Sunday, August 7, 2011

Boulder 70.3 Race Report

Going into this race I tried something different. Since this summer has been quite hectic and my training has been somewhat limited (6-8 hours a week, with little swimming time), I did a “crash week” the week prior to the race, putting in close to 15 hours over one week with some serious intensity. Again, it was mostly biking and running, with a very small amount of swimming. Since my swim is mostly form anyway, I wasn’t that concerned about losing more than a few minutes on the swim without affecting the rest of my race. While I had hoped to bet three solid days of rest prior to the race, Thursday was a 17 hour day with 5 hours of driving, Friday included a solid 45 minute bike and 25 minute run with intensity, and then registering and running errands for my family the whole day (so much for keeping my feet up). Saturday was a little better, but started with buying my daughter a car in the morning (really), then went to lunch and the movies with my family in the afternoon. I did get a good night sleep on Friday and even last night, going to bed around 8:30pm and getting up around 3:30am.

I started right at the front, with my age group and the 20-24 year old men and women. This made for a very hectic start at the front, which I proudly handled pretty well, finally settling into my stroke and focusing on my form. At around 500 yards, a group passed me and I decided to try to draft off them. I got too close and got kicked flush in the nose! It was my mistake and my fault. It hurt! I checked to make sure that there was no bleeding and that I wasn’t about to die (it was at the angle that people doing karate use to try to kill people by pushing the nasal bone back into the brain, ok, I’m a doctor, I can’t help but analyze these things). Didn’t really slow down too much, got back into my groove and continued to swim comfortably, finding people to draft off of for about 50% of the swim. Came out of the water feeling pretty comfortable, in a time of 36:33 (27th in my age group 499th overall). This was about 3 minutes slower than last year, but still my second fastest swim on this course. I felt fine coming out of the water, taking off my wetsuit as I made my was into transition. My T1 was 2:11, which was pretty solid and I quickly got on my back and out. I made a solid push up the one short hill coming out of the Reservoir and then settled into a very solid effort. I actually had my Disc wheel with powertap and monitor on and I set my monitor for wattage and average speed. My goal was actually to maintain 22 mph, and I knew that initially, coming out of the reservoir onto I-36 that my speed would be considerably lower than that, as it it a gradual uphill. That said, I didn’t stress over this and my average speed gradually picked up from about 16mph to 17mph and then, I think, 18 mph. I focused on gaining speed on any downhills and really dialing it in coming up the next hill, staying strong and maintaining my momentum. For one of the few times ever, I was passing people going uphill! In fact, very few people passed me on the uphills today. As I got onto the backside of the course, I could let loose with the speed and by the time I turned to head south again I was getting close to 22 mph average speed. For a change, I was hanging with a number of people as they passed me, and realized that even staying just outside the 4 length draft zone, I was able to get some draft. My wattage was lower and I was keeping up with guys who passed me. Unfortunately, I decided to try to pass one of these guys going up a hill, which I did, but clearly popped up my wattage to do so, and in a way that felt like I had just “burned” one match too many. I settled into a comfortable effort in order to regain my pacing and effort. I got to the half way point in 1:17:50 (21.5mph), and felt reasonably good at this point. Turns out my average power for the first half was 167 watts, with normalized power of 189 (coasting the downhills). Peak 1 minute power was 295w, Peak 10 minute power was 233w, Peak 30 minute power was 186w.

I was starting to feel better from my previous transgression and began getting focused on giving the second loop a very solid effort. Again, anytime a younger guy passed me, I would try to stay just outside of his draft zone and hang with him for a long as possible. The second loop ended up going just about like the first loop, although as I came onto the Diagonal I tried to relax a little, sit/stand up a few times and stretch, and make sure that I came into Transition feeling good. My time for the second loop was 1:18:36 (21.5mph), so I absolutely had the same speed for both laps! I am very happy with my consistency today, I don’t think that I could have done much better. My power data would suggest the same. My average power for the second half was 161 watts with normalized power of 182 (so just slightly lower than the first lap). Peak 1 minute power was 282w, Peak 10 minute power was 216w, Peak 30 minute power was 178w. Again, very similar to first lap. Of note, these are amongst my best 1/2 ironman power data ever. In fact, they compare to my sprint power data, go figure. My bike split was 2:36:26, which was 18th in my division and 320th overall. These numbers were very similar to my numbers last year, and was very close to my 2nd/3rd fastest bike on this course.

Of note, my nutrition on the bike was 5 gels and 200 calories of EFS drink, in addition to about 3 bottles of fluid, so about 700 calories. With about 40 minutes left on the bike, my stomach was feeling full and I was feeling a little uncomfortable, so I backed off the nutrition for about 20 minutes and then started taking some small sips.

I had my usual quick Transition in 1:35, and was quickly out on the run. I immediately settled into breathing every 4th step and keeping a comfortable and solid pace. I walked briefly on a few of the steep uphills, but otherwise ran the whole way. I felt fine, and didn’t know my pacing without a watch, but it didn’t really matter, I was going at the effort that I could go at. Turns out that I did the first lap in 1:02:01, or 9:28 pace, which was similar to last year when my legs were cramping. It was quite hot out, and I did put ice in my shorts at every aid station, and sponges under my top. I actually stayed pretty cool despite the heat. When I got to the end of the first lap, I immediately upped my effort to breathing every 3rd step. I did the second lap in 1:01:12, or 9:20 pace, so I actually did negative split the course. At mile 9 I began to have a slight side stitch, so I worked it while running and it was fine until about mile 11, when it acted up with a bit of a vengeance. I grasped my right ribs under the diaphragm and pushed as hard as I could and managed to stave off the side stitch. I kept pushing my effort with breathing every 3rd step and forcibly, and loudly, exhaling with each breath. I also kept trying to visualize my long run in San Diego two weeks ago, where I kept 7:50 pace for 40 minutes at the end of a 15 mile run. It’s a shame that I could only keep 9:20 pace at altitude for what was a similar feeling effort. As I got close to the finish line, I was able to pick up my pace for the last 200 yards and finish strongly. I really don’t think that I could have given the run a harder effort, and ironically, my run split of 2:03:13 was 16th in my division and 348th overall. I took in one gel and 100 calories of EFS during the run, as well as grabbing some coke during the second loop. I never felt like I was bonking, so I think that my nutrition was fine.

My final time of 5:19:58 placed me 16th overall in my division and 348th overall. Pretty close to last years race. Even though my run was slower than I’d hoped, my run placement was my best placement in my age group, not something that I usually do! In talking to some other guys, they’re run times were slower as well, so maybe not so bad.

I had hoped for a time of 5:08 (that included a run goal of 1:54), so I swam and biked pretty much what I wanted to do, but couldn’t do the run pace that I had hoped for. Interestingly, I was 4 minutes behind 15th place in my age group and 10 minutes ahead of 17th place! That was a bit crazy. Just 12 minutes out of 10th place, who was Kevin Edwards, who has won the age group in previous years. Of course, the winning time in the age group today was 4:37:07 (27’ swim, 2:28 bike, 1:38 run). In terms of my future, clearly I still have to run faster, though my coach would probably say that in order to do that I need to get even fitter on the bike! If I ever have time to swim more, I could probably bring my swim times down as well.

I was actually 2 1/2 minutes slower than last year, which included by far my best swim ever, a solid bike, and a run that was hampered by leg cramps. Ironically, the difference was almost entirely in the swim. Still, I’m not sorry about my recent decrease in swimming, as I used the time to work on both biking and running.

All in all, another race where I can hold my head high, knowing that I gave it everything I’ve got. I really don’t think that I could have gone much harder or much faster. In fact, if I’d tried to go faster at anytime during the race, I probably would have ended up going slower in the end. I gave this race every ounce of energy I had today. That’s always the goal. I also passed a lot of people on the bike and even passed some people on the run. No one older than me passed me today as well, so I had the luxury of passing people 20-30 years younger than me throughout the day, always a nice feeling.