September 11, 2016
– Jeff Allen
Swim – 1500 yards (actually ~1850)
Bike – 24.0 miles
Run – 6.2 miles
Temperature was cool and the water was warm. Nearly perfect temperature at the starting line. The Texas wind was sleeping in for the day and left the lake with small swells 800 yards out from the start line. A dream scenario for a virgin no-wetsuit open-water one-mile swimmer. I remain a toddler at triathlon – my third race – a longer distance. I continue to build as an athlete.
A Quick Diversion
Repeated in my mind countless time during the training whether hard, early, or in overtime: “You can’t cheat the grind…it knows how hard you’ve worked, the effort you have put in, and the time you’ve dedicated…it will only give you what you’ve earned.”
I made a very deliberate decision to cancel my planned races after the Texas man Sprint (May 22nd) to train rather than race. I have a long journey in mind and the pit stops for celebration of accomplishments had to be put on hold so that I could get very serious about my triathlon training over the summer.
Why? I’m an old fat man that takes time to taper and to recover. This means two weeks of off time for every race for me. I figured this would cost me up to 6 weeks of serious training over the summer. So, the summer training schedule was set. This included a one-week June trip to Leadville, Colorado to train with KMF beast in the mountain that were stingy with oxygen. In Colorado the fitness level of the KMF athletes again demonstrated the rewards of steady, progressive hard work.
Off to the race
National Anthem meant a little more today. 9/11 remembered.
The question before this race: Am I a triathlete? Each person has a different question in their mind before each race, this was mine – no explanation. I know I have the training, I know I’ve done the work. Can I put it all together in an Olympic-distance race?
SWIM: My first open-water swim without a wet suit and double my furthest race distance. This was a beach start for the open water swim, but the chaos of the last races didn’t appear. The start for me was calm and my heart rate stayed steady as I entered the water and found a line. Michael Kaiser reiterated sage advice to find a pace swimmer. I worked to get in the draft of another swimmer…it didn’t work.
I repeated my race swim goal to myself. Prior to the race I stated “My goal is to keep a pace between 1:50 – 1:55 . . . I want to feel good leaving the water without weak legs. Need to concentrate on my pull”. I then ignored other swimmers and worked on a clean line between the swim buoys. A calf cramp at about 1000 yard forced me to concentrate more on my pull stoke and rest my legs for the next section of the swim course – just calm my kick a little bit. The cramp was a small blessing and I came out of the water feeling good. Goal accomplished. However, flat water and a 2:10 swim pace meant that I was slower than I should have been for the conditions – I left some in the tank when I left the water. But then again, I stayed on plan – I’ll take that as a segment win.
BIKE: My first Olympic distance bike race. Race plan: “Goals is to stay between 17-18mph. Heart rate no higher than 160.” I set my bike goal too low. I knew it – coach knew it. Ben and I are still getting to know each other as coach and athlete so he kindly let it stand without censure.
My summer training, especially on the bike, had produce results moving me from a 215 ftp to a 255 ftp. My pre-race goal on the bike was really stating that I’m afraid of the run. I wanted to have enough left after the bike to put in a decent 6.2 mile run. So, I pushed a 19.9 on the bike with a heart rate between 165-170. This was not hammering – it was a controlled strong pace. At this pace I knew that I could still run after the bike. I raced the bike where my goal should have been for the distance.
NUTRITION: Struggled with my nutrition plan, again, but it was better than the last race – progress. Drinking/eating in fear of the bonk. It’s a work in progress. It showed in my run – too much intake of liquid. Simply didn’t need it.
RUN: My first 10k race segment. My legs felt fine after coming off the bike. Coach Ben said AFTER race that the Olympic distance race is a dangerous– you want to go too fast in the beginning and if you do you pay for it at the end. Truth. I never have a good first two miles. I couldn’t find my pace and I wanted to run…bad decision – immediate heart rate spikes that I worked to manage. Race plan: “Negative split on run. Keep the first three miles under control (11:30 – 12:00) and push last three miles at 10:30-10:45.” I didn’t keep the first three miles under control. I didn’t keep the last three miles under control. I felt out of control the whole time. I simply couldn’t keep my heart rate down. Finally in mile 4 my mind settled and simply ran the conditions. This meant a stiff fast hike up a two hills to settle my heart rate during the race – this hurt my ego. BUT, at the end of the race I keep an 11:09 pace – pace was steady(ish) from mile 1 to 6.2. Beat my run segment pace goals, but not the way that I should have done it.
- Positive not negative: Triathlon, like boxing, does not favor the coward. My race goals were extremely reasonable, too reasonable.
- Nutrition tells the race: Need to continue to dial race nutrition in before NOLA ½ IM. Pre-race nutrition was perfect.
- Enjoy the race: I stuck my tongue out at the first buoy (literally). I was enjoying the swim and knew that I had it beat at the 750 mark. The 1500 yard swim showed closer to 1850 yards. The distance didn’t matter on race day and I could have done twice the distance – at the pace. ***More racing, less enjoying. Enjoy the race!***
- Building my base: At the end of Texas man I wrote: “Summer is coming and I have the opportunity to again concentrate on my base fitness. Game on.” My base is now solid and I can begin to build distance.
- Running, Running, Running: Smooth is fast. My time/pace will improve on it’s own. I have to learn to be a better runner and become a comfortable runner. I’ve thrown down a gauntlet with the Dallas Marathon! But, you can’t cheat the grind. I haven’t earned any better with my running thus far. It will come after a hard Fall of running.
- Coaching: At the end of summer, I invested in structured coaching. Good move. It’s enhanced my absorption of triathlon knowledge. “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”