Team INFINIT Performance

Ironman 70.3 Virginia's Blue Ridge

June 09, 2021 - Ironman 70.3 Virginia's Blue Ridge on Sunday marked my first attempt at toeing the line for the 70.3 distance triathlon. My plans for attempting this distance had been delayed a couple of years, following and injury in 2019 and COVID in 2020, though the wait was well worth it as I went into this race feeling strong, fit and confident. Swimming has always been my weakest of the 3 disciplines, normally giving my anxiety and nervousness at the start of open-water races. Over the past 18-20 months, I have been putting in the work to improve in this area and hadn't missed any of my coach's prescribed swim session since pools reopened in 2020. The work paid-off as I went into this swim confident and relaxed. I was able to find my rhythm early and came out of the water feeling fresh and being right within the range of my goal time, finishing the swim in 36 minutes. Onto the bike and my strength, or so it was supposed to be... I made a rookie mistake in having only one good shifter battery with me, as the other battery was dead... So off on a 56 mile bike ride I went in only the small chainring. Not having the big chainring wasn't ideal, but it wasn't the worst-case scenario as I approached the 4.5 mile climb up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Having done a training ride on the climb only 2 weeks earlier, I knew this climb would be a challenge, but would just require patience. What I didn't anticipate was how hot the climb would become with limited air moving in the canopy of trees. This is probably the start of a cascading effect to the final part of the run that I will describe further below. After reaching the Blue Ridge Parkway, there was no time to enjoying the amazing vistas as a couple more rolling climbs awaited prior to the long descent towards Roanoke, with a speed that approached 50 mph... The thrill of the descent sure made up for the suffering of the climb (along with making up some time). After exiting the Parkway and completing the few remaining miles of the bike into downtown Roanoke, the bike was done in a time of 2 hours, 49 minutes. Only a couple minutes slower than what I thought was a feasible time, but great considering the challenge of only having the small chainring for the entire ride... The run... where the wheels fell off... The run was advertised as providing “provides athletes shade while running through several parks along the course”. Having done some course recon a couple weeks early, I knew that the amount of shade advertised was a stretch… That in mind, off on the run I went and was feeling good for the first 8 miles, though knowing I was battling the heat and sun to keep the core temperature down. Being the first time toeing the line for this distance, I don’t thing I fully appreciated the impact that the 86 degree temperature with a baking sun was having on me… I am convinced that running on the surface of the sun would have been cooler than that run course… No matter the amount of ice that went in the hat, down the jersey, in the hands, everywhere I could put it, I lost the battle with my core temperature and spiking heart rate at about mile 8… For the final 5 miles, I went into survival mode with the sole goal of finishing, as I knew the end of the race was within reach. A combination of mostly walking with some small stretches of running enabled me to complete the final 5 miles of the half-marathon with a time of 2 hours, 10 minutes for the run. Overall, I completed the Ironman 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge in a total time of 5:44:21 finishing 27th in my age group out of 150 finishers in the age group. The course and the day were definitely challenging, given the high temperature so early in the year with limited opportunities for heat acclimation training. In the end of the day, triathlon is really all about pushing yourself, learning in the process and having fun… All 3 were achieved with this race. Being the inaugural race for the Ironman 70.3 Virginia Blue Ridge, Roanoke was a great host city, with exceptional volunteers in all aspects of the race, and especially at all of the aid stations. For my triathlete friends, this is a world class course from the swim in the mountain surrounded reservoir, to the challenging and beautiful bike course, and the “shaded” run (that seems anything but flat on the 2nd lap). I would encourage you to put this race on your calendar for either 2022 or 2023. I will be back for redemption on that run course, though hopefully without the heat… Now onward to the next challenge of Ironman California in October…

There are currently no ratings or comments on this blog post.