Friday, June 5, 2015

Hawaii 70.3 Race Report

Hawaii 70.3, May 30th 2015

“Every time I finish an event, I meet my goals.  I push, sacrifice, endure, and cross the finish line.  I then celebrate the achievement; reassess the performance and set new and more ambitious endeavors to strive for.  It’s life for me!”

This is my response to a friend’s text when he asked me if I met my goals during my recent Half Ironman event in Hawaii.  Yes, there is a big part of me that does this sport for the competitive and athletic nature it brings.  I want to compete and do well in my age group.  I have even built my fitness to where I believe I can win my age group.  But the bigger part of me takes on this endurance lifestyle to grow closer to my ultimate self.  I am always striving.  Determined to reach new heights.  Always pushing my comfort zone.  It’s the metaphor I use relating to how life should be lived.  Whether you do triathlon or boxing or own a business or care for your family, this is the philosophy.  You create a lifestyle that is always pushing the envelope.  You design a plan for success.  You learn to battle obstacles.  I use this viewpoint continuously, almost in an obsessive manner, so I am constantly growing.

Onto the race report….

I am going to start a couple days before the event because with racing triathlon (or any endurance sport or athletic event) it’s the things you do leading up to the race that maximizes performance. 

My workouts the week of the event consisted of low volume (under 45 minutes) that kept my legs explosive and ready for game day.  Too much training and you risk fatigue, too little and you risk a stale and flat body.  There is a fine line of what to do and how much.  I take that seriously as I taper for my A race. 

Race week training:
Monday: tissue work/mobility warm up/core work
Tuesday: mobility warm up and golf
Wednesday: 10 minute easy shake out run/15 minutes swim with pick ups/40 minute bike with 4x1 minute hard pick ups
Thursday: 40 minute run with pick ups of 1, 2, and 3 minutes hard efforts
Friday: 20 minute bike with 3x1 minute hard pick ups

I started “carbo” loading Thursday at lunch.  This is not some generic idea where I load absurdly amounts of breads and bagels into my body.  I am strategically adding high glycemic carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, pretzels, chips, etc) into my system to fully top my glycogen stores.  Nothing too scientific, just 3-5 more servings than a normal day. 

I continued this carbo-loading through Friday evening.  I like to eat around 5:30 pm the night before a race to make sure my food has plenty of time to digest.  Except for a kale, beet, cucumber, melon, and carrot juice (a normal routine of mine), I did not eat many high fiber foods on Friday.  Something new this race (due to the hot and humid conditions) was my salt load starting on Friday.  Starting at noon, every hour I took 1 salt capsule.  I also ate a small jar of pickle slices throughout the day to really load up on the sodium.  Many athletes suffer from dehydration but also a big percentage reach a hyponatremic state (low sodium concentration).  I wanted to make sure I had plenty of sodium and electrolytes in my system before the race started.  

Friday was the day to check in at the race.  My good friend Adrian Reyes and Faron Reed came and picked me up and we made our way to the race venue.  It was great talking to these guys as they gave me lots of great course tips, since they have both raced it before.  

Saturday morning, I woke up at 3:58 am, took a quick shower, ate breakfast (bagel with jam, banana and Gatorade) did a mobility and core warm up and packed up any last minute items. 

My swim wave was the first, at 6:44 am.  After a 2-3 minute warm up in the ocean, I was ready to go.  I have not done any open water swimming in training but I have done enough in the past that I was confident about the swim.  I wasn’t going to break any personal records but I knew that my swim stamina was good.  My main goal: “exit the water with lots of energy”. 

The cannon went off and I went out hard, but controlled.  After about 300 meters, I settled into a consistent rhythm.  Anytime I saw some feet in front of me, I drafted.  Drafting in swimming can save an athlete energy so I did this as much as possible.  I was swimming smooth, probably too smooth and I know I can swim faster but my main goal: “exit the water with lots of energy”.  The swim was pretty calm.  Though the current was pushing us around a bit, it wasn’t too bad. 

Before you knew it, we hit the last buoy, I kicked my legs hard to wake them up and my energy was high, goal achieved.  38 minutes total swim time.  Slow time but that didn’t matter to me; time to go bike fast!
2100 athletes and I am 407th place at this point.

Transition 1 was uphill 100-200 yards to my bike.  I ran that hard and passed many athletes walking.  I decided to put my bike shoes on since it was a long run in transition area; I am glad I did this because the mount line was uphill and I was ready to go.  

Getting on the bike, I knew that my fitness was strong.  I had a plan to pace wisely on the bike and I started that plan immediately.  From the get go, I took my nutrition (Powerbar gel every 15-20 minutes), drank my fluids and used water to soak my body to stay cool.  The first 10 miles went by fast (averaged 24 mph) and probably could have been faster but I stayed conservative because I knew tougher riding was coming. 

Miles 26-29 was a slow ascent up to Hawi and the turnaround.  I was rolling at 12-15 mph during this stretch of road.  This is where you felt the wind and humidity.  I was looking forward to the turn around, as I knew it would be fast and fun coming back.  I was right.  I turned around and immediately got into my aero position and got my legs going.  I wasn’t overdoing it though; “save your legs for the run”.  I kept repeating to myself.  I continued getting in my calories, drinking fluids and soaking my head and body with cold water.  I took 9 gels (900 calories) during the 56-mile bike and 3 bottles of Gatorade (225 caloreis, total: 1125 calories = 400 cals/hour).  Sub 2:40 was the goal and I rode 2:38.  I was feeling fine coming off the bike; no major issues and I was ready to run. 
132nd place at this point

Transition 2 was quick and smooth, only 1 minute 49 seconds. 

My goal was to run this half marathon at 6:45 minute/mile pace but this humidity was tough.  Off the bike it was 80 degrees with 75-80% humidity.  I still wanted to run well but immediately I knew that a sub 1:30 half marathon was going to take an absolutely perfect day.  My first 2 miles were right at 7:00 min/mile pace, right where I wanted to be.  My next 1.5-mile was at 6:55 pace; getting better.  In my training this is where I get into my groove and build my pace throughout, of course in cooler weather conditions.  But instead, my leg turnover got slower and my pace decreased.  My sweat rate was very high, and I am not a heavy sweater.  The run course was challenging with short steep hills to climb, grass to run on and hot roads that radiated heat; it made for tough running.  My average pace over the next 3-5 miles grew to 8:15.  But I didn’t panic.  Instead I continued to take in my calories and fluids to best mitigate the humid conditions.  At every aide station I was pouring cold water all over my body, putting ice down my jersey and shorts, and utilizing the cold sponges on my uniform.  By mile 9, my body was in overdrive and this is where the mind starts to fatigue. But again, I stayed calm, kept my running form and stayed with my plan.  My pace was now starting to improve.  When I registered for this event back in January, my initial goal was sub 5 hours 15 minutes.  Due to the best 6-month training block I have ever done (thanks Coach Jim Lubinski), my goal moved to sub 5 hours.  I even believed that I could dip into the 4:45 range with a perfect race. 

With 2 miles to go, I needed to run this last stretch in under 14 minutes to go under 5 hours.  That’s 7:00 min/mile pace.  Very possible!  But will be tough.  I was pretty spent at this point.  After walking through the aide station at mile 11, I gave myself a pep talk and picked up my pace.  My heart rate was hitting the mid-170s and I was pushing hard.  I continued as fast as I could go.  I turned the last corner and had 200 yards to go and the timer turned to 5 hours.  I came in at 5 hours and 41 seconds…
Run time: 1:38

After a few minutes to regain myself and a bottle of Gatorade, I started to analyze the past 5 hours.  “What could have I done different?”  “Man, only 42 seconds away.”  These were some of my thoughts.  That is how my brain works; I immediately look for the improvement.  But after a few more minutes went by and seeing my family there cheering for me, elation and euphoria quickly started. 

Later I found out that I took 11th in my age group (223 athletes) and 60th place overall (2100 athletes).  I looked around at the results from various top performers and I was literally right in the mix of the competition.  Starting at 407th place out of the water and ending up 60th, I am stoked to see that.  And I know there is more.  It wasn’t a perfect race and I know that there is much more improvement to come. 

I just want to say a special thank you to my wife Stephanie for always supporting me and being my #1 fan.  Thank you to my daughters for putting up with daddy’s craziness.  Thank you to my family, friends and support that took time to comment on my Facebook photos.  Those truly mean the world to me and I am grateful to have such a great support system.  And finally, thank you to Coach Jim Lubinski from Red Performance multisport who has coached me this year.  Big things are happening with his coaching and direction. 

Next race: Vineman 70.3 on July 12th and the goal is 4:45! 

More to come baby…. 


Past writings