Monday, July 16, 2012

Racine 70.3 - Top Gun

As I was thinking about this race, I realized taht everything that happened could be captured within the movie Top Gun.  So in an effort to keep myself sane, I am going to dedicate this race report to Top Gun.

For those that need a reminder, here is the opening scene.

Overall, here is a high level summary of my race:

That about sums it up.
So the plan for Racine was easy. Take the swim out fairly hard, but not crushing. Relax on the bike and hold around 250w. Maybe lower if the day called for it. And then the run...

My race preparation was pretty simple. The day before I started hydrating with Gatorade and water. I did not take any salt-sticks as I was taking in more than enough electrolytes with the Gatorade perform.

Overall I was feeling a little lethargic about the race. I don’t know exactly what the problem was. I’d had some good workouts leading into the race and two years ago really enjoyed the race overall. I suspect that recently I’ve just put too much pressure on myself to perform at a certain level. And in doing so am setting myself up for failure.  Quite frankly I suspect the level I expect is a level I am not capable of...yet.
Anyway, the day of the race came and I got up pretty early to get prepped. Roughly 4am. I had a small bowl of cereal, two ensure shakes, and some digestive enzymes to settle everything down. Overall I was feeling good and had taken in about 800 calories. I topped it off with a bottle of Gatorade, carbo pro, and gu of about 400 calories. So pre-race I took in 1200 calories and 900mg sodium in preparation for the hot day.
The Swim:
We had a long wait for the start of my wave as I was in the dead last age-group. In any case, the race start came and I put myself into the front of the pack this time. The horn sounded and we had a fairly lengthy run in shallow water before swimming. A couple guys ran out REALLY fast, but within about 10s of swimming I went right past them. By the time we hit the first bouy I was well into the lead, or so I thought. After the first turn, some guy went ripping right past me. My first thought was to draft, but he was swerving all over the place and it was tough to stick with him. He ultimately went into the crowds of people and I lost him, but knew he was ahead of me.
Right at the final turn bouy I found him again and tried to draft with some success. Ultimately we hit the shallows together, but he was dead. I took a quick glimpse at him and literally ran right past him in the shallow water. Hit the timing mat in about a 26:30. I had the fastest swim in my age group, and was 18th overall. I beat out all but a couple age-groupers and many of the pros.

I would sum up the swim like this...

I'd also like to add a little shout out to Jeremy Angle who had a great race and a great swim.  But as far as the swim goes I'm Maverick.  (For some reason the remaining videos can't be embedded)

Look at the birdie!

Remember Jeremy...If I didn't like you I wouldn't poke fun.  You may have beaten me on the day, but I was leading out of the water and off the bike!!! 

I'm coming for you!

That's right, Ice Man...

Much longer of a run than I remembered. My T1 time was over 4 minutes…which was slow. But as usual I got my socks on. I also had some trouble with my bike shoes and helmet. A roll of electrical tape had fallen into my bike shoe, so I had to take it off, pull it out, and put the shoe back on. In any case I lost 15s to crap like that. I was also situated in a spot where I had a long run with my bike both coming in and leaving.

The Bike:
The plan was to hold about 250w, maybe less. Leaving T1 there is a small hill. In order to get away from the crowds I cranked up that hill. But its so short I didn’t feel like it had any real impact on me. Once I was out of the crowd I got aero and took off at my pace. Overall the first 10 miles I was right on target but noticed a little burn in my quads and some real soreness with the saddle and in my glute/hamstring.
The next ten miles were pretty similar, but overall I was questioning myself a bit.  For the power I was holding, I expected to feel a lot better.  And then for 5 miles after that I bumped it up 5w. Ultimately for the rest of the ride I dialed it back. I really wanted a strong run, and pushing the bike hard isn’t how to do that on a hot day.

I got off the bike in about a 2:25. Looking at the results I’m a little surprised. I know I am not an uber biker like some of the studs out there. But I was in first place getting on the bike and 11th place getting off the bike. I lost 10 spots and rode a fairly strong time. I had no idea that was the case at the time, just a little retrospective surprise.

In any case, I got off the bike and was feeling reasonably good. I wasn’t overly fatigued. I was worried about my glute, but that soreness usually goes away when I start running.

Overall getting off the bike I felt like this:

Volleyball Remix
So the goal was to PR the run. A couple years back I ran a stand-alone 1:36. I’d like to think I’m faster than that today but have no real proof.
In any case once again I hit mile 1 and both quads cramped.  I have no explanation for this.  I was running fine at a 7:30ish type pace.  Slower than the 7:15's I originally planned.  Things were going well, and then wham.  I stopped twice at the first aid station, once for fluids and once to stretch and massage my quads.  I started running slowly after that and things seemed to be doing okay.  But they held me back the rest of the day.
After that the run seemed to be going okay.  My first 6.5 miles were around a 7:40ish type pace.  Considering the conditions, not bad.  I passed Scott around mile 2ish, but we missed each other because I was running so fast.
Around mile 7 I hit the first of the two minor hills on this course.  I made the decision to walk the back half of the first hill and then walk most of the 2nd hill to save my quads.  After that I started running again. 
Sometime very quickly after that....

On the last leg I came across Scott and his family again.  Here is what was going through my head...
Take the shot Mav!!

I think what frustrates me is that had I held back at the beginning of that run and simply held 8min miles, I really think I could have held that for the majority of the race. In doing so I would have saved 12 minutes and probably not suffered nearly as much.

Overall my race position was fine.  I was 15th in my age group.  Even if I had run well, I probably would not have broken he top 10.  I could have gone from 104th overall to around 50th, which is a fairly big difference.  But realistically not a big deal. 

My problem right now is confidence.  Espcially running.  I've had a couple bad races now, and am not sure what to think of the situation...
  You have a confidence problem.

 I need to get some good races under my belt.  I suspect I need to re-evaluate how fast I really am as compared to how fast I think I am.  There appears to be an obvious disconnect.  And I need to get ready for Vegas. 
 You're going to Top Gun

If I'm not careful I'll go in feeling like this:
Cougar's lost it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Race Nutrition and Racine 70.3

So training has been going well the last couple weeks, other than the heat. Last week I did a 90min run in the heat and thought I fried my brain. When I left the house my thermostat read something insane like 110. That was of course in the sun on my deck, but as I run in the sun, with very little shade 110 was probably somewhat accurate when you consider the blacktop and humidity.

In any case, aside from a couple bumps along the way, things are going very well. The last couple weekends I’ve decided to try a new nutritional approach. For the past several years I’ve been taking Hammer products, and not been terribly happy. It’s not that anything was wrong, per se. But I always seemed to really fade at the end of races. With last year being wasted due to injury, I noticed that a lot of my stuff has expired. So in talking with a few people and reading a lot on Slowtwitch I decided to try a new line of products and a few different approaches.

In the past I’d use Heed, Perpeteum, and some form of saltsticks. My bike was always littered with nutrition and gear and getting it all in during a race was a huge pain. I have little doubt it slowed me down as well.

Here is my new and improved plan for the half Iron distance. Right now this is based upon a 2.5 hour bike ride.
  • Bottle 1 – 3.25 scoops of Gatorade Perform, 1 scoop of Carbo Pro, and 1 powerbar gel (tangerine with caffeine). (20oz total)
  • Bottle 2 – 4 scoops of Gatorade Perform, 1 scoop Carbo Pro, and 1 powerbar gel. (20oz)
  • I also take in another 35oz of plain water throughout the ride.

That’s it. I don’t have to do anything special other than take a few sips of the Gatorade mixture, and a couple swigs of the water every 15min or so. It does mean I carry 3 bottles of fluids on the bike, but seeing that I can stay aero much longer without having to screw with bottles, pills, gu’s and other stuff, I am pretty sure the bottle between my aero bars does not cost me anything.

In total this equates to 760 calories and 1900mg sodium. This is way more calories per hour than I am used to, but based on what I’ve been reading this is the more effective way of racing. And the lack of calories in the past may be part of why I tended to fade so badly in longer races.

Two weeks ago I tried a slight variation of this plan with 4 gel in a flask and took that between the Gatorade. The problem I have with that approach is that I don’t tend to take enough water when I take gels. So they always left me feeling bloated and nasty. And that test was similar with a little bit of side stitch added in.

This past weekend I tried the plan laid out above and for the duration of the bike ride I felt great from a nutritional perspective. After my 2.5 hour ride I started running and noticed the difference right away. I felt like I was starting to fade a little bit around mile 2-3, but unlike my past attempts, that feeling went away pretty quickly. And I took in no fluids or calories for the 40min run. So I suspect the added calories and sodium really helped me out. Overall I was very happy with the results of this test.

The added benefit of this plan is that Ironman events, as well as many others, serve Gatorade Perform on the race courses. So when I hit the run course I only need to take a cup of perform at every station until about mile 6 when I switch over to coke. I couldn’t have made it any simpler. And for me, the easier the plan is, the more likely I am to succeed at it.

I cannot take any real credit for this “plan”. It is essentially stolen from Slowtwitch/Jordan Rapp/Brian at Personal Best Nutrition/other. Once Racine 70.3 is over, I will continue to tweak this a little bit in an effort to get things perfect.

Onto the upcoming race.
This coming weekend is the Racine 70.3. I’ve done this race in the past, and the course is flat and fast. The swim tends to be a little bit slow with currents and a long transition run, the bike is dead flat except the hill coming out of transition, and the run is flat except for a minor bump about a mile into the course.

Right now the forecast is for a high of 89 degrees. My wave starts essentially last at about 8:15. If all goes well I should be finishing a little before 12:45.

As far as my plan is concerned. Everything about this race is to set myself up for a strong run. Ideally, assuming it doesn’t get too hot too fast, I’d like to run a personal best half marathon. If I do that, I set myself up to go under a 4:30. That depends on a host of other things, but in order to make it happen I need to put myself in position to make it happen. We’ll see what race day brings.