Monday, August 29, 2011

SB Tri RR & Thoughts 4 Kona

My last race before my biggest event ever was the Santa Barbara Long Course Tri.  Instead of my typical race report, this will be a more pep-talky journal entry for me to look back to whenever I slip these final 6 weeks before October 8th - Kona.  This will be as honest I can, and generally would be a private text doc I might write for myself to refer to, but since I've got this blog set up, why not?

In short, SB did not go as I planned - after a very aggressive swim and bike (which I should mention I didn't even post "good" times) I suffered through the run so badly that 10 miles felt like an Ironman marathon.  This made me go haywire mentally during the race, and for a bit after, but then the very valuable (and some quite obvious) epiphanies hit me.

Here we go, in 3rd person no less.

• Remember how/why you got involved in the sport.  You do this to honor your father.  Honoring him is not necessarily going fast.  It's not even just doing your best, it's enjoying the journey.  Efforts should be judged by the whole, not just the finish time.

• Even though you look "the part" with your sexy tri-bike, race wheels and aero helmet you're a little different a lot of the typical "tri people."  While you train hard and work hard, you are out there to have fun and self fulfillment.  While chasing PR's and time is ok sometimes, the motivation for Kona needs to be to take in as much of this once in a lifetime experience as possible.  The worst case scenario would be to be disappointed in your performance in Kona or not even finish trying to be too bold and go fast.

• Relating to the above...take it all in.  If you REALLY want to do another Ironman someday for time you'll have any number of races to choose from...except Kona.  This is the race to go slow and try to milk every second.  It's an Ironman - there's no way to not "push" yourself like mad.  140.6 is a long way to go - slow or fast.  Going slow will enable you to take it in and avoid disappointment.

• Also similar, throw those time goals away!  Sub 12 = Magic Day, Sub 13 = Great Day, etc.  As long as you finish in under 17 hours it's an A+ effort, a magic day - it's KONA!  The cutoff is your new time goal.  It's just too long a long day to have a "ticking clock," and you know you're trained to not even be near the cutoff time barring anything crazy, so enjoy the once in a lifetime opportunity without worrying about a PR, etc.

There's of course more to all of this, but I thought I'd get the most important stuff out.  In all of this endurance sports stuff it's very easy to get caught up in numbers - and I love that part of it.  I will probably continue to train with my Garmin but the numbers are not going to relate as much to my Kona performance now.  It will be what it will be.

In the spirit of all of this I just order a GoPro HD Hero to document the race.  I have no bad memories carrying a camera in my first marathon, just the great memories, so that should add a great dimension to the race.  Just a few weeks to go...I'm scared, but quite excited with my new lease on life!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vineman Full Aquabike RR

What was going to be my "big race" of the season became a "tune up" or "test" race once I got into Kona. I would be swimming 2.4 miles in the Russian River in Sonoma County, followed by a 112 bike ride through California Wine Country. Basically an Ironman without the run.

It was an early wakeup call (4:20 AM) as we were staying an hour (!) from the start. As we finally arrived I thanked Julia for putting up with these races and she promptly went back to bed (in the parked car.) I made my way to the transition area. It was strange not bringing my running gear!

I decided to swim sans wetsuit since the water was a pleasant 72 degrees - warmer than the air! Even though this would be a bit slower since the wetsuit makes you much faster with the added buoyancy, I wanted the experience of swimming this far in open water without one. The swim start was hectic as always - people spend way too much energy fighting. I was relaxed and let the field sort itself out a bit and tried my best to get into a groove. About halfway to the turnaround it was bizarre - the water level went down to about three feet - so people decided to start walking! Here I am swimming and there are people towering over walking at around the same speed. I decided against this tactic, as it was clearly swimmable and I wanted the full experience - and the training. After another loop I got out of the water to a 1:18 swim split - which I felt very happy about.

I got on my bike and set out on the bike course - which started off with a few technical turns. This was tough as there was almost no opportunity to pass other riders at this point. When I finally hit open road I was eager to put the hammer down. I really wanted to break 6 hours on the bike - which is holding an average speed of around 18.7 mph for 112 miles. The course was undulating with some rollers - a totally "aero" course. I had my crazy aero helmet on and was cruising at 20+. It was a little tough deciding who to pass since all of us age groupers "pulse" our speed - we go a little hard then back off, etc. But I felt pretty good overall about my pacing.

I've gotta say I had a bit of trouble getting comfortable after the first loop. 56 miles is a long way, and to ride right by the finish to do it again is not easy! By mile 80 or so I was feeling real miserable. My nutrition and hydration were good - as was my heart rate....but my back especially was really seizing up! I've been trying a new saddle to address some other problems, and I'm not sure if that was the issue. The last 20 miles I pretty much gave up. I just couldn't do aero anymore. It was really frustrating seeing my average speed drop from 19.4 to 19.3 to 19.2 and so forth. And my legs still had energy to burn! But my back really felt bad. I also didn't want to "bury" myself for a relatively unimportant race. Julia and I were on vacation - I couldn't be bed ridden! So I really pulled back, and finally finished at around 6:02. Oh well!

As I got off my bike I could feel how bad my back really was. I could barely walk! I basically collapsed in the first piece of shade I could find. Julia came and met me, and after a bit of rest I got a massage and was able to get it loose enough to start stretching. It's still tight and sore, but I think I averted a major crisis by not pushing through it another 30 miles. I'm glad a sat up, got out of aero and put my goal on the shelf.

I still came in at sub 7:30 (7:26 was my time) and that's what I was hoping to do. And barely having sore legs the next day...well that's a good sign! I'm in great shape for Kona. If it weren't for the spasms it woulda been a perfect day!


About Me

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Film composer moonlighting as a runner, cyclist and triathlete