Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Austin 70.3 Race Report

I raced Austin 70.3 in 2010 and had pretty good memories of the race. It was warm, the course was fun, and I had to dodge a HUGE bull that had gotten loose on the race course.

This year things were much different. Yet much the same.

1. It was Frigid! 43f (6c) at the start and didn't get much warmer all to fast.
2. The run course. Out went the cross country section and in came another loop.

1. We started in near dark.
2. I had to dodge an animal on course. Granted a dog this go round, but same difference.

All in all, Austin was not a very good race for me. I knew going in that with Ironman having been the focus in training, that I shouldn't expect to be all too sharp for this race. But my dullness surpassed my expectations. Only some of that was due to the conditions on the day. The rest was simply a lacking in the physical and mental department.

Swim: 25:49
I lined up for the swim with some guys I thought I could hang onto. From the gun I knew things were going to be tough. For reasons I am still unaware, I swam hard left while the rest of the field swam right. For the remainder of the "out leg" my internal navigator was steering the ship left. I fought it for what seemed like an eternity and while swimming like a drunken sailor, the lead groups swam away. Unfortunately we were swimming directly into the sunrise which, while beautiful for the spectators, made the task of sighting the course buoys that much more difficult.

 Once I had charted and locked onto proper course, I was alone for the rest of the swim.

I ran in to T2, stopped to pick some very pleasant thorns out of my feet, ran past my bike, ran past my bike in the other direction, looked around frantically, located said bike, donned a long sleeve jersey and FINALLY was on my way.

Bike: 2:18:51
Getting onto the bike I got a split of 1:10 to a group up the road. Not Good. But possible. On I went. Given the early (relative to sunrise) start, it was still mighty brisk when I began my BH piloting duties and my legs were having none of it. My upper body was reasonably warm thanks to a long sleeve jersey and a pair of gloves that TJ Tollakson had kindly lent me that morning. My legs were a different story. No socks, not toe warmers, no "go." For the first 20 or so miles I rode totally alone. I never saw anyone up ahead, and getting power out of my legs was not happening. When I got company, it came from behind and was not the kind I wanted. Somewhere before the mile 40 mark I began to feel a bit better (warmer) and finally felt I could start putting down some decent power. Too little. Too late. I entered T2 without being passed, but not having caught anyone either. Not a very good ride.

Run: 1:20:07
Heading out on the run I was determined not to make the same mistake I made in Augusta and put myself into the mid miles bad patch I ran through in that race. So I took the first lap very conservative, trying to get my legs under me and focusing on getting in some nutrition and fluids. Due to the low temps I didn't drink much at all on the course. I started the race with a single bottle with 10 Green Apple PowerGels in a bottle, and one bottle of water. I took one bottle of PowerBar Perform at an aid station but only took one long pull off it before tossing it within the same aid station. After the race, I still had about an 1/8 of the original bottle of water I started with, and about half the gel bottle. I was thirsty when I started the run and knew getting on top of that was priority #1.

I managed to make up a couple spots in the first lap, and starting my second, I concentrated on picking up the turnover in my feet I could now actually feel. I moved up a few more spots on the second lap and kept my focus on turnover going into the third and final loop. I managed to up the pace slightly more in the 3rd loop and distanced myself from some unwanted company in the final three miles or so. I didn't however shake loose fellow Zooter Beth Walsh, who went on to record the day's fastest run split in the pro women's race. To be honest I actually felt a little bad peeling off to the finish when Beth had another lap to go.

Finish: 8th, 4:08:44

While I did not head into this race with grand expectations, particularly with a field containing the likes of Andy Potts, TJ Tollakson and Chris McCormack, this performance was still a bit of a slap in the face.

There are a few takeaways however:
1. Once I had warmed a bit, I rode halfway decent;
2. I managed to pull some motivation from beneath my frozen exterior and finish the day strong; and
3. I negative split the run and executed my pacing plan thereby avoiding the mid mile hole I found in Augusta.

A hefty congrats to all those who raced with integrity and class, most notably Andy Potts and TJ Tollakson who both put on stellar performances on the day.

Thanks as always to my incredible sponsors:

Zoot: Once pointed in the right direction the Prophet wetsuit was fast and warm. And the Kiawe... I just can't say enough. That shoe is Radical!

BH Bikes:  When my legs came to life the machine responded. Reliable, easy and fast.

Reynolds: Much like the bike, when the power came, my wheels were ready to roll.

TRIBE: I wouldn't get to and through race day without the gear and support I need and you provide.

SPY+: if only you guys made goggles!! Great sunglasses for training, racing, or just casually cruising around. They dress up pretty nice too.

PowerBar: From alarm clock to finish line, my day was fueled almost exclusively by PowerBar products. Bars, Gel blasts, Perform, and Gels. All delicious.

Mikelson & Mikelson, LLP: Great support, from wonderful people. On the race course for me, in the court room for you.

ONWARD!  To Ironman Arizona and the TRIBE Slowtwitch Party

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Augusta 70.3 Race Report

The last time I raced a half ironman this close to an full ironman was in 2009, when a month after my first Ironman at Couer 'd Alene, I raced Vineman 70.3. I felt alright at Vineman, but remember that my legs just seemed to lack any real life on the bike.

Going into Augusta 70.3 only 3 weeks after Rev3 Cedar Pt., this uncharted territory left me a little uncertain. A blog post by good friend and former squad mate Trevor Wurtele, in which he noted the dangers/pains of racing a half 3 weeks after a full rab through my head, and I had my concerns. While I didn't have the best race, I can say it certainly was better than I feared it could have been.

The weeks between Cedar Pt. and Augusta were predominantly focused on recovery, with only a few hard efforts. As a result I came to Augusta feeling a little sluggish, but fully recovered, which is much better than feeling peppy but less than fully recovered.

I got to South Carolina, a state I had never been and didn't even realize I was flying to, in the wee hours of Friday morning and to my incredible homestays' beautiful home in North Augusta, South Carolina (say it 5 times fast) later that afternoon. Due in no small part to my homestays' generosity and hospitality, all went smoothly and it was race morning before I knew it. So onto the race.

Swim: 19:56 but I cheated.

I say I cheated for several reasons: 1. the swim was down river. 2. Although the water was "magically" one tenth of a degree shy of the ridiculous WTC wetsuit cutoff, I was warmly ensconced within my Zoot Prophet wetsuit. and 3. Good friend and fast swimmer Guy Crawford was kind enough to tow me the for what was probably a mile of the 1.2 mile swim.

All that said, the swim was rather uneventful. A few minutes in Guy came around me and I got on his feet. We swam in the middle of the river with a group of guys ten meters or so to our right. In the end I came out a few seconds behind Guy in 2nd. The would set the theme for the day. Aside from that the only notable parts of the swim were "losing" my cap, and getting to swim under this:

Bike: 4:10: 22
Coming out of the water I was boiling and ended up losing some time in T1, getting out onto the bike in 5th or so. Going into the race, I was determined to show that my 2nd fastest bike split at Cedar Pt. was no fluke, and thought I may be able to go one spot better than that in this race. In the first few miles however, the power just wasn't really coming. After trying to settle in and cool off a bit, I took the lead around mile ten but it would only last a few miles. We were a group of 6 or 7 and it took a while for us to thin that number. Most of the group took solid turns on the front setting the pace. I made an attempt at mile 30 to get away, but six miles later I saw it hadn't worked. 

I went again with roughly five miles to go, but Guy was having none of it. He passed me in the final mile and comedy ensued. Doing our peers no favors with regard to our bike handling reputation, we arrived at the dismount line in rather surprised fashion.  I hadn't taken my feet out of my shoes and Guy only had one out. Queu the "America's Funniest Home Videos" scene of drunk women in high heels chasing a wedding bouquet. That was Guy and I scrambling on our plasticized soles, fumbling for the line. It was awesome. 

Despite my efforts and determination to take the fastest bike split, the Pizza Pizza man beat me to it and I ended up 2nd off the bike, with the 2nd fastest bike split, for the 2nd race in a row. (see the theme?)

Run: 1:22
Out of T2 I was running in 2nd behind Maxim who blazed through transition. I knew Maxim would run well. I was determined to do so in kind. Sadly however, just shy of the four mile mark, it became clear this would not happen. As many people have experienced, and due solely to my own stupidity, I "Suddenly" found myself in a rather dark cave. I would run this way for four miles or so, dropping to 5th place, before I was able to take in some calories and clamber my way out. In the end it was too little, too late and I would remain 5th. 
Dancing with the Dancing Girls

Glad to be done

Whoooo! Not an easy day
  As always I owe a huge thanks to my sponsors: 

BH Bikes: Thanks for providing great support and an awesome MACHINE! Its great to have a bike under me that I know is capable and can be relied upon to deliver me to T2 up front. 

ZOOT: While warm in the steamy waters of the Savannah River, the Prophet worked like a charm and the Kiawe were game for some fast miles when the body was able. Best Half IM shoe ever! Maybe even IM too. 

Reynolds: A bike doesn't get you too far if it doesn't have some good hoops to roll on. Reynolds makes some of the fastest, strongest and lightest wheels on the market. Stoked to finally be putting them to good use!

SPY+: We all need to shield our scopes. Spy makes some of the best looking and performing shades out there. The Screw is flat out Tops! 

PowerBar: Fuel... Ahh I just needed a little more. My fault. 

TRIBE: Keeping oneself stocked up on all the gear we need for training and racing can seem like a full time job in and of itself. Thankfully the competent and knowledgable staff at TRIBE has my back. Much less to worry about. 

Mikelson & Mikelson, LLP: Great lawyers. Great support. Great fans of the sport. Couldn't do it without you!