In just my fourth triathlon and first race of my second season as an endurance athlete I finally flashed signs of progress and reached my timing goals! The Mooseman International Triathlon held on June 6 th at Newfound Lake, NH proved to be my best race yet and has me tremendously excited about the upcoming season and beyond. Headed into the race I had wondered if I would ever reach my timing goals if some great training sessions on the bike would translate into success on the course and if my blood sugars would finally cooperate, on Saturday things started to come together and while I have a ton of work left to do when I crossed the finish line I was proud of not only finishing but of the time I finished in.
Kim and I headed up to the Common Man Inn, in Plymouth, NH on Friday after work. I packed my usual pre -meal race of a 1/2 lbs of ground buffalo, whole wheat penne pasta and Rao'sTomato Basil Sauce in rubber maid containers, while Kim was able to enjoy a fresh pasta dish at the Inn's restaurant. Shortly after our meal we watched Slumdog Millionaire and waited for Anna, a friend of ours who was doing the race with TNT.
I used a regular bolus for my meal of 85 grams of carbohydrates but that proved to be a bit of a mistake. About an hour after dinner my blood sugar was 58, and remained below 70 after half of a clif builder bar. At midnight my blood sugar started to rise, when I woke at 5am my blood sugar was 200 - not awful for a race day morning but way higher than I had hoped. I still need to refine my bolus schedule for my pre -race meal, I had unfortunately left my notes on what I did for the marathon in my Virginia apartment.
My breakfast consisted of 2 slices of whole wheat toast with Almond butter; bolused with 1.5 units of insulin and could feel my blood sugars coming into line. After breakfast is when the fun started though!
We left the hotel at 6:15 am, probably a bit later than we should have. On the drive over I had my clif bar, and turned my pump down to 40%. Parking at Mooseman tends to be a bit of a disaster. We finally pulled into a spot at 6:48 am, leaving me just 42 minutes to set up my transition area and get into the water for my swim start. The parking lot was about 3/4 of a mile from the race site, during the walk I downed my nutrition mix with 2 scoops of cytomax and 1 scoop of pre - formance. When we arrived to packet pick up at 7:00 am, the volunteers couldn't find my packet! Finally they set me up with a new race number, but it was now 7:18 am, I had 12 minutes to make it to the swim or I'd be DQ'd!!!! Kim didn't fare much better as she had left her wet suit in my car and had to run back to the parking lot to get it for the race! We really need to leave earlier for our next race....
I frantically entered transition and set up my area as best I could in 5 minutes, thankfully due to the new race number I was set on a back rack virtually by myself. I didn't have a chance to take my bike gear out of my transition bag or place my running shoes on my transition mat - there simply wasn't time; I did however take the time to test and was so thankful my meter read 228. At 7:25 am I sprinted over to the swim start, about a 1/4 mile from the transition area while bobbing and weaving my way through the athletes who were in later waves. I literally made it into the water 1 minute before my wave went off!!!!
There is potentially nothing worse than entering 60 degree water, in a full sweat with your heart rate above 180. Sprinting to a swim start in a triathlon is not something I would ever suggest. Placing my face in that cold water with a high heart rate was awful and caused me to hyperventilate almost immediately. For the first time in any race I thought about quitting. I couldn't get my body to relax since I was so hot from my sprint over but so cold in the water. I decided to breast stroke for a few hundred yards to see if I could clear my head, finally my heart rate started to slow down, my core temperature cooled down and I was able to put my face in the water. At that point my stroke came back to me and I was able to catch up to the middle of the pack by the end of the swim. I finished the swim in 30 minutes with a blood sugar of 170 - the sprint over did nothing to help my time but 30 minutes was too awful, give the circumstances I was pretty happy with it.
Swim Grade: B
Swim Nutrition Grade: A
I can't really say I actually had a T1 transition, it was more a dive into my transition pack to find everything I needed to set up my bike. My transition time had to be at least 6 minutes, which is awful but there was nothing I could do. My Rocket Science transition pack actually saved me a ton of time, the back pack has a specific pocket for each piece of gear, this was the only thing that kept me organized on race day with the confusion at the start.
After loading up my bike with everything I needed I headed off to the bike course to hammer. My Garmin took a while to kick in but once it did I was happy to see I was holding a pace of 23 mph - the Mooseman course is really hilly so I knew I needed to crush the flats to post a good time - my goal was to ride at a 20 mph pace. Headed up the first hill of the course my chain fell off the front ring, I knew the 2 minutes I lost putting the chain back on was going to cost me that 20 mph goal but I also knew it wasn't enough time to be disastrous.
For the 27.5 mile bike course I used a 1 nutrition bottle strategy. I filled my water bottle with 3 scoops of cytomax (70 grams carbs ), 2.5 scoops of carbo -pro (90 grams carbs ), 1/2 scoop of pro- formance (20 grams carbs ) and 1 gatorlyte packet. The mix seemed to work perfectly as I felt strong the entire bike and at no point did I feel any ill effects from blood sugars.
I hoped back on my bike and was really happy with the way I was riding. I didn't want to push it too hard as I had only done one transition run in training and also didn't want to loose my legs. I hadn't had a chance to stretch before the race so also knew the chance of pulling a muscle was pretty high. Throughout the bike leg I had back spasms which cost me some time on the hills but all in all I rode just about the way I wanted to. I finished the bike in 1 hour and 26 minutes for a 19 mph pace and came off the bike with a blood sugar of 168. I think my chain popping off cost me the 20 mph goal, but I'm satisfied with averaging 19 on that course but know I can do better.
Bike Grade: B+
Bike Nutrition: A
Much like my T1 transition, my T2 transition was no better. With my solid blood sugars and knowing the run was just 6.2 miles I decided to pound 1 fuel belt bottle filled with 1.5 scoops of cytomax, a thermolyte tablet and 1/4 scoops of pro- formance in transition. The decision worked perfectly as I finished the race with a blood sugar fo 185 - 17 points higher than my blood sugar when I left T2, exactly what I was shooting for!
My goal was to finish the run in less than 54 minutes, my ultra aggressive goal was to finish the run in under 50 minutes but wasn't sure if I had trained enough to hold an 8 minute pace for the entire run, but I knew I could break 9 minute miles if I fought through the pain. Even after calibrating my Polar RS800 it proved to be off!!! I have made the decision to get rid of the watch and join the Garmin crowd, I'm sick of technology not doing its job. My watch shows I ran 6.47 miles, almost .4 miles longer than the actual course. My final run time was 52 minutes and 52 seconds for an 8:31 pace - my best pace in a race of this distance since the Bear Mountain duathlon 2 years ago! Maybe training on all those hills in Charlottesville really did pay off. Better yet I ran the 6.1 miles at an even pacing split!!! That is proof that my training is really working.
Run Grade: A-
Run Nutrition: A+
Overall I am super psyched about how I performed on Saturday. I finished the race in 2 hours, 57 minutes and 33 seconds, good for 356 th place out of 884 athletes. Rather than leave this race frustrated about something that went wrong which was out of my control I leave this race hungry for more. My passion and desire to improve in this sport and challenge diabetes is as strong as ever, it's amazing what some signs of progress can do. Now it's time to bust my butt for the Mussleman Half Ironman in a month and 1/2, I still have miles to go before I can sleep. Plus, I wasn't the only one to have a great racing in a Triabetes Race Kit, PJ, a fellow type 1 diabetic also is part of Triabetes, we met after the race adn it was great to share the excitement with another Type 1!
A huge congratulations to both Anna and Kim for outstanding races. This was Anna's second triathlon and she did an outstanding job. She headed into the race nervous she wouldn't be able to finish the swim and really doubtful about her ability on the run. She however rocked the course and crossed the finish line with one of the biggest smiles I had ever seen. Kim did a phenomenal job, her run time was hurt a bit because she got punched in the calf during the swim which had her calf spasming for the entire run. However, she did an awesome job fighting through that, did a great job on the bike and had a stellar run. The three of us were all pretty happy after the race.