This past August I participated in Rev3‘s Maine 70.3 triathlon, my second half-ironman triathlon of 2013. Believe it or not, this was a last minute addition to my training schedule. I had only planned on doing Syracuse 70.3 this summer because during the second half of the summer I was slated to take two accelerated grad courses over a 6 week time. All this while working full time. Yes, really. But, after Syracuse I felt slighted because the race was doomed from the start by a freak heat wave that upper-state NY rarely sees that early in the summer. As a result, I missed my goal time and so did everyone I knew who participated. I tried not to take it to heart, but I came away wanting more and feeling as if my season wasn’t over. So, without hesitation I signed up for Maine 70.3 a mere 2 or 3 days after finishing Syracuse. I knew my schedule would be nuts and I’d likely be cursing myself from time to time, but I knew I wanted another go more than anything else. In the end, it was a good decision and helped end my 2013 race session on a very high note. So without further ado, my Rev3 Maine 70.3 race report..
2103 REV3 Maine 70.3 – August 25th, 2013
The Swim: 1.25 miles – 42:06
There was a lot about the swim that gave me anxiety and this was even before I got in the water! For beginners, it was an ocean swim. I hadn’t swum in the ocean for well over a year before this race. The fact that this was an ocean swim didn’t even occur to me until about a week before the race. Yes, really. I basically signed up and forgot. Between work and school, that’s how crazy things were for me at the time. On top of this, the water temperature was 59 VERY COLD degrees! By comparison all three tri’s I competed in earlier this past summer were in lake water that was between between 73-76 degrees. It was also a running start, which is something I had yet to experience. I tried not let this intimidate me, but even during the warm-up the sheer temperature of the water worried me. (I had a wetsuit but it was sleeveless.) I was also worried about the running start and how much more violent that would make the start. But, before any of this could really get to me, my wave was in the corral and it was go time.
When the gun went off, things fell into place really fast. I ran, I dove and I swam. Surprisingly, this start was not as violent as it usually is and I quickly found my groove. The buoy turns were kind of congested and the sun glare was pretty bad but besides that, everything went smoothly save the occasional mouthful of salt water. The real trick was the very end of the course because by the time we got to the end of the course, it was low tide. This meant we actually had to stop swimming sooner and wade through the calf deep water for a good 2 or 3 minutes before reaching the sand. I am sure everyone’s time suffered because of this; mine sure did!. First thing I noticed coming out of the water was that both my hands and feet were frozen solid. This would go on to haunt me in T1.
This was pretty bad. After we waded through the sand, we had to run about a half mile (yes, really) to transition. As mentioned above my feet were frozen and because we were running barefoot on pavement so this was probably for the better. However, once I got to my transition area this is where things got tricky because my hands were still very frozen. I had A LOT of trouble putting on my socks, fastening my cycling shoes, and my helmet. I actually had to ask a volunteer to help me fasten my helmet strap; that’s how frozen my hands were. But eventually I was in my way and ready to roll.
The Bike – 56 miles (2,000ft of climbing) – 2:49:11 (19.88 avg) –http://connect.garmin.com/activity/365237411 Split 1 – 25 mile mark: 1:21:19 (18.5mph avg), Split 2 – 31 mile mark: 1:27:52 (21.17mph avg)
This was hands down the best leg of the race for me, and with the exception of some minor back pain towards the end, pretty much nothing went wrong and everything felt right. This was the best feeling in the world when racing. Once I got on the bike it took a mile or so for my hands to unfreeze. Going into this race my coach gave me a strict wattage range to focus on. His exact words were, “Stay between these two numbers and DO NOT go over!!!.” And, that’s all I focused on. I didn’t look at my average pace, average cadence or anything else. All I did was focus on staying in that range. And, it worked like my charm – my coach was spot on. There were times on the course I felt like unleashing the beast and hammering home, but I knew I needed to stay in that range and keep my VI under control so that I would come off that bike ready to run and run well. And I was and I did (well for the most part!)
Overall the course was perfect for me. It was a mixed bag of flats sandwiched between rolling hills. The first half of the course was hillier than the second half so I climbed wisely knowing I could bank time on the second half which was flatter. I passed a ton of people on the course. So much, it was eerie. When I first started the course, the Pro’s doing the Olympic course had just finished the swim and where on my tail and once they all passed me, that was the last time I got passed. The course itself was really pretty and very well policed. There were a few turns but all were clearly marked and staffed with volunteers. Time passed so quickly that when I finished the course, it felt as if I had ridden half the distance I did – that’s how good I felt and most importantly, how good my legs felt.
This transition went pretty smooth. I racked my bike, threw down my helmet, put my running shoes on and my bib and I was off.
Run: – 13.1 miles (1,000 ft of climbing) – 1:51:42 – http://connect.garmin.com/activity/365222728
The first mile was exactly like what every first mile feels like in a half ironman: It feels like….”HOLY MOLY, why did I actually VOLUNTARILY sign up for this??” Once that feeling and mile passed I started to get into my groove. The first 2.5 miles were along local roads, some of which were shaded. It was a steady climb up during those early miles and pretty much the whole first half of this run was or felt like a sloooooow progressive climb. Right after 2.5 miles we were directed to turn onto a …..gasp…..trail. This was a definite curve ball for me because I didn’t know we’d end up on a trail AND I never run on trails because I live and train in the city. Thus, this fact kind of made me nervous in that initial first stretch so I instead tried to not focus on it and kept on, keeping on. I will say that the good part about this portion of the run was that it was 100% shaded, save one HOT 1.5 mile stretch near the end. Unfortunately because this was an out and back we had to do that stretch twice so those were 3 hot-hot-hot miles.
Although off my targeted pace at first, I was running strong and steady in the first half and the only real hiccup was that I forgot to put my gu’s in my water bottle pocket. No idea how I missed this but luckily and per usual they had gels on the course. However, as fortunate as this was, it was also just as unfortunate because the gels were gels I don’t use or train with and this later came back to haunt me because my stomach is a fairly fickle. At the halfway point I stopped at a water stop and refilled my bottle, and then carried on. I was starting to feel the course at this point but it wasn’t too bad. I kept chugging along, altering my pace as needed (ie, pulling back if I felt the need) and was doing well until mile 10 or so. I took a gel at mile 5 and 9 and at mile 10 they finally hit me. I was cramping bad and I was cramping hard – basically my stomach was NOT happy with me. At this point walking breaks were necessary. It killed me to do it, but at the time it was about survival. Needless to say, those three mile were a fight. I tried to minimize my walking breaks and did the best that I could. Mile 11 was by far the worst, but I managed to kind of keep it together after that. I was disheartened that my last 3 miles came down to this but I knew that I was doing what I needed to do to finish.
The finish line was down right the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I passed through it thinking I had pulled something in the 5:4x:xx range but when my husband met up with me right after and told me my total finishing time, I was really taken back. In the end I was about four minutes off my goal time for this leg of the race (1:48:xx). While this fact does bum me out, it doesn’t bum me out a terrible amount because I know I WILL eventually nail this. I will, I will, I WILL!!!
When I came out of the water I was in ninth place in my division. By the time I got off the bike, I was in fourth and during the run, I whittled my self done to first. Yes – you read that right: I won my division (30-34 Females). Don’t get me wrong, I know my time isn’t amazing and for some folks, this would be very disappointing time but for me right now this was a leap in the right direction, especially since not everything (::cough::the swim & the run::cough::) went well out there for me during this race.
I also know that part of the reason I placed where I did was because this race didn’t have a ton of entrants. Even still, there were 29 ladies in my division and even though I am a mere decent “athlete” and there were definite snafus during this race, I still placed first. I also placed in the top 10% of the race which means I qualified for the 2014 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. And to that I say: I will take it! I still have A LOT to learn and/or figure out, but I’m a lot closer to that point then I have ever been before and that’s a really great feeling for me. I know I have more in me, that I can and will continue to improve and most importantly I know I will do all of these things. I can’t wait to see what 2014 will hold for me!
Details on all of my race splits can be seen here.by