Sunday, August 21, 2011

USATAGN Race Report: My best meets the best

2:41:20. Not quite the 2:35, that I still believe I'm capable of, but still a PR by two minutes. The short story: bad swim, great bike, hit the wall on the run. Grab a snack, cause this recap may take as long as the actual race.

[Pigtails do not enhance my tough-guy, pre-race face]

Things that worked well:

Mantras. I mentioned how I used the "If you want to get faster, you have to go faster" mantra at Griskus. Here, I had a transition mantra: "Quick, but not in a hurry," and an overall mantra "Get behind me, Unbelief." You see, I had a lot of doubts coming into this race. Last week, Paul reminded me of this speech from a Notre Dame pep rally last year:

On the bike I'd been going back and forth with a guy on a yellow cervelo (my oxygen-deprived brain was really entertained by that phrase). At mile 10, I checked my average speed: 17.2. I started thinking, "Guess I'm not gonna hit that bike split either." And, then I realized that was just Unbelief talking. Get behind me, Unbelief. And while I'm at it, Get behind me, Yellow Cervelo. I passed the Yellow Cervelo and dropped him.

Nutrition. Followed the plan exactly (Clif bar at 5:30, gel at 8, 200 calories of heed on the bike, plus gels at miles 5 and 20, water on the run). And it worked great! No stomach distress despite the high heart rates.

Hydration. The new speedfil bottle worked like a charm. I had forgotten to bring the cap for it when I racked the bike on Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, there were a few bugs hanging out in there. I rinsed them out, and I'm pretty sure I got them all. I had pre-mixed my heed in a 24 ounce bottle, poured that in, then topped off the the speedfil with another 10 oz or so of water. This worked surprisingly well, the heed and water, didn't completely mix, so as I drank, the solution got less sweet, which was refreshing. It also meant, I got more calories earlier on the bike. I was so well hydrated out on the run that I peed myself. Generally, I would think it a failing to not make it to the bathroom, but in triathlon, I'm actually sorta proud of it.

Hotel. Comfort Inn people let us stay an extra hour. I had set us up for a 1pm check out, but we didn't make it back from the course til 1:20. We came in prepared to plead and bitch and moan, but instead they just told us to take our time, which meant I got to have a shower before the long drive home. Win! Especially considering the last bullet point.

Things that didn't work so well:

The swim course. It was a big fail, not just for me, but for a majority of the athletes. I think a few things went wrong. First, I'm pretty sure that the course we swam was different to the one we planned. As best I could tell, here's the difference: The turn at the third buoy was much more acute than it had looked in the course map. Second, making that turn, you started swimming directly into the sun. When I came around the third buoy, I couldn't find the fourth buoy. I even breast stroked for several strokes trying to spot it. No luck. The pack I had been swimming with was getting further away from me, so I decided I should just follow the pack, but I kept looking up and trying to spot that fourth buoy. Finally after another 60 strokes or so, I switched back to breast stroke, and finally located the fourth buoy WAY OFF TO MY RIGHT. Ugh. Not much USAT can do about the blinding sun, but they could instruct their watercraft to help people make that turn. Why they weren't steering people back on course, I don't know, but it was very frustrating.

Speedfil. I lost a screw on the speedfil, and it rattled for much of the ride. Also, I had set up the straw too short. Each time I went to drink, my visibility went down to about 15 feet in front of me. Not ideal

The run. The first two miles, I reeled people in. Ran a little better than 8 min miles with a super steep first half mile. But after that, things started getting harder. My legs felt heavy, and the miles were just so far apart. Worse still, when we had ridden the course the day before, we hadn't gone all the way out to the turnaround, we thought we had, but no. So the run just kept going and going. At the final water stop near 4.5 miles, I walked through it. I picked it back up again, but my pace suffered. My heart rate was consistently around 190.

With nutrition and hydration squared away and weather out of control, what can I do to improve run performance? It's still an endurance race. I need to find the right balance of bike to run.

If I want to do a 2:35 (assuming 25 minute swim, 5 minutes of transition), then I need to average 18.8mph on the bike and 7:20 min miles, or 19mph and 7:30s.

One thing that did seem to work: form on the run was looking good even in the final shot:

Warm ups. I had a solid hour between when transition closed and when my wave went off. I did a quick warm up and some dynamics just before transition closed, but then sitting around for an hour seems like not the best thing. Any suggestions here?

PS. Only burned 1600 calories out there. I still don't understand what "workout" that fitbit person was doing.


Shannon August 26, 2011 at 2:21 PM  

"only" burned 1600 calories ;) Looking strong in those photos, even with the pigtails!! congrats on the PR!

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