Monday, April 1, 2013

2013 California 70.3, "The Perfect Race"

One can never really judge a triathlon on actual time, as conditions will vary.  I had hoped to get close to my PR of 5:13 today (done 6 years ago), but I also had a very specific race strategy that I wanted to carry out.  And, I carried it out perfectly, so I can't complain.  In fact, I'm quite happy, crossing the finish line with the feeling of wanting to collapse is a good thing, but more on specifics later.

I woke up very calm today, got ready at my hotel, ate a banana, two rice cakes with almond butter, and some vitamin water.  Got bundled up, as I wanted to avoid getting cold prior to the race.  The weather was actually pretty mild, and no shivering, which is good.  Took in a gel and 3 prerace capsules a half hour before start time.  Got my Freak of Nature wetsuit on, it fits tight, but is still comfortable.  I still think it saved my life at St. george last year.

I seeded myself right at the front on the left, and promptly got swam over by a couple of people.  Conditions in the water were great, smooth, no chop, and water temperature of 62 degrees.  Within about 100 yards I was in a very comfortable mode, staying right with the buoys.  My sighting today was excellent, drafting was so-so, but it seemed like I was always around several people in my age group.  About 1/3 of the way in, we started hitting slower swimmers, who weren't too hard to navigate.  At the first turn to the open water area of the harbor, there was no chop, and again, I kept a very good line.  The second turn, back into the harbor, is where I have always gone off course.  Not today!  I stayed with the buoys, and with other people in my age group, and maintained a very comfortable stroke.  What is interesting, is that my swim training has been different is year.  Not a ton of intensity, or volume, but with a pool in the backyard, I often get in the pool for 10-20 minutes, in order to maintain my feel for the water.  Also, I've started using a Vasa swim 
Trainer.  Who knows?  I ended up coming out of the water with my best half ironman swim time ever.  

32:55, 35th in my AG (out of 138), 740th Overall (out of 2220+)

Took off the top of my wetsuit while running into T1, actually felt really good and ran well, had a little trouble getting the wetsuit off over my Garmin (watch), but made my typical quick transition.  Actually, I think this was one of my fastest here.  4:57 in T1

Got on my bike, wore my road bike shoes, and headed out.  There's a short steep hill coming out of the harbor, took some good momentum going in and made short work of it.  My goal today was to hold 170 watts on the bike.  The first 25 miles of rollers and flats went by quickly, holding an average of 170-175 watts the entire time.  The course was crowded with the 11 swim waves ahead of me, and I passed a ton of people, rarely getting passed.  I felt like I was flying, although I was just maintaining about 21 mph.  I took in one red potato (with salt and olive oil), and plain water, while I didn't get a mouthful of ocean water for a change, I'm sure that I still took in some salt.  I also started drinking water with honey.  During the first 2 hours, I took in a couple more electrolyte caps and 3 prerace caps.  I finally hit the hills of Camp Pendleton, and they didn't seem as long or as steep as on previous years (Thank you Malibu Hills!).  Still, I never pushed my wattage over 230 watts on the climbs.  As I rode, I noticed that my average wattage had settled in nicely at 170 watts, precisely where I wanted it to be.  My quads were hurting just a bit, but my breathing was comfortable.  I took in two Honey Stinger gels and finished my honey water and shut down nutrition with about a half an hour to go.  Still passing a lot of people, not getting passed by many.  As I came back to the beach, I was still at 170 watts!  The perfect bike ride.  All of my training pointed to average wattage of 170w, and I held it for the entire bike.  No complaints.  If I pushed harder, my legs would have blown up prior to the run.  As it was, I know I pushed my limit on the bike because my quads were somewhat sore.

2:49:32, 25th in my AG,  527th Overall.  While this was one of my slower bike times at Oceanside, they did change the finish a little, and I still stacked up pretty well in my age group (20th percentile, still the winner of my AG rode 2:30:31!).  Hey, I was also in the 20th percentile overall, not bad for a 54 year old.  
Looking ahead to next year, the 55-59 year old men biked right in the 2:45-2:52 range.  I'm already getting excited about aging into the next group!

My run transition was solid and quick 2:37 in T2

Started out on the new run course, which has more turns, and several short steep ramps to go up and down (the downhills sucked in regards to my quads).  My legs did not feel good, but they never got worse, so I'll live with it.  I ran the first 2 miles breathing every 5th step, and my pace was right around 8:50.  This wasn't the 8:20 training pace I'd been doing, but it was respectable.  I realized right away that my new goal was to hold this pace.  I have to say, this was tough!  My legs never felt good, but at mile 2 I increased my effort to breathing every 4th step, and held the pace.  While relatively flat, this course has lots of undulations, and on the uphill sections I was more like 9:10-9:20 pace, and on the downhills, I was closer to 8:30.  On the flats, I seemed to be closer to 8:40.  My goal began to be to get to Mile 7 and increase the effort to breathing every 3rd step, which I did, and continued to hold 8:50 average pace.  I had taken in 2 flasks of honey and water, and was feeling all right.  No side stitches!  (I did rub some balm on my torso after the 3rd mile, and massaged one of my typical tender spots).  I was excited to get to Mile 10, this meant that I had a 5k to go.  I was suffering, but I kept thinking "blue sticks", in honor of my good friend, Carol Overholt, who passed away a couple of weeks ago.  Energy washed over me and kept me right at the 8:50 pace.  I started taking some cola at the aid stations ( by the way, walked the first four stations, but ran through the rest), which gave me a bit of energy.  The last 2 miles were tough, breathing had increased to every second step in order to stay close to my goal pace, although the last 2 miles were right around 9:00 pace, still keeping me close to my goal of averaging 8:50.  Finally, the finish line was in sight.  I ran hard, well, as hard as I could.  As I crossed the line, I knew I was done.  I couldn't have kept going.  I essentially even split this run, which suggests that I couldn't have run faster.  If I'd tried, I surely would have blown up.

Run time was 1:55:14 (8:46 pace) 28th in AG, 569th overall.

My final time was 5:25:15, only 12 minutes off my PR several years ago. Can't complain too much about that:)

Winning time in my age group was 4:28:58, which is sick.
S25:12, b2:30:31, r1:28:10
Top 10 was 5:01:21, so my 5:25 is respectable.  
37:09, 2:35:20, 1:41:02

Looking forward to next year, the 55-59 men were slower than 50-54, although the 
4:47:57 winning time is out of my reach, but  3rd place was 5:11:49, and 7th 5:26:25, hmmm?  Still, one never knows who will age up with me. I just have ti stay healthy and keep training.  I can only do my part anyway!  That said, as I look back on this race and dissect it, I have no complaints, and I really don't think there was anything I could have done to go faster.  In fact, there's a lot I could have done to go slower!

Thus, ended my "Perfect Race"

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