2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championships Race Report

Not my actual time, read on!
What an unbelievable weekend, one that I will truly remember for the rest of my life. I'm going to get out a lot of thoughts about my whole experience - so sorry if this is a little long. As most of you know, qualifying for this race has been a big goal of mine ever since I started triathlon a few years ago. I had a great race in Oceanside this year and qualified ahead of schedule and ever since March my focus has been to race well in Vegas. I picked up a coach again to help guide me there and as I treaded water waiting for the gun to go off at the 2013 IM 70.3 World Championships, I had no doubt that I did everything I could to be prepared to race well.

Leading up to the race I had realistic expectations and was very aware of how hard this course is and how slow the times are year to year. My goal was to swim 32:xx, bike 2:35 and run 1:25. Even though I'm not big into time goals as there are so many variables - I kind of figured I was close to flirting with those times which would historically get me in the top 25. As I mentioned in my post last week I didn't expect to go into this race with 2.5 years of triathlon under my belt and podium. There's too many athletes out there that have put in a lot more time than I have and paid their dues and EARNED those podium spots. I've also found out in my short time doing this that talent doesn't mean much in triathlon only WORK does. Years and years of consistent training and racing experience is how you get on the podium at worlds. Doesn't matter how fast your open half marathon time is, how many watts you throw down in training, how deep you can dig, how much pain you can withstand or how fast you can swim in a non-wetsuit swim. It all boils down to cumulative and consistent work. I realize that and I know I still have a long way to go to podium but I got a little closer to that goal on Sunday.

Thanks David, you rock!
Amy and I left the kids with the grandparents so I could get off my feet as much as I could leading up to the race. It also gave us a chance to hang out one on one which is rare and ended up working great as I think the kids needed a break from us too! We left on Thursday and stayed with a good friend, Mike Hebebrand (who is a stud Kona qualifier triathlete himself). Thurs-Sat really went by quickly. There was Wattie Ink pre-race pool parties to go to, athlete check-in, EXPO, swim venue practice, bike course practice, coach pre-race talks, run bag check-in, bike check-in and lots and lots of drinking (not that kind of drinking). For the race I picked up Speedfil's R3 rear mount bottling system at the EXPO. David from Speedfil was so awesome - he even installed it on my bike free of charge. I was expecting a really hot race day so I wanted to make sure I had two bottles on my bike at all times. Since my Slice only comes with one water bottle cage, the R3 worked perfect for me and it also holds an extra tube/co2's so I never need to use an ugly saddle bag again!
onto the race....

Just taking it in, ready to race!
Race morning:

Leading up to the race I was training my body/mind to go to bed ~8 so I could get a full eight hours and wake up at 4 wide awake ready to race. Race morning was no different. Woke up easily feeling refreshed and immediately went outside to check on the weather. It was pouring rain! WTH. It had been raining in the evenings all three days leading up but never in the morning. I just figured it would subside shortly and the hot sun would come out - never did, until the run...
For breakfast I threw down a sweet potato and a banana with almond butter and just sipped on some Powerbar Perform leading up to the race.
Upon arrival, Amy dropped me off  then I quickly set up my transition and then found a quiet/dry spot to just relax and wait for my wave. Before I knew it I was in my swim wave line patiently waiting for our turn to get in. I just hung out, chatted with BSR's Chuck Reiter and we all watched the pro's come in from the swim which was pretty exciting. My favorite part of triathlons is all the energy and positive vibes you get from setting up t1 all the way to the swim start. I just love it for some reason. Spirits are high and everyone is really friendly and in a good mood. Once that gun goes off though, it's war and the WC's were no different.

Rainy/cloudy swim course
Swim - 1.2 miles: 34:46 (1:39/100yd) - 109th out of 296 in AG

So it's no secret that the swim was slow/long-whatever. With it being a non-wetsuit swim (my first) and it being a murky gross lake I was expecting pretty slow times anyway. I lined up to the left of the start and just made a straight shot to the furthest buoy cutting some wasted swimming in this banana shaped course. With our AG being the largest in the field - it ended up being the most violent swim I've ever been in. So many tapered/aggressive athletes vying for position which made for a pretty uncomfortable swim as I was never able to just get in a rythmn like I normally do. Add in previous wave traffic on the 2nd half of the swim and I ended up getting beat up a lot more then I usually do. I actually really enjoyed swimming sans wetsuit. I never got that burning shoulder fatigue that I normally do, however I did kick more than usual. With about 200 yards to go I was ready to get out of that soup. Once I saw my split on my Garmin I was a little surprised how slow it was but didn't let it bother me and just sprinted while taking off my sweet Blueseventy Vision's to T1 which was a good 200 yards away.

T1: 3:43 - Threw on my custom Wattie Ink KASK Chrono and took off. I got stuck behind a train of five athletes going up that hill out of T1 which easily slowed me down a good 30 seconds because we were walking...whatever.

Rolling into T2
Bike - 56 miles (I had 57)- 2:37:46 (21.3mph) 3500ft of climbing. Came off the bike in 90th

So the rain was just pelting on us at this point. There's a gradual climb out of T1 and some sketchy descents - especially in the pouring rain. I just tried to stay steady up the hills and upright on the downhill's. Lots of people went down on the bike, glad I wasn't one of them! My legs felt pretty flat for the first 20 miles. Just felt like everything was forced. I was drinking a lot of fluids and replacing calories well but still wasn't having any luck getting my legs underneath me. The course is perfectly paved roads on constant rollers throughout the course. I stayed aero I would say 85% of the time on this course. Only got out of my super comfy ISM saddle a few times and it was more to stretch the legs out a bit. With the rain came some nasty crosswinds but I just kept telling myself throughout the ride to stay "on it." I dropped my chain like an idiot going up the mile 40 hill which is the steepest of the day and for some reason you just don't think very well when you are racing. It took me waay longer than it should have to get going again but I handled it and went on my way. Heading back towards T2 my legs started coming to me around mile 42 or so. All the guys I had been racing back and forth with, I dropped them. It was a weird sensation - I just started feeling really good so I let it rip and wished I had more time to keep passing people that I could tell over biked on the way in. Despite all of that I only passed 17 guys total in my AG throughout the course. lol, welcome to worlds where everyone is faster than you!!!

Nutrition:
4 bottles of Powerbar Perform
1/2 bottle of water
1 package of Powerbar "Cola" gels -caffeinated
1/2 Powerbar
6 tablets of e21 Recovery electrolyte tabs

I kept anticipating T2 but it just seemed to never come. My watch read 57 miles on the bike and still no sign. Then next thing I know it, we make one last turn and mount off is right there! I had no time to get my feet out of my shoes and had to make an awkward run to t2 in my bike shoes.

T2: 2:01 - Volunteers helped you get your run shoe bag then we went into the Ironman tent where we changed into our running shoes. Pretty cool set up and it was nice to sit down for 15 seconds ha! I threw on my KSWISS Blade lights, Fuelbelt and Rudy Project NOYZ and was out.

Thanks Patrick for the pic, digging deep
Run - 13.1 miles - 1:29:31 (6:50 pace) - 700ft of climbing

The run course is a 3 loop course. Simple: 2 miles up, 2 miles down with occasional/very short stretches of flat. The hills are more gradual though, not crippling (although 700ft of climbing is no joke). I actually really enjoyed the run course. First of all, there are 1000's of spectators everywhere including a ton of Wattie support and with the hills it favored the strong runners. I felt really good on that first lap. I was actually trying to hold back a little as I didn't want to blow up and I wanted to get a good feel for the loop before the 2nd and 3rd. Despite feeling good, at the top of hill on the first lap I cramped up right behind my knee which was not a good sign. I hadn't cramped in a race in a long time and didn't want it to start now! I stopped for a bit and stretched it real good. It eventually went away. Starting the 2nd lap the sun came out in full force and turned that rain into a humid box that surrounded you. My controlled breathing turned into labored grunts for the 2nd and 3rd laps. I just tried to maintain form, take in as many fluids at the aid stations, stay cool and keep picking people off. My splits:
Thanks Tyler for the pic
5:56, 6:31, 6:43, 6:30, 6:21, 6:28, 6:47,7:19, 6:44, 6:48, 8:00, 6:xx (1.1 miles). So I stayed pretty consistent despite the up and down hills. The bolded splits are the three times I had to stop and stretch out cramps I battled on each lap (probably not enough fluids). I could have let loose on the down hills but chose not destroy my quads and potentially ruin my run/race. I definitely dug deep into the well for this race. Crossing that finish line felt really good until about 1 minute afterwards. I took my finish picture and then my legs started coming out from underneath me. Just a weird feeling. They took me to the med tent and then I started cramping worse then I ever have. It was some of the worse pain I have ever felt. It make me scream at the top of my lungs. Everyone in the med tent just stared and thought I was dying lol. Every muscle from the top of my quads/hamstrings down to my knee cramped/seized on both legs. They just wouldn't let go. I couldn't stretch them. They quickly threw an IV in me and helped me try and stretch out the cramps. I wanted to cry it hurt so bad! After a few bags I started coming around and they let me go. I felt like a new man and it really made me think where I went wrong in the race to cramp that bad. I peed twice and had to go pee starting the run so don't think it was fluids...I think I just went harder than I ever have in a race and proud of it.

Starting to collapse!
Total finish: 4:47:47 58th in the world for AG, 17th American. 296th in the world overall.

Don't be fooled by the slow time. I actually beat a lot of guys that beat me at Oceanside and St. George. I closed the gap on a lot of guys that always beat me and was the 2nd fastest male on the Wattie team which assured me that I belong. The course was slow and tough, just like a World Championship course should be. Should be interesting to see how Canada is next year :)

Final thoughts:

I did everything right leading up to this race and couldn't have gone a second faster because I left everything on the course. I can count on one hand how many workouts I missed once I started working with Flanny from May up until this race. I stayed consistent, dialed in my diet and executed. The single biggest thing I took away from this race is that I need to work on my bike. Flanny is probably the only one that knows that I should have run 1:20 on that course. My open half is 1:14 and with the way I've been running - 1:20 should have been very realistic. But when the bike fitness isn't there you can only do so much on tired bike legs. So even though it looks like I played it smart out there, I probably did over bike. Classic #SOW.

Hands down the best medal I've ever earned!
Overall it was such a great experience and I feel stronger from it. There were times where I choked up/got emotional checking in and coming through the finish chute and there were times I wanted to cry because it hurt so bad. When you work for something that hard and then go through it you come out a different man. A stronger man. The preparation, the battle and the experience -something you can't get from watching on TV which is what I did last year. Watching last year lit a fire inside of me to want to qualify and race it. Now that I've raced it - those embers in that fire are even hotter and they will fuel me all fall/winter where I plan to go above and beyond of what I thought commitment and training is all about. I know when I toe the line for my first race in 2014, I'll be a different racer.

Thanks to Wattie Ink for all of the sponsors how hooked us up with some cool pre-race swag. Thanks to all my team mates both on and off the course - you guys helped more than you can imagine! Thank you to my wife who has done nothing but support me in this crazy sport. And finally, thanks for reading this blog. I have some exciting news about the blog that I will share in the next few weeks. Gonna be a big year in 2014!

Cheers!

More pics from the weekend:

Dinner with some of the OG's!
At the EXPO visiting our sponsors! #PBTE
Checking out Wattie's sick ride at the pre-race pool party
Picked up pre-race sponsor swag and the new WC Wattie kit!
Coach Flanny giving his three Watties a pre-race run down
Heading in, thanks Walshie for the skin suit!

Start of the never-ending washing machine

Awaiting our turn

$1M+ dollars of bikes in T1
Headed out for a wet ride
That left arm always crosses when I'm tired. Must be 3rd lap!
Proper form
Ready to be done

Being carried to med tent
All smiles after
Post race with my coach..my face...Bring it next year son!
Little gambling with the wifey
Post race Wattie party and beers!!!

4 comments:

runninggunner said...

Nice work. Way to lay it down. Next year will be that much better.

Anonymous said...

Congrats!! Fantastic to see you do so well and yet be fired up to further elevate your game.

Warren Buffett has said "Intesity is the price of excellence". I like how you let your passion show through on this blog

Good luck!!!

Jaime Hale said...

Great job James! You killed it, and learned from it and are fueled to improve areas you felt you could do better and race again. Most of all you saw a goal and you got there. That is awesome and motivating. I agree I love how you show your passion in the blog.

Erik said...

Great race report, well done!

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