Thursday, June 30, 2011

70.3 Race Report

This blog entry is going to be a good ol' fashioned race report.  Nothing fancy.

Last weekend was the Half-Ironman in Lubbock, TX.  I picked this race as my tune-up for Ironman Louisville because it was relatively close, it hit the calendar at about the right time, the conditions are similar to IM Louisville, and I am familiar with the lake.  I raced the course in 2009 as part of the University of New Mexico Triathlon team at College Nationals.

The race was on a Sunday, so I headed down Saturday morning.  I planned on camping to save some money and hassle in the morning.  Paula stayed in OKC and enjoyed her weekend to herself.  The drive was uneventful, and I ate some really bad for you road food on the way.

After paying my camping fee and setting up my tent, I headed to the expo.  It was fairly understated and smaller than I though an M-Dot event would be.  Back to the campsite to get my gear ready for the next day.  After some bar exam studying, I decided to go to bed around 10PM.  Little did I know there'd be a few loud and late parties out on the lake.  It was hard to get to sleep, and before I knew it, it was time to get up.  A quick meal of oatmeal (during which I had to fend off four raccoons) and some tea got me ready for the morning.  I loaded my gear up, and rode my bike off to the start.

Setting up transition was uneventful, except for some fire ants that disrupted some racers a few rows over.  I hit the bathroom, sipped my gatorade and downed a gel 20 or so minutes out.  I threw the wetsuit on and headed down to the beach.

Here's where things get a little confusing.  I was given a green swim cap for the 25-29 age group.  My time was registered in the 30-34 age group.  If you look at the results, my swim time is off by a few minutes.  Turns out the 30-34 age group left a few minutes before the wave I was in.  So, that accounts for the discrepancy.  Not a huge deal, but the posted time is off a little.

As for the swim itself, it got off to a weird start.  The gun went off before I was ready, so I started near the back.  I threw my goggles on and tried to start swimming.  It was a little rough out there.  Unfortunately, my googles were totally fogged up and I couldn't site at all.  A few times, I stopped to tread water and wipe away the fog.  It was temporary.  So, instead of sighting, I just swam where everyone else was going.  I also took a good shot to the face at one point.  To top it all off, I dropped my goggles in the water just before hitting T1.  Not a good swim at all.  Poor sighting and tentative swimming with all the bumping out there resulted in a time of 35:30.

T1:  I thought I went real slow, and I did.  Jogged up the carpet, grabbed my gear, and walked my bike out.

Bike:  The plan was to go real steady with low to moderate effort.  I ended up going too hard at Redman and suffering for it on the run.  So, I tried to keep my heart rate about 140 and just relax.  I also had a new aero bottle that helped out.  The plan was to take a hit off my GU flask every 30 minutes, electrolyte pills every hour, and Gatorade/Poweraid throughout.  I stuck to that and felt good.

The beginning of the ride involves two pretty sharp hills getting out of the lake onto the county roads.  After exiting the park, you head north for a mile or so, and then east.  We had a wind from the Southeast, so you could really haul if you wanted to.  Plenty did.  I did not.  We turned south and hit a sizable hill. Again, I just spun up the incline.  I was surprised at the people I was going by, but knew they'd catch me on the flats.  Around mile 30 or so, my back started to ache a bit, but that was really all the discomfort I had.  I stayed aero for nearly all of the ride.

The highlight of the ride (apart from hitting nearly 50mph on a downhill) was seeing the pros absolutely flying on the course.  Those guys (and girls) can ride hard.

The very end of the ride involves the earlier hills in reverse, including a final quad burner just before you get back to transition.  I came in feeling pretty good.

Time: 3:00:52 - Slower than Redman for sure, but wind, hills, and patience accounted for the slower time.

T2:  Don't really remember much about it.  I didn't have to change socks.  Grabbed my nutrition.  As I was heading out, I still had my GU flask. I put it down near a fence, hoping to remember where I put it on the way back.

Run:  The plan was to run as long as I could and improve on my Redman time.  I started with a few fairly quick miles which slowed accordingly.  There were two long hills in the early going.  I kept moving up them.  Once out of the park, we ran on a long, straight road to the turn around.  It was agonizing.  I kept thinking I'd soon see the turn around, but it took forever.  Once I turned, I thought about pushing the pace, but today was a training day.  I kept my HR right where I wanted it, around 160/165.  Back into the park, I started thinking about walking.  Mistake.  I started to walk.  Whoops.  Eventually, I got back into it with the encouragement of another racer.  We pushed ourselves to the finish.

One quick note:  the aid stations were awesome.  Ice, ice water, coke, ice towels, and more.  Also, along the way, houses turned their sprinklers on for us.  It was so nice.

Time: 2:05:13 (not great, but an improvement).

Total race time:  5:48 and change.
I cooled down with two cans of Coke and a dip in the lake.  Many people got an IV, which struck me as peculiar.  Did that many people actually need and IV, or is that just what triathletes do when they finish a long hot race?  Not this guy -  unless a medical professional tells me to do so.

Afterwards, I mulled around for a bit.  I couldn't find my gel flask. I gathered my stuff, and rode over to my campsite.  I had already packed up, so I threw on some clean clothes hopped on the road back to OKC.  A couple tanks of gas and a Braum's trip later, I had returned to OKC.

Reflections on the race:
Overall, I thought the race went well.  I wasn't trying to go hard.  The purpose was to see what IM Louisville might feel like.  I think I got my pacing and nutrition down.  I gained some confidence for the race.  I also had a modest PR of 5 minutes over my Redman time on a tougher, hotter, windier course.

 Maybe I'll try to put in a proper showing next year.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A brief return to the Land of Enchantment

Paula and I visited New Mexico to see my mother for her birthday.  It was a quick trip, but we managed to squeeze in a few of our old habits.  Friday morning, I was able to hop on the bike and ride the Jemez Dam route.  I wanted to ride some hills and get some miles in.

Here's a quick video I shot:

Then, I drove on down to ABQ proper and met up with Dave for a morning run.  We had a good few miles in the gloriously beautiful Sandia foothills.  Too bad I didn't bring my phone to take some pictures. And in proper New Mexican form, we followed up with a Golden Pride breakfast burrito.  So good.

It was good to see my mother, sister, her husband, and my cousin and her fiance.  We had a real good dinner in Santa Fe and spent some quality time together.  Its rare for multiple members of our family to congregate, given our various geographic locations.  

I managed to hop on the bike for one more ride up to the Jemez Dam and a short run before jumping in the car for the 8 or so hour drive back to Oklahoma.  

Back to the relative grind.  Next week is Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake.  I'm hoping for a solid, injury-free finish.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

El Reno Races

In the past week, I raced in El Reno twice.

Last Tuesday, I competed in a "Splash and Dash," which as the name implies, involves a quick open water swim and a run.  It was a 470-480 meter swim (a little short of 500m) and a 2 mile run.  I did reasonably well.  I finished 4th overall out of 55 people and I had the second fastest run.  My transition time killed me. Wetsuit, socks, and tying shoes - it takes a while.

I also ran a 21:04 practice 5K after a day filled with bike commuting and a swim workout on Wednesday.  I plan on doing this each Wednesday night.  Sub 20 minutes, here I come.

On to today (Sunday).  I raced the Route 66 Olympic Triathlon in, again, El Reno.  Paula was unable to make it, and I still don't know anybody here, so I was all by my lonesome.

The venue is about 40 minutes away, so I left around 5:30 or so with breakfast in my belly and coffee in my cup.  I arrived around 6:10 or so, parked and made my way to transition.  After I pumped my tires, I noticed that my front carbon HED wheel was losing air.  So, just before transition closed, I grabbed my spare practice wheel and threw it on.  I'm anxious to see my pics on the course because my TT bike will look a little silly with mismatched wheels.  After a mandatory meeting and potty stop, I waded into the water ready to start the race.

The swim was a two lap 750 meter swim with a triangle buoy set-up.  I started on the left and was right up at the front of the crowd.  The gun went off and we started.  There wasn't too much bumping and thrashing.  I had some difficulty sighting, but generally it went well. I kept my pace even and steady, breathing on every stroke.  I felt good.

I finished the first lap in around 13:30 or so.  I jogged it around and got right back in the water.  This time I could hug the buoys and draft off some faster people that sighted better than me.  Nothing much happened on this loop.  Again, I took it easy.

The water was pleasantly warm and clean tasting (you can't help but inhale / swallow some during a swim). It was very cloudy and I couldn't see past my elbows when I was swimming.

I finished in 26:08 (1:35/100 yds) (fastest yet!)

I rinsed my feet in the kiddy pool and then was stripped by a couple of ladies.  Threw my gear on and off I went.  I took my time in transition, electing to run in my cycling shoes and clip in after the mount line.
Time: 1:26

The course involved two loops about 12.5 miles each. It was the flattest course non-sprint course I've done.  During the first loop, I hammered a little too much and had my heart rate up pretty high.  I traded places with a few dudes.  I don't really have much to report on this ride.  It was a nice course with some scenic farm views; and some pungent manure smells.

Towards the end of my second loop, I started passing some people on their first loop.  I passed this one lady that yelled at me for not announcing I was approaching on her left. That was odd.  I passed (and was passed) by a bunch of people and not one of us announced it.  This wasn't the trails at Hefner Lake. This was a race. Expect to get passed.

Bike portion finished in 1:10:15 (21.35mph)

I changed socks, couldn't find my rack, and took my sweet time.
Time: 1:25

It had started getting a little windy at this point. So, running south on the two 3.1mi looped course was a little tougher.  I wanted to average about 7:00 min/mi and see what I had at the end.  Secretly I knew that if I ran a 50 min 10k, I was on my way to a PR.  So, I didn't have a real sense of urgency out there.

I slipped into cruise control after the first 6:45 mile.  I was clicking them off around 7:15/7:30.  It felt good.  After the first loop, I was going to pick it up a bit, but I never really did.  Maybe I didn't have anything in the tank. I dunno.  Still, I felt solid, if not a little fatigued.  I didn't kick or sprint at the end.  I kept it smooth and eased on to the finish line.
10k time: 44:41 (7:11min/mi) not too shabby.

Total time: 2:23:54
23rd out of 135 males (there were some seriously fast dudes out there).

Post race
Grabbed some water, hot dogs, brownie and sun chips.  Then waited for about an hour and a half for the awards. I placed "First" in my age group because (1) the first place 30-34 year old placed first overall; and (2) there aren't a lot of fast 30-34 year olds.  The award was a really cool license plate with the race logo and events on it.  Too bad I had already gotten one at the earlier Splash and Dash.  Oh well.  Its nice.  But what do I do with two?

Post race thoughts
This was my fourth olympic distance race (College Nationals; Elephant Man; Grady Williams).  Because each course is different, its difficult to compare times.  Still, this was the fastest race I've had by far.  My training is paying off.  I feel smoother and faster in the water.  The bike is better, but not where it needs to be yet.  As for the run, I'm maintaining what I have.  There is no way I'll be able to maintain these speeds for longer races.

The race itself was planned and executed very well.  The weather was nearly perfect and the organizers had everything in order.  Apart from waiting a little too long for awards, it was a real fun race.  It doesn't hurt that its so close to Oklahoma City, too.

Next up - Buffalo Springs 70.3