There just are no easy races. This was the real kick off to the season with my first A race. It turned ugly.
This year is my year for speed. I want to get faster at everything, especially some shorter distance races. I’ve been riding most all of winter, starting around the end of December and I have been ramping up my run fitness. Leading into this race I set PRs at 5k, 10k, 13.1, and Olympic distances.
Michelle and I took Friday off work and drove down to Haines City fairly early on Friday which was nice and more relaxing than usual. We met up with Ted and family to head over to registration. I got my race day wheels on and went off on a easy bike ride. I hadn’t ridden a disc wheel in a long time and it was fast…more on that later.
The next day on Saturday we went for a little warm up swim and jog. The water was warm, which meant probably no wet suit. So after a quick practice swim and cry I was left with just hopes of having a decent enough swim. I actually had a little trick in my pocket. The week prior to the race I had a swim session with the great Sam Morgan, one of our coaches. He took some video, had me do drills and broke down exactly what was holding me back from speeding up to mediocrity at swimming…and even threw in some tips on how to get fast! If you are wanting to get faster, not sure your form is on par I would highly recommend setting something up with Sam…well worth it for a one-on-one.
So no issues in the days leading up to the race. Morning of we made Pancakes in our room, it was super early so no pictures. We made it to Lake Eva around 5am, found a parking spot at a bank and made our way into transition. Somehow I got All World Athlete status so I had a rack real close to bike out. The other cool thing about AWA status is that everyone around me has setup transition before. So bikes were in the right spots and there wasn’t overflowing excessive transition areas. I found Michelle and we went to the team tent to wait for the start.
I went down to watch Michelle start the relay in the first wave and went back to the tent and downed my EFS pre-race. I saw Chris Pratt in the tent next to us. He was racing with a former Marine. I wished them a good race and went out to the swim start.
I don’t know what happened but I was a swimming machine. I didn’t think it was very crowed at the start, but it got a little crowded at the turns (6 of them). I kept aggressive in the corners and worked my technique, just as Sam suggested. I knew towards the end this was a fairly good swim and when I finally stood up I saw a 39 on my watch for the first time…ever. I almost did a mic drop and stopped the race right there…but I kept going.
The transition area was long and my bike was at the end. Which was way better than the other way around. I popped on my shoes and helmet…then took off my swim skin, doh…and was off on the bike.
Swim: 39:39 (PR)
Now my race starts. I was in one of the later waves so there were people everywhere. I just hammered it…maybe a bit too much to start…but flying past people was great. My plan was to maintain around 250-255watts. I knew the first part was faster than the second, and I could probably bank some speed so I let myself go a bit above my planned wattage. I was up around 265w 10 miles in and eased it to about 260 at the halfway point. My heart rate was a bit higher than expected. It was hovering in the higher 160s, I think this was my unravelling. Especially on hot days, it is key to keep the HR low. For the second half of the bike I did lower the wattage and averaged around 249…but my speed was actually almost identical. I think we did have a little wind in our favor on the second half.
Much like the swim, there are a lot of turns. Too many. But I have been riding outside a lot and am very confident with my bike handling skills. I was passing a lot of people through the turns and as well as just out of the turns. My coach always says fast bike splits are about doing a lot of little things right. Same with hitting the hills. I spotted a lot of people getting out of the saddle on climbs that didn’t need it. I see this a lot when people hammer an uphill and coast on the downhill. Not in a race. Hammer a steady effort especially leading up to a hill, put a little higher effort on the uphill, be sure to shift to a harder gear almost at the top, then hammer a steady high cadence effort through the downhill.
I think I hit my nutrition well. I took down about 500-600cals of EFS liquid shot, 200-300cals of efs, lots of water, and 4 caffeinated salt tabs. My legs were a little fatigued but nothing excessive. I jumped off my bike, slapped on my shoes, grabbed my race belt looped around my visor, got some sun screen, and was off.
Bike: 2:22:54 (PR)
Normalized Power: 256w (265 1st half v 247 2nd half)
Average Power: 251w (260 vs. 241)
I started fairly confident in the run, although my HR monitor was not reading on my Garmin. My legs felt tired, but were loosening up, my gut was fine, and I was taking down cals and salt. I could not pee on the bike (tried twice) so I went around mile 2. I finished the first of 3 loops in 33 minutes. I’ll take that.
Then things got ugly. My gut got angry. I could feel the sun baking me, my internal temp was boiling over and my HR would not shut up! There are 2 fairly steep hills on the first section of the loop and I was walking on the first hill. Until I got the tap from Ted, who made me run…at a reasonable pace. This was a life saver, just chatting for a bit pacing me out. Towards the end of the second hill Ted took off and I tried to just keep it moving to the next aid station.
I did take an extended stop to get my HR down, get some salt and calories in and prep for a better lap 3. It was a little better but not by much. I jogged out the last half mile and crossed the finish.
It was a 5:02 effort. My goal was not to die, which was only about 10% achieved. I really wanted a solid time and I set myself up for it, I just couldn’t finish it off. But I have a plan for the rest of the year and this was a great data point.
So it time to recover, race a bunch of shorter distances races through June, then July starts the journey to 2016 Worlds in Australia. I want to go, I will go, and I have plenty of time to get to it.