2015 Raleigh 70.3 Race Report
I flew into Raleigh on Friday and stayed with my friend Chad and his wife Sammy in Cary. It was tough leaving the family at home, but Kristen wasn’t quite ready to travel with our 3 month old yet. However, I’d being lying if I didn’t say I scored some extra resting time with the family not coming. Chad and Sammy were awesome hosts and we had a very low key day and half leading up to the race.
Logistically, the race is a bit of a challenge. It has 2 transition areas so we can to drive over to Jordan Lake to drop our bikes off the day before. Nonetheless, it was pretty well organized so it didn’t take too long. However there was some traffic and this kind of setup always seems to take a bit longer.
I woke up about 3am to get ready and we headed over to Raleigh to drop off our run bags at T2 and then take a shuttle bus over to Jordan Lake. They did give us bags that we had to put our gear in and despite us having our own transition spots and having to rack our bikes, etc during the race, they required us to keep our gear in bags at our transition spots. I don’t quite understand this, but they made us do this at both transitions. When we arrived at T1, we heard the announcer saying the water was 79+ degrees and that it would be a non wetsuit swim. I was not thrilled about this, but I was glad I brought my swim skin just in case. I got my bike loaded up and ready to go and was out of transition by around 6:30 which meant I had to wait about an hour and half before my wave would be going. Again, not ideal, especially in a hot climate like this, but it is what it is. I did go to the bathroom a few times and get a warm in, but certainly would have preferred an earlier start time, especially with the hot conditions.
AG Rank: 12
Overall Rank: 130
Once it was time for our wave to head down to the water, I got up towards the front and started asking people what kind of time they were shooting for in the swim. Most of the guys either said they weren’t sure or around 35 minutes. I figured I should swim well under that since I did so in St. Croix last year. I lined up on the right and side. When the gun went off, I headed out at a solid, but certainly not all out pace. I was amazed with the lack of contact at the start. There was a little contact but not much. However, before I even got to the first turn buoy (triangle swim), I started hitting some of the slower swimmers from the wave before us. The water temperature was great and very comfortable, but it was very dark so you couldn’t really see when you were coming up on someone until you were just about on top of them. I did end up getting some contact with some swimmers as I worked my way through the waves that started before me. However, I was swimming straight and stayed right along the buoys for the entire swim. As I popped out of the water, I was 33:XX on my watch and wasn’t thrilled, but at the same time, wasn’t all the surprised. My swim has been in a bit of a funk this year so I’m hoping I can get it in order soon. Nonetheless, I knew I would be strong on the bike and the run so I definitely did not let it discourage me.
Transition 1: 1:49
Transition 1 went fine. I did have to throw my swim skin in my bike and grab some stuff out of my bag, which I’m not used to, but I was in and out efficiently. Nothing very eventful here.
AG Rank: 5
Overall Rank: 43
As soon as I hoped onto the bike, I gradually worked my feet in my shoes and tried to keep a solid speed as I did so. Since I started so late in the day, I know there would be lots of passing to be done and there was some congestion at the start of the bike. Nonetheless, I was vocal and just yelled “on your left” often and didn’t really have any issues with people getting in my way. However, as I got up to my planned race wattage of 275-285, my legs didn’t really like it. I was very surprised by this as I’ve done a few long rides at 260-265 watts in the past few weeks quite easily. I’m sure the non wetsuit swim which required more kicking did not do me any favors. Nonetheless, I just focused on my pedal stroke and hoped my legs would come around. The course starts out on small narrower roads and includes a short out and back purely to add on a bit of distance. After that, we got out on a highway and things opened up quite a bit.
Since it’s a point to point ride, you’re ultimately at the mercy of the wind Gods as to whether they’re going to be nice to you or not. There were a lot of turns so I actually felt like it even out a bit more than I expected to. However, there is typically more of a headwind than tailwind for the direction we were heading. The winds were not too significant, but I do not think it did any of the races any favors. The course is very rolling. It actually reminds me of the Quassy half course, BUT the hills are not nearly as steep. I felt like I was either on a gradual incline or decline for most of the day. Again, since I started in one of the last waves, I passed a lot of people. Most people were doing a pretty good job of staying to the right, but there was a few times I had some issues and people weren’t getting over.
Despite my legs performance being a bit sub par, I was still averaging right around 24mph throughout the ride, which I was happy with. As the ride continued on, my power began to slowly drop, but not too bad. However, about 35 miles into the ride, I was passed by the 1 person that passed me the entire day and of course he was in my age group. I tried to hang with him for a bit, but he slowly faded away. Nonetheless, this ended being a good thing because he really motivated me to keep pushing on the bike. I didn’t know where I stood in my age group, but just tried to stay focused on being consistent.
Besides that, the ride was relatively uneventful with the exception of a couple bad drivers. The one that takes the cake is a guy that disobeyed a cop telling him to stop before the intersection, drove into the middle the intersection (directly in front of me), stopped, starting talking to the cop, and then started to back up just as I was riding behind him. It got a scare from the crowd standing nearby for sure.
It was hot, but I did a good job of keeping my heart rate down. I did feel my legs getting a bit fatigued as the end of the ride neared so I was a bit anxious to get off the bike and see how my legs felt when I got off the bike.
Here is a link to my ride on Strava for those that are interested.
Transition 2: 2:01
I did make some mental notes of where I would need to go when I got into T2 in the morning before the race, but when I got in there, I was completely thrown off by the layout. It was a big parking lot and I had forgotten it was split into 2 and I need edto go to the 2nd part. I knew I was in the last row before the porta potties in the transition, but I couldn’t see them because I was still in the first lot. I slowed down a bit and asked a volunteer where the porta potties were and they pointed to the far corner and then I realized where I was. When I got my row, there were no bikes in it, which was a good sign.
AG Rank: 1
Overall Rank: 20
As I headed out for the run, I really made sure to hold myself back a bit. Given the hot conditions, I knew it would get tough and that my competition would be fading as the run went on. This is something I do not do and today was not going to be an exception. The run starts off winding around a few buildings/streets, but then you ultimately end up on an out and back on one street and its pretty much a rolling straight away. Once I got on this street, I could see the guy that passed my on the bike. He was probably 90 seconds to 2 minutes ahead of me, but I was gaining on him pretty quickly. By the time we got to the first turnaround, I was right behind him and past him shortly after. From there, I figured I should be in the lead, but there were 2 factors I had to consider. 1, my age group was broken up into 2 waves so he could have started 4 minutes behind me and could still technically be ahead of me. 2, people from the 2nd wave could be gaining on me. I used this as motivation for the rest of the run. I focused on keeping my turnover up, swinging my arms, and make sure I was trying to stay cool. I was taking in water and Gatorade at the aid stations and pouring as much water as I could over my head.
The 2nd loop was more of the same. My heart rate did start to elevate and my pace slowed about 10 seconds per mile, but I hung in there. There were a few times my quads felt like they were on the cusp of spasming, but they never did. There were also a few times that I felt a stomach cramp coming on, but I just focused on my breathing and technique which around me to get through. I wasn’t thrilled with my pace, but I knew how important the consistency was and that it was doubtful anyone else would be producing a very strong run split.
You do turn off onto at least a half mile straight away where you can see the finish. I did pick up the pace the best I could and finished strong. I was quite happy to be finished.
Here is a link to my run on Strava
At the finish, I sat down and waited for the guy in my age group that I had passed on the run and we chatted for a few. I found out he was in the same wave as me so I had definitely beat him. However, we were certainly both hopeful that there wouldn’t be guys from the other wave that would beat us. I saw my friends Chad and Sammy not too long after and they said they had me as 4th coming off the bike on ironman.com. We figured 2 of those guys must have been in the other wave so I’d just have to wait it out. Sure enough, after a few minutes, it has updated and confirmed that I had won my age group. Wahoo! I was very excited and happy about this. It took a while longer for it to finalize, but I ended up being the 4th overall age grouper. I secretly had hoped to be 1 of the top 3 age groupers. So I missed that by 1, but was still very happy! :0
Overall Time: 4:22:07
Overall Rank: 25
Age Group Rank (M30-34): 1
Overall Age Group Rank (non professional): 4
After the race, I did get a massage, get some food and hang out with Chad, Sammy, and one of my best friends who recently moved to NC. We were at a restaurant just across from the finish line, but it was shaded so it was very nice.
Overall, this race has it quarks with the logistics, but it was a good race. The volunteers and people around the event were great and very accommodating. I would recommend this race to others as long as they’re willing/ready to race in the heat! 🙂
Thanks for reading! Next up, Syracuse 70.3 in a few weeks! 🙂