I had to do better than last year - I had to, but I didn't really.
The day before was good - we spent the day warming up for a bit, spending some time with Chris Lieto (he's one of our Z-Team sponsors). We compared calves and I think I won on looks, he wins on function. Somehow mine put out about 100 fewer watts. See photo and be impressed. We talked a bit about his Boise 70.3 race where he lost the race in the final seconds of the race. I also got to chat with a race friend (someone you see a few times a year at races and exchange emails with both before and after the race) Brian from Alcis. This stuff is AWESOME and they've dropped the price by 50%. They also sponsor a bunch of triathletes, races and can always be found a most bay area race expos. (If you're a triathlete - support these guys. I've given their cream to my mom and nana - anyone else need some- I've got samples!).
I met 2 blog readers - one was the guy who checks your ID and finds you in the long list of race participants. He even quoted the title of my post from a year or more ago - he was like 'I read your blog because we did the same race'! The other was Rory, a friend of Ben's but now he's more my friend. Meeting Rory turned out to be awesome- more on that later....
We had a big dinner - 10 people including Lieto, Ian, Matt Dixon, Base Performance's new CFO Robert Larioza and a few other folks. We unfortunately had a nice private room for dinner - which also happened to be the restaurant's wine cellar! Not easy to NOT think a nice Pinot Noir when you're surrounded by it!
Then Ian, Matt (Dixon), his girlfriend Kelli and myself all checked into a cozy little chateau up in Healdsburg - Matt and Kelli stayed outside while I enjoyed what was at least my 20th night in a sofa sleeper (still haven't moved into our new home).
My race didn't go off until 8:14 but Ian's race started at 6:37am and Dixon had a few athletes he was coaching go off at all hours but most notably Tyler Stewart. About 10 mins before the race started - I remembered that I left my goggles in the car and went to go ask Matt for the keys - he was standing next to Tyler who just happened to have 4 extra pair. So I was given one with the condition that I wouldn't say she was a bad swimmer. She finished 2nd in the race for female pros - exiting the water 7.5 mins down on the lead woman. She's really an awesome biker (rode 2:23).
With that done -I only had to wait another 1.75 hours! I got coffee and watched the pros and a few friends actually finish their swim and head out on the bike.
Then, despite the water temp being in the high 70's - they declared it 76 and a wetsuit swim. It didn't bother me much and I began what was to be a very slow float up the river. I like to think I swam as fast as last year - which included a lot of running in the shallow spots. There were a few this year, but I tried to swim them instead. About 1/3 of the way into the swim I met up with a swimmer on the wrong side of the river in a head to head collision. Ouch. Amazing how tangled you can get even though your arms and legs are attached.
I hit the halfway at 22 mins! Eeek. I finished up about 17 mins later - so I know I can swim faster, I just need to do that from the start. At least I got to the end of the swim and thought 'is that it'. I sort of struggled to get through transition, I forgot to set up to maximize for running as little as possible with a bike ARGH! I had to run around a few people and then onto the course with the bike. I got on and quickly got rolling.
I got settled with a group that set a good pace - I kept my proper distance and we just powered. The guy in front of me was riding at least 1 meter from the guy in front of him, so after a while I rode up next to him and said I'd punch him in the head if he didn't stop drafting. About 4 miles later, he gets a 4 min drafting penalty. Sort of glad, I really didn't want to punch him as he was about 6'3". I did have to pee, which was better than having to go on the run - so I did that, but it's hard to pedal and pee so I just coasted and found myself trying to coast up a hill and pee. Good times! I got back on pace and started tearing through the masses in front. Most of the hills were pretty congested, so I passed a lot of folks on the left side. Turns out I forgot that is bad and even worse when there's a course marshal behind me.
I had finished hour 1 of the ride at ~24 mph avg. Pretty good. But the second half would be a bit slower as I had a stop and go penalty, which had more stop than I wanted. I had to wait for them to give one to someone else, then they mark everything -your number, your bike, and then their sheet. Then you sign it. Then you go. I had a gel as I waited. I also had water, because they put the penalty tents next to water stations.
I finished the ride in an official 2:28 or so but think I was about 1:30 faster without the penalty - either way, I was faster than last year by 4-6 mins, depending upon how you want to look at things.
Then it was the run. I got socked up and felt pretty good, but a bit dry and it was getting pretty warm. I think the avg. temp last year was 66 and this year it was 88.
BTW - here's a photo from this year (left) and last year (right).
I was hoping to run about a 6:50 pace, something I had been training for pretty well and was capable of getting the first 10k knocked off in 42 mins - hopefully giving me some buffer to finish under 1:30. Mile 1 was 7:05, not bad since I was taking a handful of pills and water and sort of fumbled a bit. Then I grabbed water and knocked the 2nd mile off at 7:30 but thought it was ok, since I did slow for water through a busy station. Then I felt the heat. It was Africa hot for me and I knew that I should walk the water stations quickly and keep running. Mile 3 was 8:30 and thus my pace for the rest of the 13.1 mile run. I never once walked between aid stations and although I had a race plan and a goal HR, it wasn't going to happen. My avg HR on every mile was from 180 to 205 - depending upon whether or not there was a hill. Normally I'd run with a HR of 168 - so this wasn't going to be easy. I felt 'ok' for the run - not bad but if I went too hard my core temp went up and the feeling of going into a tunnel started to creep in. My feet were burning from about mile 2 until mile 13. Not from blisters or anything like that - but from the pavement! I did run in my Under Armour Spectre - which are a training shoe, but pretty light and with their 'footsleeve' they fit really nicely for race day. This is the first race I've ever done where I was blister free.
I passed a LOT of people but apparently the walking through each aid station was not going to get me to the end as fast as I wanted. I saw my race time from last year 4:57 pass by and I finished a few mins after in 5:03. With about 50 yards to go, some joker decided to sprint past me and I wasn't going to go all that way to get pipped by anyone - so I sprinted by him (thanks coach for the track workouts) - sure, it's sort of retarded sprinting for what must have been 187th place, but I wasn't going to be 188th (out of 1,517, sad but true. Really sad). Then I saw my HR hit over 200 and I knew if I didn't keep walking and breathing I was going down. The world got very dark and I remember some guy saying 'I need your timing chip, I need your timing chip'. I made the poor guy get it off me while I walked. I finally saw daylight and went to find water and a place to sit.
I found Rory in the USAT Mobile Tour booth (you'll see from the link above that he had a nice chair for me, t-shirt, skins, 2 things of chocolate soy mile (the Silk booth was next door), at least 3 smoothies and somewhere around 3 dozen EFS chews. From the time I sat until the time I got up, close to 2 hours had passed. During that time, we saw the temp go up from 95 until 105 or something ridiculous like that.
Overall, the race was not a success - from a numbers standpoint. Some takeaways:
- I finished with nothing in the tank. Nothing. Could I have gone harder, maybe 1%. Probably not.
- I rode well and put 4-6 mins into my PR.
- I swam the 2nd half well, if I bring that effort and intensity into the first half, then I'm going to see a much better swim.
- I suffered in the heat but mentally was rock solid. Never felt I had to 'push' - I just kept going. Even used ice in a cup as a metronome to ensure I wasn't slowing down. This SORT of backfired when I heart ice in a cup behind me going faster!
- I had a great nutrition plan. Maybe more water, but not much more - probably focus on one more bottle BEFORE the race
- Instead of walking the water stations, jog them - at 30 secs to 1 min per station, I was easily giving up 10 mins.
- Remember to pee on the downhill section of the bike. Uphill is harder to do.
- Passing over the yellow is a no-no.
- Go faster.
That's all. Timberman in 3 weeks.