Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Racine 70.3 Race Report

I continue to enjoy racing because I learn something at every race I do. My biggest lesson learned this time is to reflect on my race and keep my mouth shut for 24 hours. Yesterday as soon as Theresa and Jim Hansen were congratulating me, I was already making negative comments about what went wrong. I really don't do this to complain, it is how I analyze my race and learn, but it often comes across the wrong way.

I share this for two reasons: First, I truly appreciate everyone that supports me and I couldn't do this without you. Please don't take anything I do or say right after a race seriously. I'm usually a very relaxed person that doesn't get worked up, but for some reason racing gets me fired up. I'm working on this but it still takes me a little bit to cool off. Second, I know my race reports can be critical and not come across as intended, and I hope they are not taken too negatively. There is nothing to be learned by saying I had a great day and went fast, but if I pick apart the details of my race I can learn from it and hopefully others can as well.
So, now that it is 24 hours later, all things considered, I had a GREAT race especially after my 2 months of racing or training camps every week and only 5 days after the most cycling I have ever done.

Swim - 31:20 – 9th in AG
Yes, the guy that swam 37' in Kansas dropped 6 minutes from my swim time in a year. Thank You John Fitzpatrick! I've beat myself up in the pool for 5 years playing wall tag for hours on end and improved very little. However, after a number of private lessons, video analysis, and LOTS of drill work to refine my technique I'm finally swimming much better. This was my 5th time at Racine and the swim course was a good bit longer than ever before, with the buoys further from shore and the exit south past transition. FWIW, Crowie swam 24:59 and my watch had the swim at 1.23 miles, so I'm pretty sure this was the most accurate swim I have ever seen at Racine.

T1 – 2:14
Could have been faster, but I was too busy looking around and in shock at how all the other bikes were still in T1. It's a lot harder to find your bike when you get out of the water up front. I've never had this issue before J

Bike – 2:16:38 – 3rd AG
I'm disappointed with this. Last year my FTP was 15 watts lower and I went 2:13. Sure I did the aqua bike and didn't have to run after, but I did a 6 mile run anyway and felt great. Either way, the first 30 minutes felt fine, I was constantly holding myself back but slowly passing people. In fact entire ride I was only passed by one person, who I really wanted to chase but I let him go and did my race as I knew he was a stronger cyclist. After that first 30 minutes I went to kick it up a bit but my legs disagreed. I would get the watts up for a few minutes and then slip right back down. The next hour was pretty uneventful as in I think I saw one person and my power was just flat. With about 30 minutes left I caught a few of the female pros and just having other people around gave me enough energy to rally a little bit and finish up without fading anymore. I honestly think I saw less than 10 people on the bike (other than people going the opposite direction), this makes for a long, boring ride.

My nutrition was dead on, drank it as planned, full bottle of water from each aid station and had to pee, so all I can think of is my legs were not recovered from the BBW last weekend as my power was 27 watts lower than in my race simulation workout and other recent 2.5 to 3 hour rides.

T2 - 0:59
Not much eventful happened here, shoes went on and out I ran.

Run – 1:27:38 – 4th AG
Ouch, my worse 13.1 run in 2 years and a more than 12 minutes slower than I ran in an open HM in May. I even went 2 minutes faster at Clearwater when I was taking it easy and untrained. I don't know what the deal was, my legs felt ok and PE was fine, they just had zero kick. At first I was pretty pissed off with myself, but after thinking about for a day or so I've relaxed and figured a few things out:
  • I found out the heat index was over 90 and I was in the sun almost the entire run
  • Only one person in the race went under 1:20 (Crowie @ 1:15)
  • The fastest in my AG was 1:24
  • Again, I hate to make excuses for a choice I made, but maybe the BBW last weekend was not the best idea
  • It could have been so much worse ... For the third time in my life, I got a horrible side stitch during the run. This time I was determined to beat this; I slowed down, focused on breathing and other techniques to release it and didn't start running again until it was gone. As it started to ease up, I continued to go slow and get in water and gel, while keeping pressure on it. It worked and within about a mile I was back to jogging and by 2 miles later I was starting to pick up the pace to my IM run pace. Luckily from then on I was able to keep dropping a few seconds per mile.
In hindsight, I am actually glad I got the side stitch as I have tried my hardest to get during brick workouts or race simulations and I just can't emulate it outside of a race. At least now I know I can deal with it and get rid of it during a race. Sure it would have been nice to run faster and not have been in pain, but I needed that to happen so I could overcome it and still have a good race.
BTW, this was another negative split (45:00/42:38) – thank you side stitch J

Total - 4:18:49 - 3rd in Age Group, 18th Overall, 8th AGer

I really felt I should have gone under 4:15 at this race even with the hot conditions, but it is what it is. On the positive side, my AG was stacked again and I still placed well. There are some fast guys around and I just need to keep working hard to keep up. I'm glad that I'm starting to see the same few fast local guys at the races as it is good motivation to keep pushing.

The good:
  • My swim – the lessons and focus on form and drills is really working. I was only 6:30 behind the fastest swimmers of the day. Thank You Fitz!
  • Side Stitch – ok this one is good and bad. The good, I got the same side stitch as IMWI and High Cliff but this time I got rid of it and was able to starting running again. The Bad – I got the side stitch again.
  • Bike – All of the short races this year have turned me into Ricky Racer recently. Until this race I have not been passed on the bike yet this year but when one guy went by me at this race, I just let him go. It was hard to do, but the right decision as he was a stronger rider
  • Heat – I really never noticed the heat which is a good thing as Kona is most likely going to be a little warm J
  • I was 30 minutes behind Crowie, and within 5 minutes of my next goal

Things I can improve:
  • Bike pacing – I have to get the first 30 minutes easy thing right. I've done this in IM, but for HIM I just can't do it. I leave T1 and am just going to hard. This time I really was only a few watts over my target, but when you look at the full ride it was my peak 30' since I fell apart later.
  • Bike cadence – I held 90 for the race, but in training I've been slipping closer to 80. I will focus on getting this up in training
  • Run cadence – I'm consistently at 94 in training off the bike and over 95 open, but I struggle to keep cadence up in races.
  • BBW right before a race – again, my own stupidity here. Not sure why I ever thought crushing myself 5 days in a row, then racing 5 days later would be a good idea. Riding with Coach Rich sounded like and was fun, so was the 3 loops of IMWI the next day, and hill repeats on HHH the following, but not the best time to do this.
  • Recovery – I really suck at this one (even worse than I used to suck at swimming). Once again I can count the number of days I have taken off this year on one hand. I actually was up at 4 AM the morning after the race and REALLY wanted to go out for a run but I forced myself to stay in bed and stare at the ceiling instead.
  • The side stitch – so now I know I can deal with it but I still need to figure out the root cause and get rid of it all together. Last year at Kansas I had my best HIM run and no side stitch at all. My nutrition is identical and my bike fit is almost the exact same was well, plus I went harder on the bike at Kansas … go figure. It was also hot and sunny there as well. Although that was the only HIM I have ever tapered for. I'm really going to work on emulating this in training by making my bricks as race like as possible, no more 5 minute transitions in training, bike to run in 1 minute from now on. I'm also going to get better at using my race day nutrition more in training.

This game gotten a lot harder this year. The last 6 years have been pretty easy. I got faster in training and went to races and raced faster. The faster I went the more motivated I was to go even faster. It was easy as I just trained hard and raced hard and nothing else mattered. Well that game is slowly coming to an end and now my fitness gains are getting smaller and smaller. The decisions I make on how a train, recover, and execute on race day are now the difference setting a PR verses a subpar performance. Sure I'm going to keep working on getting faster but it is unlikely I will pick up another 50 watts at FTP in one year again and therefore I know I have to really get into the details and work for improvement in every part of my training and racing.

Up Next
TRAINING (what I do best) – 12 weeks of no racing, no camps, just training for Kona. I had a ton of fun messing around for the last 2 months but I'm definitely ready to go back to structured training. I'm still approaching Kona as a fun experience and not going to race, but I'm going to show up as fit as I can be.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

EN Camp and Big Bike Week

[Just realized I typed this up almost a week ago and forgot to post it, so it is a little late]

Once again I decided to do a big training week after the Fourth of July weekend. Last year I did a solo big tri week, but after discussing it with Coach Patrick, it made more sense to do a bike bike week this year as my A race is 4 weeks later. Plus the timing of EN Tri Rally in Madison worked well and I would have people to ride with.

Prior to the BBW, I did my normal week including Tuesday long run and then took Wednesday as an easy day with just a swim.

Thursday – Rode 30 minutes, 11 miles, 38 TSS, basically flat – Brick Run 1 hour 9.2 miles
My plan was to ride 3 hours easy to kick of 5 days of riding, but Mother Nature disagreed and provided some thunderstorms all morning. It did clear up in the afternoon and got hot and sunny so instead I did 30 minutes hard on my road bike and then ran an hour.

Friday – Rode 5:10, 105 miles, 303 TSS, 5167 ft climbing
I rode most of the IMWI course with Coach Rich and Johnny. It quickly became apparent that I'm still a triathlete and not a cyclist (not that anyone thought otherwise). I may be able to sit at 80% in my aerobars all day, but once we hit climbs, descents, or anything technical I fell off the back and had to work hard to get back on Rich's wheel. Overall the first 4 hours went well and I did my fair share of pulling, but the last hour Rich pulled pretty much the whole time and I was working just to keep up.

Saturday – Rode 6:50, 123 miles, 247 TSS, 6535 ft climbing – Brick Run 32 minutes 4 miles
Jim Hansen and I did 3 loops of the IMWI course, nice and steady how I like to ride. We finished with an easy brick and an attempt to swim but the lifeguard stopped us from going in. Jim is getting strong this year and was on this Tri bike so I did a good bit of work to hang on and take some pulls. We also had some fun at stops with our EN campers to make it a pretty enjoyable day.

Sunday – Rode 4:45, 76 miles, 187 TSS, 5525 ft climbing
While the rest of the camp was going for a run, Hayes and Karin invited me to ride with them. We did Hayes' version of the IMWI loop which I like much more (it has more climbing and skips the flat parts). When Hayes and Karin were ready to head back to the car I needed about 7 more miles to hit 300 miles for the 3 days, so I finished up with a lap on Observatory and two laps on Barlow (the steepest climbs in the area). I was pretty shocked but I crossed the 300 mile mark whil climbing a 20% grade at well over FTP and my legs actually felt pretty good.

Monday – Rode 2:40, 50 miles, 109 TSS, 1300 ft climbing
This was a solo ride back at home. My legs felt surprisingly good, but I was pretty fried mentally. I just didn't have the desire to go any further on my own and was getting lazy so I called it quits right at 50 miles before I did something dumb.

Bike Totals: 19:55 moving time, 365 Miles, 884 TSS, 18,527 ft climbing
Run Totals: 1:32 moving time, 13.2 Miles

That makes this weekend the most riding I have ever done in 5 days and the least running I have done in 5 days J .

As usual, spending the weekend with Team EN was fun and entertaining. I can't wait to see everyone again at IMWI.

Up next is Racine 70.3 in just a few days. The plan is to keep up my normal workouts but drop the intensities down to HIM race watts and run pace.  Probably not the best timing for a race but we'll see what happens.