Monday, July 18, 2011

Mass State Tri Race Report

James and I drove up Saturday afternoon, I picked up my packet and we scouted the course. Looked the same as last year ;-) except that my perspective is a little different. The water was 76F so wetsuits were legal and after wading into the water I decided that I would wear my wetsuit and deal with the increased T1 time.

We went for an early dinner at the Gardner Ale House. Same as last year. Had an amazing appetizer of greek salad, hummus, babaganoush, and pita. I then put away the better part of a cheese pizza and brought the rest back to the motel. Motel was pretty nice, had A/C, microwave and a fridge. I prepped my nutrition and we settled in for the evening.

I didn't sleep very well, seemed to be waking up every hour on the hour. Not nervous, just not finding my sleep groove. I got up just before 5am and had my tradition 2 bertucci's rolls, banana and diet soda. I did some mobility exercises and ran through the morning in my head. We packed up and were out the door by just before 6am. We made the 25 minute drive back to the race venue and I got my transition set up. I then posed for some ridiculous photos:
Muscle shot (kind of) = Getting MANIC!

Last season as a F25-29

New ridiculous pose!
 After the national anthem we all headed over to wait in our waves. The morning was quickly warming up and I was afraid I'd overheat in my wetsuit.
Fake smile much?

Eventually it was time to get in the water and get this party started!

Per my plan I lined up toward the front at the right. I had been talking with some ladies in my wave and it seemed like it was gonna be a speedy bunch. I was hoping for some good feet to latch onto. The cannon boomed and we were off. The speedsters were super fast. The person I was hoping to follow was too fast for me so I let her go and found someone with a nice quick turnover and swim next to her. We swam together for almost the whole course. I'm not sure if she was glad or not to have the company. When we started catching the wave ahead of us she took the most aggressive line, even if it was through me, every time. It was fine with me, I was glad to have someone to swim with. Without a watch I didn't know how I was doing time wise but felt like I was certainly swimming harder than in past races but was nowhere near a red zone. I swam all the way till my fingers hit the sandy bottom and popped up. Ran into transition while pulling my suit down to my waist. Still no idea of my swim time. In T1 I saw James and as I was ready to grab my bike asked him my time. He said he thought I was in the 27's. That seemed impossible. But lo and behold he was right! A good fast (much faster than intended) swim. I tried not to lolly-gag in transition but still had a slow (relative to my competitors) t1 time. I took endurolytes and drank some water before heading out.

Swim: 24:10 (58/382)

T1: 2:25

Got out on the bike and spun for the first mile or two. I knew I'd hit the big hill at mile 5 so wanted to bank time but also didn't want to jack my heartrate too much. The bike was relatively uneventful. A fair number of guys passed me, but far fewer than in past races. A few women passed but nothing like in past races. I sort of wondered where everyone was. First and second lap were evenly paced. Both a little slower by my garmin than I was hoping but there were a fair number of small(ish) hills on the backside side of the loop where the roads were very pitted that slowed things down (other than the big hill). Was pleased with my effort and pacing throughout. Both laps felt good. My new Adamo Road saddle was super comfy!

Bike: 1:20:13 (174/377)

 Back in transition I took more endurolytes, slid my feet into my kinvaras, messed with my bondi band and got going. Still a slowish transition...not sure why.
T2: 1:51
Not a flying dismount

I look puzzled

Out on the run I could feel the day getting warm but there was a nice tree cover on the run course. James yelled to me "just like our tempo runs" as I headed out. As I got going there was a guy just ahead of me who seemed to be running a good pace (as opposed to a freakish pace like some of the other guys). I didn't think too much about staying with him initially but quickly realized we were well matched. I stuck behind him and just listened to my breathing and turnover. I didn't look at my garmin until it beeped 1 mile and saw a 7:57. Oh my! That's fast! Quick body scan, feeling good. Kept with the same rhythm and just settled in. Lost the guy at the 1.5mi water station and kept trucking. Mile 2 beeped 7:59. Made a mental note of it of the variety "good, I banked a minute for when things get hairy later."

Miles 3 and 4 are sort of rolling hills and where I expected to lose time. I don't know what happened but I guess I got into a zone here. I saw the lead females coming back and started counting women. I cheered them on for a bit then decided to conserve energy (air). I got passed and passed women equally. Few men passed (likely they had all gotten ahead of me on the bike), but I passed my fair share. When I hit the turnaround there were 21 women ahead of me. As I started counting women behind me (them still on the out, with me on the back), there were a lot of them within half a mile of me (like 15). I worried a little about how many people would pass in the last 2 miles. I hit the hill that wrecked me last year and just told myself not to worry about pace and just do whatever I needed to without redlining. The wasn't so bad. ! ? ! ? As I came to the top there was a woman who had been 50m ahead of me for almost 2 miles who came within my grips. Here heart rate monitor started beeping at her menacingly and she slowed right as we crested. I didn't want to pass (and have her chasing me) but she slowed and I went by. Then a woman in my age group came flying from behind. I could hear her wicked cadence. She passed me easily. Through this whole time I hadn't looked at my garmin. Unheard of.

At mile 5 I was amazed to find myself still feeling good and checked my lap pace 7:58, with average pace also 7:58. I was very surprised, but in a mellow sort of way. I resolved at this point to hold the sub-8 (IMPOSSIBLE!) pace til the end. I didn't want to kick just yet. At mile 5.5 I came up on 3 men and ran with them for a bit. With half a mile left I expected them to pick it up but they didn't. A voice in my head said "Go!" and I did. Not a sprint, just and upsurge. One of the guys yelled "Go get'm!" - it was just what I needed to hear.

It doesn't look like I'm kicking but I've opened a gap on those guys behind me regardless
At mile 6 it was time to really push. And I did. As I came through the chute and stopped my watch it read 49:50. UNTHINKABLE!
So fast I'm blurry ;-)

Run: 49:50 (108/376)

I did my traditional knee grabbing and wind sucking and found James. I felt good! Then I made the mistake of eating a bite of watermelon and my system got very angry. Ten minutes later I went to the bathroom/shed to change and lost a bit of my nutrition. It was nothing that some ice cream wouldn't fix half an hour later.

Turns out that James, in the excitement of the start and the frenzy of photo taking forgot to start his watch, so I didin't know my overall time. Although I knew it was good. Very good for me. We waited for results to get posted.

A real smile, for an awesome PR!
Overall: 2:38:27 (8/28AG, 22/157 Female, 117/376 Overall)

A nearly 25 minute PR!!!!!

Things that went well:
1. Swimming harder. From what I can tell, no negative effects from adding a little bit of pace. May consider this for FirmMan.
2. Even pacing on the bike.
3. No ego on the bike.
4. Nutrition was spot on.
5. Endurolytes! I often don't do the whole electrolytes thing as evenly on long efforts as I should. Some part of me thinks that my great run may have been due to this magical little pills!
6. The RUN!!! I've never been in a groove on a run like this before. Not looking at my garmin and just going was great. Distracting myself by counting woman also seemed to work quite well (perhaps because there were - for once - far more behind me than ahead of me). Had I seen either my mile 3 or 4 splits I think it would have messed with my groove (mile 3 was "too fast" and mile 4 was "too slow") and I would have told myself that I was about to fall apart.
7. Even effort throughout. I am amazed at the difference a year makes. Last year this was my first race. At the time it was a huge accomplishment to finish. I tapered before the race and needed time after to recover. This year my fitness is clearly at another level. My energy was so even. I didn't fatigue. I had a kick at the end. Its not just that I went faster, its that I am able to go at a harder effort for longer. Its very cool to see and feel that.

As seems to be my tradition - today - the day after the race I am beating up on myself for not being better, faster, leaner. While my race kit was comfortable, as the photos attest, it was not attractive. Body composition needs work. Major work. Racing Weight and Thrive are on my immediate to-read list. Also, a weird turn of events. The woman I passed at mile 4 - she is 30. I stared at her calf for a long time. She won the 30-34 AG. I came in 8th in my AG. Do I want to be 30? Not really, but I'm crossing over in 6 months anyway...if only, if only, if only.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mass State Tri Goal Post

 This weekend I am racing at the Massachusetts State Triathlon. Last year this was my very first triathlon! It will be my second Olympic distance event and hopefully an opportunity to smash my PR. After a few weeks of recovery from Mooseman, I've gotten in about a month's worth of solid training, with a renewed emphasis on tempo runs at tempo pace, track workouts with speed (just a few), and long runs intentionally slowed down. I am hoping this will translate into a strong(er) run on Sunday. Last year I went 3:03. This was WAY faster than I had planned, despite a very conservative swim (29:xx) and a painfully slow run (6.35miles in 57:12). I rode my dad's old hybrid and only purchased Nimbus after the race when I knew triathlon and I were going to make excellent bedfellows.

This year my endurance is certainly better. My volume is higher and I am much less worn down by training that in those first 6 months last spring. I haven't made huge gains in the swim, but I was pretty pleased with where I started. My biking has come a long way, by definition, given that I hadn't spent any time on a bike in 20 years. I hope to gain most of my time on the bike. My run, well, we'll see.

Other factors: last year was hot as all get out. 90F by noon, which was right about when I thought I would be finishing. My wave didn't go off til close to 8:40am. Up until 2 days ago they had been calling for highs around 80F on race day, but the temps have slowly been creeping up and now its looking like 88F. If I'm done by 11:30 it might have only reached 80F. Still 80F is too hot for me. So I expect I will suffer on the run. Last year, it had been quite hot for a while and the water was up above 80F as well so they strongly discouraged wetsuits. I didn't have one, so no problem there. This year, I have a wetsuit (sleeveless) although I'm torn about wearing it. On the one hand, I swim faster with it on (duh). On the other hand, with temperature regulation being an issue for me, I don't want to be overheating from the get-go. In addition, in both of my HIMs when I've worn it I've had a stripper to help me out of it. In this race, no strippers (not that I would expect there to be). So there could be a slight T1 disadvantage to wearing it.

Enough with the preamble. Here are my plans and goals:
Swim: Line up towards the front, second row on the right. Go out slightly harder than in past races and see if there are any feet to find. No sprinting. But unlike past races, no lollygagging either.
C goal: sub 30:00
B goal: sub 29:00
A goal: 28ish
A+ goal: No such thing. I can swim 25:xx but it just means getting passed by more people on the bike and run. I don't want to get caught up with people I can't hang with.

Transitions: I seem to have a particular aptitude for spending a long time in transition. It would be great to spend just a little less, particularly in T1. Under 3:00 each?

Bike: The course is a double loop with one significant hill (x2). Find a comfortable pace in the miles leading up to the hill the first time and then spin up the hill. No ego. Open it up as much as I want between the back side of the hill and when I come up on it for the second time (miles 6-16). Then spin again. Steady effort back in to the park for T2. Given the heat I am planning on my aero water bottle (22oz) to be filled with G2 + 200cal or CarboPro and an addition bottle on my down tube with Nuun + 100c CarboPro. I will take endurolytes at least once (in T1 if I swam with wetsuit, on bike if not) and maybe twice if its turning into a scorcher. I have had good training rides with Medjool dates so that is my plan for additional nutrition on the bike. Will also keep a chocolate outrage Gu handy in case the dates don't strike my fancy. Although my goal splits don't look much different than what I hope to be writing for FirmMan 70.3 in two months, my goal here is to have a solid run and to be reasonable given the heat. No ego, Rachel, no ego.
C goal: 1:25 (17.5mph)
B goal: 1:23 (18mph)
A goal: 1:21 (18.3mph)
A+ goal: sub 1:20 (18.6+mph)

(T2: As above, here if I don't save time I will be okay with it. Sometimes my heart rate spikes as I run my bike into transition. Standing still for a minute and catching my breath is not the worst thing in the world before I start what will be a hard (but hopefully solid) run.)

Run: Don't start too fast! First two miles are false flat (1-2% grade) and then there are 2 miles of jagged hills. My biggest goal on the run is to feel like I can push it during the last two miles. Suggesting, or even intimating in any way, that I want to negative split the run would be ridiculous, so I am not putting that on the table. But I don't want to blow up. I don't want consecutive 9:30 miles like last year (miles 4 and 5). I have been practicing running at an uncomfortable pace -- its uncomfortable. I am going to try to keep this in mind and not freak out about it. If I execute bike hydration/nutrition well then hopefully I won't be dealing with side stitches and will be able to stick with the discomfort for the last stretch. Last 2 miles. Give it all I've got! Last year I mustered a sprint to the finish, I hope to do the same this weekend. The course is long (6.35 by my garmin, mapped twice, on the tangents) so the times are slightly off for 10k. Depending on the heat, I will likely carry my small 10oz fuel belt handheld with G2+carbopro and a gu. If its sweltering I might grab my big 20oz bottle with water and take endurolytes in transition. Both will be in T2.
C goal: better than last year's 57:12
B goal: 55:00
A goal: 53:30
A+goal: 52:30

C goal: PR. sub 3:03:09
B goal: sub 3:00
A goal: sub 2:55
A+goal: sub 2:50

[For the sake of completeness and honesty I also want to put the following FUTURE goal on the table. At the Olympic distance I would eventually like to go 2:40. Did I just say that?!?!? No, no, I meant 2:45. Okay, actually, I want to go 2:40. To go sub50 on the run would also be awesome. 2013?]

After the race James and I will be hightailing it back to Boston to watch the Women's World Cup final at my parents'. I also intend to gorge myself on pizza. Chocolate my be consumed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

June - By the Numbers

June 2011
Swim: 29,650 yards
Bike: 425.65 miles
Run: 80 miles + 16 hiking/walking/shuffle recovering
Weights/Core: 4 sessions
Total Time: 50 hours 36 minutes

Not sure exactly what to say about June. It started off with taper into Mooseman, followed by recovering from Mooseman. Physically my body seemed to recovery better after this 70.3 effort than FirmMan last September. That being said, for around 2 weeks (maybe more, maybe less, I can't seem to recall) after the race I just felt blah. Slow swims, slow runs, not great energy. I would have these surprisingly good rides and get psyched that I was back, only to wake up the next day with a crappy attitude and then have a not so stellar workout. This went on for quite a while it seemed. Two weeks out from the race, James and I decided to do a 5k. I think I may have found a little bit of mojo during (or following) the race. Slowly put together the realization that when I don't do speed work (especially on the run), I get very flat. All my runs turn into moderate tempo efforts but on this neverending plateau. I need to move back into slow runs (long), fast runs (track), and only one tempo run (at a harder tempo) per week. If I am able to get into the habit of a fourth run per week then that one should be easy (slow) or a transition run. The latter portion of the month was uneventful (besides the untimely destruction of my beloved garmin forerunner, Minny). As my body came back to me I was somehow able to put in some relatively solid hours and pull my month total up over 50 hours. Initially many of those hours were slow, recovery, easy, or surprisingly hard while going at an easy pace, but things started coming back into focus toward the end.

As a belated birthday gift, my parents got me a bike fitting. I've had my bike since last August and this was the first fitting. The guy was totally great and I had a blast talking with him. I learned more about my bike in that hour than I think I have all year. He massively changed just about everything. Pushed the cleat on my shoe forward, moved my saddle back (a lot, 10-15mm?), raised the saddle (1.5-2 inches?), replaced my stem (80mm for the 110mm it came with), dropped my bars (removed about 1-2cm of washers from the stem), and raised the pads of my aerobars.  I gave the new setup 4 rides before an initial assessment of the fit. The shorter stem and raised aerobar rests are great. Ultimately I decided the saddle was just too high. I couldn't get any power and felt like I was reaching all the time. I brought it down about half an inch and things were better. After a few rides where my lady parts were not happy with me I realized that my saddle had a growing split in the middle of the nose. Time to upgrade -- so further setup changes were going to wait until I could see the impact of the new saddle. Will let you know how this goes...

June 30 was also the last day of my internship year. At the end of the day I was addressed by many as Dr. Wasserman for the first (official) time. My new job/fellowship doesn't start until August 30, so I have a summer free to play!