2022 Ironman Memphis 70.3 Race Report!
Saturday, October 1st, 2022 at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee
Race Day Weather: 76 degrees and sunny!
The short version: We all finished! I managed 6th in age group for a 2nd year in a row (that takes special skills right?!) I was over 4 minutes faster overall than last year too! Jacki, Steph, Allyssa, and Paul are all still my friends even after I talked them into this. I had so much fun and already signed up for next year! The long version with all the fun pictures and stories is below - that's what you really came here for!
In the week leading up to the race, my big focus was on recovery from Ironman Chattanooga the previous Sunday. What began as a bad decision (racing a full Ironman followed by a half Ironman with 5 days in between) turned into a fun experiment in race recovery. I placed a major emphasis on getting plenty of quality sleep every night, eating in a slight calorie surplus, using my recovery tools daily, and mentally preparing myself to turn around and race again.
This was my 2nd year coming to race Ironman Memphis 70.3 and this year I managed to talk some of my best friends into joining me! Jacki was the first person to fall victim to my peer pressure and signed up for the event as prep for her first full Ironman in Cozumel in November. With both of us signed up, we were able to then talk the rest of the Catfishies into racing as a relay with Steph swimming, Paul biking, and Allyssa running. Unfortuantely with less than a month before the race, Allyssa had a horse riding accident and broke her foot, which made traveling a bad choice in her healing. Steph agreed to do the swim and run, but we made sure that Allyssa was still included in the weekend!
Thursday, September 29th, 2022
We began our trek from one end of the state of Tennessee to the other (about an 8 hour drive) after finishing up work around 5pm. About halfway into our drive I looked up and saw 2 familiar looking bikes on the car in front of us and realized it was our friends Jacki and Paul who were racing Memphis with us. We had a nice uneventful drive and arrived at our friends house on the outskirts of Memphis around 2am and went straight to bed.
Friday, September 30th, 2022
After a good night's sleep we got up and headed to pick up our friend Steph from the airport. She's been an unfortunate victim of getting talked into our crazy endurance event plans on multiple occasions. We took her out for a nice breakfast at Brother Junipers to convince her she made a good decision in coming to race. I think she fell for it.
After finishing up a great breakfast, we headed to the race venue to get checked in and pick up our packets! By this time Jacki and Paul had made it to Shelby Farms Park too.
Since parking was about a mile from Ironman Village, we went ahead and took my bike with us before heading in. We saw some buffalo on our walk in, and had to take a picture with "Allyssa" and the buffalo.
Since Jacki and I checked in together, we got racking spots together too! It's always nice to have friends near you in transition.
Steph, Paul, and "Allyssa" got checked in for the relay too!
After we checked in we hung around for the athlete briefing to make sure we didn't miss anything. I took this time to relax and enjoy myself on this nice sunny day.
As always, we took advantage of the "samples" of the non-alcholic Athletic Brewing beer for some hydration.
After we finished up at the expo, we grabbed a late lunch at Babalu then headed back to our friends Jessica and Jonathan's house to spend the evening catching up with them. I unfortunately didn't think to get any pictures with them even though we had an amazing time hanging out! They made us an amazing pasta dinner as I prepped my gear and nutrition for race day! I tried talking them into racing the 70.3 as a relay next year, but they didn't fall for it.
Saturday, October 1st, 2022 - RACE DAY!
We set the alarm for 4am with a "leave for race" time of 5am. We knew that should put us getting to the venue around 5:25. We knew the event organizers had a much better plan for parking this year, and that definitely held true as we didn't see backed up tail lights as we approached Shelby Farms along Walnut Grove. It took around 10-15 minutes once we entered the park to get parked, and everything was organized and smooth with it. We made it to transition around 6am which gave us about 45 minutes until transition closed.
Thankfully setting up and doing a quick bike check of my gears was easy and efficient, and the athlete next to me let me borrow his bike pump so I didn't even have to find a pump along the edge to use. We headed out of transition around 6:30 to get in line for the bathroom. This race had plenty of portable toilets for number of racers so the line went super fast.
As we approached race start time of 7am, we got our wetsuits on and started making our way to the swim start. The wet grass was chilly on bare feet for sure, since the temp around race start was about 45 degrees (per Strava).
George was such a great supporter and sherpa at this race for all of us! He hauled around a lot of shoes and random gear and was such a welcomed sight to see him on course all day.
There was no pro field at this race, so once things got started at 7am, the line went quick! We took a quick pre-race photo looking bright eyed and bushy tailed before heading to the swim start line. We lined up in the expected swim time of 40-43 minutes.
It's so much more fun to stand in the swim line with your friends. As the line gets shorter and the beeping of the starter gets louder, the nerves start to build. Having those people around you to keep you calm and grounded makes a world of difference.
The swim! Time: 40:57 for 9th in age group, 81st by gender, and 387 overall
Wetsuit legal this year!!! Thankfully a cold front came through in the week leading up to the race which dropped the water temperature a ton. Race day was 70-71 which was well within wetsuit legal temp. In contrast to last year, when the water temp was 76.3 on race morning, the temperature felt so much better and comfortable.
We all got into the water around 7:25am. The first half was beautiful! It was such a smoother swim than last year since there wasn't torrential rain in the 36 hours leading up to the race. Once we turned at the far end of the lake though, the rising sun was placed right in the same direction as the swim buoys which made sighting a much bigger challenge. Along with this, a lot of other athletes were struggling with sighting as well which created a jam of athletes to swim through. My swim pace was a solid 10-15 seconds per 100 slower in this section than the previous, but I made it out of the swim about 5 minutes faster than last year.
I quickly unzipped my suitsuit and took the top down (which is super easy in a sleeveless wetsuit!) so that I could use the wetsuit strippers. They had my suit off in less than a second in one big swoop! So cool! Super happy that the strippers are back!
I kept my swim cap and goggles on until I had my wetsuit off, then focused on taking off my cap and goggles on the carpeted run to transition. I got to see George on the way to transition which gave me a huge motivation boost!
I got so excited to see Jacki come into transition to her bike right as I was leaving! She finished her swim just about a minute after me but I never spotted her in the swim with the cloudy water.
It was a little chilly on race morning (50 degrees per Strava), so I took an extra bit of time to put on gloves, socks, and top up on electrolytes with a quick spray of Boa. My T1 time of 4:52 was almost identical to T1 last year, but the run was definitely shorter this year.
The bike! Time: 3:08:10 for 7th in age group, 90th by gender, and 524th overall
Starting the bike, I could tell the wind was a little different than last year. This is where the lingering fatigue from the tough Chattanooga 116 mile bike ride showed up. Overall I'm thrilled that my bike time was only 4 minutes slower than last year. Here's a comparison of my splits from 2021 vs 2022.
Onto a little more details about the bike course, it's actually one of my favorite 70.3 bike courses! There's really nothing flat on this ride. You're always either going up or down, whether that's a steep hill or false flat. It's such a scenic ride.
That being said, it's also one of the slowest 70.3 bike courses I've done between the chip seal pavement and elevation gain of almost 2,400ft. One thing that surprises everyone is how much elevation gain you get here - it's right at the same elevation gain as Chattanooga 70.3, and a good bit more than courses like Musselman. It's a lot less than courses like Ironman Blue Ridge 70.3 and St. George 70.3 WC, but those are outliers.
Finishing up the bike and coming into T2, I was feeling good. I had an efficient T2 and made sure to do some Boa sprays since the clear sunny skies meant more sweating/ electrolyte loss. Running out of T2, I was happy to see Jacki running her bike in! She yelled to me "HE PASSED ME" and I started laughing. She was talking about Paul, who has had a friendly competition brewing with me for almost a year. Even if he had a faster bike split, I knew he didn't get the satifaction of passing me on course. He did end up with a faster bike split than me by over 4 minutes.
The run! Time: 1:55:23 for 6th in age group, 35th by gender, and 233rd overall
Starting the run I definitely had some nervousness about how my body had recovered to race a half marathon off the bike after the tough marathon at Chattanooga 5 days prior. Through the first two miles though, I felt my run legs feeling fresh and smooth. I paid special attention to taking in nutrition and grabbing ice to keep everything in check.
By mile 6 when I got through round 1 of the hills, I felt pretty confident that I could do a sub- 2 hour half marathon by keeping my pace in the mid to upper 8's like I did on the first loop. The effort definitely got harder as the race progressed, but I never felt out of control or that I was blowing up. Even though the second loop was a tad slower than the first, I still was well ahead of my goal and beat my run time last year by over 3 minutes!
I always like to carry a fold top baggie on the run to carry ice with me. I usually tuck that into my top on one of my shoulders so the cold water runs down my chest to keep me cool. One thing I unexpected found that helped at Chattanooga was carrying the ice bag in my hand. It almost kept me cooler than putting the bag in my top!
Hitting that magical mile 12, I gained some motivation to run smoothly to the finish! Seeing that red carpet never gets old!
It was awesome seeing the support crew right before heading into the finish chute (you can see them in the background here!)
Crossing that finish line feeling good was such an incredible feeling!
Just a bit after I finished, we got to cheer in our relay team as Steph finished up the run!
Shortly after Steph's finished, we cheered Jacki in!
Next stop was post race food! I do love pizza!
Our Catfish crew all crossed that finish line!
All of them are still my friends even after getting talked into this race!
We did it!
After getting cleaned up from race and resting for a few hours, we got Central BBQ - my favorite BBQ in Memphis! We decided to go to one of my favorite breakfast places for Sunday brunch - Arcade Restaurant in downtown. We had to show Steph a good tourist time before her flight home!
We took a stroll down Beale Street with "Allyssa"
Along with a visit to the Peabody Hotel rooftop
This was such an amazing trip and I'm thankful for all the friends who made it an amazing experience!