This year I raced in my third Half Ironman triathlon in Syracuse. The race was at the end of June this year and the conditions were great leading up to the race. But on race weekend a sunny, hot and humid weather system came in and really increased the temperatures for the race. Which was great for the swim as it warmed up the water a bit, but was not so nice on the bike and run.
The race is set in a little town outside of Syracuse that only has one two lane road in and out. Which made for a very slow drive in on race morning. There was plenty of parking available in a huge grass field so that was great. Then it was a good 5 – 7 min walk to the swim start, which was a wave/age group start, which was nice as I got to see my friend start her swim before I had to get in line. The swim went great and only a few minutes slower than I expected. Single loop swim, pretty much out and back in a small lake. Once finished the swim there was about a 500 meter run to the bike transition on pavement which was kind of hard on the feet. But there were wet suit strippers to help take your wetsuit off before running to transition. Once in the bike transition it was straight forward and onto the bike. The bike headed out of town and was flat/gradual downhill for the first few km’s, then we were faced with our first very steep climb out of town, had to drop to the small chain almost right away it was so steep. We drove the bike course the day before so it was no surprise at all. From there it was flat again, then more hills, and more hills, followed by one long and very steep and fast downhill section where I got up to 70km+ without peddling, followed by a fair distance of flat which was a nice change. The rolling hills continued and was starting to tighten my IT band. I had to make sure to take on extra water and gels as it was very hot and humid as well. I kept trying to push it on the bike to get a good time and I ended up at least 20 mins slower than I expected due to the many hills. But I still felt ok getting off the bike (which was a single loop).
Now onto the run, which I felt ok starting, but I was disappointed that there was only warm water in transition, no cold water at all. So I sucked back a mouthful of warm water and headed out. A bit of a climb out of transition and then a short steep downhill and flat for a bit. Then we turned and headed down another road and it was downhill and I grabbed some ice for my head and core to keep me cool. Then the course really kicked up and was a very steep climb up which seemed to never end and I decided to walk as it was just too hot and hard to keep running up such a long steep hill. I eventually caught up with my training partner and finished the first of the two loop run with her, which was great for both of us. The second loop I started to feel stronger as I started taking coke, ice and salt at every water station. I then was able to pick it up and finish the race strong, but still a lot slower than expected. Especially with the heat, humidity and hills, it was a tough day, but glad I did it.