Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: racing (Page 1 of 2)

Zwift Crit Race 3 – Bell Lap Cat C

If it ain’t one thing, it’s another. At least I didn’t crash this time. Actually, the issues with this race probably worked out in my favor. For some reason, my trainer was not being controlled by the terrain of the map. If you’ve ever ridden this course and had to deal with the rollers at the beginning of each lap, you’ll know why this worked in my favor. I was able to ride a pretty steady power profile for this race, but it would have been “cheating” a little if I’d been able to place highly.

I was able to ride the way I wanted for a big part of this race–didn’t even try to stay in the lead group. Unfortunately I got dropped by the group I was in at the beginning of the 6th lap. I noticed that the next group was 38 seconds behind me, and decided to ride hard enough for them to have to chase (and catch) me, but easy enough that I could recover some and do well at the end.

I think I was in 23rd place at the time I got dropped.

The plan worked out pretty well, but now I’m not sure it was the right plan. The other group caught me at the beginning of the 8th lap. I rode with them until the sprint finish. I ended up 24th (on the Zwift screen, not in Zwift Power), which means I basically only lost one spot.

I wonder now what would have happened if I’d ridden harder. Since I was able to hold them off for that long; would I have put them out of reach by riding harder? Would I have caught up with the next few people who got dropped from the group I’d been in previously? Hard to tell, but my average heart rate ended up being my all time high, which makes me think I was legitimately dropped and that I wouldn’t have been able to continue that effort level that whole time.

Then again, maybe I would’ve had 45-50 seconds less total time riding. As it is, I was about 10 seconds slower on this race than the other one I completed without crash. I think I rode better though–my splits were pretty even up until the time I got dropped.

Then again, not hard to ride even splits when you can’t feel the terrain. Meh.

2018 Excalibur 10 Mile Race Report

;TLDR Version

Ran much faster than I thought I would (1:20:05)

Ran almost as fast as I could have–made a couple of small mistakes that probably cost me some time.

Still love this race. Still love this course.

Still would rather have some socks or a credit (maybe $3/race) at Running Zone instead of a medal or crown.

Long Version

Preparation

The Villarreal sisters are good at signing up for this race, but I always have to run it. Ok, maybe not always, but every time I’ve run it has been as a fill-in for one of them. Only one sister left to register and then bail on this race. After that, I guess I’ll have to register. To be fair, Lili was medically ineligible this time around and knew that well in advance. The plan was to run with my best Frienemy, El Sueño, and we even trained together for our long runs going into this. Unfortunately, he had to be out of town for a family emergency and I was left to go it alone on race day.

No worries though. Vitamin A brings it for the Main Event!

Kinda.

I think it’s fair to say I trained ok for this race. Not trained optimally, because I’ve only been running once or twice a week–usually a long run of 6-8 miles and then a really slow three miler thrown in there somewhere. Still, we’ve been running at a sub 9:00 pace on our long days and are still able to carry on a conversation, and we’ve done them all on Mondays after my hardest jiu jitsu class of the week on Sundays.

So miles have been low, but I think the intensity I’ve been training with in BJJ (tough 4 minute intervals) combined with actually spending some time on my feet making a running motion had me reasonably trained. I did not want to make the mistake I made in November and come in without much training at all.

As a result, I think I could have run a lot faster and probably PR’d if I’d focused on running for the weeks leading into this race. But I still enjoy training BJJ more, and would have despised running the whole time if I’d been missing out on that.

The reality is that there isn’t enough time in the day for me to do all the training I want, but I’m so fortunate to get to train as much as I do, so no complaints.

I was expecting to push myself and run at an 8:12 pace to get a finishing time of 1:21:59. Realistic, and I could be pretty happy with that.

Pre-Race

If you’ve read any of my race reports you know that I don’t hold back my honesty about race organizers. And I’ve never had a bad word to say about the Running Zone’s ability to put on a race. These guys pull it off perfectly every time. Lots of communication and information leading up to their races, everything runs on time, parking and bag check are always easy to navigate, lots of pace groups, etc. Just top notch.

I arrived at Viera High School at around 6:40 and was able to park pretty close to the start line. It seemed like the rush started right after I got there. It was a little chilly, so I held off on checking my bag to maximize my time in warm clothes. I sat down next to the concession stand and just relaxed as people came pouring in.

I was the only person I saw sitting.

This is so weird to me. We’re about to go do something kind of hard that requires us to be on our feet, so I’m going to do everything I can to stay off my feet for as long as I can. But all around me are people milling about, bouncing up and down to stay warm, and even warming up. I mean, I did a short warm up before the race too, but not 45 minutes before the race. My warm up routine isn’t close to that long.

But to each his own–just an observation.

Game Time!

I was planning on doing something similar to what I did the last time I ran this race, which worked out really well. If I could average 8:15 – 8:20 miles for the first two miles I should have enough information to figure out the rest of the race. I was not looking at mile splits on my watch, just monitoring the overall pace. Looking back at the splits later, I did a decent job of running the first two miles according to the plan–8:36 and 8:09. Slower than I wanted on the first one, but no problem making it up on the second.

Making it all up on the second was probably a mistake.

I was feeling good though. I decided to gradually start speeding up and check in with myself at the 5 mile mark. I honestly don’t remember much about what was happening on the course at this point. In fact, I was driving past Space Coast Stadium the other day and realized that I didn’t remember this part of the race at all. I know it was cool out because I wasn’t over heating.

Miles 3-5 were 8:02, 8:02, 7:59. I like that.

Still feeling good, so speed up just a little and hold it for 3 miles, then turn on the juice for the last two.

7:50, 7:41, 7:51

Uh-oh. That 7th mile at 7:40 came back to bite me. I don’t remember exactly what happened there, but my best guess is that I’d been putting in some effort on the gravel road portion of the course, which was kind of loose, and when I got back to cement I kept the effort level the same instead of dialing it back and keeping the pace the same. I really would have liked to hold onto that ten seconds for later in the race.

I did my best to go harder in the last two miles (7:42, 7:36) but didn’t have much left to accelerate. I started with a plan to speed up with a mile left, but then bargained for the last half mile, then the last quarter. I think most of the time I saved in the last mile was in the last 200 yards. I wouldn’t call it a “sprint”, but it was all I had. I crossed the finish line, walked a couple of steps, and then had to run again to get to the end of the chute so I could throw up on the grass and not the track.

Official finishing time was 1:20:05, so I missed the 8:00 pace by 0.5 seconds per mile. Ugh.

I probably could have made up some time in the first mile as well. Or by taking a little shorter liquid walk break at mile 6.

But if you’d told me at 6:30 that morning while I was driving there my finish time would be 1:20:xx I’d have been really happy, so no complaints.

2017 Space Coast Half Marathon Race Review

TL;DR Version…

Years and years of training have paid off. I’m happy I still know how to run mentally, even when the physical part isn’t there.

My cardio is really good, but my legs weren’t too happy about being asked to go that far without much run-specific training.

Official time: 2:02:14

I probably won’t run this race again. And that makes me a little sad.

Long Version

Pre-race

As always, packet pickup at the Running Zone was a piece of cake. I stopped in the Monday before the race, showed my ID, and was out of there in just a couple of minutes. Race packet included a nice long-sleeved shirt and a Moon Pie. Again, I really wish we could opt for some socks instead of another shirt. And I’d DEFINITELY rather have a pair of socks instead of a medal.

More on medals later.

I had a difficult time sleeping the night before the race. I’m not used to having to deal with this. Usually, I’ve put in my time training and trust in it, so I sleep like a baby the night before a race. This time, the longest run I’d done in training was 8 miles (5 weeks ago), and I had not run more than 10 miles since March 2014 (3.5 years). In the month leading up to the race I logged 15 miles total, with only one run longer than 3.2 miles. I knew I could cover 13.1 and run the whole thing, but wouldn’t know what to expect for a race time until I was actually out there.

I figured anything under 2:10:00 would be a great day.

I didn’t have any trouble getting up at 4:15 and heading to my SIL’s house to get a ride to the race. Luckily we were being dropped off and didn’t have to deal with parking. On the way there I realized I’d forgotten to bring my watch. Ugh…didn’t want to carry my phone, but missing the splits sounded like a worse option (nerd). I decided I’d just carry my phone in my hand and record the race with the Strava app. Not optimal, but whatever. I didn’t have huge expectations anyway.

I also realized I hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast. Hooray for planning.

This was my first time running the half at this event, which starts 30 minutes before the full. In my two times running the full, I really appreciated the fact that the course wasn’t crowded at all.

Not so with the half. Or maybe it was my fault.

The Race

I jumped in right after the 10:00/mile pace. I was pretty sure I could do that for the whole race since it was pretty cool outside. I could definitely do 10:00 miles for 7 or 8 miles. Unfortunately, a bunch people who had zero intentions of running anything close to that pace jumped in at the same point. The first mile was a whole lot of running up on to people walking and not having any space to get around them safely because of the crowds. Lots of people running were going at 12:00 plus pace.

This isn’t safe. It’s like getting on the freeway and driving 35 mph.

I hope this doesn’t come off as too whiney. I think it’s awesome that people get up early and go cover this distance, no matter how fast they do it and no matter if they walk or run. And I’m not a snob about running either–I’m well aware that my best day ever running would be an embarrassingly slow day for a whole lot of people.

But please, people, go out with the group that’s running the pace you intend to run.

Corrals with qualifying times for entry would be nice for this race.

So the first mile was much slower than I’d intended. I wasn’t sure what pace it was because I’d decided not to look at pace/time on my phone at all. The biggest reason was that I wasn’t even sure I had enough battery left on my phone to capture the whole thing and turning on the screen would be a battery drain. LOL.

I was eventually able to get to a stable pace. I wasn’t sure exactly how fast I was going, but I was pretty sure I could carry it for 13.1 though (thanks Experience). I started coming up with an off-the-cuff plan. I figured I’d run this pace for the first 8, then increase it a little bit there if I still felt good. If I was still feeling good at 10 mile mark I’d run the last 5k as hard as I could.

First 8 splits:
10:27, 9:55, 9:45, 9:30, 9:33, 9:37, 9:20

Looking back, I’m extremely happy with those splits. I felt really good at the 6 mile mark and had to hold myself back a little bit. I took a very quick cup of water and a cup of Gatorade around mile 7ish and thought I’d be pretty good on liquid for the rest of the race. But it reminded me that I hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I decided I’d get a Gu and sip it for the rest of the race too. Even after speeding up a little for miles 9 and 10 (8:59, 8:42) I still was holding back a bit. I was passing a lot of people, and I knew I’d have a decent 5k left in me at the 10 mile mark.

Course note here: I passed a lot of people who were staying to the extreme right of the courses, even when it curved to the left. Run the apex of curves.

The last 5k felt like a regular ol’ 5 k (8:11, 8:07, 8:00). I didn’t have much in the legs, but mental energy can get you through a 5k. Again, I’m really glad I had some experience to fall back on. “Yeah, this sucks and your legs are going to hurt tomorrow, but you’ve felt this many times before, and it’s JUST 5k.”

Official Finish Time: 2:02:14

Like I said, I was passing a lot of people during those last 5 miles. Because I’m a nerd I was able to glean from the results that I passed 457 from the 10k point. No one passed me. So I was probably a little too conservative at the start, but that’s the side I’d prefer to err on.

Post Race

I’m very happy with this result considering how under-trained I was. I’m very disappointed with this result because I know I could have easily PR’d on this day if I’d trained.

Flat course and perfect conditions.

Finish line was awesome again this year–cold wet towels to help cool off, a beach towel with the race logo on it, a nice finisher’s medal, plenty of food and drink without long lines, and a relatively easy time getting to and from the finish line for spectators. Also, the finish line is where you pick up your bonus medal for doing 3 and/or 5 of the last 5 races.

And here’s where we get into the medal discussion/controversy/complaining…whatever you want to call it.

The Running Zone made a very smart marketing move a few years ago when they came up with the idea of giving “super-special” medals for completing the next 5 (or 3 of the 5) races. There’s a segment of people out there who love medals, and the Space Coast Marathon medals are really nice if that’s what you’re into. The result at the end of the five years is that it’s tough to get into the 13.1 distance for this race. I’m not sure if the full sold out.

So now they’ve decided to do ANOTHER special medal program over the next four years with even BIGGER and fancier medals, and they’ll be adding a SECOND half marathon course that is run over the first half of the full marathon course. So now there will be TWO different half marathons and they can take twice as many runners.

If you are into medals, get in on this. They had the new ones on display at the finish area, and the things are HUGE.

The downside for me is that there will be close to twice as many people running.

I get it. This makes economic sense. It’s twice as many people paying entry fees.

But for me, the product they are now selling and the product I want to buy are two different things.

They are selling big fancy medals for completing the distance. What I’ve always been buying is an incredible race experience on a fast course with smaller crowds and manageable race day logistics. I’d pay a higher entry fee to continue enjoying this race that way.

Honestly, I think the fee has always been an incredible bargain.

I’m not really sure what that finishing area is going to look like next year with 3,000 more runners and their families.

I think my best option is to just come out the day before the race and run the course by myself. Or the week before.

Or whenever I want. I’m old enough an ornery enough now that I figure I don’t need someone else to validate for me that the “race” counts.

I’ve already heard people saying, “I don’t want to run the North section of the course.” So I’m sure a bunch of folks will just try run the South course even though they are North registrants, making it more crowded. And adding people to the North section alone means people running the full marathon may have to navigate around these crowds–the South section has usually thinned out by the time the full participants get there.

In short, what I always enjoyed as a small local race is starting to morph into a big race. Nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want to be, just not what I’m looking for.

I think this may be a microcosm where running is headed in general. I think it’s a little bit of a shame when I perceive people running for medals. Let’s face it–these are adult participation trophies for all but a few people [Spoiler–I’m never going to win this or any other race]. And it seems like more and more people are out there with nice gear that lets you know they are “running for wine” or “running for beer” or whatever.

I’d like to see more people out there after suffering through months of training and going out on race day trying to get PRs or complete the distance for the first time. Again, I’m not being a running snob or anything here. It’s not about how fast someone can run, it’s about going through the process and suffering to find out how fast YOU can run.

I know first-hand that really dedicating yourself to running and a difficult training program can have a tremendously positive impact on peoples’ lives.

If you cross the finish line and feel like the only thing you got from the process was a piece of mass-produced metal, you’re missing out on the best of what running has to offer you. That’s my opinion anyway.

Maybe it seems ironic that I’m writing this after running a race without training and missing a golden opportunity to PR.

I get that too.

Daily Reading List — December 18th

The 16 Best Books Read by the AoM Team in 2014 – Need to get my nose back into some books as well now that things have settled down with the move a little.

Why a Hyped New Lottery Game Went Bust in a Hurry – If only they'd rented a hot air balloon…

App Calculates Where You Need To Go And Sends You A Bike Or A Tesla In Five Minutes – I got to go by and see Shift's place a couple of weeks ago, and they have a really cool model. One of the most innovative ideas they have is to include Shift memberships as part of ownership in high-rise condos–saving the builders a big chunk on dedicated parking spaces for each tenant, and eliminating the need of car ownership for residents. There would always be an appropriate vehicle available for use in your building's garage if you had to drive.

Finding the Right Metaphor – This one resonated with me like an episode of Grizzly Adams!

Can IBM’s Mountain Of Data Fix Your Email Nightmare? – "Everyone is doing something about solving email nightmares. Except the people who are responsible for causing email nightmares." Mark Twain (paraphrased)

An Exercise to Become a More Powerful Listener – Wait…what'd you say?

5 Sun Belt Getaways for Trail Runners – Coming to an out of shape jabroni like me this weekend!

F1 Race in Las Vegas? – I'm not big on auto racing at all. But..

This. Would. Be. Awsum.

Daily Reading List — March 30th

How much pee in a pool would kill you? – Still, going to keep the chlorine numbers lower this year to be safe. #dontstoppeeing

Pets Vs. Cattle: The Rising Value of Cloud Computing Skills – Digits – WSJ – “'Now you shoot servers in the head and leave them in the field,'” said Joshua McKenty, a former technical architect of NASA who co-founded a cloud software company based on his work there called Piston Cloud Computing. 'Eventually enough die and then you swap out the whole rack.'"

Wait…is he talking about servers, or sysadmins?

The Hardest Problem In Baseball – I thought this was going to be about pajama pants being allowed as part of the uniform, or players not wearing stirrups.

Still cool though.

Google And Apple—Take My Fitness Data, Please! – The first one to solve the problem of fragmented fitness data is a huge winner.

"The smartest move for Apple and Google would be to avoid creating their own fitness apps, aside from very simple data-display tools. Instead, they should use their clout with developers—the stick of app-store approval and the carrot of promotion in those stores—to encourage app makers to strive for compatibility with one another."

The Logic of Long Distance: The Running Bum as Sad and Admirable – "The running bum intuits what the rest of us also know: life is short and it will fade for us all. In the end all instrumentalities of life, all the best-made plans, lead us all into the ground. His choice is noble, as it honors the present. He throws himself deeply into it without regard for futures beyond his experience."

Why the Wallabies struggle with the ‘choke tackle’ – Step 1: Change the law to award scrum to defensive side in failed mauls to discourage offenses from mauling and speed up the game.

Step 2: Change the law to give a defender on his feet less right to the ball in the tackle in order to give advantage to the attacking side and speed up the game

Result: Defenses now have TWO incentives to force maul situations, where they now have more rights to the ball than in the tackle, and a better chance at changing possession by forcing a scrum, thus slowing down the game.

Nice move IRB.

Lance Armstrong’s Fuel Guru Reboots. His Quest? Kill Gatorade – For those who want to go faster AND care about their health.

Disney bets big on visitor-tracking technology – The technology is cool, but the scheduling of Fast Passes isn't as nice as it sounds, and may cost them some revenue. For example, it's already less likely that we will wake up and decide to head to a park after lunch on the same day because we know we don't have much of a chance of getting Fast Passes for our favorite rides. As a result, guess where we DON'T end up having dinner and ice cream treats.

2014 Excalibur 10 Miler Race Report

As always, another tremendous event put on by The Running Zone. A really nice course, great volunteer support, and incredible food and atmosphere after the event. RZ has set the bar pretty high over and over…I wouldn’t expect any less.


This was the inaugural running of this event, and I’ll go ahead and make the prediction that it will blow up next year (get in early). It’s a medieval themed race, complete with a sword fight at the start line and crowns instead of medals for all finishers. They did a great job of keeping the race in character from start to finish.

But enough about the race…let’s talk about the race.

The Missus was registered to run this event with her sister–her first race past 5k, but she suffered a calf heart attack (ouch) a couple of weeks ago and had to make a tough game-time decision on whether or not to race. It came down to walk/jog and risk more injury, walk and (hopefully) not get injured, or donate her bib to someone (me) who had a long run scheduled for that day anyway.

Needless to say, nobody wants to walk 10 miles, and the injury risk for someone who runs to augment other fitness wasn’t worth it. So I lucked out!

This course rocks, rocks, rocks. It’s crazy fast, has a nice long section on a private road, water stops every two miles, but not much shade. Heat became a factor.

ExcaliburCourseMap_110813

My planned long run would have been at about 10 minute pace, 8 miles or so, and I hadn’t planned on racing this distance, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself. I was going in with a 10 mile PR of 1:18:32 from 10 years ago on a much tougher course. But I’ve been running intervals and tempos at a decent clip lately, so I was going to go for it and see what happened.

Realistic goals were 1:21:xx, but I thought I could crack 1:20:00 if I played it right. I’ve been doing a really good job of race management lately, and I knew the recent speed work would help me feel out my pace.

I guessed if I started somewhere between 8:05 and 8:15 pace I’d have plenty of information after 2 miles to figure out the rest of the race.

I’m very happy with the way I split this race!

8:09, 8:02, 7:56, 7:58, 7:53, 7:50, :7:47, 7:54, 7:42, 7:30

I started right around the 9:00 pace group, thinking that would give me a chance to get some momentum by passing people early, but not too quickly. After the first two miles, I was pretty sure I’d be able to sneak in under 8:00 pace. I was feeling really good, and I’d positioned myself between the 8:30 and 8:00 groups, so there was lots of space.

Running tempo runs in the heat of the day in training paid off big. I was in a pace I knew I could hold for several miles with temperatures in the high 70s, and it was cooler than that. I knew it was going to get hotter, but once I could smell the finish line I thought I’d be able to hang on. My plan was to run two mile segments and bump the pace up a little for each one.

I took a splash of Gatorade at mile 4 and committed to hanging without any more liquid to squeeze time.

I started sipping a Gu at mile 5. Between that and the Gatorade, I was amped. Training without sugar really pays off when you get into a race and allow yourself to have it. It’s like rocket fuel…borderline PED.

Around mile 6 it started to heat up and I noticed a lot of people around me fading a little. I was passing more people, and I wasn’t getting passed by anyone. That’s good on one hand, but also a little scary…did they know something I didn’t? I was doubting my plan just a little.

That accounts for the little pullback for the 8th mile. Just after the 7 mile mark I caught the 8:00 pacer, and he was all alone. I asked if I could hang with him until the 8 mile mark. I wanted to settle down by a few seconds pace and make sure I was going to able to go at it for the last two.

I pretty well emptied the tank on the last two, trying to accelerate the whole way–finished with a 1:19:02, 30 seconds off the PR. Forgot to stop my watch at the finish line, which accounts for the difference in times. A good thing–that means I was so spent I wasn’t thinking clearly. Woohoo!


I was extremely happy with that result. I won’t lie, for a flash I thought, “Ugh….just 31 seconds faster for a PR?!?!” but I quickly realized that would have meant every one of those splits would have been 3 seconds faster, or I would have had to come up with an extra 30 seconds on the last mile. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have done either of those.

Besides, my goal for the year is to get faster. And if this is my starting point, things are looking good!

Daily Reading List — January 17th

NCAA Welcomes Women’s Triathlon – A little bit of a different view here from me, but I can't imagine why you'd want the NCAA involved in your favorite sport. Stay away from my beer pong.

Steven Lord Blog: The Rhythm Of Life (and drafting) – I see people drafting in races all the time. And I really don't give a ladybug if they do it. Eventually, this is going to result in a really big pileup in a really big race. Besides, virtue is its own reward.

From Victim to Villain in a flash – As they are fond of hollering in East Tennessee — "Git off the rowed!"

I <3 Trainerroad.

6 Simple Habits To Keep You Consistently Happy Every Day – All very easy to do. I'd add another–Just.Slow.Down. That probably falls under disengagement.

Narcissists tweet more often and crave followers on Twitter – So younger narcissists are more likely to post to twitter, and middle aged narcissists are more likely to update Facebook.

Unanswered questions here: what about middle aged people who update twitter a lot? Was Instagram even considered in the narcissism scale, out did they run out of space to measure it there?

10 Tips for Dating a Single Mom – Hilarious. Read the comments first, then go back and read the article. The comments are pure gold. Gold Jerry!

Van Halen’s 1984 Turns 30 Today — How Does It Hold Up? – Best quote from this whole (incredibly good) post:

"Does it ['Panama'] hold up? Embarrassing question. Yes, it holds up. It might be holding this entire goddamned country up."

Happy People Count Their Current and Future Blessings – "View living a spartan lifestyle as temporary, merely a prerequisite to joining the ranks of the socioeconomic achievers in America."

This is Sparta!

2013 Battle Of The Bridges Race Report

I did this race back in 2010 when it was called the Health First Triathlon. It’s one of my favorite race courses. Check that…I think this may be my favorite race course. The race has improved since 2010, when then run was definitely short, and the swim course more confusing.

The re-branding as Battle Of The Bridges sounds more cool as well. I like.

Packet Pickup

As always, when you have packet pickup at Running Zone, you know it’s going to go super smooth. They have an area of the store dedicated to packet pickup. It doesn’t hurt that it’s so close to the house. I also appreciate the fact that you are able to pick up your packet beginning on Wednesday, so you aren’t wading through a crowd of people the day before the race when you should be resting. This year’s bag included another nice t-shirt and a really nice hat with a little extra sweat band inside–very important feature to me.

Race Strategery

Pacing: I was planning on using Neighbor Ben as something of a pacer for this race. I didn’t tell him about this, but I’m sure he was plotting my demise for weeks too. 🙂 We’re really close in everything–pretty much dead even on the swim. I think he’s a faster runner than me, and I’d guess I’m faster on the bike if we were time trialing for 40k.

That’s in stand-alone races…but tris are a different animal, and he and I approach them a little differently. I think I’m much more conservative on the bike to try to get my optimal run. I subscribe to the idea that it’s impossible to have a “great bike and a horrible run”. “Bad run” indicates over doing it on the bike, at least for me. My expectation was to finish pretty close to him on the swim, that he’d give a little more than me on the bike, and that I’d hopefully be able to close down the gap again on the run.

The best thing about Ben is that he’s a competitor. I think I’ve been missing out on pissing contests for quite a while, and I’m really happy the guy who got my attention by easily taking the ball away from me at rugby practice when I first moved here now lives right down the street. I already knew from doing some training with him that there would be no quarter given and no mercy on race day.

Oh…and he also likes old school rasslin’.

Anyway, I’ve been doing plenty of intervals on the bike, so I decided it fit nicely to attack the hills and the sections of the course with headwinds to get my intervals in for the race, relaxing a little on the flat sections and a lot on the tailwind sections. Physics says this is the correct way to ride for optimal speed if you’re interested in reading about it.

TIP: Physics is the most reliable thing in any race.

Fuel: This has been my biggest change recently. I’ve cut waaaaaaay back on sugars and grains in my diet. It got me over a hump to knock off another 5 pounds–mostly visceral fat I think. I’ve been running and riding on zero fuel to try and switch over to using fat for fuel (I have plenty) instead of sugar. I went with a banana and a Laura Bar pre-race and planned on another Laura Bar at the beginning of the bike. I had a couple of packs of Gu in my shorts, just in case, but I wasn’t planning on eating them.

Diesel racing. No bonking.

Race organization and start

Ben picked me up at 5:45 to make the haul down to Eau Gallie. We talked about 80s hair metal and our favorite Rock and Roll Pump Ups the whole way. He understands the power that is Motorhead.

Parking was simple and ample, plenty of body markers at transition, plenty of space for everyone to get set up, and no lines for chip pickup. Even the port-a-potty lines were reasonable.

I was expecting the turnout to be a little bigger. There were only 3 waves for the Olympic distance race, and my wave was 2nd to go off with 15 people in my age group (40-45), and 103 participants overall. I like being in later waves because it gives you more people to chase on the bike. Not that I’m ever in the top swim pack in my wave, but the more people you can hunt on the course, the better.

The sprint had a larger field with 204 athletes.

Swim (1500+)

00:34:27 (5th in AG, 26th overall)

Ben and I swim this spot every Wednesday, and the buoys have been out for a couple weeks–no surprises showing up race morning and wondering if the course was laid out long. It was. No looking down at my watch at the finish and wondering why it took so long–I already knew it was long based on my training swims. I usually do 1500 in 28:00 +/- 30 seconds, but I knew this was going to be somewhere around 34:00. It actually felt shorter, especially on the leg going north. I thought it was maybe sub-30:00, but it didn’t worry me at all to look down and see that big number on my watch at the finish.

I think this was important because I didn’t feel any need to try and make up time on the bike. If I’d expected 28:00, it could have changed the complexion of the race. I was hoping for some rougher water because I’ve been out there training in the evenings when the water is typically much choppier and the current stronger. Anything that would give me an edge, you know?

Turns out, I did get a little bit of an edge on the swim–the edge of a rock. I cut my big toe on my right foot open when I took a dolphin dive at the very start of the swim. It played a little bit of a factor in the rest of the race, but I’m very happy with how I handled it. It was stinging for the whole swim, so I knew it was a cut, I just didn’t know how bad it was. But it had zero impact on my swim, so I decided to deal with it if and when it became an issue.

T1

00:1:17

This was the best transition I’ve ever had. I went really minimal for this race. T1 consisted of of putting on a helmet and going! Shoes in the pedals already, no HR strap, etc.

I also committed to sprinting T1 and knew to (TIP) stay to the right coming off the pier to take advantage of the shower. I ran by a lot of people in T1 with the plan of jacking my HR up as high as I could. The thinking being that cranking it up would work to my advantage since I was going to put on my shoes and grab a bite to eat early in the bike. A higher HR would get the blood pumping into my legs, and I could let it recover while I was dealing with food and shoes.

Ben was turning into his bike rack about 4 steps ahead of me, so I knew I was right on track. I got to see some of my cheering section coming out of T1. It’s been reported that I wasn’t my usual smiling, cheery self. Part of that was that this was a shorter race, which made it a much more intense effort. Also, I was now thinking about dealing with the toe.

Bike (27 miles)

1:17:36 (9th in AG, 39th overall)

I love, love, love this bike course. It’s fast, with only three 90 degree turns. Not much more than feathering the breaks until the dismount is required. It’s not hilly, but the four small causeway sections keep the low-country people honest. I relish those “climbs”.

Tip: I like to eat solid food at the beginning of the bike. I wasn’t using a bento box for this race and didn’t have any electrical tape, so I just crammed a Laura Bar into my helmet. This worked great! Once I was going on the bike I just reached up and grabbed the bar and started munching. Adding this to the back of tricks!

My heart was racing pretty hard when I mounted and started north on Pineapple. I revved up to about 18 mph and put a shoe on, revved up to 18 again and put the other shoe on, grabbed the bar out of my helmet and started a high cadence pedal staying over 18 while I ate and took in some liquid. I started putting some pressure on the toe to see if I could get some new information. It felt like there was a big knot/blister on the bottom, but I couldn’t tell if it was still bleeding or what was going on. I decided I’d check it at T2 and figure out what to do about it then.

Ben passed me about a mile and a half in, and I was all the way to US1 before I could feel the HR start to come down. I knew he’d be going at it pretty hard, so I thought I was in good shape as long as he was in site. By the time we reached Pineda Causeway (6m) I was riding easy and ready to attack the climb. I took it at over 19 mph, but made sure I was riding high cadence and not mashing big gears (thanks Trainerroad!!!!). I passed a bunch of people, including Ben, on those first two bridge bumps and soaked in the recovery on the downhills.

I was going at a nice clip headed south on 513 but not pressing the HR. I estimated the wind was at our backs and that I’d need the juice when we headed north on Tropical Trail. I knew I was in a good spot when Ben passed me back about 3 miles into that stretch and I was going 23 mph.

Sure enough–headwinds as soon as we started up Tropical Trail. I focused on ignoring the numbers on my bike computer and concentrating on my effort level instead. This was going to be a 5 mile stretch of effort, and I approached it as a 15 minute Trainerroad sweet spot interval. I can’t adequately express how much Trainerroad has benefited me on the bike. I’d really like to ride this course as a straight up time trial to see how fast I could do it. I’ve done this course faster in a tri, but never as efficiently and never with so much left over for the run.

The second trip down 513 was more of the same–relatively high speed with lower effort. Ben pulled out of site, but I didn’t chase. I knew I had a little bit of work left to do on Eau Gallie causeway. It’s a little steeper and longer than Pineda, but I kept it at a high cadence and went up pretty quickly. As I crested the top I pulled my feet out of my shoes and tried to see if I could learn more about the toe. Speed picked up pretty quickly, so I wasn’t really comfortable trying to get a good look at it. Instead, I decided to spin the legs out and wait to see how my  towel looked in T2 after I wiped my feet. I also realized at this point that more information wasn’t going to change anything unless I was absolutely gushing blood.

T2

00:02:00

A little slower than I’d have liked, but there were extenuating circumstances. I cleaned my feet off like I normally do and saw I was definitely leaving some blood on the towel. Nothing too bad, but I made absolutely sure my socks were going to protect me as best they could. The best thing about this race was leaving T2 and seeing the oldest offspring smiling and screaming for me at the timing mat. I heard her for a looooong way down the road!

Run (10k)-High Drama

00:51:50 (4th in AG, 30th overall)

If you’ve read this far, you won’t mind how long this section is. With every triathlon I do, I become more and more convinced that it’s just a running race. This is where all the action happens.

My favorite thing about this run course is that the last three miles feature two hills. Well, they aren’t really hills, just a big bridge. They aren’t huge or anything, but that’s all up to perception, and I don’t perceive those to be insanely big hills. “You can take the boy out of Tennessee…” and all that.  Again, a slight advantage for me against the lowlanders. I actually enjoy running on hills, and it just so happens that we run intervals on this bridge every Wednesday right after we swim.

As soon as I left T2 and headed up Pineapple, I could see Ben a pretty good ways up ahead. I was hoping to be a little closer at this point in the race, but the only thing I could do about it was to run. I focused on two things–high cadence and toe evaluation.

I’m not going to lie. It hurt, and the first thought I had was that I shouldn’t run and end up injured with a marathon looming in the future. I decided to keep running for a while and have a discussion with myself to help me decide what to do. Here’s that whole conversation broken down into bullet points:

  • What hurts worse..the toe or the rest of your body because you just got off the bike? Rest of body.
  • DNF is off the table, so what are you going to do…stay out here and walk a 10k? Uh…that sounds horrible. No.
  • You’re almost a mile in now. Look down…is your shoe bloody yet? No.
  • Ok, now you are a mile in. The rest of you body feels better now…is the toe pain enough to make you stop? HELL NO!

Decision made.

I was expecting/planning to run the first mile in 8:30 +/-10 seconds. The plan was to spend the second mile doing some math to figure out what kind of splits it would take from that point to go sub-50:00. My first mile split was 8:04. Oops.

I tried to let off the gas a little, but I think I got a little psyched out by the fact that I didn’t seem to be closing in on Ben. He’s a faster runner than me, but I thought I would have a shot at catching him if he’d overspent on the bike and I hadn’t. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any information about the gap between us at that point. There’s a turnaround in the 2nd mile and I noted where he passed by me on his way back and took a split to see how long it would take me to get there. I was just less than a minute behind him, but it didn’t seem like that was going to close anytime soon. Mile 2 split was 8:07.

But all of a sudden, he seemed closer. I watched him cross into the shade of a tree and took another split to see how long it took me to get to that point. Surprisingly, I was only down 35 seconds! I realized I was probably going to catch him pretty quickly at this pace, so I decided to slow down just a tad. I was 99% sure I had gone out too fast at this point and was not going to make it under 50:00–not with those hills coming up. The best thing I could do was try to regroup and get ready for the hard part. The hills were going to be my best chance to pass other people in my age group.

Mile 3 split was 8:13, and I passed by Ben just as we went up the little hill at Creel Street. As we turned onto Highland, I spotted another guy in my age group who had BLOWN by me on the bike. His head was bobbing a little, and it seemed like that small bump in the road had taken a lot out of him. I regrouped a little and passed by him, trying my best to appear fresh.

After that, I felt like I was running on my own for the most part. It’s a little scary not knowing what’s going on behind you, and there’s no way to see the gaps between athletes again on this course until somewhere around the 5 mile mark. I let the unknown of what may be happening behind me drive me forward. Whatever was going on back there, I wanted to be as far away from it as possible. Also, I knew that there were plenty of people in my age group in front of me, and I wanted to apply as much pressure on them as I could. I’m making a huge assumption here that I even entered someone else’s mind. I’m sure I didn’t, but it was helping at the time.

Mile 4 finishes near the top of the causeway, and I got there in 8:32. I was pretty happy with that split considering the hill involved, and I estimated that most of my competition couldn’t take that hill at the same pace I had. It was nice knowing that I’ve run that thing a bunch of times and have never quit on it, even when doing intervals. Race day is not the day to set a precedent like that.

The pain of a 10k was starting to build up, but I realized I’d completely forgotten about the toe!

Mile 5 is all downhill and flat, but I only ran an 8:37.  I think I lost focus a little on that mile, thinking it was a gimme. Disappointing, and something I need to make sure I don’t do again, but I knew I had one more hard effort to go, and I’d soon be happy I’d given myself some breathing room.

Mile 6 up and down the causeway was an 8:32.  On the climb I saw another guy in my age group (who’d also smoked me on the bike) walking. I set my sites on him and gauged that I could catch him before the top. If I did, he’d have a hard time catching me back on the downhill, leaving me about a quarter mile to hold him off. I could not believe it when he started running about 2/3 of the way up the hill. I took another shot at him, but realized he’d gotten a rest during his walk, and now the tables were turned–it was going to be tough for me to catch him on the downhill and last quarter mile.

When he glanced over his shoulder and saw me, I knew the jig was up! He ended up beating me by 17 seconds. I talked to him afterwards and we agreed that both of us had dug just a little deeper from that point. He was visiting from south Georgia and said, “man…those causeways humbled me.”

Finish Line and Post-Race Analysis

2:47:09 (6th in AG, 30th Overall)

I was spent at the finish…veins pumping battery acid just like they are supposed to be. They had nice cold towels and water for us and, as is the case for just about every race these days, nice medals. Honestly, I’m not sure a race of this distance warrants a medal, but the kids get excited about it.  I’ve decided they should only give medals for races that make me consider quitting several times during the event and to swear them off forever. Or if it’s something I haven’t done yet because I don’t feel ready. So basically marathons and ultras for running, and 70.3 and up for triathlon.

Kidding, but not really. I wouldn’t mind if they gave you the option to pay a lower entry fee and opt out of the medal. I’d do that for just about every race. I’d have immediately traded my medal for an extra cold towel and a cold cold beer. Personal preference–finisher medals just don’t matter that much to me. The Missus says it’s important for the kids to see them as a physical reminder of the effort that went into getting them. I get that part of it, so let the medal awards continue!

There was plenty of fruit, water, and baked goods at the finish line. Additionally, they had beer and wings at Squid Lips after the race was officially over. We didn’t stick around for that though–opting for better quality beer by the pool at the house instead with a soundtrack featuring more Motorhead and rasslin’ conversation. I was honored to be crowned the Davidia Dr. World’s Heavyweight Champion of Endurance Sport.

I have no illusions about my ability in the short term to win my age group (2:30:00 won it). My strategy is long-term. I plan to simply out-live everyone in my age group. See you punks in a few decades.

But I’m seriously motivated by the fact that the difference between 3rd and 6th (me) was only 3 minutes. It lights a fire under my booty–I think I can find 3:00 minutes somewhere in a 2:45:00 race. I felt like we were really fighting it out the whole way (at least I was) and I’m planning to come back to this race next year faster, and maybe with a (more) decent bike.

I think I lost a little time on the run because I failed to manage my pace correctly at the start, and I also gave up a little on that 5th mile. There’s a chance I went a tad too hard on the bike and took a little off my run, but there’s just as good of a chance that I didn’t go quite as hard as I should have and left some time on the bike course. That’s really hard to tell without a power tap.

The People Who Made It Happen

As always, I want to thank my family for coming out and supporting me on race day and working their schedules around my training when necessary. I try to minimize that, but sometimes it affects them. Also, thanks to all the volunteers and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department for keeping us safe on the swim and in the intersections and manning the aid stations.

I am especially appreciative of the folks manning the medical tent who tended to my foot after the race. My toe box and sock were bloody, but luckily no stitches required. If you want to get a look at how nasty the situation was, click here. When I say “nasty” I’m mostly referring to the foot itself–not necessarily the cut. They cleaned it up (the cut, not the foot) and wrapped it for me. As I told the medic, I wanted to squeeze in as much quality medical care as possible before October 1.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Coach Brett Blankner at Zentriathlon.com. His podcasts have made a huge impact on my training, nutrition, and race management over the last two years. A little secret:  most of what he talks about applies to life in general, not just triathlon. Especially helpful for this race was an episode from a few weeks ago in which he discussed Zen racing and your ability to deal with the unexpected. What if the swim gets cancelled? What if your goggles leak? What if you accidentally drop a water bottle? What if you cut your foot open as the horn is blowing at the start? This episode was the first thing that crossed my mind when I felt the sting, and I was able to remember what I’d learned from it and remain calm.

Thanks a ton Brett! You are doing a good thing and making a difference for people!

Daily Reading List — August 29th

It Will Now Be Illegal To Toss A Cigarette Butt In Chicago – If you’re willing to litter your own body like this, of course you don’t mind littering anywhere else.

Be More Yogic – Inspiring Yoga Videos | Practice Whenever, Wherever – I know what someone is getting as a surprise. If she read my blog/Twitter, it wouldn’t be a surprise.

Mantra Power – Who here has a racing mantra? I have a few–very personal things I keep to myself, but they work.

Kids, go to college or you’ll die alone in misery – College isn’t for everyone. Skipping college isn’t for everyone either. Dropping out of HS isn’t for everyone either.

Pancakes, however, are for everyone. As long as there is a gluten free option.

Racing Is Just Like Getting Drunk

I was talking to Neighbor Ben last night about racing. And racing. And racing. He’d just finished a run, and I’d just finished a bike ride, and there was only one beer each involved in this conversation. One of the themes that kept rising to the surface is that some people like to train more than they like to race, and other people like to race more than they like to train.

Neighbor Ben likes to race.

I know this because he said, “I like to race.”

I like to train.

I know this because I train a lot, and I hardly ever race.

I know there are lots of factors involved, even if I can’t exactly put my finger on all of them. I won’t lie–one big factor is that racing, especially triathlon racing,  is expensive. A local race we were talking about doing last night is $100. This is for a no-frills Olympic distance race. Hard to justify that when a new low-end pair of bike shoes cost the same amount, but I still haven’t forked over money for them, even though I probably should have done that a couple of years ago.

Racing is also more time consuming. As soon as your training day becomes a race day you are committed to showing up early to set up your transition area and sticking around for results. That means either dragging the family along or spending time away from them. And that’s just if you’re racing locally. Racing can also involve travel.

Yet another reason I try to avoid racing for the most part is a character flaw I have. I seem to always find a way to rationalize taking way too much time off after a race. That’s not good.

But mostly, I just enjoy the training more in general. Maybe it’s just my personality makeup. I’ve always liked practice. I was the same way with rugby. I don’t think I’d go so far as to say I liked practice more than games there, but I really did enjoy going to practice. With triathlon, I think I’m in it for the training and lifestyle more than the racing.

For me, racing is like getting drunk. It’s fun and all, but not something I want to do more than a few times a year (if that).

So in the case of our proposed Olympic distance race. It’s tempting, mostly because of the peer pressure being exerted by I-Love-To-Race-Neighbor-Ben, but it doesn’t sound nearly as interesting to me as swimming across the Indian River just for fun.

I know some people line things up as “A” races, “B” races, “C” races…whatever. That’s great if it works for them, but I don’t think it works for me. I may not enjoy racing as much as I enjoy training, but when I am racing, I’m racing. I can’t imagine a situation where I slap down money to enter a race and then “just train through it.”

Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks I guess. But it’s good for me to think long and hard about who I am before throwing down entry fees in $100 increments.

[image credit]

Daily Reading List — August 15th

Should Non-Celiac Endurance Athletes Go Gluten-Free? – I'm realizing that diet is the hardest piece of the endurance puzzle to figure out. Race-time nutrition isn't the concern for me as much as every day living.

Solved? Not Exactly. – "Welcome to the next level. Now run like Hell."

Macca’s Musings: The Soul Of Triathlon – A great read. How cool would it be to look up and see Macca racking his bike next to yours? I wonder if he made the podium. 🙂

The 25-Hour Work Week, And Other Radical Ideas For Better Employee Productivity | Fast Company | Business + Innovation – Not saying this would work for everyone, but it works for me. Start with two assumptions: 1) I'm a responsible adult who can effectively manage my time to get the work done 2) I take pride in my work and actually want to do a good job. The result is someone who feels valued and that they can make a difference where they are. People like that don't go looking for some other place to be.

Daily Reading List — June 17th

Top 5 Triathlon Swimming Problems And What You Can Do About It – Haven't been nervous in any water for a long time, but these are good things to review and always have in the back of your mind.

Winning Manhattan Race Report – Was feeling really good about my 3.5 mile swim coming up. Of course, this put me right back into my place.

Google Hangouts upgrade removes ability to host Google Voice calls on your computer | The Verge – Hard to complain about a free service that's so useful. So I won't.

It's just that, well…

New Study Finds It Is Impossible To Lose Weight – I think I know the guy in the before/after photos.

2013 Rocketman 70.3 Race Review

DSC_0144

Unforced smile. This wasn’t just for the photos.

70.3, Half-iron, whatever…not sure what to call it.

This was the most fun I’ve ever had doing a race. Some of my best friends came into town to do the race and stay for the weekend, and a great time was had by all. There were some spots here and there where some of the guys didn’t feel very good, during the race and after, but it was a great experience.

DSC_0239

If you’d told me 12 months ago that I’d spend the next year preparing to do a 70.3 and come in over 6 hours, I’d have been pretty bummed about that. But in the last 12 months I’ve come to realize that every course and every day is different. Even the same course can be drastically different on different days. You just have to deal with what you have on that day. It’s all about race management. Setting time goals doesn’t make much sense considering all the variables.

And this is the first time I’ve felt good about my race management at this distance. Put it this way…

I did the run under 2 hours, and my last 3 miles were at 8:20 and lower. Instead of slugging out a long walkish-jog while beating myself up over the horrible run split I was going to have, I spent the entire bike and the majority of the run holding back so I could empty the tank in the last 5k of the race.

That strategy paid off for me, and I’m sold on it.

Swim (47:11)

Swim is the warmup, and you take what you get.

Swim is the warmup, and you take what you get.

Swim is the warmup, and you take what you get.

I felt great during the swim. There was some chop out at the furthest points from land, but I’ve been practicing open water and was fine with it. I thought I put in a solid effort, somewhere between holding back and going hard. Actually,  I think I put in a 36:00 effort. I was surprised to get out of the water and see it was 47:00. Looking at the results, I only saw a few people in the 30s. Looking at their bike and run splits, the guys who made the low 30s on this course should be swimming in the 26:00 realm with no problem.

I guess what I’m saying is that swim must have been pretty long or there was some crazy current. My sources who wore Garmins during the race are reporting 1.4 miles. Honestly, the chop made it kind of fun and challenging. Everyone always talks about the challenges of run and bike courses. The swim could have been as smooth as glass, and we could have gone faster in it, but the little wrinkles made it interesting.

Whatever–everyone does the same course, and in the end I’m not racing other people. The swim won’t ever make or break my day unless they have to pull me out.

Transitions

Both T1 and T2 weren’t horrible for me, but they could have been a little better. I think part of that is a result of having to bike check the night before. I much prefer a day-of bike check in so that I can pump up my tires and get the bike inspected and ready at the car with plenty of space and tools. Again, everyone had to do it, so it doesn’t really factor in if you’re competitive. It just isn’t fun dealing with that stuff in cramped quarters.

The funniest thing happened in T2 when I picked up my right shoe and noticed that it was tied. I KNOW I left my shoes untied. I looked at the shoe and realized that I’d accidentally left a junk running shoe from last year at my transition and put my good shoe in my bag. So I had to dig through my bag over by the rail and find the right one. Oh well.

Bike (3:14:22)

Man. Maybe the toughest bike ride I’ve done. Granted, I’m not really much of a cyclist. But that wind was relentless and brutal, even for people who live in these parts and spend time in the wind. It was great to get a chance to ride around the launch pads and around KSC, but when the wind is beating on you for miles and everything looks the same, it can take a mental toll.

Just looking at my time, this effort seems horrid, but I’m actually very happy with my bike ride. I didn’t lose it. People were blowing by me in the beginning. Some of them were 70.3 participants, and some were from the Olympic and Sprint. I’m proud to say that I let them all go and didn’t chase anyone.

If the swim is the warmup, the bike is just your transportation to the real race.

I kept thinking to myself as people were passing me early on, “I’ll see you on the run buddy.” During the last 2o miles I was passing lots of slower sprint riders and began passing some 70.3 people too. My heart rate ran a little higher than I wanted for a big part of the ride, but I had to go hard enough to keep the bike upright.

I ate on schedule, and I ate a lot. I did cut back on the fluids because the heat wasn’t bad at all for most of the ride. The sun started coming out at the end, but the wind was the real enemy.

I’m very happy I didn’t have my speed showing on my computer or I may have talked myself into riding harder. This ride re-enforced for me how silly it is to expect yourself to hit some speed average every single day. I can ride this distance stand alone as fast as 21 mph with no problem, and on this course under the right conditions 20 would have been pretty easy.

But not on this day. I had to trust that 17.3 mph was going to set me up for a good run.

Run (1:59:01)

And this is what I was waiting for. I am a sub 2 hour half marathoner (stand alone) every day of the week, but I’ve never had a decent run during a 70.3. I know 2 hours isn’t exactly fast, but I’m 40 years old and weigh 195. I’m not ashamed to claim a 1:59:01 without swimming and biking beforehand.

This run was really nice. What the bike took away, the run gave back. Flat, scenic (except for the US1 section), and reasonably shady considering this is Florida.

My plan was to get off the bike and get into a quick cadence, which I did, once I got the right shoes on. I also wanted to run at about 143 for heart rate most of the way. I was actually averaging about 146-148 for most of the run, but I kept checking in with myself, and I felt great. So I didn’t sweat it. I was still holding back a little for the end.

I only ate one Gu and only stopped at 4 water stations for this run. I took in a ton of calories on the bike, and I’d planned on running a little dehydrated (thanks for that advice Coach Brett) to avoid having to stop to pee and save time on a bunch of water stops.

Around mile 8 I noticed I was picking up the pace a little, so I dialed it back. In retrospect, I think I would have been ok pushing a little bit at this point, but the plan was to coast to the 10 mile mark and then actually run a 5k.

I stuck to the plan. When I hit the 10 mile mark feeling great, one word went through my head…

“GO!”

I didn’t break into a sprint or anything, but I kicked it into that “fun hard” Zone 3 gear right out of the gate. I didn’t hit Zone 4 until I was at about 1.5 miles to go, and at that point, there was no way I was letting up. As my HRM was beeping at me to slow down, I couldn’t help but remember being in this situation last year with 8 miles to go and feeling completely out of control.

This time, I was in control. I was refusing to let my heart rate down instead of trying to find a way to get it down. And I was passing people like crazy. Probably not as many people as I was passed by on the bike, but a lot. And there’s something empowering that pushes you even harder when you know what those people who are walking feel like and know that you feel great.

I held a pretty even pace for the last 1.5, and I think I averaged no more than 8:15 pace for the last 5k. Again, not blazing fast by any means, but at the end of a 6 hour day, I’m pretty proud of it.

Seriously, I’ve been in sprints where I couldn’t muster a 26:00 5k.

Finish Line

For the first time in a long time, I crossed the finish line with an un-forced smile on my face and ecstatic with what I’d done on the day. My slowest 70.3, but definitely my best performance. It was great to feel good enough to stand in the sun and cheer my friends in to the finish. We lost one guy to exhaustion on the bike course, and he was proudly walking around with a bandage over his I.V. wound.

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“Um….I can’t swim. Do you think that will factor in?”

Hey, at least he left it all out there. Maybe if he’d actually trained… 😛

I’ve heard some complaints about water availability and food selection at the finish line, but I didn’t see a problem there.  But I’ll ask it again–can’t a man have just one cold-cold beer after these events?!?! I think it’s a great way to get some calories back into you quickly, and may have kept us from having to call for medical assistance later that night.

DSC_0219

It’s all about the engine AND the bike!

Now, Onto The Logistics and Details

First of all, let me say that I am very appreciative to the Smooth Running team for putting on an event like this here in Brevard County. It’s so nice to be able to do a big race and sleep in your own bed. And the opportunity to race at Kennedy Space Center is one that isn’t going to come around very often.

And I love local race directors. All of them. If for no other reason than the fact that they are willing to stick it to the man (WTC) for their homies. We need more local race directors who are willing to put in the work it takes to put on an event like this.

But (you knew that was coming), I’m going to be honest and put some things out there that you should consider if you want to do this race, especially if you’re traveling for it. I live within driving distance, and I’d happily pay the same entry fee to do the event again just as it was this year.

Here’s where I’m going to be a little critical–and these are the arguments others have, not me. For the fee charged to do this race, there shouldn’t be many (any?) hiccups. That’s just a reality of the market. There can’t be long lines for packet and chip pickup. That’s just not acceptable to some people at this price point when there are other choices nearby a couple of weeks later for the same cost where these things NEVER happen.

Communications with course information and schedule have to be clear and arranged well in advance. You have to realize you’re dealing with a lot of Type A people here. This isn’t a sprint that folks can just show up and do one morning and then wonder later what they’ll do for the rest of the day. A half-iron distance race takes months of planning and preparation from a participant. It’s fair for them to expect all the details to be handled and communicated early on.

Not really my complaints, but complaints some others have expressed. Just being honest and putting it all on the table here.

I’m not competitive, even in my age group, but if I were I’d have been pretty anxious about the fact that there were no timing mats out on the extremities of the course. I’m fairly certain that 99% of the athletes who enter these events want to do the whole course for themselves and would not dream of purposefully shorting the course to get an unfair advantage.

But if you wanted to cheat a course, this one was easily cheated. I get it that there was probably no way to get timing mats out onto KSC. Fair enough. This was a very unique opportunity to ride that course, and if that couldn’t be done logistically, that’s just part of it.

One of my friends visiting somehow rode only 40 miles. He’s not sure where he turned wrong, and he’s not at all upset about it (he was actually appreciative for the chance to get out of the sun earlier), but how many other people made similar mistakes? Yes, it’s the athlete’s responsibility to know the course (which he didn’t), but the final published course and the race day course were not exactly the same. For those of us who did take the time to know the course, this was a little confusing. If I’d ridden shorter or longer because of a last minute change and unclear course markings, I’d have been pretty steamed. As it turned out, the change got us the distance we needed, so I’m cool with it.

Congratulations on your 54.3 Finish!

Congratulations on your 54.3 Finish!

But on the run, it would have been pretty easy for someone who was so inclined to run about .75 miles, sit in the shade and drink a few beers and take a nap for an hour and a half, then get up and trot to the finish line with a very nice run split. Again, I don’t think anyone did that or would do that on purpose, but the opportunity was definitely there. There really should be timing mats at the turns, if for no other reason than people want to go back later and analyze their splits.

Again, a bunch of A-type people.

Personally, I LOVED this event. I actually feel like the organization was pretty impressive for a race this size put on by a small local crew. If you are the kind of person who lets a few little things like the ones mentioned above absolutely ruin your race, maybe you should pass on this one.

But honestly, you probably have a few things you need to work out with yourself on a long run as well. That’s between you and you.

I mean, we’re not playing for money here, and there are a million mistakes I made that negatively affected my performance *cough pizza cough*, so I can overlook a couple of small ones by the race director.

Regardless, I want to end by saying that the volunteers were extremely helpful and friendly, and the turnout on the run course (no spectators allowed on the bike course) by the neighborhood locals was great. The Brevard County Sherrif’s Department did a tremendous job of keeping everyone safe on the US1 stretch, and the roads were closed for us everywhere they could be. I’m especially thankful for the medical team that assisted my buddy off the bike course and got an I.V. in him. This is not the kind of guy who is willing to DNF over something trivial, and they had him feeling right by the time I finished.

I can’t wait to do this race again. It’s officially my favorite triathlon.

Ooooooold Boys!

Ooooooold Boys!

More Reports:
Half Triing

Meals and Miles

The Heavyweight Runner

Deciding To Have A Bad Race

Here’s the thing…

A big part of what goes on in a triathlon is mental. The longer the distance, the more mental it becomes. Maybe “mental” isn’t even the right word. “Psychological” probably fits better.

I totally get obsessing about the details of a long distance event. But I try to keep the obsession part limited to things I can control. Those are the things that will ultimately have the greatest impact on my performance.

My training into the race.

My diet and nutrition.

My taper.

My sleep in the days leading up.

My bike maintenance. Ok…I don’t obsess about everything.

Now I’m not saying I don’t want to know as many race details as I can beforehand–I still want to know as much as I can as soon as I can. And I understand being frustrated when there don’t seem to be many details as race day nears. Those details are vital to know for race day preparation, which is something I have complete control over and starts at least a week in advance, especially when traveling.

Then again, not having those details gives me less to obsess about. I can just plan for the worst and be done with it. Then if something changes for the better, the race gets easier.

But focusing on the perceived negatives of those details (wave start times, aid station locations, transition open/close times, etc.)–I don’t see any upside to that. Focusing on what I don’t like about race director decisions isn’t going to get me anywhere on race day. Those are things that can be considered after the race is completed and I’m considering whether or not to do an event again.

I’ve been one-and-done on a few races because of horribly inaccurate course measurements and the lack of officials to stop my competition from cutting a course, but those are decision I made once the race was over.

Before and during the race, you have to play the hand you are dealt. Otherwise, you are basically making a conscious decision to have a bad race.

There are already plenty of negative surprises that can crop up during a race that I’m going to have to deal with, so why add others to the list that I simply can’t control.

I hope I never have to change two flats early in the bike leg. But if I do, I’ll be glad I didn’t worry about the fact that my favorite flavor gel wasn’t served at the aid stations.

 

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