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After Action Report – Chattanooga

Overview: My first Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, another chapter in my journey.

Goals and objectives: My goal as always, is to be consistent, and adaptable. This time I was also focused on being relaxed, and patient.

Analysis of outcomes: Chattanooga is beautiful, green rolling hills, the Tennessee River, lots of cool bridges, a fun, and historic downtown. I feel a great sense of accomplishment for what I achieved. My planning, and preparation gave me a lot of confidence which helped me to stay relaxed.

Analysis of the performance shown on critical tasks: As is my usual approach, I flew in the day before to get settled, check-in, get my bike setup, and checkout a little bit of the course, and the city. I had a couple easy training sessions, a quick run on Friday after I got of the plane. On Saturday I picked up my bike from TriBike Transport and gave it a quick test ride, then in the afternoon I was fortunate to get a quick swim in the endless pool at C26 (thank you very much Robbie!)

On Saturday afternoon I setup my transition bag, clothes, wet-suit, sunscreen, water bottles, hydration. I ended up bring homemade nutrition with me, I am a really big fan of using recipes from the Feed Zone Portables book from Skratch Labs. It took up a bit of extra mental space, but ended up working out fantastically. On race morning I woke up early ate breakfast, got centered, and headed down to the transition to get setup.

Once setup in transition, they started calling out the swim times to head over to the start. We walked from the transition area (where you go from swim to bike, and from bike to run) up to the swim start, it was a little confusing, and slightly disorganized. The race start was scheduled for 6:50, with racers entering the water every 5 seconds, it did not move that quickly, and the rolling start times were not marked, or called out. I ended up fending for myself a bit, and ended up walking to the front at around 7:30, I should have gotten in earlier. Once in the water, I felt relaxed, and comfortable, my training at Barton Springs pool paid off I felt confident with my sighting, and didn’t loose any time zig-zagging all over the place.

I came out of the water feeling great, struggled a little bit in transition getting out of my wet-suit, drying myself off, and getting into my bike jersey, socks, and shoes. I can probably work out a slightly better plan the next time I do a wet-suit race. Once on the bike, I felt great, the weather was really mild, there was a slight headwind most of the way, I nailed my nutrition, and hydration plan and played it a little conservative, holding back knowing that it was going to get hot. At the last 10km of the bike, I eased up, lowered my gear, picked up the cadence, and got out of aero to prepare myself for the run.

My transition from bike to run was more straightforward, however, I forgot to get sunscreen on the backs of my legs. Burn calves are not awesome. I opted to use a hydration backpack for the run, which was smart, unfortunately, I didn’t set it up right, and ended up spilling a bunch of water, I got it fixed, and didn’t have any other issues with the backpack. I started out the run a bit too fast for the conditions, and had a really hard time getting my heart rate to settle down. For nutrition, I used dates, skratch chews, and salt tabs every 15 minutes. The heat, and hills really slowed down my usual pace. At each aid station I poured water over my head, and put ice under my hat to keep from overheating. At mile 7, I decided to walk through the aid station to get my heart rate down, which did the trick. At mile 9 I got a really nasty side stitch that slowed me down even more, I was able to walk it off pretty quickly, and get back to running however, slower than I would have liked. At mile 10 I ran out of my chews, and dates, and ended up using a Gu gel with caffeine, that I kept in reserve in case I started to bonk (next time I will pack other options).

Summary: For my first official Ironman 70.3 it was a success, I fell a little short of my goal, but am happy with my performance, and feel that I performed well given the conditions.

Recommendations: I will focus on improving my FTP, keep working with Felix at AASA for the swim, and incorporate more hills into my run training. Additionally, I need to work through different strategies to make for more speedy transitions.