Sunday, August 8, 2010

Moral Victory

I’ll start at the beginning of the run to explain why today was a moral victory. During the latter part of the bike, I felt some muscle spasms in my quadriceps, so I let up a little. Immediately upon starting the run my right quad was cramping and my IT bands were both sore. I even considered stopping and not doing the run, but that consideration lasted only a few seconds. At the end of the day, every race is about perseverance in one way or another. I’d hoped that today’s run would be about pushing hard on the run and seeing how fast I could go. Instead, it was about being in pain for the entire run and pushing through the pain and continuing to run the entire 13.1 miles. The only times that I stopped to walk were the aid stations, a few of the short uphill sections, and for about 3-4 minutes after the first lap when I was fighting a side stitch (which I think was caused by taking in too much fluid/gels). I ran the rest of the way. Interestingly, my pace was probably almost the same for the entire run, as the second half was almost 3 minutes slower, but I had walked after the end of the first lap.

I was truly hurting most of the run, and especially the last few miles, I kept visualizing getting in the reservoir afterwards to cool down and let my legs recover. I’m not sure what kept me going, I kept a number of songs in my head and just stayed focus on the task at hand. While it ended up being one of my slowest runs for a half ironman in a long time (by about 4 minutes from last year and 9 minutes from 2007), it was one of my best run efforts ever. I could hardly walk afterwards or later in the day. This was painful! Of note, I entered the run 15th in my Division and ended up 18th.

So, now I’ll start with the swim. I was honestly a little nervous knowing that I was going to really give the swim my best effort. I went out at the front and caught a good draft, it actually felt like I was flying! I got in a group, and probably let up a little, as we got about half way to the first turn buoy, I realized that there was a lead group ahead and then I was in the second pack. In retrospect, perhaps I could have pushed harder and stayed with the lead group. I was able to draft to the first turn buoy and from then on really wasn’t able to draft off anyone, as I caught the two groups ahead of us (they started 5 and 12 minutes ahead, respectively) and had to navigate through them. That said, I kept a really solid effort and came out of the water with a swim time of 33:06 (I think the time I hit T1). I once again came out of the water with Adam (who finished 5th in the age group), and was actually 10th in my division out of the water. Slightly slower T1 than usual, but not bad (2:39, actually similar to all the top guys in my age group).

Got on the bike and had my power meter covered up (tape on top of it said, “Smooth, Relax, Breathe). Kept a very solid effort for the first lap of the bike, might have pushed a little hard, but I felt good. Stayed well hydrated and took in a few gels. Around mile 40 I began to feel a little flat, so I let up a little and focused on taking in more calories. I ended up taking in about 250 calories of Gatorade and about 500 calories of gels during the bike over the first 2 hours and 10 minutes; I tend to let up a little on the fluids at that point in order not to start the run with too much in my stomach. Started to push a little harder on the bike and realized that I was having some right quadriceps spasm, so I really focused on a smooth pedal stroke and not overdoing it the last 5-6 miles of the bike. Still, felt pretty good, and actually managed to catch up with a few people who had passed me. In fact, when I looked at the data from my bike ride, I essentially even split the bike, although my average power was higher for the first half (168 watts, Normalized Power=181 watts), than the second half (142 watts, NP=157 watts), but average speed was almost the same (21.9 mph vs. 21.7 mph). Of note, I really focused on not pedaling the downhill sections (probably more so the second half of the ride), when I realized that I wasn’t really going any slower by not pedaling! My overall bike time was 2:35:54, 15th in my age group, about 5 minutes slower than my best bike split ever on this course, but still about my second fastest half ironman bike split ever.

Then, off the bike to a quick 1:20 T2. And, on to the run, where the pain started.

Of note, my massage therapist has been concerned that my bike fit may be off, as I’ve had some asymmetric issues with my quads and hamstrings over the past month or two. I haven’t had a fit done in the last couple of years and think that it’s time for me to get checked.

So, at the end of the day, a very good swim, a very solid bike and a painful run. I’m really happy with my progress, as I keep trying to improve my competitive stance after the swim and then the bike. Now, I just need to work on the run!

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