Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mass State Race Report: Unexpected results

Well, that was rough. I was cooked on that run. It was hotter than expected, and I needed more water on the bike. Lesson learned, take a second bottle of just water. I got through the first mile and half before stopping to walk. My heart rate kept creeping up over 180, so I kept stopping. Eight times in total. Ended up running a 59 minute 10K. Yeesh.

At first I didn't like having the gps watch on the run cause those splits were brutal, but I ended up appreciating having it, monitoring my heart rate, slowing pace or walking when it got out of hand.

Here's the thing though: I had exactly the same time as last year. I did the swim in 23 minutes (so 5 minutes faster than last year - advantage: wetsuit), did the bike 1:19 (2 minutes faster, average of 18.5mph), and then did the run 7 minutes slower. And I took second in my age group, and I got a pint glass.

I felt sort of bad that after such a crappy run, I could still place. If I had been in one age group up or one age group down, I wouldn't have placed by about 20 minutes. But, that said, I came 2nd out of 18 in my age group.

Lessons for next time:
  • Water on the bike. Also drinking all the way up til the start.
  • My stomach was still not happy, but considering it was unhappy for the whole day I'm not sure how much of that was race-related.
  • Need to practice those mounts/dismounts again.
  • Definitely more taper for that next race.
  • Also may try to do a little more mid-day running to better acclimatize.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mass State Race Plan: the Dry Run

Here we are. July. One last race before Nationals. Yeesh.

I'm thinking of Mass State as my last chance to really try out the game plan before the big day. I want to practice really pushing, keeping that "go faster" mentality from Griskus. But the big experiment is nutrition.

By the time I got to the run at Griskus, my stomach was a wreck. It was not interested in taking on anything else. I had originally based my race nutrition on Hammer's recommendations for endurance athletes. (There's something really satisfying about sinking your teeth into 144 pages of nutritional info.) The basic takeaways that I used were: Eat 3 hours before exercise and not again til you're moving, take in about 250 calories/hour, drink about 20 oz per hour.

After the race, I talked with my coach. She suggested perhaps the gel I was using was not mixing well with the sports drink. So, I've switched those up (now I'm entirely hammer-fueled). I also think that I was probably just trying to take on too much. I came across another local triathlete's blog, who suggests a lower calorie approach, so I'm reducing across the board and going for the lowest end of the hammer guidelines (150cal/hour, 16oz/hour). The hammer guidelines are written for people doing all sorts of endurance events, and although olympic races typically take me over 2.5 hours, they're not endurance in the traditional sense. I like olympic races because you can race them. The heart rate is higher, and I think that's why it's harder to absorb quite so much. Also, it turns out I'm not that big of person.

I've been trying out a less-is-more philosophy in training, and that's what I'll have on Sunday. Plenty of water before the race, a gel before the swim and one on the bike, a single bottle with half sustained energy and half heed (so it's not too sweet), then water on the run. On the whole, no-eating-before-the-race thing, I never do that in training. I always eat something before a workout, even in the wee hours of the morning, and it's usually within an hour of the session, so I'm having my clifbar when I feel like it. So that's the plan (and here's the spreadsheet).

Oh, right, except there's more to the race than what I eat. I've been approaching this race as a C race. My body is still feeling the effects of some very heavy sessions last week and early this one. I'm taking it easier now, but I'm still not to that itchy I-have-to-move feeling that indicates a nice taper. I want to race on perceived effort and not get too caught up in numbers or podiums.

OK, who am I kidding? I live for numbers. So here they are: last year I had a strong swim at this race, so let's do that again, 25 min goal (if I swam my pace from this morning I should finish in 22). That bike has got a wicked hill, twice. I averaged 18 last year for the whole thing with a negative split. This year, let's go 18.5 for the first lap and see what I've got for the second lap. The run felt long and wicked hot. It's supposed to be cooler this year. Goal for the run is to keep the legs turning over and shoot for 7:30s.

This should be fun.

Oh, and I've been playing around with my new gps watch. Here's my swim from Walden this morning. Looks like my sighting is improving.

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