I warned you that there may be more multisport chatter here. If it’s not your thing, don’t read on. There are more travel posts coming your way shortly!
Let’s start with the end up front: if you are thinking about a summer 70.3, at a non-Ironman branded race, and it is your first 70.3, this is a great race.
This was my first attempt at this distance, and I primarily used it as a prep race for Ironman Maryland in October, and to see how I liked the distance. It was hot, but it is July in Virginia. It’s going to be hot. I used it as an opportunity to test my fueling and hydration, most of which went off without a hitch.
The Venue: You have to get there the night before or pay extra to pick-up your packet race day. Since I was coming in from DC the night before, this was no big deal and honestly it was sort of nice to not have to trudge my bike in and out of a hotel room. Packet pick up was seamless and uncrowded. There was plenty of water and Gatorade for all.
Hotel: I stayed at the Fairfield Inn in Williamsburg (I am a Marriott Gold member and credit card holder, and it was the cheapest Marriott property available). It was clean and only a 15 minute drive to the venue. Down seriously one road with no turns. Even I can do that without thinking at 4am.
Morning: I had a little incident this past week (actually, there was no incident. I got bitten by what I think was a spider and the freakin’ bite got infected and I had to go to the ER). And I was on antibiotics, and they made my stomach feel less than desirable. But I shoved some food down my face (and by shove, I mean that almost literally); I used to try to eat “healthy” on race morning, failing miserably to eat anything at all. I now eat whatever I want as it is better than nothing. I hate eating in the morning.
Transition: Rev3 had people pumping your tires (or you could do it yourself) which was so nice since bikes were racked day prior. I was the very last row, which was also nice – less people, less stuff, lots of room. I prefer the racks that Rev3 uses where you tire sits in a little wooden box on the ground. Less shenanigans as it is very clear what your space allotments are.
Swim: This swim course is really peculiar in some ways and may not be the same from year to year. They do swim you with the current, but for the half, you had to swim up and out into the main river (from a tributary) before you turned around. I could not sense there was a strong advantage from the current for the half since you were both with and against at different times. It is shallow. They had to add another bouy for us to go around because it was too shallow in places. The last 500 meters I was swimming in sea grass like swamp monster and my hands were scraping the bottom. I tried to stand up at one point and sank past my knee. No thanks, I’ll keep swimming. I’m too squeamish for that sh*t. To all the men who stood up and started walking–thanks, guys, you made sure I was covered in river scum all day! Kidding, it’s all part of the fun . I came in at 31 minutes which is pretty much exactly what I expected. The Olympic times were super speedy since they didn’t have to go upstream before heading downstream.
T1: Because I was on antibiotics that cause sun hypersensitivity, I spent time putting on sleeves (Desoto Sport Wings…highly recommend) for the bike (and left them on for the run) and sprayed sunscreen on my legs again. Also got a gulp of my Carbopro and some Hammer endurolytes down. Not fast, but I needed to get those things done.
Bike: The bike is where I struggle. People were flying past me, but I had a great ride (for me). I came in exactly at 3 hours and felt exceedingly comfortable the entire way. I definitely could have gone faster, but I had no idea what I’d feel like on the run. This course is rolling hills–nothing too steep up or down. Really easy to maintain speed. It’s also mostly shaded; not a lot of shoulder space, though. Side note: everyone, be careful. There were some horrible crashes and cars don’t always pay attention.
T2: Sprayed on more sunscreen and got in and out in a minute. Nothing to do here but get out on course.
Run: On what planet does anyone categorize this as a “flat” run course?! I mean, I’m no hill-hugger, but jiminy crickets. This run is not particularly flat. Particularly for the half. Because you have to run up/down a bridge/overpass four times. Mile 1, Mile 6, Mile 7, Mile 13 or thereabouts. There are some gentle rolling hills right after that as well. Whatever, I slogged through. I ran the whole time. I got my electrolytes all wet and threw up a half dissolved capsule that burned my throat. At least that was at mile 6. Most of the run is in the sun, and they did have ice and sponges at most stations, which were every mile. Besides my fail at electrolytes which left me depleted at the end, my hydration and fuel were good and my stomach felt great which was something I wanted to test out for the Ironman. My run base has been lower as I had some nagging pain here and there, so my longest run prior to this was less than 10 miles. So while I know I’m capable of better than a 2:12, it is what I had that day and that’s ok.
Finish: My goal was 6 hours, and I came in at 5:48. I’ll take that. First, I learned a ton about my fitness and ability to push through, something I previously lacked completely. Thanks to my coach for both of those things. Second, I know I’m capable of much more, if I want to focus on a 70.3 distance in the future. Third, I was thrilled with my bike. It was so comfortable and … fun! Fourth, my fueling and hydration looks on point, minus the electrolyte debacle (Hammer endurloytes/gels + Carbopro on the bike are my go-to’s).
Rev3 puts on a great race! I’m not sure I like heat enough to come back to Williamsburg, but it is tempting. Really tempting.