Doing More With Less Since 1972

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Six Gap 2021 Race Report…AND SHOWERS!

Before I get into the actual race, I’m going to take a moment to recognize the organizers of this event and the people of North Georgia. This was an amazing experience–start to finish. Everything was well organized, ran on time, plenty of options and amounts of food/drink at the SAGs, lots of friendly and helpful volunteers, law enforcement assistance at the turns and helping tamp down the speeding vehicles, etc. Well done!

This is the first endurance event I’ve ever participated in that had showers available at the finish. This was an amazing amenity, and it sets the bar pretty high. I’ve had some great showers in my time, and this one was right up there with the best. It changed my day post-race for sure.

The “Why”

My co-worker Dallas has been gently pushing this ride on me for about 5 years–the whole time I’ve known him. For most of that time I didn’t even own a road bike. But when my friend Bill died in July 2020 his wife Stacey wanted me to have his bike. I was reluctant, but Dallas was the one who convinced me that taking it was the right thing to do. He also reminded me that Bill would love for me to ride, not just store bikes.

Bill and Stacey lived in Cumming, Georgia for many years, and Bill loved riding the roads in the Helen/Dahlonega area.

He bought this bike to ride these roads. It was the bike’s purpose.

Dallas’s wife made some cool decals for me to add to the bike right after I got it. As its new owner, I thought it would be really cool and meaningful to take it back to where it belonged and where he loved to be.

So…this one was for Tiny.

Scott Adcox and Bill McArthur New Orleans 2014

The Posse

I did this event with a mix of people I know and people they know. Primo Juan came down from Louisville to do the ride, and I can’t thank him enough for driving his vehicle and, more importantly, doing a lot of shepherding for me during the race. I’m not super-experienced in big group rides, and he did a great job at the start especially of keeping us in safe and fast lines. He picked out good groups for us to stick with and kept the pace fast and easy at the same time.

His ability to climb is inspirational. We have dubbed him “El Chivo”.

Dallas drove up from Florida with his friend Dave as well. As I said, a lot of the the credit (blame?) goes to Dallas for convincing me to do this race. It was really cool to get to start the ride with him. I think we were together for the first five miles or so.

Justin is a co-worker and training partner from back in the day, and he was in with his brother-in-law Todd. I’ve done a few rides with these guys since we got up to Tennessee, and they are both my kind of people. Was so happy to get to share this experience with such a fine group.

Check In/Expo

Nothing to say other than “super smooth”. Drive through check in!!!! Of course we got out and walked around the expo, but if all you wanted was a race packet, it could not have been easier.

Justin and Todd were picking up packets at the same time, and we decided to go on an easy 10 mile ride just to work the car ride out of our legs. It was really nice, but also a little jolting to see that the rollers start right out of the gate. And they are there at the end. Sunday was going to be a tough day.

Race Day Logistics

I was a little late booking a hotel room, and Juan and I ended up staying about an hour away in Jasper. It was worth the drive, because we had some amazing barbecue the night before.

We woke up at 5:00 am and arrived at Lumpkin County High School at 6:30 after a coffee stop. We wanted to get a spot in the main lot, and luckily we were one of the last 10 or so cars that made it. We had plenty of time to relax and prepare for the start, and we met up with Dallas and Dave at the queue. We weren’t sure where Justin and Todd were at that point. As I said, really enjoyed getting to start the race with Dallas–he’s a big reason I was doing this ride in the first place, and almost all of my outdoor riding this year has been with him.

The energy at the start felt a lot like a triathlon start to me with one exception–even though there was the same nervousness in the air, there wasn’t a competitive vibe going on at all. Maybe up front it was different, but our spot in the queue was just nervous, but friendly. That changed later…I’ll get to it.

Summary – Ride Plan and Execution

Six Gap Elevation Profile

Spoiler alert: I’m really happy with my execution for the entire race. One thing I like about cycling, especially with the trainer, is the amount of data you are able to collect for planning. You can’t control things like temperature and wind on race day, but my goal is to have so much data before the race starts that I can develop a plan based on things I can control, like what cadence I want to ride at, what I’m willing to let my heart rate get to, and how much power I’m going to produce.

I don’t have a power meter on my bike, so that’s a little tougher to gauge when I’m not on the trainer, but I’d calculated a couple of months ago that I should be able to average 180 watts for an effort of 7-8 hours, and my Strava estimated power for this ride ended up being 188. Spot on. I’ll take it.

But without a power meter, this ride was going to be all about heart rate management. The plan was to finish overall with an average of Zone 3 (143-154). In order to accomplish this I wanted to keep my HR really low at the start, keep it under 160 for most of the climbs, and allow myself to get closer to red lining on Hogpen Gap and Wolfpen Gap–what I’d estimated to be the toughest climbs. I know from doing a bunch of races on Zwift that I can maintain that high Zone 4, low Zone 5 heart rate for at least 30 minutes. I also know how I feel after doing that, and I wanted to avoid that feeling. I ended up averaging 144 for the ride. That’s on the low side of the range, but I’ll take it based on the last third of the ride. That was the toughest portion to manage, at least for me.

The Details – Start Through Hogpen

I think thirds is the best way to break this down–not 1/3 distance necessarily, but three separate sections. At least that’s how I had broken it down in my plan. For me, the first third ended at the Hogpen descent. I’d game-planned this ride assuming I’d be solo or close to it the whole way. Juan gave me some really solid info around the bunches of riders early on and that minutes could be banked here with minimal effort. The Neel’s Gap climb started at around 20 miles in, and I hit that with an average HR of 130. NICE! Bonus was that we were averaging 17.7 mph at this point. Lots of speed with little effort.

I haven’t climbed any of these before, but Justin’s recon gave me the knowledge that I’d done a climb very similar to Neel’s many times before. I really kept myself in check on this first climb–HR average was 143. The cool temps helped a lot, along with the really nice jersey Juan gave me that zipped all the way down. Was feeling great at the top, and the descent was so much fun!

That left us a little break before Hogpen. The plan here was to put in a little bit harder effort, but nothing too out of control. I was going to have to use all my gears on this one, and I knew it was going to be a solid 30 minutes of climbing. I can’t emphasize enough how much all those trips up the Alpe du Zwift prepared me for this climb. It takes me 75+ minutes to do the ADZ, and that makes Hogpen seem pretty manageable. I put in the effort I wanted–156 BPM average, and solidly in the 160s for the second half of the climb, which is steeper.

Juan and I had picked up Justin along the way, and we had a chance at the top to reload on goodies and get some photos. I knew Juan and Justin were both a lot stronger riders than me, and I encouraged them to go on, but their plan was to stay conservative and together-ish until the last 25 miles or so.

“Tiny” Giant at the top of Hogpen Gap

At the summit, you could feel the mood had changed. The excitement and good humor in the air was palpable. We’d just completed what was technically the hardest climb of the day. Time to restock, get some photos, and have some fun descending into what was mentally going to be the toughest part of the day.

The Details–Middle Of The Race

Segment two was three gaps long–Unicoi, Jack’s, and Wolfpen. Unicoi was a pretty gentle climb. I saw Juan again at the top (Justin was steaming to the finish already), and I think this was the last time I saw him until the finish. I was feeling the beginnings of a cramp, and I took the time at the SAG to rub it out, stretch, and make sure I got everything I needed to finish the race.

I did get a little tripped up on Jack’s Gap, and was almost sucked into making a mistake. My Garmin 1030 registered 12 “climbs” on this course, but for some reason Jack’s Gap didn’t show up as a climb. I’m not sure why. I wasn’t sure where it started, but I knew (thought I knew) I wasn’t on it yet. This “climb that’s not a climb” seemed to go on forever, and it had me a little nervous about what was ahead. That was a little defeating. If this wasn’t a climb, I was going to be in big trouble when the actual climbing started, because this was not an easy haul.

I was a little worried.

It was only at the top when I saw a sign that I realized I’d reached the top of Jack’s Gap. I ended up averaging 155 and 153 BPM on Unicoi and Jack’s respectively. It was time for what I’d guessed would be the toughest climb of the day. Wolfpen isn’t as hard as Hogpen on paper, but we’d climbed Hogpen at around 35 miles in. Wolfpen was going to hit us at 70-something miles with at least one big climb and a few smaller ones already in our legs.

Wolfpen did not disappoint. Well, I guess it did–I was disappointed to be right about it. It was a dang tough climb. I’d planned to push a little on this one, and I did. Constant cadence, HR in the mid 160s for the last two thirds, and I knew that the race was mostly downhill from here. This last big push was probably responsible for the only real unexpected event of the day, which happened early in the last section of the race.

The Details – Wolfpen Descent to Finish

I felt really good at the top of Wolfpen, and the descent was another fun one. But I think my muscles cooled down a little too much while I was resting. As soon as the terrain leveled off again (at exactly mile 82), cramps started forming for real. The best decision I made all day was to get off the bike at a church parking lot to stretch and massage my legs. It was a good investment of time. I got back on the bike and felt good.

For exactly 5 miles.

Just before mile 87, the same thing was happening again. I took my time again…a little more time, and while I was stretching and massaging I realized the problem was the cooling of the muscles and that I could feel the issue most in right leg at the top of the stroke. So a little change in tactics for the finish–keep the legs moving as much as possible, even hitting some strokes now and then when descending, and don’t stop at the top of that stroke.

It paid off, and I’m glad I took the time to figure it out. I could feel a bit of a cramp every now and then, but I worked it out as best I could without stopping the machine from going forward. Woody’s Gap wasn’t too tough at all, even at this point of the ride.

The original plan was to ride as hard as possible from Wolfpen to the end. The plan was also to change the plan if the plan needed changing.

On that last big descent, I started piecing together what was going to come next. I knew I had the cramping issue going on, and as I tried to calculate about how much time was left to complete the last 18 miles, I was having trouble doing the math.

Now, I’m a math guy. You have to know this. And I have enough experience to know that when I’m having trouble doing math on a run or a ride, it’s a real sign of fatigue. So even though I felt pretty good I decided to be conservative–the cramp situation and the “can’t-do-simple-math” situation were signs that I needed to pay more attention to finishing than to the clock. It was a little frustrating to see groups go by me and know that I had the ability to run them down and finish with them, but…

Did I actually have the gas to run them down? Then what? Would I have enough to hang? If not, it would have been a waste. What if I had another cramp while putting in that effort and I had to get off the bike again?

I figured it was too much of a gamble for a very small potential payoff. I was really close to finishing, and getting into a group was going to save me a few minutes at best. And for what? Nope–I decided to play it safe, enjoy the scenery, and get home in a time that was way better than I’d been hoping for. I’d already secured what, for me, was going to be a great finish, and I wasn’t about to risk it.

So I rode the last 18 miles alone. Fitting, because I almost always ride alone. 😀

I will say that the rollers at the end were kinda brutal. I mean, not hard climbs at all, but I guess I had it in my head that you could climb the 6th gap and then just coast. It doesn’t work that way. LOL.

Still, I finished with a clock time of 7:32:xx, chip time of 7:27:xx, and a Strava moving time of 6:56:17. I was shooting for 8:00:00 as a chip time, and would have accepted that for a moving time, so needless to say, I was ecstatic with what I’d done.

Post Race

I coasted over to the car to find Juan sitting in a chair relaxing. I was pretty beat, and it was all I could do to remove some clothing and shoes and get my stuff together to go take a shower. As I said, that shower was amazing. Really hot water and great pressure–like a massage. Funny thing–I enjoyed that shower so much that I had a flash right in the middle of it that scared me to death. Was this real? I was scared I was about to wake up from a dream in our hotel room and have the entire ride ahead of me.

I also took Juan’s advice and applied the Inbike Amino Recovery salve we’d received at packet pickup. Amazing! I knew for sure I’d be cramping the whole way home and in bed that night, but this stuff fixed me up–absolutely no issues, which I didn’t think was possible after an effort like this. By the time I’d gotten dressed and had a few cups of sweet tea I was a new person–completely different demeanor when I got back to the car.

We got everything packed up for the trip home and headed into the school cafeteria where we saw Justin and Todd eating. It was great to share some time with them after the race. We also saw Dallas on the way out–he was waiting for Dave at the finish line.

My biggest worry was that we were all going to be doing this together but separate, and I’m really glad I got to spend some time off the bike with my friends at this event.

Wrap Up

Amazing event. I don’t know if I’ll ever do 6 Gap again, but 3 Gap is a definite possibility. I enjoy cycling, but not enough to let it take time away from other things like jiu jitsu (which I hope to start back soon) and even things like rock climbing. Three hours on the bike is enough for me, and I’d rather not have cycling training be my focus.

But I’m really glad I got to do this with some cool people.

Most importantly, I happy I got to honor my friend’s memory by riding his bike on the same roads he loved to ride. I’m sure that he was up there somewhere watching me suffer and laughing his butt off, not just in the race, but also in the training.

Bill was a guy who was always there to push you to be more than what you are today, and this ride pushed me for sure.

Zwift Crit Race 2 – Bell Lap Cat C

Well. Dang.

I pushed my old ‘puter to its limits, and Zwift crashed on me during the 6th lap of this race. Really disappointing, but since then I’ve replaced my old disc drive with an SSD drive. Basically a brand new computer for ~$60, and this thing screams now. I’ve done a couple of rides longer than an hour on high resolution graphics (I always used “low” before) and haven’t had any problems.

Unfortunately, I was doing pretty well in this race. I mean, I wasn’t close to being in the front group or anything. I think I was like 68th out of 133 when all ones and zeros broke loose. But I was riding pretty steady splits on the laps, didn’t go out too fast, had one other person I was working with the maintain position, etc.

Big changes from the first race were a lower cadence, not trying to get in the lead group and stay there, and riding the bumps much better. I also have a better feel of when to coast on the downhill section and when to use the powerups.

Anyway…that’s about it. Second try out was a dud, but will try again next week.

Zwift Crit Race 1 – Bell Lap Cat C

After my rough experience doing the TTT a few weeks ago, I thought it would be a good idea to get some Zwift racing experience that didn’t negatively affect others. Basically, learn how to race I guess.

I considered doing individual time trials and crits, and I chose crits because:

  1. There are more of them
  2. They included drafting (just like TTT)
  3. They are usually pretty short efforts (8 laps), so they don’t disrupt my FTP program much. I can just do these on an off day.

There are a bunch of Bell Lap races, so I thought I’d give this a go. I’ll be able to race on the same course over and over, try different tactics and strategies, document them, see what works best, etc.

Added bonus–I think there may actually be a correlation between how fast I can do these races and how fast I can run a 5k. Remember, I’m cycling in lieu of running so much, but still hope to get faster on race day. We’ll find out if this works..

I’m a boring nerd. I’m not going to even mention the spreadsheet I’ll be using to track all this…yet.

I picked the Friday 11:45 am EST race to be my “standard”. I’ll be able to make that one most weeks, so hopefully I’ll be racing against the same people over and over as well, which gives me another control point in the experiment.

Race Prep

Before racing, I did do a little recon. I watched a couple of races on this course live, and watched a couple of videos on how to race the course. Quick recap of what I learned and observed:

  • Like all Zwift races, start fast! Shoot for 4.5 w/kg
  • Flyers get caught in the first minute
  • Leaders ride the first lap in the high 3’s w/kg
  • After a couple of laps, the chasers are ~ 7s back, and some riding solo
  • After the halfway point, leaders are riding in the low 3’s, high 2’s w/kg
  • People get strung out on the bumps–that’s where attacks happen
  • Don’t fall for attacks on the 7th lap

Strategy and Reality

The winners of the races I watched were finishing in just over 21 minutes and around 3.3 w/kg. My 20 minute best effort is around 2.7 w/kg.

So…I’m not going to win in Cat C, and if I can put in a solid effort, a finish under 25:00 would be pretty good for me. The game is going to be trying different approaches in multiple races to see what works best for me.

The strategy for this first race was simple–stay with the lead group as long as possible and see what happens. I knew I’d get dropped, but the question was “when?” and “what happens after that?”

Execution

The good news is that I think I found something that doesn’t work. I was able to go out with the first group and stay with them for the first lap and a little beyond. But just like going out too fast in a running race, it caught up with me. Positive splits on every lap except for the last one (by two seconds…just barely).

I was able to finish in 24:22, and I think I could do a lot better than this by evening out my splits (negative splits?), but what makes cycling way different than running is that I need to find a group to ride with to make it happen. I rode the last laps by myself in this race, and I think that really shows in the results. I was putting out wattage that were around the same or higher than previous laps, but not getting any benefit of the draft until the last lap.

My question and challenge for the next race is how to find that second group, and can I stay with them. I think the key for me to do my best in these races is to find the right group that can support me for as long as I can stay with them, or find a group I can ride easy with and attack from on the last lap.

One thing is clear–I’m not worried about winning any time soon.

2012 IM 70.3 FL – Haines City Race Report

It usually takes me a couple of days to digest a triathlon and what happened during the race. The longer it takes me to complete the race, the longer I need to stew over it. “Stew” is appropriate term for this race, because I got cooked. I have a feeling many race reports will read similar to mine, but here’s my take on it…

Friday

Arrived at the expo at around 1 pm. The plan was to get there early while there were no crowds, which I did. The first thing I did was check out transition, where I was happy to see assigned spots on the racks. Nobody wants to worry about stuff being moved after setup, so I’m sure it put many minds at ease. I was also happy to see that I had a pretty good spot–third from the end of a rack. Next, I walked down to the beach to check out the swim course. The water didn’t exactly look inviting, but the ‘M’ shape of the course made it look shorter and less intimidating than courses this long usually appear. On to get checked in, which went very smoothly. T-shirts were good quality and were not covered by  sponsor logos like NASCAR vehicles, which I also liked. Also included in the SWAG was a very nice swim/run bag. It’s not really big enough for a tri bag, but it is sturdy and has a nice zippered bottom.

IM 70.3 FL Haines City T-shirt and bag

IM 70.3 FL Haines City SWAG | T-shirt and bag

After checking in, I headed up towards the Disney area to check into our place for the weekend, made a quick trip to the grocery store and Pollo Tropical for dinner that night. The rest of the family arrived about ~5:30, and we wolfed down dinner and headed to Hollywood Studios for a couple of hours. I learned how to draw Pluto there. It’s seriously the best drawing I’ve ever done, and that’s sad.

But I’m Goofy

Also, it’s probably the most impressive performance for the weekend, which is even more sad.

Saturday

I stayed away from the race and everything involved with it, which was a good decision. I did see some photos of the expo on Twitter that afternoon, and there were big crowds, making me glad I’d taken care of everything the day before. The Missus had a baby shower to attend, so she took the infant with her while I sat poolside (in the shade) while the oldest two went nuts for the afternoon. Some Orlando friends come over with their kids, which was awesome. I spent the entire afternoon, dinner, and evening hanging out with people who don’t do triathlons and don’t give a crap about them. So there wasn’t the usual time spent obsessing about the race and talking about training–very relaxing. Even the usual stress over packing was avoided because I was given an awesome gift–a great new transition bag that zips open and lets you see everything…no more packing and unpacking 100 times  making sure you have everything. Was asleep by 10:00.

 

Race Day

Got up at 4:00 am and headed towards Haines City. Parking was no problem, and getting everything set up in transition went very smoothly. I made sure my tires were properly inflated and spinning around without rubbing on anything, grabbed a Gu and a bottle of Ironman Perform and went down to the beach to relax before the swim start. A lot of people were pretty caught up in the fact that Lance Armstrong was in the race, snapping photos in transition and standing up on the beach all morning to try to get  a glimpse of him in the swim warmup and start. I’m not saying it wasn’t exciting that he was in the race (and man…did he kill it or what?), but I decided he was just Competitor Number 4 and to focus on what I needed to do. That meant sitting down and relaxing as much as possible before the start.

Swim (42:38)

The biggest advantage of doing a WTC event (this was my first) is that the organization is incredible. Everything happened on time. I was in the 9th wave, about 35 minutes after the pros started. One big difference I noticed on the swim from other open water tris I’ve done is that it wasn’t a 300 yard washing machine and then clear swimming–it was pretty crowded the whole time, at least for me. When I got out of the water I glanced down at my watch and was very disappointed to see I was in the 40s. I was really expecting ~37 minutes, and 39 at the worst. I noticed that even the pros swam a little slower than normal though, so I guess that could translate into a few minutes difference for a guy like me. Either way, I’d decided months ago not to let the swim affect what I do later because it’s such a small part of the race overall. I don’t really put much into the swim, so I don’t expect that much out of it. My goal up until now has always been to just glide through it with as few strokes as possible and expend minimal energy. More on that later.

T1 (3:12)

Very happy with my transitions. No issues at all, even with putting on my HR strap. I decided to put my bike shoes on before mounting, and I’m glad I did. The start was on a slight uphill and there was lots of traffic. I passed several people in the first half mile wrestling with their shoes.

Bike (2:47:43 / 20.03 mph)

Right at the start I felt like I had my breaks on. I jumped off and found that my brakes were rubbing my back tire. Yes, I checked this before the start, but things get bumped around in transition, so I didn’t sweat it. A quick fix and I was going again. No significant time lost. The first half of the course was really fast, but I made sure not to fall into that trap. I took  it easy and didn’t let the heart rate float above 140. I was still passing a lot more people than were passing me (thanks slow swim), and made sure I took in plenty of fluids and food on schedule. I made it to the big hill at mile 27 at over 21 mph, and average HR under 140. I was really saving up for the upcoming rollers and the run. I did attack on the hills, but made sure to recover at every opportunity. The second half of this course is definitely more challenging than the first, but if you conserve in the beginning it will pay off. I was passing a lot more people at the end of the ride than at the beginning, and my heart rate was still where I wanted it to be.

This bike course is nice! Except for a really bumpy stretch on Masterpiece, it’s pretty smooth. It was a really fun ride! For the first time ever in a race, I didn’t want to get off the bike and run. However, I was looking forward to what I’d set myself up for, having saved up all that energy and riding according to the plan.

…still having fun

T2 (2:33)

As smooth as I could have hoped for. Removed my shoes while I was still on the bike, which helped speed things along. I did forget to grab another Gu, but no worries since I could grab one at the aid station. One thing I’m happy I did was leave a water bottle for myself to take on the run exit. It’s about a mile from the run start to the first aid station, and I heard some grumblings about that during the first mile of the run.

Know the course.

Run (2:20:58)

Aside from the typical transition legs, I left T2 feeling good. My heart rate immediately jumped up to the mid 150s, but I wasn’t too worried about that. I knew was probably running a little faster pace than I felt like I was, so I tried my best to slow down. That’s usually the case when I get off the bike–any pace feels slow just because the scenery has been going by so fast for the last couple of hours. I fought up the first hill, even though my HRM was beeping and telling me to walk. I listened halfway up the next hill, but my heart rate never dropped very much; about 157 was the best I could get it to. But I could still run and maintain that, so I did. I finished the first lap with a 9:48 pace, which was just a tad faster than I wanted to be. I started calculating in my head what my finish time would be if I could do that one more time and possibly speed up for the last 5k. The first hill won the battle the second time around, and by the time I got to mile 5 I was at 10 minute miles. I started doing the math and trying to hold that pace.

Then the wheels started falling off.

The last 8 miles turned into the hardest run I can remember doing. The real race of the day for everyone was against the weather and trying to finish before it got too hot. I lost that race, and once it got hot it kept getting hotter. About the only way I could get any relief for the heart rate was to fill my jersey with ice, but that didn’t last very long. It was also tough for me to take in enough fluid to replace what I was losing and continue to run without some serious sloshing.

PR hopes were fading quickly, so I focused on calculating what I needed to do for a sub 6:00:00 finish. That kept my mind occupied for a while because I was run-drunk, but I knew it was getting really bad when I couldn’t remember what mile I was on. At that point, I stopped my watch. I was tired of hearing the HRM alarm anyway, and I decided to focus on going as fast as I could in the moment and let the chips fall where they may. I was somewhere in the last 5k, and that’s all I needed to know.

I looked at the results for some other people in my wave, and it looks like many of them have similar stories. There were a lot of people walking up those two hills, not just me. Yeah, it was really only one kind of big hill and one medium hill, but on a three lap course in that heat, it turned into six pretty big hills.

This run course is deceptively difficult in hot conditions. Don’t underestimate it.

Finish Line and Post-race

I picked off one last person just before the finish, and I got picked off by one last person just before the finish. I’m not sure if I just looked horrible, or if they’d been pulling a lot of people to the medical tent (maybe both?), but I was immediately asked if I was ok. Now I have an idea how boxers who’ve been knocked down 2 of the allotted 3 times in a round must feel. I’m just happy I didn’t get knocked down that third time, and I was glad to preserve my 5:57:04, getting a finisher’s medal and hat as a bonus.

Finisher Medal and Cap

Finisher Medal and Cap

I was greeted by my 4 biggest fans immediately.

Then I crawled to the nearest shade I could find and took my shoes off.  They were soaked for most of the run, and my feet took a pretty good beating.

 

After a couple of bottles of water, I’d recovered enough to walk the oldest young’un to a porta-potty and hold her a few inches off the seat so she could do her thing–everyone who does stuff like this needs to be reminded that it’s not really about them–then I crawled back to my cave. The family headed back to the resort to get out of the heat while I headed over to the Athlete’s Lounge to get refreshed. Now here’s my only real complaint…not a single cold-cold beer to be found! I think a fella ought to be treated to at least one cold-cold beer after something like that. I can handle a limited selection of food. In fact, that burger was mighty tasty and the soda (which I never drink) was amazing. But it left me thinking that a cold-cold beer could have been that much better.

I will go on record here saying that you get what you pay for with WTC events. It was the biggest, most organized, and smoothly operated triathlon I’ve ever done. Bonus points for pulling it off so successfully at a brand new venue. I was at the same race at Disney a couple of years ago as a spectator, and this venue was much more spectator friendly. The aid stations were very well stocked and staffed as well, and the volunteers were amazing. It was also great to see so many people out along the bike course to watch the race and cheer. That’s something you usually only see at bigger marathons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spectator on a rural bike route like that during a tri, so thanks to the good people of Polk County for coming out and making us feel so welcomed in the very first year at this location.

The Day After

We had an 11:00 am character breakfast reservation at Chef Mickey’s to celebrate someone’s successful potty training (not mine), and I was ready to tear into it. Pro tip: book character breakfasts as late as possible here and you won’t feel rushed to get out to make room for other people. You’ll also be so full that you won’t need to pay Mouse prices to eat again…it’s basically a huge lunch.

 

Transitioning to my best event

Transitioning to my best event…breakfast!

We saw the crowds at Magic Kingdom were going to be nasty, so we opted to go back to Hollywood Studios. It was already looking to be another brutally hot day, and there are lots of things to do in the shade and air conditioning there and at Epcot. We stayed until 8 pm, and this is the first time I’ve ever left a Disney park feeling better physically than I did when I arrived. I did just enough walking to loosen my legs up a little, and there was lots of sitting in the shade and relaxing–the “Honey I Shrunk The Kids Playground” rocks.

I had some time driving home to think about what I could have done better or differently, but most of it is simply training. Initially, I was a little bummed about my time, but not enough to beat myself up over it. I don’t think there’s a whole lot more I could have done on race day. I executed my plan, but the weather didn’t want to cooperate on the run. There’s nothing I could have done to control that other than get waaay faster on the bike. And there’s not much I could have done differently in training based on the program I was using. I was as prepared as I could have been given where I started from. I did all my long runs in the heat of the day, but it didn’t really get hot here until a couple of weeks ago. Again, I couldn’t change that.

And Beyond

Tuesday is P-90x stretching and 15 minutes or so treading water. Wednesday is an hour on the bike. I’ll swim Thursday, rest Friday, run semi-long this weekend, and plan on starting some CrossFit endurance stuff next week.

I’m thinking a June swim clinic could help change some things for me. I’m a reasonably efficient swimmer with a slow turnover, but I think I’ve gone about as far as I can with that and need to learn to turn over faster with efficiency. That will take coaching. My run isn’t where it has been before, which means it’s not where it can be. I’m thinking a fall marathon will help remedy that. I don’t ever want to go into a 70.3 (or longer) again without having done the full run distance within the last 6 months. It had been almost six years since I’d run 13.1 before this race, and that just didn’t have me where I needed to be physically or mentally.

More weight loss is definitely part of the plan as well. That glutinous breakfast was a last hurrah…at least for a little while.

Here are some race reports other people have posted. If you come across any other good ones, let me know in the comments and I’ll link to them!!!

Iron Bob’s Race Report

Phil Castello’s Race Report

KC’s Race Report

Silver Jade Deutch’s Race Report

JC’s Race Report

FST’s Race Report

Libby Bergman’s got a really good, honest race report with a happy ending.

Mauricio Sanchez says it’s the toughest race he’s ever done

Half Triing recommends it!

Beginner Triathlete Race Reports

It’s Better To Be Undertrained

I once heard from a wise runner that it’s better to go into a race 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained. If that’s true (and I live like it is), I’ll be hitting my October 3 race in the sweet spot. Moving has cut into my training opportunities for the last couple of weeks, and at this point I’m hoping I can just maintain what I had long enough to make it to the taper.

I’m even having to cut my taper down to two weeks for this race. I generally like to taper for 2-3 months. 🙂

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