Ironman 70.3 Victoria - A Return to Long Course Racing

Victoria 70.3 - my first long course triathlon in 2 years, ongoing foot issues, and stress fractures having previously kept me sidelined. However, with an extremely conservative run program in place for 2017, I had made it to the start line, success! Time to dust off the cobwebs.

Swim

The swim is a single loop of Elk Lake, the race format being a rolling start. The water was 18 degrees making it feel (almost) warm, this is a lovely lake to swim in.

I swear my swim has improved, however, you wouldn’t know it by looking at that swim split. I have always struggled during mixed race starts with men, I find them to be far more aggressive, this time was no different. Being punched in the face and kicked in the stomach early on really threw me, I moved to the side, treaded water, calmed down, then set off again.

Feeling pretty grumpy I decided to swim solo, swim wide and swim the hell away from anyone else! On the plus side, the remaining swim was easy and calm, even if I did then come out of the water 'behind schedule.'

1.9km - 32:35 (6th Age Group)

Photo credit: David McColm

Photo credit: David McColm

Bike

The bike course is a single 90km loop on a closed bike course. Unfortunately, with many houses being situated on the race course the result was still cars on the course. I saw several close calls, but luckily no resulting crashes.

The temperature was only 9 degrees, brrr. I put on arm warmers under my wetsuit, toe covers on my shoes, a dry jersey on in transition, then gloves, and a wind vest in my back pockets as a backup. A good choice, I felt comfortable.

Setting off my bike was making a loud noise, the back wheel was rubbing on the brake, very badly. I realized I'd have to stop....
Stopped, got off the bike, re-seated the back wheel, checked the gears, got back on the bike again. No more noise, great, let’s go!

For anyone planning on racing this course in the future, I would advise pre-riding the bike course, I did not, nor did I drive it, that was my mistake. There are a lot of turns, many of which came as a total surprise! I did hear afterward several people went off course?! 

I didn’t feel especially cold, however, my body was revolting a little. All my nutrition I took in seemed determined to make a re-appearance, on a regular basis, then around 60km I began to cramp, badly in my right adductor and quad, unfortunatly this then stayed with me for the remainder of the race. 

70km in the course become a congested sea of age-group men. I find it near impossible to pass groups of men in a race situation, something happens to (many men's) egos once passed by a girl. Those men inevitably chase hard, back pass you, then sit up in front of you, tired from the extra effort of having just passed you again. I’m then stuck freewheeling behind them and hitting the brakes, this cycle then continues.

This, of course, does not apply to all men, just unfortunately in my experience a substantial enough amount to repeatedly impact my races, I know many other women also experience this. The remaining 20km into T2 was an exercise in frustration for myself and the 3 other women near me, who were also caught in this. 

Not exactly a picnic out on the bike, but into transition in one piece!

90.1 km - 2:41:22 (1st Age Group)


Run

My run training for 2017 has been very conservative. No high volume, no speedwork and no back-to-back run days. The entirety being steady z1-2 endurance. I am (fingers crossed) currently injury free, minus a few minor feet issues.

The run course is 2 loops around Elk lake, rolling, all on trails.
Rushing out onto the run I had forgotten to take off my bike jersey and arm warmers. My jersey pockets also stuffed full of gloves, wind vest and gels, whoops! I managed to finally deposit them all on the second lap.

I was hoping the cramps from the bike would ease up on the run. However, it was not to be, my right leg seizing so badly that I was forced to stop dead and do what can only be described as a bad 80s stretching routine.
Several minutes of this then I was back limping, walking, jogging then gingerly running again. The rest of my run was a delicate balance of trying not to cramp. On the plus side things had warmed up, I had warmed up and this meant all my nutrition I took in remained firmly in place!

So much of long course triathlon is a mental game, a ½ Ironman can be a long time to be alone with your thoughts, especially when having a bad day. I regrettably spent the majority of the day in a fairly negative headspace, which was a shame as i'd really been looking forward to returning to racing. I fully realize when writing this that one person's bad day is another persons terrible day, is another person's PB, so when reflecting on a race experience you can only do so from a personal perspective.

However, I was warmed by the great, positive energy of all the volunteers on the course. Every aid station someone had a kind word to say, which when I was not feeling good, was really appreciated.

21.2 km - 1:40:44 (1st Age Group)

Post finish line I left the race site immediately; race #2 was to get back and have time for a shower before our 12:30 pm Air Bnb checkout!

I didn’t know I'd placed until coach Bjorn texted me to let me know I was 1st in my Age Group. I’ll admit my first thought was that, that wasn't correct. However, I think several years of race experience and just slogging onwards, regardless of how my day played out had worked in my favour.

Total - 4:58:16 (1st Age Group)

Next up will be the ITU Aquabike World Championships in August, followed 2 weeks later by the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, where the women race on a seperate day to the men ;)
Before then I'll be working on my cramping issues and on gaining some better mental positivity! 

As always a huge thank you to my husband Darcy and to coach Bjorn & Steph, who were at the race site with us all weekend.