Race Report: IM 70.3 Puerto Rico, by Brent Larimer


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Brent Laimer completed his first 70.3 race on 3/19/17, finishing in 5:05! He has been training with Coach Allen Stanfield for nearly a year. Here is ihis report!


Weather: 74 degrees and partly cloudy, rising to mid- to upper-80s and sunny by the run. Little to no noticeable wind on the first half of bike. Slight wind on left shoulder on final return of bike. Nor’easter caused a slight rise in waves and head-on current under bridge.

Precipitation: None

2 goals going in:
1. “If everything comes together race” – sub-5:00:00
2. “A solid day I am happy with” — 5:00:00-5:15:00

How did the day go overall?

Overall, I’m happy with the results for my first race. I think I was a little too conservative on the swim and the run killed me.

Swim review: 1.2 mile – 32:51

I was super anxious leading into the swim start. I was nervous about the race, the distance, what I have heard about IM swims and how much contact there would be. I decided not to swim part of the course the day prior. There were some swells and currents the three days before the race, and I didn’t want to try the course and mentally psych myself out the night before.

Swim was an in-water swim start, but I could stand at the buoy. I picked a line, which looked solid, and checked out the other pumped athletes that donned the typical Ironman type physiques. The ten second count down started, the air horn went off, and I paused to avoid diving onto another athlete.

The first 200 meters had quite a bit of contact. Fortunately, I’m comfortable enough in the swim to hold my own. There was no one near me to draft on. I knew I wasn’t in the front pack, so I figured I was in between the fast and slow guys.

At the 500m mark, I felt my wrist buzz—ah, autolap was still on. I knew I would have some indicator of effort, and I like to break it up into 4 segments, so I was pretty happy. About this time, I also started passing swim caps from the wave before me. I had a clear turns at the buoys and was able to roll around them and keep some speed. After the second turn, I reached the crowd where the two waves before me were intersecting. I had to turn on the burners to make some tight passes during the last stretch, but seemed to keep pretty decent tangents.

The water was shallow and crystal clear during the last 800m. The waves also picked up some, and as I passed under the bridge, there was a bit of a current circling underneath. I made it through unscathed, and started focusing on the swim exit. I sighted about 25m out and saw an opening at the exit if I could pick up the pace. I turned on the legs to get that extra power and it hit me: a way-too-early twinge of hamstrings threating to cramp.

Getting out of the water wasn’t too bad. There were plenty of volunteers to help pull us out, so I was up, out and on my way. The dizziness dissipated after maybe 3 seconds, and the hamstrings were happy to be back in the game. Now for the long barefoot transition run.

Bike review:  56 miles – 2:32:03

Leaving the bike exit was very crowded, narrow and slow. I was overly nervous about getting dinged for drafting, but figured they weren’t going to send all 50 of us to the penalty tent for leaving T1. Bike had some decent hills leaving San Juan. Mostly bridges and overpasses that were still crowded with cyclists from earlier swim waves.

Wind was much more calm than the preceding 3 days, thank goodness for that! I didn’t really settle into looking at power or getting into a good position until, maybe 2-3 miles in. I was nervous about the bike. There were quite a few big unknowns: I had not previously tried refilling my BTA (between the arms bottle - between the aerobars) while riding, I had not ridden the full distance, and I estimated riding 2:45-3 hours. I also figured I would be able to settle into a groove with the power target of 160 (80% FTP) boy was I wrong. I spent the next 50+ miles surging to pass groups of riders, then back pedaling to lower my average power.

It was pretty cool to ride next to the pros while they were making there first turn around. I couldn’t have been too far behind, they started 40-50 minutes before me! I kept an eye on current power, 10sec power, avg. lap power and occasionally checked out my speed to see if I was benefiting for any tail wind, which meant future head winds. Again, I had the course broken up into 4 auto-laps of 14 miles.

I don’t recall getting passed by many people, other than the pros on their second lap. At the first turnaround, I figured I was already riding slow, good time to refill. Timing was perfect. I finished my first bottle during the first hour, refilled at the first turnaround with my right-hand bottle—no issues. The bike was quite monotonous. Fortunately, I had done my longer training rides on the trainer, so anything was going to be more exciting and mentally engaging. The only noticeable issue was very rough pavement at certain points of the course.

The second turnaround went smoothly, I got back up to speed, and then it was more of the surge and pass, surge and pass. At the third turnaround, it was time to refill with my run hydration—the left side… I’m not so comfortable balancing with my right arm in the pads, but I got it done. It did take me 3 or 4 attempts to get the bottle back into the cage. Actually, I was ready to chuck it. If it weren’t for fear of being penalized for littering and the next aid station being a ways away, the bottle would still be in Puerto Rico. Nonetheless, I got it back in and was on my way.

The last stretch wasn’t so fun. We had to return over the bridges we traversed on the way out, but it felt like they added 2 or 3 more. And they were steeper. Now I was trying go up hills, pass people, not draft, keep power under control, and keep my cadence high to prep for the run. Somehow I managed to do it, and came in 15mins under the projected finish time.

My upper back and lower neck were pretty tight by this point. Maybe not enough training with the helmet? I also had a not-so-graceful dismount going into T2. I couldn’t get my *new* left cleat unclipped, and did the infamous fall ride there at the dismount. Fortunately for me, I fell right into the arms of a volunteer who prevented me from hitting the ground.

Run review: 13.1 mile – 1:54:26

The most disappointing leg of the event. I felt good coming off the bike. I knew I would. I kept it easy, but of course there was a steep bridge, literally, right outside the run out. Going in I was planning on running at a 155-160 HR. First glance at my sunscreen crusted Garmin showed I was at 167. So I decided to walk for about 3 seconds, and then said screw it—I’m just going to make it hurt.

I was only watching cadence, monitoring HR and going off feel. This is how I had been practicing. I knew I could at least hold a 165 HR, so I tried to stay under 170 for the first 5k. Then I hit the infamous hill, something like 15%+ grade. I walked half, shuffled up the second half. During the pre-race brief, they warned there would be two 3-mile stretches without aid stations, so I tried to get enough fluid, usually 1-2cups of water and 1-2cups of Gatorade, and 1 cup of ice or water down the suit at each station.  I carried 2 gels in my sleeve in the event the aid stations ran out at some point.

The microwave is the far end turnaround. It’s a beautiful stretch along the outside of the fort wall. Unfortunately, it was way too hot to notice the beauty, and there was not water along the way. And the second you leave the microwave, you hit another 15%+ grade hill. Back to walking.

I passed Carlos Colon at the third aid station, which was a bit of a morale boost. Plus the majority of the return run, after the post-microwave hill, was down hill, I think. I still maintained the same on-course nutrition: 1-2 cups of water, 1-2 cups of Gatorade. About 0.25 mile from the turnaround, some locals had set up a party with some loud reggaet on, which helped the pace some. Just before and just after the halfway point turnaround, I saw Sabrina, which was another little morale boost, followed again by the block party. But about a mile later, I hit that first super hill again. This time, I was hurting.

The second half of the run was starting to turn on me. My body was bloating, legs were threating to cramp at every slight incline, and my stomach was no longer wanting to hold down the water and Gatorade. My HR was in the low- to mid-170s. I was doing the mental math, and calculated that I could still break the 5hour mark. In hindsight, I was doing the math on 12 miles, not 13.1, but whatever.

I was hurting. For the remainder of the run I was pretty tore up. It was pretty much self-preservation mode: don’t throw up nutrition, stay wet and cool, walk the hills to prevent cramping, try and increase turnover to make up time on the flats, declines or slow climbs.

Then, at the 12 mile mark, I caught a break. A girl started to pass me and I tagged on. I wasn’t falling out. I matched her pace and just swallowed any pain and threw out any fear of passing out. I asked her where the finish line was, she said 800m passed the bridge. “Oh $@*%, no way I’m making that bridge,” I thought. She had the same plan though, walk up and run out the final 800m. At the top of the bridge I told her I wasn’t taking the finish line from her. I pulled back enough to let her get to the distance she had been running in front of me.

Thankfully, I didn’t try any surge at the end. I had nothing left, I just didn’t realize how bad I was until a few minutes after the finish line. Not too long after I stumbled passed an insistent medical volunteer, I met Sabrina with two hats and a backwards medal. “That was the most painful thing I have ever done,” only thing I could think.

Total: 5:05:40

Post race wtih Carlos Colon

Transition review:

T1 – 4:20  was so long. A barefoot, nearly .5 mile run over cobblestone and pavement. I was worried about getting a blister before the run, but fortunately I didn’t. The upside, I rehearsed over and over the details of transition: Turn on Garmin, helmet, cleats, bike, go.

T2 – 2:00 bit of a run, to re-rack my bike. No issues with the transition. Volunteers coated me in sunblock at the run-out.


Nutrition review:

4:30 – ¼ cup oatmeal breakfast
6:00 – shot blocks
7:00 – 1 Hammer Gel

(1) 8oz Gatorade, ½ Infinit GoFar, 8oz Water (Approx. 200cal)
(2) 8oz Gatorade, ½ Infinit GoFar, 8oz Water (Approx. 200cal)
(3) 1 Infinit Jetfuel, 16oz Water (Approx. 230cal, 125mg Caffeine)

Hydration: 32oz Water on bike, on course water and Gatorade for run


Mental review: Mental game was on point for the entire race, except between mile 9-12 of the run. I was telling myself during the run, “Push it. Even if you fail now, you have enough time to crawl to the finish line.”


Where do you think you can improve?

Raising the bar across the board. I seemed to be consistently placed for each leg, so raising FTP, getting better at swimming at or near CSS and running at 80% of threshold off the bike (obviously course dependent.)


What would you do differently if you could?

  • More solid nutrition, somewhere on the race course
  • Go a little harder on the swim


What you think you did well?

  • Managing race nerves
  • Restraining myself during the bike and early on the run
  • Kept the mental game in check. Probably the most important factor during this race.


What did you learn from this race?

  • I learned a new level of suffering. I hope I never forget how painful this race was so I can carry that strength into future races.
  • I have plenty of room for improving running off the bike—closing the gap between open and off-the-bike times.
  • I Not necessarily during the race, but bike handling skills and confidence are still weak.


How will you apply what you learned in training?

More group rides outside. I want to bring up the level of suffering during training. Maybe it shouldn’t be this type of race intensity, but I think I can suffer in training more.


What are your thoughts/strategy for your next race?

  • Warm-up for swim if possible. Also warm-up on bike, although this wasn’t possible at IM PR 70.3
  • Recount the unfolding of this race and embrace the pain that I’m going to lay on my body

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