Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Did you know this was here?

No Honey. I had no idea there was a huge outlet mall in Kittery. Really. Cross my heart. Honest, had I known I would have stopped (instead of accelerated) years ago!

We were in Maine this past weekend. I raced the Pumpkinman Half Iron. Depending on how I did this was possibly my last race as a 40-44 year old. The kids stayed with grandma and grandpa this weekend. Instead just Leanna and I made the trip; a flashback to younger days. And just like in the old days, race prep and planning was sub-optimal. The biggest gaff was realizing I was out of my nutritional products just a day or two before the race. I decided I wouldn't sweat it and would just pick up some goods when I get there, which I did. Only problem was that I couldn't find my Powerbar stuff. Instead it was GU products, which I have used. Okay no big deal. I know I can tolerate the stuff and I can do math, so I quickly recalibrated my eating/drinking schedule and figured I was good to go.

Alright, back to the report in a moment. First a recap of the focus of this year, which of course started last year. In Lake Placid, in July 2009, I came up 105 seconds short of a trip to Hawaii. While the natural response is to get right back at it and try again, 2009 was a very difficult year in our family and the best plan was to do the opposite. The family comes first. So plan 'B' was to make this a bridge year; keep a reasonable training schedule, focused on repetition more than duration, and race enough so I remember how it feels. The motto was 'Good not Great.' The result of the plan was to recharge physically and emotionally but find myself at a higher level than I typically do at the beginning of an Ironman ramp up, in this case the IM Coeur D'Alene 2011 ramp up. For the most part the plan has worked. Leanna's health is improved. I'm in a different job and happier for it. I raced Mooseman 70.3 in early June and had a respectable if far from overwhelming result. Good not Great. Last weekend I cranked a Sprint tri to blow out the cobwebs before Pumpkinman, and again had a respectable result. Good not Great. So this was it, and if I hit my goals, this was it until next year.

What goals you say? Well goal 1) was to not suck. I had a pretty good feeling I'd be okay, but I was worried about going slower than 4:45 which would not have been okay with me. The course profile just is not that difficult. Goal 2) is always to have one of the top runs amongst my peers. It relaxes me quite a bit on the bike to know I just need to keep people close and I can run most of them down. Goal 3) was to go under 4:40. While not a incredibly fast tme, based on my training volume as well as what I had seen the previous week, and indeed what my training numbers were telling me, this was going to take a little work. Not impossible, but not a foregone conclusion.

For this race I had mostly one thing going for me, I know how to pace. Yeah there was some trash talk going on amongst teammates, and yes it actually added a funny and dare I say relaxing element to the race. It broke the tension. But the truth of the matter is that those things would not even enter my mind on race day until the run. The last race I had where I blew up was in '06 or '07 when I made the mistake of getting into a bike race instead of focusing on the race as a whole. What I didn't have was volume. I had been getting more trips into the water lately but nothing too impressive. My run mileage was very low as it has been all year to save wear and tear on the ankles, and my bike mileage was also low. In fact I had only cracked 50 miles in a single ride twice since the beginning of August.

I just wanted the swim to be steady. I went out hard and then settled and tried to get some feet. That only worked for a minute or two as we quickly caught people from the previous wave. So I just tried to relax, keep loose, and concentrate on pulling through with my whole body in sync, not trying to generate force from my arms/shoulders. Amazingly this worked and I came out of the 1st loop right behind teammate Custie in 14:48. I'd drop off a little on the 2nd loop, but still managed 15:45 or so. Then I had my first bit of "fun". Despite better judgement, I wanted to see how fast I could sprint the big hill. So prior to crossing the timing mat at the end of the swim I stopped in the water and removed my wetsuit, or should I say 3/4 of my wetsuit. Damn thing hung up on my timing chip again, so again I had to drop to my butt in the water. I was so frustrated that I pulled really hard, the wetsuit came off and I began to run. "Hey buddy your chip is in the water." F--- Me! I turned and a kind soul handed me the chip which I then fastened very firmly (I have a bruise to prove it!). I later discovered that the kind soul was another teammate Mary Eggers.

I ran my a-- off up the hill...and thought my heart would explode at the top. In fact I walked the last 20ft or so in transition to settle my heart rate before beginning the bike. This was no sprint and I needed things under control. The rest of transition was uneventful so off I went. Because the swim had been more than 30min, it was time to knock down a GU packet, and so I did. Well maybe knock it down is not the right term. I did squeeze it into my mouth and at that moment remembered why I went to Powerbar Gels instead of GU. The GU was the consistency of old toothpaste. I mean damn...get me some water. I got it down but it landed heavy. Good for me my stomach is tough and I didn't really suffer GI issues, but that doesn't mean the experience was at all pleasant. Anyway the ride was mostly uneventful if underwhelming. I had good heart rate control (pick up the effort rate goes right up, relax the effort and the rate falls almost immediately). I just didn't have great speed. Okay speed, but not great. Had there been big climbs I expect I might have done better relative to my peers, but as it was sustained power in the aero position was a key to success. I had the same issue at Mooseman so this was nothing new. It's definitely on the hit list for CDA training.

I kept calm and just rode a steady pace. After all was said and done I discovered I even split the ride. Not too shabby. Coming in on the bike I saw my teammates all in a row, but all quite a ways ahead of me. If I was to keep from being the slow poke of the group, something my ego would not allow, I would need to knock down a very solid run. And I did. In fact I got them all except for Keith who was having a fantastic day. The very first time we crossed over on the run I knew I was not closing on him and short of a complete explosion I wouldn't see him until the finish line. I think I was truly excited for him because in a way it helped with one of my anxieties as well. You see Keith is the only one in this group of us who is older than me, and if he's still moving well then I probably should not stress about waking up one day before CDA and finding that my run, my number one weapon, is gone. As for the rest of them. Well I mowed them down one at a time! By the way I even split my run as well.

My final time was 4:38, good for 2nd in the age group. That meant I hit my goals. Pretty good, not great. Definitely got all out of what I had in me so I have promised to not complain. I do have a list of things to work on, but at the end of the day the basic elements seem there. Just need to add volume back in.

Once again for you fellow geeks here are the Garmin files: