Monday, July 13, 2015

Vineman 70.3 Race Report

Coming off a strong performance at Hawaii 70.3, I really took the time to fully recover so I could put together a strong five-week block of training leading up to Vineman 70.3.  I start with this because many athletes rush back into training after a big race.  Either they are coming off of a good performance and are excited to keep the ball rolling or they had a poor race experience and think getting back into a structured training regimen is the answer.  To me, neither of these two options should be the plan.  A laser focus on recovery after a big race is critical to continued performance gains.  I spent 10 days after Hawaii doing nothing but easy and light training.  It's key to move and get the blood flowing, but it's also imperative not to do hard training.

The past 5 weeks of training, my Coach (Jim Lubinski), set out on a rampage to basically shred me to pieces.  The idea was to push as hard as possible leading into Vineman, and then allow adequate recovery time to really soak up the hard training...

Here are a few workouts 2 weeks before Vineman that I completed:

Tuesday, June 30th
Bike: 4 x 10 min at race pace on trainer....

Off bike right into this run workout:
4 x 1 mile at mile pace, HARD
My times: 6:12, 6:02, 5:58, 6:02
After the mile repeats I followed them up with a 2.5 mile tempo run at half marathon-6:30/mi pace. 

Thursday, July 2nd
Bike: 4 x 15 min at race pace on the road

Off bike right into this run workout:
4x(3min @ half pace(6:30/mi), 2 min @ 10K pace(Sub 6/mile)
No rest between intervals, the half marathon effort was my recovery.  This was a great run session that taught me to settle down after running fast but not to the point where my pace was suffering.

Sunday, July 5th
Bike: yo-yo pacing (meaning I was moving from one intensity right into another)
3x through:
10min 70%max HR/POWER-140-150bpm

10min 80%max HR/POWER-150-160bpm

Off bike right into this run workout:
3 x 2 miles at half-marathon pace(6:30/mi)
Times: 13:02, 12:45, 12:35

As you can see, there was a big focus to run fast off the bike.  If I was able to build bike durability, which I did, I could really harness my strength, which is a fast run.  As you will see, these type of training sessions paid off big time!

Race morning came fast.  We had a group of guys all staying together and we planned on getting to the swim start early enough for the guys in the early waves.  Unfortunately for me, I was in the 4th to last wave so I just sat around for 2 hours anticipating my race.  At 7:45 am, I started my pre-race warm up, which includes a complete dynamic warm up, and running drills to get the body firing and ready for the day ahead.  After warm up, I checked my transition area and made sure everything was ready to go..... "Shit", I literally said out loud.  I forgot my water bottle at the hotel that was loaded with 6 gels and diluted Gatorade.  I laughed out loud and adjusted.  I was lucky, because I had extra gels in my bag and on my bike.  I quickly put those into my other water bottle and I was good to go.

Ten minutes until my swim start and I headed down to the water.  "Shit", again I said out loud.  My rubber piece on one of my goggle sprockets came off.  As I was standing, waiting for my wave to enter the water, I was trying to put the rubber piece back on, but was having no luck.  I adjusted, took both of the rubber pieces off the sprockets and now had bare goggles with just the hard plastic exposed.  "Hopefully it works, I said to a guy next to me."  I swam around with my new, modified goggles and they seemed to do the trick, no water was entering.

The gun went off and I went out hard and fast.  This was the first time I had my wetsuit on all year and I was streaming through the water.  I love wearing my wetsuit for swims because it keeps you buoyant in the water.  Swimming feels effortlessly.  And my pace was controlled but strong.  Since I am not the fastest swimmer, the goal is to swim hard but conserve energy, as it's a long day.  That's exactly what I did.  Anytime I could, I would draft off another swimmer infront of me; doing this saves a ton of energy and maintains your swim speed.  Before you knew it, I looked up and the finish was in sight.  I kicked my legs, kept my strong stroke and made my way to the exit.
1.2 mile swim: 32:59

Transition 1 can be chaotic with thousands of athletes roaming around but since we were such a late wave, it wasn't bad.  I ran fast to my transition set up, ripped off my wetsuit, put it in my swim bag, put on my sunglasses, helmet and bike shoes and ran fast to the bike start.  It was time to bike.
Transition 1: 1 minute 51 seconds

My biking has improved greatly over the past 7 months.  And I was ready to execute the plan.  If I wanted to really run fast off the bike, making sure to pace smartly on the bike would be critical to my success.  From the get go, I looked at heart rate the entire time.  Very rarely did I look at miles per hour; the goal was to keep the heart rate between 140-150; anything over that and I risk blowing up and have nothing left for the run.  It's a fine line.  I stayed true to the plan and executed to a "T".  In fact, over the last 6 miles, I was averaging between 23-28 mph because I paced correctly, kept my nutrition consistent and had reserves in the tank to push that final 10k giving me confidence leading into the run.  As I was about to dismount my bike, I consumed 150 calories of gel to make sure that I had energy for the start of the run.
56 mile bike: 2:36:54, 21.4 average

Transition 2 was a very long run to the transition area.  But I ran fast, not allowing any wasted seconds to happen.  I was already out of my bike shoes so my transition was quick.  I put on my run socks and shoes and grabbed my hat, my gels and my race belt and took off.
Transition 2: 2 minutes 52 seconds

Immediately into the run, I knew I felt strong.  At this point, it's easy to get carried away and unload and blow up 6 miles in, so I needed patience.  The goal was to settle at 155 beats per minute.  I did exactly that.  At this heart rate, I was running between 6:30-7:00 min/mile pace.  Mile 3 came around and I was still feeling strong.  I stayed patient but allowed my heart rate to rise 3-5 beats, so now I was holding 158-160.  I took a gel every mile, drank water at the aide stations and kept my head down and focused.  There were some tough rolling hills to manage but I knew I had strength, so I kept my form, kept my run cadence up and would let my legs go fast on the downhill.   Many people struggle up the hill and then have nothing left for the downhill and this is where you can gain major speed.

At the half way point, I reassessed and noticed that my stomach started to feel a bit slushy, due to the gels and electrolytes consumed earlier.  When you feel this, that means you are holding on to the sugar in your gut and need water immediately to help with the digestion of the calories.  I did just that and that feeling went away.  Another big learning lesson because I have had days where I do not read that sign and end up suffering due to poor management.

I approached the 10 mile mark and still felt strong, tired and drained yes, but knew that I had a big finish saved up.  I took a gel, drank some water and allowed my heart rate to get up to 165-170.  I was running fast.  I looked down at my watch and was happy to see that I was going to crush my former best time of 5 hours.  I just needed to stay focused, take in 1 or 2 more gels and finish strong.  And that I did.  With one mile to go, I took one more gel, just to top things off, and started to push hard.  I looked down at my watch and saw that I was running 6:10 min/mile pace heading down the last mile.  My heart rate climbed to 175-178 but I knew the finish line was near, so I continued to push the limit.  I've done this in training many times, so I wanted the same thing in racing.  I ran through the finish chute, pressed stop on my watch and saw 4:45:44!  It was a 15 minute PR.
13.1 mile run: 1:31:08, 6:58 min/mile
14th place in my age group out of 237
119th place out of 2500 athletes

Confidence and belief in yourself are keys to achieving the goals you set out for.  With this race performance, my confidence and belief in my triathlon fitness have raised to a new level.  I am going to celebrate this performance but I am very excited to get back to work and continue the climb to my ultimate level.

I want to give a big shout out to Coach Jim Lubinski who has mentored me this past year.  His guidance and direction has been key to my development.  I encourage anyone looking for a specific goal, to hire a coach.  Even coaches need coaches.  Having a set of eyes looking at you with an objective view is very important to reaching specific goals.  You just have to do the work and follow through on the plan.

Thank you for reading this far and thank you for supporting my journey; it means the world to me to have awesome people supporting my adventures. 

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