Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains – Sunday, October 3rd

Last Sunday, Laura and I made the seven hour drive to take on the challenge of the Ironman 70.3 Pocono Mountains. I had never done that distance so I was a healthy mixture of excited and scared. Needless to say, the day we left for PM we received an e-mail from race organizers to tell us that the swim was cancelled. The river had crested and was running quick. I was totally bummed as I feel swimming is my best event at this point.

And so goes the race:

Pre-race: Laura and I drove the bike course the day before and our jaws dropped when we saw hills galore, twists and turns, and sketchy paving jobs. The course profile definitely does not do this course justice. We also went out to drive the run course, we really only wanted to drive the middle kilometre because the course profile showed an epic hill, but alas, we turned onto a road that we thought was the major hill, but it turned out it was the wrong road.

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Bike: With no swim, race organizers decided to have us go off in time-trial format by bib number. With our late registration, I went out with bib #2012. That’s right, 2000 racers started before me. I didn’t like the thought of being one of the last on the course, but it actually served me mentally very well as I spent my day passing people, especially on the bike.  To get a sense of the road conditions, it rained all night right up to and included while we were waiting for our chance to start. The rain stopped as the race started leaving the roads wonderfully wet and slick. Now naturally being a bit of a hellion, I had decided to be aggressive on the descents, as a Clydesdale, I needed to use my extra weight to help me repair my time from the inevitable slower climbs. About 20km into the ride, a guy I had been pacing with (not drafting, that’d be illegal) took a turn on a descent to wide, he was also stuck in his aero bars. Just in front of me he went head over the handles and ended us in the ditch. It was scary. I was flying pretty good, but I had enough sense to grab the brakes hard and stop to check on him. He said he was fine as spectators ran to help him, so I left. I did see him later on the run. After that, I was a little lighter on the daredevil antics.

The bike portion was hard, lots of sharp climbs, long steady climbs and descents with hard rights or lefts. A real technical course. But to my amazement, I did quite well. And most importantly, I loved it. It was fun. REAL fun. Sure, my legs were yelling at me at times, but I was passing people all day. I kept looking at their race numbers and the 1900s soon became the 1300s and soon I was into the 1000s. I was sure glad I looked at the scenery while driving the course, because I was so focused on racing, trying to get every pedal stroke just right, that I didn’t really look around. On top of that, I found it very difficult to hydrate and eat, I managed but not without a few times of precarious wobbling.

As I flew down into Strasbourg, I felt I could have biked further, I wasn’t sucking wind and my legs weren’t peaked, I was totally in that sweet spot. The only issue, my feet were numb. Freezing and completely numb. Nothing to worry about really, I only had a half-marathon to run.

Total Bike: 2:54:56 (19.2mph) Place: 392/1398

Transition: It was brutal. Like real bad. Laura smoked my transition by 4 minutes. It was that bad. I took my time, let my feet tingle and come back to life before putting on my running shoes. I went to the bathroom. I should have brushed my hair, it was so slow. At the time, I just thought of settling myself and preparing myself for the run, now I think, my gosh, did I realize I was in a race. Brutal. Definitely something to think about for next time.

Total Transition: 7:11

Run: There is not much to say about the run besides, it was pretty good. It was way hillier then I anticipated. I felt like I was either climbing or coming down a hill, but I kept a steady pace. I often found myself beside someone who I paced with, chatted with and then either I or he would slowly inch in front and be gone. I passed a bunch of people, right up until the end. The main thing

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is, I enjoyed it. Maybe the first time I’ve ever enjoyed the run on a triathlon. I went into the run positive. Knowing I could do it. I could. Did I light up the road? Not at all. Could I have pushed harder? Maybe, but unlikely. Do I have room for improvement? You bet. But I finished it. I ran across that line and I felt good. I kept reminding myself to run tall, lean forward, relax and to have fast feet and I moved. The official clock says I had a negative split, the last half was faster than the first half, but I’m surprised by that. I didn’t find myself in that dark spot, that was a big win for me.

Total Run: 2:11:37 (10:03/mile)

Overall, it was an awesome experience. I’m glad I was able to complete my first Ironman 70.3 69.1.

Overall Time: 5:13:44

Rank: 20/111 Clydesdales.