Lake Logan was my 3rd 70.3 race. Two years ago I was training for my first 70.3. Two years ago, Ironman announced a race in Chattanooga and I decided that I was definitely going to do that. How am I now only 40 days away from that race??
Lake Logan was supposed to be a “gut-check” race for me – can I nail my nutrition, can I stay strong when I’m tired, am I going to keel over mid-Ironman (answer: probably not)? Even still, I had a few moments of panic the week before – OMG I’m going to be last, I’m not going to finish, WHAT AM I EVEN DOING?? I had to stop myself several times to remind myself that Lake Logan is not my goal race, I would not be last, and I do this FOR FUN. No panicking!
I had a ton of friends and teammates going to the race this year and several of us stayed in a hotel/golf resort in Waynesville. The place was straight out of the 80’s – box TV and all – but it was clean and quiet so money well spent. Not having to drive home 2 hours post-race in my salty state was excellent. So I was also able to pick up my packet on Friday night and we had dinner in Waynesville. It’s actually kind of a neat little town with a nice downtown area that I didn’t take any pictures of.
We rolled out of the hotel a little after 5 AM Saturday morning and they were super accommodating with breakfast and had basics out for those of us going to the race. One thing to know about Lake Logan: getting to the race site is kind of a pain and the parking situation is a mess. It was better this year with the half having its own day but still. Get there early. I set up all my junk and then wandered off to chat with friends until it was time to squeeze my sorry self into my wetsuit. I almost didn’t wear it; the water temp was 72 (!!) which is much warmer than it usually is. I decided to go ahead and wear it since the cold stream water would cool me off towards the end of the swim. On that note…
SWIM (1.2 miles):
The swim is a big rectangle aaaannnddd it was short again. It was apparently short last year so I don’t know why they didn’t fix it but I came out with 1.1 miles and so did everyone else. AS USUAL, my wave was one of the last ones and I had to spend the majority of the time swimming through all the other waves – thankfully there’s a big difference between ~500 and ~2500 people so it’s not so bad at this race. Annoying all the same. I just kept it long and strong the whole time until we hit the bridge…then some idiot dude decided that was a good time to stop and stand up and I smashed right into him. >:( The creek was shallower than usual (a symptom of our lack of rain this year) but still, dude. Don’t stop in the middle of the swim. We were still at least 75 yds or so from the exit dock and he kept sprinting off and stopping and generally being obnoxious.
When I hit the dock, I took my wetsuit off before I got out but I went ahead and hit the lap button on my watch so I’d have a swim time minus the wetsuit strip. My watch time was 28:12, so it apparently took me about a minute to wrangle myself out of my wetsuit. I hate it.
Time: 29:06 (19/235 Overall, 4/20 AG) I got totally smoked by two girls who are crazy good swimmers, one just beat me while I was fooling around with my wetsuit.
T1: 4:42 My coach asked me what I was doing…I told her some questions have no good answers. I wasn’t trying to be fast, I was trying to make sure my socks were on straight.
BIKE (56 miles):
Last year the bike course at Lake Logan was 4 miles short….they found the extra 4 miles for 2015 and they were painful. I train on hills so it’s not like I’m not used to them but this was one hard bike course. You start out on that fun fast bike course that made the Olympic race so popular….and then proceed to get demolished by some big rollers and substantial climb at mile 44. There were also some moderately technical descents. It was fun and definitely scenic but ouch.
The course was pretty crowded for the first 20 miles. I was stuck in a pack that I couldn’t seem to ditch and spent a lot of time slowing down to try to keep from drafting. But every time we got to a big hill (which was all the time) we’d bunch up again. But I tried very hard to not draft and the officials didn’t issue very many drafting penalties so apparently they were being pretty forgiving because I saw a ton of drafting. There were also a few issues with traffic in the towns – one when there was some event going on at a school and there were cars stopped in the road and we all had to stop! I guess you never know quite what you’re going to get.
So, my coach told me before the race that there was a big hill around mile 40. There was, in fact, a pretty good hill at mile 40: short, but definitely steep. But…that’s not the one she was talking about. No, it’s definitely at mile 44 and it is quite a climb. It’s paired with a fun descent but my quads were definitely hurting at the end.
Time: 3:21:48 (100/235 Overall, 13/20 AG)
I’m really pretty pleased with this bike leg. It was very challenging and if I did it again, I think I could have been faster on my road bike since it’s pretty technical and I didn’t ride in aero as much as I’d like. I feel like I nailed my nutrition which is extremely important and a big boost for next month.
Most of the time, the run is very frustrating for me. I’m not fast. I am quite slow, actually. I spend the entire time getting passed by people I out-swam and out-biked only to get demolished by people who can run up mountains at an 8:30 pace like it’s nothing. It makes me feel like I’m doing all this hard work for nothing – even though that’s not at all true. So a big part of the run for me is the mental aspect – don’t worry about them because you’re not where they are right now. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, right?
The run course at Lake Logan is the same as the Olympic course. Times two. 3 miles up; 3 miles down…and again. I started out running the first mile at a steady pace to shake everything out, then switched to 4:1’s to help myself mentally. I can run for 4 minutes. I was tired but still feeling pretty good. My coach was just past Mile 1 (“swing your arms, steph!!” :P) and the Wonder Women were at the first aid station cheering up a storm. It’s always a good boost to have friends out there since you can’t walk while they’re watching!
Once at the bottom of the first loop, you have to take a lap around a field, then back up you go. It started getting pretty warm (85-ish) by this point and the shade was all but gone. I never felt like I was way overheated but I could definitely tell the difference between the 1st and 2nd loops. The 2nd loop felt rough, but my coach said I really looked strong the whole time, so I guess feeling isn’t everything. My 4:1’s went to…whatever I could manage until the top, then I was able to switch back to the intervals for the down-trip to the finish. I never faded hard or bonked. I was very thirsty though, and definitely could have used more water during the run, but on the second lap I was feeling a bit sick to my stomach and struggled to get my fuel down. Blech, but it was enough!
Time: 2:33:13 (143/235 Overall, 16/20 AG)
Am I still slow? Well yea, but of the 3 HIM’s I’ve done this was definitely the most challenging run and it was substantially better than what I did in Muncie. I did everything right and stayed strong right up through the end of the run. I’m still very optimistic that my running is headed in the right direction and my coach is as well.
Total Time: 6:32:11 (102/235 Overall, 15/20 AG)
I hate that I was so low in my AG but I just can’t compete with those 1:5x half marathon runners (10 of them were under 2 hours!! HOW). But I really did have a good race and I’m very pleased with my time, even though it wasn’t a PR. I wasn’t expecting to since I was sure I couldn’t match my bike performance at Muncie, though I always wish that I would/could run faster. It was a good race.
I hung around and cheered for the rest of my teammates (one of whom set a 70.3 PR of like 40 minutes!) then went down to the creek to soak my legs for a bit. This feels amazing and if you do this race I highly recommend doing this before you leave.
Sunday, I spectated/cheered for my friends doing the sprint/olympic races and they all did AWESOME. This is great venue for spectators as it is…well gorgeous (also not hot).
One of my friends joked that Ironman Chattanooga will only be 2/3’s as hard as Lake Logan! I can only hope he’s right ;) But this weekend we’re headed to the Choo for “camp” so I’ll get to experience the course and I am definitely looking forward to that.