Third time’s a charm... now what?

I “competed” in the Maple Valley Half Ironman, or 70.3 (what is a half ironman anyway?)

I went into this race determined to take it as it came - expecting to get tired - and to pay attention to my body.

I hadn’t swam, biked, or ran any of the race distances since end of May, and my training was off; a look at the weeks leading up to the triathlon:

  • Japan (ran a bit)
  • Japan (ran a bit)
  • Jet-lagged (3/4 training effort)
  • Jet-lagged (3/4 training effort)
  • COVID (nothing)
  • COVID recovery (1/4 training effort)
  • Taper / race week

This was the first race where I had no immediate fans, but it was local. I used the minivan to transport the bike and myself which worked fine.

The weather was perfect. I was chilly while waiting for the swim and on the bike at times (but all it took was a sunny section to warm up); on the run, it was mostly shaded and thus I stayed pretty cool.

I lined up with the 37-40min swimmers and went out to the left side, but struggled to find a rhythm for the first 300 yds or so. I took a break at a pontoon and after that I had it. I still wandered a little and avoided the direct line of most swimmers - but I did navigate several crowded turns without breaking my stride. Ignoring the start, I felt great.

I paid attention to my heart rate on the bike, especially at the beginning, and slowed down whenever it got ~140 (unless climbing.) About a 1/3 in my rear started to get sore but I learned to adjust my position. I also found the hill climbs and variety seemed to help. By the final quarter, I was regularly passing folks on the uphill and aeroing downhill (although I would often get passed on the flats.)

I went into the run feelng good but taking it easy, and besides some blistering on my right foot, felt good most of the time. My legs were a little tired and I switched between toe and mid striking; I had forgotten that there was a slow incline on the out-and-back. I was able to go a little faster on the second half - for a negative split - and the downhill finish made it easier to let loose for the finish.

It was my strongest finish yet (but longest total time at 6:27:51.)

In the end, Maple Valley went better than I expected in many ways and I walked away very comfortable with all of the Ironman race mechanisms and my ability to prepare.

SO much so, I’ve decided to take it up a notch and aim for Alaska 2024.

Before then, however, here is what is in store for “first half” of 2023: