Ford Ironman World Championships 70.3
A little race history…This race was developed as on off-shoot of the Hawaii Ironman World Championships. Pretty much everything about the 70.3 championships was the same as Hawaii; the only big difference was that it was half the distance. 70.3 miles were covered; 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. The location was Clearwater, Florida. I was lucky enough to qualify for this race at the St. Croix 1.2 Ironman in May. Now onto my story.
After a hectic week at school, I finally arrived in Clearwater Wednesday, Nov 8th. My mom met me there, she was my support person for the race. Wednesday was spent relaxing and reading the competitors booklet to get familiar with all the race info.
Thursday was my main race prep day. I put my bike together and organized all my race supplies. I went down to the race site to get familiar with the transition area, register, pick-up my race packet, roam around and check out all the vendors, and of course buy tons of Ironman and race logo gear and clothing. I tried to spend the rest of the day relaxing and taking it easy, and of course getting in some studying.
Friday was the Gatoraid-sponsored practice swim. I was glad I got into the water to practice because I was not accustomed to the chilly water temps. Even with my wetsuit the 70F water was cold! After the swim I packed up all my race gear and took one last spin on my trusty S-works to make sure everything was the way I wanted it. For Ironman races everything must be placed in transition the day before the race. Bags are supplied for swim-to-bike and bike-to-run gear, which are placed on racks outside of the changing tents. No gear can be by one’s bike. I put my gear in transition and took one more walk through the transition are to make sure everything was in order. I then spent the rest of the day relaxing, had my favorite pre-race meal of chicken, pasta, salad and a big peanunt-butter brownie.
Race morning arrived early. I ate breakfast and went down to the transition area to get body marked and do my last few preparations. I put my bottles on my bike (one bottle of water and one bottle of Carbo-Pro and Gatoraid mixed), put my nutrition in my bento-box (a Clif Bar and banana), and pumped my tires. I slithered into my wetsuit, found my mom to give her my bag, and went down to warm-up in the water.
My swim wave was the last to go at 7:30. It was all the women, about 250 of us. The swim course was a rectangle shape. There was body contact the whole time, I did not get a open spot until about ¾ of the way through. I just kept a comfortable pace and thought about a fluid, smooth stroke. I finished the swim in 33 minutes. Following the swim I had a 150m run up the beach, fresh water showers to rinse off in, and wetsuit peelers to remove my wetsuit. I then grabbed by gear bag, headed into the change tent to put on my bike gear, grabbed by trusty steed, and headed out for the bike ride.
The bike was one loop through the areas surrounding Clearwater. For the most part it was flat and windy, a few bridges gave some hills to climb. Drafting was an issue due to the large number of people on a flat course. I felt good the entire bike; eating and drinking as planned and getting more water at each aid station. There were spectators the entire course which made for great support and motivation. My bike time was 2:40, 21 mph! I entered transition and handed my bike off to a volunteer who would return it to it’s spot in transition for me. I then ran over and grabbed my bag and headed into the changing tent. I quickly exited onto the run course.
The run was two loops of a lolli-pop shaped course. It involved crossing a huge bridge twice, which definitely added an edge of difficulty. I am not the fastest runner, so my main goal for the run was to run the entire thing and to not slow down. At each aid station I drank Coke and water, sucked on an occasional orange, and used the sponges to keep cool. My mom was cheering for me at multiple places along the run course and she helped to keep me going. All of the aid stations had exuberant volunteers and music playing which kept spirits high when I was getting tired. I was able to increase my pace over the last mile of the run and finished the ½ marathon in 2:07. Upon crossing the finish line I was immediately given a medal, a beautiful seashell necklace, and went right to the food tent for a piece of pizza. My over all time was 5:26, I am very happy with that.
The race festivities finished with an awards banquet on the beach that evening. Dinner was served, all the awards were given out, and video footage from the race was shown. I ended the evening my packing up my stuff and headed back to St. Kitts early the next day on Sunday morning.
Overall this race was AWESOME! I felt honored and inspired to be in the same company as many of the best triathletes in the world. The race was well organized with every little detail taken care of. The volunteers were amazing and the local community was supportive