Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ironman Norway 70.3

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Friday: two days to race the sun is shining, the wind is low, the air is warm, Norway is BEAUTIFUL.
Saturday: one day to race the sun is shining, the wind is picking up and the air is chilly in the shade, but still, Norway is BEAUTIFUL.
Sunday, race day: CLOUDS, WIND, RAIN, HAIL (yes HAIL!!), COLD.

Why oh why are you making me hate you beautiful Norway!?!

As one who is usually so well prepared for a race/unexpected weather, I really dicked this one up! I'm not sure what happened, perhaps the Fahrenheit vs. Celsius numbers tricked me or the beauty of Friday's weather, or just being lost in the happy of a race birthday weekend all together.

We found ourselves on Saturday rushing to put together a warm solution for Sunday's race. We purchased toe covers for our bike shoes and luckily we brought some (light) warmer gear. Had I considered, I also would have brought ear covers, wool socks, a warm wind/water proof jacket, and even gloves! The bike guys tuned us up for free and we checked them in to transition along with our gear bags.

We woke up Sunday morning to Erik's 0545 alarm after missing our 0500 ones (always make sure your alarm is set for SUNDAY, not just Monday-Saturday). We had to rush through breakfast but we were still on time for the shuttle bus and got to transition in plenty of time to prepare.



8am start. The morning was cloudy and gray although the atmosphere was sunny and full of excitement. I was full of nerves while Luca was my guy with nerves of steel.

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The swim was an interesting course, looping around the lake twice, resembling a go-kart track. Although nervous, I actually felt pretty good about this course, lots and lots of buoys ~ safe.
A self seed by expected swim time, we entered the water 5 at a time every 5 seconds.
We chose to go in between 40 and 50 minutes. We both could have gone in faster as we both passed lots of people (especially Luca). My strategy was buoy to buoy and I stayed tight around the course. Even with on and off rain, 1000 yards came quick and 1000 more came even quicker. The water temperature was about 14.8 c (58 f). COLD. But I didn't feel so cold once we got going. I was probably numb. I finished the swim in 44mins 47secs
We chatted with the race director and for the full Ironman, you will repeat this loop twice with an exit and re-entry after your first go round.

T1 was a fun little jog out of the lake and around a soccer field .29 miles 6mins 14secs

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The bike was 1 loop first heading north then a quick loop south (closed course).
I'm SO glad we drove the north loop on Saturday. The IM description said "can be quite technical" and I wanted to know ~wth~ does that even mean!? It was rolling hills and curves; lots of hard turns.
A fast and furious route but with the rain, slowed me down quite a bit.
With my brake in hand, I'm happy to have held a 17mph average. It was cold and I was pretty miserable out there. The rain would come in spurts and even spit ice at me in the middle. Grr. My hands and toes hurt the most. I was back and forth between 'I really don't need to be out here' and suck it up, it's only 3 hours. The bike course was filled with local spectators cheering us on and plenty of sheep dinging their bells. If they were in the rain, I could deal with the rain.
Finished in 3hours 14mins

Off the bike for T2 (mostly frozen) .21 miles 4mins 18secs

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The run course was 2 loops. Each loop was a long out and back and then a trip around the park. I wasn't thrilled the first mile trying to find my legs and unfreeze my feet. It was still cold but running, my body temperature at least went up. I was really counting on consistent 10min miles but half way I was okay moving a little slower and walking the unexpected hills. I ended up with 11min miles and finishing in 2hours and 22mins

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Finishing time 6 hours and 32 mins
I feel like that's a pretty standard finishing time for myself. I tend to be between 6 hours and 6 and a half. I think had the weather been nicer, I might have PR'd this course. It's a NICE course! And next year, will no longer exist! Ironman 70.3 is becoming Ironman 140.6 for 2018 and beyond.
I will be back someday to compete, but not in 2018; new countries to discover!!

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Tips:
~ Norway is cold and expensive but quite beautiful!
~ The Scandic Maritim is a fabulous hotel!
~ If you are considering the Ironman here, prepare for a hot race and prepare for a cold race; the weather is the ultimate in unpredictability.
~ Tour the bike route. It can be quite technical, rolling and curvy.
~ Daylight doesn't disappear until near 1am; pay attention to the time to ensure your sleep schedule.
~ Nearly 100% of Norwegians speak English. Very friendly and happy people!!
~ Tipping is a new thing. But there is no need to tip. They don't expect it and get paid very well.
~ Transportation back and forth to transition was a bit chaotic and non-existent. Plan to bike over and walk back or get your own transport.
~ Buy some Norwegian chocolate - best you'll EVER taste!! SMASH!!
~ Take some extra days after the race and travel. We were a little low on time/days but wish we could have had a day or 5 to visit nearby areas.

Haugesund is charming, beautiful, and the people are so friendly and warm. It was really exciting and special being able to race on my birthday. Luca surprised me with a party and later at home, a unique gift to our future (stay tuned). We are really lucky to have been joined by my sweet friend Erik (from Norway) and new friends (The Johan's, Sender, and Ramon and family). Everyone did so great and I feel very lucky to have been in Norway with you!!
The race was well organized and well worth the travel and expense!

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