Overall (5:04:52, 30th AG, 275 Overall)
I felt fantastic heading into this race with hops of setting a big PR and finishing somewhere in the 4:50 range but that was not to be. I was able to set a 15 minute personal best and PR every part of the race but I still left a lot of time out on the course due to technical and race execution issues.
This race had two separate transition areas so it involved some prerace logistics but wasn’t to much a hassle. The transitions areas needed to “clean” which means everything had to be in bags.
You could leave everything out the day before or do it the morning off. I didn’t want to leave my gels out in the heat the day before so I just took care of everything the morning of without any issues. The run transition was by the arena and finish line so I dropped my run bag at my rack and took one of the school buses the mile ½ to the swim area and T1 where I got my bike all set up.
The start was cool with someone parachuting in flying a big American flag while the national anthem was sung; and then things got started with the pro wave. I had an hour until the start of my wave so I had some time to kill just sitting around.
What a tough way to start the day.
I lined up near front row off to the right and was able to get a good start. I was swimming towards the front of the group and had some good feet to draft off of when the zipper on the back of my wetsuit popped completely open.
I tried to grab the leash and pull it back up but was unsuccessful so I swam the rest of the way with it open. I took fairly good lines all the way around the course but could really feel the extra drag from wetsuit, it seemed like I was pulling a parachute. Towards the second half of the swim I could even start to feel the top of the wetsuit starting to slip off my shoulders.
I got out of the water expecting to see something close to 40 min so I was happy to see 35 considering what had happened, and I still managed to eek out a PR by a few seconds. I was expecting a 32 min swim, and after talking with my coach based on the time I managed to put up I could have been close to a 30 minute swim if I didn’t have the wetsuit issues.
* I did some research and it turns out my wetsuit problem was user error which I’m surprised hadn’t happened earlier considering I’ve had this suit for almost 3 years. The zipper has a “quick release” where if you pull up hard on it after it’s zipped the zipper will disengage, the idea being it helps for a quick transition. Well before the swim start I thought I hadn’t zipped things up all the way so I gave it an extra pull and heard a click that I thought nothing of. Turns out that was the quick release engaging.
With my wetsuit already falling off I didn’t have to waste anytime unzipping it and used one of the wetsuit strippers to get it the rest of the way off. I ran up the hill and put my wetsuit and goggles in the bag and was off on the bike.
I also had some bad thoughts in the back of mind at the start of the bike ride. During my prerace workout on Saturday my cassette (the gears) in the back came loose. I took it in to tech support and the culprit was the freehub body being worn down, the ridges that lock the cassette in place had worn down and were no longer working.
Unfortunately all the race wheels had been rented out so with the help of the tech support and some tape the cassette was back in place again and he seemed to think it would hold up for the race. I rode for a couple minutes and it held up but I would have that bad thought in the back of my head all day that if came loose again that was the end of my race.
I thought the course was ok, it had some rolling hills at the start and end with mostly flats in the middle. But the road conditions really weren’t that great in several spots. I also did not like the fact that for the last 5-10 miles the course was coned off so two-way traffic could get by. I completely understand why they had to do this and how hard it is to get road permits but it made passing and staying in a good rhythm tough.
As for my ride, I was able to set another PR, this one by about 5 minutes. The plan was to settle the heart rate down in the first few miles and then ride the first half of the bike at moderately hard rate which gave me a 22 mph average at 218 watts through the first half and I was feeling great.
Then it was time to bump up the effort for the next 17 miles keeping the heart rate between 169 and 174 bpm and I was doing an ok job of that. I spent a lot time on the lower end of that range but still managed to average 23 mph at 236 watts during this section.
What I’m disappointed in is the last 10 mile section. Next I was to bump the heart rate up again to between 175 and 178 and it just wasn’t happening. Part of the problem was the coned off section I mentioned earlier. This made it hard to stay at a solid rhythm which makes it tough to keep the heart rate that high. The other part is I was starting to feel the desire to just be done with the bike section. Either way this section should have been much faster then the 21 mph average on 210 watts that I had. There was an awful lot of time left on the course here.
But this was still a 5 minute bike PR for me with my old best being on a pancake flat Eagleman course.
The dismount area was crowded so I decided against the “flying dismount” and just stopped and unclipped the bikes shoes. Nothing to exciting, I put on my shoes, grabbed my fuel belt and I was out on the run course.
Run (1:54:06 8:42 pace), First loop (53:09 8:09 pace), Second Loop (1:00:57 9:18 pace)
The run course changed from last year. In the past it was a 3 loop course all on pavement and this year it changed to a two loop course with about half of it “off road” on grass and dirt paths. I’ve seen mixed opinions on the course but personally, I liked it. It was probably a slower course because of the added hills and fact that half the run was on trails and grass but I liked the variety and thought it helped break things up.
Coming out of transition I felt awesome and was moving along at a good sub 8 pace till the first off road section. The plan was to get settled and run the first 4 miles at a conservative heart rate which I was able to do and felt good, going through the first 4 miles in an 8:13 pace including the off road climb on the first loop which brought the average pace down a bit.
Next I was to bump the heart rate up for the next six miles but I was never able to get the heart rate consistently where it needed to be. I was staying below or on the low end of the zone. I think part of the problem was mentally not trusting that I could hold that effort. Thoughts of blowing up and needed to walk the end of the run like all my other half IMs held me back here. But I keep moving along and averaged 8:44 for this section.
The last 3 miles called for another bump up in heart rate but this turned into an exercise of blocking out the discomfort and continuing to move forward. I shuffled my way up the big off-road hill again and kept moving along not wanting to start walking. I was able to make it through this section with a horribly slow 9:44 pace but I wasn’t walking. And I still managed to PR the run by 5 minutes.
After the race I looked at my flask fuel of gel and I had only gone through about 1/3 of what I should have used which I think played a factor in the lack of energy for the second half of run. Usually I refrigerate the EFS gel before I use it but couldn’t because the hotel didn’t have one. So either the change in consistency or excitement from racing caused me to not take in as many calories as I was needing.
The finish was inside the arena which was neat to come down the finish shoot and see a few hundred people sitting in the stands cheering.
After I finished I kept walking around for a few minutes. I felt a million times better then at Eagleman but I could still feel my calves starting to cramp a little bit. I tried to get some salt tablets from the med tent but they didn’t have any and suggested potato chips. I got a couple of small bags and those hit the spot. I felt better after walking around for a while and didn’t need a med tent visit this time.
I got back to the hotel and passed out for a couple hours before going out to watch the Redskins Sunday night game against the Colts.
I would have really liked to break 5 hours which was very attainable given my current fitness if things hadn’t gone wrong on the swim but I know all my hard work has paid off. And I can’t complain to much with a 15 minute overall PR and PRs at all three sections to wrap up the 2010 triathlon season.