Since Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3 wasn’t really a race for me, I instead decided to use it to learn a few new things and test out some others.
Overall the day was okay. 5:46:50
The Swim: 37:50
The water was warm and relatively calm. I was happy to start in the first wave following the pro’s, until it became clear that with the frequency waves were starting with it would be extremely difficult to maintain personal space to minimize the chance of getting smacked in the head (exactly what I didn’t want to happen). I swam on the inside of the buoys on the way out and moved to the outside right before the last buoy. The problem was that I didn’t realize that was the last one and I overshot the turn by probably 50 meters. Drat!
The Bike: 3:16:21
We got poured on during the bike. I told myself if it was raining during the bike I would stop for safety reasons, but once I got out there I couldn’t quit. For better or worse I don’t have that in me. As demoralizing it was to watch people fly by me it would have been a bigger blow to myself to stop. So I bargained with myself and kept my focus on the next aid station, and then the next. And I stayed as far away from other cyclists as I could, because though I trust myself to be safe I couldn’t risk another crash. The course would have been hard without the weather conditions combined with my conditions but on a different day I really think I would have liked it.
The Run: 1:48:53
And the sun came out for my favorite part of the day – the run. The run course was awesome – basically a figure 8 with one of the loops being an out and back. The smaller true loop was tougher with not much to look at and a few pretty steep, but thankfully short, inclines. The out and back leg was heavily lined with the crowd for much of it, and even once the road narrowed you still had “oncoming traffic” to look at. I went out at a pace that was very maintainable. And I ran, and cheered, and focused on maintaining effort up and over the hills. And for the first time in history my splits were almost identically even with an 8:20 min/mi pace for the first half and an 8:17 min/mi pace for the second half.
Things that went well:
1. Because I wasn’t “racing” I used the day to test random new things, including keeping hair out of my face, how to keep a new outfit chafe-free, using on-course nutrition rather than packing my own (minus on the bike and 1 emergency gu on me). These are things I’m never really willing to risk during a race but I learned new stuff that works for me. It’s nice to know that in future races I can rely on aid stations a bit more to simplify my transitions.
2. I used Infinit on the bike for the first time in a race, and forced myself to drink 2 bottles. I probably should have had even more but consuming even this amount was a nutrition breakthrough for me. It prevented the “empty” feeling quite well and I was happy to stay hydrated and not experience any stomach issues either. There was a point where I didn’t quite feel topped off in terms of energy so I broke the rules of Infinit and indulged in some chomps. I thought I was going to have stomach issues around mile 3 of the run but it settled and everything was great.
3. The swim and bike were pretty bleh, but I had a lot of fun on the run. Yes, we do this sport for fun, but by the run I’m usually more dying (and it’s fun when it’s over!) than rallying and enjoying every mile. I used keeping myself at 80% as an excuse to scream for every person I knew who passed by, to cheer on people passing me (or that I was passing), to high-5 everyone with their hand out, and to thank every volunteer within earshot. It was good times and helped redeem the day for me.
4. My transition times were decent. I kept it simple, stayed focused, and followed the plan/layout that I had visualized prior to the race. It worked. Now I just need to figure out how to repeat it. T1: 1:50, T2: 1:56
Things to improve on next time:
1. The swim was sucky. Not only because I was afraid of getting smacked, but it took me about 3/4mi to feel warmed up, comfortable, and panic-free, and by that time I was near done. I felt disoriented/seasick on the swim – which happened the Friday prior during an OWS too – and I wonder if it is concussion related or that pool swimming is making me soft. Regardless, by about 800 in I could only breathe on my strong side to keep from feeling affected by rotation. To me this means I need to focus on open water a lot more before I head to Penticton. It’s more important to get comfortable swimming in open water than chance that the minuscule strides I might make in the pool in the next month will be worth it.
2. I would love to know how this bike could have gone without the crash. It felt okay; far from awesome but not terrible. The bike I borrowed fits great and rides great, but it simply isn’t what I’m used to. The balance and weight were really different, and had never ridden a road bike in my life until a week before this race. I did much better on the climbing than I thought I would…but I know I could do better. Needless to say I didn’t make use of downhills – or even flats – other than to let people fly by me! With technical terrain combined with pouring rain this was not the day for me to test anything here. My mantra was to stay as far away from other people as possible.
3. Also on the bike, I need to work on shorter TT type efforts. The flats weren’t terrible but my cadence felt way out of whack. Either high (ie. mid 90’s) or low (mid 70’s). Historically I’m most comfortable in the low 80’s (I know, should be higher and I try!) but I just couldn’t find the effort and gear to match comfort or ideal range.
4. I need to continue to train the nutrition and hydration plan that I’ll use race day. I’m really exceptionally horribly bad at this when I train, but I need to force myself to take in calories and water at the same intervals that I want to on race day. I need to practice everything from bike handling while eating to hydrating with a high HR. I have a really hard time “compromising” my training pace or intensity to do this, and though I had an easy out today at only holding 80% I need to be better come Canada.