Tuesday, April 07, 2009
I was long overdue to have a good old-fashioned triathlon death march. The kind of race that you finish and want to just walk away from and pretend it didn't really happen. But the thing is, turning your back on a bad race is also walking away from a prime opportunity to learn and grow. Analyzing exactly what went wrong is the key to preventing it in the future. So here goes some race analysis of Oceanside...
Swim: My favorite triathlon swim ever. I felt strong from the gun to T1. I was confident. I found feet to follow, avoided contact and just really, really enjoyed the entire thing. I'm not sure what my official time was (which includes a pretty longish run), but the swim portion itself was just a tad over 32 minutes. Which I believe is a PR for me. Very happy with the start of the race.
The good: This was the first season that I took a break from swimming. I didn't swim at all for 6 weeks and then gradually worked up my yardage until I was comfortable with 20,000 yards per week. I really think the break allowed me to come back regenerated and work on my form. It was also the first time I lined up in the water and didn't allow myself to feel intimidated by all the fit people around me.
The bad: As always for ocean swims, I ended up with the nastiest, ooziest case of wetsuit rash on my neck. Gross.
Analysis: Keep doing what I'm doing. Focus on good, quality, long sessions with focus on form. Use more body glide...
Bike: I actually really enjoyed the bike portion of the race as well. It's one of my favorite courses. Challenging and scenic. Big hills and some technical turns. Lots of wind on the return. I was much slower than anticipated though and got off the bike pretty disappointed. I think I averaged 19mph and I really thought I was capable of 20 on that course.
The good: I followed my heart rate race plan pretty well (possibly too conservative) and kept a positive attitude for most of the race. Really had fun with the other competitors.
The bad: By the halfway point it had become obvious that I had just monkeyed with the bike fit too much and still wasn't totally dialed in. I did one long ride where the seat was too high and it flared up my IT band. Then I overcompensated and lowered it a tad too much. By the middle of the bike my knees were starting to feel very uncomfortable. I also felt like I wasn't really putting out the power I should be capable of.
The ugly: I have always flirted with disaster with my hydration and nutrition and gotten away with it. Well every year as I train I have noticed that sweat more and more. I started the bike with one water bottle and still had a bit left when we hit the aid station right before the hills. At that moment I must have been shunting way too much blood away from my brain since I decided to skip it so I wouldn't have to carry an extra pound of gatorade into the hills. BAD IDEA. By the time I got to the next aid station I wasn't just a little thirsty. I was parched. And catching up on hydration on a warm day during the run just isn't such a prime idea.
Analysis: It's time to take hydration more seriously. Bontrager has a new front aero drink system that puts the Profile Design system to shame. I will give it a shot as soon as it's available and stop trying to cheat my hydration. I will do another sweat test to dial my needs back in. In the next couple weeks I am going to tweak my bike fit until the Trek feels like a second skin. I will ride that beautiful bike every chance I get.
The death march... errr I mean run
I really think that the Oceanside run course is one of the most fun courses out there. The aid stations are just awesome, the fan support is second to none and the views of the ocean are spectacular. That being said, this was the most painful run I have ever had, and the slowest triathlon run I have ever done. I think when all was said and done I finished in 1:55. My goal was under 1:45. Yikes!
The good: I finished and didn't walk...
The bad: My heart rate was jacked from the dehydration (never dropped below 170 for all 13 miles even though I was running 1 minute per mile slower than goal) and I was really hot. I started taking as much fluid as I could from each aid station and felt like I was just keeping up but never filled up the tank. I was probably running on the edge of a bonk as I look back. I only took in about 5-600 calories on the bike and went all liquid for the run. Because I was so dry it was hard to use my heart rate to guide my calorie intake (I usually know I need to eat when my HR dips down a bit)
The Ugly: I started at a good pace although I felt pretty bad from the thirst. But when I got to about the 3 mile mark the right knee started to hurt. IT band. By the turnaround for the second loop it was starting to lock up on me and as I went through the sand portion of the run coming up to the turn I really considered whether I should just pull out. I knew the knee was not going to get better. And that when ITB pain gets really bad you don't have much choice but to walk. Pulling out probably was the smart thing to do. But for me, the mental damage from pulling out of a race is way, way worse than the physical damage of 6.5 more miles on a bum knee. I headed back out. The left knee actually started to hurt at about mile 9 but never got as bad as the right. I kept looking at my watch and telling myself that I had to break 5:30 to save my pride. I had to. I ran as fast as I could with a knee that didn't want to let me extend. I finished just a tad past 5:30, largely incoherent from the thirst, hunger and pain, but I really wasn't as upset as I thought I would be. My best friend, Justine was there, my amazing cousin was there, and I had my new teammates who just dominated that course. And I was done.
Analysis: A couple things contributed to my disappointing run. I showed up to this race way over race weight. There's just no excuse for that, especially since I'm now a sponsored athlete. I owe it to my sponsors and teammates to show up, not only prepared from a training standpoint, but also to ensure that my body is prepared. Light is fast. Light is healthier on my joints. The next race will be different.
I also truly believe that screwing up nutrition and hydration can make you more susceptible to injury during hard training. The only time I ever truly bonked on a training ride I ended up with nerve damage so bad in my left hand that I couldn't open doors with that hand for months. Your body needs fuel to stay healthy. Needs volume to stay lubricated. This will be different at the next race.
This was my first race with Team Timex and I really wish I could have represented the team better. But the great thing about having the race I did right before camp was that it really allowed me to go into all of our sponsor talks eager to learn about ways to make myself better and faster. I can't wait to use the Trigger Point products to heal these legs, Nathan Hydration products to help work on training and race nutrition, my new Timex Race Trainer kit that integrates directly with Training peaks to log my training and diet progress, information from our nutritionist from Power Bar on daily nutrition, use the Gaiam core strength products to tone my body and get more flexible, and to really use all the incredible resources of our other sponsors to get better as the season goes on. I do really realize what a truly fortunate and unique experience being on the team represents. And I will not take it for granted.
Posted by Jodi at 7:25 PM