A little over a week ago I completed my first-ever Ironman Series event, the Lonestar Ironman 70.3 in Galveston, TX. Some thoughts on the 70.3-mile triathlon...
Swim. I loved the swim... probably my favorite part about the race because I surprised myself by finishing the 1.2 mile distance in 36 minutes. I had predicted a little over 40 minutes and was hoping for anything under 45, so to finish it in the time I did made me overjoyed. The water was 72 degrees and wet suit legal, which makes you buoyant and faster (not to mention salt water in the ocean).
Bike. The 56 mile bike course was an out-and-back along the Seawall. The first half was into the wind, making for an amazing return back to transition. Completed it in a little under three hours. Averaged a little under 19mph, which was 17mph on the way out, 21mph on the way back. This is definitely an area I need to improve on.
Run. Very disappointed in my run as it's what I'm best at. I averaged an 8:14/mile which is much slower than what I'm used to running... but that's also not in very windy, hot and humid conditions, and not after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56. Was tough to keep my heart rate down.
Total time: 5 hours, 29 minutes and 55 seconds.
To put things into context, the winner, Chris Lieto, finished in 3:45:37. Biking at an average of 27.5mph and running a 5:52/mile on the half marathon. The last-place finisher in my division took over 9 hours to finish the race.
Harder than a marathon? Yes; but different. A full 26.2-mile marathon takes an enormous toll on your body because of what the constant pounding on concrete does to your feet, joints, knees and lower-body in general. For me, a marathon is incredibly painful when you near the finish. I never felt that during the Half Ironman. There's zero impact on a the swim, very little impact on the bike ride, and a half marathon run is much less than a full. When I finished I felt more "cardiovascular fatigue" than anything else. My legs didn't necessarily hurt, but my heart felt tired, as I ran out of gas toward the end of the run.
Nutrition is critical. Months ago when I was training for my first triathlon my mentality was to drink when I'm thirsty, eat when I'm hungry. That doesn't work when you exert yourself for over five hours... I was very humbled by this event with regards to nutrition.
Full Ironman? Some day. 140.6 miles is a long way to go. As of right now, the swim sounds very doable... 2.4 miles with proper training doesn't intimidate me like the bike-run combination does. 112 miles on the bike, or for someone at my level right now, let's call it six hours, followed with a full marathon? Yikes. Some day.
Me coming through transition, after the bike on my way to the run.