Heading into the race I was feeling good; while my swim was still a work in process I knew I did more than a few open water swims and was in solid shape. For the bike I knew I was in the best cycling shape I've ever been and I could lay down a good performance. And for the run, while still not where I wanted to be, I could shoot for a 1:20-1:21 hr run based on my training. Overall I was feeling ready...!
The swim - Goal 30 min, actual 30:56 min (24th age group, 194 overall)
The swim went well for most part; though I have been swimming more of what I did for Rev3 Quassy, my swim training has still been inconsistent hence I knew a solid performance and good day to be around 30 min at best. Starting towards the middle of the waves meant I would be catching earlier waves and this could represent some contact and slowing down. I was ready for a good old fashion swimming mess and I wasn't disappointed. Going out to the 1st turn around I drafted of faster swimmer and I got clear water but after the turn around we encountered swimmers complexly stopped floating, doing back stroke, breast stroke, maybe even tubbing and I think I even saw someone doing something like the picture to the right
Needles to say this slowed me some. And before I forget, I sincerely apologize for the few poor swimmers I happen to smack on their back of their heads as I tried to find clear water among that mess and your heads kinda popped out of nowhere. It was NOT on purpose I swear. If that was one of you, let me know, I'll buy you a beer as a peace offering and even let you smack me on the head, but just a bit! Anyway, the rest of the swim was still rather busy and on the last turn heading back I found myself swimming a bit more of course but eventually I found my way to the shore.
Transition 1 - Goal sub 2 min, actual 1:46 min
This went well, except as soon as I stand up to exit the water I felt like my calves were going to cramp on me so I gently ran out of the water and eventually managed to run at decent clip. I made it to my bike and was careful putting my shoes on to prevent a calves cramps. Ran out and passed quite a few peeps in the process and even saw Coach Peej!
Bike - Goal 2:23-2:25h, actual 2:25:20h (6th age group, 52th overall)
This was the leg I was really excited to get to and see what I could do given my recent training. I was ready to push the limit, something I haven't done much before as I always tend to fall back on my running. My power target for the race was 230w and as soon as I got out of transition I faced the 1st challenge; my calves were still crampy so I had to be somewhat gentle for the first 4-5 miles when pedaling. On top of that, I notice something right away and something I experienced the days leading up to the race; my legs were flat and trying to push my goals watts was tough as my quads felt heavy and sore. You see, 8 or 9 days before the race I went for a deep tissue release massage; a week before the race is usually plenty of time to get it done and avoid messing up with your legs.
Well, my mistake was 2 fold; on one hand I haven't get one in a LONG time, so it was perhaps not the wisest choice to get one at the time (maybe 3 weeks out?). The 2nd and also my fault was trying out a new massage. Let me be clear, the massage itself and the guy providing it (who I highly recommend) was awesome and did a great job. BUT, I didn't know exactly the type of massage I was getting and that it was rather intense, perhaps the most intense one I've ever gotten, to the point I felt like this throughout the session
This left me rather sore for days and though I was expecting my legs to come around with so many days in between, they didn't. All through the hilly portion of the first 11 miles of the course where I know I can ride faster than others, I simply didn't have my peppy legs so instead of freaking out and trying to hold 'x' power I went to ride by feel and ride smart.
I mean, sine my target wattage was out of reach, I had to ride smart and calm, that mean to be as aero as possible saving energy and riding as "smart fast" as possible. Therefore I quickly focused on"turtling" all the time; no not what you may think like the left pic, more like the one on the right
Mentally it was very tough to be unable to ride at the pace I had in mind, but remaining calm and riding aero while trying to get back to T2 as soon as possible helped me stay engaged and positive. I had another mishap around the turn around at mile 28ish, my chain got stuck as I shifted gears and I had to slow down to fix it. This cost me 45-50 sec according to my file but I went back on and just kept moving, fueling and trying to make myself as small as possible. At some point I started thinking how I could crawl inside my bike frame. After unsuccessfully achieving that, I kept riding aero, coasting on descents, spinning on climbs, sling-shot passing, and since I knew the course by memory, I was avoiding bumpy parts, cornering better, etc. All helped a lot and soon enough I was riding on the last 5 miles of the course, This made me very happy because in spite of my lower power (215w), I was still on pace to achieve the upper time the range I knew I could be; so while not the fastest time I knew I could muster, smart riding indeed paid off!
Transition 2 - Goal sub 1:30 min, actual 1:29 min
This was good, in and out. No issues here and it was great to hear so many cheers from friends!
Run - Goal 1:20-1:21h, actual 1:23:23 (2nd age group, 28th overall, 16th finishing place for amateurs)
I started the run and I was happy that unlike during the bike, my legs were feeling peppy and ready to fly. I passed the E3/BTT tents and the cheers were great! I head out onto the main road for the the 1st loop and as soon as I reached that road I felt something I was dreading I may have to battle with yet again but hoping I shouldn't; a $%^&@ side stitch. This derailed my last race at this very race 4 years ago and hinder my run performance at Rev3 Quassy 3 months before. In spite of my best efforts to fix this by switching my fueling plan, practicing different strategies in training, etc. and hoping I figured it out, well I was wrong. I can't explain how it feels but imagine it is something like this:
I tried everything I've read about side stitches, changed my breathing, 'squeeze it out', breathing forcefully, etc. I was doing my best impersonation of a woman in labor, "breathing deep to manage the pain". Nothing worked but at least I was keeping my mind busy, I was dealing with the pain some and moving. I was so focused on this that anytime I would see one of my athletes of friends, I couldn't muster much words but I was able to least give a thumbs up. I managed to drink some water and coke without increasing the pain which was great news as before this would just make it worst. At least I knew if I survive the pain it may actually go away having a chance to run 'better' the 2nd loop.I kept moving and as I approached the start of the 2nd loop I could feel the pain going slowly away... awesome!
This lifted my spirits, kept me positive and while I was still ignoring my watch completely and running entirely by feel, I could notice my pace improving and felt I could go faster and faster. All of the sudden I got like Bolt possessed!
I kept up speeding up and after the turn around I finally decided to look at my watch around mile 10ish, after some not so quick math I figured my goal of finishing in 4:20hrs was probably gone, but I could certainly finish within minutes. So I put my head down and kept up running as hard as I could. I kept passing people and it was great to hear the cheers and encouragement from friends and my athletes. I finally made it to the '1 mile to go' and just ran as hard as I could passing whoever was in front.
As I crossed the line I knew if things went well I would be within minutes of Jana due to her swim start and that would be great news because it meant she also had a solid performance and she did! After a hug I walked to the E3 tent to find out how the rest of the crew did/was doing.
In the end my finishing time was 4:22:51h, missing my goal by 2:51 seconds but I redeemed myself with a tough but solid performance, finished 2nd place AG and qualified for the 70.3 world championship.
In the end it was an awesome day for everyone and E3; we finished with 5 podiums, 5 athletes qualified for the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, many of my athletes PR and/or finished their 1st 70.3 ever and most importantly, everyone had a super fun day! Best race day ever as a coach :)