Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Vegas

For those that just want the quick version, I had an ok day. It could have been much worse as nothing went wrong. At the same time I was super flat feeling on the run and had my slowest 70.3 run in the last 5 years.

Overall, I'm ok with my race, but because it was a world championship, being flat on the run moved me way down the standings. That said I'm still proud that I was 141st overall and 34th in my age group at a world championship.

I was very impressed with this race. The course is outstanding for the most part and the weather makes it very challenging. It also seemed that many athletes from other countries made the trip which is awesome to see. I really hope that this race takes off and I can't wait to go back as I know I have a better race in me.

Sorry, I have no pictures as this was a solo trip, so just the boring details

This was my 3rd world championship race and this time I was much more relaxed. I felt like I was very well prepared, had nailed all my workouts in the last 8 weeks, and was confident I was ready for a good performance. Saturday I did my normal day before the race workouts. My swim was amazing, I went very easy but my stroke just felt great. The bike and run on the other hand were just fine but I wasn't feeling great like I usually do the day before the race. Instead of pushing it, I just backed down and went real easy for the bike and run. I was able to take an afternoon nap, stay off my feet and stay on top of my hydration for the rest of the day. That night I did the typical pre-race toss and turn and wake up every few hours.

Race morning, I was wide awake and felt good. I got my stuff setup quickly, had a good warm up jog and was ready to go.

Swim – 31:57
The swim felt great from the first stroke. I started to the outside and just swam for the first 5 minutes or so. I had very little contact and felt super relaxed. Then I worked my way over to the buoy line and got on some feet which lasted for a few more minutes until we started to overtake the wave in front of us. The rest of the swim was pretty much swimming around people which is pretty unusual for me. I had to sight significantly more than I'm used to and was worried that was going to slow my down a ton. I kept getting the urge to swim hard but I held back and just swam easy. I came out of the water feeling awesome and was shocked when I saw my time on my watch. It might not sound fast, but my PR is 31:20 for a wetsuit swim and I swam very hard in that race, this was 31:57 with no wetsuit and much less effort. My day was off to a great start but I had to focus on not getting too excited and take it easy through transition and the bike.

Bike – 2:32:04
Coming out of a very long T1 we had a moderate climb to get out of Lake Las Vegas and then a nice long descent into Lake Mead National Park. I took the climb as easy as I could and got some nutrition down and then relaxed on the downhill. This was perfect as it gave me a chance to let my heart rate settle before starting to work. The way out to the turnaround was rolling hills with more up than down. I watched my power carefully and really held back. As usual this meant I would get passed by a bunch of guys on every climb and then I would catch up on the downhill. Once we hit the turn-around I found myself with only a few other guys around and no one else in front of us. I went about 5 watts harder and stayed on the power nice and steady all the way to t2. Overall it was kind of boring, I saw less than 10 other riders total all the way back to T2. The last few miles seemed to take forever and I held back a little since I knew I was close to T2 and wanted to be ready to run. My power and heart rate were right where I wanted them and I felt great coming off the bike.


Run – 1:36:59
I left T2 and my body felt great but my legs were slow to turn over. They feel this way off the bike often and usually come to after a mile or two, so I just went with it. Right around the second aid station when I would have expected my legs to wake up, I instead I got a bad side stitch. I slowed down (even more), focusing on exhaling and walking the next aid station I was able to shake it pretty quickly. However I was now 3 miles in and my legs were still heavy and just didn't want to move any faster. I tried many times to pick it up but once the up hills came my legs just didn't have it. I actually felt totally fine finishing and my HR steadily climbed the entire run and never dropped off, my legs just didn't want to run. 

I really don't think I overcooked the bike as I hit my target watts, which were reduced from normal as I knew I would be on the bike longer and in the heat. My nutrition and hydration seemed right as I didn't have any issues (other than the short lived side stitch) and no cramping and even felt fine right after the race and for the rest of the day. It was hot but I never got the overheating feeling, just the normal cooking in the sun feeling.

I felt I should have been able to run 1:25 on a good day, and 1:30 on an off day, but man was I wrong. Last year I went almost 17 minutes faster at Oceanside and 11 minutes faster at both Muncie and Austin. Both of those races were also hot and hilly. Either I underestimated my run fitness, the heat took much more of a toll on me than expected, or I just had a flat day.

Overall – 4:46:10
Not the result I wanted, but I'm ok with it, especially as my first hot/dry race like this. When I passed the finish on lap 2 of 3 I briefly thought about calling it quits, but I'm very proud that I kept with it and did not give up. My legs never woke up but I never slowed down either. In fact, I actually slightly negative split the run and my HR increases steadily the entire time like it should.

I'm looking forward to doing this race again and continuing to chase the perfect race that I know I am capable of. This race showed how much my swim continues to improve and my nutrition worked well with zero crapping or dehydration issues on a very hot day. I've also learned to except that I will get some sort of a side stitch in most long races and instead of panicking, I know how to relax and deal with them.

As usual I never could have made it to this race with out the support of many people and there are a few I need to mention.  Theresa and Abigail who not only support my training and racing year round they encourage me.  Zoot Sports and the Zoot Ultra Team Sponsors (Spy, Gu, Garmin, PR Bar, Zipp) for all of the awesome products and support, particularly Jake and Molly.  All of my training partners that humor me and do my workouts.  Phil Skiba for stopping me from training myself into the ground.  As well as the many others like the Bartlett Masters team and Team EN.