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25 August 2008

Railsplitter Triathlon Race Report

OFFICIAL RESULTS
Swim -36:29
T1 -1:33
Bike - 2:07:14
T2 - 1:28
Run - 1:28:20
Total Time - 4:15:06 (My time goal was 4:15, so I'll take it...but it really doesn't make sense)

My alarm went off bright and early at 3:33am. Six hours of sleep is probably not enough for a race, but I'll take it. I laid in bed for 10 or so minutes, feeling very glad that I packed all of my stuff the night before. I finally got up, got dressed, and go ready to go. I hauled my bike out to the car. I almost forgot my PopTart which would have been bad. I rode down to the race with my friends, the Hills, which turned out to be a very good thing, and we left at around 4:45am. The race was in Petersburg and was about 1 hour and 15 minutes away; however, when we arrived, we discovered that finding the actually race venue was a bit tricky.

We arrived at the race site and checked in, did the packet pickup thing, and headed over to the transition area. Apparently, they mowed the transition area the day before the race and there were wet clumps of grass everywhere, which for some reason really bugged me...perhaps because I ended up wearing grass for the ENTIRE race. My feet were covered with wet grass and it was making me cranky, although I'm not sure why. I should probably mention that this was the inaugural race, so there were some organization issues. I started to set up my transition area and I decided to skip using my towel because the grass was so gross. Good thing my tri backpack has a mat in it. I set up my spot but forgot to open my water bottles and check the gearing on my bike, which ended up being okay, but I should have remembered to do that. I did remember to open my nutrition for the bike. I also had to get all of my numbers attached. The bike number was supposed to be attached with twist ties, which turned out to be a bad idea, since the number didn't have holes in the right places. Anyways, it was almost time to start and there was some (alot) confusion about whether or not wetsuits were legal. It was determined that they were legal, which resulted in several participants running back to transition to get their wetsuits. I was actually quite happy to be able to wear my wetsuit because I really don't like to be cold. So, finally, it was time to start (late).

There was only one wave of swimmers, so the start was a little chaotic, but no more than the regular wave starts. It took me about 10 yards before I finally felt like I could swim. It was an out and back swim, which was a little different. The water was gorgeous, except for the floating plant material. There was no wake and while it was murky, it wasn't green like the Miller Park Lake. Oh, the temperature was 78, so it was nice and warm...just the way I like it. I had a few collisions in the water, but absolutely no freak outs which was GLORIOUS! I'm finally settling in to the open water swimming. I was out of the water in 36:29, which is faster than my BAM triathlon swim time. My average HR was 165. I should also mention that it was a kinda longish run from the lake to the transition area. Also, I had TONS of grass inside my wetsuit, on my legs and arms, which wasn't cool, since it stayed with me until I got home that afternoon.

Once I finally got to my transition spot, I was winded from the long, uphill run. I was concerned about putting my bike shoes on because of all of the grass, but I decided to take a chance. I put on my sunglasses, strapped on my helmet, grabbed my bike and headed out of transition. Once I hit the pavement, I checked my cleats for grass (there was none), hopped on Oscar and took off. My transition time was 1:34 and my average HR was 174.

For the first few minutes on the bike, I felt like I was flying. I was ready for a drink, which was when I realized that I hadn't opened my water bottles. I took an Endurolyte and grabbed a quick drink. My goal on the bike was to push an 18mph pace. I should also mention that it takes me about 30-45 minutes before I start feeling good on the bike. After a couple of miles, I started to hit the hills. There were some rollers and there were some hills. My nutrition plan was to eat 1 shotblock every 10 minutes and 1 Endurolyte every 30 minutes. I had 1 bottle of water and 1 bottle of Heed. I was actually feeling pretty good and was going somewhere between 17-18 mph by the halfway point. At one point, I thought I had taken a wrong turn because I couldn't see anyone on the course, either in front of me or behind me. Around mile 18, I hit the wall and bonked. It was so weird because that has never really happened to me before on the bike. I'm not really sure what the problem was, but I do know it was not a good feeling. I had to drop down to my small ring and spin up the hill at a very quick 6 mph. I was seriously worried about my ability to finish the race. At some point, I pulled myself together and got going again. I actually started to feel really good. I only got passed on the bike by 2 women and maybe 8 men, but on my way back, I passed one of the women. She kinda pooped out around mile 30. I ran out of fluids at mile 24, but they were handing out water bottles so it worked out. Did you know that trying to grab a bottle from a kid while riding by is tricky? I did manage to grab a very welcome bottle of ice cold water and I was so glad to have the extra rack on the back of my bike. Anyways, I pushed myself hard on the last 8-10 miles and went rolling in to transition at 2:07:16. My average HR was 168. I took in about 500 calories on the bike and 2 bottles of water. I also took 7 endurolytes.

I hit the dismount line and had no problems clipping out. Of course, my legs were wobbly and I waddled back to my transition spot. My legs did feel better than they did after my long ride last weekend, so that was good. I racked my bike with no problems and surprisingly my bike shoes slipped right off. My running shoes slipped on easily and I downed a raspberry Hammer gel, grabbed my visor and bib and headed out for the run. My T2 time was 1:23 and my average HR was 173.

As I was heading out for the run, it was really starting to heat up and get more humid. I guess I should mention that the temperature was supposed to be around 90 and feel like 97. It was very humid and felt like it got more and more humid as the day went on. I felt pretty good heading out on the run and I knew I would feel better after the first mile. I cruised along and was passing a couple of people until my quads started to cramp up. There were no mile markers out on the course, which made the run more tough because I really had no idea where I was. I would check my watch, but I wasn't sure of my pacing or anything. I was dumping water over my head and shoulders and trying to stay as cool as possible, but it was really hot. My shoes were soaking wet and I ended up with alot of hot spots and a very good sized chunk of skin missing from my left heel. There were enough water stations, but it seemed like they weren't in the right spots. There was WAY too much winding around on the course and when I finally finished, I discovered that the run was almost a mile longer, which made me feel somewhat better about my time. Still, it ended up taking me 1:32:18 to run 7.8 miles, which is just depressing. I did struggle with cramping, but mostly got frustrated with the course and it was blasted hot. I had a hard time getting my heart rate down, and the average HR was 175, which is higher than I like it to be. I really just wanted to be done running and was so happy to cross the finish line and get the small ice cold bottle of water with a smiley face on it.

At the finish line, there was alot of discussion about the run course and how long it was. They had tons of really cold drinks which was awesome. They also had hamburgers and hot dogs which made me want to yak. I did eat 2 bags of Cheetos that might have been the most delicious Cheetos ever. I was covered in salt when I finished, so I'm guessing that's why the chips tasted so yummy. I was also pretty thirsty and drank a 180 energy drink which tasted fabulous...very refreshing. I was pretty wiped out after the race and was so ready to not be wearing my sweaty, soaking wet, stinky clothes. My shoes were squishy and my heels were really starting to hurt. We stuck around for the awards and I ended up winning my age group, but only because I was the only one in my age group. My overall time ended up being 4:19:03 (according to my watch), which was longer than I wanted, but this race was really a catered training to make sure that I'm ready for the 1/2 IM in 2 weeks, so no beating myself up over the time.

So, what did I learn from this race. Let's see...I realized that I can have a really great open water swim if I stay calm and swim like I know how. Body glide and tri-slide do work for chafing, but I need to apply more under my arms. I need to keep swimming at Miller Park to continue gaining confidence. I did realize that I have some serious tunnel vision when I exit the water.

On the bike, I realized that I need to carry more fluids. I don't think I was super dehydrated, but I was thirsty. My nutrition worked well, really well. I'm going to try taking the endurolytes every 20 minutes instead of every 30 minutes, so hopefully that will help ward off any cramping. I'll also probably carry them on the run. I've been debating about a mph pace goal for the 1/2 IM. Initially, I was sort of planning on 18 mph, but that will probably depend on the course, which means I need to do some map studying this week. I think that maybe I went too hard on the bike for this race, but since the bike course was hilly, its kind of hard to tell. So, over the next week, I need to decide how to approach my pacing on the bike course.

On the run, well, I just need to run faster and be mentally tougher. I'm not sure how the 1/2 marathon will go, but I really hope the course is not alot of out and back wanderings. I still need to work on staying focused and mentally tough. I hope there are mile markers at the 1/2 IM so I'll at least know where I am on the course.

Overall, I'm pleased with my race. I would actually do this race again, mostly to ride that bike course. I'm finally loving the bike and feeling good about my open water swim, so all of the time I spent working on them this summer has paid off. On the flip side, my lack of run training has become my weakness. I'll be able to focus on my running this winter, so hopefully, I"ll be more balanced. Now it's time to focus on the game plan for the 1/2 IM...

3 comments:

Franklin said...

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k said...

AJ,
Great report. It is awesome to have a great race under your belt as prep for the HIM. I am sure you will do fabulous.
Karen

Barb said...

Wow! I know sweet-tweet about any times for runs, etc., but it all sounds impressive to me! congrats!
Barb