Raleigh 70.3


It was an in water start and it was deep enough that I had to stand on my tip toes to stand. I actually love in-water starts.

Once in the water, time starts to fly. We all stood there ready to hit our Garmins (of course!). The horn sounded and I started swimming.

This time my heart rate and breathing were fine. I started hard and kept going but the warm up swim was perfect for me. I felt comfortable and able to handle the sudden jump in activity/adrenaline rush fine.

My age group was very large – over 120 women. And it made for a turbulent start. In the first 200 m or so I got whacked and even kicked in my goggles (they stayed on and no problems resulted). All of this I pretty much expect in a triathlon and prepare to take as best as I can. Soon, though, I had clear water and was swimming strong.

I didn’t get hit or slapped much after the first turn buoy and enjoyed the rest of the swim, being careful to not slack off. It gets tricky as you start catching up to people in other waves and you have to swim through them. And that is where I really had to start watching for feet and bodies, trying not to swim over them or in to their arms.

And the turns are always a bit of a swat fest. But this race only had two (as opposed to the 7 at FL 70.3!).

The long straight between the swim out and back seemed really long to me. I would site and think “Where is that red buoy” (red indicates a turn). But I kept a solid pace. Not all out, but definitely strong.

Coming in I had to site a few times as I tended to go out away from the shortest route. But overall – an uneventful swim and no need to do back or breast stroke to catch my breath. Which had me thrilled.

I swam until my fingers hit the landing ramp and then hit the ground running.

Water Exit
Water Exit

Time: 33:40

Age Group Position: 28


I started pulling down my wet suit. This race had wet suit strippers. They had me out of my wet suit in a flash and tossed it to me as I started up and away.

I remembered where my bike was racked and headed to the outside row. Soon I was at my spot when I realized I hadn’t hit lap on my Garmin. Oh well – lap hit.

A quick change and some fiddling with my helmet (it always hits my ears wrong) and I was running out and at the mount line.

As I ran out there were offering sun screen – a quick spray on my back and I was off.

Time: 2:33


My bottles were on my bike, Gu chomps in a baggie folded over to prevent ants. I hit start on my Garmin 800 and realized – dang. I had never configured the race setting so it wasn’t showing normalized power. I Was going to have to race off of straight power on my Garmin 910. No worries. It was just an aid anyway.

Exiting T1
Exiting T1

Being in the third to last wave I knew I would be saying “Left” a lot, and not being passed by many.

The first couple of miles are a gradual climb and no worries.

I turned on to Highway 64 and was met with a headwind. OK.

I knew from a ride there in February, the first half of the course was made for fun and speed. So I went with it. I hadn’t seen the second half of the course, but knew it had more rollers and would be more technical. So I enjoyed it while I could.

On Beaver Creek Rd I saw one person on the side of the road checking for a flat. It is amazing what you can hear in a moment. Another athlete told him it was just the road, and she had thought the same thing. I heard from another friend that it sounded like she was riding with a flat, but It is just the road.  I never thought to stop as my bike was handling fine, but heard what they were talking about as I rode.

Warning – next paragraph is self-congratulatory! About mile 15 a male rider came up next to me and said “You are one hell of a cyclist”. I told him thanks and for a long time we played back and forth – I would climb faster than him, and he would descend faster. At one point he made the comment I should climb for him and him descend for me at one point. Physics….we do our best to overcome it as cyclists but just have to use our strengths.

Down and tight on my bike..smiling all the way
Down and tight on my bike..smiling all the way

The traffic control was amazing. I never had fewer cars getting in to the flow of the race unless the road was fully closed. Police were everywhere controlling traffic. I think we all appreciated. Although I rode between a woman and a police officer as she was trying to thank him for being there. Oops.

The last half definitely had more rollers, and my pace slowed some. There were a couple of downhills with “Caution – Slow” signs. I stayed down and tight, but would put my hand out on a base bar for stability as I flew down some of the hills. I just felt better and knew I wasn’t sitting up and making myself a sail.

Carlos and I had driven part of this the day before, so I knew about the turns. I should have known better. If I can’t ride a course I don’t drive it as I tend to over-analyze and not ride as well as if I didn’t. I always listen for cautions and warnings on the race course before the race, and am aware of challenges, terrain, etc. I just don’t drive it before. Superstition I know, but so far it has proven correct for how I ride. I ride better if I don’t drive the course before.

I had done very well so far at fueling strong – per my plan: 230 – 250 calories of Isis Endurance per hour, and 2 Gu Chomps every 50 minutes. When training I tend to fall behind but so far have done well at races. About mile 44 or so I reached back for my third nutrition bottle and….it wasn’t there! I had lost it along the way. Dang! I quickly looked down – I had extra Gu chomps so I wouldn’t be in a huge deficit (90 more calories there) , water, and about a 11 miles left – 30 minutes. It would be OK. But then=, at mile 45 I saw that they had one last nutrition stop. Hooray! I grabbed a bottle of Ironman Perform and put it in my bike cage, ready to go. I also still had water.

Apparently I am not used to that sweet of a drink anymore. Somewhere about mile 50 I did end up throwing up some of the Perform a little. I kept it down, and still managed to drink it as necessary, and had no GI issues at all, even on the run. I just had a minor “sweet revolt” going on. My nutrition is much milder in flavor.

There was one area before mile 50 I saw a dip/almost pot hole in the road and, of course, went right over it.  Dang! This time I lost the water bottle I had taken on a water stop after finishing my first nutrition bottle. I have never lost this many bottles off my bike before. There were a couple of rough spots.

The ride went fast, and soon we were coming in to town. A few more rollers and I was coming in.

This is where I made an error where nothing was hurt by my ego…and I just missed a 20 mph average on the bike. Dang. Coming in to the dismount line is uphill. A challenge for a flying dismount. I thought “I’d better not – don’t have enough momentum to carry everything”. But I tried, and my shoe went under and I lost balance. I caught myself but…had to run the last 50-100 yards in to transition. Oh well – live and learn. And I am practicing flying dismounts again so I know when I should and shouldn’t do them!

Time: 2:48:34

Average Pace: 19.93 mph, Normalized power for course: 167 watts (3 watt best!)

Age Group Position: 7


Coming in to T2 I reached down and took my shoe still on my bike off – it was getting caught. I also removed my left shoe from my foot as it made for awkward running.

I remembered where my spot for T2 was and went right for it. I racked my bike, put on my hydration belt (nutrition was a bit warm but – never bothered my stomach all run, and I was prepared to go with the race course nutrition if it had gone off), socks, shoes, hat, race number belt and off I went.

I took a quick smear of sun screen on my shoulders and back. As usual I had my own, but let them apply it so I could use my later if I needed a second application like in FL.

Well – I hadn’t hit lap again, so I hit lap on my Garmin. And ran out of transition and saw Libby as I ran. She cheered me on as I raced out.

Time: 2:37


Now was the time to see how my legs felt after my bike. I felt strong, and comfortable. Hooray. The run is a double out and back – mostly uphill on the way out, and mostly downhill back in. But it does undulate. I was ready for it.

I was about 0.2 miles on the run course before I remembered to hit lap on my Garmin. Really – if you can’t tell, this isn’t my forte. Probably b/c I figure this is not the official time, and I am more concerned with speed of transition than hitting lap on my Garmin.

The run out wasn’t bad. In fact, I enjoyed it. I noted the mile counters for those on the second loop – thinking I would be there soon enough. I noticed how early mile 7 was on the loop which meant the second lap was shorter than the first. Yes!

I had my cooling strategy – sip water and dump ice down my jersey and shorts as I passed a water station. I went about every other one for this. The nutrition on my belt was, surprisingly, fine. Warm but not off. I had two bottles of Isis (no protein) – 1 bottle and ~ 120 -130 calories per hour. And 2 Gu chomps each hour. Usually I go for Coke at some point as my stomach usually gets a little upset along the way. For the first time in a half iron distance I had no such issues which was fabulous. I barely slowed for the water stations and ran strong and consistent.

Somewhere before the turn around I either passed a woman in my age group, or she passed me, and then I passed her somewhere. Anyway, she stayed behind me until about mile 6.5

Lap 1 of the run with my shadow right behind me
Lap 1 of the run with my shadow right behind me

– right off my left shoulder. Nearing the turn around she asked (jokingly of course) if we could do just one lap. I said we could, but then we would feel cheated. She agreed. Soon after she fell off my shoulder.

I saw Carlos and he asked if I was headed in to the finish – nope – first lap, Dear. He said OK.

With the run being an out-and-back I got to see people I knew, finally. I saw Cameron – I didn’t even know he was racing this event! I got to see Rich, Chrissy, Abby, and others.  I will admit – I didn’t always remember everyone’s name right off. But that’s typical when I race. I am lucky to remember Carlos’ name sometimes too. I just am not thinking along those term.

I headed out. It does seem like a long way to the turn around but soon it was there. And then I saw a woman in my age group pass me (a couple had on the first lap too – they were flying). She could put distance between us, but I was determined to minimize that distance. It was a good thing. Yes, this portion is downhill, but miles 9.8-13.1 were my fastest at a 7:45 pace average per the race results. The second time around was faster than my first time down this way by 7 seconds per mile!

Soon I was coming in to the finish. I was tired but felt strong, and ready to finish. I saw the clock and knew…not even close to trying to break 5 hours. Dang. I decided I was going to not miss 5:12 and pushed it in and finished in 5:11:47.

Finish Chute
Finish Chute

Run Time: 1:44:23 

Average Pace: 7:58

Overall time: 5:11:47

Age Group Position: 12


Carlos wasn’t at the finish. It turns out I finished faster than he thought, and he and his cousin were getting lunch. They saw me go by on the run, and quickly got their lunch boxed to go and headed to the finish line.

I wandered around, saw Bridget and Gibson – Gibson had race. We chatted as I scanned the crowd for Carlos.

While waiting I got chilled and had no change of clothes. I ended up staying in the sun at the peril of getting sunburned. I was just cold. Soon Carlos and his cousin Greg appeared. And I called to them as they wandered the area and we sat down on the curb. They ate while we waited for transition to open for me to collect my gear. I was disappointed with my finish. I know a sub 5 hour race is in me. It’s a random number to aim for, but I know I can. I thought this was the course, but it was harder than I thought. Oh well – it’ll come. That I believe.

I saw Abby come in and we chatted some. She headed off to find others.

And shortly thereafter I could collect my gear and head out. I needed a shirt to keep the sun off me, and keep me warm. I think next time I will ask Carlos to carry a bag with a shirt and shorts for me to change in to. Not that he doesn’t do enough already.


This was not my fastest half iron. In fact, it was my slowest in 1.5 years. But, in looking at the numbers, it was also my strongest. My swim was 2.5 minutes faster than FL 70.3. My other half IM swims had currents so comparing them is difficult. This one is a lake body and no current – just swimming.

My power output on my bike was the highest so far for this distance – a normalized power of 167. This beat FL 70.3 by 3 watts. This may not seem like much but it spoke to me. So I was just under 20 mph (19.93 mph) thanks to my goof coming in to T2, but a higher power. Yes – I did ride strong. And it didn’t make me suffer on the run. I need to carry this in to my next race. My bike is strong.

And it was a half iron distance run PR on a course that is challenging. I beat my Augusta run which is pancake flat. I averaged a 7:58 pace, which is my first time to break an 8 minute pace on a half iron distance.

Comparing numbers and courses, this was my strongest half yet. I am proud of that and my continued progress. And I love working with my coach, Laura. She makes a lot of what I get to do in training fun. And her encouragement still amazes me.

My age group was incredibly strong. And they could RUN! I guess I know one area I need to keep working on. Always good to have a comparison and motivation.

So, I am pleased with how I raced. It honestly was my strongest race yet. I was disappointed at my overall placement, but only because I believed I could do better. But I can’t control who shows up, and who can show me up! And this wasn’t the course for me to break 5 hours on this year. All I can do is know the benchmark for what I need to aim. And I am good with that. Slow and steady progress. It doesn’t happen over night.

My coach, Laura, has pushed me in all the right places. I have learned not to question what she believes I can do on a particular race. Somehow, what she says, I achieve. OK – maybe it is through hard work and consistency, but still. She sets the plan, I just do the workouts. And I am looking forward to my next race, Muncie 70.3.


3 thoughts on “Raleigh 70.3

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