A cold but warm 70.3 Ironman World Championship

A cold but warm 70.3 Ironman World Championship

My 2022 year main focus was to complete my first full Ironman at Lake Placid, NY.

The plan was to race fewer events through the season to focus on longer hours of training during weekends. The main races planned were the 70.3 Eagleman in June, Ironman Lake Placid in July and then the 70.3 Atlantic City in September to finish the year.

Going into the Eagleman, I felt a little off after coming back from vacation. I crashed on the bike course, lost about 5 minutes, but managed to finish with a personal record overall time and secured a slot to go to the World Championship in October.

Now I have 2 main races for the year!

Moving toward Lake Placid, I started having pain in my left ankle, which worried me and therefore slowed down with running. The week before the race I went for a MRI and we concluded it was a bone cyst -  not what I had feared, an Achille tear, which would have ended my season. 

Despite the lack of running training, I “ran/walked” the run course and I completed my first full Ironman with a sub 12h.

I am an Ironman now!

Next was the 70.3 Atlantic City, where I totally did not enjoy the race. Why? Because again of a lack of running and I was just back from visiting my family in France, not even a week before. Again I had to “run/walk” the run course, I just had not energy to keep on running. Well, now I know travel fatigue is no joke!

Only 7 weeks to go!

It was time to refocus my training for the world in St George, UT, I was able to elevate my running performance and maintain bike and swim.

Well, I swam just a couple times before the race, I still do not know how to swim efficiently, with the right form so if I use a lot of energy or just cruise on in the water I generally come out of the water with similar time, so my swimming sessions were not my priorities, I would rather use the time available to kick up my run level.

Last year experience, the elevation was no joke!

I was lucky enough, just about a year ago, to have raced the 70.3 World in St George already. And I learned the hard way how body acclimation can affect your race.

I live in south Jersey where there is literally zero hills around and the elevation is pretty much zero. St George, Utah elevation is around 2,700 ft. Last year I made it to St George just a couple days before the race and man on race day I had no legs. I remember I survived the swim and then I went all in on the bike and had nothing left for the run. So this year I arrived in St George a week before the race and the race went smoother.

By staying near the race course, I was able to finish my training and assess the bike and run courses before race day which is always a big plus.

Here is the elevation graph for the Bike and the Run courses:

Bike:

Run:

 

A cold but warm 70.3 World Championship!

Racing a 70.3 event takes a lot of training and logistics to make sure you have every tools needed to succeed on race day. Well, if that was not tough enough, Mother Nature decided to things a little bit more spicy, or should I say “icy”?

With the abnormal temperatures going down in the low 30s F (2 C) in the morning of the race and with the water temperature down to 60 F (15 C), all of us (athletes) had to review our game plan for the race. The biggest questions were, what am I wearing before to start the race and what am I wearing on the bike once I get out of the water.

I decided  I would cover up appropriately by wearing a long sleeve vest and a windbreaker on top of socks, toe covers and gloves. My mindset was that I rather be too hot that too cold, and if I get too cold it would only make my body work harder and so I would have to consume more energy than necessary.

Race day!

It is 3:45am, I get up and eat my oatmeal breakfast. It is 32 F and I am already freezing just thinking about it. I have to catch the shuttle by 5am to take me to the start line, and my wave starts around 7:55am. I know I’ll be waiting for a long time in the cold so I decided to wear my wetsuit before to leave my place and bring a blanket to wrap myself in while I am waiting to get in the water.

It is getting closed to 7:55am, my age group wave is in the coral slowly walking to the race line, it is time to drop the blanket and get in the crowd to stay warm.

It is now time to start and my turn to run to the water and start swimming the 1.2 mi (1.9km) course. As I start swimming, I feel the water temperature colder that what I thought it would feel and my first worry was “how am I going to complete this swim in this cold”, but after a couple hundred yards my body warmed up and it was manageable.

Like I mentioned earlier, I am not a good swimmer and I am not comfortable when other athletes get in contact when they pass you, so I decided to stay on the left side of the course by myself so I could focus on the best form I can do (which is not very pretty) and not stop swimming every time someone is going to hit me.

I came out of the water with a time 5 minutes faster than last year, Yoo-hoo!

I ran out of the water, used the help of a peeler to remove my wetsuit and ran my way to grab my T1 bag and get ready for the bike course.

My T1 time took forever, over 6min, but it was worth it! I had to stay warm on the bike, so as I planned for race day I wore long sleeve vest, windbreaker, socks, toe covers and gloves, and then I went on my way on the bike course.

Keep it smooth and consistent!

My biggest mistake last year was to burn all my matches on the bike before the run. So this year my strategy was to keep my ride smooth and consistent.

The bike course is perfectly fit for a World Championship event, the roads are rolling hills, you are either going up hill or down hill, there is this famous climb of 5 miles called “snow canyon” in the second half of the course before to fly your way down hill to town for T2.

I managed my effort from beginning to end with a consistent pace. I made sure I did not blow up on Snow Canyon and I enjoyed the descent to town with a speed max up to 51 mph (80 km/h).

In T2 I had to take more time to change socks, the pair I was wearing on the bike was hurting my toe and it would impact my run performance (and my toe).

Less brutal but still challenging!

The run was less brutal than last year but still had its challenges. As you come out of T2, you start running up hill for 5k then down hills for 5k and then repeat these for the second lap.

Again, thanks to my last year experience, I slow myself down a little as I start to tackle the first climb. I made sure my nutrition was on point and I kept a smooth and consistent pace, my run performance was on point and I really enjoyed it.

My goal for the race was not to win the title, the performance level is way too high for it, but my goal was to have fun and enjoy the experience, and to beat my time from last year. And I have successfully completed both of them.

By keeping a smooth and consistent pace pretty all race long, I actually improved my time in all three disciplines. My overall time was 5h12min which is 23 min faster than last year.

Unforgettable memories!

Racing a World event, again, has been an incredible. The experience of the race was so incredible, the organization was on point, the sceneries on the course were just magical! And being on site a week prior the race was also a great opportunity to meet up with great people of the triathlon community.

So, yes, it was a cold race but I raced it with a warm heart!

 

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