This really is a good way to analyze learn from a race...re-hash it play by play...
Beach! I kind of decided to replace Age Group Nationals with Best of the U.S. after winning Buster this year because 1. I don't feel like traveling to Vermont and 2. beach trip, duh!! So with this reasoning in mind, I've been getting ready to race at the Best of the U.S. Amateur Triathlete Competition since around mid June. This race is farmed out each year to an existing race around the country, and this year it just so happened to be held at Team Magic's Alabama Coastal Triathlon in Gulf Shores, AL, which I have never raced before but have heard excellent things about. Race participants for BOUS were low this year (short course and 70.3 Worlds on the same weekend); there were only 15 males that were entered in to the race. Here's how it unfolded...
Arise at 4:30am and...COFFEE! Seriously though, it's a legal performance enhancing drug. Starbucks Costa Rica grind, yes please. After a cup of the good stuff, a banana, and a bagel w/peanut butter and honey, I'm good to go. I conveniently stayed at a condo 0.5 miles away from the race site, so fellow BOUS competitor Colin Riley and I pumped up the tires and headed over to the race at around 5:45am. After racking my bike and organizing the transition area, I headed out for a warm-up run. Goals for the run include 1. get the legs moving 2. get the HR up a little bit 3. open up the hips/get loose and 4. get the feeling of leg speed. So, I ran a couple minutes easy, did some butt kicks/high knees/etc to get loose, jogged some more, then did a couple of 10s strides to get the HR up a little and then a little cool down...all in all around 10 minutes and I was feeling goooood.
"time to become a fish this winter"
It is what it is. The 15 of us lined up about 50 feet from the ocean's edge, and at "go" we were off. The fishes quickly separated themselves from everyone after the first 150m or so. For the rest of the swim I was all alone, although I could see 2 guys up ahead of me by maybe 10 seconds or so. From there I just tried to focus on going hard, knowing that I'd need every second I could get. The only eventful thing that happened was a jellyfish sting with about 100m to go..what tha!!! I took a stroke with my right arm and STING! It didn't hurt to bad, more annoying than anything. I could see 2 guys running up the beach as I exited the water. I came out in 12th out of 15.
"it's all about the watts"
Plan for the bike: 1. CONSTANT wattage 2. be aggressive but SMART 3. reap rewards and go fast
Well, I admittedly did not follow Coach K's plan. I've raced most Oly distance races this year around 260 watts...although most of these races were 90+ degrees and on tired legs. With temperatures in the low 70's and a full taper leading up to the race, I knew I wanted to/needed to be a little more aggressive on the bike. Of course you always have to balance the run, but you never want to leave anything on the table. K and I decided to try and nail it at 270-275 watts as a "rough" estimate of what to shoot for. That should usually give me right under 60 min. Off on the bike and I tried to settle in quick. After 10 minutes I was around 282 watts. It felt great. Definitely a good buffer under threshold. I seemed to be wanting to naturally settle in at around 280, so that is what I did. I normally don't concern myself with HR too much, but I usually have it on just because it is interesting to look at after the fact, but it can also be helpful sometimes...like, if I'm feeling "good" but my HR is in the 180's then maybe I really am cooking myself. But I quickly glanced at it and was steady around 170 bpm. Usually, something around 180 bpm +/- a little is when I seem to tip over to anaerobic. So...the rest of the bike was clockwork. Nail a wattage, let the winds take you where they will, and see what happens. I was 12th out of the water and passed 6 guys on the bike, so I came into T2 sitting 6th and feeling gooood.
So this was kind of big...I've never actually run a 10k under 40 minutes. Of course I haven't run an open 10k in quite some time either, but this year I have usually ended up around 41-42' in the Olympic distance. Coming out of T2, all I was focused on was keeping my leg turnover high. Do that, and the speed will come. The first mile was kind of painful. I was trying to get in a rhythm, but it just wasn't working out to well. 6:39. Then it clicked. Miles 2-4 were 6:23 - 6:23 - 6:24. Fellow Alabamian Travis Grappo passed me slightly before mile 4. I eventually bridged up to him and tried to turn it up the last 2 miles. We ran stride for stride for the next ~2 miles, 6:18 and 6:11. With a little less than 0.5 miles to go, Grappo bolted. There was not a chance that I could go with him. I picked it up to 5:45ish pace but that was about all I had. All in all, it was a good effort.
9th out of 15
As much as it hurt, I had fun ALL DAY! Racing head to head with a mass start is just where it's at. TT starts leave something to be desired, like, "I really wanna know if I'm beating this guy right now or winning this race or barely losing this race." I was able to meet a couple of the guys too, and everyone was really cool, and of course, fast. Overall, it was a perfect way to end the season. Nothing left on the table. And most importantly, I know what I need to do to really start competing next year. All in all, this season has been full of highs and lows, good races and some mediocre races, and I've learned a lot. I've kind of decided that if I don't want to quit the sport at least 3 times during the summer, then I'm not training hard enough. Sometimes people ask me why I do it...the obvious answer is that I genuinely love the sports, but sometimes I even pose the question to myself of why I do the daily grind. It's days like today that answer the question; it's not just about going out and doing a race, but actually RACING it. Whether that makes sense or not doesn't really matter, because it makes perfect sense to me.