Thursday, June 14, 2012

2012 EagleMan 70.3 race report

Final time:  4:55:33 – 44/265 age group place


I ended up with a 21 minute faster time than last year which is a great result.  I did have my share of problems during the race.  In summary I couldn’t hit my power numbers on the bike, I consumed too many combined calories pre-race and during the bike which lead to a nightmare first 7 miles of the run.sunrise

As we arrived at the race site, it was just in time to see an amazing sunrise.  This photo doesn’t really do it justice, but it was a beautiful way to start the day.   As we were approaching the transition area, the race officials announced that the water temperature was below 76.1 so it would be a wetsuit legal swim!  This was good news.  At the same time they also mentioned that compression gear was not legal, not sure that what was all about.  I usually wear compression calf sleeves for the bike/run especially when I can have them on under my wetsuit.

After setting up my transition area I walked around a little and saw the pro’s setting up.  Crowie seemed to be pretty relaxed, even taking the time for photos with some of the athletes.

Swim 33:47 - 1:36/100y

Since there was 8 minutes between swim waves, I had some time to swim for a few minutes to loosen up a bit after entering the water.  I positioned myself about 1/4 across the start line and was able to hold my position easily as I was able to just stand up on the sandy bottom.  As the swim started I settled into a groove and seemed to be making good progress.  I remember my shoulders feeling a little tight, but that ended after the first 5 minutes.  I was not able to draft much, however there were some periods where I managed to get on to some feet for a few minutes.  I had a little trouble sighting the bouys.  I think that was from a combination of the sun angle and them being quite small.  A few times I stopped for a few seconds to make sure I was heading in the right direction.  I remember feeling pretty hot and had some slight cramping in my quads on the last leg to the swim finish.  I didn’t know it then, but this was the start of things getting tough later in the day.  I think a sleeveless wetsuit might have been better.

As I exited the water, I looked at my watch and it was under 34 minutes!  I was really happy with that as my goal was 38 or better.  I swam much better than last year and of course the wetsuit helped.

I still have some work to do swimming a straight line – a few times I found myself  a little off course.  This was better than I had done in the past.  Looking at the gps file from my watch after the race I can see that I was a bit off course heading into the first turn and closing in on the beach.  The Z pattern towards the end is a gps glitch.  The line is amazingly straight since I was wearing the watch (Garmin 910xt) on my wrist.swim-gps-route1

T1 – 2:06t1

As I entered the transition area, I stripped my wetsuit to my waist and jogged to my bike.  I found it hard to run fast through transition – this is something I need to work on.  I think I’ll add some swim to run bricks to get better at this.

Bike – 2:28:38 – 22.6mph

I started the bike conservatively.  My goal was to start a little easy to lower my heart rate and then build into the ride working up to my target watts range of 240-255.  I found it hard to hit my target or even come close. I think a combination of the heat and some lingering fatigue meant I was unable to ride at the watts I intended, and my HR was higher than normal.  I ended up with a normalized power of 226 (average 221) for an IF of 1.02 and an average HR of 161.  This is very different to some recent training rides where I was able to hold the same power for 5 hours at a lower HR.

bike1 bike2

Even though my power numbers were lower than I wanted, my perceived effort felt about right.  I had set my bike computer to show only power (3s avg, lap NP, Lap avg), cadence and HR. Each 5 miles or so I would check my speed average which sat at 23mph for most of the course.  I was really hoping that riding at a fairly easy effort would mean my legs would be fresh for a good run.

In the first 20 miles of the bike I saw the race referees on the back of the motorbike many times.  At one point I was behind a small pack of riders when I saw the referee point to one of the them and give him a penalty card.  When that happens you have to stop at the next penalty tent.   Over the course of the race I saw them hand out a number of time penalty’s . 

My nutrition plan for the bike was to take in calories every 12 minutes.  I have used this strategy for many races and it has worked well.  My sole calorie source is EFS Liquid shot (vanilla).  I fill up a bottle that sits between my arms and add some water to make it flow a little better.  I set my garmin bike computer to beep every 12 minutes and drank the EFS liquid shot every time, except the last one before getting to T2 since I only had a mile of so to transition.

At the final aid station, somewhere around mile 45, I stood up a little to stretch out.  Wow, my quads felt really tight and sore.  I didn’t really feel any discomfort when riding, but it was clear that I may have some trouble on the run.

What I realize now is that I had taken in too many calories when I combined pre-race and on-bike consumption.  I was aiming for a maximum of 400 calories per hour on the bike.  After analyzing what I had eaten after the race I calculated that I took in 1,450 calories before the race started and another 930 calories on the bike.  My HR was higher than usual  (low 160’s compared to mid 150’s) combining that with the heat and I think I had more calories than my body could process.  All of this lead to some real problems on the run.

T2 – 2:29t2

I executed a decent flying dismount entering T2.  I always leave my shoes on the pedals as I don’t really want to run in them.

This year I took a few extra seconds to put socks on.  Last year I completed the run without socks and with all of the water I used to cool down, my feet were wet and I got some nasty blisters.  It did feel better to run in socks, I think for Sprint and Olympic races socks aren’t needed, however for 70.3 or higher I’ll wear them every time.

I didn’t waste any time, put socks & shoes on – grab my had an fuelbelt and proceeded to the run exit.


Run – 1:48:35 – 8:18/mile pace

The run was my nemesis last year at this race.  I faded badly over the last 3-4 miles due to the combination of heat and lack of nutrition.  This year I was hoping for something better.  It wasn’t to be. 

I started out running steady, trying to get my legs back into running mode.  I remember it feeling very slow.  As I passed the finish line, I saw Greg Bennett cross the line in 2nd place in the pro race.  That kept my mind off things for a little while.  My first mile I was feeling a little off, but it turned out to be an 8:05 pace – this was much faster than it felt.  During mile 2 the wheels seemed to fall off a little.  Not far after the first mile marker was the first aid station.  I grabbed some water and ice and I could feel my quads feeling very tight.  After walking the aid station I started running again.  I got through the 2nd mile in 8:33 – still decent, but was feeling very heavy.  I just couldn’t get moving.  At one point I stopped to stretch my right quad, and as I lifted my foot up, my hamstring started cramping.  Oh dear.  Not a good feeling.  run

I remember when this picture was taken.  It was around the time where I felt the worst.  You can see some of the pain in my facial expression, but I was feeling much worse than it looks.

After my attempt at stretching was a total fail, I figured I should try to run again.  I did not want to get in to the pattern of waking when things got tough.  I held on to the thought that things would turn around, just stay patient.

Mile 3 was 8:20 – considering how I felt, the time was actually pretty fast.  During mile 4 I was feeling awful. At times I thought I might throw up.  I had a very heavy feeling in my stomach.  I was hoping to be feeling better by now but almost 4 miles in things were not feeling good at all.   I made a quick stop at a port-a-john and felt a little better.  Including the stop, mile 4 was 10:03.  At that point I was really in a survival mode, not really caring about what time I was running.

Miles 5 and 6 I was still feeling it but somehow managed to complete miles in 8:14 and 8:36.  This included walking through the aid stations. Mile 7 included the turn-around and we hit the same aid station twice.   At each aid station I took off my hat, filled it with ice and put it back on again.  In addition to that I had 1 or 2 cups of water.  I glanced at my watch at the turn-around point and it had taken me nearly an hour to get there.  That was much slower than I was hoping for.  I started doing some numbers and I would need to average 8 minute miles to break the 5 hour mark.  I didn’t really think I could do it.  I just kept telling myself to hang in there and things would turn around.  Mile 7 was 9:27.  Around this time I saw Carly – she was only a mile behind me and was looking strong.  Her start wave was 16 minutes behind me too – so I knew she was having a great race.  The way I had been running, I thought she might pass me before the finish line.

As I started mile 8 I did start to feel better.  I remember feeling lighter and felt like I could pick the pace up a little.  Mile 8 was 8:02, mile 9 8:13 and mile 10 was a 7:52.  I walked all of the aid stations.   At mile 7 I put some ice down my shorts – that felt really good and may have been the catalyst to get me going again.

At this point I had 3 miles left and my patience was starting to pay off.  I was feeling good enough to pick up the pace a little more and started passing people too.  Miles 11, 12 and 13 were 7:50, 7:35 and 7:03.  during the last few miles I felt like my form was good.  I still had a chance at a sub 5:00 time.  As I got close to the finish I was able to give it a little more, finishing hard with at time of 4:55:33.

This was the tale of 2 different runs.  The first 7 miles felt like a death march.  But things did turn around for the final 6 miles.  My splits for each half of the run (6.6 mile) segments were 57:17 & 51:17.  That is a nice negative split.

After I had finished I felt remarkably good.  I sat down in the shade for a few minutes – there was a row of chairs provided right at the finish line which was great.  I waited for Carly to come across the finish line.  She had an amazing race, finishing 4th in her age group with a 4:52:18!

Post Race Analysis

I think there were a number of contributing factors to my performance

  • I have been building up my long run/rides for IMLP.  Since this was not an ‘A’ race, I didn’t really taper or specifically prepare for this race.  In the 7-10 days before the race I completed a 2:10 run and a 5:00 ride a week before this race.  During the weekdays before the race I had a really busy work schedule and missed some workouts.  I think I was still fatigued from those long efforts on race day. 
  • my work/travel schedule for the last 6 weeks has been crazy, I was traveling 5 out of the pervious 6 weeks.  this makes consistent training hard, and makes me tired.
  • Total calories combined pre-race and during the bike was around 2,400.  I think that was way too much for my body to handle.  The fact that my running came around in the last 3 miles proves this.  I will have to be more diligent about total calorie intake next year.
  • the wetsuit swim in warm water may have contributed to starting the bike a little overheated

Apart from the nutrition/fatigue challenge I had a really good race. You can never be disappointed with a 20 minute PR.   I really think had I been at full power on the bike and not had the nutrition issues, I could have taken 8-10 minutes off my finish time.

After a few days rest, it is time to start the last 4-5 week build leading up to Lake Placid.  II am looking forward to the race, and equally looking forward to dialing things back after the race.  Preparing for long distance triathlons takes a lot of effort.  I am finding it hard to make the time to train more than 12 hours each week.

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