Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rev3 Quassy Half IM Distance - June 6th

Posted by Ton

I had a pretty good week of rest coming into this race. Work was busy as usual, but I was able to maintain a fairly regular sleep schedule while eating pretty well. Most importantly, I was conscious of rolling out my problem areas and visited my ART practitioner on Friday morning.

Morning of the race (Sunday, June 6th)

Woke up at 4:45am after about 7 hours of sleep. Felt pretty rested. Ate a sandwich with peanut butter and nutella and started drinking a bottle of GU Electrolyte Brew at the hotel, and then we were off to transition. Realized I wouldn’t have heart rate for this race. Long story short… my Garmin had run out of juice. I happened to have my Polar on me but forgot to bring the strap. With about 10 minutes left til transition close, I decide to bolt over to the vendor tent, and as luck would have it, there was a lady there that happened to have an extra Polar strap. (What are the chances?!) She graciously lent me her strap and I ran over to the swim start, where I had just missed the swim warm-up as they were calling the athletes out of the water. Doh! I put on my wetsuit and decided that I needed to take it easy since I hadn’t warmed up. I took a GU Gel (Vanilla Bean) and followed with a couple of sips of my remaining GU Electrolyte Brew. I find Mike, who looked like he had just come out of the water for a quick warm-up.

The Swim –

Gun goes off and my wave is pretty big. It’s a clockwise loop, so I’m towards the right side of the start to minimize distance. I immediately find feet in what must’ve been less than 50 yards and proceed to hang on to the SAME guy for the entire 1.2 miles. In hindsight, this was probably not the best decision as there were times when I wanted to shout… “C’mon, man! Let’s go faster!”… but after the halfway point, the group surrounding me had lulled to a similar pace so there were no other feet to latch on to except for the occasional swimmer from the next wave flying by, but then of course those guys would be too fast. In hindsight, maybe I should’ve pushed my pace a bit til the first buoy and latched onto someone around then, after the weaker swimmers had dropped back. I came out of the water fresher than I have for any race I’ve ever done, and for a half IM, that’s actually not a bad thing. Overall, I don’t think I lost that much time at all.

Time: 38:39

Average HR: 154 BPM

Previous PR (Timberman 2009)
Time: 38.18
Average HR: ???
* About the same swim performance as Timberman, but definitely an easier effort.

T1 –

Nothing to say here, other than I’m pretty sure I left transition before almost all of the guys in my “block” that had already been there before me. I remember thinking to myself… “What do you guys need with all this time?!”… as I hopped on my bike with my shoes already clipped in, and I’m off.
** Official race results say that I passed a total of 40 people in T1 alone, including 4 people in my age group. For the record, for the rest of the race, other than Mike, only one other person in my AG would pass me.

The Bike -
Truly a KILLER bike course. Toughest one I've ever raced. Despite that, I think this was actually one of my better bike performances in terms of pacing and effort. I set the Polar to start beeping once my HR hit 160, so I was pretty much “in-check” most of the way. Unfortunately on the tough climbs, it’s really hard not to go above that, but at least I was counting the times I pushed it and was careful not to light more than my allotment of “matches” for the race before I hit the run.

Coach Mike passes me at mile 16, and he’s looking pretty strong. This is where my mind begins to play tricks on me. I remember thinking a number of thoughts to myself, like… “Wow, I figured I would at least get to mile 26 before he passed me. Either I really messed up the swim, or he’s riding super strong…” as well as “Damn, maybe there’s something wrong with my equipment? I haven’t used a Polar since last year, and this is someone else’s strap. I’ve been feeling pretty damn fresh so far. Perhaps I’m riding too conservatively?” I then picked up the pace a slight bit for a couple miles with Mike still in sight before reminding myself that I’m playing a dangerous game. I would rather err on the side of too conservative than make a rookie mistake. There’s nothing about my bike training (and results) this year so far that would indicate that I’m capable of holding the same pace as Mike for 56 miles, and I back off, but only slightly. At about mile 40, my old friend Mr. Piriformis Pain comes for a visit and stays for the rest of the ride. I keep him in check since I never really put out too hard an effort. I see Mike heading into the run course as I have about a mile left on my ride. At that point, I remember estimating that I’m less than 10 minutes behind, which at that point I was.

Bike Nutrition: 4 GU Gels (Chocolate Outrage) + 2 GU Electrolyte Brews + 2 Water bottles + 3 Salt Stick tablets.

Total Time: 3:09:32
Average HR: 153 BPM
Elevation Gain: 5200 feet
Previous PR (Timberman 2009)
Time: 2:57:02Average
HR: 156 BPM
Elevation Gain: 3600 feet
* Pretty happy with this bike performance. 12 minutes slower than Timberman, but with 1600 feet more climbing at a lower average heart rate. Nutrition was pretty spot-on.

T2 –

In and out. No problems.

Run -

As soon as I run out of transition, I head straight for a porta-john. Had been holding it for quite a while, and I think I must’ve lost a good 60 seconds in the stall. I come out and bolt onto the course. Immediately I see our good friend Bob Cowin who snaps a photo of me. My legs are actually feeling pretty good despite the brutal bike course, a testament to my indoor brick repeat workouts in the gym over the winter/early spring. At that moment, the sun decides to come out and it gets really hot really fast. I remember thinking to myself “Damn, I wish I had brought some more salt tabs on the run” and made a mental note to drink at every stop. I maintain a heart rate of between 165bpm and 170bpm for the first 5 miles. (Official race results say 9:14 pace for the first 5.4 miles, inclusive of bathroom stop.)

THIS RUN COURSE IS BRUTAL. Completely insane. You never quite find your legs and can never “coast” – it’s either up or down. There were parts where I recall collective sighs of “You CAN’T be serious!” amongst the runners around me as we turned the corner to another hill. At the halfway point, as I resolved that Quassy was a one-and-done for me, I had to start digging deep to push forward. I begin to pass a number of broken, walking souls who had pounded too hard on the bike (unfortunately none of them in my AG), meanwhile plotting my final balls-to-the-wall push in a couple miles. But then mile 8 came… and my “oh shit” moment began. Suddenly feeling dizzy, my pace drops, and I began to scan my head of all the things I had done during the race that could’ve lead to this. “I don’t get it… EASY swim, followed by a controlled, well-nutritioned bike leg…” and as I came to a fluid station and waved off yet another person trying to offer me this isotonic drink I had never heard of called “Cerasport” as I was drinking my umpteenth cup of water on the run course, the obvious answer somehow didn’t quite dawn on me. (It certainly would in the medical tent after the race.) With about 5 miles to go, I begin to do the math and I realize that if I don’t maintain my pace, I won’t break my PR from Timberman last August, and that was not sitting well with me at all. I hadn’t failed to break a PR all season, and despite this being a much tougher course than Timberman, I wasn’t about to break my string. The last few miles took every last ounce of me – I literally had to push harder than I ever had this year. In the last half mile there was yet another very big hill and I begin cursing the hell out of the evil race directors who thought it was a good idea to put this damn climb here. And yes, full disclosure… I have to admit… as I was about to hit the top of the hill… I had to walk for a bit. I was defeated. My head was spinning and my body was toast. As the course flattened out towards the end, I gave it one last push. I would like to describe the finish, but unfortunately… I don’t quite remember it. No, that is not a lie or an exaggeration.

Run Nutrition: 3 GU Gels (Vanilla Bean) + Water at every stop

Total Time: 2:03:50
Pace: 9:27min/mile
Previous PR (Timberman 2009)
Time: 2:17:54

* Ah, the fruits of my off-season run focus. 14 minutes faster on a vastly tougher run course. To this moment, I have no idea how Mike managed to pull off an insane 1:45. Of the 25 minutes he beat me by, approx. 18 of it came on foot. Wow, I'm humbled. Other than the blood pressure problem, I can't say I really had a "bad" run per se, considering how I came into the run leg feeling pretty springy. This kid is dangerous.

The aftermath –

I found Mike in the recovery area getting some post-race stretching, but I don’t remember what I said to him. We walked over to towards transition, where I plopped down in front of my bike and felt a dizzying nausea. Walked over to Mike and told him I didn’t feel well, and then he helped carry me over to the medical tent. 97/56 blood pressure. I refused an IV as I lay in the stretcher, and they handed me a cup of Cerasport. (Oh, the irony!) After about 4 or 5 cups, my blood pressure begins to go up. I stayed in the tent for quite a while longer. Mike goes over to grab us some food, but I knew I would not be able to ride my stuff to the train station and endure the trip home. And, the rest is history…

Words cannot describe how sore I was the next couple of days. But it was worth it. I’m proud as hell for fighting harrrrd... harder than I have at any race this year. In total, I end up beating my Timberman PR by a “whopping” 2min 21sec. But boy did I have to dig deep for this one. :)

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