Blue70 Racing

Tuning up at Ironman 70.3 Timberman

I had a really strong performance at Timberman, finishing in the top five at an Ironman 70.3 and taking the age group win.

I planned Timberman into the season a little later than the other races. I thought it would be a good tuneup for Kona right before heading to the island. Since we were treating it as more of a B or C race, I was still putting in some massive weekend efforts right until race week and had just a couple days or recovery workouts as a taper. I was still feeling the fatigue pretty heavily in my legs up until Thursday and wasn’t sure what to expect out of myself going into the race. Just like coach expected, the freshness was pretty much back Friday and Saturday I was feeling pretty good. 


I drove up to the venue in Laconia to check in on Friday afternoon to make sure to get as good and low of a number as I could. I learned in Maine the having the Ironman All World Athlete (AWA) status and doing the priority registration thing with it gives me a way better spot in transition. Being up there early also meant I could be way more relaxed on Saturday. There was less rush in getting my tuneup workouts done and getting in the car for the drive. It meant a way more boring day sitting on my butt in the hotel room watching movies, but that was probably for the best considering what I was about to do to myself.


I woke up way early Saturday before my alarm like always and did the quick tuneup brick that I had planned. It was about 38 degrees which was a little nippy in a trisuit but it was only 25 minutes. The 5 minute run following the ride felt surprisingly good too. I didn’t realize Reach the Beach was this weekend also and there were a couple vans getting to the hotel from the overnight leg of that looking pretty groggy and confused what the hell I was doing getting back from a bike ride at 6am. I put away my protein shake and hopped into a pretty incredible hot shower. Breakfast was open at that point and I got down a pretty solid meal. I hung out in the room until about noon, ate a quick sandwich and pretzels, and headed up to Laconia for bike dropoff.


I was pretty excited about my rack spot. It was right at the end of the closest rack to bike in/out which meant I would barely have to run in bike shoes pushing the bike. I placed my saddle on the bar and took the obligatory pic for the gram. I didn’t really know what to do with myself so I wandered down to the swim start quickly to check that out. The water looked glassy and well protected. It looked like it was going to be fast. I ran into a couple of Boston Tri Team folks and chatted with them for a minute while they got ready for a practice swim. We parted ways and I headed back to the car to do a preview of the bike course. 


The bike course preview was a good idea. I saw how steep the first 20 miles were and learned that I was going to need to be careful with the road conditions in Louden. The course was more or less a dead simple out and back, so I ended the preview when I got to the repeated section of road that would bring me back north to Laconia. I opted to cut 20 minutes off the trip back to the hotel instead. I got back and put on my recovery boots and watched movies until dinner and an early bedtime. 


The race morning alarm went off at 3:40 so that I could eat my 2.5 cups of applesauce, banana, and protein/osmo preload concoction before 4. I was pretty much ready to go by 4:15 and decided I might as well head to transition until they opened it. I got there about 10 minutes before they opened and found some friends from NEMS who I talked to to pass the time. They seemed pretty excited for the race despite the early hour which was some great energy to feed off of at 5:20.


The race organizers let us into transition and I got to work on the usual tasks. Put the nutrition on the bike, pump up the tires, and lay everything out. I mimed a couple transitions quickly too. There was a trip to wait in the crazy long porto-john line at some point and I still had about 30 minutes to the start. I put my wetsuit half way on and milled around a little before heading to the swim start with about 15 to go. I was eating my prerace caf gel when I ran into Colin and hung out with him at the front of the corral waiting for the race to start. The water was looking calm and fast and I was getting amped to go.


They started letting us into the chutes with about 3 minutes to the start. I tried to be a little more strategic and get in the second row this time. Some guy edged in front of me and put me in the third row. I pretty much shrugged it off knowing I could probably just go over him in the water if I felt like it. They shot off the cannon and the race was on. 


I only had to wait about 30 seconds for my turn to go. I surged hard off the line to catch the second row and it didn’t take a whole lot to get on their feet. I waited about 10 seconds before I realized I didn’t like the pace and surged hard past them to try and get to the leaders. I could see them up ahead but it didn’t seem like I was doing much to close the gap. I went into time trial mode in no man’s land trying to whittle the gap down. I went about as hard as I felt I could sustain to the first turn. It looked like the gap was getting a little smaller. I stayed on the gas to for the short swim to the second turn. I paused for about a quarter second to get my bearings and check the gap as I rounded the third turn. It looked like I still had a bunch of work to do to catch up. I kicked back into gear and went hard to shore. I might have had a little left in the tank but I felt like having my head on straight out of the water would benefit me more than taking some number of seconds off the swim. I learned later that the gap was only about 20 seconds by the end of the swim.


I cruised into T1 feeling pretty good. It seemed like I did a better job not drinking the lake this time. I got to my spot and ripped off my wetsuit as fast as I could. I got my socks and shoes on, threw on my helmet, grabbed my bike and was off. I probably could have gone faster with more practice, but that was the best I could do on the day without getting sloppy. 


I got to the mount like with another guy who had his shoes clipped into his pedals already. I decided to mount slowly thinking a race to the corner with some guy who was trying to put shoes on would be a bad idea. It turned out that he was smarter than that and waited until he was on the main road. I told him I was going and he actually thanked me for the warning. I caught the next guy on the road just before the first climb and got to see him scare a bunch of turkeys that were milling in the road. One flew pretty close to him and I cracked some joke about it as I cruised past him. I figured I was probably in the second or third at that point. I did my best to keep calm and stick to the plan. A majority of the climbs of the course were in the first 20 miles, so I was meant to hang out a just below ftp on the way up and get as aero as I could on the way down. I was cresting the last one headed north when I saw the leader coming the other way. I got around the turnaround and didn’t see anyone else which told me I was in second. 


I cranked back over the hills and started seeing more and more people coming the other way. I saw Colin go by in one of the groups and there was a quick trash talk exchange. I saw Aaron a little ways back and then some other familiar faces after him. I was flying when I passed transition to make my way to the south turnaround. It was pretty nice going through the cheers after working hard. Usually the course gets pretty lonely out in the middle of nowhere by that point. I made it through some sketchy turns in Laconia and kept cranking. I stayed as close as I could to the power target with a tailwind and slight downhill helping me. The turn into Louden and the southern turnaround was around mile 35 which went decently cleanly. I amped myself up to make the return trip. I started seeing people again around mile 40 when I got back to that turn. I could barely keep myself from getting distracted looking at the draft packs that had formed. I thought about yelling something but remembered I was a good 15 miles ahead of them. I stayed in aero for nearly the whole return leg. There was a slight headwind and uphill that I was fighting my way through. There was also one hill just before getting back into Laconia that I got to use as an upright opportunity on the way up and a bathroom opportunity on the way down. The turns in town on the way back were just as sketchy as they were on the way out but thankfully no incidents. 


I got to the line and dismounted with my shoes on. Something about running in socks seemed weirder in my head than running in bike shoes. I was wrong and should have taken the shoes off riding like I usually do. Again, thankfully, the run to my rack spot was short. My transition from bike gear to run was a little sloppier than I would have liked. I didn’t realize that my sunglasses had fallen off of my hat until I was just about at the run out. I decided to tough it out instead of going back for them. 


I felt pretty okay starting the run. I knew I was in second still and figured someone was probably getting close. I hit the first hill after about two miles and things started feeling worse. It took a minute to recover from it but I was back up to speed to the next hill. That next one had a similar effect. There were probably a few more but my memory is a little hazy. I passed the split where the first loop turned left and the second would go straight and started hearing a familiar footstrike. It didn’t take long until he was right behind me and I heard a “How ya doin’ buddy?” from Colin. I told him “good enough”, gave him a fist bump, and let him go. He was in sight for a few minutes and then I was alone again until I got to the second loop. I grabbed a water cup at each aid station to try and stay hydrated. I choked a little at one of them and freaked some lady out even though I didn’t break stride as I was coughing. I hung onto third until a little past the split when Aaron caught me and gave me a wave to go with him. I basically said ‘no thanks’ and let him go too. That dude runs way faster than I was willing to sign up for. Another guy caught me a little after that. I finally made a pass on the run for the first time maybe ever. The guy who had been leading by so much for so much of the race had blown up and was walking around mile 10 or 11. I tried to push the pace a little bit around 11.5 to finish strong. One more guy passed me with about a mile to go. I gritted my teeth and gave it my all into town to the final corner. I was pretty ecstatic to see that finish line. I still can’t believe that I was able to finish in the top 5 and win my age group!


Swim Split: 0:26:55 (1st AG - 5th Overall)

Bike Split: 2:18:21 (1st AG - 5th Overall)

Run Split: 1:31:06 (8th AG - 33rd Overall)

Overall Time: 4:23:02 (1st AG - 12th Overall)

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