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Andrew Thompson BSL 70.3 Race Report (70.3 WC slot!)

By Andrew Thompson

Pre-Race
We drove up to Lubbock on Thursday/Friday, so we had plenty of time on Friday to go to the expo and pick up my race packet. Had a nice dinner on Friday night and then went to bed early.

Saturday we woke up early so Analise could do her race, so unfortunately I was out in the heat for about 6 hours on Saturday. I was able to fit in a swim in the lake and a 30 minute ride on the course. We left there about noon and immediately went to get a big (late) breakfast at IHOP. I was really dehydrated, so I was sucking down sports drink/pedialyte all day. Had a fairly light dinner and then went to bed around 8pm.

On Sunday I woke up about 315 a.m. to fit in breakfast 3hrs before race start and get everything ready. By 4:20 we were on the road to the race. Got set up in transition, walked through a few things, did some visualization and then it was time to head down to the water!

Warm Up
I decided to only do a swim warm up, so I got in the water and did about 300yds with a few hard efforts. The wetsuit felt fairly constrictive, but I knew I was just amped up on adrenaline.

Swim
This swim was way faster than I expected. I felt really good during the swim and executed well, but the course may have been a little short. However, most folks I know had times about what they expected, so if it was short, it wasn't by much.

I started off fast in order to get on the heels of a few of the faster guys I knew. I didn't stick with them long, but it got me ahead of a lot of folks in my wave. Within the first few hundred meters I was catching people from the wave in front of me, which I took as a good sign. There were a lot of bodies in the water, but I was able to get on the feet of a few people and draft for a good portion of the swim. The course was very easy to navigate, so I stayed right on course for the entire thing. The entire swim I was right on the edge of feeling like I was about to be out of breath and/or panicking, but I was able to ride that edge and before I knew it I made the turn and could see the finish. It got shallow near the end so I ended up wading for the last 25-30yds.

T1
Long run from swim exit to my rack, but it gave me a chance to get adjusted to being vertical again. No problems here other than getting my seat stuck on the rack as I tried to grab my bike.

Bike
The wind made things very difficult, but I was very pleased with my bike performance. I had a plan and stuck to it very well. My legs felt great and I was very disciplined with my position and power targets. The biggest challenge was keeping up with the fluid intake, but I stayed on top of that pretty well.

Coming out of transition is very difficult on this course. You hit a 9% grade within the first 50 yds and have a second steep but short climb after about 1/2 a mile. After that the ride out of the park was into the wind but flat.

Miles 2-10 were with tailwind, so I was feeling good. Then we turned into the wind for a long stretch (miles 10-18) where it was really tough to keep going. This stretch was broken up by the first downhill immediately followed by a tough 7% climb. I kept spinning and kept my watts as low as possible. At the top it was into the wind again until the turn around.

The turn around was around mile 19 and for the next 10 miles or so it was a tailwind. I flew through this section and hit 47mph on the downhill and kept it steady back up the other side of the canyon. By this point the sun was starting to be a factor, so I was using some of my water to pour on my head/back to keep cool.

From 30-43 there were a few turns so it was a mix of head/tail/cross winds but there were a few climbs to break it up. I was feeling really good at this point in the race and my confidence was really high. Still very focused on my power targets, but did have a hard time keeping my power down during the climb at mile 41.

The next stretch, 43-53 was the toughest. The wind had picked up and we were riding straight into it. I allowed my power output to climb into the 220's here and was still having a hard time keeping 17-19mph. I tried to make myself as small as possible, but by this point my neck and shoulder were starting to hurt. It was also very hard to drink/eat during this section, which I think may have hurt me for the run.

Finally at mile 53 I turned into the park and had a nice tail wind into the finish. The last climb in the last mile was painful, but I held back and tried to save something for the run.

Overall I'm very pleased with my execution on the bike. I stuck to the plan and finished feeling strong. I was very pleased at my discipline at staying aero and not letting the wind get the best of me.

Ave Pwr: 218W
Max Temp: 93 degrees
Elevation gain: 1600ft

T2
I failed to get my left foot out of my shoe in time, so I had to run with one shoe on. Fortunately it wasn't far. I struggled to get my socks on, but I wasn't up for 13.1 miles sockless.

Run
I started off the run feeling great. The first 3 miles are fairly flat and I kept to my planned paces. At the 3.1 mile mark, I hit the first hill and half way up I knew I was in trouble. My left quad started to cramp and I had to walk for the first time to get it calmed down. I was able to jog up the rest of the hill, but I knew that with 10 miles and a couple hills left, it could be trouble. This negative thinking really hurt me.

After the hill I kept moving at my planned pace until I hit the next hill at mile 4.5 and, as expected, had the same problem with my left quad. I walked/ran up the hill and only then realized that the toughest portion was yet to come.

At the top of the hill, from mile 4.75 to 6.6, you're out in the open running into a strong headwind. Temperatures were above 100 degrees and people were dropping like flies. Staying positive for this section was very difficult. I kept moving, but my pace dropped to around 8min/mile, which was demoralizing.

For the first half of the race, I jogged through all the aid stations. I would dump a cup of ice water on my head and drink a cup of sports drink. I'm not sure if this was sufficient.

Fortunately, at the turnaround they were handing out some coke, so I walked through the aid station, poured 3 cups of ice water on my head and body, drank some coke and got moving. With the wind into my back I was able to pick the pace back up and ran the next 3 miles at about 7:30/mi pace. I was starting to feel better and made sure to really get some ice down my shirt at each aid station.

Unfortuantely, at mile 9 is the last climb. My quads cramped twice on this hill, meaning I ended up walking twice. At the top, there's a small flat section and then it's back down into the canyon. I'm glad my legs didn't cramp on the downhills, because if so I would have rolled down the entire hill. There was no strength left to stop myself.

The final 3 miles are fairly flat, but it was still a struggle. I kept it right at 8min/mile and was feeling really down on myself. The run has always been the segment I could count on, and here it was the worst part of my day. I was about a full minute per mile slower for this run.

I tried to push the last mile to finish strong, but just didn't have anything left in my legs and was just happy to keep jogging that final mile!

After
I finished the run pretty depleted. I came across, grabbed a cold towel, cold water and was then asked by the medic if I wanted an IV. I would have been okay without it, but the medical tent was still fairly empty, so I took them up on the offer to help with recovery. I sucked down a sports drink while the IV went in and reflected on the race.

Then it was down to transition to grab the stuff and back to the hotel!  I rested for a while, went to see a movie and then went over to the race hotel for the awards ceremony.  I felt like it was probably a waste of time, but would have been upset if I left and found out later that I had a chance.  It was a long wait, but sure enough, the last slot in my AG rolled down to me.  I was more than happy to take it, but next time I'm going to win it outright and remove any doubt!

Overall
I was originally very disappointed in this race.  In retrospect, conditions were really tough and overall my execution wasn't bad.  I'm very happy with my slot to Vegas and am looking forward to fixing some of the weaknesses that this race exposed.  I'm really pleased with my swim, and I think my bike was really solid.  I know that there's no such thing as a good bike followed by a bad run, but still...

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