Saturday, October 18, 2008

Halfmax Race Day

What’s most amazing about today’s race is how my week went. Drove 4 hours Monday night, worked all day Tuesday and drove another 4 hours. Drove 5 hours on Wednesday and got to Boulder City. Felt like I was coming down with a cold, which makes sense, as my whole family came down with colds on Wednesday! Rested on Wednesday and Thursday (did get in a solid swim). Still, wasn’t really feeling good at all. On Friday, woke up feeling better, did my bike and run workouts and somehow managed to pinch a nerve in my neck. I spent the whole day trying to work out this pinched nerve! Also, my left low back was sore. I was beginning to wonder how I’d feel on race day, although I knew that none of these things would affect my ability to have a solid race! Got to bed early on Friday night (about 8:30 pm) and had a good night’s sleep.

Woke up at 4 am with my neck feeling better and my legs feeling fine. Overall, felt pretty good this morning after having a good night’s sleep. Was ready to try to achieve my goal coming in within the top 10 in my age group in order to qualify for 2009 Long Course Worlds.

Went out solidly on the swim, able to draft 75% of the time, really kept my focus on form and really felt smooth and strong. Did not take it easy, but felt like I was working reasonably hard. Didn’t kick hard at all, although did a little towards to end to help me come out of the water. I felt good coming out of the water, had my ground legs almost immediately and went through transition quickly, as usual.

The bike was brutal, that’s all I can say, there were hills the whole race. Of course, being a point to point race with a net elevation gain of over 1,000 feet, it was bound to be challenging, but this was ridiculousJ. Coming out of the transition, there was already some uphills. Focused on my wattage and really tried to be careful, keeping my wattage in the 150-200 range (upper end with uphills). Quads did have a little burning, but breathing was always fine the entire race. At mile 16 my power meter stopped working (I really have bad luck with my sub9 disc powertap). It didn’t bother me, however, as I really felt dialed it to my effort by this point of the race. It was interesting, people would pass me going uphill (as I was watching my wattage), but I would catch them and pass them on the downhills and flats. It was pretty clear by mile 20 that there were several of us racing at a similar pace. I would get passed, and then pass the person later. At about mile 40, I passed Rich Kylberg, who has very similar race times as I do (although he had an excellent race at 5430 long course this year, 5:05). Rich beat me at Boulder Peak by a couple of minutes. For awhile he would pass be on the downhill and I would pass him on the uphill. My goal today was to beat him (more on that later). As we got to mile 46, Rich had not caught up with me and we began the 10 mile and 1,000 foot elevation gain ascent (8% grade in parts) to the finish. Since my power meter wasn’t working, I have no idea what my wattage or speed was up this hill. I wouldn’t be surprised if I average 10-12 mph, but I passed a ton of people, some doing the half and others finishing the Olympic bike race. I tried to keep from pushing too hard, but really kept a very good cadence the whole way up. Only a few people passed me (two of them were women). I did stand up occasionally throughout the race to stretch my back, when I stood going up this hill, my quads started to hurt a lot, so I avoided that the rest of the way.

Forgot to mention my nutrition at this point, which I think was stellar. I filled up my quickfil with 40 oz of a mixture of maltodextrin and fructose and salt, for a total of about 450 calories. I took in 3 chocolate powergels during the first 1 ½-2 hours of the bike for an additional 330 calories. I added water to my quickfil a few times. I figure I took in 70-80 ounces of fluid and 700-800 calories.

My bike time ended up being about 3:03, my slowest half in a few years, but understandable and probably pretty good considering the course. In fact, if you assume the last 10 miles took somewhere between 45-55 minutes, the first 46 miles (net elevation gain=0) would have been done in ~2:10 and if the rest of the course had been flat, I’d have been looking at about a 2:40 bike (similar to what I’ve done at 5430 and Harvest Moon, both easier courses). Plus, I have to be happy knowing how many people I passed going up the hill. I don’t think I pushed it too hard, something tells me the run would have been tough no matter what!

So, I made it up that last hill and went through transition quickly again. The first mile was slightly downhill and I felt good, keeping a good cadence and breathing every 4-5 steps. I took another powergel at the end of the mile and some water. Then there was a mild uphill and that’s when I knew the rest of the day was going to be a challenge. My quads wanted to seize up on me almost immediately. I have to say, this feeling almost never went away the rest of the race and by the end was there for both uphills and downhills. I think I kept a good pace (no watch), and good cadence for the first 5miles, which was generally downhill, but with uphills interspersed, but the the fun really began. At mile 5 was a 1 ½ mile uphill stretch that was challenging to say the least. Again, my quads were not happy, especially as I reached the end. That said, up until this point, only a couple of people had passed me (both were women I think) and I passed a several people. One to the people I passed, Chris, 51 years old, immediately passed me back and I never caught him (until the ice tub at the finish lineJ). I got to the turnaround. Mentally, I was hanging in there at this point. It was hot out and my quads were still on the verge of giving up, and now I had a 1 ½ mile downhill to manage. I think I kept a reasonable pace, but I’m sure I was slowed down at this point by my quads. From this point on it was all uphill. Mentally, I just tried to stay focused, and in fact passed several more people. It was interesting, I would maintain a pace with them for quite some time, catch them and then pull away.

Unfortunately, at mile 12, Rich finally caught me. He made up 5 minutes on me during the run. I increased my pace to try to stay with him for about a minute, but it didn’t feel good. In fact, for the first time in the race, I started to feel a side stitch come on, so I decided not to push it. I was still worried about my quads. The last thing I needed was to have them completely seize up on me. To this point, I’d managed to run almost the entire time, only walking 2 or 3 water stations. I took in Gatorade and water at each station, up until the last one. I actually managed to catch a couple more people the last mile, but Rich flew ahead, finishing more than a minute ahead of me and leaving me in the dust. My final run time was about 1:58, again slower than last years 5430, but almost as hot and far hillier. I was very happy with my perseverance.

Until I got to the finish line I had no clue what my time was. When I saw the time reading 5:43, I was surprised. The race did not feel that long! That was interesting. Until the last few miles of the run, I really felt in control and didn’t feel like I was suffering (other than my quads) too much. I will say, that for the last 4-5 miles, my breathing would increase to every 2 steps on a number of occasions, so I was definitely putting out the effort.

They were late in posting the results and I happened to see Rich’s result first, he had gotten 9th in our age group. I knew immediately what this meant, as no one had passed me in the last mile, that meant I was 10th! Since there were 10 qualifying slots for 2009 Long Course Worlds per age group, I was going to Austrailia! I will say, the adrenaline rush I had after seeing this pretty much made my legs feel a lot better!

2 comments:

wassben said...

WOW! Mom and I were there to see your incredible perfromance. It's hard to belvie that someone could be hurting so much before a race like this, and then hear you say that all aches and pains go away once you set your mind to winning a race. But like they say, the proof is in the pudding. Reading your detailed account of the race shows how dedicated you are to doing your best. It's should be enough to inspire anyone who has any interest at in doing what you do. You are a true poster child for anyone who may think they can't do it. Show me anyone who tries as hard as you do, and I'll show you a winner. See you in Australia.

Raishel said...

Yay!!! Congratulations!!!! :)

Can't wait for Australia. ;)

Luv,
Raishel