Friday, September 23, 2011

Ironman 70.3 Syracuse Relay Race Report

I already shared a quick summary of how things unfolded leading up the race. In short, it was very busy and loads of fun. Unfortunately we did NOT sleep well the night before the race thanks to a noisy roommate (relative of a friend who bunked with us). We were all pretty bleary eyed when the alarm went off at 4am, but ready to tackle the day nonetheless!

We went through the motions of getting ready in a sleepy stupor, then stumbled downstairs for the breakfast buffet in Erin's room.

Then it was time to head to the race site - about a 15 minute drive. It was cold (about 4C/39F) and pitch black at 5am, but the place was buzzing with Ironman energy.

We unloaded and headed to transition so everyone could set up. My wrist band allowed me into the transition area, so I was able to help out check out the bike porn.

The time flew by quickly and the sun finally came up, but it wasn't getting any warmer yet. We were bundled.

3 layers on top and 3 layers on the bottom - all fashion.

We made our way down to the water and everyone got ready to swim. The girls got in for a warm-up - literally, since the water was much warmer than the air!

We were able to watch the pros start and some of the leaders finish before everyone lined up in their waves. I had nervous and excited butterflies as we sent them off to officially start their day.

Relay [final] wave - go Erin!

We headed right over to the swim exit to snag a spot. It was awesome seeing everyone coming out of the water and cheering them on as they ran up to transition. There were wet-suit strippers too, which was fun to watch.

Here comes Erin right on schedule, in the first half of the all-female relay pack!

Swim - 40:30 

Erin's son and I ran along the path with her towards transition, then headed over to the bike exit. They had a loooong way to run, but she was quick in transition.

T1 - 3:49 

Then it was time for the spectators [and runner] to wait. It was a one loop course with no opportunity to see everyone out on the ride. We knew we had a good few hours so we hoofed back to the cars for a bit to have a bite to eat and rest. It had warmed up by now and we shed some layers before wandering around the race site some more. I was antsy as the time ticked by, constantly checking my watch and hoping that Erin was having a good ride.

Eventually we settled in near transition and got comfortable watching for the pros. I tried to have a catnap on the grass, but it felt pretty good just to sit. We cheered everyone on as they came in, watching them finish the ride, tear through transition and head out on the run.

I was consciously hydrating knowing that I had a half marathon to run in the middle of the day, and ate a Clif Bar about 90 minutes before I expected to start. With about half an hour to go, I made one last quick to the washrooms and made my way to the cow pen waiting area at the end of transition. I scoped out the competition while watching some of the faster teams make the swap.

I looked over at Erin's son who was watching for her, and got super excited when he waved that she was coming!

Erin had an awesome ride out there and made it look easy based on her race pics.

Bike - 3:18:07

I saw her run into transition and let the volunteer know that she was on her way. We cheered her on as she ran all the way through transition to the pen. She even managed to pass another relay team member who was making her way to the exchange.

T2 - 1:07

I gave Erin a quick congrats, grabbed the chip off her ankle, strapped it onto mine and crossed the mats.

My turn!!

It started with the grassy uphill run out of transition - the same as bike exit pictured above. Erin's son was waiting at the top with his awesome sign, which was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

Erin's daughter and friend T were waiting at the next corner; it was great to see them and get a boost as I headed off on the course.

The route was two loops and I didn't know much about it (except that Ironman courses are generally challenging). The sun was pounding down hard and it had heated up a lot by this point, so I had no idea what to expect. 12 noon is definitely not the ideal time to be racing long distance, but I was out to see what I could do for the team. I expected something in the 1:50 range, but (secretly) hoped for 1:45.

large rectangular part completed twice
I clearly got caught up in the excitement of being out there and started off too fast, but settled in after the first KM.

1 to 5: 4:42 - 4:48 - 5:14 - 4:56 - 4:58

I also quickly learned that it was a tough course when the first climb came early. There were a few good ones (most people walking) and we would be running all of them twice. You can easily spot them in my splits. I was usually able to make up the time on the downhills, which my quads have been punishing me for all week!

Notice the hill behind me!
I almost felt bad passing non-relay athletes on the course, but I tried not to be obnoxious about it; it's not like I elbowed them and yelled "You suck!" as I ran by. ;) There was a big "R" on my calf to identify me as a relay runner and every once in a while I would hear less than supportive comments from behind me or from the sidelines - "Don't worry, she's only relay." That only made me run faster. Ror the most part, it was a great environment to be running. I definitely caught myself wondering what it would be like (next year) to run a half marathon after a 56 mile bike ride and 1.2 mile swim.

 6 to 10: 4:37 - 4:55 - 4:51 - 4:53 - 4:58

This race had some of the best support, volunteers and spectators I have ever seen. I was excited to take advantage of the fully loaded aid stations every mile, stocked with water, sports drink, coke, fruit, gels, bars, etc. but as it turned out, all I wanted was my water (small handheld, which I partially refilled twice) and gels (7K and 14K).

11 to 15: 5:10 - 4:59 - 5:12 - 5:17 - 4:46

I was hot and had been dumping cups of water on my head (making sure it wasn't coke!) every couple miles. I was running quite a bit faster than expected/planned and kept wondering if I was going to bonk, but with 5K to go I knew I could hold on to it.

16 to 20: 5:01 - 4:46 - 4:51 - 5:05 - 5:00

Nearing the finish we had to make a quick turn with a short out and back and I got to see the team here for a quick boost before the home stretch. I kicked it up a notch. I wish Erin could have jumped in with me here so we could finish together since she did most of the work but we had been warned that we could be disqualified for doing so. Bummer. :(

With less than 100m to go there was a guy just ahead of me and I was itching to pass him, but held back so I wouldn't ruin his moment photo.

21: 4:30 (+ 0.1 at 4:10 pace)

Run - 1:43:49
4:55/KM (7:55/mi)

(we started 50 minutes after the clock)

"Girls on Your Left" 
5/14 all-female relay division
not bad for being the only 2-person team!

It was a great day out there and I loved being part of all the excitement. Most importantly, a big congrats to my partner for rocking out her "A" race of the season. It's mostly her fault that I got all caught up in this tri stuff to begin with.... but it's not so bad afterall.


Anonymous said...

Y'all did awesome!!! Congrats!

A Prelude To... said...

What a great race - You guys did AWESOME! WHAT a great finishing time and you simply killed the run. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

5th place in the division And a two-person team?! You guys rocked it! Looking strong on the run - you'll be ready to take that section down next year ;)

geo said...

Your report: AWESOME! You and Erin had a kickass race. I love how you're both smiling in almost every pic.

Erin said...

Great report, Marlene! It was so much fun to relay with you again, and have you with me for my "A" race. Now that you've set me free, you'll have to take my finish line pics, since you'll be there well before me. Great run, great day!

Jen Feeny said...

Great race ladies!!! Well done!

dawn @ running the dawn said...

awesome job! and way to crush even your secret goal on such a challenging course :)


You ladies are awesome. But I have to ask, do you ever have a bad race photo? You always make run fast look so easy and effortless ...

Rach said...

amazing race! gives me something to aspire to one day...:)

Robin said...

Great race report! Congrats again, you both did fantastic! Great photos too.

Nicole said...

Looks like SOOOO much fun!!!! :) :) Great job to you both!

JenZen said...

Girl you are such an amazing, inspiring ROCK STAR!!! Wow...just WOW!! *HUGE HIGH FIVE*

Heidi said...


Pretty sad the comments some people made. I kind of understand it, but still, wasn't necessary.

You ran a fantastic half!

Lindsay said...

oh come on, when you are running a marathon and see someone from the relay division pass you -- don't you think "oh, they're just on a relay team". c'mon now maurlene... you know you do. so don't get your thong in a twist cause someone said it to you :-p

oh and congrats, on *just* a relay half mar! ;-)

TNTcoach Ken said...

LOL, ruin his photo? That's what you live for now.............

kristen said...

Congratulations to both of you!!

How nice of you not to get in his picture :)

The Unexpected Runner said...

Great job! You guys rocked it!

Char said...

Nothing would convince me to get into the water when it's only 4 degrees outside.

You had an amazing run. Beating your secret A goal - awesome!

Heather said...

Nice job girls! Looks like a ton of fun!

Fran said...

What a great race, congrats to the both of you, you both did great!

Here in Holland almost every race starts at noon.

My 10 miler last week started at 1.30 pm and my half marathon in 3 weeks starts at 1.30 pm. I have no idea why that is, I prefer to run in the morning, also because it doesn't take all day that way.

Amy said...

Way to go, Marlene! I love that pre-race outfit! :)

MCM Mama said...

Nice job on the run! Can't wait till you race your own 70.3!

Joseph said...

Awesome race & awesome blog!

I'm organizing a run called Running Date, and want to extend you a special invitation.

Give me a shot at if you are interested. :)

Runner Leana said...

Awesome job on the relay!! Congrats to you both!

Jason said...

Great recap and again awesome for placing 5th with only 2 teammates.

You are just rocking the triathlon world these days.

J said...

Congrats! What a great idea to do the relay! Well done on the half!

Richelle said...

Awesome job to you and Erin! You both smoked it out there!

My husband and I have briefly discussed doing a relay 70.3 together. There's one in Washington State that we're considering, but that might wait until 2013. We're going to shoot for our first marathons next year!