IM Raleigh 70.3 was the first of 2 half ironman distance races that I did this summer. I had high hopes for this race going in and was pretty excited about it. I had not done a 70.3 in a while and I felt this was going to be a good race. I traveled to Raleigh on Friday afternoon and was able to get to town in time to pick up my race packet before heading to the hotel. This worked perfectly because it left a lot of time on Saturday to not have to stress about anything. I stayed outside of downtown which ended up being perfect, and thanks to racking up some Marriott points while on the road for work my hotel ended up being free.
The race was a great race just from a “is this a race worth doing again” standpoint. It is a point to point race which I thought would be a little bit stressful, but ended up being not a big deal at all. The swim was a lake swim, 1 loop, and non-wetsuit legal…..woo. Finally was able to use that swim skin I got a long time ago. The only thing I wasn’t too thrilled about was the first portion of the bike. The start of the race takes place inside a park, and with my age group starting towards the middle back ish meant that there was a crap ton of people out on the course. It was congested and slow for a bit, but once the turn came to make it out onto the main roads things thinned out a bit and the bike was fairly enjoyable. It was shaded for most of the ride, and a bit hilly. I battled some low back pain for 3/4 of the ride but just kept working hoping to chase down a sub 3 hour bike time. I was also using a new nutrition strategy that was a custom all in one drink mix on the bike.
It was perfect. No fumbling with gells or salt tabs. All I had to do was drink. It was the best investment so far. The bike cruised in just over 3 hours…. next time I guess, and it was on to the run.
By the run it had gotten HOT. I had made changes to my racing based on things that didn’t really work in the previous race. I decided to stop messing around with bungi laces. They were not working for me and only guaranteed blisters and pain. I decided to just keep it simple and use real laces. It was going to cost me a few more seconds to literally tie my shoes, but it seemed worth it in the long run to not have to run in pain. It was by far the best run decision I made that day. The rest of the run planning……not so good. I put all the thought into bike nutrition, but didn’t make too much improvement on the run nutrition, and within a mile I was on the struggle bus.
It took the better part of the first lap to work out a cooling strategy that seemed to work, but once I was able to keep the heat at bay the run became more enjoyable. It was 2 loops with the main portion consisting of an out and back. Heading to the turn around its mostly uphill and in the blazing sun, but after the turn around life gets better with mostly downhill and ample shaded spots. The finish was right down town as well with a fairly decent cheering crowd for the finish. Post race snacks included the ever favorite pizza. At first I was a little disappointed with my race. I had hopes of time goals under 6 hours and missing that felt like a loss. But as I ate my post race pizza and thought about the day the finish time didn’t really matter in the long run. The swim felt good, and there was for sure an overall good feeling about the my bike performance. The course was hilly and I felt strong the entire time, even when my back started hurting for no reason. The run even had good moments despite riding the struggle bus at the start. There was lots of things to build on for Williamsburg.