Ironman 70.3 Texas

April 2, 2017

First ½ Ironman!

Weather overcast and 70 – 80 degree for race time with 90% humidity.  Water 74.5

This was a much-anticipated race and the first of three 70.3 races in preparation for Ironman Arizona 2017.   This was a race – not a training session. I’ll find myself often saying that I’m using one race to prepare for the next, but nothing can be further from
the truth.   During each race, I purposefully experiment with a couple of different ideas to learn how they work.  Since I’m not yet a podium racer, I have the luxury of testing during my races.   I love competition and have a goal of getting my time faster than the mean of my age group – not quite there yet.

I’m going to treat this as a race report and provide a little more insight than I’ve normally taken in my report/blog.

Skip next two (nutrition and hydration) sections if not interested:

Nutrition

Nutrition was an important part of preparation for this race and a weakness in previous race preparations.  Here are the numbers prepared and used:

Pre-race        100 calories – Tailwind liquid nutrition in throw-away bottle
150 calories – Cliff squeeze | replace with real banana next time.
150 calories – Honey waffle

Pre-race nutrition was planned at 300 calories – due to lack of two bananas, it was supplemented with other nutrition with no ill results.  I prefer the real food of bananas with the potassium, carbs and sugar.   Light breakfast and 250 calories consumed during 1.5 hour prerace – couldn’t stomach squeeze nutrition.   250 calories are perfect for prerace and after light breakfast upon wakeup.

Bike               600 calories Tailwind liquid nutrition in two bottle on back of bike
Water in torpedo on front of bike
200 calories in squeeze Gu
300 calories – Honey waffles
One tube of Base salt

My goal of bike nutrition was planned at 250 – 300 calories per hour on the bike on the bike   – took in 1100 calories for 2:54:08 the only remaining nutrition was approximately 100 calories of Tailwind that was inaccessible after mile 45.   It was tough consuming calories and tough juggling bottle in a hard crosswind.   But done.

Run                200 calories in squeeze Gu
200 calories Cliff Shot chews
One tube of Base salt
4 sticks of gum
4 pieces of ginger candy

Run nutrition was unable to be tested.   But, based on what I consumed of course fuel, I should have packed 400 calories of squeeze Gu rather than 200. 400 emergency calories should be just about right.   Candy/gum is good, but ½ what was packed.  Chews are unnecessary with course nutrition.  I’m traveling slow enough to consume course nutrition if not Gu.   Course squeeze nutrition cannot be counted on since you don’t know the flavor.   I picked up course squeeze nutrition on bike and run and only tasted it before disposing.   Nothing wrong, but not the mouth tasted I WANTED.  Next time:

400 calories in squeeze Gu – coffee and peanut butter
one tube of Base salt
4 sticks of gum
4 pieces of ginger candy

Hydration

This was an area of experimentation on this race.   I wish I did better here and thought it through completely before the race.   I trusted that my liquid nutrition would hold me on the bike and course hydration would hold me on the run.   I was wrong.

Next time: I will have a hydration bottle with me on the run.  This is something that I need to start using on every long run to get use to the idea. I sweat a lot and I need to have a better idea of my liquid intake.  I skipped some watering holes because I simply didn’t want to deal with the little bit of water/Gatorade.   I observed bottle filling on the course and it’s a good way to load up on one and skip a couple and easily water/Gatorade mix.   My hydration test after the race showed not enough water consumed on course.  PLENTY on the bike and prerace, but not on the run.
Base Salt:  I believe that this saved my race.  It was a planned experiment for the race.  This is the first time using salt during any of my training or racing.  Yes, I took the chance of something brand new on race day.   But, it was planned three weeks before the race. Not a high-risk chance.   I consumed salt on the bike approximately every 5 mile until mile 34 when the tube was lost (more in bike report).  There were a LOT of people hurting during this humid race – I wasn’t one and contribute it more to the salt than consistent water intake.   This will now be a critical part of my plan since I will be on the run course during the hotter parts of the day.

The Race

Overall, it was a bitter-sweet race.   In a wreck at mile 34 that I cost me a very good bike time it turned from sweet to bitter.  Before mile 34 my race plans were on track.  After mile 34 the race was about finishing strong despite the race problem.  The details:

Swim

I did not know how to estimate my swim time for my first open ocean swim, I simply calculated what I could do in the pool – 1:47.   Wrong.    This was a rough choppy swim with big choppy/inconsistent swells on the backside.   Summary, the swim was great.

I used my coached pointer of getting my space (Thanks Coach Liz!) and mixed it up in the mass start. It was a fun start and I made it out of the first 300 yard largely unscathed by defending space. Big and strong helps here.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 6.53.08 PMThe first and second turns required a left side breathe and the next two required a right – lucky, I got fussed at about this about 4ish weeks before and had worked at every practice with opposite breathing each length of the pool.   This correction and my athlete follow-up of consistent practice saved my bacon on the swim. Salt water on the swim is nasty.

A lot of work is needed on swim drafting.   I tried to draft with only mild success and finally stuck to the clean water – review of my swim map showed consistency in sighting.

Last turn, I messed up by experimenting: I had not previously tried a 90 degree tight turn around a buoy in practice but, I decide that this was the right time (idiot).  Calf cramp from my inexperience and a wave that hit at the wrong time.  Lesson learned!  I executed an advanced swim technique that I had seen and tried once that could have cost me as the day went further.

For the first time in race conditions, I trotted out of the water in good shape – best I’ve felt after swimming any distance.   1:55 / 100 splits.  Inconsistent paces during the race need to be cleaned up, but overall very satisfied.

Time: 00:40:34, Estimated: badly.

Transition 1:

Garmin showed a 2-minute transition and Ironman recorded 04:37. Ironman results seem right after I changed into socks for the bike.   This was a smooth transition for the day with shoes packed in plastic in case of rain.   My transition area was laid out well and I felt good.  Nothing that I would change for transition, apart from a place planned for my used swim equipment.

Bike

This was the toughest bike conditions that I have had during a race.   Inconsistent crosswind between 18 – 25 meant working to handle the bike all day.   Minimal elevation change meant that power had to be controlled and maintained on this out-and-back course.   Humid ocean winds meant that bottle were wet and slippery think juggling and navigating a bike.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 7.11.42 PMMy bike nutrition, hydration and salt were consumed on time and were digestible.   The first 34 miles were textbook for me with an extra Gatorade endure pulled from an aid station for easy slug right after the turn around.

The bike accident at mile 34 was at the top of a windy bridge with an ugly front crosswind.   An ?inexperienced? cyclist couldn’t handle themselves and decide that I was their safe space and crashed me.   I was devastated when it happened.   I saw my race vanish in puff of smoke.   Four minutes and fifteen seconds had me back on my bike and heading home. I apologize to any on the bridge to the mainland for my language during this time – it would have made sailors blush.  A second quick stop for a check of wheel and alignment double-check cost me another two minutes and fifteen seconds.   I was then stuck to one gear for the next ~14 miles (within walking distance of transition) before I began experimenting with gears.  This meant little ring and little gear – not bad, just not what I need to make optimal power/time.   I then tentatively changed gears and created a better attitude (less cussing) for the remainder of the bike.

I pulled into transition, for the first time, with a sigh of relief that I had survived the bike portion and made it to the run.

Time: 2:54:08, Estimated: 2:57:02.   Great time for a tough race day course and an accident mixed in.

Transition 2:

Transition time was 05:26. I wanted to hurry with purpose, yet gather myself for the 13.1 miles left in the race.   But, I was looking forward to the run.  I worked my winter training season to improve my run fitness. I did change my socks, possibly unnecessary – simply wanted dry socks. Nothing that I would change for transition.  I bottle with nutrition would have been a bonus.

Run

Trotted from my bike to the run before turning the corner and starting a jog.   Didn’t feel great, but I had a full-bladder. Well-hydrated.  Didn’t want to stop, but it was welcomed.   I started my jog with tired legs for the first mile and felt my head begin to pound.    I had busted my noggin on the concrete during the crash and my slight headache increased dramatically.   I slowed and walked and started again with a run/walk to see if I could shake what I was feeling.   Yes, legs were tired, but the impact difference between a walk and jog was dramatic.   Again, race hopes faded.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 7.13.45 PMI walked for the next two miles to settle and experimented again in mile 4.  I knew that my race was done and my goal was completion – with a long walk “this is my race”.   This is the way it continued to the end.

Medically, all is good.  I simply relegated myself to the fact that that a walk was manageable today.   In mile 5, my mind was settle and I set my pace at a stiff power walk and mild cussing.  It was good to be on the course with other competitor that were in much worse shape and fighting their own demons.

Time: 2:57:14, Estimated: 2:57:02.

I’m going to use Coach Amanda’s prompts for the next portion:

Mentally

DNF on my first attempt at a 70.3 was stuff of nightmares (literally from two-nights before).  This was a mental race after the bike crash – after assuring I two wheels to ride back to transition.  Age has its advantages.  I knew that even with a possibly chipped elbow or re-broken clavicle that I WOULD ride if the bike would take me – road rash was just an irritation.  I had 43 different references that were worse situations than my current position.  If I would get me and my bike back to the transition, I knew that I could conquer the run.   Little did I know that the race had another surprise – no run for me.

Not running again conjured images of a DNF on my first attempt at a 70.3.  My inexperience in triathlon gave me plenty of room for stoppage reasons.   By the end of the 1st of three laps, but attitude was much better by managing my expectations.  A one hour lap meant that my race goals were blown.

Done Right

Researched, recorded, and successfully implemented nutrition plan.  Stay with my phase of the race without much planning beyond the next 10 minutes in front of me – this kept.   Swim had many places for hiccups, found my happy place and stayed there – pacing was good.

Improvement

Fitness and daily nutrition.   Not 100% sure that I could have run the entire 13.1 miles; not required, but desired.   Need to be at race weight by next race in 89 days – said before – I’m getting there.

Differently

Need to be aware of the others that were doing  things on the course.  At my normal start time, there are numerous unprepared athletes that can impact your race.   Additionally, salt and hydration needs to be a mainstay of my long course plans.

I regret not celebrating this race more at the finish.  I was pissed as I came into the finish line.   I’m not sure that it was reflected in any of the pictures, but it was there.  I have a great family, teammates and coaches that committed a lot of time to getting me across that finish line.  My pride was hurt that I couldn’t put it all on the line.   I saw, twice, my race finish vanishing from me.  Over 84 in my age group did not finish (I counted that would have been pleased to be in my place walking across the finish line.  Suck it up buttercup. Need to enjoy the good and bad – embrace the suck.

Lessons

Trained harder and longer with more bricks – the long distance is fitness, fitness, fitness.  Use upper body for swim and use it as a good “warm-up” for the remainder of the day.  Overcome what you can and accept what you can’t is easier said than done.

Back to Training

More bricks – the long distance is fitness, fitness, fitness.  Need to learn to use my arms as oars and pull myself through the water – I’m thinking about swimming in the wrong way – need to continue to change and make this part of the race easier – not faster, just easier.   Need to stay in the moment during training and concentrate on what I’m training rather than filling the time with other “non-training” activities.

Next race

Buffalo Spring will be in 89 days.    This means that I have a significant training block to increase my long-course fitness.  I would like to see a swim less that 00:40 with less effort and a completed run.    This is a much harder race from my understanding – a DNF is waiting if my preparation is lacking.

 

 

About Jeff Allen

"My mission is to balance the goals of my personal and professional life while continually gaining new knowledge. This effort to balance my goals should not dilute the quality of my goals, but should enhance the quality of life for my family, co-workers, friends, and students." Jeff and his wife, Denise, have two sons and live in Aubrey, Texas.
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