As many of you have heard, 70.3 Muncie was cut down to a 37.2 on Friday at the first athlete meeting. I’m sure the WTC had already made that decision to cut the race down to a mile swim, 30 mile bike, and 10k run before athletes got there, but it would be too easy to tell us that ahead of time. They called this an “Olympic distance” triathlon…except the swim was a tad bit longer and there were an extra 5 miles on the bike.
My initial reaction to hearing they were cutting the distance was anger. I would be lying if I said I was not livid when I heard the decision to cut the race almost in half. That is by far the most expensive Olympic distance triathlon I have ever done… Then I was more disappointed than anything. I came to Muncie to do my first 70.3 and I had been thinking about this race since last summer. I had been training for it, well, not as long as I should have been, but definitely long enough. I was all set to go on Saturday, only to find out the race would be cut to Olympic distance. We all had been training to race a 70.3 so we wanted a 70.3. Then I was also slightly upset that the bike distance was 30 miles, rather than 24.8. If you’re going to call it Olympic distance, make it the actual distance. Sure, I was ready to ride the 56 miles, but 30 miles is a whole different game. A 30 mile ride with a 10k run pretty much turned it into a biker’s game. As much as I like riding my bike, I cannot hammer on the bike like a lot of those guys can, so I was excited for the 70.3 where I would have more time to catch people on the run. Longer run = better for me.
I guess my biggest complaint is that we knew we were signing up for a 70.3 in Indiana in July. We knew it would be hot when we signed up. The past month has just been brutally hot, so we figured it would still be hot on race day. You train to race in the heat if you sign up for a hot race. 70.3 Worlds will be hot, but that will not be shortened. Kona is always brutally hot, but they don’t shorten it! People do the Furnace Creek 508, Badwater, and many other endurance events in heat, and they don’t get shortened. I understand that 107 degrees may be a little hot, but that just means change your race strategy and make sure you make it to the finish. Move the start time an hour earlier, and change the cut off times, so people can be off the course before things just get too unbearable. Give people the option to do either an Olympic or a 70.3, do something! When you send us an email saying we can get $125 off of 4 races, one of which usually has the swim cancelled, one that just has a brutal bike course and is still pretty darn hot, and the other two being a flight away from the Midwest, none of us are really that happy!
With all of that said, I can understand why they would shorten the race, and although I am not happy with that decision, it was probably the right choice. It would have been a brutal day out there for many people, and they probably wouldn’t have had the medical staff to take care of that, plus anything going on in the town. There could have been some potentially bad situations. But hey, we signed the waiver, right? For the people that maybe didn’t put in the training they should, or weren’t physically ready, think of it as a blessing. But for those that did put in the time and work, we were ready! These races are not supposed to be easy!
Now, how did my race go? I would say I had a good day for me. I started off the morning with a 33:04 mile swim in the 88.5 degree water. The swim was uncomfortable. I never really found my groove and the water was just hot. The swim was fine until rounding the last buoy to come back to shore, and the sun was just blinding. It was pretty much impossible to sight, so I just swam toward the shore hoping to find sand!
Had a quick 2:45 T1.
Next was the bike. When it was a 56 mile bike, I had hoped to average 20.6mph on the bike and call it a good day. But, since it was a 30 mile bike, I knew I had to push it a lot more than I am used to so I could stay in a decent place on the bike. I ended up going 1:21:20 for 30 (I think it was closer to 29 miles). I figured if everyone else is hammering the bike, I may as well too, because I really had no idea how the 10k would go. I also thought hey, if I fall apart and run 6:30s on the 10k, my “falling apart” would still be quicker than most people’s running, so if I could pick up a few minutes on the bike, I should go for it. I felt great on the bike and I am excited for my next triathlon, because I am going to be more aggressive on the bike now. I came through 24.8 miles in 1:07, so that would have been a PR on the bike for me! Definitely one of the best days I’ve ever had on the bike.
Had a quick 1:37 T2.
The run, hmm, what to say about the run? The bike felt cool, but the run got hot. Once I exited T2, I knew it was going to be an interesting run. After putting more effort into the bike than normal, my legs were feeling it, but I knew I still had a decent run in me. I went out a bit too aggressive I believe. I think I was 6:05 for the first mile. Then I ended up coming through 3 in 19:14. I actually liked the out and back course, and it was actually pretty shady. The last 3.2 were run a 6:18 pace, so I negative split (6:24 out/ 6:18 back). I got ice (down the top and shorts) sponges (under shoulder straps, in front, and in back), and ice water at every aid station that I could. I probably lost 5-10 seconds a mile stuffing stuff anywhere things could be put—but it kept my body from overheating! I also think that Gatorade Perform hurts my stomach, because I had some on the bike and run and it really made me gassy. About 4 miles in, my left quad and left elbow started cramping and I knew it was going to be a push to the finish. I wasn’t a happy camper those last 2 miles, but I got it done. Ended up running 39:26 10k. Sure it may have been about 2:20 slower than I normally would run, but I definitely picked up that amount of time on the bike, so it all worked out in the end.
Overall, even though it was not my first 70.3, I really enjoyed Muncie, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind going back next year! And I guess I will just have to wait until September 23rd at Branson to do my first 70.3…better start working on that bike now! Looking forward to a challenging, but fun experience in Branson!