Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tri-Season Done

I concluded my triathlon season on Sunday with the Longhorn Ironman 70.3 here in Austin. The organization this year was much better than last year. My compliments to the race staff and volunteers. Ya'll made it a great event.

The weather was near perfect for the race. Cool temperatures greeted us on Sunday, with temps in the low 60's. It would get warmer. Although my overall time was not a personal best, I did see improvement over last year's race. My swim, bike and run were all faster. Gotta work those transitions a little quicker. I'm giving away too much time in there. Having to pack my wetsuit in the small bag they gave us required more skill than I could muster at that moment. We'll get it next time.

Our wave departed just after 8:00 am. I positioned myself out to the side to hopefully find open water a little faster and avoid the scrum that inevitably occurs at the swim start. Unfortunately, my left goggle immediately filled up with water. I stopped and tried to clear it without success. I swam over to the first kayak to steady myself while I worked on the problem. The people on shore must've thought I was already freaking out and ready to start the backstroke 100m in. But I fooled them. The goggle problem proved to be a continuing issue. So I said screw it, and swam 1.2 miles with one eye open. My swim was about what I expected, but you can always hope for a faster time. Nonetheless, I felt my swim was improved over last year. (38:53)

My goal was to finish in 5 hours or better. To do this, I was going to have to push it on the bike. Coach Maurice told me I needed to go around 80 - 85 percent but push it. I needed to be off the bike just over 3 hours into the race to have any chance. For the most part I achieved my goal. I was right at 80-85 percent the whole way. This year's course eliminated a couple of the tougher hills, so I felt my overall average would be good. At one point I was up to 22.5 mph avg. A little head-wind on the return trip knocked it down a bit, to 21.74 mph for 56 miles. 2:34 bike split - my fastest yet in a 70.3 race. I got off the bike between 3:15 and 3:20. I would have to have a spectacular run to make 5 hours.

Starting the run, I could tell my legs were pretty trashed from the effort on the bike. I deliberately pushed the bike to see how my legs reacted. Not great but not bad either. My stomach was cramping a bit, which I attribute to drinking a highly concentrated mixture of CarboPro and EFS (Lemon Lime) with out enough water. I drank water for the first couple of water stops and this cleared up. From there on I relied mainly on water and flattened Coca Cola and a few salt tabs to get me through the run. I had flashes where I felt really good, but they were short-lived.

Longhorn employed a 3-loop run course this year. Some folks don't like this, but I don't mind it. I like seeing my friends and other racers coming and going. It's motivating. Plus after two loops, you're over half-way through the run. By this time, I was struggling a bit on the run and it was apparent, I was not going to make my time goal. So I decided to have some fun, and ran the last loop in a plastic Viking helmet and carrying a plastic war axe I picked up at the Halloween Store. I got a good reaction from the crowd and that kept me going. Vikings don't crater at the Ironman, do they? It was good fun. My run split ended up at 1:49 (8:19 / mile pace). Overall finishing time of 5:11 (one minute off my personal best on a flatter course). Thanks to all the volunteers and my T3 teammates for making it a lot of fun.

So, now I'm officially in the off-season, whatever that means. I will take some time to recover and continue to coach my people at AustinFit on Saturday mornings as we get them ready for the Austin Marathon. Other than that, I don't really have a plan.

Last year, I set out to improve my cycling, and for the most part that's happened. My bike averages were up over last year. And I saw improvement throughout the season. (The Tour de France always inspires me to suffer a little more and hang on to the lead group for as long as I can). Last year's Longhorn I averaged 20.7 mph. New Orleans was right at 21 mph. Sunday's Longhorn at 21.74 mph was encouraging. Now my cycling seems to be approximately even with my running at least from my overall rankings. The swim continues to hold me back.....Looks like I have an off-season plan in the making.

The tri-season was long and short at the same time. I only competed in four races. An Ironman (Idaho), 2 Halfs - New Orleans and Longhorn, and one Sprint (Jack's Generic Tri). I volunteered at CapTex, Danskin, and AustinTri setting up the swim course for all three. So it was a full season overall. I can't wait to get started on the next adventure. Stayed tuned...