I was pretty psyched for my season opener. Reflecting on where I was a year ago, I was pretty excited about all the changes that had taken place – a new job, a new city, a new tri club, new friends… and I’m now self-coached. I knew from last year that my run fitness had improved significantly (despite a lackluster result at a marathon in February), and ever since I had gone back to masters swimming in mid-March, all of my training had been spot on. The fast majority of my cycling training has been taking place indoors on the trainer (where it is likely to continue during the week). In the past that’s been an issue, but I’m finding myself able to focus much better these days and push through a workout.
Above you can see the first segment of my flight to New Orleans. See how the line is headed towards St. Louis and then magically takes a hard right turn towards Chicago? Yeah, I noticed that too. Turns out the bad thunderstorms that roared through the southeast Thursday, Friday and Saturday closed KSTL for about half an hour. Unfortunately, that meant our little diversion to Chicago (we didn’t get off the plane there, just waited for about 1.5 hours and then flew right back to KSTL) caused me to miss the last flight to New Orleans. Ended up flying to Dallas, staying in a hotel there (waited forever for the hotel shuttle to come to the airport, which it never did, before riding in a cab to the hotel), slept for 4 hours, woke up, caught the first flight to New Orleans in the morning. Not an ideal way to start the race weekend.
After arriving in NOLA, I did the typical registration/check-in dance, bought my CO<subscript>2</subscript> and headed to Mother’s Restaurant. Checked in early to the hotel and built the bike (almost fully). Headed to bike check-in and given that I hadn’t ridden the TT bike since Timberman, thought it would be a good idea. Turns out it was a great idea as I had forgotten to tighten down the stem clamp bolts. Was almost bad news in the parking lot, would have been worse news on race day. After getting the bike checked in, I went to look at the lake. Oddly, barricades were blocking the way to the lake (swim practice was closed — a result of massive swells on the Lake). While standing there, I got bitten on the legs by fire ants. Not ideal at all. Pre-race dinner was at Gordon Biersch — safe (or so I thought) and a throwback to the pre-IMAZ dinner. Got back to the hotel and actually slept through the night for the first time pre-race.
Race morning I get to the site and first thing I hear is: “Swim’s been cancelled due to 20 knot winds. It’s going to be a bike-run race today. So much for getting a check of my swim fitness (POOR) early in the season. Not ideal, but no big deal either. It’s a bit chilly in NOLA (upper 50’s lower 60’s and breezy) in transition; it’s all I can do to stay warm. Typical pre-race snack of Gatorade and wheat thins.
The Bike – 2:42
Not much good to say here, other than no flats and no crashes. About 20 minutes into the bike, my right mid-back started feeling really tight. No amount of adjusting position in the bars really alleviated the pain. Tried as best I could to ignore/suffer through it, but spent far too much time out of the aero position trying to massage the tightness away. The first 25 miles or so were into a stiff headwind, and it would have been nice to be able to stay aero. I’ll be going down to see Todd at TTBikeFit in early May to try to resolve this issue. I have faith in him. In all, I ended up beign 5 minutes slower on the bike this year (a combination of lack of focus and time spent out of aero, I think). During transition, I was passing a ton of people walking through the narrow Bike In alley when I clipped one of them (in fairness to me I had yelled “On your left!” two or three times) and almost took him down. I apologized, he apologized and I was on my way.
The Run – 1:33:38 (or 1:31:15 if my stomach didn’t suck)
I got out of transition and there was another 25-29 guy right in front of me. I knew I had no hopes of placing decently at this point, but I wanted to pass as many people as possible. This guy had a ton of locals cheering for him (I assume he was local himself) and as I raised his arms to acknowledge them, he punched me in the head. No big deal. I passed him and despite trying to hold back knocked off the first two miles each in a 6:46 split (as I passed him and we both passed slower runners, one of them wondered aloud”Why don’t my legs work like that right now?” Probably because you biked above your fitness, or your fitness doesn’t allow you to run that fast yet.). Knew I needed to back off (my goal pace for the run was 7:00) and hope that I could hold it. If my stomach had held it together, I would have easily crushed that goal (as it is I didn’t do too badly). Around mile 6 I knew my stomach wouldn’t hold together, but I was running really well and could still get close to my goal, so I figured next port-o-potty I saw I was going to take (dis)advantage of. Saw one at the mile 8 aid station, used it (kind of) and got going again. Problem is I hadn’t really solved the problem and by mile 10 needed to use one again (and did). At that point it was just get to the finish line and then solve the problem. As you can see from the data, that’s pretty much what I did (aside from walking one aid station after mile 10). I was able to kick it for the last .4 miles or so and finished well for myself (though my running buddy Matt H. was able to run a 1:30 in an Open Half that day, therefore making me a LOSER). Anyhow, if it weren’t for those two stomach stops, I ran a 1:31:15 (maybe faster as I wouldn’t have walked the aid station at mile 10, but that’s really being optimistic). I’m happy with a 1:33:38 too.
All told it was a 4:19 without the swim. With the swim, it probably would have been right around last years time.
Sitting in BWI on Monday morning, I wrote down these thoughts about the race.
+ Run is coming along very nicely. Ran a 1:31.15 or so in a half iron race. Time still needs to come down another 5 minutes or so, but that’s a great start (6 minutes faster than last year). Without stomach issues, maybe that is a 1:31 even (fewer distractions, more blood flowing to legs).
– Need to learn to hydrate better on the run. Was running into difficulty getting enough fluid — might not have made it to mile 15 without walking more aid stations. Buy a hand held water bottle?
-Bike needs a lot of work. Position and power are both lacking. Need to contact TTBikeFit and see when I can get an appointment with them. If it comes to getting a new bike, so be it. Yoga/stretching of back and hamstrings would probably also be very useful. When doing interval work, the entire workout should be in the aerobars (including rest intervals and warm up).
+Keep hammering intervals during the week: 3×15 should be the new norm on Tuesday with v02max work on Thursday. Test every 4 weeks.