56:17
Div: 44/354

I ran into transition with my bike and thankfully had a slight memory of where my bike was.  I ran up one row too early, but no one was there, so I just ducked under the bar and racked the bike.  I tore off my bike jersey, grabbed my run gear and took off.  I headed out of transition with sunglasses, tri shorts, sock/shoes on, and my hands full of gear.

Time: 1:30

Thankfully, the first 0.2 miles was a downhill, yay!  It took me a good 0.5 miles to get my running shirt on; the first attempt had it on backwards.  I had already noticed that my quads were cramping and my lower back was really painful.  I pushed through it and then realized "Hey, what happened to my T2 legs?"  They never arrived.  I had hopped off the bike and was immediately ready to run.  I certainly wasn't complaining!!

I had tried to drive the 6 mile, two loop course the previous day but got lost.  I had found out from locals that the only hills were in the first 2-3 miles and they were gradual inclines.  I went into the inclines slowly; no use blowing up half way into the run.  I hit aid station #1 (of six on the course) and grabbed a Perform.  I figured I'd switch - perform at #1, water at #2 and so on.  Then I hit the hills.  Slow all the way up but steady.  I hit aid station #2 and they had a sprinkler set up just before it - OMG, that was heaven!!  After station #3 I noticed I was getting a slight upset stomach.  I switched to water again at station #4 and from there on.  At the bottom of the hill I passed a guy with a GPS who said he was at an 8:15 pace.  F' Yeah!!  I was under 8:00 pace for sure and was feeling GREAT!  My plan of kicking it up a notch later on went out the window - "Just hold this pace!"  I hit the turn around just under 50 minutes (under 8:00 pace) and was thrilled.

Going into the fiinsh of Loop #1
I couldn't rip or get the video, so here's the link to me starting Loop #2.

Unfortunately, the day caught up with me by the time I hit station #1 again.  I took another water - this time drinking the entire cup - and walked.  From that point forward I couldn't run more than 1-1.5 miles at a time.  I don't know if it was the physical or mental aspect getting to me, but I'm leaning to the mental.  I ended up drinking more and more water as I hit each station; one cup, two cups, up to three full cups.  I also started playing the largest game of leap frog I've ever been a part of.  Given my unique hair style, a lot of people could recognize me and were encouraging me to keep going as they passed and repassed me.  I'd run passed them easily enough, but then have to walk a mile down the road.  Either way, after another 5 miles of that torture, I came up to the last aid station and then ran all the way to the finish (which was uphill FYI, not cool!).

There wasn't anyone within 100 yards ahead of me, so I got to hear my name over the loudspeaker as I ran in.  And I did a jump in the air with a fist pump at the line!

Time: 1:54:55
Div: 44/354

Overall Time: 5:31:52
Div: 44/354

I was done.  Five hours and thirty one minutes after starting out this morning...  11 months after putting up this goal of an Ironman...  I had finished my first 70.3.  While my friends and family were full of "You were awesome!," "I'm so proud," and "Are you ok?," I was (and still am) full of such a mix of emotions.  I won't lie, I was a bit upset with my run and immediately filled with thoughts of how to improve and where to change my training, but I had still done it.  Any thoughts of "OMG, why did I sign up for this?" from during the race were gone!

My CT Ironman 70.3 Crew
After the race, I chowed down on some food, drank an incredible amount of water, got a massage, and then headed over to the awards ceremony.

As some of you know, each Ironman 70.3 race has a certain number of slots for the World Championship that they give out.  After the awards, they divvy up the slots to each age group and start calling off names.  You have to be present to claim a spot.  When they got to M25-29 (my age group), they read off the names of 3rd place, 4th, 5th, 6th.....10th, 11th....15th, 16th...  Eventually they said "Ok, anyone male 25-29 who's here, come on down.  We'll take the top two times."  I popped up immediately and shot down to the announcer.  As I was walking down I thought "There's no WAY I'm one of the top two finishers who are here right now."  I got down to the front and realized I was the ONLY M25-29 there.  "No F'n WAY!"  I know it's not Kona, but some people would kill for a slot to World Championships and I grab it after my very first race.  I was extremely tired so my excitement level was hindered a bit by that fact, but I was doing flips in my head!

So there you have it - my very first Ironman 70.3.

Now it's off to plan the attack for my second 70.3, The Marine Corp Ironman 70.3 World Championships!!  I'm so going to have my a$$ handed to me.  But hey, maybe I'll get to keep the platter.

Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 


ajh said...

Awesome job! You placed well in all three areas. You did an amazing job of remembering aspects for this report. I was wondering if people put on sun screen after swimming and you answered that.

Great job. Be proud!

Runners Fuel said...

Great job!! glad you're doing well afterwards!!

Kevin said...

GREAT JOB. You did awesome. Congraduations.

The post race photo is kind of funny. It looks like the girl in the shirt only has one leg because of the way she is standing.


My Boring Triathlon Blog said...

Great job! Qualifying for Vegas on your first 70.3!!

Warning: Its a tough course


Awesome recap and awesome 70.3 debut! That car story was crazy. Kind of made me have flashbacks.

Anonymous said...

YOU GOT HIT BY AN EFFING CAR??? OMG! Glad you are okay and congrats!

Coy Martinez said...

I wanna give you a hug followed by a fist bump! You deserve it, big time! I know you're picking apart what you could do better but think of the accomplishment! You posted some really great times! And this was just your first!! Congrats!!

Ransick said...

Great job on your first 70.3 and great RR! That is a fast time! Wow, my time prediction was only 8 seconds off!

SupermomE13 said...

I can't believe you got hit by a car. NUTS. Some people are idiots.

YOU DID AWESOME!!! HUGE congrats! Vegas will be incredible. :)

Caroline said...

Kurt, you have all my admiration for doing this! Ironman! Be Proud!
congrats on your great first Ironman. Cannot believe someone hit you, some people are just missing brain parts I guess.
44/354! that is really good.

Ken Matthews said...

Awesome job. You totally rock it. High Five from NC. I am sure that you are going to kill the Marine Corp Half. Congrats again.

Anonymous said...


SL said...

Nice job.

Unknown said...

Some drivers use no common sense!! Glad you are ok! Great job on your FIRST 70.3!! :)

Chris @ Heavy Steps said...

You were hit by a car... How crazy!!

Loved reading this. Made me want to do an Ironman someday. I am very impressed! I for sure will be a craigslist bike owner as well!

Q said...


What a roller coaster of a race too - hit by a car, getting a spot in world championships, wow.

Matthew Smith said...

Way to go! What a great race, and you walked out with a ticket to worlds. That's awesome. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Wow what an incredible job.. I have to tell you though now I'm getting scared! The swimming in murky water with no way to see what I'm doing.. SCARED!

TriGirl said...

Dude! That is so awesome! I can't imagine racing those distances...and just blowing off being hit by a car!! Holy crap! I am soooo impressed!

Richelle said...

I'm so impressed by your strength and mental tenacity. Glad you showed that VW who was boss! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

That is so awesome! Congratulations on a great race and your qualifying slot!! That rocks.

And I loved reading your race report too -nice work!

Anonymous said...

Oh and I can not believe the car story!! That is NUTS!!

Big Daddy Diesel said...


and that might be the only story I have heard of someone getting hit by a car and staying up on the bike

Chelsea said...

I cannot believe you got hit by a car! I'm glad you are ok!! Congrats on such an amazing job. Sooooo incredibly proud of you.

Unknown said...

Seriously... this was an awesome race report! :) And I absolutely love that you got a spot at the World Championship. If no one else had the smarts to stay around, then they didn't deserve to get one! You, my friend, totally do!


Miguel Vieira said...

You are the man! Great job!

Michael said...

Seriously amazing job!! What a great race!

I am one of those slow people out of the swim transition. I get so winded by the swim I can hardly breathe when I come out of the water. All I really want to do is just sit down for a minute and catch my breath. I usually end up running at first, but walking by the time I reach my bike.

Again - GREAT job!