Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island

Today’s Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island was a bit painful. This is the second 2011 half-Iron distance race that I’ve struggled in. I did Rev3 Quassy last month and didn’t feel like I was on top of my game. I chalk it up to less training than 2010, and a lot of other stuff going on in life. Regardless, I kept my composure and had fun today, despite missing my 70.3 goal by 21+ minutes. I’ll break 4:30 someday, but today, doubt crept in twice. The first time was before the start at Lincoln Woods State Park, and then again around the six-mile mark of the run. It is rare for me to not feel right at the start of a race, but I had a nutty week and the logistics of this 70.3 race were troubling me as I sat on a rock in the transition area at 4:45 A.M. I had gotten up at the Hampton Inn in Providence exactly one hour earlier. For a moment, I wondered what I was doing there.

I had caught a shuttle bus from downtown for the short trip to the park. I couldn’t find my timing chip and was stressing out. It ended up being inside my swim cap at the bottom of one of the two bags I was carrying, but I wasted some energy worrying before I found it. I also had to perform “minor surgery” on my problematic right big toe. After today, I have now lost my toenail four times in three years. All week, it has been hanging by a small piece of skin. I had it taped up, but with all of the wetness, I couldn’t keep the tape on. I knew it was going to be a problem, but it wasn’t ready to come off. It was hanging on one corner, so it would just flap on the swim. I decided to work it back and forth, like a coat hanger, about 25 times. That did the trick. Let’s hope it grows back healthier this time. I’ll spare the photos and report back in three months or so…

Yesterday, our family drove to Providence and picked up my registration packet at the convention center. Then, we checked into the hotel. I got  Debbie and the kids settled before heading to the park to drop my Seven Kameha SLX in the transition area. Parking was a challenge with 1600+ triathletes trying to do the same thing. I scouted the swim start and then went to transition.

I was bummed out because there was a massive two-inch deep puddle of water right below the sticker signifying where #650 (me) was supposed to rack his bike. The entire field was water-logged, but this spot just happened to be worse than the rest. I muttered, “whatever,” and just left it figuring that I would see if the water was still there in the morning. I guess it didn’t really matter considering that I was going to be a little wet after swimming 1.2 miles anyway. Speaking of the swim, when I dropped off my bike, I was told that the water temperature had spiked to nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and that despite predictions earlier in the week, wetsuits weren’t permitted. I thought, so much for being able to test my new suit. I also knew that I wouldn’t be setting a personal best in the swim.

After sorting my race bags and stuff, I returned to downtown Providence to leave my run bag at the second transition area. Point to point races always have unique challenges. I don’t usually mind, but after the aforementioned long week, I wasn’t in the mood to do all of the running around that was required on a Saturday afternoon. With all of my race gear packed, Debbie, the kids, and I walked all over the Downcity Arts District. We had a ton of fun hanging out in Providence and I forgot about the race for a few hours.

I was in bed by 9:00 P.M., but 3:45 A.M. still came quickly. I had ordered an extra entrée at dinner, so I had a nice breakfast of wild rice, marinated tofu, kale, and sliced almonds. I ate it on the bus.

I first did Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island in 2009, the first year I added triathlon to my endurance sports repertoire. All three legs of the race course are different now. That year, the race started in Narragansett in the rough ocean waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The bike course went from southeastern Rhode Island to Providence on a mostly flat 56 mile jaunt. The run was in Providence and featured several steep hills, but was mostly flat. This year’s course was entirely different. It was ironic that we went to the Ocean State for a triathlon, but we swam in a freshwater pond. The bike course was a u-shaped point to point leg that ended up in Providence, but not before going over just about every hill that north-central Rhode Island has to offer. I even saw a sign that said, “Scituate Highlands.” I didn’t know there were highlands in RI until today! I want to see someone’s GPS results for the elevation. For Rhode Island, it was hilly. The run course was different from 2009. The hills were much longer, though more gradual.

I thought the course was slow. Take away wetsuits and add a little mid-summer heat with a scorching hot sun, and you have a tough one. I got through the swim and was able to transition out of my mud puddle without too many problems. I felt OK on the bike, but my time says I was pretty poky. I rode faster on an even hillier course at Timberman 70.3 last August. Another factor on the bike leg was the road conditions. After a tough New England winter, the RI asphalt needs a lot of work. There was even a one mile section that was officially neutralized with no passing. It was that bumpy. I ended up losing both of the water bottles that were mounted behind my saddle. Sadly, one of them contained my CO2, inflater, multi-tool, tire sealant, and valve stem wrench. I have to replace my kit pronto. I felt both bottles bounce out after I nailed a massive pothole. I thought about stopping, but I was hammering and had no desire. I risked the final six miles without the stuff I would need to change a tire or fix  flat. Fortunately, I got through it. We crossed five sets of railroad tracks during the downtown run-in. I actually thought the bumps, twists, and turns were teeth chattering fun. My Zipp Zedtech wheels held up fine.

I had a good run at Timberman, but the course was mostly flat. Today’s run was mediocre, though I did finish with a flourish, hammering the final two miles after I just buckled down and said I couldn’t keep running so slow. I thought I could go under 4:50, but I didn’t make it. I forgot about that .2 in 13.2. I finished in 4:51:03. It is my slowest 70.3 time, but it was faster than Rev3 Quassy, which was also very hilly. The previously mentioned moment of doubt came at the six mile mark when I realized I wasn’t even half way and that I was running as if I was in quick sand. At the time, I thought I was going to be stuck in that gear the rest of the way. Fortunately, I was able to pick up the pace at the end. The results have to be cleaned up, but I think I finished 91st out of 1650 or so triathletes. I think I was 14th in my age group, which isn’t bad considering my time. Maybe the others were slow too.

Chris Thomas absolutely crushed the 35-39 age group, as he usually does, on his way to a third overall finish. He was top amateur and beat all but two pro’s. Amazing. Chris Schulten is another talented Connecticut triathlete, and I am more in his league. However, I haven’t been able to best him at any of the local races. He has been just in front of me at the past two Lake Terramuggus training races. Today, he had a fabulous result, finishing 6th in our age group, which might get him an Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifying slot in Las Vegas. He has a smoking run and used that to good effect, closing with a 1:25:31 on route to 41st overall.

Pro David Kahn led from start to finish. His time was 4:00:52. Magali Tisseyre was the first woman and 12th overall in a fantastic 4:27:08 on a rugged course. She was on her second run lap when I was on my first. At an out and back section, I saw her coming after me. It took a while for her to close, but when she did, I figured I would match her pace for a while. As we crossed one of the bridges, she dropped me like a bad habit. It was ugly. She ran 1:22:47, about a minute per mile faster than me. Ouch.

A few more thoughts. Lately, the World Triathlon Corporation, owners of the Ironman brand, have frustrated me with some of their business decisions. I thought it was obscene to charge $8.00 to take the 10 minute bus ride at 4:45 A.M. to the park from downtown. The $200 entry fee should have included that. How else would you get there? At least the volunteers were fantastic. The police were also out in force, and they deserve credit for keeping the roads safe. The aid station crews were enthusiastic and worked tirelessly on a very hot day.

The longest triathlon I plan to do for the rest of this year is the USAT Olympic Distance National Championship in August. I have no desire to do another half, and as for a full, no way. Only in my dreams. I’ll come around again, but right now, I’m sticking with the short stuff.

Race Results (click GO)

4 Responses to “Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island”

  1. 1 worldoftri3 11 July 2011 at 8:09 pm


    My name is Gena and I work for a tri store online. I happened upon your blog and enjoyed reading about triathlon in your life. 4:50 is certainly not a bad time! Now comes the full!! 🙂 Anyway, I am contacting you to see if you are interested in a simple sponsorship. Please let me know at I just wanted to note that you have been selected as you met our specific guidelines. If you are interested just send me a quick note and I’ll send you more details about the potential sponsorship.

    Safe and Happy Training 🙂

  2. 2 Christine Jenkins 31 December 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with your review. Hilly, hilly, hilly. Nice volunteers. HORRIBLE idea to charge extra for the shuttle bus ticket. I did the race this year also, and wrote a review on my new website “”. I’ve also done the Timberman, and actually enjoyed that race more. I thought it was easier to get around, better organization, only 1 transition setup, NO shuttle bus extra fees to pay, and great crowd support on the run.

    Good luck on that 4:30 goal 🙂

  1. 1 2011 Pat Griskus Sprint Triathlon « Life Adventures Trackback on 13 July 2011 at 11:40 pm
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