A week ago Saturdy I was in the middle of a half iron-distance triathlon at High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin. I had a few key goals for the race:
- To Bike Steady – don’t surge too much, don’t coast. This is measured through a variability index on my power output. VI goal of 1.15 or less.
- To Finish in 6:30 or even faster!
The day before the race, I headed up to Wisconsin to go to packet pickup, see the course, and get settled in. This was my first solo road-trip in a while (Mike had to stay home to work & oversee some work being done on our condo), but the 3 1/2 hours flew by. I hadn’t gotten the best sleep / race preparations in the day before, so I packed Friday morning and then headed out as these painters were coming into our place. I made it to the race HQ around lunchtime to pick up my packet.
- I made a checklist to prepare off of for this race. It had everything I needed to do on Friday, and a timeline for Saturday morning prep before the race. This was helpful to make sure I had everything, and I made notes on Friday at the course talk on anything I might want to adjust prior to the event.
- Remember not to eat popcorn the day before a race. Good things don’t happen from that.
- I got in a short swim, bike & run at the race site. About 40 minutes easy total. That was pretty much my first open-water swim of the season.
- We were divided into waves by bib number/alphabetical, rather than age group/gender. It was a bit odd, but took the competitive pressure off as clearly I’m not going to try and seed myself before a tall, lean triathlete man.
- The lake was very shallow! I started swimming earlier than necessary, it was a bit unnecessary. I should have watched the prior waves to see where they started swimming.
- I got into a good breathing pattern: Sight/right, right, right, stroke, left.
- 40:39 from start to out of water – met my goal!
- The bike starts with a mile-long climb. I focused on being in the smallest chain ring possible and spinning up the hill as easily as I could.
- I wanted to lap to reset my lap #s, but forgot that the Garmin was on auto-lap & I was now onto T2! Had to fiddle to “finish the race” and then to start a new bike workout – 1 mile into the event!
- I rode easy first 5 miles. This was stupid easy and people passed me.
- I then started to pick up the effort. I noticed that increasing my effort was harder than I would have thought in order to get to the power numbers I was targeting (135-140). I decided to take it slow and set goals for each of the laps: 2nd one at 115, next @ 120. Really struggled to get to the 125/130 range.
- I initially had thought I was just needing a slower warm-up than the 20 minutes. But after 20 miles in, I realized there might be something off with the power meter. My heart rate was too high (when I checked, it had been at 170 for IM heart rate #s — Zone 4). I remembered that I had gotten the power meter replaced this past week after there was an issue with the first one. The bike mechanic had said that it should be fine – just pair with my computer, and the short ride on Friday had not shown any issues (but I also wasn’t pushing the effort).
- So then I was not sure how to proceed. I didn’t have memorized my HR zones for the bike since I wasn’t going off of it. I tried to use the “calibrate” feature on the computer but wasn’t too sure how to do it. Either way I got an error by wwhat I attempted.
- I knew by 35 miles that my legs were overcooked. I decided that the #s were consistent enough, and it was probably that my “135-145” was something else. So I aimed for consistency, but I decided to let my legs dictate what I could handle.
- My left leg felt like it was going numb a bit. I decided this was likely from having been pushing way too hard. I spent time trying to adjust (rise out of seat, etc) but ended up having to stop and stretch for a minute which made a BIG improvement.
- Bottle exchanges: went pretty well. I need to make sure I can use my left hand to grab a bottle – will help with fluid exchanges a lot.
- I kept on my fueling plan for the most part. Adjusted the caffenated gel to be at 2:45 instead of 3:00 given that I was targeting a finish of 3:15-3:20 (at that point in the ride).
- I had to go to the bathroom when on the bike (~2-2.5 hours in), and couldn’t pee on the bike. I kept trying, then decided to try for it in transition.
- Time: 3:26 total
- NP: 108 watts
- Avg Heart Rate: 157
- VI: 1.11 (Variability Index is how consistent your effort is. My goal was 1.15 or less- so I did well on that part)
- I stopped in the port-a-potty at T2, but realized I couldn’t unhook my tri-top from the bottoms easily. Decided I’d figure that out on my walk/run up the hill to the first aid station.
- My heart rate was high to start. I walked up the hill, trying to get the HR down to 160.
- I got to aid station/portapotty at .75 miles up. Still had to ask a spectator to help undo one of the hooks because I couldn’t do it.
- I took gatorade at pretty much every aid station. Gels @ 1.5, 6 miles. Iad an “urgent” bathroom stop at 7 miles just after I had finished the gel. I saw my HR drop as the need went up. Not sure if that’s related? Or if body didn’t like the apple gel? (I realized later that I made the mistake of having popcorn the day before – not a good pre-race snack!)
- Other than bathroom stops, I was plugging along trying to keep HR ~160 or below for the first 9 miles. It was hot out, and on trail (varying terrains) which I hadn’t anticipated. Single track paths through grass, roots on trails. I realized my pace goal probably would not be possible with the fact that I’d overcooked my legs on the bike, and then with the trail as well.
- I continued to focus on HR. At mile 9 decided I’d allow myself up to 165. At mile 10-11, let it go.
- I did have a major growing blister on my right heel that I’d know was growing from mile 5-ish. Stopped twice to vaseline the foot/shoe. It did pop at some point and I pushed through the pain; kept running as best I could. Eventually stopped noticing the pain.
- I did not take another gu after the 7 mile incident, but upped my salt & gatorade & water.
- I finished in 2:35 – slower than I’d hoped, but consistent with my effort and meeting my heart rate goals.