Today I’m excited to finally share with you a guest post I’ve been sitting on for awhile. Matt Hubbel is Mr. Triathlon to me- he organizes swim groups and bike rides, volunteers at aid stations and cheers for the pros. I was lucky to meet Matt through a friend and he’s always there with an excellent tip or story to make me a better triathlete. I asked Matt to share the story of his first half ironman- a race which went from 70.3 to 70.8 due to a run course problem- as I prepare for my first 70.3. His story is below- and you can find more from Matt over on his all-things-triathlon website, hubbellm.com
Ironman AZ 70.8
Not a typo, a last minute route change caused a 1/2 mile addition to the run course.
The swim was a hot topic in the days leading up, weather reports predicted torrential downpours which may have led to a cancelled swim, making the race a duathlon. Thankfully, the storms held off, and the swim was not cancelled. To many athletes’ displeasure, the water temp stayed comfortably above the 76.1 degrees, the USAT wetsuit legal race temp, making this event not wet suit legal. In the end, the swim waves went off smoothly, and with myself in the 4th wave, I didn’t have many issues with traffic or speedy swimmers climbing over me from the following waves. Transitions were nice, the transition was set up in a grass area, so barefoot running and bike shoe running were both comfortable.
The bike course was 3 loops, so hopefully you were counting. The first 5+ miles in one area, then passing by the crowds to the other sections. The course was mostly flat, a few small hills, but lots of turning with several U-turns. Hopefully your bike handling skills were up to par, I did see a few people unclip one foot to ensure safe passage. Again, the course was open enough that I didn’t experience any traffic jams, and thankfully no out-of-control riders. I heard later that my family witnessed one guy coming in with bandages, but I didn’t witness any wrecks on course.
The run course was basically a loop around the lake, with one section avoided (see above) causing an Out-N-Back section. Coming off the bike my legs felt ok, I cruised through mile 1 then 2 before feeling uncomfortable, by 3 I knew it was going to hurt, and by 6 I was walking more than running. My struggles were not endurance, they were nutrition. Not even lack of calories; to my knowledge, just a bad mix that felt like a cramp in my stomach. At mile 8 I heard my name yelled from behind. “Levi” came running up and he informed me that I passed him on the bike course and he had been chasing me ever since. He had enough power left to catch me on my walk, and we ended up hanging together till the end. At half a mile to go we agreed to go for it, and I made the jog in, he came in a few seconds behind.
Take-aways are pretty simple: nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. I slacked a few times in my mileage during training, but what I never nailed day after day was my nutrition. Lesson learned there. I’m proud to have completed my first Half-Iron distance race; after all it is supposed to be fun, so killing myself to run it in wasn’t worth the misery. I’m thankful to have another half already on my schedule, my feelings of accomplishment are only exceeded by my desire to improve. Oceanside 70.3, April 2, 2016.