70.3 Iron Brian Scully Race ReportPosted by Pete | Categories: Race-Report
Wow! What a great adventure this has been this year. I never knew how accomplished I would feel when I finished my first Ironman 70.3.
Last year I saw the FB posts of everyone signing up for Raleigh Ironman. I had just finished the Lake Murray Dam Tri (international distance) and had my sights set on a half. I figured this would be it. I signed up and got involved with training groups and committed to the schedule. I am very thankful for all the people that trained with me over the last 18 weeks. Stuart, Jay, Sue, Tim, Ro, Chris, Donnie, Greg, Dan and many others. And I am very thankful for Pete and the tri club. Without all of the information and support I would not have been able to do this.
Anyway, race day. I was pumped and ready to go. I checked in with my wife and 3 daughters in tow and made it through athlete check in, bag pick up, ext… in about 2 hours, which was faster than a thought it would take considering the girls stopped at the Pop Fizz tent about 50 times for the samples. The Orange Creamsicle was their favorite. The guy sold me the 20 piece sample pack and let the girls go behind the counter to pick out whichever flavors they wanted. That took another 10 minutes as they carefully analyzed, debated and voted as to which flavors and in what quantity would make it into the bag. I realized that night that I had forgotten all of my morning and bike nutrition hydration. Thankfully Jay hooked me up with some Scratch Lab so I did not have to use my kids Fizz Pop. Even though the guy at the booth said Ironmen drink it all the time I was a bit unsure.
The athlete briefing put the water temp at 77 with “no chance for wetsuits”. But thankfully Sue told me at dinner she was bringing her suit just in case. So Sunday morning I hopped on the bus with Jay, Ro, Stuart and my wetsuit and headed to the lake. The ride took about 40 minutes. It was quiet and I even got a chance to catch a few more ZZZs. The nice bus driver reminded us as we got off the bus to watch out for the snapping turtles. Thanks lady.
The swim start was rough. Even with the stories I have heard I did not expect how much I got beat up. My plan was to start front and center, get ahead of the pack and go. I am not real sure why I decided on this course of action on race morning. I am not that fast of a swimmer, but the music was pumping and the competition did not seem too stiff and I thought I will give it a go. I quickly realized I had made a mistake. I got hit in the back of the head several times. I was swum over, under, and bumped from both sides at once. It felt like Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras (sans the Hurricane Party Cup and jazz music). So I dropped back and pulled to the left. After that all was good. This was my first race where I actually passed some members of the previous waves. Also I do not think I got chicked until the last 500 meters. I was shooting for under an hour and finished my swim in 49. I was very happy with my time. I remembered to keep swimming until the last second before trying to stand up and made my way to the wetsuit strippers. It was a 2 second stop, my suit was off and my pants stayed on.
I took my time in T1, as was my plan, but later wished I had some of it back. I rolled out on my bike and the first hill was not so bad. Once I headed east on 64 across the lake I was averaging 20-24 miles an hour. My plan was 15 mph average, so I thought wow this course is fast. The wind was at my back and some of the down hills got to 30 mph with barely any pedaling. That all changed at the first turn, but I still felt pretty good except that I had a nagging feeling that my rear tire was low. I thought that I would correct that at the first aid station at mile 16. However, I did not see tech support and rolled on. I did see Pete and it was a welcome sight. I picked up a water bottle and tried to get some GU, but missed each time I went to grab for one (three tries) and barely had time to drink any water before the last chance trash stop pirate was yelling, “hit me in the dinghy” and I decided to throw my water bottle at him. So I left the first aid station with no water and no Gu. Of well, It was still fun seeing the pirates.
The next 40 miles were pretty standard. The bike I was riding I bought from Tim. While I am sure the bike had been used to exceeding speeds of 30 mph on the down hills I on the other hand was pretty scared. I was too chicken to come out of the bars to put on my brakes, so sometimes when I was going downhill I would just scream. Most of the ride was pretty cool. I did not start to feel the heat until the last 20 minutes or so. I started to slow down a bit in prep for the run.
A plan starts to come together.
I realized about 18 miles in I was averaging 18+mph and started doing the math. My original goal was 1 hour swim, 4 hour bike and 2 hour run. 7 hours total. As I recalculated I figured I had done the swim in under an hour and was now pacing just over 3 hours on the bike. With my super sweet running skills I should be able to finish in under 6 hours. I was not sure what a good time was, but I was thinking 6 hours would be pretty nice. I came off the bike in great shape. I saw my parents and stopped for a photo. I saw my wife and kids and stopped again. This time for high fives, a couple of photos and even a good luck kiss from my wife. I was feeling great but in need of sunscreen. I came close to “borrowing” some from the gear layout next to mine, but knew that was not right. As I was exiting there were volunteers with gobs of sunscreen lotion and the hooked me up.
The plan starts to fall apart.
I came out of T2 with a spring in my step and ready for my favorite part of the race. I finished the first mile in 8:30 breezed through the aid station, smiled at the volunteers and high fived some more kids. Mile 2 was 8:45, but that was okay it was mainly uphill. Mile 3 was 9 minutes which was odd because it was not uphill. I thought the hill on mile two must have taken more out of me than I realized. Mile 4, “where are all these hills coming from?” 45 minutes into the run I thought at 9 minute miles I should be at aid station 5 by now. I remember at the athlete briefing thinking that aid stations at every mile was a bit of overkill, but now I was thankful. 48 minutes in I finally get to mile 5. It was at this point I realized, “it is really getting hot out here”. I entered the running path for miles 6-9 and all of that is really just a blur. I saw Diego and then Kovac. They both looked tired. I remember stopping for some more Gu (it may have been Tequila flavor?? and it was very warm), lots of water, oranges and ice. I enjoyed running through the sprinklers and remember that the guy at the lap 1-2 split was saying left for paradise right for hell. Unfortunately I was only on lap 1. I don’t understand how they made both laps go uphill the whole time. It was like an M.C. Escher drawing. I started the return trip and by this time I was pacing just under 11 minute miles. I was pretty sure a 6 hour finish was out of the question, but I could still do 6:30 which would beat by friend Peter Barc’s time from a few years ago. So that was my new goal. I began to eagerly anticipate each aid station. At each one I grabbed warm water to drink, oranges to eat and ice cold water to pour down my shirt and back. Then I would grab one more ice water to dump in my pants for a little extra burst of get up and go. Woowza! By mile 10 I knew I would finish, but my “super sweet” running skills had left me. Any sudden movement on my part was a precursor to sending my whole body into cramp mode. I knew my family was waiting for me at the finish and I wanted to cross on my own. Entering the chute I started to pick up my stride. The cheers, the announcer the cowbells were euphoric. I saw my parents and my wife and girls. They ran with me towards the finish line. The announcer called out my name and I was done. 6:30. I crossed the finish and was greeted by Tim and Dawn, they were a welcome sight. I enjoyed the hugs, cheers and smiles from my family and knew I had done well.
I know that I did not do all of this on my own. Finishing this race would not have been possible without all of the support from my family and friends. Thank you Tim for encouraging my open water swims. Thank you too, Stuart and Donnie for pushing me to run faster. This race meant all of the 5:00 a.m. swims and runs were worth it. Racing back into the house as everyone was waking up to get the kids off to school and to work. Lots of missed Saturday morning hangouts with the kids because of long bike rides. I am very thankful for my wife putting up with my training schedule and for our regular Friday night date nights to catch up on the events of the week.
This race has been an awesome experience. I am looking forward to what may come next!