This may not be the most interesting entry to most of you, so I won't be hurt if you skip it. Also, it involves a bit of "too much information", yet another reason why you can feel free to pass. However, if you've ever considered doing a triathlon longer than a sprint, you'll probably find this informative and interesting. Mostly I'm writing this entry for myself, in order to list the things I need to address in my last 7 weeks of training for my Half Ironman.
I woke up at 5. I managed to get 6 or so hours of sleep which is definitely more than before any race I've done. I had some coffee, yogurt and almonds for breakfast and took the dog for a quick walk. My stomach was not feeling great. Something wasn't digesting properly, to put it nicely. I don't think it was nerves because I wasn't feeling nervous. Apparently I got that out of the way on Friday night. After all, I haven't been training for this race and the 2 weeks in India off from any endurance was a definite dent in the work I'd been doing beforehand. Anyway, excuses excuses right? The point of this race was to figure out what I needed to focus on going forward in my training and if my current equipment would comfortably support me through a HIM and that's exactly what was accomplished today.
I drove to the race, got check in and transition set up with enough time to make it down to the lake and check in with the water for a few minutes. As always, confining myself to pool training bites me in the ass in the early parts of the swim leg. I even felt it just doing a few practice strokes. My heart rate rose quickly, my breathing was erratic and I felt a little panicky....nothing unusual though. I swam around until I calmed down, got used to the water and reacquainted myself with my wetsuit. The water was perfect.
This was a pretty small race as far as number of people goes, but all of the women started at the same time which made for some crowding, elbowing and kicking at the start. I have a hard time keeping my cool in these situations. It raises my heart rate which, coupled with the open water, makes it hard for me to get my breathing under control. Nothing freaks me out more than sucking wind while swimming. This was a tough course in the sense that the route was awkward. I had to do a lot of sighting and follow a lot of buoys. I definitely swam more than a mile that's for sure. First half of the swim was a battle for control over my body. Second half of the swim I finally found my rhythm and picked it up. I passed a lot of people and I felt good. When I finally made it out of the water (36 minutes) I felt as if I could've kept going.
Training Focus: 3-4 open water swims in my wetsuit prior to race day in July
More tempo swims in the pool pushing through rough breathing no stopping
I'm not trying to win. I just like doing them...ummmm...do I like racing? Total masochism really. Anyway, I'm not a transition nut. If I'm thirsty, I'll down a bottle of water at my bike before heading out. If I feel tight, I'll take a moment to stretch. No big deal. Until Specialized calls to sponsor me or something I will continue to take transition lightly. That being said, this transition involved a steep hill coming out of the water. Bare feet, cement, debris covered sand...meh, I made sure I didn't step on anything. 5 minutes
God I love when you come out of transition on your bike and immediately onto an epic hill. No really, get it over with. Unfortunately, the bike was 3 hilly loops, and I found out at the end of loop 1 that transition hit half way through the steepest hill. Painful. First loop I had shifting and chain issues. I had to pull off twice to fix it, which added a good 5 minutes or so to my bike time. The second loop felt fast and the third loop felt neverending. I estimate there was only about 1-1.5 mile of flat per loop. The rest was moderate to decent grade hilly. I'm a strong bike rider and this was not a good performance for me. I felt good on the moderately steep hills, but on the steeper ones I slowed to a crawl. People flew past me on the steep hills. Also, I miss my 700 wheels on the downhills, 650s just don't pick up speed the same way. Overall, I was not comfortable in my saddle. I had to keep adjusting. Also, my bike shoes are totally destroyed. Both of them are ripped at the velcro and I had to keep reaching down to tighten them in order to get full power on pedal strokes. I definitely wasted some energy there. 1 hour 41 minutes My usual time for a 40K is 1:25, add in the stops for dealing with equipment and the hills...I still could do better on the bike than 1:41. My bike mojo is not in full effect yet.
Training Focus: HILLS!!!!!
Fast turnover work on very moderate incline...at exactly the point where it's uncomfortable
- hold the pace there for several minutes
Longer distance rides once a week - 30+ miles
Equipment: New saddle (Specialized Ruby Women's Saddle)
New bike shoes
Again, I took a minute here, drank a bunch of water and washed my salty sweaty face off. My stomach was feeling a little wrong at this point. Too many shot blocks? I ate more than normal on the bike. Maybe it was the Nuun? Usually I drink Accelorade or Nutromax. It seems unlikely it was my nutrition though, since I was feeling not so good when I got up. 4:30
Never have I wanted or needed a run to be over like this. The first mile was tough getting my legs. I have not been doing bike-run bricks yet, so this was not a surprise. I was doing 100 breaths on, 20 breaths off ,willing my muscles to transition to running mode. The run was also hilly with sections of trail running. It was a very pretty run but tough, especially after the hilly bike. I started to feel my legs after mile 2. Of course, as I started running harder my stomach started cramping up. I would stop and double over for a minute trying to relax. After passing the water station at mile 3, I was desperately in need of a bathroom. Luckily I didn't have to wait too long. I was barely able to keep it together walking at that point. Visit to the ladies room number 1 didn't do the trick. I ended up stopping at bathrooms 4 times in the last 3 miles. It was AWFUL. And frustrating!!! My legs were there. When I was running they felt alright considering, but my stomach kept stopping me. All in all, a LONG painful run. Pushing through while dealing with that is extremely hard. I had several moments of wanting to drop out, but I didn't. 1 hour 21 minutes - that is 30 minutes longer than my run normally would be. Ouch.
Training Focus: Longer tempo work
Brick work!!! Especially post hilly ride. Once a week hilly bike 10-15 miles followed by a 3-5 mile run
Equipment: Still considering a trisuit
Change socks from bike to run (normally I do this but I thought I'd try not today which was a bad idea)
Compression socks for recovery
My stomach problems didn't end with the race. I barely made it home post race, in case you're wondering. All in all this race did exactly what it was meant to do. I'm happy I pushed through the "run" but I am now hyper aware of how much work I actually need to do in the next 7 weeks.
Pizza! I think I earned it. As you know, I don't condone rewarding a good workout with crappy food, but this is a special case. Tomorrow it's back to lots of good, healthy vegetables and organic low fat proteins. Yum.