Friday, August 21, 2015

Ironman Timberman 70.3 Race Report - Rob Forshaw

she said yes!!!
This summer has been a memorable one for a lot of reasons, from great training, some good race results and most importantly getting engaged to my best friend! At the beginning of the summer I took on my second 70.3 ever, the Patriot Half down in East Freetown Massachusetts. I was set up for a great race and was in 2nd in my AG off the bike but due to some mess ups with nutrition I bonked hard on the run and had a not so ideal day. Fast forward 6 weeks later, I was set to start my 2nd 70.3 of the year coming onto some good fitness.

Timberman is an up and coming Ironman branded 70.3 race on Lake Winnipesauke in Laconia, New Hampshire. It was going to be my first Ironman branded race and I was really excited because I heard nothing but great things about the race and had been responding well to my training over the past month. I was especially looking forward to the difficult bike that many talk about with its early and late steep climbs. It would be the ultimate test of how my bike fitness is.

wakey wakey it's racing time!!
We headed up to New Hampshire to stay at Katie’s parent’s house Friday night with the plan of heading up to the lakes region Saturday afternoon. This was great because it allowed me to get a quick little ride in Saturday morning. I was feeling really fresh but also a little flat, primarily because I was inactive the entire week due to travel for work. With a quick easy ride in the books we shot up I-93 and were able to check in and drop my bike off all within an hours’ time. I was shocked to see how many people were registered for the race, roughly 2,000 people. The largest triathlon I ever raced in had 800 people so this was a change of pace. The most surprising thing is how well organized it was even with all that were racing. After check-in we had a nice early dinner at the hotel we stayed at up the street from the race site and had the lights out by 8:00 PM.

Race Morning

I rose nice and early at 3:45 AM. I have found this is the perfect amount of time for me to have a nice big breakfast and not feel full for the start of the race. We pulled into race central a little before 5:00 AM at Ellacoya State park. I was shocked to see how many people were already there! Some saying they arrived as early as 3:30 AM! I was able to get my transition area all set up within 45 minutes and realized I had a couple of hours until I would be in the water. Because of this time to kill I made sure to stay on top of my hydration as I knew it was going to be a hot one!


The pros were scheduled to go off at 7:00 AM and I discovered I would not be for another hour and twenty minutes. The M18-24 AG was the last in the water at 8:20; this meant a lot of down time which was spent hanging out with Katie, her parents and my biggest fan of the day, Baxter! After much waiting and trips into the water to relieve mysel... I mean warm up, it was my wave.

Baxter cheering me on during the swim
The swim was a lot easier than I was expecting. When the horn went off I had a little bit of contact for the first 200 yards, but after that I was pleasantly surprised to have my own space. That was until we made contact with the back of the pack from earlier waves. The swim was essentially a big rectangle and I was shocked at how fast I was able to get through the first 2/3rds of the swim. On the final turn however things slowed down as the tide was coming out and a bit of chop started to develop on the lake. At times I could have sworn I was swimming in place. At this point I had to hammer through and not worry about my form and just keep at it. I reminded myself how good the swim had been so far and kept these thoughts in my head and just kept on trudging along. I finally hit shore with a solid 34:30, a new 1.2 mile swim PR! Considering a year ago it would have taken me 42-43 minutes, I felt on top of the world!


I was excited for the bike because I knew it was my strength and knew being in the last wave I would be experiencing a continuous slingshot effect as I passed people. My plan was to keep my wattage just as I did for the Patriot Half, with an NP between 225-230 W. The only difference was to not burn a lot of matches on the big climbs in the 1st and last 10 miles of the course. Heading out of transition you start out on a gradual climb, get a nice descent and flat section followed by some pretty killer climbs. After that it is pancake flat until you hit the same climbs on the way in. 

total climbing on the bike was 3629 ft
I was very happy with my bike and was hitting my wattage perfectly, passing people left and right. The first 30 miles of the bike I was crushing the course, averaging 23.5 MPH. At the turnaround I knew I was going to have to back off a little to make sure there was enough gas in the tank for some big climbs in the last 10 miles. I kept my wattage down around 220 and for the last 26 miles ended with a 20 MPH average. 

I ended up heading into transition with a 2:36 bike split, not my fastest, but considering the climbs on this course I sacrificed speed to save my legs. Stepping off the bike I felt great, and my legs hardly had any fatigue. I did notice however a slight lump in my gut. After the race I realized I probably consumed too many carbohydrates on the bike and my body couldn’t process it.


While on the bike I did not realize how hot it had gotten, but once things slowed down on the run I realized it was wicked HOT. Upon checking the temperatures later on, it was in the mid 90’s with a crazy high humidity when I started the run. I knew I was in for a real treat for this run. The first 3 miles were okay… I had some stomach aches from the extra fuel I was carrying in my gut, but was able to persevere through them and keep going. My hope was to average 7:30’s, but with this heat that was out the window. I now just wanted to keep a steady pace for the entire run and go all by RPE (feel). For some reason the heat has been affecting me this entire summer. Even on easy runs during my training I just cannot hold a fast pace. With this in the back of my mind I kept on chugging, but my pace was steadily falling to 9:30-10:00 min miles.

By the time I finished the 1st lap of the two lap course I was not physically tired but just constantly overheating. I estimate I took in 1-2 cups of water at every aid station every mile and I dumped another 3-5 cups on myself to keep cool. It got especially hard when just a few hundred feet away there was this gorgeous lake that I just wanted to jump into and keep cool. I continued on and promised myself I could jump in once I finished. I eventually finished the half marathon with a slow 2:10. My final time for the day was 5:24, a new PR for me at the 70.3 distance but nowhere near my potential.

the reward after a long, hot race
One thing I have learned this year about long distance racing that is different from sprint distance is that even with the best fitness and training, there will be hiccups that get in the way of you executing your plan. It is a mental game to keep on persevering through. I know I have it in me to go sub 5hrs and I have one more 70.3 to give it a try this year. I have approximately 4 weeks of race prep to get ready for it. My plan is to put a big emphasis on my run, which has been continuously disappointing me in half iron distance racing. I know my triathlon run times are nowhere near a reflection of what my open run times are and I am hoping at Pumpkinman next month I will be able to tie together all 3 disciplines into a great race! I am motivated and extremely excited. Last but not least, on the drive back to Boston on Monday I registered for Ironman Mont Tremblant 2016! This has added a little bit more motivation to my build for Pumpkinman.

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