Monday, August 15, 2011

Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3

So yesterday was the day of my first ever half ironman race. I have raced multiple full ironmans and countless olympics and sprints, but never got myself into the half distance. My season so far has been mediocre, and that is an overstatement. Poorly executed races, meltdowns in the heat, losing focus and more or less finishing the race by going through the motions pretty much sums up my year. So I came into the race with zero expectations, and more or less didn't treat it as a race.

Race morning was a balmy 55 degs and it felt amazing. I race much much better in the cold vs the heat, so I was liking the weather conditions. After finding the port-a-johns for my most repeated pre-race ritual, i found myself in transition with less than 10 mins b4 my wave went off. I grabbed my wetsuit quick and headed over to the lake. By the time I got to the lake, put on my wetsuit, and had a gel, I had 2 mins before the cannon shot. I had time to jump in and get a quick feel for the water, and realized that I felt pretty good (in the 10 strokes that I took after jumping in).

The cannon was shot and the race was on. I took it out mildly strong, but comfortable, and before I knew it I was in a 3 man pack out in front of the rest of the field. the only negative thing that happened during the swim was my goggles flooded with water, and I had to deal with that. But within 3-4 minutes I was used to it and carried on with the race. I came out of the water in a time of 27:10, which was good for the 12th fastest swim of the day, and the best part was that there was very minimal effort exerted.

Coming out of the water and into transition was a little rough, my eyes were pretty hazy from swimming with lake water in my goggles the whole race, and I realized that I was in the wrong aisle from where my bike was, so i had to turn around and correct myself to get to my spot. Overall I had a decent transition even with the mishap out of the water, and only lost about :20 sec to the pros transitions.

Out on the bike, the goal was to keep it strong but within myself so that I could really unleash on the run course. I was pretty much riding by myself most of the first half of the bike, passing a few pro women here and there, and at mile 30 2 guys from the wave behind me reeled me in, but weren't going insanely fast, so i decided to latch onto their group and see how long i could hang with. Long story short, I was able to keep with them for the rest of the ride, and came into transition only getting passed by 4 people total, 2 of which I stayed with. One of my better bikes in the past few races, and I came into T2 with some confidence. Biked a 2:33:23, and felt nearly fresh heading out on the run. I couldn't have written a better scenario on paper before the race, I kept it very smooth in the water and on the bike, and now I get to see how well I can run a half marathon.

Well, things started to turn upside down rather quickly. Less than a minute into the run my back started to tighten up bad, and my run went with it. I was through the first mile in 6:30, but was in a lot of pain. At mile 2 i was really feeling it now, in the most pain i had been the entire race, and it wasn't even aerobic pain, it was pretty demoralizing. I walked through the aid station at mile 2 got some coke and water, and started up a jog again. Just at that moment a kid from Oregon state in my age group passed me and was running pretty strong. I told myself, "you are leading your age group right now, you are not going to let it slip away that easy" and i gutted out a 200 meter stretch to get back up on the kids shoulder. We ran together for about 3.5 miles running very very strong ~ 6:00-6:15 pace, and it felt great. We hit a hill at about mile 4.5 and i felt a few moves by this kid, and countered each one, but was really starting to feel my sore back coming in again, which really got to my head. I made it up the hill with the Oregon state kid, as well as down the other side of it, but at the turn around where we headed back up the hill I didn't have it in me, and lost contact with the kid, and that's where my race took a turn for the worse.

The second half of the run was a major struggle, but I got through it. I eventually got passed by another kid who went on to run a 1:18 half marathon and run through the Oregon state kid, and finished 3rd in my age group with a time of 4:37:13. Through the first 5 miles I was on pace for a 1:25-1:26 half marathon, but the wheels fell off hard, and I finished with a 1:33:30. I felt like I could have run harder that second lap, but the combination of back pain, and bad blisters and chaffing on my feet really held me back, and caused every single stride to feel like it was going to be my last.

I was pleased with the first 2 disciplines, and the fact that I was able to pull myself from the depths at mile 2 to give a solid effort, but was disappointed that I fell off that bad in the back half of the run. Its a good starting point to my 70.3 career, and can definitely see myself doing more of these in the future. I even got to take home some hardware :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Whiskey Dick Triathlon

So, I just underwent one of the toughest races I have ever done, specifically related to the bike portion. The whiskey dick triathlon has been around for awhile, and been tweaked here and there, but it is a grueling race! It consists of a 1 mile swim in a huge river, a 28 mile point to point bike (the worst bike you could imagine) and a 10 K run to finish up.

The race started off with a 1 mile swim in this local giant river that had a pretty strong current. The water temp was a mildly chilly 59DEG, so chilly to jump in but great to swim hard in with a wetsuit. So the gun was shot and we were off. I took off mildly fast from the gate, and before I knew it I was swimming all alone off the front. I was pretty stoked for the race to play out this way because it had been awhile since I had led the swim of a race.

I exited the water with a :40 sec lead over the second place guy, and had a super fast transition getting out of my wetsuit and onto my bike. The only upsetting thing about it was that the guy that came in second was on a relay and all he had to do was pass his chip, so my :40 second lead plus the time I would have added in t1 boiled down to a dead heat coming out of transition. The bike course is a bitch of a ride, the first 12 miles consists of 2000 feet of climbing (through the Washington Desert) which does not include any downhill or flat portions, only 30 story wind turbines. Not to mention a 20-30 MPH head wind the entire time. So starting the ascent I felt alright, switching right into my small ring, and buckling down for a painful ride. I was dropped pretty quickly by the other rider from the relay, not due to the fact that I swam first and he was fresh, but rather because my pea shooter legs are far from used to the hilly terrain out here.

I reached the top of the 12 mile climb, and had lost 4 other places so I was sitting in 6th place. Some of these guys out here can really bike! My average through the first 12 miles was a mere 11.3MPH, very very tough climb. The last 16 miles of the bike went very well, I woulodnt say that i felt strong, but I started to pull back a good amount of the time that I had lost early on in the hill climb. So that is a good sign that the fitness is there, but the strength is not, so that is the focus for the next 2 moths b4 kona.

Coming into transition my race mind was pretty out of it. I was so frustrated that I had given the race away on the bike that when i got out on the run I was just going through the motions. It was not pretty. I am usually a tough racer and dont just lose focus or give up mid race, so this worrys me a bit because now a days when I race, I dont find it as fun anymore. Constant sub par performances are really wearing on my race morale.

Overall I finished 5th place, 11 mins behind the relay team who would ahve been tough to beat on a good day, and 6:30 behind the 2nd place guy who was first individual. Ive got things to figure out in regards to my run, but I really need to do something miraculous in 2 weeks at Lake Stevens 70.3 in order to go into kona with any momentum whatsoever.