Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rhode Island 70.3 Race Report

Catching up: Ironman Rhode Island 70.3

I’ve been “off the charts!” busy these past weeks, and subsequently, haven’t had the opportunity to do a race report for Ironman Rhode Island 70.3, which pains me! I love reliving the experience through blogging!

This was my first time to our smallest state, as well as my first IRONMAN brand race. I was told that the course was hilly and that this race had a split transition. I really had no idea what that meant for me … but I’d soon find out! Ted, my husband, joined me for this race. This would be his first experience as a spectator and supporter for this distance triathlon. I was sure to forewarn him that we’d be looking at a long day for him and I knew what a challenge that would be, especially with the heat wave we were experiencing.

We began our drive to the east coast on Friday afternoon and drove partway, to about Albany, NY. Our first attempt to get a room resulted in a 15 mile detour, only to find out there was no room available. Onward to the next attempt, which got us an overpriced room with a continental breakfast. We were sure to take full advantage of the breakfast, and even considered loading up the cooler for snacks for later!  

Sat. we finished the trip to Rhode Island, checked into our room in Coventry, then headed north to Providence.  It was a lovely sunny day, and it was pretty toasty out. We headed to the Convention Center to pick up my packet and do a little shopping. I bought bike shorts and a cycling jersey with the IM Providence logo – a risky move, because I knew would need to finish this race to feel like I could wear it and be “legit” – not a poser!

Being a split transition, there were lots of logistical issues for me to consider. I’ve never had to think through my needs for one transition vs. the other, so this would be challenging. For T2, I put in my running shoes, a pair of socks and a bandana … is that it??  We were told that it was to likely to rain overnight so I tied the bag to the rack in hopes of keeping everything dry if it were to rain. We then headed over to get some lunch at Joe’s and while we were eating, the sky opened up and it POURED! For at least an hour: torrential rain! I began to worry about my shoes! I was tempted to go check on my shoes, but the point was mute. I resolved to “let it be” and tried to let it go. Struggles of a type A personality… 

Next we headed south to the ocean and T1. It sure felt like 56 miles south – when we arrived there, it was sunny and dry – not a drop of rain.  We were given 15 minutes to drop off my bike, and after racking, I covered the seat and computer with a bag. One of the workers noticed my license plate on our way out and said, “Sorry to hear about LaBron, you guys got screwed” … La Who?

Now that the majority of the day was over, we headed back to the hotel and just mellowed out for the rest of the evening. I laid out my clothes and equipment and tried to figure out just what I needed for the next day’s race. Off to bed and up at 3:30 am to prepare … eat, PRP, dress for the race. We left for the race. As usual, there was a pretty good caravan of triathletes heading down to the start.

Got there in plenty of time. Checked my tires, laid out my gear and on last visit to the portapotty. I was surprised and dismayed to see a guy standing among all the athletes SMOKING A CIGARETTE! Boo! :(

The ocean looked pretty rough. This was my first experience racing in the ocean. My wave was FIRST – a huge change for me, as we “over-40 women” are usually last.  The excitement was building. My biggest goal for this swim would be to have a consistent swim with no panic attack. 

The heat went off and out we went. The course was a rectangle and the “out” portion was met with pretty big waves! I had a little challenge with the waves, but no panic. Once we turned for the “back portion, the waves proved to be helpful, as there was a small degree of body surfing that could be done! I was happy to end my swim and was a little disappointed with my time, but thrilled not to have had a panic attack! Later I was told that many people had slower times due to the water conditions, so that made me feel a bit better about it.

Transition went smoothly as I easily peeled out of my wetsuit. One of the volunteers was there to assist me - ??? – this was new! But I didn’t need any assistance. The volunteer commented: WOW, you are good at that!
My ride went off smoothly as I set out to ride 56 miles north in Rhode Island. It was scenic and pretty. There were quite a few challenging climbs, but I managed to stay on my bike. I knew there would be 2 places where I may need to dismount, but I vowed to do my best not to. Before I knew it, I had climbed both hills and didn’t need to dismount! WOW! I’ve come a long way!  Around mile 40 was a pit stop for a potty break. Then, shortly after that I came across a cyclist that had taken a good spill. I could hear the ambulance en route and I would come face to face with it as it turned onto the road I was turning off of.  I had to slow way down to give him room to maneuver the turn. I later saw this cyclist with a splint and crutches. Bummer for her.

The last 10 miles in Providence were over crappy roads! I truly feared a flat! It took us through the roughest part of the city (I think, if that wasn’t the roughest, then they really are in trouble!) before finishing in Providence. I entered T2 and racked my bike. This was the time I needed to check my blood glucose and take some insulin to be prepared for the numerous gels and Gatorade I’d be consuming during the run portion. Now I was ready to tackle the run.
Checking the sugar and taking some insulin!
Boy was it hot! Most of the run was in the sun. It was a 6.5 mile out and back, to be done twice. The most challenging part was a very steep, long hill in what seemed to be a university campus area. This hill brought MOST of the athletes to a walk as they ascended the hill. It was a brutal hill – probably the steepest I’ve run (walked!) that I can recall. The return took us down the hill, which I really enjoyed. I do love running down a hill! Most of my friends seem to disagree, citing quad abuse, but it doesn’t bother me and I love the use of gravity to propel me forward!

Came across Mike Rosenberg on my last loop – he was looking good and I later learned he improved on his 70.3 time!

At my first loop I asked Ted to have a coke for me at the finish line. I’m telling you, there is nothing like the deliciousness of a coke after finishing a race! The carbonation helps with the bloat that develops too. I found myself approaching the finish line … with an uphill climb! But I was bound and determined to make it strong so I plodded forth until I could kick it into the chute. Crossed the line in 7:11 and was happy to get that yummy coke!!  Whew, that was a pretty fun race!
Best coke evah!!!
Overall, I felt pretty good about everything. Things generally went very well! However, I’m not a fan of the split transition.  Just seems to eat up much of the day.  I did feel a bit bummed at not being able to go under 7 hrs. I am definitely a stronger athlete that I was when I tackled my first half last September, but the courses I’m doing are pretty challenging, which is why my times look kind of cruddy. It was pointed out to me that all courses are different so to compare times is about as logical as comparing scores on various golf courses. It would make more sense to compare times on the SAME course, rather than various courses. It might be helpful if they came up with a rating system to rank the difficulty of the courses … but alas, that’s not the case so I just need to accept it. And I do! :)     For more pics, you can visit my album here.

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