I'm moving like I'm 80. No offense to 80 year old's, but I worked hard yesterday at the Boulder Ironman 70.3, and my body is letting me know it today! I rolled the proverbial dice yesterday in my race by trying some new things and it seems to have paid off. I had a personal best (by 14 minutes) in a 70.3, finishing in 4 hours and 48 minutes and placing 9th in my age group out of 105, 83rd out of 835 males and 112th overall. I tapered differently, drank differently, wore some new duds and even peed on the move!
Beach post race, 102 degrees!
I felt strong the entire day, except towards the end of my run when my legs wanted so desperately to cramp. In a true race moment I came upon a racer in my age group with about a quarter of a mile left. Despite my hamstring feeling like it was about to pop, I dug deep and added some speed and kept pleading with my legs to last just a bit longer. I edged him at the line by 1 second! I knew I was having a great race and I figured beating him might make a difference in qualifying for the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. It turns out it didn't, but it did get me into the top 10 (the top 5 qualify)! After running past the finish line I just stood there afraid to move. I didn't sit down for two hours knowing my legs would cramp the minute I did.
Rolling into T2, the bike/run transition, there were hardly any bikes in the racks, and I left feeling strong because I knew I was having a good day. I rode 56 miles averaging 22.8 mph. That is about as fast as I averaged at the sprint triathlon! I actually went a little faster on my second loop, which kind of makes sense as it takes a while to get up to speed after the swim. I rode at a high cadence, always trying to be 90 to 95 rpm's in hopes this would keep my legs fresher for the run rather than grinding my quads at a cadence of 80 or so (a lesson I learned at Ironman Arizona).
I confidently began my run with very few people on the road. I practically had the aid stations to myself and I was beaming with excitement. My strategy was run the first 9 miles at a slightly less than threshold pace (7:45 or so) and to let adrenaline kick in for the last 4 miles. I drenched myself with ice, ice water and ice cold sponges at every aid station, grabbing as much as I could and trying to keep pace. I was soaked the entire run, but I never felt hot and was able to maintain my speed despite 90 plus degree heat with no shade.
I kept icing and running and beginning the second lap I still felt strong and my pace hadn't slowed a bit. I knew I had this thing! By mile 9, as planned, I slightly picked up the pace and was feeling strong. I began to feel my calves and hamstrings chatting to each other about shutting me down with cramps but I kept promising them that if they just held on a bit more I would reward them–come on guys, don't let me down now! I pushed on and ended up with a negative split–my second lap being faster than my first and ran my half marathon in 1:41 averaging 7:44 per mile. That was 7 minutes faster than last year, despite a hotter day yesterday.
So what changed? No doubt the coaching has paid off and my fitness is better. But also, I did a few things different all of which contributed to a good day.
It began with taper week. I teach spin class on Fridays. They say the day before the day before is the most important rest day so I have been finding a sub to teach for me this summer. But, nobody was available and frankly I hate missing my class–so I taught. I didn't go all out, and I'm not saying it's right, but I do get a lot of energy from that class–good Karma you know. That was the first big difference.
On Saturday, I did my "opener" but differently. The prescription in my previous race weeks was a short workout with six blocks (three bike, three run) of 5 to 8 minutes of intensity designed to release those endorphins and shake off the cobwebs from tapering making my muscles easier to fire up at the race. I only rode and did two blocks. My ankle had been bothering me and it was feeling good for the first time in days so I didn't want to aggravate it and with my spin class the day before, I didn't want to fatigue my legs so I didn't run at all.
I had been refraining from any alcohol consumption for race week. But, Saturday night we went to dinner at a friends house, and that glass of wine she offered just looked too good to pass up, especially accompanied by some delicious smoked salmon and to-die-for homemade ice cream. Then, at midnight, after tossing and turning for 2 hours I got up and had a generous shot of tequila to help calm my nerves to help get a least 3 hours of sleep! Again, not the best protocol to follow every race, but sometimes life gets in the way of the best laid plans, or in my case a good night's sleep.
Nutrition and hydration; I could argue this always changes as all of us triathletes are in search of nutrition nirvana–the balance of staying hydrated and fed without gastrointestinal issues and cramping. I wore my camel back on the first half of the bike leg and carried two bottles–I don't usually wear a camel back. All were filled with electrolyte drink and I ditched my camel back at the beginning of the second lap (which I didn't find 🙁 ) and never took any bottles offered by the race volunteers. Every 20 minutes or so I would eat a GU Chomp and a bit of a bar (carbs and electrolytes). These were nestled in my top tube feed bag making them easy to grab. At the end of my bike I ate a GU Gel pack as I transitioned to the run.
At the bike/run transition I had brought my new found love, a double walled acrylic Starbucks cup packed with ice water. I found I could suck down liquids at a faster rate in one of those than a traditional bike bottle. I wish it fit on my bike! The cold water hit the spot!
Ice baby ice. As I described above I used a lot of ice and water. One note, the race belt helped keep the ice in my jersey. I've done this in the past, but not with the diligence and aggressiveness I did yesterday–I practically ran over people grabbing what I could! I also downed three Gel's running.
Finally a hat and a good pee! I hate hats in general as they trap the heat, so I wore a visor. Not only did it absorb some of that ice water but it just made me "feel" cooler keeping my face in a shadow. I peed on myself running–just a bit–but that bit relieved a lot of pressure until I found a more appropriate place to take care of business. Let's face it that is the nitty gritty stuff people really want to know right?
Time to rest and go easy this week, then ramp it back up for the Harvest Moon 70.3 in 4 weeks!