Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What to Expect When You're Syracusing- The Run

My intent is to pass along knowledge based on experience for any and all those who are planning on doing IM Syracuse 70.3 (even if you have no intention of ever doing this race, maybe you'll find it interesting). If, at any point along the way, please feel free to raise your hand and ask questions. (I suppose you could also leave a comment.)

Links to other posts in this series
The Swim
The Bike 
The Run (viewing)
Back in Transition
Let's assume for a minute that you have survived the bike ride through the hostile outback of suburban Syracuse. Congratulations! You're a beast. For some people, a 56 mile bike ride is enough to call it a day. Not you, stud or studette. You have paid money to go for a run. Now, before you get running, you have some chores to do before you can go play.

You have to get off your bike at or before the mount line. But, it's been a couple of hours since you left. Since that time, the RD went out and changed it to a "Dismount" line. You are now allowed to get off your bike. Same holds true for the bike exit, which has magically transformed into a bike entrance. One of these days, I'll not do a race and watch the wand waving to see exactly how the transformation unfolds. I doubt I'll understand.

Here is your list of chores: (It's up to you how quickly you want to accomplish them. Nobody will help you with this.)
  • Find your old bike spot. You need to use it again
  • Hang your bike on the pole in said spot
  • Take off your helmet
  • Get naked
  • Replace your bike shoes with running shoes
  • Add any additional gear to your body as you feel appropriate
    • Socks
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Monkey Suit
    • Fuel belt
    • Sunscreen
    • Nutrition
Tip 1: Leave your bike shoes on your bike if possible. You really don't need them from here on out. Hopefully you have practiced sliding your feet out of the shoes while riding.

The transition is at the opposite end of the recently formed bike entrance. In many races, the "Run Out" is the same place as the "Swim In". At Syracuse 70.3, this is almost the case. Find the Swim In spot and look just to the right. Voila. Go through that opening and turn right again. You are now on your way to an exciting adventure.

The Run
The course starts off in the park. The park is mostly flat with a mix of sun and shade. It's also a mix of pavement and dirt. After a brief period of time, should you follow the prescribed course (and it is in your best interests to do so), you'll have a chance to run past your car.

Tip 2: Resist the urge to get in your car and drive the course. You'll actually be slower. Here's why: After mile 1, the road is mostly closed. Traffic is backed up and creeping along. Also, the timing mats don't register your chip efficiently through the insulated vehicle. It's better that you just run it.

There is an aid station right before you leave the park and turn onto the main road. The aid stations basically have the same products in the same order as the bike stations with a couple of notable additions. They've added pretzels and flat cola (may or may not be name brand). The Athlete's Guide doesn't officially say it, but there is a high probability that you'll find some ice. Do not expect water bottles. They dish all the liquids out into convenient paper cups, about 3-4 ounces in each. Same for the pretzels. Gels, chomps, etc. come complete in their original wrappings.

Again, there will be copious numbers of volunteers lining up, shouting at you and handing you stuff. Sometimes, they try to force it on you. Stay assertive.

Tip 3: Grab a cup from a volunteer or the table and pinch the top. You have now made a nice spout/ funnel, which is easier to drink whilst moving.

Tip 4: Water is typically first followed by the rest of the stuff. There may a second chance at water. When I take in calories, I grab 2 waters. Slam one immediately. Then calories. Then the other water. I hate running with that sticky, sugary goo glopped in the back of my throat.

After the aid station, turn left and onto the main road. You'll recognize this spot by a sudden increase in entropy. The road normally has 2 full lanes for cars and 2 slanted shoulders for everything else. They close down the northbound lane for the race. You recently biked on the outside of the race lane. Now, you are sandwiched in the middle of the bike lane and the returning runners.

The road is not that bad at this time. You are on a relatively flat part in terms of slanting vertically and horizontally. (That will change later.) There is a small, easy up and down while on the main road, on which you will run for about a mile. It's mostly shady and pleasant.

Just before the 2 mile mark, you will turn left into a quaint neighborhood. The road is all runners now. There is a second aid station. There is also a lot more sun. This portion of the course is about 3/4 of a mile long. It is the end of all things happy as you know it.

Here's the run profile. It's shaped like a beautiful pair of c-cups. The bottom of the hill coincides with the end of the road that you are currently running on. At this time, you won't see anything but the tip of the ice berg. The road Ts just as you start to go up. You make a right hand turn and the enormity of the climb slaps you across the face like you just made an unwelcomed pass at the hottie. As you start to ascend, you'll start to feel as if she also kicked you in the groin. She'll keep pounding away on your sensitive areas until just after the 3rd mile mark.

At this time, you'll find relief in a couple of different forms. First and foremost, the hill has ended. Secondly, there is an aid station filled with volunteers that know what torture you've just been through. Third, you get to turn around and head downhill now.

From here on out, you have to go back. You get to retrace your steps down the hill, back into the sun, hit the main road, and head back to the park. On the main road, however, you are faced with yet another challenge. What you thought was a nice, flat road on the way out has now officially become a pain in the leg on the way in. If you are running on the shoulder, expect that the slope will cause a limping sort of gait as your right/ outside leg will be hitting the pavement at a slightly lower elevation than your left/ inside leg.

You'll turn right back into the park and hit the first/ last of the aid station of the course. You diverge from the beaten path as you take the long way around the parking lot, pass your car once again (see Tip #2), and head back towards transition. This portion of the run is littered with sharp, finger to fist-sized limestone cobbles. Pay attention here and run carefully.

Tip 5: Don't run in the middle of the path. Stick to the outside edge. If you're smart, you'll be on the left hand side as it's the inside of the turn. Not only will this be a shorter distance, but the ground is smoother here (or was).

Please pause in your reading. If this is your first lap, please go back up to the heading "The Run" and re-read everything that I have written. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you have to turn around and re-do the run. Even though it feels like an eternity, you've only covered half the distance to the goal. Once you have finished your second round of reading, then you may continue with the rest of the post.

After you've finished re-reading and re-running the entire shpeel, you get to finish (both the post and the run). This time, you are allowed to run past transition. It seems like you are going to head back to the lake for a swim (which, by the way, will sound pretty dang good). There will be party music. There will be people yelling and cheering. There will be someone announcing your triumphant return. There will be a chute that only the most weak minded persons (this may number in the hundreds on race day) would be able to miss. There will be a nice finisher's arch.

Cross the line and get your medal. You've done the deed now receive the bling. You'll have your shot at sitting on the ground under a tent in the shade. There will be amply supplies of beverages. A few steps away, you'll see and smell the post race food. You may even be able to convince a volunteer to bring you stuff.

Do's and Don'ts After the Race
  • Do remember to thank as many people as possible (you have hopefully been doing this the whole time)
  • Do shake hands and brag chat with your fellow athletes
  • Don't pat them on the back. They'll probably fall over
  • Don't forget your morning clothes bag
  • Do grab an extra water bottle for the way out
  • Don't forget that you have an expensive bike in transition. Plus some other stuff
  • Do remember where you parked your car
  • Don't sit directly on your seat. You smell. Put down a towel or something
  • Do send me a message and tell me how things went
By now, hopefully, you have a pretty good idea as to what to expect when your Syracusing. Feel free to chime in and tell me what I'm missing. I look forward to your success and good luck to you.

(Just don't beat me. I get grumpy about that sort of thing.)

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