It took me three years to shave 14 minutes off of my best 70.3 finish time. Either I’m super lazy, or this sport is tough! Let’s go with it’s tough. All the variables with three disciplines, not to mention how to fuel, how to taper, how to peak, practicing those transitions, etc, etc..
So Toughman 70.3 was my A race this season, I wanted to PR. My goal was as close to 6 hours as possible, but at least finish in 6:15. I nailed 6:15 on the head with six seconds to spare. Hooray! The race is held at High Cliff State Park, it’s formerly known as High Cliff 70.3. For whatever reason they changed the name to Toughman WI. I’ll have a whole other blog post on my feelings about the race organization later. For now, I’m recapping my day.
Saturday morning I woke up to a chilly 50 degrees in a tent. We camped at the park over night. Brrr. It messes with my head waking up to that cold of a morning! “Do I need my shrug? Arm warmers? A jacket on the bike?” I really don’t need any of those things, but my entire body is so uncomfortably cold while trying to get ready for the race that I can’t think rationally. When we arrived to the race site, I got my head on right. I set up my transition area, chatted with other nervous triathletes, got my wetsuit on, kissed John good-bye before he started in his wave, and I was up next.
The swim start coral is dumb. It’s this tiny fenced in area, where they squeeze 50 people in, and it’s a narrow opening to get in and out of it. I much prefer an in-water swim start to this. Once the gun went off, all 50 people run about 200 yards into the water before actually swimming. My swim went fine, with the exception of goggle problems. My goggles fogged up and I refused to stop and clear them, so I swam pretty blindly. I got punched in the head at the last buoy, right after a moment of thinking “This is boring, when will it end?”
When I got to the shore I was happy to see wetsuit strippers, and flopped down to let them do the work for me. Then trotted conservatively up the hill to T1. Right here I want to note that the timing mat is not on the shore where it should be, it’s up a hill at the T1 entrance. My swim time includes wetsuit stripping and a lazy trot up a hill.
My bike ride didn’t start off as strong as I thought it would. I was conservative with energy. A big concern I had with this course is how flat it is compared to what I train on in the Verona, Cross Plains and Mt Horeb area. A flat course means more pedaling than I’m used to. When I got to mile 25 I kicked it in and started to push myself. The tail wind was amazing. I watched my mph average on my Garmin keep going up, up, up! As joyous as the tail wind was, it was not as ideal for the head wind. The last 3 miles were into brutal 15 mph wind that rattled my bike. I still managed to end my ride with 17.7 mph!
I had heard the run course changed this year, but I’m not good with maps, especially maps of trails that I’m not completely familiar with. The first half mile of the run course is a 500 ft climb up a path that leads to an observation tower. It was not run-able, to me. Had to walk it. When I finally got to the top of the bluff, it was a three loop course. On the first loop I took it easy, trying to get my legs to work after the bike. I thought my second loop would be mentally challenging, but it was my strongest. I was running efficiently, passing people, everything felt great.
On the third loop I felt myself slowing down, things beginning to get harder. I knew my PR was possible as long as I kept moving forward, so that’s what I did. My run goal was 2:15, but by mile 8 my Garmin stats were discouraging. It was mile 11 that zapped me. There’s a grassy, slightly uphill section that just messes with my head. I walked it! But seeing that sweet mile 12 marker and doing Garmin math got me moving more quickly again. The last mile is all downhill. I let gravity take me to the finish.
With lots of hard work, I earned my PR!
(There’s a lack of race photos because my dear husband did the 70.3 too. He kicked ass!)