Monday, July 7, 2008

Lake Stevens 70.3

BLUF:  Well-run event, beautiful course with some challenging hills on the bike, lots of great teammates on course, borrowed bike, rented wetsuit, no HRM = 2nd fastest 1/2 IM ever.

With airlines charging upwards of $100 each 
way to fly a bike, I simply couldn't justify bringing my own to an event I was 
racing with no taper.  Fortunately, my friend Marc hooked me up with his SPEED MACHINE.  After 15 minutes of saddle/stem adjustment, I was ready to go (note the not-Slowtwitch approved spacers under the stem).

Saturday evening, we had a great dinner in Lake Stevens at Neapoli's.  Apparently pasta was a good idea as Chris Legh (defending Champion) was there as well
.  A quick drive of the course made it clear that the "new" course would be a bit easier than previous editions, but that the 3,000 cumulative feet of climbing would still sting a bit.  Reviewing the course was great for my confidence as it helped me realize that the descents were all critical sources of momentum on course and that there would be no need to slow or break aero position on the vast majority of corners.

Sunday morning started with a bottle of Boost (240 calorie
s), PBJ Bagel (360 calories), Gatorade (150 calories), a glass of cranberry juice (100 calories), and 4 Electrolyte pills.  I left the house feeling full, but knowing that I had 2 hours until the start of my race.

I was really hoping that my recent swim volume
 (prior to my tendonitis) would be rewarded with a personal best.  Although I'm swimming better, I think I just grabbed some slow feet and acted too patiently.  The water was clear with 8 feet of visibility and a "buoy line" which rendered sighting unnecessary.  Exited the water in 36:45 (about 2:45 slower than my goal).

T1 was uneventful and the ZOOT wetsuit I'd rented was REALLY EASY to remove (2:00).  

Bike course is basically a lollipop (5 mile outbound leg, 2 x 23 mile loops, 5 mile inbound leg).  The loops consist of a gradually climbing set of rollers for the first 15 miles, 6 miles of progressive descending (with some really nice fast sections), and a final kicker before repeating the loop.  I decided to run "lean" and only carry one bottle on the bike with 5 GU packets taped to the top-tube.  2 x CO2 cartridges taped under the saddle and a tube in my back pocket.  This was a good approach.  However, I'm not sure that I liked the Clif Bar drink I had in my first bottle (when mixed with GU it made me want to puke).  Therefore, I simply grabbed water at the aid station and took a GU every 20 minutes thereafter.  Simple solution (no need to do caloric-calculus...Just listen to the body!!!).

Speaking of listening to the body...I wore an HRM, but had decided prior to the race that it was there for "post race analysis."  It's a good thing too!  Had I listened to the HRM, I'd have pushed too hard, too early on the bike.  Instead, I listened to my legs despite my low HR readings while letting the "fast guys" ride away early in the first lap.  2 hours later, most of them came back to me on the ride into town.  

T2--SLOW due to a porta-pottie stop (I just couldn't bring myself to peeing on a borrowed bike).  3:00.

Run--Downed 1/3 can of Red Bull, counted cadence, and simply focused on running well.  Mile 1 in 7:06 felt EASY.  However, I also knew that I wanted to finish strong.  I let my teammate go and told him I'd see him at the finish.  Nevertheless, I was just ticking over the legs and really feeling good.  With 9 miles to go, I realized that the majority of my training efforts are done FASTER than I was running so I just let myself run at a "comfortably uncomfortable" pace with a plan to attack the final 6 miles.  Unfortunately, one little muscle in my quad began to cramp so I had to settle for maintaining pace and taking in a few extra electrolytes (I probably should have taken a few on the bike).  With 3 miles left, I was "on the hunt" and decided to risk cramping up... Fortunately, my legs held up and I finished the final 3 miles in just under 20 minutes for a 1:32 half-marathon.

Overall:  4:56:12 (my second fastest 1/2 Ironman to date), 81st place overall (12th in AG) and took the slot to the 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida.

1.  Don't get consumed by the details.  1mm either way won't kill a bike fit and wetsuits are all made of rubber...
2.  We don't need no stinkin' technology crutches!  HRMs and PMs have their place for some athletes, but I'm training better and more importantly RACING BETTER without them.  After 24 years of bike racing and 10 IM finishes, I know my body pretty well.  I do best when I actually listen to what it has to say.
3.  I'm going to rip my arms off if I don't find a way to improve my swim times!!!
4.  Running "lean" on calories (only 1 bottle on the bike) was great for a 1/2 IM (I'm not so sure it would work well for IM as I was pretty "bonky" at the end of the run).
5.  My Fuel Belt was KEY to my run success...My "secret sauce" available whenever I wanted it.  It was comfortable and will be used for all longer races moving forward.
6.  I'm definitely a 1-piece guy.  However, my tri suit from 2004 makes me look like a flamer (NTTAWWT;-)...I need longer shorts on my suit for Clearwater or I'll get arrested for indecent exposure.

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