I feel like I need a support group because I’m feeling depressed after the last (and biggest) triathlon race of the season, the IM Augusta 70.3. There’s a chill in the air, leaves are fluttering off the trees, and our season is officially over. And that bums me out hard. Most people look forward to fall, but I’d rather have an endless summer of triathlons!
Overall I was very happy with my first 70.3 triathlon experience. At the same time, I’m always looking for ways to improve and learn from my experiences. This half-ironman distance is different in many ways, and it’s also somewhat of an equalizer – you have to train hard, smart, and definitely don’t want to show up unprepared. Planning and executing a solid race-day strategy is crucial as well.
What I Would Do Differently in My Half Ironman Race
Bring my own TP!
It would be nice to set up a teepee and catch some extra zzz’s after transition set up and before my wave start, but not that kind of TP. I’m talking about plan B for when the Porto Johns run out – and every one of them was out of stock! (Why does it seem like races never have enough bathrooms, at least ones that are close enough to the starting line to be convenient?)
To the triathletes in line in front of me for the Porto Potties, please use the toilet paper sparingly!
I found myself mentally flip-flopping back and forth to the tune of “Can I hold it ?” / “Probably shouldn’t,” / “Maybe try…?” / “I don’t know…”
Seriously, this is gross to have to admit, but Jess told me to just use one of her extra socks. Out of desperation, I took her up on the offer and headed toward the wall of stinky plastic doors. Luckily, I found a scrap on unused TP in the corner that was clean enough to use, and Jess’ sock lived to train another day.
Bring your own TP! We’ve also updated out Triathlon Race-Day Checklist with it.
Pushed it too hard on the bike…
Blame it on race excitement and adrenaline, but I pushed it harder on the bike than my original plan (sticking to your plan is another good lesson!).
I met a guy on the bike course. His name was Garret, and he had nearly the same goal time as me but was keeping a slightly faster bike pace. We yo-yoed back and forth a bit before I finally broke the ice and asked him about it. He seemed like a man on a mission, so I was pretty sure he’d answer in the affirmative. My pace was 18.7mph to finish the bike leg in 3 hours, and, sure enough, he was shooting for a 19.7mph average to give him a few minutes edge to beat two hours on the run. Eventually he disappeared up ahead after I did my best to tag along.
So what happened was I planned on getting a Bonk Breaker bar in me during the first bike aid station. This is based on the fact that I prefer a little bit of solid food if I’m out for more than 2-3 hours at a training session.
The problem was, I ended up missing a bar the aid table because of the congestion. Those things can get nuts with bikes flying through! All I could get was a sports drink and didn’t want to lose time in looping around. By the time I reached the second station, my stomach was shutting down and rebelled against solid food.
Stick to your plan – that is get your nutrition early on the bike and hold true to your pace remembering the fact that you have a long way to go. It’s hard to do simple because of all the excitement surrounding racing!
What I Did Right At IM Augusta 70.3
My Garmin Virtual Pacer helped me huge!
My pacing strategy started with the pace I thought I could sustain and then added it all together for an overall goal time. For example:
- Swim in 30 minutes – just cruise at a comfortable pace, don’t blow up after the swim!
- Bike in under three hours (56 / 18.7mph = 3) – kind of a fast pace for me, especially for 56 miles.
- Run in just under two hours (13.1 / 2 hours = 9:09/mile pace) – doable, but then again, who knows after everything else.
Then you can enter those numbers in the Garmin VP, and it will tell you if you need to speed up or slow down. (It’s super awesome when it tells you to slow down, and it super sucks when it says to speed up.)
It’s super awesome when the Garmin Virtual Partner tells you to slow down, and it super sucks when it says to speed up.
Your endurance energy is like a sand dial – once it’s gone, it’s gone! Use your training to practice pacing and then your race will be smooth, steady, and the sand won’t run out too soon. If you have more left, you can always negative split the run.
I popped a Chill Pill
Pre-race “mandatory meetings” are a funny thing. It’s interesting to watch people shift in their seats with nervousness and then ask obvious questions in hopes to alleviate extra anxiety. “Is the bike course marked?” “Will there be water stops on the run?”
I have a silent mental mantra that helps me a lot during the pre-race-jitter moments: “Relax, enjoy and soak in the experience. Remember this is fun.” It really works.
Have a handle on everything, but there is no need to stress about the unknowns. It all pans out on race day, and you’ll end up having a blast in any half-ironman triathlon you choose to do.
Choose your thoughts
Attitude is everything on the day of your triathlon, and it’s up to you to make it fun or make it a drag. So I decided to enjoy it and soak it all in before, during, and after the race. “Have fun…even though it hurts!” is what I told myself. Here I am having fun playing some air guitar for the camera.
After 5 hours of racing, you’re going to start to feel it. No question about that, but you can still choose your thoughts as in, “I having fun, and doing great!” as opposed to, “This hill sucks… I hurt… What, only mile 5 so far, ugh!?”
All kinds of thoughts are going to enter your head during your triathlon race-day experience. You can’t really help what pops in there, but you can choose to which ones are allowed to stick around and which ones need to leave. When I found myself thinking things like, “what the hell am I doing to myself!?” I’d quickly change it to something more like, “Wow, not many people get to do this, and here I am having a great time!” It takes some practice, but it works.
I don’t know if I’ll end up finding my support group for the depressed post-season triathletes anonymous club or not. But one thing that I can do for sure is be happy about this past season, learn as much as I can from the experiences, and apply those ideas to my next triathlon training season. “Eat the watermelon and spit out the seeds,” so they say. And I’d like to add “Enjoy the sweet, juicy flavor while you’re at it.”
Here are my stats in case you were wondering: