Ironman 70.3 Ireland Race Report

For a course that was meant to be flat and fast this race beat the shit out of me. When expectations vs realty go head to head, reality wins. After having to drop out of Ironman NYC to take Stephanie to college I though that doing IM 70.3 Ireland would be a breeze. Wrong! It was still an awesome experience but I expected a sub 6 hour finish time and did not expect the pain I was in after the race.

The day started off to an incredible forecast that actually held up. 65* weather, chilly but with no wind. Very pleasant change from the last couple of days here. Chilly went to cold when I got in the ocean for the swim start. The pro’s went off at 7:00 AM and males 40-49 were 2nd to last at 7:50. The announcer was very entertaining with our introduction … “and now for the guys going through their mid life crisis that have traded in their Porsches for spandex”. While we were in the water he goes “look at all of them in there warming up their wetsuits”.

While I didn’t do what he was referring to, the wetsuit did help deal with the 59* water.  When they gave out neoprene swim caps at registration I should have expected a frigid swim. Anything covered was doing fine, but feet and hands are not.  My toes were numb in 60 seconds and stayed that way for the duration of the swim. I guess that helped contribute to the 51 minute swim split. I was shooting for under 40 but getting beat up a bit in the human washing machine for the first 10 minutes, swallowing a lot of salt water, left thigh cramping, and not being able to see due to swimming into the sunrise contributed to the slower than I expected time for the 1.2 miles. Oh well, will make it up on the bike.

The run out of the water into transition was LONG. Most ran but I could barely walk. The swim really beat me up plus it’s very hard to run in frozen bare feat. After what seamed like an eternity since hitting the beach I found my bike bag in the changing tent and sat down to change. Bad move!  It’s different at the races where you transition right next to your bike. There seams to be a greater sense of urgency to get going vs sitting down in a tent. I pealed off my wetsuit, got on my helmet and sunglasses and put on my bike shoes over blue toe nails. Yes, still frozen. Felt pretty light headed after first getting up and looked it too. I guess that’s why a volunteer ran up to me as soon as I did.  Sat back down for a few seconds and was fine.  Longest T1 ever, over 11 minutes. Did I mention the swim was tough??

It was pretty discouraging to get out to the bike racks and see only a couple hundred bikes left out of the 1,200 that were there earlier. The run out with the bike was pretty long too but I was finally off my frozen feet.

After 4 miles of boring empty city streets the course became a beautiful 56 mile out and back. The rolling hills of the Irish countryside were awesome. No climbs, large chain ring all the way.  I finally warmed up a bit after 10 miles or so. Well except for my feet. Bike shoes are ventallated and I don’t wear socks in them. The air was still chilly and when combined with the wind they were not defrosting. I just blocked it out and biked away. The ride went really well.  Passing many others was a great feeling.  Going through little Irish towns with their streets lined with cheering crowds was inspiring. Where else are these people going to go? Their roads are closed!  JK … they really were great.  Not sure what mile it was at but seeing the motorcycle film crews following the leaders as they were making their way back to Salthill was way cool.

My bike was rented and even though I went through a quick fitting when I picked it up it just wasn’t the same. I could not stay in the aero bars for more than 2 minutes at a time and was distracted by constantly needing to remind myself that the brakes are on opposite sides on european bikes. Regardless I was still pretty happy with a bike split of  3:05 averaging just over 18 MPH and defrosted feet since mile 40, yay!

T2 went a bit better than T1 but not by much. 7 minutes. By now I was definitely feeling the effects of the day but thought that I can make up some time on the run. I was about 4:15 into the race and needed a 1:45 half marathon to break 6 hrs.  Thats my fastest time for a half (without a tri) Not sure why I thought that was actually doable but I started off intent on doing it. Averaged around 8 min/mile for the 1st few miles before common sense kicked in to slow down or burn out.

The 13.1 mile run course was set up as 3 loops along the promenade right in the heart of Salthill.  The wind picked up big time from earlier for sections by the water and the ones slightly inland had no wind at all with the sun out in full force.   It was a totally inconsistent mix of heat and wind but totally flat. The first two loops went well and then the cramps set in. Big time! I rarely cramp up running ( they usually set in after the finish) but this time I did and it was pretty bad.  Left thigh, right hamstring, left calf, repeat.

Besides the cramp pain I was totally out of juice at this point.  This is when the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s set in.  The swim coulda been better if I didn’t have the large dinner last night.  Coulda shlept my own bike and not worn myself out on an uncomfortable rental. Shoulda ate more calories on the bike to better set up the run. I ended up walking several parts of the last loop and jogging most of it. There was no run left in me. Run split ended up being 2:10 and quite painful.

Total time was 6:25:12.  119 of 168 in my age group.  684 of 1200 total.

So that’s it, another IM70.3 under my belt, many more lessons learned and a great experience overall. Thank you Larisa and Rochelle for being by my side and thank you to the rest of my family and all my friends for all the well wishes and birthday notes. Reading them after the race was overwhelming. Thank you.

BTW Ireland is awesome!  This is my 2nd time here and loved it.  If you’re into exploring you’ll be amazed by how many castles, abbys, golf courses, pubs, restaurants and bed & breakfasts you’ll find all over the back roads. Not to mention awesome sites like the Cliffs of Moher. Beware, the back roads are VERY tight with no shoulders and driving on twisties on the wrong side with many blind curves is a bit unnerving (especially for the passengers).