Ironman 70.3 Wilmington, North Carolina 2017
Alright! Here is my race report on my very first half Ironman 70.3 in Wilmington, NC! I’ll try to keep it short, but detailed! This is literally my first year in triathlons and ultimately learning how to swim, so crossing this finish line was a big deal! Here’s what I learned going into it, and a few takeaways from a newbie perspective. I won’t go in depth on my nutrition, but will keep this specifically about the race itself.
If you can get there at least two days ahead to make the early check in option, do it! We had two days of checking in prior to race day. Thursday self checking, Friday self and gear check in. There were three bags we had to pack: bike gear, run gear, and morning clothes bag.
- Bike gear: This bag was everything for your bike which you’ll replace with swim gear. This was also the ONLY bag we would get to race morning. Friday I checked in my bike (first one of course…newbie jitters!), clip shoes, helmet, shades, gloves etc…Bike check in was Friday only. No bikes were allowed morning of. Early Saturday morning I went to get numbered and make final placements of bike essentials (my fluids and nutrition). You could have brought it all on Saturday, but I didn’t want a hand full of things on race day.
- Run bag: This bag would be switched out for bike gear. We could NOT get to this bag race day. So if you wear socks don’t forget them. Don’t forget your bib and shades! This was the only bag I pre-staged my fluids/ nutrition.
- Morning clothes bag: Literally just that. It was nice to to keep on warm clothes and ditch them as our respective waves were called. They had collection bags for us to place them in, and shuttle back to the start.
- Everything you exchanged has to go in the bag for transport. Label everything you deem important. This way if it falls out the item would still make its way back. Bike gear and morning clothes bags were collected and brought to the finish line. The bike and bike bag was collected by ourselves (or trusted designated person).
Coming in early, I was able to really think things out Thursday night, but it also gave me an extra day to shop in case I left something. The expo was also very calm on Thursday with some one-on-one time asking questions. ATTEND THE ATHLETE MEETING! They answered everything! From the routes to what you could get penalties on. Go and listen. It doesn’t hurt to get free advice. The presenter was extremely patient with the amount of first timers that were in the room.
Estimated time: 52-55min
Actual time: 36min 47sec
Okay…this swim is fast!! Not only was it wetsuit legal, but we were swimming with the current and can definitely feel it. Keep buoys to you left and go. (Works well for left side dominant breathers) . It still felt like forever, but as soon as I said “geesh how much longer?!” it was over! I felt my sighting was better this time. I didn’t swim 100yds in the wrong direction or have a kayak person ask me if I’m okay. Main goal was to not get scooped out. We ultimately lucked up and had a gorgeous race day weather. No storm or hurricanes to make the water choppy. The current was so smooth. No creature. No jellyfish. No big fish. A few people touched my toes, but that helped me get it together. I did like that the route was wide and not a lot of people were swimming all over the place. The water? 71 degrees and Very SALTY water! Whatever your method is to deal with saltwater utilize it. They had a sprinkler we ran under, but it didn’t make a big difference.
T1: 6min 27sec
I lost some time here. We ran from the pier, across the street, down a shoot that took us half way around all the bikes and in. My bike was somewhere deep in the middle, so make moves! I wouldn’t take transitions for granted. A lot of time can be lost. When you swim in there are plenty of ladders to get out, and people were pulling us up. I also used the wetsuit strippers and they were fast! At first I wasn’t going to, but I’m glad I did. Make sure your garmin is on the inside of your suit!!
Estimated time: 3hr 45min
Actual time: 3hr 24min 7sec
Yay me! Shaved 23min off my time! Route is super flat, but sometimes flat isn’t always good. This means you’re actually pedaling the ENTIRE time. Nothing to coast or glide. On the bridges there were a few grates to cross, which meant to slow down. Please adhere to the volunteers and their warnings. Some did not slow down and crashed. I saw saw a few competitors with bruised faces, they crashed, and faced having to stop racing altogether. The grates started within the first good 5miles or so. You can bet a lot of people started to sloooow dooown after seeing that! Take your time, but race your race. The time is easy to make up. Overall good bike route. Was a bit annoyed they put a nice little hill right at the very end as you’re trying to shake out your legs instead. It didn’t help (for me) to recover, but I finished strong as possible.
The bike dismount was at the base of a hill which was a deal to work with. Again we ran all the way around the bikes and in. The rest was my fault. I spent a lot of time just getting stuff out of the bags. Not having a tri mat makes it a little harder to grab-N-go. So I’ll say really have what you need in there. Don’t guess around about it. I am going to incorporate taking things out of bags for my brick training. I can say I was not expecting not having my tri mat.
Estimated time: 2hrs
Actual time: 2hrs 7min 47sec
You guessed it! A little irritated by my time, but I’m not a big biker and my legs were still getting over that last hill. I can say I wasn’t prepared for a push prior to the run. Biking is now my weakest event. I took a minute to stretch, some nutrition, and eased back into it. Thankfully my legs worked themselves out!! I purposely took it slow the first 4, but after that turned it up heading to 6, the turnaround, and back. The water stations were appropriately placed and stocked with good fruits, salty food, and other carbs. It wasn’t too hot or hilly just slightly inclined.
AMAZING!! What a rush to hit the Ironman red carpet, all the banners, and official Ironman arch. Coming in I heard my parents, and a fellow teammate cheering so I ran harder! The announcer called my name as a first timer and I was done. Standing there I just looked at everyone realizing what we just did!! It’s done! Just like that! Can’t truly put in words the atmosphere and feeling of this moment, but take a minute and let it soak in. I grabbed my hat and medal, made way to take my finisher photo, and greeted the fam. They always make it to my “first” time in going something. It is also a thing that no one puts on my medal, but my dad if he’s there. So awesome seeing him, Mom, and teammate at the end. That really makes a difference.
Conclusion/ Overall/ Take always:
So if you skipped down for the “so what” of things, here’s the down and dirty. Overall amazing race! This was so organized, people were friendly answering questions, and the volunteers made it happen! If you can get there on a Thursday for a Saturday race do it! Take your time packing and be thorough in labeling. I liked that the swim was a straight line, the bike was a down and around, and the run was a down and back. The routes didn’t have you on some crazy hamster loop passing something 3-4 times. This will most likely be your fastest swim. The bike, although flat, was a push and adhere to the warnings! Run and enjoy! The run was pretty smooth, self explanatory, well marked on when to turn.
Most of all have FUN!! Roughly 2800 competitors were out there! I got to meet some incredible athletes and connected with some familiar faces. I had so much fun just enjoying the atmosphere! Truly trust your training. Stay calm and know that you’re ready. As a first time swimmer I really wanted to do well, and I did which I’m very proud of! Now I have to bring up my biking! Bottom line I would definitely recommend this race for anyone especially first-timers wanting to break into the Ironman Half world!
Lost items: Goggles
Forgotten items: Forgot to put on bike gloves
Training switch: practice taking items out of bags for transitions