Austin 70.3 Race Report

Austin 70.3 Race Report

10/23/11

 HELPLESS!

 I hate the feeling of helplessness.  No matter what aspect of life helplessness is associated with, I can’t stand the feeling of not being in control and not being able to do anything to help the situation I am in.  Helpless is the way I felt last Sunday at 70.3 Austin.  I worked hard and left it all on the course, but my all was not nearly enough to compete with the best.

I have been training hard as of late and making big gains, but I have been run focused for some time now.  I have been biking and swimming a lot, but I haven’t really been “putting it all together.”  I have done one brick(bike to run, or swim to bike) workout in the past 5 months and I have raced one triathlon in the past 6 months.  This definitely showed on Sunday in Austin.  I thought I could just power through the race and come out with a superb performance.  I can assure you, this was not the case.  These races can not be taken lightly, especially at the level I need to perform.  Judging by the way my body feels today, my limbs were not ready for the stress of a triathlon either.

The swim was, well, the swim.  My goal going in was to stay relaxed and try to come out of the water with as much energy as possible so I could use the bike and run as my weapons to hunt down and take out the leaders.  The gun sounded and I took off.  I drafted off of another athlete most of the way.  We were by no means breaking records, but I felt good and smooth.  I kept checking in with myself throughout the swim to make sure I was relaxed.  I have been known to be a tense swimmer to say the least.  As of late, I have been trying to feel the water.  I cruised through the swim, way behind the front pack and got out in 32 minutes.  It seemed like a long way which was another example of my lack of triathlon specific training and racing.  Doing 4500 meters in a pool is one thing.  A 2000 meter open water swim is entirely different.  I was not accustomed to swimming that long because I had not done it in so long.  A lot of the guys in the field are Ironman competitors so a 2000 meter swim is nothing compared to the 4000 meter swim they are used to completing.  I had a lot of ground to make up.  Remember that helpless feeling I was talking about?  Here is a prime example.  I want to swim faster, with the rest of the group.  I just can’t do it.  I have been spending a lot of time in the pool, but everyone else has been as well.  I guess I have to remember that it is a process and takes a while to be a good swimmer let alone a swimmer who can keep up with the best swimmers in the sport.

Coming out of the water so far behind is a tough mental issue to deal with.  Although my goal for the race was to race “my” race and see where I was at physically, it is still a metal drain knowing that I am already 8 minutes down on the leaders with only one-third of the day completed.  I got on the bike and felt great.  I eased into my race pace, 320 watts, and felt as though I could hold that wattage all day.  The course was tough.  A lot of rolling hills and the pavement was absolutely horrible due to the massive drought in Texas.  There were cracks and bumps everywhere, and there were sections that had been repaved to cover cracks, but the asphalt that was used to repave was not the smoothest surface.  It resembled the surface of the moon, if you can imagine that(CRAZY BUMPY).  I was moving and feeling good.  I went through 25 miles in a little under an hour.  All of a sudden, I hit a bump and my left aero bar arm rest dropped down.  I could still rest my arm but it wasn’t the most comfortable feeling.  This is also when my power began to decline.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t maintain my previous wattage.  I was digging deep, trying to get back up to speed, but between the hills, the wind, the road surface, and, I guess, my lack of long, tempo rides(My max ride was 2:30 throughout the past 6 months, once per week); I started to suffer.  I tried to put my head down and get into a groove, but I just couldn’t keep up the pace.  Helpless!  I was working, but 56 miles is a long way.  I wasn’t used to holding a tempo effort for that long.  I came off of the bike in 2:23 with an average wattage of 279.

As I ran onto the 3 loop run course, the eventual winner Michael Raelert was just beginning his second loop.  I was a lap down on the leader, 4.5 miles.  He passed me like I was standing still.  I have been running focused the past few months and I couldn’t keep up with him.  I ran a marathon three weeks ago and I came through the halfway point at 1:10.  Michael ended up running a 1:11.  Although I knew I could run faster than he was running, I just couldn’t get up to his speed.  Once again, helpless.  It was starting to get hot and the course was a never-ending series of hills.  I made sure to keep taking in fluids and calories because I knew I would need those fluids and calories as the run progressed.  I started out around a 6 minute/mile pace, and that slowly tailored off to a 7 minute/mile pace.  I finished the half marathon in 1:27.  The same time I finished the second half of Twin Cities with two ailing IT Bands.  My overall finish time was 4:26 and I finished 14th in the Pro Division.

It was evident that I was not triathlon ready for this race, but the point of it was to see where I was at fitness-wise.  I learned a lot about myself as I always do on these tough days, but I also learned a lot about myself as a coach.  I never want my athletes to have the feeling of helplessness.  I want all of my athletes knowing that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to and when they ask their body for that extra effort it will respond.

I know what I have to do to be triathlon ready and I know the changes I will have to make in my training.  It’s not more or less of one thing or another, it’s just more specific to what I will be racing.  Thanks to my Mom and Dad for coming down to Austin and supporting me and thanks to Shane Niemeyer for giving me some great words of encouragement as I struggled through the run.

Up next, I have a decision to make.  Either I put the bike away and hone in on the California International Marathon for one more shot at qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials, or I dive back into full-time triathlon training and start making gains for next season.  I’ll let you know.  RACE HARD!

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2 Comments

  1. Sorry to hear you didn’t race your best race, but you still did well! I am new to the Ironman distance (my first 70.3 is Oceanside in March and 140.6 will be CDA in June) but I can still relate to your experience. Good luck on the next one and keep up the hard work!

  2. I raced 70.3 Austin on Sunday as well and your race report is right on when it comes to the run. It was all up and down and the only flat section I remember was right when you entered the ‘arena’ to go down the finisher’s chute. Otherwise it was a tough run course.

    Happy to read about how you want to coach your athletes to. That shows a lot of class in that as the coach you want them to be able to perform their best on race day and not just collecting money from them.


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