Today I ran the Musselman Half Iron Distance Triathlon in Geneva, New York. This race was my very first Half Iron distance race six seasons ago, so it holds a special place in my wee triathlon heart. Since REV3 Full last year, I just have not been able to get my shit together to put together a decent race. This race is always particularly daunting for me because I know so many athletes who compete and I usually go into the race with some unrealistic expectation of how I should perform. In other words, race anxiety.
My swim was absolutely terrible. I don't think I have ever swam so poorly in a triathlon since my very first one seven seasons ago. Okay, I lie. Every swim I have is pretty terrible. I motor in the water and forget to look up to find those buoys. The result? I end up swimming a good 150 to 200 yards longer. I never turn my Garmin on during the swim anymore, because the last time I did, it said my top speed was 70 m.p.h., but I am sure my swim today would look more like an EKG of someone trying to be resuscitated after their heart had stopped. I heard a lot of athletes talking afterwards that they thought the swim was pretty choppy—especially on the way out. I did not find the waves to be too bad. I just kept telling myself, "let's have a nice swim out here." I have to say, the last little bit of the swim that exits the lake and goes through the narrow canal went faster than I had anticipated. My run out of the water and into transition was pretty strong. I almost failed to mention the best worse part of the swim. My goggles decided to come off somewhere between the first and second buoys. Yeah, that was great fun. Nothing like treading water with your legs while using your hands to put the rubber back through the notches on the side of your goggles.
As soon as I got out of the water, I saw a few of my friends who were cheering me on. I know that you go by them really quickly, but it is so awesome to have that support out there on race day. I got into transition, took off my wetsuit VERY easily, thanks to TRISLIDE! For those of you who have not used TriSlide yet, I'm sorry. It is magic in a can and nothing even comes close to getting you in and out of that wetsuit quicker. I put on my helmet, sunglasses, bike shoes (sans socks), got my nutrition into my REV3 kit and started to run my bike out of transition.
Little did I know that I would get as wet on the bike as I did on the swim. About 20 miles into the bike ride, the sky started looking pretty ominous. Then, without warning, there were a couple of claps of lightning and the sky opened up and started pouring. I took every corner very slowly, as this time around, I made sure to connect my breaks and inflate the hell out of my tires. I did not mind the rain so much. I would much rather it be cool and rainy than 90 degrees like it was last year. It sure helps to keep the heart rate down. This was a fairly decent bike for me. It took me a good ten miles to get my hip flexors and bursar to stop being annoying from all the extra kicking I did on the swim trying to make my way back to those buoys. I felt good motoring out of T1. This time last year, the first few miles of the bike were just excruciatingly difficult. I was coming off of a knee injury that did not allow me to run for about eight weeks, and my riding was limited too. The first few hills on this ride felt WAY better than last year, and that gave me early encouragement. My coach said to hold back a bit on the bike, and that is exactly what I did. I kept hydrated and took in all my nutrition. I only needed to pick up one extra bottle on the bike. I quickly put it all into my aero bottle, finished the rest (splashing most of it on my face), and kept motoring. I had to hold myself back the last 15 to 10 miles in. I looked at my watch and thought "Holy Smokes, I feel awesome! I could just pound it hard." I knew I would end up paying for it on the run if I did that.
T2 took me a little longer than I would have liked. It would be great if all my transition times were under 2:00. I wanted to make sure I had all my nutrition before I went out on the run. It took me an extra few seconds to find where I had placed my Fuel Belt bottles, but eventually I got them in my belt, got the race number on and started running. I could hear my old training partner Manuel yelling at me in transition, telling me to hurry up. He was videoing me with his iPhone and doing commentary like it was on television. Hysterical!
I actually brought two pairs of kick with me into transition. I had my Pearl Izumi Syncro Float IV's and my isoTransition. My thought was, that my right calf was sort of tight a day or two before the race, and I might try to put on some socks and run in the Syncro Floats for a little added stability. The rain on the bike made the decision to wear the Iso Transitions pretty simple. I slipped out of my Pearl Izumi Tri Fly IV Carbon's and into my Pearl Izumi Iso Transition .
I actually thought my run was a little faster than what the results said. Maybe in a state of oxygen-deprivation, I forgot to hit my lap button immediately. I don't know. It is all a blur.
I started out on the run thinking that I should start slower than I think I should go, and gradually increase the tempo as the race went on. I looked down at my watch as I started running out of transition and noticed I was running a 7:24 pace. Yeah, somehow, I do not think I am going to be able to maintain this the whole way, yet. I slowed down and settled into a good groove. I skipped getting anything to drink at the first three aid stations because I was taking in nutrition from my Fuel Belt. I stopped for water at mile four and every single stop after that to hydrate. A couple of times on the run I could sense that I was towing that line between feeling good and dehydration settling in. It is amazing when you have finally arrived to where you can get a sense of what your body is telling you.This was my first sub-9:00"-mile HIM trot.
40-44 AGE GROUP: 36/109
This was exactly what I needed. A little confidence builder going into the second half of the season. I now know that I can and will improve on this time and that choosing not to go long this season was a very wise decision.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?
1) You are your first coach. Whether you are a coached athlete or not, ultimately, you are responsible for putting in the time and figuring out your nutrition. I had my coach to bounce ideas off of and help me through the process—which made the process quicker—but I still had to take an inventory and put it together.
2) I really dislike training in the morning. I only really dislike it because I dislike going to bed early. I've spoken about this before. Wifey and I get the bambini usually get the bambini in bed around 8:30-9:00. During the summer, it could be later if we have things going on and are traveling back from somewhere.
I think that age groupers like myself have a tendency to overtrain sometimes. I put in the hours this year, for sure, but I focused on the intensity of my workouts, rather than trying to go out and bang out a bunch of 100 mile rides because I think that is what I need to do to be competitive with people who bike 250+ miles a week.
3) I can still go faster. This year proved to me that I still have the capacity to run faster off the bike. I will have one more go at the half distance at REV3 Cedar Point in September. I am hoping to nail the nutrition again and have another decent day, maybe another PR.
Okay, Friday top Five in a few days. More soon. Train Smart!