Race report: Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2018

Despite knowing how tough the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse course is, I keep going back for more. I think it’s an addiction. IMG_6259 Friday night after work Alasdair and I drove to Syracuse, and Saturday morning we headed to Jamesville Beach Park to pick up our race kits (race bib, bike and helmet stickers, timing chip, swim cap, t-shirt, small backpack), sign our lives away on 3 waivers, attend a mandatory pre-race briefing, and do a short practice swim (just under 400 m – we were allowed to swim to the second large buoy and back). IMG_6275 We put race stickers on our bikes and then left them in transition. Our next stop was the Half Moon Bakery and Bistro in Jamesville, where we ate a lovely lunch, just like every other year we’ve done this race (see 2015, 2016, and 2017 race reports). The owner Debbe had set aside a cookie for me, knowing that we would be dropping by! We had dinner with Alasdair’s McMaster University classmate Catherine from undergrad years ago (who he hadn’t seen since!), her husband Matt (who would also be racing), and their family. After an early bedtime, we were woken up at 12 AM, clearly an alarm setting mistake! And then Alasdair’s alarm went off at 1:30 AM. We finally got up for good at 3:30 AM. What a night. Breakfast for me was dry oatmeal with yogurt and a banana, so hard to stomach at that time of day. For the first time, we arrived at the race site in daylight, delayed a bit because Alasdair woke up with a wicked headache and tried to sleep again for a few more minutes just before we left. Despite arriving around 5 AM (instead of our usual 4:30 AM), I had lots of time to set up my stuff in transition, use the portapotties many times, put on sunscreen and get wet before the race. Swim (1.2 miles/1.9 km) This year there was a rolling start, with 2 or 3 people setting off every few seconds, and the starting order determined by predicted swim time. I was estimating 50 minutes, so I stood behind the volunteer holding the 46-50 minute sign. Alasdair would be slightly faster than me, but we decided to start together. We were more than a little perplexed by a spectator wearing a giant stuffed camel on her head. After the American national anthem played, the first swimmers started at the sound of a cannon firing. We may have waited 30 minutes for our turn. Theoretically this kind of swim start should result in fewer swimmers overtaking one another, and therefore potentially less contact. I did like this swim start, but I found many parts quite congested. I got whacked in the face a couple of times. My goal was to swim as straight as possible, and fingers crossed – to get through the entire swim without too much shoulder pain. My left shoulder had been bothering me for a couple of weeks before the race. I did have pain, but it was manageable (physio assessment is booked!). The water was super calm, which I loved. I found the “back” section harder than the “out” section – I wasn’t swimming as straight, and the sun was super bright! I ran into some serious congestion in the last 100-200m. When I stopped swimming and stood up, I was pleasantly surprised to see 47+ minutes – likely somewhat to do with my new wetsuit! According to my watch, I swam an extra 100m or so. Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 8.36.13 PM Time: 47:15 (2:26/100 m) I ran over to the wetsuit strippers, then ran the long way to transition, where I stood in a lineup behind 6 people waiting for one of 5 portapotties! While waiting I spotted Alasdair at his spot, so I knew I wasn’t too far behind him. T2: 8:35 (definitely my longest ever, but the pee break was desperately needed, and sunscreen is a must!) Bike (56.8 miles/91.4 km) I ate a banana, put on my socks, shoes, sunblock, sunglasses, helmet, and ran for the bike exit. The first year I did this race, it was the hilliest bike ride I had ever done. Then the next year they made it harder. Make no mistake about it, this is a very hilly course!IMG_6306 This year I decided to carry 1 recyclable bottle of gatorade, which I would throw away at an aid station, and an empty bottle with gatorate powder, which I would add water to along the course. In the past, I have carried 2 full bottles, which just meant extra weight for no reason. With 3 aid stations on the bike, I ended up bypassing the first aid station, getting water at the 2nd, stopping to add it to my bottle, and chucking the disposable gatorade bottle at the 3rd aid station, where I also grabbed another bottle of water. On the food side, I didn’t do quite as well. I had 1 energy ball, and part of a very messy melted peanut butter chocolate ball. I just didn’t feel like anything, not even a gel. Did I mention that it felt like almost 40C with the humidity?! That might have had something to do with nothing appealing to me. Towards the end of the bike, I was a bit worried about how the run would go given my lack of food intake. Last year, my knees complained for the final 20k of the ride. “No more hills!” they said. This year, I had no issues! I also took a salt pill near the end of the ride, but was afraid to take more given I’d never tried them before. I loved the people playing loud music on their lawns, and the young girl playing trumpet. At one point, on yet another hill, a rider said to me, “We PAID for this!” My favourite parts of the ride are the few amazing downhills – at one point, I reached 63 km/h! I was pretty happy with my 25.1 km/h average given all those hills. Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 8.37.00 PM Time: 3:38:35 (15.6 miles/hour /25.1 km/h) Back at my spot in transition, I racked my bike, switched my helmet for my hat, put on more sunblock, changed shoes, and took off… for the portapotty, and then the run course! Just before leaving transition I had volunteers slather sunscreen on the one part of my back that I always miss. T2: 7:21 Run (13.1 miles/21.1 km) As I started the run my quads just above the knee were incredibly tight. I wondered how I would possibly run a half marathon. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long for them to loosen up. Running when it feels like 40C is not exactly fun. Add hills and then just imagine how much fun I was having. However, I wasn’t alone, and there were many friendly athletes to commiserate with. IMG_6307 This race course is a 2-loop course, with 7 aid stations on each loop. I took full advantage at every one, drinking gatorade and/or water, eating oranges (the only thing that actually appealed to me!), pouring ice down my top, putting ice in my hat, and a few times, getting ice cold sponges to put on my shoulders. I seemed to be doing fine despite my less than optimal food intake on the bike. Eventually, I ate cookies at an aid station and they hit the spot! I also made use of the aid station portapotties for far too many pee breaks. And for much of the run, I chased and was pursued by my new running buddy Eric from New York City. We chatted a bit and encouraged one another, which passed the time and made the running easier. It’s always so demoralizing getting close to the finish line at the end of loop 1, knowing that you still have a full loop to do, and even worse when spectators yell, “You’re almost there!” They can be forgiven – they are only trying to help. My favourite parts of the run were the spots with water sources on the route – sprinklers, a man who soaks runners with his garden hose every year, and firefighters in their truck sprinkling water on us. At one point on the run, there were 5 people or so sitting in lawn chairs at a turnaround. On my second loop, I said to them, “No offence, but I do not want to see you again!” Unfortunately I lost the mental battle and walked far more than I would have liked to. It was hot, I was tired, and forcing myself to run became harder and harder. Time: 2:57 (13:35/mile / 8:06 min/km) In the end, I crossed the finish line in 7:38:46, about 9 minutes faster than last year. My swim was 6 minutes faster, my bike 15, and my run 11 minutes slower. I was so glad to be done! A dip in the lake was very refreshing.
Rocking the sponges!
We listened to the awards while we ate our post-race food (pizza, chips, pretzels – there was also salad and sandwiches), caught up with Eric and his friends, and then hit the road for the long drive home.
IMG_6298 (1)
With my new running buddy Eric from New York City.
What a race! Race stats:
  • Time: 7:38:46.0
  • Women 40-44: 36/55
  • All women: 205/341
  • All athletes: 808/1282
Follow me on Facebook: Kyra on the Go: Adventures of a Paddling Triathlete Follow me on Twitter: @kyraonthego Follow me on Instagram: @kyraonthego

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