Ironman 70.3 World Championships – Chattanooga

Dale and Mimi Esworthy with Craig in Franklin, TN.

Craig on the run!

Craig and Lisa Switzer at the finish line.

On September 10th I raced the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, TN.  Doing this race had been a goal of mine for nearly 2 years as I knew it would offer me a chance to see some of my best friends, Dale and Mimi Esworthy.  I flew into Nashville on the 7th and had a great visit with Dale and Mimi.  They put me up in their house, fed me 3 terrific meals, and hooked me up with a guest pass to do a masters swim at their YMCA, but then I had to be on my way to Chattanooga.

Once in Chattanooga I continued to have a great time with other San Diego based friends and a friend from Atlanta.  I had a couple meals with Mark Ford and his wife Tish Taylor.  I also had dinner with Mike Drury and Troy Cundari made a late appearance.  Lisa Switzer is a friend from Atlanta who came up to the race to train on the course and cheer on some friends.  Lisa gave me lots of course specific information and was a great cheerleader for me during the race.

One of the unique aspects to this race was that the women would race on Saturday and the men would race on Sunday.  I missed racing with the ladies, but I think they were thrilled not to have to deal with the men.  Both days offered the same conditions – sunny with temperatures in the mid 80’s.  Over 3,800 athletes raced from over 90 countries. 

The 1.2 mile swim was in the Tennessee River.  They don’t allow wetsuits if the water temperature is over 78 degrees.  It was 76-77 degrees so wetsuits were just barely allowed.  They had a rolling start within each age group.  That means 10 of us would jump into the water every 3 seconds.  The water was really warm.  I could tell right away that I better just cruise the swim so I would not over heat.  Because of the heat, I did start to get a mild calf cramp in the final 100 meters.  I managed it just fine, but it caused me to limp a bit for my first few steps on dry land.  The swim would be the least of my challenges for the day.  My swim split was 33:57 (1:45/100 meters), putting me in 22nd place.

The 56 mile bike course featured 3,400 feet of climbing.  It was a scenic tour of Tennessee and even a small part of Georgia.  Too bad I did not have time to savor it!  The toughest part was the first 8 miles as we climbed up to Lookout Mountain.  I felt great on the climb, but felt pretty tired for the rest of the challenging course.  I did the best I could, though.  I managed a 2:55:50 bike split (19.1 mph).  This was the 114th best time and it dropped me into 83rd place.   

The 13.1 mile run course was comprised of 2 laps along the Riverfront Parkway.  The run course also had some hills as the elevation gain was 975 feet.  It was very scenic and perfect for spectators.  I had a solid run as my split was 1:38:55 (7:33/mile).  This was the 11th best run time and it moved me up to finish 42nd out of 157 men in the 55-59 age group.  I finished in 1,494th place out of 2,380 male finishers with a time of 5:18:02.  This race course was World Championships worthy and the competition was great so I am satisfied with my result.

Troy and Mark placed 26th and 33rd, respectively in the men’s 55-59.  Mike placed 164th in the men’s 45-49.   

To see my race photos, click on this link:  http://www.finisherpix.com/gallery/photos/en/USD/1950/520

Living the life…   

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