Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Portland Rev3 Half...the details

Pre-race

The park/race site wasn't going to open till 6am and my wave(the new 40+) wasn't going till 8:40AM.  I decided to wake up at 5AM to start getting ready.  For this race instead of having your number and age put on you via a sharpie on race day, this event gave us temporary tattoos.  Like kids use…the only problem is I needed Elena to figure how they work at 5AM.  I read the directions but missed a key step.  Remove the clear plastic.  So my first race number was glue to this clear plastic instead of my arm.  Oh great…but I successful got one of my race numbers on my arm.  I was also successful with the "4" to start my age of "40" but screwed up the "0" because again I'm a moron.  I guess I won't be offered a "Race Number Ink" show. First thing to do after arriving at the race site is try to get some additional tattoo numbers. I had lots of time so I decided to drive the speed limit.  Its my way of building of up good car karma.  Speaking of karma, imagine if you had the 9 arms of that Hindu god.  You could be blogging, drinking a latte, shaving and still have hands at 10 & 2 on the wheel.

Pre-race breakfast

I spent so much brain power over the last 3 or 4 months trying to figure this one thing out that it deserves it's own heading.  I have been using just a chocolate chip Clif Bar since my old running days in the mid 90s.  I remember the race I first tried a Clif Bar, the Lake Tahoe relay.  I had my brick hard Powerbar that tasted like sawdust and one my team mates had this new bar called a Clif Bar.  It looked like a normal granola type bar.  He gave me a piece.  I was like WTF…let's see eat compressed sawdust that was so chewy I believe it could replace the super glue on those commercials with guy hanging twenty feet in the air OR eat a tasty relatively normal granola bar.  Tough choice I know.

Fast forward to August 24th, 2008 4AM in a hotel in Penticton, Canada.  I started eating my tried-and-true chocolate chip Clif Bar but barely made it through halfway.  My stomach was like one of those butterfly rooms at a zoo.  The same thing also happened prior to the Baltimore marathon last October.  Nutrition is always called the 4th discipline of triathlon so I've been trying to figure out the best way to deal with pre-race calories.  I decided why not use the same thing I do post race, LIQUID.  After a hard effort, I can only stomach liquid calories to consume in that critical 30-60 minute window when your muscles will suck glycogen like a sorority girl doing a keg stand at a party.  I dialed up Infinit Nutrition(I'll be speaking about them as awesome throughout this report just like when I did Canada in 08).  I talked to one of their nutrition consultants and we built a custom pre-race formula.  It's basically 24 ozs with 340 calories.  I got the bag of powder and I had tried it in training with excellent results.  It wasn't thick or anything and tasted good.

I started drinking the formula as I drove to the race.  I arrived at the race site and was there early enough that I got an executive type spot.  My legs would love me when I had to schelp all my equipment post race doing the Frankenstein walk.

I made my way over to the registration tent and got some replacement tattoo numbers.  Luckily, I wasn't the only one who had tattoo malfunctions.  I started laying out my transition area.  Just by chance the person who had the spot next to mine didn't show up so this made extra space available.  The air was a little chilly so I laid out arm warmers and a newspaper and it wasn't for reading.  I'd be stuffing it under my shirt to start the bike in order to keep the wind off me and stay warm until everything dried out.  The sun was out but it was just a bit chilly plus this would be my plan for the cold Arizona bike start as well.  It's more convenient than a vest that requires zipping, unzipping, stuffing in a jersey pocket and finally removing at T2.

I finished a Honey Bucket stop and was all set.  I figure why not head down to the swim start and if I got cold just put on my wetsuit.  In the information, they said the swim exit was a good four tenths of mile from transition.  It was all pavement except sections here there line by the park and grass.  They would have a rack for bags at the swim exit to hold shoes for the transition run. I've done about 200 meter barefoot transition runs on pavement in previous races and they always hurt.  I would hope that it wasn't major carnage at the rack when I finished my swim.  We'll call this T1a and then the bike T1b.  I was going to use my training shoes for T1a and leave my racing flats for the actual run.

It was a little cold as there was some wind already.  Uh-oh…that's one thing Marine Drive is known for is some brutal winds.  I was hoping that it wouldn't be crazy for the bike.  I decided to put on the bottom part of my wetsuit to stay warm as well as self warm.  That's wetsuit talk for christening your race.

The pro men and women went off sans wetsuits because the water temp was 72. The fastest male finished in just over 24 and a few of us noted that perhaps the swim was long.  I was bummed as I hoped I would be able to really throw down a good time.  I figure just swim as fast and if it's long oh well it will be a good excuse.

It was little odd watching the under 40 wave take off without me.  Oh well, it's time for a new chapter in my life right.  40 is the new 30 right…;)  If you read this far, the free code for a $10 Amazon gift certificate is 1285-847G-YE98-WQ02

Swim

The swim was going to be a beach start which would be my first.  Hmm…I guess I should've practiced dolphin diving but when the pro wave went I noticed that only a few them did it so hey if the pros aren't doing neither am I.  Luckily, we were able to get into the water and take some practice.  I swam about 50 yards and got past the adrenaline crush of that first stroke.  I decided to line up way right as I figure most of the big swimming guns would be front and center.  I figured I'd be all alone but was surprised by the number of people who had the same idea.  I was about 2nd person back when they said "GO!".  I trounced into the water and got to about knee level before I commenced an Animal House worthy belly flop.  I hit and immediately started hammering just in case someone was behind me.  About the 10th stroke, I had just a bit of water in my right goggle.  I was surprised since my post swim goggle eyes remain for hours.  I wasn't worried since it's just lake water but man I had a bright red eye when I got back to the hotel at the end of the event.  I swam hard and then took a sight to see if I was hypotnusing to the first turn buoy.  You see a^2 + b^2 = c^2.  Yes not only do get read triathlon exploits but you a Geometry refresher course at the same.  It's a learning blog. As I sighted I noticed that I was about 4 or so body lengths from the knife edge of the swim wave.  Sweet if I can just stay with this group, I could get a nice draft all the way.  I made my way around the first buoy without much turmoil.  The next time I sighted I was basically looking right at the sun.  The direction buoys were contrast enough that you could barely make them out.  I was sitting behind a group but then I felt I wasn't going hard enough so I started powering and everyone was gone.  I was in no-mans land.  I'd pass a few swimmers from the previous waves here and there but pretty much it was just me.  I like being by myself on the swim as I can really pace myself.  When I'm in a draft I have no idea if I'm going hard enough.  Maybe in the next couple years, I'll be able to feel pace.  This is worse with a wetsuit though because personally I don't feel the water at all on my arms.  I basically have to go by pure exertion(try spelling that word right with the help of a spell checker).  The swim seems to take forever and staying focused has been a problem for me.  I made an effort to keep pushing hard the whole way.  I finally reached the point of sighting the swim exit archway.  It looked about 400 yards away so I kicked it into high gear.  As I approached I took a couple extra sightings because swimming full speed into someone standing up and walking out of the water would suck big time.  My fingers touched the bottom and I stood up and bounded up to the exit.  I remember to hit my watch split and saw 31:12.  Not since my Ironman Canada swim time have I've been as excited.  On top that if the swim was a bit, I had just really obliterated my swim PR.


T1a - a wetsuit adventure

I made my way up a few steps gingerly and proceeded to take off the top of my wetsuit.  I always have a little trouble because my arms are super tired getting out of the water so trying to yank them out is tough.  I got them out and took off my cap and goggles.  Now is when the fun er fun for spectators watching begun.  I went to remove the bottom portion of my wetsuit and it got hung up on my left leg and the timing chip.  I yanked and grabbed but not luck in the standing position to get the leg out.  Since I was bent over my leg, I got a super head rush and basically fell down on my ass.  As I was falling, I was like oh well let's try this sitting.  Thank god, I didn't fall ass over tea kettle.  I wrenched and wrenched and finally got the chunk hung up on the timing chip by and off.  There was a staff/volunteer that had my bag and said he'd put away my wetsuit and re-rack the bag.  I asked him if that was allowed since triathlon rules state no outside assistance and then I noticed the staff/volunteer shirt.  Phew..that save some time and then I was off the T1a races.  I absolutely hammered that 0.4 miles to the transition area.  I passed barefoot competitors and people in shoes all the way to transition.

T1b

The wetsuit incident had cost me a ton of time but I was able to get to my rack and just shake off.  I was efficient and got my newspaper stuffed without problems.  I did a flying mount and proceeded to get up to speed.

Bike

We turned onto Marine Drive for the start of 2 out-n-back loops.  I immediately felt a slight tailwind.  Perfect way to get going.  I grabbed my half concentrated Infinit and gave it swig.  It went down easy without feeling to heavy or sweet from blasting on the swim as the tummy wouldn't have been able to handle anymore.  I was trying to maintain a good pace when a fellow athlete passed.  I immediately upped the pace as he got to legal draft distance in front of me.  We had just turned west into the headwind and I was able to hit about 23-24 behind him legally and it felt just a little harder.  Excellent, I'll just hold on for as long as I feel possible.  I had been practicing legal drafting on my training rides with just random cyclists.  It's definitely a good .5 to 1mph difference in my perceived effort.  This is great for me as I was planning to ride just on the bubble the whole way and see how the run went.  Not so good was most athletes are quite conservative on the bike especially with the warmer temperatures coming during the run.  The guy in front of me is doing his "easy conservative" 23 into a headwind.  Once he goes to pass another athlete his speed increases to 25 with no extra effort on his part.  Well there's a whole lot of extra umph on my part to maintain that legal draft distance without getting shed like a Siberian Husky's winter coat during a Phoenix summer.  This would be the theme of the bike for me.


As I was struggling to hold 21 in various places especially during the 2nd loop, I just kept telling myself I've got four months to average 21.5 for 112 miles and then run a 3:05 marathon.  NO PRESSURE to get my ass in shape by November.  My glutes or in layman terms ass cheeks were hurting big time.  I'm guessing it was from the super effort I put in early in the ride.  Hmm…ease into it the next time.

I approached the last notable section of the ride and just thought man I miss Oregon where you can easily find a flat consistent 50 something miles without many if any stopping.  I still have no idea how I'm gonna get my body ready to be aero for 5+ hours.  As with all triathlons, I keep telling myself as I'm suffering at the end of the bike that my event is coming up.  This is where I shine and put the hurt on people, the RUN.

T2

As I was getting ready to do an awesome flying dismount, the cyclist in front of me decided it was time to lose his balance and swerve toward me.   I was eyeing him anyway so I was able to avoid a potential crash.   Just additional mental notes to keep track of always be prepared for anything as you mount the bike in T1 and as you're ready to dismount going into T2.

I did my flying dismount like I do after each training ride and was jogging into transition toward my rack.  I unclipped my helmet during this time and came to my rack without incident.  Racked the bike, took off the helmet and proceeded to put on my socks.  They went on fairly fast and then the shoes.  Hmm…even with a good pull on the quick laces a little lose.  I'll have to fix that before the next race I use the racing flats.  I grabbed my racing hat and fuel belt and was off.  This would be my first race with Infinit run nutrition.  In all the previous races, I had used PowerGels.  My post mortem on the Baltimore marathon and the massive cramping I had led me to do something different.  In Baltimore, I went with HammerGel the whole way because I found a flavor that I could stomach and had 50mg of caffeine.  The double caffeine really gives me that extra boost.  The problem with HammerGels as opposed to my go to PowerGels is there's no sodium.  Again Infinit to the rescue.  A custom formula when mixed would have about 50mg of caffeine per 8 oz(size of one fuel belt bottle), 110 calories and a good amount of sodium and electrolytes.

Run

With the fuel belt, the plan was to use it's race number attachment system instead of doing a simple race belt and fuel belt.  I did the race belt/fuel belt combo and got a huge strawberry on my hip from them rubbing together.  However, this required a on the fly attachment of side of the race number.  My thought was this would slow me down out of the gate as without even trying my first mile is always lightening fast.  The problem was the footing for this races first half mile was all uneven grass terrain.  I'm bumbling along and look about as graceful as a Biggest Loser contestant on a Wipeout obstacle course.  Mental note, do something different at the Ironman.  I got the number attached and I was off for real.  I downed a full bottle of nutrition as I always start the run with a gel.  Hmm…that didn't feel comfortable in the stomach.


I finally got off the grass and onto the asphalt trail that would be the first 4 miles or so.  I hit the first mile mark and clicked my watch 5:48.  Hmm…mile marker must be short.  I didn't know at the time but saw once I reviewed all my mile splits that while I was getting the race number attached I had clicked my watch split.  So my first mile was 6:30.  I kindof wish I would've known that because I just kept the same pace and hit mile two with a 6:08 split.  Hmm…another short mile maybe I thought?  I relaxed my pace just a bit and came through mile 3 at 6:21.  It was at this point I had the inklings of side ache forming.  Elena has been getting side aches all the time during our runs and I just tell her to be tough and run through it.  Now it was my turn to walk the walk or in this case run the run.  I backed off on the my nutrition schedule to prevent putting more sloshing liquid into my stomach.  I had settled into 6:30 pace which was the plan for a 1:25 run split.  I was zooming by people and on the look out for fellow 40-44 age competitors.  Since there was a slight headwind heading out, I would ease up just a touch when I saw one and then put a burst to go by.   I passed a couple of my age group guys this way and it was going good.  I came up on a 45 guy and just was cruising by when he asked if he could hop on for a bit.  I said sure since we weren't in the same age group.  He said he had just been passed by a couple of guys in my age group.  It was pretty cool that he mentioned that to me.  He finally dropped off and I was cruising waiting to see those fellow age groupers he mentioned.

I started to slowly gain on a 41 year guy.  Okay time to give the plan a go.  I eased up just bit and then upped my pace and gave a burst as I went by.  He immediately responded.  I was like good for him.  Let's see how this goes.  I just kept my pace and he hung on.  Hmm…time to give it a little gas to see what happens.  I put in a good 200 meters of 6ish pace and he couldn't hang.   Just then I came upon another guy in my age group, probably that 2nd guy that I was told about and came around him.  He grabbed on for a bit but it didn't last long and he was gone.   I hit mile 6(burst), 6:24 and mile 7, 6:32.  Then it hit just like watching the movie Titanic and thinking TURN, TURN!! You can avoid the iceberg and well you know how that turned out.  The side ache hit in full.  Crap.  Since the debacle at 2009 Florida 70.3 where a side ache basically reduced to a walk, I've gotten more side ache treatment tricks up my sleeve.  This has all been practiced on my little guinea pig, Elena.  We've done all kinds of things to alleviate her perpetual side aches on runs.  I slowed down quite a bit and relaxed my breathing.  I walked about 10 steps while I dug my fingers into my side and then I started hobbling again.  Just then we hit the turnaround and I saw the 2 guys I passed running together about 100 meters behind me.  Uh-oh, how embarrassing.  They're definitely gonna pass me back with my pathetic side ache pace.  Sure enough they did but were quite nice about it.  After about another half mile or so the side ache was gone, sweet.  Time to get back to it.

Okay the mind said let's go but well the legs said wait just a minute, we don't have enough long runs in to be doing that crazy 6:30 pace anymore, we're tired.  Damn you legs…damn you.  The positive is I would get to do about 3 miles on legs which had given up…good wall training for the Ironman.  Then a light bulb flashed, I hadn't been taking in enough nutrition.  So I downed a whole flask of my nutrition and my legs started feeling a little better.  Not 6:30 better but 7:10ish better.  Again that's perfect wall Ironman pace so I was mentally storing this away.  One of my passers, had started to walk aid stations and I was able to pass him back.

I was dreaming of just stopping.  I wish the miles would come faster and where the F is mile 11 anyway.  I finally saw it.  Okay, I just got to get to mile 12 and then it's pretty much home free.  Again more nutrition and I was slowly snapping out of my funk and feeling like this pace was manageable and just keep going.  Mile 12 was at the last aid station and I figured why not try something different.  I grabbed a cup of cola.  It tasted pretty good and my tummy wasn't unhappy with it being there.  Cool, let's give a little push and then I saw the turn for the final 400 meters or so.  Wow that was quick, so I'm guessing mile 12 was a little off.  I finished and clicked my watch, 4:37:50ish.  Sweet a half ironman PR.  I was wondering how sad my run split was because of those side ache and sucky last miles.  The cool thing about Rev3 events is they have a timing booth that you can get live stats right there on the race site.  I wandered over there and they called up my info.  I ran a 1:26:30.  I was shocked that I was that close to 1:25.  I was a little disappointed because if I was in a little better shape I may have been able to go even lower than 1:25.

If you've read this far, the next blog is free.  Oh and you can see which event I'm most interested in...Bike gets a measly 3 paragraphs and the Run gets 5 monstrous paragraphs...

1 comment:

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