Profiles. I looked up the profiles for both the run and bike of the Syracuse race and noticed pretty substantial climbs. I talked to a few people about their past experiences and they all mentioned the difficulty and “the hills.” Knowing that I was able to prep for the bike, the run not so much. That run course was s monster. Sorry Syracuse, just not in the cards in the future (the two kids were unbelievably awesome on the ride there. Side note, writing this from 35,000 feet on my tablet, heading to a conference in SFO. Hopefully they were good for my wife and mother in law!).
Working backwards a bit, I had an 8:25am swim start. I happened to bump into Chris V which made the pre-swim period pretty peaceful. At -:15 min I had a gel and water, and -:30 half a powerbar. Of course the 7 year old water bottle I like broke, so in the garbage. With about 2,500 athletes, I happened to bump into Sherrie G. twice! Great seeing friendly NEMS faces. Had my enormous amount of applesauce, “everything you need and nothing you don’t” while sitting on the warm pavement. It was the only place that had direct sunlight. Up since 3:30am, I was freezing all morning. So man that sun was amazing. Took a bum-like nap on a bench near transition since I had four and a half hours from arrival to race start.
Typical swim wave, kicked some dudes, dudes kicked me, etc. Tried drafting a guy swimming at my pace, but he couldn’t sight worth beans. I started sighting the first turn buoy and bam, guy swims right into me. Started turning the buoy and some pink hat lady decides she’s tired and cuts a few of us off to hang onto the buoy. Heading into the last stretch to the beach, I pass blue, pink, orange and red (my wave) caps. Since I had to dip, duck dive and dodge these swimmers, I cranked up the pace to pass. Unfortunately this causes a bit of muscle cramp. I had this tightness slightly for the rest of the race.
Pulled off the wetsuit like a pro, grabbed the bike and away to ride.
As always, tried to belly breathe my way down from HR Z5. Settled down, drank a bunch and started hitting my power zones. Started getting passed by guys with disc wheels and clicky gears, no worries as I knew there were plenty miles of climbing ahead. Passed tons of people and had to play the draft game, therefore I couldn’t stay focused on my power like I wanted. About 15/20 miles in, the hills became rollers and the crowd thinned a bit, and was able to focus. Sticked to my nutrition plan like a boss. Race note: don’t try to save a few seconds by refilling your aero water bottle while going downhill at 30 mph, you’ll get covered in sticky Ironman Perform. It was an absolutely beautiful cycle course, barns, fields, lush valleys and wide shoulders.
Brought my bike into transition, but there was another bike in my spot. Had to flag down a guy to ask him where to put mine as there wasn’t a close spot open. I put it in another guys spot. Changed into socks and shoes, grabbed the hat and headed into the dreaded run.
Heading out into the run, I saw athletes that looked miserable, just plain beat. Didn’t encourage, but it was my race. Kept my pace under control, as my running legs felt great. Unusual start, as I had to run through grassy fields and up bark mulch to the road. Ate the Cliff Bloks per schedule and perform every aid station. The hill(s) were monstrous. Almost every “runner” was walking up it. Prior to the race, I vowed to only walk 5-10 sec at an aid station to drink. I chugged up those hills as people cheered my name or “Northeast.” Tried to pick up the pace on the way down, but it was too steep and the knees felt a bit wobbly. (Strava said my grade adjusted pace was right at my goal of 9min/mile). At around mile 10 the calves started getting tight from the hills. Pushed through and headed to the chute. Finished 7 minutes faster than the 6hr goal ( not a PR, as Pumpkinman was a lot less total elevation gain ).
Amazing day, fantastic post race chocolate milk, awesome support from my wife, kids and mother-in-law and a well oiled race put on by Ironman. I probably won’t do Syracuse again, but the future is untold! Used this race as training for the big daddy, Mont Tremblant 140.6 on August 17th!!
(Please excuse flow, wrote this on a plane and between sessions at a conference)