Monday, June 26, 2006

Pacific Crest 1/2 Ironman

It's been 1yr & 10 months since I actually toe'd the line at a triathlon so nice to finally get that monkey off my back. After a sputtering start, it was nice to see that I basically remembered how to do this stuff. My race performance wasn't where I wanted it to be but I need to really step back and keep it in perspective. I did not taper for this race at all and had 18.5 & 20.5 hrs of training in the last two weeks, pre-race so understandable that I wouldn't be firing at 100%. I probably over -did the cycling in the week pre-race since 15 of those 20.5 hrs were cycling.

Having said that, it still really messed with my head for awhile. Not a good thing when you have an Ironman in two months. The Pac Crest course (climate, hills, etc) is VERY similar to the IM Canada course and I kept thinking how I wouldn't be happy if my IMC finish time was a simple doubling of my Pac Crest time. I am hoping the volume had something to do with my performance *or lack thereof*.

The Race
They do things a bit differently in these parts. The race started at 9am for starters and the racks were co-ed based on age group. I didn't mind the racks but the start time didn't bode well with the heat we were expecting later on. Steven and his wife, Karen, were nice enough to let me tag along for a ride on race morning. I did wake up early and get in my typical pre-race breakfast of 3 bottles of chocolate Ensure. I then had another while in transition before the swim start. It was a very relaxing morning. I didn't have any pre-race nerves and just spent the time waiting for our waves to start. Soon it was that time and Steven and I wished each other well and went our separate ways. He was starting in a wave 5 minutes behind me.

1.2 Mile Swim
37:04 (1:45 pace / 100)
154 HR Ave
Rank 227 / 588
T1 4:16

I did not have any pre-race warmup in the swim besides 2-3 strokes just to make sure my goggles weren't leaking. This gave me the opportunity to realize that it was going to be a harder swim to get a nice draft since the visibility was limited to several feet. I lined up aggressively on the inside buoy. I got this tip from a swimmer friend of mine who stated that most people think that this would be a tough start position and end up going wide. After the gun went off, I did get jostled a bit but settled into what was a either a "too-fast" pace or the wetsuit choking me but I started hyperventilating about 200yrds into the swim.....F&$!#...I flipped to backstroke to get some extra breaths in but had a hard time getting control of my breath and had to slow way down. Not a good thing right at the start. Also, I kept trying to catch a fast pair of feet but really difficult to sight, etc in the murky water. I pretty much gave up on getting a draft and just settled in on getting it done. I got it done very slooooooooooow.

I did a quick calculation of doubling my swim time for IM Distance upon exiting and was not happy. I immediately let it go though and focused on the transition.

When I got to my bike rack, I bent over to strip off my wetsuit and when I flexed my right calf, I immediately got rocked by a serious calf cramp soon followed by a cramp in my left calf. This basically had me on my ass in transition as I worked on straightening out my legs to relief the cramps which, in turn, made taking off the wetsuit pretty difficult. I'm sure it must have looked pretty funny as everyone else around me was making the switch without any issues. Somehow I got it done and got all my gear packed into the provided trashbag (point to point race so we had to have all our gear bagged in T1). The only good thing in transition was getting an encouraging shout out from Karen as I headed out on the bike- it's always nice to have a friendly face in the crowd (Thanks Karen!!).

58 Mile Bike
2:57:43 (19.58 MPH Ave)
158 HR Ave
Rank 194/588
T2 4:34

The bike course was 58 miles vs. the typical 56 mile 1/2 iron distance. I loved the bike course. It is very similar to IM Canada with some solid hills and rollers and the scenery was great. I immediately noticed the effects of the recent training volume though when I didn't have that fresh snap in the legs. Definitely a lack of power on the false flats or hills but I kept it rolling. The actual hills weren't too bad since Steven has dragged me up much worse in our regular training rides around our hood. The only difference being the race course was at 4k elevation climbing to 6.4K to Mt. Bachelor. The climbs up Batchelor were pretty slow for me and killed my average speed- I didn't feel like I could push it at all. This was evident in my average heart rate for the ride. I would have expected it to be in the mid 160's but it only averaged 158. Once we reached the summit of Batchelor, we had some rocking downhills to the base- I pushed it here to gain some time back but ran out of course too soon and ended up with just an average bike split. I rolled it into transition and was met by Karen again with a shout! That got me thinking about Steven....I was surprised he hadn't caught me yet. I had an awfully slow transition that included a bathroom pit stop and headed out on the run. At this point, it was in the high 80's....not a good thing.

Run (Death March)
1:48:11 (8:15 pace / mile)
170 HR Ave
Rank 88 / 588

I knew it was going to be a long day once I started running as I headed out of transition. At this point the sun was just blazing and I was melting out there. Just focus on a steady smooth cadence...breathe....I hit mile 1 in about 7:30 and kept it rolling through mile 2 in 15:07. I was actually passing people here which kept me pretty motivated but ended up hitting some technical difficulties around the mile 5 point. I was still making good time but walked through an aid station and it felt so good.....I kept walking. I was kinda embarrassed as the course winds through the residential bike path in Sun River and a ton of people out on the course. I don't know why but I kept blurting out "it sure feels good to walk" as I passed these spectators. Probably the heat affecting my brain. I sucked it up though and started running again. At this point, I kept passing the same group of 3 people until I would stop at an aid station and they would catch me only for me to pass them as I started running again. I'm sure it was annoying but I had my own problems at that point. I even stopped at the Red Bull Aid Station to down a Bull but it didn't give me any friggen wings as claimed.....the "check engine" light was coming on and I had slowed way down. I think it was around the mile 9 point when some "comedian" started coming up behind me spewing out the theme from Jaws.

Well, the Jaws-theme singing racer ended up being Steven....the bastard!!

Actually it was much needed comic relief for me at that point. He tried to encourage me to run with him but no way I was matching his pace at that point. He was flying...I actually did speed up and kept him on that imaginary rubber band about 25-30 yards ahead of me until It finally snapped. Actually not sure what I was thinking trying to speed up because I got hit with a serious stitch trying to keep Steven in my radar. More walk / run / shuffle to the finish. It was a long 3 miles know you are in trouble when you are walking as you hit the mile 12 sign. At that point, I wiped off all the tears streaming down my face (just kidding) and ran her in. What a friggen ugly run. I'm surprised it was 88th overall with all the walking I did. I would have been hurting if it was an IM distance race and I still had 13 to go....not a comforting thought. I was really glad to see that finish line though.....what a day.

5:31:48 Finish Time
114 / 588 Overall
26 / 91 Mens 35-39 Age Group

Overall, I guess things could have been worse. I just need to keep things in perspective. This wasn't my A-race and I didn't taper for it. Still it definitely affected me and probably not a good idea to race the 1/2 iron distance without a proper taper ...especially if you have an IM race coming up soon.....this definitely was NOT a confidence-building performance.

I gotta throw a shout out to my training partner Steven though...he rocked his A-race (5:16) with a 10 place finish in his age-group that included the 20th overall fastest run split of the day (1:35)! NICE!

2 months until the big one.....let's keep it rolling!



Blogger Lora said... know what? I think you ROCK! As you know, these B races are a test to see what we need to do to be fully prepared for the A race. You evaluated this race and know exactly where to tune things up--so it served its purpose perfectly! Now go do whacha need to do--and NO WINING!!

BTW--I only drank code red for the race--neva, eva would I drink it on a daily basis. ::sticking my tongue out:: So there!

2:48 AM  
Blogger robtherunner said...

Sounds like a solid performance considering the circumstances and lack of taper. Great report! I could feel the calf pain in T1.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

I know how u feel in the long run at the end. I just realize that I have to not focus on those ppl that pass me and I pass them. Just get the distance done and over with.

With training like that, u will rock IM Canada.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Donald said...

Way to gut out a tough race, Mike. No question the training volume you did was a major factor in your performance, so don't get discouraged by it.

It sounds like you're right on track for your IM race coming up. Keep workin' it.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Jessi said...

Nice job! Sounds like a very tough course. I'd be THRILLED with those times!

9:53 AM  
Blogger Zeke said...

Mike, solid work that will come in handy at IM-Canada.

While you may consider your run to be "slow" you still placed 88th. Not too shabby.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Steven said...

Quit stressing, Mike! For Pac Crest your overall time is very, very, good.
You are probably more on track for IMC then you think you are and you will be more than ready when it gets here.
The course is tough, it was nearly 90* with no shade at the end, and the run is at 4,200' - you did great!

10:38 AM  
Blogger BuckeyeRunner said...

Way to go, Mike! You did awesome!

4:47 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Dude, that's a great bike split considering all those training miles that you did the two weeks prior.

And if I could run 8:15 and call it a death march, give me that death march any day of the week!

Solid race all the way around. Especially for something that was a tune up for Canada.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Way to go~! What a great report. I'll have to try that Ensure breakfast. The only other time I drank Ensure was while my jaw was wired shut for 6 weeks when I was 19. ;P

BTW, Jaws.. one of my fav movies of all time. LOL.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Habeela said...

5:31 without a taper?! That's amazing! Way to go!

8:29 PM  
Blogger IMmike said...

nice job mike. For not tapering and everything that's solid.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Great race report! Gives me motivation. Your times rock. You swim twice as fast as me, and you had to do backstroke to catch your breath! 20 mph on the bike is smokin'. I think I would like a 9 am race start b/c I'd get a few more hours of sleep but the heat would suck. Anyway, good job. You'll do great for your IM.

9:11 PM  

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