Monday, May 14, 2012

Kinetic 1/2 Race Report

One year ago I kicked off the tri season with the Kinetic Sprint Triathlon.  While picking up my packet last year  I realized there was a 1/2 Iron distance race the day before.  I thought to myself "how crazy, kick off the season with a 1/2 Iron?  These people must be nuts.  I'd never do that."  One year later I'm 3 tri's into the season - including 2 Olympic Distance races and a 1/2 Iron.  The course of events has seemed to follow this pattern recently - I declare I would never do it and the following year I'm registered.

I wrote out a detailed race plan on Thursday night.  For previous races I always have a plan but just in my mind.  I wanted to practice putting together the race plan and writing out my nutrition plan similar to how I will before Louisville.  The race plan started Friday morning and concluded with my post-race recovery on Saturday while detailing most of the steps in between.  I was able to carpool down to Lake Anna with a friend that was staying at the same place so I packed up, made us some pasta for dinner, and loaded my car in time to meet up when he was done with work.

Cervelo Love and 3/4 Zipp Love.
We hit the road around 2:30pm out of the DC area.  The radio was telling us there were long delays on 95 so we decided to take the 66 route to Lake Anna.  I'm not sure this was any faster - it took us about 3 hours to get to the race site.  Once at the site everything was simple and right there, which I appreciate about smaller races (compared to M-dot events and the like).  Once we had our packets we set out for some short swim, bike, run sessions.  I felt great in the water.  The air temperature was about 80 and the water was 70 so I didn't put my wetsuit on for the short swim.  The water was smooth and calm and obviously there were only a few of us in it - but I felt strong and steady.  I could only hope this would carry over to the next day.

We picked up some carbo loading essentials on the way lake house - enter bread, Teddy Grahams, Goldfish, bananas, and of course peanut butter.  We were blessed with a wonderful opportunity to stay at a lake house just 15 minutes from the race site.  We warmed up the pasta and garlic bread before tri geeking out and getting everything set for race day.  I loaded up my bike with nutrition, got my race #'s in the proper places and debated wetsuit or no wetsuit...left that to be a game time decision.  I headed to bed and settled in with some reading from Chrissie Wellington's: A Life Without Limits.

Woke up around 5:00am, got in to race suit and headed downstairs for some breakfast.  I stuck with my go to - Special K Red Berries (maybe I should get a sponsorship from them, ha) with almond milk and banana. Prepared 2 water bottles - 1 with Gu Brew and 1 of water before heading out the door.  We were out the door around 5:30 for an easy drive to the race site.  Traffic getting into the parking lots was a little congested but not too horrible, and no big deal since we had already picked up our packets and prepared everything.  A double digit race # put me pretty close to bike in/out - awesome - I'd rather not run through transition with bike shoes and my bike.  I got transition set up, picked up my timing chip, got body marked, hit up the portaloo and shimmied into my wetsuit.  I was starting to worry about having enough time to get a swim warmup in but in the ended the race was delayed 15 minutes to let the fog lift off the lake and I had more than enough time to get in the water.

The race started at 7:15am with the wave or men <29, followed by another wave of men 3 minutes later and then my wave at 7:21am.  The race start was on the Lake Anna Beach/shallow water.

THE SWIM - 1.2 Miles - 41:19
The horn blew and I ran a few steps until the water was a bit deeper and dove in to start swimming.  The start was tough but not horrible, nothing I had never dealt with before.  There were sight bouy's every 150m or so which was very helpful since the yellow turn buoy that was 700m away could not be seen easily from the start.  The course was one simple large triangle.  It took me a good 300m to get into a rhythm.  Once in a rhythm I felt good - I felt strong and relaxed, and even efficient.  I was shooting for a swim time in the 36:00 range so definitely not the swim I wanted but not a complete disaster either.  More focused swim practice is a must - especially open water.

T1 - 2:13
I thought I was taking forever in transition but I guess not.  This was a top transition time among the women and I even had to take my wetsuit off.  I also had a pretty awesome bike rack spot close to bike in/bike out and a bit farther from run in/run out.

THE BIKE - 56 Miles - 2:42:56
Almost a 5 minute improvement from my bike time in Augusta last September!  I rode 3 loops of this course last the weekend prior to the race and loved it and knew it could be a fast course if I was ready to rock.  I rode with my rear ZIPP and my Easton in front and thought it went well.  Would like to be able to compare to riding both ZIPPS or both Eastons.  I nailed my nutrition the bike - water, gel, water, Gu brew, power bar, water, gel, water, gel.  It went something like that.  I attempted to take a water bottle at the 1st water bottle handoff on the course just to have it with me since it wasn't crowded at that point and I knew I'd need it later.  Plus the extra practice can't hurt.  The girls handing off water were young (<16) and didn't really know how to do it - I got stiff armed.  If you every work a bottle hand off station for cyclists don't stiff arm them.  Luckily no one else was around so the water flew and everyone else was fine.  Had this been a crowded station it could have been a disaster.  The 2nd bottle handoff went much better, but it was crowded so I did have to slow down a bit, but I actually needed this water so it was worth it.  The course was crowded at points, a little narrow, and open to traffic.  The officials handed out a number of 4:00 (wtf) drafting penalties.  I was nervous that I had received one as I was passing some guys along a narrow bridge.  The officials zoomed past shortly after and I wasn't sure how long they'd been behind us (silent motorcycle). By the time they were next to us writing down #s I was in front but I had been following close behind another guy as we were making our pass.  Yes those dudes got chicked.  My bike time was good enough for first in my AG - 10 minutes to knock off for some overall hardware.  Unfortunately I did not do a flying dismount at the end due to a rocky gravely path from the road to transition.  I weighed the pros and cons and of a race this distance I figured it wouldn't make me or break me.

T2 - 1:18
Another top transition time - not that that's imperative to winning but it's nice to know that I am solid with my transitions.  This transition was simple - switch shoes, take off helmet/glasses, grab race # belt and nutrition.  I put 4 gels in my shorts for the run and I was off.

THE RUN - 13.1 Miles - 1:59:42
Happy to be running - even uphill.
I knew exactly what to expect on the run.  In one way or another I had seen the whole course - biking, walking, running from the previous weekend.  This was a 3 loop course which I was worried about for mental reasons leading up to the race.  I also know that loops help me break it down into very manageable portions.  The run starts (and each loop starts) with a nice uphill climb - steep at first followed by gradual ascent for the first mile.  Though this is annoying it helped me reign in my pace and not go out too hard.  I kept my feet underneath me, repeated my mantra's (crushing it, when all the weak is gone all that's left is strong) and smiled throughout the run.  It started to hurt a bit but it didn't bother me - I had been here before and I knew how to acknowledge the hurt before telling it to piss off.  The entire run course is rolling hills with  some bigger hills thrown in and nothing very flat ever - except for the finish line.The run time was 18 minutes better than my run time at Augusta.  I felt good the entire run - I was gelling and drinking and throwing cold water on myself every couple miles.  The looped course allowed me to see many fellow DC Tri Clubbers multiple times for some motivation and kick in the pants.

FINISH TIME - 5:27:26 - 3rd Place 25-29 AG
I cracked the 25-29 AG vault - and I was the youngest in the age group - hell to the yeah.  At the beginning of the season I was worried that this was going to be a learning and building year being in the new AG - but it's still early and I've brought home hardware 2x (duathlon and triathlon).  One of the biggest take aways from this race was that my hard work for Ironman training is paying off.  I haven't been training my short and fast much and I was struggling and frustrated with the Oly distance races.  This showed me all the hours on the bike and run are worth it.  I need to do more swim work - maybe invest in some paddles.  I know all the miles I've put in on the bike really helped improve my run time.  I'm still up in the air on the ZIPPS.

Advice on swim improvement and ZIPPs is always welcome :)

The biggest disappointment of the race was the lack of medical support/volunteers at the finish line followed by the lack of chocolate milk (luckily I brought me own).  I let it all go at mile 11 on the run - knowing I could do anything for 2 miles and that this is what the track work is for. I was ready for someone to catch me, help me sit down, give me water, a cold towel.  There were a few y people - kids handing out medals and a couple adults collecting timing chips.  After leaning against a very unsteady tent pole for a minute the man asked me if I'd like help removing my chip - well yes I would - isn't that why you are wearing rubber gloves?    Aside from that I headed straight to the ice bath for about 8 minutes and it felt wonderful.  I saw Matt after getting out of the ice bath and he greeted my with a hug and congratulations on an awesome race and helped sort me out to find food.  When asked how it went my first response was, "Ironman is going to be awesome".  I truly feel that and believe that.  I still have a lot of work to put in but I felt great throughout the entire race.  "The future is bright."

They had a proper awards ceremony where DC Tri Club took home some hardware in the different AGs.  My kitchen collection is growing with every race - I've now added a trivet and a VTS pint glass. Everyone out there had great races including this guy with a huge PR and this girl on her first 70.3. Congrats to everyone from DC Tri on a strong start to the season and a huge thanks to Russ for awesome accommodations and Trevor for an entertaining ride and even signing BSB with me - even if we only caught the very end of the song.

Friday, May 11, 2012

70.3 Time...Limitless

Tomorrow marks the first long distance test of the season.   The Kinetic 1/2 Iron Distance race in Lake Anna, VA.  Up to this point this year I've done 2 Oly tri's and a duathlon but my training has been focused on the longer distances.  It's a bit surreal that I am racing a 70.3 tomorrow.  Just 6.5 months ago I raced my first 70.3 and it was a big deal.  I am more prepared for tomorrow's race than I was 6.5 months ago and my result in September was respectable.

Tomorrow is a high intensity and long training day for Ironman Louisville.  I have a race plan written out just as I will for Louisville - beginning with Thursday evenings preparations up until post-race recovery plans.  I've written out my nutrition plan, I've practiced my nutrition plan last weekend on the course.  I will execute the nutrition plan and not skip because I don't think I need anymore.

I will ride my Easton on the front wheel and a ZIPP 404 on the rear wheel.  This week I've learned that 650c tubes with 80mm presta valves are a rare find in this city.  After this race I'll swap the rear ZIPP out and have my race wheels looked over at the bike shop.  Maybe put some work into them and get them into tip top speedy mcspeedster shape.

Race bantar and smack talk started early Wednesday morning between me and this guy.  I just thought he should be prepared to get chicked.  We're both on our 2nd 1/2 Iron and preparing for fulls this August.  We'll see what we can do out there tomorrow.  He's had some great results already this season.

An awesome race on Saturday will be followed by an awesome recovery day on Sunday with the chance to meet this gal...Chrissie Wellington!  DC Tri club was able to bring Chrissie into the DC area on Sunday after her visit in MD on Saturday.  When I first heard she was going to be in MD on Saturday I was a bit disappointed - I knew I would be racing all day in VA along with a good # of other DC Tri Clubbers and unable to make it to MD in time.  I'm a bit into the book so far and her story is nothing short of amazing.  She's passionate, she love's what she does, and she's human.  She's gone through trials and battles just like all of us and kept fighting.

This weekend is also the USAT and ITU race in San Diego.  40+ DC Tri Clubbers are out representing the club in San Diego thanks to a great bike shipping deal from USAT.  Not only do they get to race in San Diego, they get to watch the Men's and Women's professional races and see who will round out TEAM USA in London this summer.  Best of luck to everyone in their races this weekend - push the limit and break some barriers!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Learning to Hurt

"Remember the training is about learning to hurt." - Chrissie Wellington

This weekend was spent at Lake Anna State Park as part of a long training weekend with friends and training partners from DC Triathlon Club. Sunday included the great High Cloud Peasantman pressure-free triathlon for newbies and veteran's getting in an early season race.

Saturday morning came early as I set out on the road for Lake Anna at 5:30am for wheels down at 8:00.  Friday night included me blowing the valve on my front tire so I was going to be riding a ZIPP 404 rear and my Easton in the front.  With my recent doubts about my ZIPPS I didn't really care that I didn't have both ZIPPS on my bike.  I set out for 3 loops (75-80miles) on the Kinetic 1/2 bike course.  The group stayed together for the first 10 or so miles and then things began to thin out.  I have a HR monitor but have not been utilizing it as much as most athletes.  I've used it mostly as a training device during indoor trainer sessions on the bike to really monitor my effort levels.  That being said I've been training by feel/RPE.  Every 25-30 minutes during my bike I checked in with myself - 'how do I feel? Where's my head, how am I doing mentally?  Do I need to change anything?  Is my nutrition on par?'  This ride was a great opportunity for me to practice some nutrition strategies - I know my nutrition could have been loads better at Augusta 70.3.  I did great checking in with myself and keeping my nutrition on track.  I ended up riding 80.38 miles in 3:54:23 for an average speed of 20.6 miles per hour.  The course was gorgeous and fast.  I benefited from riding the first 56 miles with awesome company and set out on the final 24 solo.  Throughout the events of the last year riding has become a mental escape and relaxing zone for me.  I think, I remember, I hurt, I push the limits.  It's not all glitz and greatness on the bike - it's memories, it's flashbacks, at time it's fear, but it's fuel to the fire.  The bike felt great with only one ZIPP, though it didn't look as cool. Cool points were totally made up by the helmet.  This was by far the best training ride I've had this year and felt as though with a couple water bottle hand-offs and some more nutrition on board I could have pulled out another loop of the course.  Thank you, Adam, for your water before you headed in from your ride - it got me through the 3rd loop.

"Sporting success rests, in part, with having the mental fortitude necessary to overcome our fears, pain and discomfort."  - Chrissie Wellington

I quickly changed my shoes and grabbed a hat after my bike to head out on a brick run.  Peer pressure offered me a running partner and she was awesome.  We rocked 34 minutes at a steady pace out and back on the main road out of the state park.  The hardest part of brick runs for me is the lack of water.  I don't carry a fuel belt or handheld water - but it may be time to start.  Especially now that I have a Fuel Belt bottle thanks to USAT Collegiates but no Fuel Belt.  Creative marketing strategy, I applaud you Fuel Belt.  My legs felt great on the run.  The Kinetic 1/2 run course is a 3 loop course with a wonderful uphill section at the beginning of each loop.  The uphill killed me last year at the Kinetic Sprint - partly because I wasn't expecting it.  It was a great boost knowing I could get up the hill at a steady pace and carry on.

"If we let our head drop, our heart drops with it. Keep your head up, and your body is capable of amazing feats." - Chrissie Wellington

Immediately after the run we took off our shoes grabbed some H20 and headed to the lake.  The cool water was delightfully refreshing and perfect.  After a few minutes of play, attempted back flips and looking for lost sunglasses I headed out to catch up with some friends.  The peer pressure turned on me as I was told to go and get my swim cap and goggles from my car because it was time to swim.  It didn't take much pressure  to talk me into the 500m swim.  I had refueled with low-fat Chocolate Milk (MyAfter) and and Kashi Bar during my cool off time in the lake and my energy levels were feeling great.  The swim forced me to sight well - which I need to practice - since we used brown pillars as our course that blended perfectly with the backdrop of forest.

"Don't ever forget that you play with your soul as well as your body." - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The afternoon finished up with a nice barbecue and some prep for the High Cloud Peasantman Triathlon before the rain really hit.  We had reserved a camp site and set up tents but I whimped out and took up some friends on their offer to stay at a lake house to rest up before a long Sunday.  Giving back to sport is something I have always enjoyed.  On Sunday the High Cloud Peasantman Triathlon took place at Lake Anna State Park.  A bunch of us volunteered while some raced and cheered on the athletes getting in an early season race.  No better way to end a great training weekend than witnessing others experiencing the joy of sport.

"I won the race...on grit, willpower, determination and mental strength".