The Westchester Toughman 70.3 on Sept 12, 2010 was my “A” race, second race of the season, my second 70.3 distance and my seventh tri overall. This was one of the first races I had competed in more than once, and it was great to be doing a race where I could directly compare my results. Similar to my Oly race in August, I was almost more focused on running without cramps more than anything else. Also, it was the first race I was in where my family wouldn’t be there. On one hand, it was nice to not worry about them, but I definitely missed them at the race, especially at the finish.
I had a good, but oddly unsatisfying day. I PR’d by 21 minutes, and felt a lot better than last year’s race. I went a bit off course on the swim, had an easy bike, but I didn’t run like I know I am able. I did manage to run the entire race, and at the worst just flirted with the occasional cramp, which was a vast improvement over last year, so I feel like I’ve solved that problem. But I just kept slowing down, got sapped by the hills and was reduced to a pace much slower than I can run by the end. Although I’m happy that I did so well by comparison to last year, I was still a little disappointed I couldn’t keep the run strong.
The race has gotten quite large – with 544 entrants, and they have done a great job organizing the race and making it fun. I did have a lot more composure this race, and it really is such a gorgeous race with a mixture of awesome scenery and trail running. It was easy to enjoy the race, that’s for sure. (My browser is arguing with Ken Shelton Photography’s site about cookies, so I couldn’t order any photos, so no photos for this RR…)
Tale of the Tape:
1.2m swim / 56m bike / 13.1m Run.
__________This Year_____Last Year
I had largely a solid day with vast improvement where I was looking for it. All in all, not bad, but just a little disappointed I couldn’t keep up a faster run. Has me motivated though – I feel like I can go a lot harder, and I’m psyched to apply myself for next season’s races.
This was my big Kahuna. First race that I repeated, my A race, and the one for which I’d focused the most in training. Overall, my training this year has raised my fitness level a ton, and I’ve dialed in the nutrition thing a lot. Even though I was slow and hurting in the race – it was the right kind of hurting. The kind I know will lessen with more training!
I was in the third wave and dropped to the back of the pack. I got nipped by a crab walking out, so I took that as a sign and started to swim. The race started at 7:10 and there was cloud cover. I felt pretty good in the race, loved the float from my wetsuit and just started cruising along. I was making decent time, no real issues, but I must have been swimming fairly well because I kept swimming up onto swimmers in front of me. Next time, I should choose lighter goggles for races with no sun (more about THAT in a second) because I just couldn’t see anyone until I was literally on top of them.
The course was a triangle with the buoy being a sharp turn back to the landing, which was down the beach from the start. After I rounded the buoy, I swam up on someone and got kicked in the chin (all in one shot – I wasn’t on the person to get a “get off me” kick – it was just wham, out of the blue, here’s a heel to the chin). A surprise for me was the instant cramp in my right leg, but it shook out pretty quick. I headed wide to get out of bodies, and just started churning along. I spotted the white registration tent and just made a bee line for it and got into a decent rhythm. After a while, I sort of noticed that I hadn’t seen anyone else. Which was ok. But I hadn’t seen a buoy either. And while I could still see the white tents I was headed toward, something was amiss….
Well, I wasn’t heading toward the white tents, but rather some white boats that were anchored off shore a bit. When I finally stopped and lifted my goggles to look, turns out I had swum much more of a rectangle! I was basically even with the finish hoop, but was way off course. My goggles had fogged, and I hadn’t noticed, because I had seen what I thought was the white tent. Oh well. So I booked it back toward the finish, and came in feeling just fine. Hungry, not winded, a little annoyed, but not too far off balance. I estimate this cost me 2-5 minutes.
T1: This went fairly smoothly, no real troubles, nothing particularly good.
My goal on the bike was to ride so that I could run strong. The course was hilly and by and large, I took it easy. I figured I’d rather lose a few minutes on the bike as long as I could make it a strong run. The bike ended up being completely uneventful. I was never hurting, and just cruised along. Weird that there’s no epic struggle or anything even in the bigger hills, but I take that as a sign that I’m getting better at managing myself. My nutrition was no issue on the bike – I felt good and strong, calories felt right on target, and had no concerns (thank you EFS…). At 3:06 for the 56 miles, its ~18 MPH. I think I can increase that a bit next season when I work on speed.
T2: Again, very uneventful. No cramps off the bike, which was GREAT. I had no troubles, and nothing was spectacular.
This was it. All of this year’s training was focused on this run. I felt great for the early miles – my form felt good, and I felt strong, not breathing too badly, but just enough. I kept saying “I am Caballo Blanco” (from Born to Run) on the hills, working on keeping my feet light and spinning underneath me. They had a perfectly placed porto-potty at the mile 2 marker, which I took advantage of, taking it as a good sign that I had to pee. Hydration felt about right. That was right at the start of a beautiful tree covered trail section of the race, and I felt like I was floating along up the low grade climb through this section.
Then I hit the first major hill – the switchback hill at 4.5 miles into the race, and it just sapped all my energy. I ran up the hill and by the time it flattened out at the top at about mile 6, my just sub 9 min/mile pace (which I would have been thrilled with) became a just over 10 and I just never fully recovered. My nutrition felt great, I never had GI issues, and was right on plan in terms of energy intake, but my pace just kept dropping.
I never cramped, I never stopped, but I just couldn’t seem to muster any more speed. I had a few nagging pains here and there, but nothing I couldn’t or hadn’t run through before, but I just couldn’t seem to get my stride to lengthen out, it just kept getting shorter and shorter. All my internal motivations seemed to work for just seconds, and a more or less plodding pace took over.
I started to hit a dark spot around mile 7 and all I could think of was , “wow if I’m doing this in a half, what’s gonna happen when I run a full!” but fortunately, it was only a half, and at the 8 mile mark, I brightened up when I realized I only had 5 to go.
At the big hill at 9 miles, I dug in and ran and ran, determined not to walk, and chuckled that while I was making up ground on the walkers, I was catching them VERY slowly. It made me laugh to think of what that must have looked like. There were a bunch of people walking up the hill, and here I was chugging and puffing to get there, at about the same speed...
After that hill, the run is mostly downhill. I did my best to lengthen out on the downhill sections, and when I hit the chute, I ran for all I had. It was weird crossing the line without my family there – they are a big inspiration for me. But I pulled it together, found some friends, ate some food, relaxed and packed up.
All in all, it was a great day and a 9:45 run pace is a great improvement for me, and I really enjoyed doing the race. I did improve against the field this year, and it was a bigger field. I was 62% percentile last year, and 57% percentile this year. So I feel like I’m making progress.
Next year’s goal will have to be busting out a 1:50 half mary! This result has definitely made me rethink going full next year. I don’t want to swim / ride / death march my first full. So I think until I can run a 70.3 in less than ~5:20 (which I interpret as a potential 12-12:30 full) I am going to postpone the full. So next season is about taking 5 off my swim, 20 off my bike and 15 off my run. There it is. On it!