Last Sunday was the initial Syracuse Half Ironman. Me and my family headed there Friday. Saturday morning was family time so we headed to the zoo to visit a bit in the morning. Then in the afternoon I headed to the expo for pre race meeting, packet pickup, shopping etc.
After that we headed to the transition zone to drop the Speed Concept and then we drove the bike course to get a feel of what it would be on Sunday morning. The more I was driving on the course the more I was nervous about the ride. There was hills everywhere!!! One thing you can say about that bike course, it is far from being flat 😉
On Sunday morning I woke up early, the hotel was at 20 minutes or so from the transition zone and I wanted to be sure to be there early. I had some oatmeal for breakfast and a coffee, then I woke up my wife and kids and we got ready.
I was REALLY happy that we left the room early because there was a ton of traffic on the way, I would say easy 30 minutes wait. When I finally got to the parking I was at like 10 minutes walk from the transition zone. I finally got there just to hear that it was closing in 5 minutes, I rushed through my routine to make sure everything was laid out for both transition. Finally they postponed the start by 15 minutes since there was too many people still jammed in the traffic.
I was in the second wave of the 40-44 men and I was hoping for a 40 minutes swim at best. I said to a friend that if I had a perfect day I could probably swim a 40 minutes 2k. We jumped in the water and started swimming, after what felt like 2 minutes we started passing green cap which was the from wave before us. At first I figured that it was someone having a bad day, but when I saw a second one then a third I knew I had a good day.
Then I saw a couple of yellow cap, and then some purple. At that point I almost thought I was a good swimmer for once. Now I know how it feels like to pass people on the swim.
When I reached the first yellow buoy I felt really good and thought that I just started to swim and I was already at the first turn. The turn was crowded, even if we had wave start it was still crowded. For the second part of the swim I still felt great and was drafting from a bunch of guys in front of me. We were still passing people left and right. When we finally got to the second yellow buoy there was a guy who was holding it. I hope everything was ok with him.
We then turned and started heading back to the beach, still I was feeling awesome and I could have swim all day long.
We finally reached the beach, when I got out my son yelled at me “Check your time” I was really happy to see that I was at 40 minutes or so for my swim, first of the three done with a time that made me happy, yeah 🙂
I then proceeded to the wetsuit stripper, dammit this is something I could get used to. When I started running after the stripper I lost my goggle, someone was kind enough to grab them for me and gave them to me. Then I restarted running and dropped my swim cap … WTF was up with me at that point. Anyway, grabbed my swim cap and run to the transition zone which was a long way from the lake.
I am usually in the last 15% of the swim but today I got out of the water in the top 45% 🙂
I decided to put socks on for the ride, it was cold and I knew I would need them so I took the time to put them on. Running without the shoes but with the socks kinda ruined that purpose since when I jumped on the bike my socks were wet but still, they kept me for having frozen feet I guess.
When I got on the bike I didn’t know what to expect, the day prior to the race I drove the entire bike course to see how it was and I was scared of all the hills. It seems like there was always a hill.
So when I jumped on the bike that morning I was really unsure of what kind of bike split I could come up with.
The first 3km or so were downhill which was nice, besides the railroad which was really dangerous. When we reached Jamesville we got to the start of the first hill, nothing too long but it had a good % still. I decided to not push too much while going up the hills and to keep my energy to push on the flat/downhill instead so I just cruised up the hill. Then when we got up it was flat for maybe a km, I hammered it down to pass as many people as I could pass.
Since my wave was the 19th of 21 so I had a ton of people to pass on the bike which was really cool. Then we got to the hill, it was around 10km(6 mile) long so once again I cruised my way up. When we finally reached the top of the hill it was really cold and we were in the fog which was really special to ride. It was a little bit more dangerous, but so much fun to ride.
I knew that my family would be at the hill where we were crossing the 20 and I was happy to see them there. My son ran by me for a while yelling, I almost fell like the riders in the Tour de France going up a hill 😉
After that I was all by myself for a long while, I knew I wouldn’t see them again before at least 60km. I tried to get into my best racing bubble and passed as many people as I could.
It was the first time that I was in a triathlon with that many people, and it was really cool because I always had someone to pass 🙂 There was a couple of riders which I pass and they re pass me over and over. I remember Liam, Steve and Lucy for sure. Also a guy with a nice Cervello whom I couldn’t see his name and another one with a black Trek TTX.
After maybe 60km or so I decided to check my average, I was pretty sure I would have an ok average but nothing great. To my biggest surprise I was at almost 31km/h which made me really happy since I knew that he last 15km was mostly downhill and that it should help me get that average up.
When we passed the 20 again I was hoping to see my family there but I didn’t, I wondered what happened since my wife told me she would be there. Maybe they went for food or something and missed me who knew. Anyway I just kept going knowing I would see them at the finish line.
Even if that was the downhill part of the course it was still hilly. Most of that course was rolling, with some HUGE hills to go up here and there.
They said that this race had the most challenging bike course of the Ironman 70.3 series, since I haven’t done them all I can’t confirm this but it was not the easiest course for sure.
We finished the last kilometers with some rolling again and once I got to the top of the last hill my family was there waiting for me. Then it was time to remove the shoes and head to transition again. I felt great for the entire bike course and I could have kept going without any problem which was a really nice feeling on race day 🙂
Once again I decided to get some dry socks on, I had three pair of socks with me. At that point I had the weirdest idea of putting on my compression socks. I tried for maybe 30 seconds before deciding that it would take me an hour to get those things on with my feet all wet. So I grabbed my other socks, but them on then my running shoes and off I went. I had to go pee, but the porta potty were all full with people waiting in line. So I started running instead.
Accoring to the profile of the run it was mostly downhill for the first 7-8km then mostly flat up till the finish. So my plan was to try to get some nice split on the downhill while not pushing too hard and then settle into a pace when we would hit the flat section.
As they said the first section was downhill but with some uphill here and there which was more than enough to make those splits harder than I thought that they would be.
During the first km I stopped to pee. Then I started getting the km in. There was people all the way from jamesville to Syracuse, not a ton but alwayssome people here and there who were cheering for us which was cool.
Every time I hit an aid station I grabbed water, I had two gels with me and decided to get one in after 3km or so, thinking that I would have the other one after 12km. The run was tough, I wanted to hit a 5:15/km pace for the entire run but there was no way I could hold onto that pace sadly. I tried to convince myself to run faster at almost every split, but I had a hard time.
At some point around the 5th mile I wanted to walk the aid station, but told myself I was not allowed to walk a damn aid station before mile 10, which I did. At mile 10.5 or so I walked the aid station and I stopped to pee once again. I guess that the fact that the weather was colder than usual didn’t help since I was probably sweating less than usual.
From mile 7 or so to 11 we were on Erie blvd which is as straight as you can have a straight street and it was tough on the mental to see that long in front of us.
Around mile 11 we finally turned on another street, the nicest part of changing the scenary came with a false flat going up for a mile and a half maybe. Then we turned left with maybe 1 mile to go and it was downhill and then flat to the finish chute.
My son was waiting for me maybe 250 meters from the finish line and he ran with me behind the other spectators since WTC doesn’t allow family member to run with us anymore.
I finally crossed the finish line in 5:34:38 with a huge smile on my face.
I just love this sport 🙂
Every time I do a long event like this one I always think how long even if they like that, those days must be for the families coming to cheer on us. I am really happy that my family was there with me, and for that I thank them 🙂
Swim : 40:43 (97/276 AG 852/2098 OA)
T1 : 3:52
Bike : 2:49:13 (62/276 AG 458/2098 OA)
T2 : 3:19
Run : 1:57:31 (102/276 AG 812/2098 OA)
Total : 5:34:38 (77/276 AG 581/2098 OA)