Friday, November 2, 2012

Ironman 70.3 Austin 2012

I have been really looking forward to this race.  I had been to Austin once, on business, and it has a great reputation for being a fun place to visit.  In addition, my last race in Boulder this Summer didn’t turn out as well as I wanted so I was looking for some redemption.  I had increased the training and even lost some weight to deal with the anticipated heat this year.  I was ready for my ‘A’ race and I was determined to end the year with a bang.

The trip to Austin is nothing exciting.  El Paso is the highlight until you get to Texas Hill Country (which is beautiful).  14 hours of highway and I did it in one day.  As I was rolling in, a cold front was following me.  I arrived in Austin and it was 80 degrees.  Within six hours and overnight, it dropped 30 degrees!  Very windy and nothing like the previous race reports I had read.

I did a little training the next day.  Picked up my packet, etc.  Registration was very organized and there were a few good vendors.  The race director said that in the history of this race it had never been cold.  This was unprecedented.  Highs for race day were forecast for 68 degrees – well under the normal.  Some wind was also anticipated.   

I was able to meet Andy Potts (the eventual winner of the race) during the athlete briefing.  We also learned that day that Chris McCormick would be racing!  Exciting stuff.


The race is point to point with two transitions but only one mile from one another.  You start in Walter E. Long Lake with a counter clockwise trapezoid swim.  Exit to T1 and ride a single loop 56 miles around the Austin countryside.  Arrive at T2 near the Luedeke arena and start a three-loop run that ends indoors in the arena itself. 


I woke up at 4:30 to get all my stuff out to the car and get some breakfast in me.   Quinoa, flax cereal and almond milk, as usual.  It was 45 degrees – luckily I had brought some cold weather clothes for the morning – toque, sweatshirt and sweatpants and a Nike fleece running shirt.  It kept me pretty warm but I could have used some gloves.   It didn’t get light until 7:20 and the first wave started at 7:30 so we were in the dark most of the time.  T1 had decent lighting but I should have brought my headlamp.  Not enough pumps in the Transition area either – I had to get in line and wait a while.  Still had plenty of time to get it done.   A lot of stickers on the ground so you had to carry your bike around the transition area to avoid a flat later on.


My wave started at 7:45.  Swim was wetsuit legal with the water temp at about 71 degrees – amazingly the water was warmer than being on shore!  We got in right before and everyone was commenting on how great it felt.  The gun went off and the feeding frenzy began.  I got kicked in the goggles once pretty hard.  No damage, though.  One guy was on my tail for a while and I kicked him right in the head and thought I had cut my foot.  I kept a strong rhythm, though and got into a good groove.  Sighted every 5th stroke, which was good and kept me straight.  Left the water with a PB of 42:13 so I was very happy.  Wetsuit strippers rule!  Glad they had them.  T1 time was 7:28 – a little long but with all the extra gear it makes sense.  Better than ‘56 miles of miserable’ on the bike….


Fortunately I had brought along my winter riding jersey, just in case!  I chose not to wear anything under my wetsuit so I could be as dry as possible for the bike.  I threw on my tri-jersey and then put the bike jersey over top of it.  Thanks to Andy Potts suggestion, I had grabbed some Mechanics Gloves at Sears to keep my hands warm.  Wool socks also, which helped, but two covers would have been better.
The Bike route reminded me of Calgary.  Meandering hills – rollers throughout.  The only difference was the road conditions – they were bad!  Lots of cracks, indentations, etc. from the drought conditions.  It felt like Bush Highway most of the way.  I tried to fuel to my plan -  ½ a Bonk Breaker every half hour and top it off with Nuun flavored water.  It worked well during the bike – but I would really tell during the run.  Finished with a 3:07:10 on the bike. – not my best but it felt right.  After all, I was really worried about the run (see my previous report for IM 70.3 Boulder).   T2 time was 8:55 which was longer than I anticipated but that was because I had to wait for the port-a-jon.


I started the run feeling good.  Each loop was about 4.3 miles and there were lots of spectators and people with dogs, etc. that helped motivate me forward.  With three loops, it made for a lot of aid stations and a lot of people around you – a little crowded for one part as you had two lanes of runners flow against one another as well as part of the cycling route on the same road!  Again, the road conditions were uneven, rocky and there were a couple of parts with potholes, sand and even grass.  Almost needed trail shoes!  Lap one was good, lap two was OK and lap three was hard (no surprise).  At this point, the colder weather was GREAT!  A cool breeze kept us from overheating and that made a big difference for me.  At mile 12, though, my legs started to cramp.  First time that has ever happened.  I walked for a while and then muscled on to the finish.  2:14:34.  A PB for the ½ marathon in an Ironman 70.3 race.


Total race time 6:20:20, which is were I always seem to end up.  Very happy with the time and felt somewhat redeemed from the Boulder race.  I ended up 93 out of 194 in my age group and 1074 out of 2500 or so participants overall. 

After finishing, I was VERY light headed and my cramps up and down both legs began to get bad.  I got some salty BBQ beef in me and some chips to counteract them but I had to sit for a long time and go short distances due to being as light headed as I was.  Probably the worst I felt after a race ever….  Took me a few hours to recoup and I was good as new for Dinner at Whole Foods that night.


I give this race a solid ‘B’ Grade.  It was a well organized race in a neat city.  Probably my favorite swim of all – warm and nice.  Nothing scenic about any part of the race, though.  Boulder, Calgary and Boise are all prettier overall courses.  Volunteers were good but not great. This is just a good, solid race.  I had a great time and I am really glad I did it.


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