Ironman Emilia-Romagna (Cervia) 70.3 (2023)
This weekend was probably the most organized I've ever seen Italy behave... So HATS OFF to the race director and his crew (and volunteers)! It was a full weekend of play!
Thursday - 5k night run
Friday - kids tri
Saturday - Ironman
Sunday - Ironman 70.3 + 5i50 (Olympic)
All the while managing registrations, packet pick-ups, merchandise, athlete briefings, course set-up, road closures, bike check-ins and check-outs...
^ can you imagine the logistics!? Over 6,000 racers and guesstimated 20,000+ visitors total in Cervia for the weekend. p.s. Cervia is on the east coast of Italy.
Thursday - drive to Cervia, check in to AirBNB, packet pick up.
With packets picked up, next order of business = Alessandro's 5k night run followed by a team dinner. He completely crushed it, breaking his 30 minute goal and dinner was delish!
Friday we meet for a brief swim in the Adriatic Sea - marvelously flat, calm, cool, and salted. Early night because Gina races tomorrow...
Luca arrives by train ready to be my biggest fan.
Saturday we spend cheering on Gina and the rest of the racers as they swim 2.4 miles (4km), bike 112 miles (180km), and run 26.2 miles (42km). She found out late in the training game she had a stress fracture which was never given the proper time to heal (misdiagnosis) but incredibly - albeit in pain - finished strong and brought home her 5th Ironman finish. She's basically a super woman and we are so impressed by her tenacity!!!
Due to the late night course closure for the full, the 70.3 was scheduled to start at noon. Weird but smart.
At first I didn't know how to feel about a late race start. Noon? I mean, NOON!? How do I eat for a noon race!? What about the heat!? However, waking up was super easy, not stressful at all, eating was super easy...and just the whole not being rushed to sleep and wake up and get ready before the sun was amazing!! Can we do this for every single race from now on!?
By 10am my bike and bags are checked in and we link up with the rest of the team. We hang in the shade until nearly 11 but we want to get a warm up swim and we're due in the corrals by 11:30am. Holy hot ass morning. It's okay, the water is cool - we suit up and swim. Once again calm waters and I'm feeling pretty confident. Let's get it started.
So now we're waiting in the corrals under the burning sun. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. I have one word: torture. We are informed the race start is delayed 15 minutes due to a fallen tree on the course. But also, they wouldn't let us leave the corral to go cool down in the water and/or GET water. So huge fail here. The athletes were melting. We were in wetsuit, in swim cap, just BAKING under the noon sun. Desperate, I finally begged a stranger for a sip of water (husband was already in place near the swim start for cheering and pictures).
After what felt like hours, finally we're moving, releasing 6 athletes in the water every 3 seconds or so. It felt like another hour before it was our go - Ewa and I entered the water together. 3, 2, 1, go!! And we're off. The relief of the cool water was everything!
Swim: I felt great in the water, for the most part. There were a lot of jelly fish. I took a sting to the face and arm. When I saw one the size of my head I can guarantee I came up out of the water like a dolphin to get away from it. I was swimming with a tough group, lots of men kicking hard and not sighting well. I held my ground and followed my plan - buoy to buoy. Although, the buoys were actually all over the place instead of aligned so my big sight goal was always the next triangle which indicates a turn. The last 500 was the toughest, the buoys were really all over the place and hard to spot. The men were chopping wood and kicking like mules. WTF guys, just swim. Fish are gentle!
Anyway, looking at my Garmin, I stayed relatively straight and swam 2,117 yards (1,935 meters or 1.2 miles). I was hoping for 50mins, I came out at 44:58. A win! If you've been following me for any amount of time you know the swim is my biggest fear. Which is crazy considering the swims I've accomplished but those nerves never go away!
T1: Cervia transition is quite long but I still managed 7min 54sec for T1.
Bike: Heading out on the bike was a blast. We had a great tailwind and I was effortlessly pushing 19, 20, up to 22mph. My goal was not to "push" too hard at all considering I wanted a strong run. A completely closed course, it was an out and back with a big climb at the farthest out point. It was a doozy too! Tri bikes weren't made to climb so it was hard! I wished for my road bike granny gear for real. Despite, I powered up. And the down was SOOOO worth it. It wasn't a straight drop down, hold on to the brakes for dear life down... it was a nice long wide open, free to soar down. Fantastic! But now came the headwind - to be expected. It slowed me down a bit but it also didn't feel so challenging. My nutrition and hydration was on point! (considering the sweatfest waiting to swim, I was very relieved to feel "caught up" with hydration - glad I grabbed those salt stick chew tabs!! Finished the 56 miles (90km) in 3 hours and 14 minutes.
T2: In and out of transition in 7:51 (remember, it's a long transition!). And for the first time I think in any race, I put on socks for the run (new shoes).
Run: 3 loops, each about 4.36 miles (7km). My goal was to stick to my plan and stay consistent = 6min run + 1min walk. Through training, my run was the only discipline I was able to hit all my sessions (because I can run anywhere!). I'm not fast, don't get it twisted, but I'm consistent and I can go forever. Besides some extra walks through the water stops, I stuck to my plan. I was enjoying myself and really just enjoying the course. I had the normal tightness/pains in my back and my right foot has a bit of plantar fasciitis I've been fighting. But otherwise, all was good! I ran/walked the heck out of those 13.1 miles (21km). Finishing in 2 hours and 35mins I arrived at the finish line for a 6 hours and 50 minute finish!
I am really satisfied with this finish. I raced faster in each event than I thought I would and I felt strong and confident. Considering a not so great training cycle, I'm super happy.