70.3 Muskoka Race Report - Joanne Bezzubetz

Joanne has been part of Team Triumph for 3 years in December. Although she is not privately coached with us she is an active participant in our swim practices. We were so pleased to see this race report from her most recent race Ironman 70.3 Muskoka and we just had to share. 

If you are interested in doing this race, her report will give you some good insight into the race. Enjoy the read.


"I headed out from Ottawa to Huntsville on Friday morning - great drive, not much traffic, and perfect pavement from Ottawa past Algonquin Park. I always look forward to possibly seeing an animal or two, but unfortunately, none were around this time.


I arrived at my coach's home after not seeing her for a year, it was a wonderful reunion. We set out to registration and do a bike ride recon. It was still hilly!


Race Day

Up so early - but had lots of sleep the week before
Ate and was ready to go! It was fantastic to be all organized.
Setting up at the transition zone, I had the best spot right at the end of the rack near the fence, where we were able to put our overflow items. I set up my bike shoes, socks, and helmet and covered them with the towel. I realized earlier in the week that there was no value in putting the items on top of the towel if you wanted to dry your feet, so I thought I would put them on top. BTW, turns out that's the best thing to do.
The drizzle started so I covered my running shoes with a plastic bag - nothing worse than putting wet running shoes on.

Ready to walk down to the swim start. They were slow getting swimmers in and with our wave, we were supposed to start at 7:30 but were still standing on the shore waiting to get in at 7:28. That didn't make any difference because they started the countdown to start while we were still positioning ourselves for the start. Bummer, but all in the same boat. Mad scramble.


The Swim

Sighting was good this year and the water was warm, but still wetsuit legal, and didn't have much chop at the start, but similar to other years, the age group start waves means that you have a wide range of experienced swimmers. I had to navigate around people doing backstroke and breaststroke. Some big men were trying to follow close to me to draft, but they kept hitting me in the process. One guy did push my head down and I stopped to cough, but that was just a few seconds. Lots of chop going through the river to the end. I never experienced as much congestion as I did this year. More people in the higher age groups, I guess. I hope the organizers take feedback about changing the start process.


Really fast peelers and run up to the bike. I thought my swim time was a bit slower than I expected but when I got to the rack, there were lots of bikes left, so I knew I didn't do too badly with the field on that day. Didn't waste any time. Smart to have a towel on top of shoes and the helmet! My coach told me I was in good shape going into the bike.


The Bike

Gosh, how do I forget how hilly that course is every year? New pavement all the way to Baysville - fantastic. Climb, climb, climb, downhill, rush, fast, hold on! Eat and drink!! It's hard getting through the community because there's an aid station and a narrow bridge to share with vehicles and other cyclists. Coming back after the turnaround, I did get stuck behind a couple of slower cyclists a few times, but safety first. No issues on the bike. The top speed was 67 k/hr on one downhill. I have a great bike for downhills. I had moved up three spots and was now in second place in my age group.



My legs felt good going into transition. Parked the bike, and was ready to get running. Grabbed all the stuff: two flasks, six gels, a visor, number belt. It was awkward to carry the flasks, so not sure about doing that in the future - might rethink that strategy.


The Run

First hill - walk like everyone else. The first half of the race I actually said to myself: if I feel like this for the whole race, I will be happy. I should not have jinxed myself. It got harder. But I was able to keep moving. Walking up bigger hills, running down the other side, grabbing water, pouring some on my head and some in my mouth. Ice down my suit - back and front. Remembering to eat my gels - but by the end with the last four kilometers, I said I would not eat anymore. I was totally grossed out. Coming down the last hill just before entering the finish area, I got the same darn cramp in my right calf that I got last year - have to figure that out. I ran through it. Finished - felt better than previous years but still expired. Slipped to third place in the run.


The Verdict
Hardest half Ironman, but the most gratifying. There were 13 registrants in my age group, and nobody registers at that age if they aren't fit to complete the race. I had good competition. My first goal was to finish upright and my second goal was to finish in the top half. Only 10 of us started the race, and I finished third.
Last year, I was first out of three women at this race and got a spot to the World Championships in Finland, which I am attending this August. This year, they had slots for the 2024 World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand, and the first and second-place women in my category didn't want to go, so I was offered the spot and took it! It will be an adventure and motivation to keep training and learning.
Thanks to everyone who reads this long report.





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