Austin 70.3 Race report
I went into this race feeling really good and excited to test out my new game plan on nutrition and see if I could overcome that issue for the first time, as well as put my last 3 weeks of training to the test that my coach, Tim Tarpley gave me. Part of the plan for the last 3 weeks leading up to this race was to keep me fresh, light, injury free and race sharp since the foundation had been laid down already. As Maurice,T3 owner and my swim coach, has said to me leading into this race “there is not too much you can do the last 3 weeks, and assured me that I was more than ready, I just needed to keep the weight down”.
Well, the first two of those weeks I was on the road taking bikes to Halfmax Nationals with the business and the other week was a taper week, so there really wasn’t room to put in any volume training anyway. The biggest battle for me is to keep the weight down when on the road, sitting in a car for 28 hours is very boring and tiring, which equals being hungry and eating… But I was so excited with Tim’s training and eating plan that I got every workout in on the road ( a first time this year ) and actually lost weight on the trip ( another big first and huge victory ).. I have honestly never felt that I looked the part of being a professional athlete let alone and endurance athlete ( hello stubby and too muscular little tennis legs ) , so moving in that direction is definitely a confidence booster. So I was fresh, excited, lighter, and ready to go.
I decided to go without a wetsuit this time even though the water was only 72 degrees. I have had a feeling that every time I have worn a wetsuit in the past I have overheated and it has lead to cramping later on, as well as the fact that I start out on the bike sluggish instead of fresh as compared to a sprint race that I don’t wear a wetsuit. I also don’t particularly like wearing a wetsuit and feel pretty uncoordinated and restricted in one, so today was going to be the test on how much not wearing a wetsuit would hurt my swim but knowing the turnaround would hopefully be a good bike and run.
The start was rough, since there were 22 pro’s or so starting out together, and I started in the back. Big mistake – I usually start out strong for the first 200 meters and can hang with everyone, but this time because I was in the back, I got totally pummeled. Goggles got knocked loose, and at one point someone actually swam right over the top of me. After the pack left me, which took like 1 min, I was able to get into a groove and actually felt the best I had ever felt in the water stroke wise and all ( thanks T3 swim practice and Maurice’s patience ). I was totally surprised to see that I swam 34 min, but I am guessing I lost about a min or so not having that good start and then a min or two ??? without a wetsuit.
With that being the case, then I did have a good swim for me. After the initial disappointment of seeing a 34 min on the wrist, I shook it off pretty quickly knowing that I took a risk going without a wetsuit for this race and I knew that it was likely I would have a slow swim. So no worries there, but I have my work cut out for me in the off season, and I will be a front pack swimmer before I am done with this sport – I am determined…
Felt great from the start. The game plan was to bike within myself and forget about the rest of the field ( which was easy to do since they were all waaaayy ahead of me ) . I had a heart rate zone to stay in for the first time since usually I just go as hard as I can and try to hold on, so staying in those zones did take some restraint on my behalf. I felt great the whole way and while I was working hard, I was never breathing hard, so I definitely had another gear or two in me. Conquering nutrition was the big goal for today, so I drank a ton – about 130 oz of Puresport and Carbo Pro Mix and took my much needed Saltstick tablets every 30 min.
I was surrounded by a few 50 year old guys a few miles in ( the division that left right after us ) , and a few of them kept on overtaking me on the down hills attacking, but as soon as they passed me they would slow down. I kept on having to slow down, get out of the draft zone, and then immediately surge to overtake them again. This happened pretty much the whole way. I am not sure if this hurt me because I was always having to slow down to stay out of their draft until I was ready to pass, or if it helped because I could pace myself off them and having some competition on the bike all around me definitely kept me focused at the task at hand.
All in all, I had the best bike I have had in a 70.3 race. A 2:27 time and a 22.85 average pace. I had a goal for the year to break 2:30 on the bike, so I was super excited about this.
So this is unfortunately where my first quad cramp came on. I knew had taken in enough fluid and sodium so we are thinking now that today’s cramps were not from nutrition. Tim suggested that it is a muscular thing, especially since I am so muscular in the legs. This is what I read below, so the game plan now is to stretch a lot, roll out a lot, and try to lose some muscle mass in my legs , which has been a goal for a while anyway for endurance purposes and now cramp free purposes.
From WebMD -
“While the exact cause of muscle cramp is not known, some researchers believe that it is caused by inadequate stretching and muscle fatigue which, in turn, leads to a malfunction of the mechanism that controls muscle contractions.
Anyways, back to run. I started out feeling great besides extreme lower back pain which I think is from sitting in a car for two 28 hour stretches recently. The game plan was to be comfortable the first 3 miles and then pick it up and negative split the run. Well, first mile came and my watch said 6:15, holy cow.. I didn’t feel like I was pushing it, so a little surprised by this. I thought, ok, hold back a bit, next mile came 6:20. The off road and hilly part was coming so I knew I would slow down there, and I did. 3rd mile was a 7 and then the Quadzilla hill came, and it really evened things out. I went into a really conservative mode and kept in under control going up the hill with the thought to pick it up again once I got over it. Well that didn’t quite happen like I would like and I was in “one foot in front of the other and survive” mode. The rest of the way I was just trying to stay focused, controlled, yet letting my body run free and push the pace when I was on a flat or downhill. This is my first time on the run of a Half ironman that I could do this and could actually pick my legs up normally without cramping, so I was just so happy and relieved about this. I tried to surge a few times on the run to where I would hopefully carry that pace all the way home, but it was mostly short lived until mile 11 snuck up on me, and where I decided to just run as absolutely hard as I could since I knew I would make it to the finish line at this rate. I really worked hard, using the arms, trying to put power in every stride, and I could feel it because it soon became the fuzzy vision, goose bumpy part of the run. Next step for me – I feel I need to be able to run like this for the whole half marathon and deal with it. The biggest victory through all this is that I never ever went into that “dark place” in my head. That place that has self doubt, questions of what am I doing, and wants to give up. I was so loving being out there and just being able to give it my best shot that I had in me for the day, and I was totally satisfied with what I had brought to the table, knowing deep down that this was just the start for me.
Run time 1:38 ( 7:30 pace )
Total Time : 4:43