They say comparison is the thief of joy, but after my 10th half ironman triathlon I’m finding relief in comparison, maybe even some pride.
I raced in Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin on Sunday. Going into the day I knew we would have wind, 90 degrees, and a challenging course to combat. When asked how I was feeling going in I gave my honest response “neutral”. Neutral for me meant ready.
I opted for my sleeveless wetsuit morning of. The water temperature was 67, and flat conditions. We were supposed to get some warm up swim time at 6:30am but the Ironman staff wouldn’t let anyone in, because a few people decided they were the exception to the rules got in and robbed the rest of us from a chance to get in. This was my first experience with the rolling start. I expected it to be chaotic, but it went so smoothly and resulted in the best, clearest spacious triathlon swim I’ve ever experienced. Contact was minimal, I found fast feet, and felt like I was flying through the water.
It took me 10 miles before I realized that John left my gears in the big ring after he cleaned my chain on Saturday. On some small hills I thought “Gee, I thought I had more gears than this? This is going to be rough if I’m already feeling fatigue in these little rollers” Once I noticed that, I was cruising really well. Then the relentless uphill, downhill followed by a sharp left turn began. It was that on repeat for the second half of the ride. I wanted to pick up the pace for the last 20 miles but I just couldn’t fight this course.
Fuel: inhaled Bonk Breaker in T1, 5 fingerling potatoes, 1 bottle pre-mix NBS hydration, on-course Gatorade, Gummi Snacks.
Just a little lake loop, just a regular training run is how I saw it. The course is the lake loop, my go-to long run route. The only thing about the lake loop is that I didn’t get to see friends on out and back portions, because they were probably on the other side of the lake. Instead of looking for friends I just made a point to encourage others as I passed them, or as they passed me. It was hot, I dumped ice in my bra and my pants. I drank coke, hoarded ice. Ran, walked, ran, walked. Thanked volunteers. It was tough, but relentless forward motion is my strategy in the run.
Fuel: Coke at every other aid station, 1 Gu at mile 4, 1 Gu at mile 7, salt tab every 40 minutes.
When I finished I was a little discouraged that I finished in a Steena-average standard time of 6:31:35. My first half ironman finish time in 2012 was 6:31:20. But here’s where comparison finds me a sense of accomplishment in the day. This event last year, (formerly known as Milkman Triathlon), had 1000 feet less in elevation gain on the bike course. I finished my bike a few minutes faster with more elevation gain, see below:
2017 Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin
Swim – 37:18
Bike – 3:21:35
2016 Milkman Triathlon
Swim – 40:22
Bike – 3:25:35
Other past finish times: 6:31, 6:29, 6:21, 6:33, 6:40, 6:15, and 4:10*.
The fact that I finished in my average standard finish time on what has been labeled “the toughest half Ironman course I have ever done” by a lot of other finishers helps. In most cases it’s best not to compare, but in this case I found a sense of accomplishment.