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Monday, September 28, 2009

Augusta 70.3 Race Report

Finish time: 4:28:28

Going to the mandatory pre-race meeting, picking up my packet, getting parking passes for me and the family, and dropping off my bike was a huge hassle/ordeal. What I estimated as a 90 minute process ended up taking around 4 hours and involved several miles of walking and a lot of standing. Not ideal the day before the race. By the time we were done (my son was with me) I was SO ready to get out of there! Not a good first impression.

Race Morning
I woke up around 4:30 AM at my family's lake house about 30 minutes outside Augusta. My dad and stepmom also got up and made me a nice breakfast. I was out of the house by 5:30 AM and at the race site around 6:00 AM. They would come to the race later with my son and my wife and two girls would be driving in from Lexington later in the morning.

I drove straight to transition and was able to park within a half mile. I loaded up a backpack and hauled the rest of my gear to transition and set it up. Then I drove to the parking lot and walked to the swim start where I picked up my chip and got in line with the rest of my swim wave.

Pretty hectic morning!

Swim 22:35
The water was 69 degrees and felt a little cool at first. There was a lot of debris in the water from the recent rains and the current was moving fast. I seeded myself in the front right by my friend Chris Olson (who placed 3rd in our AG) and tried to stay on his feet as long as I could. I think he must have gotten annoyed with me tapping his feet because he made a few zig zags and was gone :-) . Without a swim warm up it took me a few hundred meters to find my rhythm and get my breathing steady. By the halfway mark I was all up in the M30-34 wave that went off 4 minutes ahead of us. The swim flew by ... before I knew it we were at the boat ramp. When I looked down and saw 22 minutes I was a little shocked.

T1 2:57
Wow, my lack of racing recently (since June) really showed here. I thought I was at my bike and started stripping my wetsuit only to realize that I was on the wrong row. Lost some time here for sure

Bike 2:27:48
The bike course was very nice with a mix of all kinds of terrain except really steep climbs. It was fast going out with a nice tailwind and produced a 25+ average speed over the first 20 miles. Once we hit the rollers the pace started to slow a little. I stayed with a few M30-34s for pretty much the entire ride. Unfortunately once we started heading back to Augusta the wind was in our face and although it was mostly flat and downhill, the average held steady. I rode this ride very conservatively ... sort of between ironman and half ironman pace. The nutrition worked very very well ... just Gatorade + maltodextrin (Cytocarb) and electrolyte tablets. My average HR for the ride was only 151 and the average speed was just under 23 mph. Had I known how far up front I was in the AG I would have ridden more aggressively for sure!

T2 1:31
Again, it took me a little while to find my spot ... what's up with that?

Run 1:33:37
Coming out of T1 the legs felt good and ready to run. The first couple of miles were just under a 7 minute pace as I waited on my body to adjust to running and find my rhythm. I ran by HR keeping it just at or below 160. On miles where I would walk a little in aid station to get fluids my mile spits would be slightly higher. The run felt smooth and easy through 9 miles and then it took a more focus to finish it strong. The crowd support was amazing and I was able to see my family several times during the the run. My nutrition of gel + water worked very well also. I was able to meet my goal of negative splitting the run ...

RUN SPLIT 1: 7 mi 7 mi (3:46:29) 7:22/mi
RUN SPLIT 2: 13.1 mi 6.1 mi (4:28:28) 6:52/mi
TOTAL RUN 13.1 mi. (1:33:37) 7:08/mile

My average HR for the run was right on target (160) with a max of only 169 which was during mile 13 as I was bringing it home. The cheerleader squad along the finishing chute doing the cheer as I came through was an awesome touch!!

I ended up finishing 6th in my age group of 531 athletes. I'm sure I could have taken 5th with just a little more effort on the bike as he was only 38 seconds in front of me.

There were 5 spots for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and I was able to get the first roll down which changes my plans for the rest of the season. Instead of racing the B2B iron distance race I'll be heading to Clearwater to race the 70.3 world champs. Fun stuff ...

In the end I'm very pleased with how this race turned out as I achieved all my goals (although some of which are now moot with the change of race plans). So now I will focus on building some speed over the 70.3 distance and see if I can PR in Clearwater and get that run in the 1:20s.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Augusta 70.3 Race Plan

Well, it’s not really a formal “plan” like this-is-what-I’m-going-to-eat-at-4:36-AM-after-2-minutes-and-34-seconds-of-light-hamstring-stretching-while-using-the-bathroom-for-the-second-time type plan. More of a general outline really.

The overarching goals of this race are:

  • Pacing, pacing, pacing. No sustained riding above 160 beats per minute and no running above 160 for first half of the run.
  • Test Nutrition. Nutrition needs to be tested for the ironman. I have a new strategy for long course racing this year and I need to make sure it works in a race scenario. The problem here is that a half ironman is raced at a higher intensity level than a full ironman. But if I can digest it during a half, I pretty sure it will also go down for the full.
  • Run well off the bike and finish strong.
  • Gather heart rate data for a well executed half ironman. Use this to tweak my ironman target HR zones
  • Leave some in the tank. I need to pick back up with ironman training right after this race without missing a beat. I’m not willing to spend a week to recover.

Swim: Start controlled; find a rhythm and hopefully some feet at the sharp end of the pack. Swim fast and exit the water at the front of my wave.

Bike: Ride “within myself”. Start out easy and let the perceived exertion increase steadily throughout the ride. Try to average above 23 mph if the course, effort and HR allow it. Manage nutrition well. Practice peeing on the bike and maintaining speed should the opportunity arise. Here’s a picture of how I have the bike setup for this race.

  • The position is the same as it will be for the ironman race … very conservative compared to the position I use for short course racing. The effective seat angle has been slackened back to about 77 degrees and the bars have been raised by 2 cm.
  • Spare tubular tire mounted behind the seat
  • Blue bottle on seat tube hold 2 C02 cartridges, 1 C02 valve, 1 tire lever, and one can of Vittoria Pitt Stop along with a poker to tamp the valve stem through the valve extender.
  • The clear bottle on the down tube will have 250 calories of Gatorade + maltodextrin
  • The Aero Drink bottle will also hold 250 calories of Gatorade + maltodextrin.
  • The Profile Design “bento box” attached to the steerer and top tube hold Endurolyte tablets and a gel packet.

Run: Negative split the half marathon. I want those last 6.55 miles of the run to be faster than the first 6.55 miles. I also need to make sure gel and water still works well for me during the run. And I want to finish strong but also feel like I still have some in the tank.

So that’s the plan. I didn't explicitly set any time goals as the course is totally unknown to me, but I know that if I do these things I've outline I'll put up a good number. I’ll write a report shortly after the race and analyze how well this plan was actually executed.

For now I still have some running to get done this afternoon before I bring the volume and intensity down to attempt to get somewhat fresh for the race.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hummingbird, vacation and surfing

Yep ... it's been a long time since my last update. I'm not sure why it's so hard to get around to this !??? It seems to be a common dilemma in the blog world, so it's not just me!! I find it much easier and more convenient to just tweet instead (see above). So moving forward I think I will only plan to update the blog once and month along with race reports, unless I have something important to say that can't be said in 140 characters or less.

So here's the low-down with my happenings ...

A hummingbird flew into our screened porch and got trapped. I had to help it out. It was cool getting to see one up close

Some people are constantly buying shoes or switching cars or things like this. For me, it's bikes. Here's my new beach cruiser

In action. I love the simplicity of single speed!

It's a popular mode of transportation at the beach. Some are even rigged to carry surf boards and skim boards.

Speaking of the beach ... we just got back from a week's vacation in the Outer Banks. It's a unique place and very different from the other beaches I've lived on/near (Hilton Head Is., Tybee Is., Folly Beach). I was able to do some surfing but it's not like surfing at those beaches ... there are barrels and the waves are way over head.

Try to find the surfers in the next two images

The kids love playing at the beach but the water was too rough for them to swim. My son was able to body board on the shore break though

Caleb finds a big conch shell

If you ever get the chance to go to Corova Beach I would HIGHLY recommend it. It's where the wild mustangs roam and the only way to get there is with a 4x4 as you have to drive on the beach and through the dunes.

I did manage to squeeze in a little training everyday :-)

As far as triathlon goes things are moving along according to plan. I had a good 4 week block where I rebuilt my running coming off an injury before the vacation week which I used as a recovery week. I'm such a creature of habit ... as fun as the vacation was, I'm happy to be back to my 3 hours of training per weekday schedule. Not so much for the corporate job though!!!

My bike fitness is coming around nicely and my speed in the water reached an all time high and is holding steady. Running is also shaping up really well as I'm getting my volume up in preparation for the ironman. I've found that running nearly every day suits me best.

My next race which is the Augusta 70.3 is about 10 days from now and I'm getting really excited to get back to racing . This isn't an "A" race for me since I'm using it as preparation for the ironman which happens six weeks later. I can't afford a proper taper for Augusta nor can I afford much recovery time as the weeks following are critical to my ironman buildup (4 weeks build + 2 weeks taper). So I will have to take this into account during the race and not get too exuberant. I'm still expecting to go well below 5 hours nonetheless. I'll most likely publish a formal plan before the race to compare with my actual execution.

Life is awesome. We are blessed beyond what we deserve!!!