Monday, October 9, 2017

Race Report: Ironman Maine 70.3

Okay, better late than never, especially for a really good race!

My last race of the 2017 triathlon season was Ironman Maine 70.3 on August 26.  It was an awesome weekend and the fact that my race went really well was a huge bonus to end the season.  Maybe it was obvious by my lack of posts this summer, but I really was not feeling triathlon. I struggled with motivation and just wasn't making the time for my workouts, mostly because I really wasn't inspired to do them.  This resulted in lackluster training, lots of missed workouts, and a general sense of dread leading into Maine.

I had signed up for Maine after failing to put together a solid race in Victoria.  For some reason, I thought that if I could just be more consistent in my training, that I would have a good half ironman race.  What I didn't realize when I hit register, was that I would continue to be inconsistent in my training, and that it would actually get worse.

Between the two races I managed to put together a solid effort at the Ottawa International Triathlon (Olympic) and at the MEC Island Hop (sprint).  I'll may write race reports about those, but to be honest, they were months ago now, and I can't remember much.  We had a mediocre summer weather-wise, which further dampened (pun-intended) my drive to train. My long runs were few and far between, and my long rides left me plagued with doubt, as I think I bonked on at least a few of them and struggled to find the power and consistency that I had experienced last summer.

So, that brings us to Maine.  About a week ahead of the race, I warned my friend Evelyne that I was struggling and that I really wasn't even excited to race.  However, this adventure was my idea, so I knew that I couldn't back out of it.  I also warned her that I might end up just being her cheerleader and sherpa, depending on how I felt come race weekend (I may have even said that on the car ride down to Maine).  Luckily for me, Evelyne was flying high on tri.  Her energy and enthusiasm for the sport was through the roof... and it was contagious!  The second we jumped in the car to drive the 8 hours to Old Orchard Beach, my outlook started to change.  Thanks, Ev!

We had a really nice, easy car ride (though we learned some lessons about bringing food across the border), and arrived at race check-in around 4:30 pm.  There were no lines yet, so we breezed through packet pick-up and dropped some cash at the gear tent.  Then we enjoyed the Normatec boots to help get the blood flowing after our long drive.  We also chatted with the Inside Tracker team!  Evelyne had run into some friends, so rather than worry about groceries and cooking, we made plans to meet them for dinner after we checked-in at our campground and pitched the tent.  Dinner was at Olive Garden.  And the first night in the tent was by far the coldest! I was thankful for wool socks and lots of layers.   Unfortunately the cold meant that I didn't sleep very well.

Saturday, we spent the day prepping for the race.  We took a short bike ride, packed our gear, ran down for part of the pre-race briefing, racked our bikes, and ran into a few Team Coeur Sports ladies.  It was a beautiful day and pretty relaxing as far as race prep goes.  In the evening, Evelyne and I made a feast out of a bunch of random things that we had either packed or picked up at the very well stocked, little grocery store near the campground.  We got to bed at a pretty reasonable time, and I had a better sleep than on Friday night.

Race Day: 

A 6:30 race start is pretty dang early.  We had set our alarm for 3:45 and 4.  Before we knew it, it was time to get up and even though we had done a lot of prep the night before - making overnight oats for me and getting our coffee set-up - things seemed to take longer than expected.  By the time we walked down to transition, it was packed and it seemed like maybe we were the last to arrive.  I was certainly the last to use the port-o-pottie after setting up my T-zone.  Danielle had filled out a card for me, which the volunteers attached to our bikes overnight.  It made me tear up and helped get my day off to the right start.

The plan for the day was to take it step-by-step, to execute the things under my control, and to have fun no matter what happened.  Part of me honestly didn't know if I would finish the race, but I also knew that I wouldn't really ever quit.  Setting low expectations for myself and being relaxed about the outcome of the day was crucial.  Executing each part of the race and making smart decisions along the way helped me put it all together.


By the time we got to the beach, the line was massive... and since it was a "first come, first serve" swim start, we had a long time to wait for our day to get started.  Luckily, we found some friends and joined them in line. Danielle, from Team Coeur, also found me, so we got to hang out together while she waited to start her very first Half Ironman!  The morning was chilly, but stunning.  The sunrise over the ocean was breathtaking and a great reminder that these crazy triathlons are totally worth it. We waited for probably 20-30 minutes on the beach, as those in front of us ran into the ocean one-by-one.  When it was finally time to go, I high-fived the volunteers on either side and then ran, bracing myself for the cold, into the Atlantic.  HOLY COW! It was COLD!  I believe the official temperature was 62 degrees.  Some people wore neoprene caps and booties.  I was just thankful to have a full-sleeve wetsuit.  By the first buoy, I couldn't feel my hands, feet, or face.  I just kept swimming.  Despite the cold, it was a really enjoyable swim.  The course started and ended at different points on the beach and each of the three sections were about the same length, so it made it really easy to know where I was at distance wise.  However, the first-come, first-serve start meant that I spent a lot of time and energy swimming around people.  At about the half way mark, I realized that I hadn't peed before the swim and I really didn't want to start the bike with a bladder full of seawater (because I swallowed half the ocean out there).  So I figured out how to pee while swimming!  And then, it was time to run up the beach!

T1:  We had a long run back to transition after the swim. I used the wetsuit strippers in anticipation for that, and it definitely helped make things a bit quicker.  T1 was pretty smooth, and before I knew it, I was running toward the "bike out."


We had been promised a flat, fast course, and the organizers delivered. While there were a few small hills and rolling sections, it was overall pretty flat.  I had been looking forward to this, since I know that I can sustain a pace as long as I can get to it (and hills usually destroy me).  So, I was a happy cyclist.  Because of the swim start method, there was a ton of drafting on the course.  It was supremely frustrating at times.  But at other times, I remembered that someone once told me you get a tiny bit of free drafting time whenever you are passed, as long as you abide by the rules and drop back.  Anyways, I had to yell at a few dudes along the way for very blatently not dropping back when I passed them (and at one for like riding this woman's wheel... as if bud!).  Sorry guys, you are just really obviously bad at following the rules out there.

I lost my bottle full of NBS twice.  There was absolutely no way that I was leaving it behind and taking a chance on my hydration strategy (and potentially GI comfort or discomfort), so I stopped each time to retrieve it.  I was very thankful that I did, because I felt hydrated all day and had no cramping or discomfort whatsoever. I also ate my energy bites at pretty regular intervals, so overall was happy with my fuel and hydration strategy.  I refilled my front bottle with at all three aid stations.

The best part of the bike (besides it being flat) was that the roads were in amazing condition.  Most seemed freshly paved.  So the bike flew by and I hit my goal time on the nose.

T2: I honestly can't even remember T2, but looking at my time, it was probably because it was fast!


The run leg was the main reason that I signed up for a second and third Half Ironman.  I knew that I could put together a better run than I did at Timberman and Victoria, and I wanted to prove it.  Because the swim and bike went well, and I was so far executing a really good day, I was excited to get out for the run.  My legs felt pretty good, but I was trying to be conservative in my enthusiasm, because I didn't want things to fall apart.  I focused on good form and staying positive.  I talked to people as I ran by them, and I even started to try to pick people off ahead of me.  The majority of the run was on a gravel/dirt trail, which was mostly shaded, except for about a mile in the middle (we hit it both ways).  The path was nice, but it was pretty crowded and passing was sometimes a challenge, since there were runners going in both directions.  Thankfully, there were tons of aid stations and thankfully, it wasn't too hot.

My first 5k was much faster than I expected it to be, which started to get my hopes up a bit.  Eventually though, I slowed down and I had to stop twice.  Once to fix my race laces, which were flopping around and as a man kindly reminded me could result in a nasty gravel-filled fall.  And the second stop was to remove gravel from my sock.  When I hit the half way point, I slowed down a bit more, because I had to pee again and because my legs just weren't quite prepared for the race.  I joked with some gentlemen that I was glad they passed me, because I did eventually pee... and no, I didn't stop at the port-o-pottie.  At that point, I was also dumping water on my body to help facilitate cooling, so what was a little bit of extra liquid. (Okay, gross... sorry!)  With 5k to go, I started focusing on picking my pace back up.  We were back on pavement, and I knew that I could possibly make it under my goal of a 1:50 half marathon.  As I turned the corner to run down the last stretch, past transition, to the finish, I was so happy and so grateful for all the people cheering.  I don't think I could have smiled any bigger and I gave it a final kick to get in under my goal.


The race organizers and volunteers for this race were superb.  They actually called me ahead of the race to make sure I knew everything I needed to know.  They also left each of us a personal note in our race packets.  The detail and care put into the race was amazing, and so well appreciated. Thank you!

I was really pleased with how my day went.  Not only did I PR the distance, but I had a lot of fun doing it and I stayed relaxed the whole time.  Despite all the negative emotions that I had going into the race, things turned around. I have lots of people to thank for that.  Just being at the race helped.  The excitement, enthusiasm, and friendliness of my fellow competitors really reminded me of why I do this sport in the first place.  It helped to bring some perspective to how I approached my race, and I think that made all the difference.

As I look back on the season and ahead to next year, I can say that I'm glad I gave the 70.3 a go, but it is not the distance for me... for now at least.  I'm sure I will hear its siren call again, but for now, it is back to sprints and Olys for me!!!


Huge shout-out to Coeur Sports.  If not for this team and the amazing women I got to meet at Maine (and other races), my season would have been even more dull.  They are a bright spot. These women and the company we all have the pleasure to represent are a cut above.  Seriously, thank you all!  And if you haven't tried Coeur gear yet, what are you waiting for? I finished that 70.3 was a very happy kitty, and I looked good too.

Thanks also to our other sponsors: Breakthrough Nutrition, Normatec, ROKA, and Inside Tracker.

Thanks to my coaches, OTC family, friends, and regular family. Thanks to my puppy, George, for putting up with me leaving him home for a few very long bike rides.

post-race ice cream!!

Final Stats: 

Overall Time: 5:11:05
14th AG, 33rd woman, 299 overall

Swim: 30:53
T1: 4:47
Bike: 2:44:19
T2: 1:18
Run: 1:49:48


  1. A good read Kelsey. Now if we could fix the pee problem the sky's the limit. I enjoy the blogs though

  2. First of all congratulations. Not everyone can be an all rounder. Head off to you. It must be a adventurous. Thank you for sharing.

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