Monday, September 19, 2011

Patriots 70.3 Race Report

Race: Patriots 70.3
Date: Saturday, September 10, 2011
Location: Williamsburg, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - Half Ironman Distance
Division: 45-49 yo
Place: 10th in AG/124 OA
Time: 7:09:39

Before the Race:

The day before the race, Molly and I drove to Williamsburg to prepare for the event. My friend Jan's parents invited us to stay at their house only 4 miles from the race venue so it was a perfect little "B&B" for us!  After a quick packet pickup we walked around the race venue to check out the course. We spent a little time down by the water trying to understand the very unusual setup of the swim course and a weird 0.4 mile transition into T1 so we knew we needed to come up with a plan. There would be no barefoot running to T1 and thankfully I had brought a second pair of running shoes with me. 
 Dipping my toes in the James River the day before the race...nice...and warm...
probably not wetsuit legal (I was right!)

  Part of the James River - our swim course. It was a very nice body of water for a swim.

Our trip to Williamsburg had been delayed and our timing for dinner wasn't that great so we ended up not getting the opportunity to drive the bike course. That's okay because I had decided this was going to be a race to "just finish" after having some cramping in my legs the whole week before the race and some pretty stiff tightness in my back.

Race Morning:

Race morning went pretty well and I had a good amount of sleep the night before. We drove to the race and started our journey to the finish line. Once we got there we unloaded our bikes, in the dark, from the car. We had a decent amount of time to set up transition, say hello to our teammates and fellow training partners Sandy, Renee, and Mayra and then we all headed down to the swim start. As a photographer I am ashamed of myself for not getting a quick picture of all of us. SHAME.ON.ME!!!

Unfortunately, our plans to have our shoes at the swim finish hadn't transpired so we all (minus Sandy) quickly walked over to the finish to leave our shoes there. We came back, got in the water for a minute and then we heard "green swim caps will be next!" Um...we were all green swim caps (except Sandy who started in the wave before us and was already out in the water) so we took off running and almost missed our entrance into the James River! Whew! Not the best way to start a race!

Swim: 1:00:27 (14th in AG)

This was NOT the time I had hoped for in this race. Yes, I'm a slow swimmer but I am not this slow. Here's what happened...the day before the race we went to the race meeting and the guy told us that if we weren't strong swimmers we should go to the left of the buoy because the current would take us to the right. If we swam straight out to the buoy and ended up on the right side we would have to swim against the current in order to get back on course. When I heard "strong" swimmer I was thinking "good" swimmer. Fact of the matter is, I'm a strong swimmer - just not a fast one. So, when I headed out, I went to the left (away from the buoy) rather than directly to the buoy. This was the biggest mistake of my day because I ended up swimming much farther than I needed. When I compared this swim to previous swims here is what I found:

Eagleman: 1:01:16 (my first 70.3 but this course was also said to be 1.5 miles instead of 1.2)
OBX: 51:09 (my second 70.3 and in my OBX race report I noted I wasn't thrilled with this result)
Patriots: 1:00:27

Another issue I had during the swim was that I felt I was going to throw up twice. I've never had that feeling before but it made me have to stop swimming for a moment. This throwing up feeling would come back to haunt me later on. The good news about this swim is that when I got out of the water I didn't have the light-headed feeling I've had in past races. I felt pretty good about that but wasn't sure why it wasn't there (or why it WAS there in previous races).

T1: 5:21 (3rd in AG):

When people talk about which portion of the race they are fastest in some will say "Oh, I'm a better runner" or "I'm a better biker." Well, I have to say that my strength is probably in transitions. I'm almost always in the top 5 finishers in transition. Typically my T1 will be closer to 2:00 - 2:30 but because of the run (approx 0.4 miles) up the hill my transition time was a little longer than normal. 

Bike: 3:11:09 (18.3 pace; 9th in AG):

The first 5-10 miles of the bike were slower than I expected. There were times I was literally saying out loud "COME ON LEGS, LET'S GO!" I felt like I was standing still. But, after a few miles into the bike I finally got moving. I didn't let one single girl pass me on the bike...until mile 57...yes, I said 57...this was a 58 mile bike course. 

Around mile 55 there was a dude drafting off me. But, not only was he drafting but he was chatting with me as well. I tried to ignore him but he was asking me leading questions and I didn't want to ignore him. However, when I saw two girls pass me I was DONE talking to that dude. I was mad at myself for allowing him to take my mind off the race. So, I sped up and caught back up with one of the girls but I could never find the other to pass her again. 

My nutrition on the bike might have thrown me off for my run (more about that later) but I really wanted to focus on my water intake because I've been having a lot of leg cramps on the run lately and wanted to make sure hydration didn't play a role in that. Good news: I didn't get leg cramps. Bad news: read my run report. 

My new bike, Shadow, was with me on my trip. I had only purchased her the week before the race and had only been on her three times. But, because I was going to "just finish" I figured it wouldn't hurt to bring Shadow along for the ride even though she wasn't really broken in yet.

Shadow did her job right. I felt pretty good coming off the bike and was moderately pleased with my bike results.

Eagleman: 3:13 (17.4 mph) for 56 miles - super flat course
OBX: 3:20:01 (16.8 mph) for 56 miles (some of it VERY windy)
Patriots: 3:11:09 (18.3 mph) for 58 miles - some rolling hills

T2: 2:19 (5th in AG):

Uneventful with the exception that I almost fell over putting my socks on...twice!

Run: 2:50:25 (13th in AG):

The run....oh...the run... 

I've been pretty excited about the improvement of my pace since my weight loss. I've gone from an average of about a 10:30/mile pace to an 8:30/mile pace.But, on this day I wouldn't see anywhere close to that. The first few miles made me realize I hadn't done enough BRICK training this year. I knew I'd get my mojo after the first few miles but, unfortunately that never happened. I was having GI issues. 

I haven't been able to figure out exactly what happened - was it the food I ate the night before, the morning of, did I take in too much nutrition on the bike, too much water? I am still not quite sure. But, all I knew was that if I could just throw up I will feel a lot better and hopefully be able to get back up to an acceptable pace. So, when I saw a port-a-potty I knew what I had to do. Unfortunately, I couldn't even MAKE myself throw up. So, I suffered through more of the run. Then around mile 7, I miraculously felt better. I picked up my pace and started really running...only to have the GI issues come back around mile 10. Ugh!

As a side note - this is the first time ever in any race that I've had to stop at a port-a-potty. That in and of itself wasted about 4 minutes of my time! Grrrr.....

In my mind I wanted to finish this race in under 7 hours. So, I quickly calculated that I had a one-hour swim, 3 (and some change) bike, so if I finished the run in under 3 hours I'd be good. Unfortunately I didn't take into account the transition times until I was only 2 miles from the finish line so my calculations were off a little. Oh well, it was too late to be concerned about that at this point. I just kept running until I saw the finish line and, when I crossed I knew it was a PR!

My previous run times look like this:

Eagleman: 3:11:06 - SUPER STINKIN HOT (did a LOT of walking)
OBX: 2:56:07 - Didn't walk at all but wasn't super fast and didn't have a lot of energy
Patriots: 2:50:25 - GI issues. Whatever!

Post Race:

I felt really yucky and wanted to leave. I was barely able to say goodbye to my friends before heading out. I was probably out of transition and in the car within 30 minutes of my finish. 

I am very thankful that God has allowed me to stay healthy and injury-free during my training season this year - that's huge!

Comparing the previous races:
Eagleman: 2nd place Athena: 7:31:18 (it was Athena...)
OBX: 1st place AG: 7:11 (the race only had 33 people...)
Patriots: 10th place AG: 7:09:39 with two additional bike miles.

So, my PR wasn't as big a gap as I had originally thought it was but it is still a PR nonetheless....and on a 2-mile longer bike course. Next goal...BELOW 7:00...try to shoot below 6:30.

Lessons Learned:

1. More open water swims (I say this in every OWS race report!)
2. Really focus on getting faster on my swim over the winter
3. More BRICKS
4. More track workouts
5. Have a nutrition plan. I plan for everything else but I really need to write down exactly what I'm going to have with me - no more, no less.