Monday, July 18, 2011

Carlsbad & Vineman 70.3 (2011)

Ran the first 10 miles solidly. The last 5k... not so much.

The biggest goal of last Sunday was just to have a solid day and not die. I knew I wasn’t going to have a breakout race. I’ve only done a handful of workouts in the last 2 weeks while fighting a cold and nothing previous to that since May 1st sans some swimming. I knew I wasn’t going to PR in any sport. If I get a Vegas spot then I’ve accomplished what I wanted to do 5 months ago; if I don’t, then I focus on something else for the remainder of the season.  I did what I set out to do (at least until mile 10 of the run).  It was the first big step in getting back to where I was before my train got derailed.
But honestly, the day wasn’t really about me. It was definitely about Charles Karstrom. That guy blew everyone away yesterday (including most of the pros). Seeing that was a huge inspiration.. He went 4:08 on the day. This was his breakout race. Just makes me want to have a race like Charles did.

Last weekend I raced the Carlsbad Sprint Triathlon and had a disgusting race. I haven’t been able to take a full breath since June 25th. Lung congestion sucks, but it sucks even worse when it sticks around for 3 weeks. I thought I was going to drown on that swim; I just couldn’t get any air in my lungs. Same with the bike, and the run was just an embracement. Thank God my timing chip wasn’t working and my race wasn’t even recorded. Phewww. Just put that one away -deep in the hart of the weak-sauce trash bin.

The next week leading up to Vineman felt like I was cramming for an exam; trying to fit in two or three long workouts to build up my endurance again. On Saturday, the day before the race, I felt much better on my little 15 min workouts and most of my congestion had miraculously disappeared. I was honestly just excited to be healthy, injury free and in wine country this weekend.

Vineman 70.3
The Race:

The Swim
This swim course is kind of goofy. It was literally 2-3 feet deep for half of the course. After talking with people after the race, I clearly should’ve been dolphin diving thru the shallow sections much more.
When the horn went off I had a decent sprint but quickly started struggling to catch my breath after only 50 yards. When I reached the 1st buoy 100 yards out, I noticed someone was already 25-50 yards ahead of me and the three guys I was swimming with. It turned out to be Charles Karstrom, starting off on his tear. Having no ambition of trying to keep up with his pace, I tried to find a rhythm but failed and sat on someone’s feet for the next 5-10 min. It started to get extremely shallow as we approached the turnaround. I noticed people walking and dolphin diving. I did one or two and thought, “nah, I should just swim.. this is cheap”. In hindsight, I should’ve done a significant amount more dolphin diving, as most of the faster guys dolphin dove till their feet hurt. It wasn’t until the turnaround that I finally felt comfortable and found my stroke. I quickly caught up and passed a group of 3 and eventually one other guy 200 yards away from the finish. Why couldn’t I have been swimming like that the whole time? I came out 3rd in the 29 and under wave with a high 26 min swim.

My wave’s transition racks were in the furthest nook (and most inconvenient spot) in the transition area. After grabbing my bike and setting off, I passed a guy in my age group a mile in. I was by myself and settling in on a nice and pressing pace for a while before a bigger guy, who was clearly “a cyclist”, joined me. I’d pass him going up the hills and he’d pass me on the flats and downhills. Unfortunately, there are more flats and rollers than steep climbs, so he slowly pulled away.

However, during this time, I hit a sizable pothole and heard an odd noise from under me. I thought a rock must have hit off the side of my wheels and thought nothing of it. Turns out, as I was packing up my bike this morning, I noticed my seat post had been well over an inch and a half lower than where it should’ve been.  This would explain why my lower back started cramping up around mile 15 and why I couldn’t seem to put any power into my pedaling. I must not have tightened my seat-post in enough when building up my bike the day before.. Lessons learned.

The rest of the bike course, I was completely alone (until the last 6 miles). I would ride hard for 4-5 minutes then have to stand up, push my hips forward, and stretch/relax my back for 10-20 seconds, losing all momentum, then doing it over and over and over again. I felt crappy every second I was on my bike. I finished in 2:30… over 5 minutes slower than what I did last year, and I wasn’t nearly as good of a cyclist last year as I am this year (not that I’m such a great cyclist now).

Stoked to get off my bike (rare), I left transition feeling great (also rare). I think I nailed my nutrition on the bike for the first time ever. I didn’t have that “dead leg” feeling during the first couple miles. I got in to a rhythm immediately and found a nice pace. I forgot my watch (convenient I know, but it didn’t really change the way I did anything) so I was running on effort alone. I felt like I was running at a solid pace and wasn’t out of breath or hurting like I usually do. The course goes out to a winery 5-6 miles away and does a mile loop around their vineyard then heads back. (At this time I knew 1st place was out of the question, as I saw Charles heading out of the winery a mile or so ahead of me, and looking really strong). They didn’t have anyone signaling which way you should enter the loop around the vineyard, so I turned left. It wasn’t until the 4th person running towards me in an opposite direction with a confused look on their face that I started to get the impression something was wrong. When I finally saw a guy I knew I had been 1-2 minutes up on heading in my direction I stopped, looked around and saw a chalk arrow on the ground pointing in the opposite direction. I kind of stood there for a while thinking about what I should do before I came to the conclusion that I should just keep running the wrong way cause I’d eventually come out having done the same distance anyways.

After a confusing mile, I regained my pace again and started pushing. I wasn’t wearing a watch, but I could tell I had been running the exact same pace from mile one till mile 10 which according to the 6.6 mile split I received was around a 6:25 pace. When mile 10 rolled along, it was like someone turned out the lights. This wasn’t nutrition, it was a lack of endurance. I wasn’t breathing hard, my heart rate probably wasn’t even above 140.. my legs were just out of strength. I struggled to get up those hills. My jog turned into a shuffle, which turned into a walk, turned into a shuffle, turned into a walk, turned into a run for the last ½ mile.

Whatever disappointment I had after the race was quickly forgotten as I proceeded to the Russian River brewery & enjoyed some tasty beer and met and hung out with awesome people.

Charles and I getting some podium wine
So no, it wasn’t even near my best day or what I should be capable of, but it was essentially what I wanted (with the exception of the seat-post being ridiculously low, but that’s racing…). It was a C+ race to get me back on track. I did qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas, which I’m stoked about! I’m looking forward to the training leading into this. The bike course was built for light guys… Lots of climbing;-) So if anyone would like a training partner in the next couple of months, let me know. I’ll be working my ass off... or what I have of one at least.

Thanks to all my friends and family for their support, I really appreciate it! Also, thanks to B+L Bikes for continuing to support me. And props to all of the San Diego hot shots that tore it up yesterday. There were some smoking fast times.. Some were even going so fast, they did the winery loop twice…

Post race wine tasting