Goosepond Island Half Race Report

Sept 9 - Oct 6 (last 4 week averages)
S:  14,458 yds - 3hr 25min
B:  139.63 mi - 7hr 34min
R:  41.32 mi - 5hr 20min
Total:  16hr 19min

Oct 7 - Oct 13 (taper time!)
S:  13,518 yds - 3hr 13min
B:  87.10 mi - 4hr 8min
R:  24.88 mi - 3hr 1min
Total:  10hr 22min

The Goosepond Island Half has been on my schedule all year.  With this half ironman distance race being in Alabama and only 2 hours from my house, it's hard to turn down.  I feel like supporting races in one's home state is always a good thing to do, especially when you know the RD and think highly of him.  Anyways, ever since racing fellow Accelerate 3 athlete Chris Borden at Gulf Coast back in May (and LOSING), I was looking forward to going head to head with him again.  Alas, Chris had different plans and managed to earn a trip to to Kona...I guess I can't blame him for skipping Goosepond!  Nonetheless, there would still be good competition.  Jonathan Krichev is ALWAYS a threat and must be respected.  I really didn't recognize many other names on the start list but figured there would be 3-5 of us in the mix.

Racing into October can really be tough, especially when the first multi-sport race of 2013 happened back in late March.  It's been a very rewarding and successful season, but as September rolled around I really started to feel a little lacking in the motivational department.  No matter how much you love the sport of triathlon, doing anything a lot can lead to getting burned out...sometimes these are just temporary feelings though so I just told myself to suck it up.  As the weather in Alabama started to cool off a little bit, training got a lot more fun and I started putting together a string of good workouts, mainly a nice little run and bike a little over a week out from the race.  After that, I knew I was ready.  My goal for the race, unequivocally, was to win; and these last hard workouts gave me all the confidence I needed to think it could be a reality.  Race week went perfectly; plenty of sleep, clean eating, and a nice little taper that left me feeling primed and ready to go.

On Saturday afternoon, Lori and I drove up to Scottsboro for the weekend festivities.  After a quick swim on the course, we headed to packet pick-up and then a good pasta dinner before calling it a night.  Race morning came early at 4am, and with it came the pre-race breakfast routine:
  • 2 scoops Ultragen
  • Cereal bowl
    • 1 cup Koala Crisp
    • 11oz Almond Breeze single serve
    • 1 banana, sliced
    • 2x Salt Stick Caps, emptied into bowl
  • 8oz espresso roast coffee in AeroPress
  • 650 calories
We headed to the race site and got there as transition opened at 5:30am.  I always like getting to races early, especially when there's a chance you could flat both tires during your warm up.  With those memories fresh on my mind, waking up earlier didn't seem like too much of a price to pay.  After a short run and bike warm up and with 30 minutes until race-time, I downed a Gu energy gel and swigged some water before making my way over to the swim start.

posing, pre-swim

Swim - 29:38 (4th)
The swim was a 2 loop counter-clockwise course, with all males under age 40 starting in the first wave.  I positioned myself on the far left of the group since that was clearly the fastest line.  The horn sounded and we were off.  Two guys (one of which I assumed was Krichev) jumped out right off the bat way faster than I was willing to go.  After 100 meters the pack settled in and I found myself in third position leading the rest of the pack.  After the first loop I was all alone.  The rest of the swim was uneventful.  I was completely by myself except for hitting some slower swimmers on the 2nd loop.  I exited the water in 3rd and was feeling pretty good.

on the front at the far left

T1 - 0:46 (3rd)
No mistakes here.  Lori called out that I was 3 or 4 minutes down to Krichev.  This is about what I expected and I KNEW that I could make this up on the bike, hopefully on the first half.

heading out on the bike

Bike - 2:22:46 (1st)
The bike plan was pretty easy.  Hit 225 watts and don't do anything stupid like wreck or drop all nutrition or set a new 20 minute power record.  Over the last year, I've done a lot of experimentation, racing, and test runs with nutrition and have settled on the bullets below.  Basically I have two plastic flasks in the zippered pocket on the back of my tri suit, a salt/calorie bottle between the aero bars, and then a hydration chamber in the frame near the top tube that can be re-filled.
  • BTA Bottle: 3 scoops EFS with 6x Salt Stick Caps (drink evenly throughout bike)
  • Frame Fuselage: ~30oz water (15oz refilled at aid station)
  • Flask 1: 1x EFS liquid shot, watered down (drink over first 1/2 of bike)
  • Flask 2: 4x Gu, watered down (drink over second 1/2 of bike)
  • 1088 calories 
starting the bike

After a couple miles, I passed the 2nd place guy and started setting my sights on Krichev.  The course was super flat, but with a sketchy area in downtown Scottsboro and some terrible road surfaces I wouldn't say that it was a "fast course".  At around the 20 mile mark I could see the leader and I was reeling him in quickly.  A mile later, I made the pass and the rest of the bike was uneventful; I just focused on the lead motorcycle, remembered to take in my calories, and kept the wattage constant.  At the turnaround I could see that my gap on Justin Prior and some other dude was only a couple of minutes.  This started getting to me so I picked up the power slightly on the way back in.  Everything was feeling great so I was fine with picking up the power a little bit.  I rolled back into T2 ready to finish off strong.

position optimized, check

T2 - 1:24 (33rd)
This was slightly slower than I wanted.  My hands and feet were kind of numb so putting on socks seemed to be slightly more difficult than it should have been.

Run - 1:31:43 (3rd)
Brian harps on the mantra "proper pacing = proper racing" all the time, and it is ever so important during a long course race.  My plan was to start off at a pace that would allow me to negative split the last 10k, knowing that this would afford me my fastest possible race.

starting the run

After failing and succeeding at a handful of half ironman races, I think I've figured out what works best for me nutrition wise.  The Powerbar gels are a bit less viscous than the Gu gels so I've found these are easier to digest while running.
  • 3x PowerBar gel, watered down in a flask (drink at mile 3, 6, 9)
  • 4x Salt Stick caps
  • Swig of water/gatorade at each aid station
  • 330 calories
Despite feeling great coming out of T2, things quickly turned grim.  Both of my quads started gradually "tightening up", almost like they were in the beginnings of seizing up and cramping.  What?  No way this could be happening!  Thoughts of run/walking the half marathon and losing the race flew through my head...this can't be happening!  Then, realizing how stupid I was being and the fact that I'm just out here for fun, I told myself to keep running and see what happens.  After about a mile, my legs got loose and things were back to normal.  Up until mile 7 things were uneventful.  I kept the pace "difficult but reasonable", took in fluids and calories, and concentrated on running the tangents.
  • 1st half - 46:30 (5th)
Somewhere around that point I saw Krichev at one of the out-and-back sections and deduced that he had made up a little bit of time on me.  Knowing how strong of a runner he is, I knew I had to finish strong.  Using this as motivation, I manged to pick up the pace over the last 10k.  Hearing runners should out encouragement on the way back in certainly helped out.  A handful of Vulcan Tri members were on the course so seeing them was a boost in morale.  The last mile was the most painful but also the most awesome.  Realizing that almost 600 hours and 6700 miles of trials is about to pay off is one of the greatest feelings in sports, ever. 
  • 2nd half - 45:13 (1st)
With hot conditions, a carefully paced half marathon proved to be successful.  I gave up a little bit on the first half, but out-ran everyone by almost 2 minutes over the last half of the run.

the one shady part of the course...

Total - 4:26:16 (1st overall)
Wohoo!  Looking and thinking back over the race, I made absolutely zero mistakes and had, quite possibly, what I consider to be the best executed race in my 6 years of triathlon.  My swimming has improved a lot this year, which helped me not lose too much time to the leaders and really set up the rest of the race.  Although I was a little over target on my planned wattage, it was one of those race day things that kind of happened and I don't think it really cost me anything.  The run...was tough...it was hot and humid and I felt like I ran just about as fast as I could have, leaving nothing in the tank after crossing the line.  Based on feeling like I was going to throw up for the next 15 minutes after crossing the line, I don't think I could have paced it better.   

into the finish line chute

All in all, it was a successful end to the 2013 multisport season.  I can't be more thankful to Lori for supporting me and often racing beside me at all these races...and of course many thanks to Brian for giving me the master plan to get me through the season!

hard work is worth it!

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