Race Reports

Race Report #1 – Florida Challenge Triathlon

Clermont, Florida – the most-raced venue in the world, and home to one of USA Triathlon’s National Training Centers. Destination of my first race of the 2015 season.IMG_0468

Ok. Let me first begin by stating what I went down there for, what my goal with the race was (I don’t like to state these things ahead of time, and usually I don’t share them). I came to work the bike. That was all I wanted to do; I wanted to race the 56-mile bike leg as if it were my only event of the day. I did not care about the swim. I did not care about the run. I did not come with a whippet of regard for overall placement or age-group placement; too early in the season to be concerned with results like that. I was fully aware that by doing this it was going to detract from my run. I wanted that. Because I knew that in order to get to where I want to go this year, to do what I have in mind, I needed to sacrifice a little so that I could get stronger, and get faster. I don’t know where I placed and I don’t care where I placed; I wasn’t there to compete. It was a very expensive training weekend, needless to say.

It’s hard to get other people to see this, or to understand it, because most are so concerned with each individual race and how they do (or, how everyone else performs, for that matter), that they are unable to reach their full potential within a season because too much energy and effort goes in to one, small, race – and I am particularly talking about racing at the beginning and middle of the season. I keep these goals – as I do all – to myself. I don’t have to worry about what everyone else thinks.

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Looking into transition and the finish. The path you see was also part of the run; four times we passed through here.

Anyway, I digress. I came to do work on the bike, which I knew meant I would experience some consequences on the run as a result. I was ok with this, because that is what I wanted. The next time I race like this, I will have experienced one heck of a training stimulus.

Alrighty. Let’s start with the swim.
The water was a “wetsuit legal” 77.1 degrees. Yea, ok, whatever. It felt more like 87.1. I made the decision to wear my wetsuit, which I pretty much regretted because IT.GOT.WARM. The water was disgusting – super dirty, super murky, and I’m quite convinced it was a mosquito-infested swamp. While waiting on the beach, everyone was covering their nose and mouth, because if you didn’t, you’d end up inhaling them. Yuck. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to the start of a race so much. The swim went ok, sighting was poor because everything was orange – the buoys, the sun, the water, the sun reflecting on the water – even our swim caps were a red/orange color! It felt like an eternity that I was in the water, but I ended up faster than it felt. Not a PR performance, for sure, but again, I didn’t care about that. Not the swim. Not now.
On to the bike!
I wanted to start fairly moderate – at least enough to get out and away from most of the people, and then push as much as I could for as long as I could. I was not expecting there to be hills, or rather – quite so many of them. The bike course was significantly more challenging than I had anticipated. It got windy. But I kept pushing. About 35 miles in, my right side – IT band, hamstring, and glutes – protested and tightened up something awful. I had no choice but to slow down for a bit. This was when the sun really started to beat down. With ten miles remaining, the tightness had dissipated for the most part, and I was back to the hammer. I was already not looking forward to the run. Although it wasn’t by much, I recorded my fastest-ever half-iron bike split. Bingo. All things considered (not riding outside since October being a big one), I was pretty dang pleased with that. That’s what I wanted. And that means some very good things going forward.
The run.
Oh, the run. I knew it was going to be tough when I pushed the bike, but I suffered tenfold with the heat and the push over all the unexpected hills on the bike. The first 3-4 miles I kept my pace right within the range I wanted, but then it began to drop. I was completely dehydrated, my shoulders went numb, and I couldn’t feel my face the last couple of miles. I had to walk a couple of times, and when I ran, it was much more akin to a slow shuffle. But I knew I would make it, one step at a time, and I did.

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Swim exit.

Overall, when I place all the factors in the bag, I am fairly pleased with how it went. I’ve never raced this early before, let alone gone from 5 degrees to 92 degrees. The biggest thing that I am happy with is my recovery. I felt awesome on Sunday – no aches, no pains, no tightness, I wasn’t sick, nothing bothered me, I felt great. Of course, I didn’t have a very hard run, which would contribute to these things a bit more. This means a few things. 1) My strength training is spot-on, and it’s working. Oh boy, is it working 2) My diligence in my yoga practice is also working, it’s paying off, and it’s showing. Next to strength training, I chalk this up as the biggest factor in my ability to recover, as well as my success on the bike 3) The rest of my training is also on-track.
I think this means some good things going forward! That closed out that phase of training, and now I’m on to the next one; more speed will be incorporated here, as well as some power work in my lifting routine. I’ve got the base, now it’s time to put the good stuff on top!
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