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I thought the race went pretty well given the conditions! The swim being cancelled mostly just sucks because it’s the shortest part and the part I’m most comfortable with, yet not doing it means I haven’t actually done a 70.3. But, I still feel really good about the parts I did and it was a great learning experience!
I stuck pretty well to my nutrition plan on the bike–half a honey stinger at each :20 and :00 until the last :00 when I had a gel, 5 PB pretzels at each :40, and sips of water/gatorade at :10, :30, and :50. The first hour on the bike felt AWESOME. I kept my HR in the right zone, and my speed was pretty consistent and high for me. Then it started raining, and the intense fast cyclists started catching up. The combination of rough visibility, wet roads, and having a tough time passing people due to the number of people passing me without calling their passes meant that my speed and HR ended up fluctuating quite a bit, and I never really got back in the rhythm for longer than 20 minutes or so. I’m a pretty cautious cyclist partially due to wiping out in wet conditions a couple of times, so I think I could benefit from spending more time on my bike passing people at high-ish speeds on crowded trails before my next race (though hopefully in the future it will be easier to stick to a 6-bike following distance…it just wasn’t possible in this race given how close together everyone started and the lack of connection between speed on the bike and bib number, which is how they had us line up for the start)
The run went ok–my goal was to not be miserable, and I planned to walk all the aid stations (it helps me mentally to know I have about 15 minutes until I can walk again and get more ice to stick down my sports bra), and stuck to that plan. I delivered myself from the bike to the run with good nutrition and hydration, and my legs settled off the bike pretty quickly. I kept my average HR in very low zone 3/high zone 2 for most of the race, though was a bit shocked at how much slower I needed to go than my usual pace to achieve that (I only knew my HR during the race, not my pace, which made my HR plan easier to stick to, but it turns out my pace was about 45 sec -1 min slower per mile than my usual long run pace). The run was mostly just a mental game against boredom rather than an intense physical challenge until the last half mile when I sped up and my HR skyrocketed. I think that if I wanted to go faster I’d need to take in more nutrition; I felt pretty depleted by the end!
Overall, I felt prepared. It’s still kind of mind-boggling to me that I actually did it–this was my first 70.3/69.1 and it was cool to see that all of my hard work over the course of the past 6 months got me across the finish line. I think the weirdest part is how quickly the time went during the race…I remember my first 2 hour training bike ride felt like it took FOREVER, but this race flew by! And the idea that I could be bored-not-miserable for a 2+ hour run is also mind-boggling as someone who ran my first 5K less than 4 years ago.
For the rest of the summer, I think I’d like to focus a bit on speed and get a bit more comfortable being uncomfortable, both in terms of pushing my HR and cycling around other people. I’m still figuring out how exactly to get faster on the bike and run, so would appreciate any tips that anyone can provide (I’m thinking I have lots of HIIT, strength training, fartleks, and hill repeats in my future!). I’ll probably come back to the 70.3 distance sometime next year.