9Lives’s Ironman Raleigh 70.3 Race Report – TriCoachGeorgia
Many of you know our loyal and dedicated athlete #9Lives aka Richard Nasser and you know how difficult Ironman Raleigh 70.3 can be. It is known as one of the tougher swims for the distance and the heat and humidity has been known to crush many a triathlete’s dreams.
Coming off a difficult Winter with another bike wreck that was both physically and mentally challenging and limited training, #9Lives had to do quite a bit of traveling for business and leisure in the Spring. Nevertheless, he had a tremendous short ramp up despite some foot issues that emerged.
Results Speak Louder than Words
#9Lives performed admirably in spite of many obstacles on the day as well. In fact, it was just a sublime race and we are punishing his race report because we believe it would convey too much to the reader about how triathlon is more than just a physical sport. Coach Slayer often says that endurance sports are 90% mental and 50% physical. Well this race result was a great example.
Coach Slayer and #9Lives plotted the course. #9Lives than executed a brilliant race on a day described by a well known local triathlete as “Cambodian jungle conditions.” The heat and humiditiy were overpowering, the morning of the race was nerve racking, and the result was even more rewarding for what had to be overcome. Here follows the unedited #9Lives’ race report for Ironman Raleigh 70.3:
I did not want to do this race. I wasn’t in good swim shape and injuries and travel have thrown off my training year. No one I knew was there, it was going to be 90 degrees, and there were two transitions 40 miles apart.
Raleigh was a cool college and young professional types city, and upon conversing with several, locals I realized it’s a very nerdy place, which I love. We got there and it was 94 degrees, and very humid. We checked into hotel at about 6:30 PM and I planned to go out for a 2 mile jog, but needed more and to see what my race pace felt like in this heat and what heart rate it produced. Looked like about 7:30 would be a 162 HR and that I would need to be a little slower than that so that I wouldn’t have to suffer and walk like I did in Miami. Then we went out to dinner had a couple drinks and explored the city. Fun night! The next morning we walked 1.4 miles in the heat and it was miserable. My anxiety started to build, but then I thought to myself “if it’s hurting me it’s killing zem” quote from Sebastian Kienle. Ali had all the things we needed, maps and plans and things like she does.
Today she wasn’t ready to deal with my child like disregard for organization, so fortunately AWA treated us amazing, we skipped the lines, got a cool cap, I felt like an OG walking into the hood. Plus I had a tan, hot blonde walking around with S-Works Shiv Di2 with 808’s and 404’s. Sex. I remember my first expo in New Orleans with my road bike with aero bars, and I knew that clicking sound the carbon wheels make just gave me goosebumps. I met Jason from Orr Wheels at expo which was cool because I wanted his full back disk for my bike, and we were Facebook friends, but hadn’t met in real life. Ali pulled out the “things to get at expo” list and we picked up a few things and headed to drive up to transition to check my bike. I observed the roads all looks very nice and smooth, and not too many potholes, looked like it could be a fun ride.
The T1 area was like a camp sight full of expensive bikes, colorful garments, and stress. I got on my bike to spin my legs out a little from the run of the previous night. Ali carried my bag and the lists were good. It felt like a good fit and the Rudy Project helmet felt fast, because my other helmet shows my ears and I know I’m not aero if I can hear the wind draft. Plus it looked fucking badass. I unclip. Am ready to set up bike. Head to T2 and get ready for the race the next day. I felt my seat tilted forward a little bit, which it does sometimes if the screw is too loose, and I was horrified to see a completely severed piece of my saddle, that meant that the saddle was gone, and it also had my hydration strategy, the double bottle wing in the back.
We checked the bike in and called the bike store. We had to stop by to pick up a bladder because the one I had was from the previous owner on eBay, and probably should have been quarantined weeks ago, I typically only drink from bottles while training. None of their locations had a tri specific saddle, and it was 4:30 on saturday, all the bike shops closed at 5:00 and we still hadn’t eaten since breakfast.Needless to say I was a wreck, luckily Ali told me “stop being a little bitch, we will figure it out – call Wei, call Slayer, call Ironman, we will find a saddle.” Slayer had a back up, and I found a triathlon store 20 minutes away that closed at 6:00, and it was by Panera Bread which was an extra bonus because that is Ali’s favorite. I got a similar ISM because luckily the guy had my same bike, so I had good advice, and he told me it would fit the wing too. Now it was too late to go to T2 so we had to set it up now by between 4:00-5:15am, joy my wave was at 8:12. We drove back to hotel went and had dinner and went to bed at 9:30.
I slept ok, only woke up 2-3 times, which is good for me. Got up around 4:30, rushed to get stuff together and find T2. We pulled the truck out of the parking deck, and Apple maps took us nowhere fast, it was 5:13 and T2 was nowhere to be found, then we had to figure out a back up plan. Ali said she would just throw the bag over worst case, but we found it and made it in. But hold let me rewind 30 minutes. I woke up and said, “fuck this race, I’m not in shape, I don’t know anyone, my bike is broken, and I’m 20 pounds over where I raced in Miami that had wind and I walked.”
Ali was like whatever do what you want to do, but we gotta get your bike. So I eventually calmed down, but was not in a happy morning smile mood. I hated everyone in T2 laughing and smiling and shit, fuck them, “I hate triathlon.” We find a gas station somehow in the hood, and people were still up from partying the night before, I picked up my gatorade and cliff bar for the race, and headed back out to the car. There was a freaking crackhead touching and pretending to wash the windshield with with a piece of newspaper or some other bullshit, I don’t like when Ali drives, she’s in the driver’s seat after I told the crackhead to get the fuck away from my car and he looked and me and didn’t say another word and we drove off. I was ready to go out and just get it done, I’m not going to let down Slayer and TriCoachGeorgia and TriAugusta and ATC and ITL and everyone in the fucking triathlon world. So I went in, got my bike fixed, set up everything and left transition the last guy out.
I go back to find Ali, tell her that for her Ironman I can go into the transition since I’m a coach. Then I smiled. I’m slowly chipping away at her mentally to get into the sport and she is getting there, but she is super organized whereas, I am like a cannon of confetti mixed with gun powder fired into the Grand Canyon, I just kinda go, and go hard. I get to the swim start to chill and mentally get ready for this race. My bike is ready, time to do my job, and be the best I could be that day, I forgot my heart rate monitor which I rely on, but that was good in the end, but I could go by power and pace, and I was ready to just suffer through this swim, and get to the bike. I go to grab my….goggles. I left two pair in the hotel room. Shit! Emergency, fuck this I quit. Ali told me to find Wei then Wei pointed me in directions I can’t find a tent, I’m getting Facebook notifications, and I am freaking out, I am in line for the port-a-potty. All of the sudden Ali walks back up to me with a pair of old goggles. Miraculously Ali just walked towards swim start and woman had found them and asked if anyone was in need of extra goggles. It was on. Ali saved the day.
45:12- 2:20 per 100 m
Swim I just tried to stay relaxed and not work too hard as I have swam less than 10,000 yards this year. I swam over distance on the friday before the race so I knew I could complete the distance. I used this as training, and I would actually call this my most comfortable swim yet. Most 70.3’s I am 30-40% breast stroke, but this one I was able to stay calm, sight, and freestyle 90% of the time. I was hitting age groupers who were stopped, zig zagging, or panicking. The first 300 yards I drafted off some feet in front of me until I realized that he was zig zagging, so I passed him and went off on my own. I felt my time should have been faster, but the water got extremely choppy, which didn’t hurt my breathing, I am just not as muscularly strong in the upper body as I have been before. I got to T1 at 45, which was about 10 min slower than I expected considering I relaxed and breast stroked and stopped in Miami for a 40 min swim.
I rushed to my bike, caught my breath a little, popped a caffeine pill and ran with shoes on to slowly clip into bike. Transitions will be a good thing for me to work on this year especially mounting and dismounting.
2:35:24- 21.62 mph
I felt pretty good at the beginning, but made sure I held back especially at the beginning. I started to have mini races with a few people, but would end up passing them and taking off after a few miles. I felt very strong on the bike. My nutrition was a water and gatorade at each station, a clif bar, and the initial 2 gatorades I began with. I was crushing people on hills more than I have ever experienced, I was effective at using momentum, rpm control, and limiting redlines, to take advantage of a course where bike handling skills helped. Max speed was 44 mph, and I mentally just blocked out the fear. In my head I was thinking “If i crash, it’ll just hurt, but not giving my best hurts worse.” So I tucked into aero and pushed watts down hill. I watched power meter for redlines, but not as good at using it for consistent effort, which is something I will work on, since number wise I should have gone 10% faster. I get to the end of the bike and legs are a little tired, but I played it right and knew I could run. My main goal here was to have a well done run split no matter what the speed. I had been traveling, 20 pounds heavy, achilles problems and fear of a broken foot, so I made sure I set myself up for a successful of a run as I could. I saw a guy from ATC at about mile 53 and passed him screaming “Go ATC, you better catch my ass on the run!” I saw he was in my age group and I was pumped to get off the bike.
This was confusing as I wasn’t too familiar with rack spot and this was a long transition. I started running in my shoes, then stopped to take them off and continued running with shoes, helmet, and bike. I didn’t want to get my HR up too high during this because my goal was the last 2-3 miles of the run to be fastest, so because of a caution for that I took it a little easier.
1:47:28- 8:12 a mile
I decided to go first mile by just pure feel. It was about 7:31 or so, so I tried to maintain this effort, even though I knew because of hills, and the 94 degree heat with no shade that pace would go down at higher effort. I was 20lbs over race weight so I got hot really fast. Every aid station I would soak myself with water, grab a gatorade, and put ice in my crotch to cool the jewels, but this got excruciatingly hot. I was looking for Ali at mile 2, but she wasn’t there, which my mind began to freak out a little, but I retook control. I remember Slayer saying, “your problem with ironman is that you get bored and let your mind wander,” so instead of freaking I thought “just run, it doesn’t matter if it’s 11 min/mile, just run, one foot in front of the other.” I see Ali at end of the first loop, and was pumped, but dreaded the second loop because it was hotter, and people were in more pain. It is much harder to run when every single person around you is walking.
There was one point when I was the only person running on the 1.7 mile hill; everyone was doing the death march. I hit mile 10 and things got very painful, the heat was overtaking me, and I was ready to quit. I couldn’t do it though, it was this late in the game and I wasn’t going to let myself or Slayer down. The ATC kid did pass me at mile 3-4, but I could see him. I saw the bright colors, and just tried to keep his pace or faster. He was racing another guy in our age group. Mile 12 I went for the pass and got it. The other guy & the ATC kid was racing was still ahead, so it was me vs him now. The last mile I was on his tail, but I was probably close to max heart rate: everything hurt, and I was seeing stars, but I wasn’t about to give up that pass. The last mile was the fastest mile, and I sprinted through the finish 17th in age group, finding out later that my bike and run were faster than 16th place guy I was racing at the end, he just got me by 8 min on the swim.
Yes there were a lot of challenges and this wasn’t my fastest time but I was happy regardless. I gave it my all and overcame the negative voices in my head and had some negative splits on both the bike and run. Now I can get back to working hard for the late season races. Thanks for reading along.