Racing and completing the 2016 edition of Ironman 70.3 Muncie, Indiana definitely puts it on top as one of my favorite races. Christina and I checked in on Friday, the day before the race, and was greeted by Chris, one of my Team Chocolate Milk teammates. We did a short swim in Prairie Creek Reservoir to test out the water temperature followed by check-in at the Ironman expo adjacent to the reservoir.
Since we stayed in Indianapolis, our wake up call was at 3:45. We were in no rush since we calculated the drive and also allocated the expected parking delays near the race venue. By 5:30am, we had arrived at Prairie Creek Reservoir, ate breakfast, and headed towards transition for final preparations.
I often joke around about IRONMAN’s All World Athlete program, because essentially, it is a “frequent flier program” and not an accurate indication of personal performance on a global level. HOWEVER, due to the “AWA” program and my current ‘GOLD’ status, Christina and I were awarded with low race numbers; 121 and 31, respectively. Low race numbers meant that we racked our bikes in the very first row of transition, making it easy to remember our location. Go AWA!
The first swim wave was at 7am and my wave was 19 minutes arrears. Water temps were over the wetsuit limit so a slower time was expected. The first half of the swim was quite pleasant – the yellow buoys were easy to sight and I felt in control. With the sun directly in our sights on the way back to shore, it was challenging to sight my line. All I hoped was to see one of the buoys every few minutes to see how much I veered off course. The result – 38 minutes 10 seconds…and 30th (yes, 30th!!!!) out of the water in my age group. That is certainly not the result I was hoping for, but there was still 69 miles of racing left…
I quickly ran through transition as fast as I could, slapped on my Rudy Project Wing 57, grabbed the Ceepo Viper and went to work! The goal was to average about 240 watts for the 56 mile bike ride. With only about of 1000 feet of total elevation gain, the bike course was super fast. For me, I mainly focused on staying relaxed, while targeting riders up the road. The first hour of the bike was a little softer than the second half, but it proved to be a successful tactic, resulting in a personal best 56-mile, 2:12:14 bike split…and 4th in my age group.
Running out of transition, I knew that there weren’t many guys ahead of me; maybe 10-15 guys at the most. The goal for the run was to execute an even effort; no looking at the watch, no heart rate monitor; just feel. By mile 2, I passed a guy in my age group, putting me in 3rd position. The legs were feeling strong but mainly because I kept on reminding myself to keep my cadence up. If the run cadence falls, so would everything else. According to the tracker, I passed the halfway mark of the run averaging 6:15 min/mile pace. From the turn around, I kept my effort as consistent as possible. I saw Christina at around mile 9 and she was looking strong and focused.
My secondary goal was to make it to the Mile 11 marker before emptying the tank. By mile 11.5, I could see another guy up the road and didn’t know if he was in my age group, so there was only one option – pass him and hope he doesn’t have a response to the pass. By mile 12.3, at the last aid station, I made my move and didn’t look back until I crossed the finishing line with a personal best 13.1-mile run time of 1:24:19.
[Yes, that guy I passed at mile 12.3 was in my age group.]
Total race time – 4:18:23, 10th overall, 2nd in Males 25-29 category.
I was overjoyed by this performance – a personal best finish time in the half ironman, 56-mile bike split and 13.1-mile run off the bike.
Aside from the slower than expected swim split, my bike and run combo proved to be on form. There is still a lot of fine tuning to be done before I can consider myself ready for IRONMAN Kona in less than three months.
Both Christina and I qualified and claimed our spots at the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships on September 9th and 10th at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Thank you to CEEPO Bikes, ISM Seat, Team Chocolate Milk, Honey Stinger & Brickwell Cycling! Thank you Chris & Molly Day for the hospitality, Mr. & Mrs. Lauer for hosting and race sherpa, and Katie for driving my bike back to NYC!
Next up is IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead on August 14th, where Christina and I will be looking to improve on both our results.
Thanks for reading!