Chad Safran Ironman 70.3 Muncie Race Report

Chad Safran Race Report from Affresh Ironman 70.3 Muncie, Indiana

After putting in some very solid weeks of training, I was ready to put in a great race, with a goal of 4:45, top 10 age group, and top 100 overall. I knew it was going to be hot so I put in some bike and run sessions in heat and humidity. With temps forecast to be in the 90s and high humidity, I was hydrating and taking in electrolytes and salt for several days leading up to Saturday. The heat index was going to be at least 100 degrees on the run, so the race was going to be even more of a challenge.

So imagine my surprise when I got the the mandatory pre-race meeting and the first thing out of the race director’s mouth was, “Due to the weather forecast tomorrow (extreme heat warning), we are going to shorten the race to a modified Olympic distance course.” I thought it was a joke, and seemingly did much of the audience. The call to shorten the race was made by a combination of WTC, local health officials, and the race organizers. I was stunned. I don’t think I could have been more crushed at any moment of my racing career than that one unless you told me my bike had been stolen out of transition during a race. I had prepared for 70.3, now I was going to be doing a 37.2. I was angry and disappointed, feeling as if all my training was now not going to be put to the test. I had put in so many hours and some pretty tough training sessions (70+ miles of intervals, descending long runs, etc.) for a race that was only going to be 60% of what I prepared for.

By the time I went to bed, however, I was refocused thanks to some reinforcement from my coach and wife. I would still get to race, I could still go fast. I would just have to hammer it a bit more and change my goals.

Swim: The 1.2 mile swim was now a mile. The water itself was over 88 degrees. The course was a three-sided, clockwise swim with a shallow water start. I seeded myself near the front and sprinted out when the horn sounded. There was the usual contact early on but after less than 200 yards I was able to find some space and even draft off some feet. I quickly caught up to the wave in front of me but while trying to navigate through the other racers I lost my draft. As the swim progressed, my stomach started feeling not so great. The third section of the race was the toughest in that it was straight into the sun. I could feel myself slowing down, yet I was still passing a lot of people. My stomach started calming down a bit and I was happy to feel my hand touch sand so I could get up out of the water and head up the hill toward transition. My swim goal was anywhere between 25 and 30 minutes. Time: 28:28, 25/232 age group, 189/1498 overall.

T1: Had to run up hill about 200 yards to transition. My bike was close to bike out, which is always a good thing for me. The great thing about a non-wetsuit swim is saving time in transition. Everything went smoothly. Time: 2:27.

Bike: 30 miles. I wanted to push it on the bike.And I did. I could not believe how fast I was going 25, 26, 27 MPH with what seemed like little effort. I thought it might have been the slight tailwind or the slight downhill or perhaps it was the natural draft being created by having 1500+ athletes in a smaller space. It could have been using the rental SRAM 60/80 wheel setup. It didn’t matter. I was moving. This was great. I was as relaxed as I have ever felt on the bike. My positioning felt great. My pedal stroke felt smooth. I wish I had a power meter to see what I was pushing. I was passing people all over the place and rarely getting passed. This doesn’t happen to me during the bike…ever. The ride passed incredibly quickly, and I think I dropped under 20 MPH for only a minute or two but otherwise I hammered it. As I approached the last few miles stretch, I thought Tammy might miss me at the transition area since I told her if everything went great the bike would take me 1:20. Here I was at just over an hour and only had a little bit to go. Too bad I didn’t get a chance to do the full 56 miles. Time: 1:11:58, 25 MPH avg., 25/232 age group, 131 overall/1498 overall (I was even faster than one of the female pros, and only 40 seconds slower than Miranda Carfrae!). I was 15th in my age group after the bike. By the way I think the bike was closer to 29 miles than 30.

T2: Drop everything and try to go. Slight cramp in my right calf as I tried to put on my sneakers. But once I started jogging to run out it faded.  Time: 1:21

Run: 6.2 miles of rolling hills, including a couple of good uphills, with very little shade. As  soon as I got off the bike I felt the heat and humidity. The lack of a breeze made it tougher. Pushing it on the bike had an impact right away as my legs felt heavier than usual. Combine that with the conditions and this was going to be a sufferfest. I was going to grab sponges and ice whenever I could. I put ice under my hat, on my neck and wrists, even down my shorts to keep cool. I put sponges under my top.I reached the halfway point in around 23 minutes. Incredibly slow for me. There was no way I was going to come close to my normal 10K pace. I was in survival mode. At about the five mile mark, I actually had to stop and walk for 100-200 yards. I needed to get my legs back under me and regroup. As much as I hated to do this, it was a smart move as I was able to get a little better pace going for the final stretch. The last little hill and finishers chute were a welcome sight. I actually passed two people in the last 100 yards. Time: 48:27, 7:49/mile, 46/232 age group, 280/1498 overall.

Final time: 2:32:39, 21/232 age group, 125/1498 overall. If you take out the pros, I was 91/1464.

I was so happy to be done. I poured countless water bottles and ice over me. All I wanted to do was cool down. The looks on the face of the finishers proved that the right decision was made to shorten the race. If the full race was held the organizers would have needed three medical tents. While I am sure I would have finished the race if it had been a full 70.3, I would have been in survival mode for the run and who knows what would have happened. Even Greg Bennett, who won the race, said it would have been a tough day for the pros.

Overall I was pleased with my swim, ecstatic about the bike, and disappointed in the run. Under cooler conditions, I would have smashed by 4:45 goal but it wasn’t to be on this day. I did my best and laid it all out there, which is all anyone can ask for.

Comments are closed.