Last week I entered a four weekend block of racing. Every weekend brings a new challenge. I knew recovery was going to be a crucial aspect of this block. If I survive and come out the other side with no injuries then I know my fall season will be very successful. Staying healthy is the hard part though...
Race 1: USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship - Cary, NC
Duathlons are always tough... it is guaranteed that the second run will hurt a ton. Nobody really expects the first run to hurt the same amount though! Darren Brown, of bteamrunning, toed the line as well as Patrick Parish and some other fast runners. Darren went out in a blazing 25:35 for the 5 mile run. The next competitor, Parish, was over a minute down coming in to T2! I lost just over 2 minutes to Darren with a run split of 27:57. I pushed to the limits on this first run to limit my losses. I knew the bike was going to be tough because I needed to use it to catch up.
The bike was a 30 mile rolling course through the rural parts of Cary, NC. The roads were still open to traffic which posed some problems at times but also provided some chances for recovery. My game plan was to ride at around 330 watts which should give me the fastest bike split and catch me up to Parish. Well, Parish had improved his biking skills since last time he was in Cary. I managed to cut one minute off of my deficit of Parish but it wasn't enough to really catch him.
I came off the bike as the first Age Grouper but there was a pack of 6 people directly behind me. My feet were very tender, something I am working on, and transition was slow. I lost most of my positioning coming out of T2. After that it was just holding on to whatever I could. I was in 6th place overall going into the turnaround on the second run. Directly after the turnaround you begin a long 1 mile steep climb in which you can gauge your distance from competitors. 5th place was way up the road and I had no chance of catching him so the goal was just hold 6th. Darren Brown was hot on my heels and looking strong. He ended up passing me with 1 mile to go which gave me my final position of 7th overall at Long Course Nationals and 3rd in my age group.
Race 2: Rev3 Knoxville 70.3
Rev3 Knoxville 70.3 would be my third ever triathlon and second 70.3 distance in my life. I was talking to the wifey the night before and said I would be happy with a top 10 placing. Things went a little better then that and ended up finishing 2nd overall! There is definitely a lot of room for easy improvements too.
Water temperature for the race was perfect as well as the chop and current strength. The swim starts out with a mass start and heads down river. This was my first mass swim start so I didn't know what to expect. The horn blew and three guys swam away within the minute. I was not expecting the initial surge to be so hard so I lost the lead feet almost immediately. At that point it was me and one other guy leading the rest of the pack. We made it out to the first turn buoy and couldn't see the next buoy. After a couple seconds of deliberation we decided that we just turn around and head back up river. There were points in the swim where I slowed down almost out of boredom. I knew I could push harder if I just concentrated a little more. I am still very happy with my swim time and the lessons I learned during the swim. I hope to improve my swim by another couple minutes in Raleigh.
More problems plaguing me on the bike.... Seems to be a common theme with this season. Yet again, this one is my fault. My Garmin 810 was glued to my between the arms water bottle but after a couple miles the glue released and bye bye Garmin. The rest of the ride I had to go off of RPE which isn't that difficult but usually means I will under perform. There were three guys in front of me coming out of the swim. I set my mind to catching them all before the end of the bike. Just after mile 20 there is a short out and back section. This was the perfect time to see how much time I have gained back on the bike. The lead guy passed me on the way back and he looked strong. I started to count in my head to get a gap. I reached 120 seconds and just gave up with counting. I think he was a good 5 or 6 minutes ahead of me at this point. His followers, aka the two other people in front of me, were a little closer and I figured I might be able to catch those guys. Around mile 40 is when I finally caught up to the third place athlete. I made my move on a short climb and just didn't look back. I learned my lesson from Cary that I need to make stronger moves so the athletes can't latch on to my draft. It only took a couple more miles before I caught the second place athlete. Yet again, I made a strong move past him and didn't look back. I managed to get a minute or two on him before transition. The first place guy was flying and put even more time into me.
My legs felt amazing coming off of the bike, which was expected because I under performed. The first couple of miles on the run went very smooth. I was feeling strong and clicking off low 6 minute miles and staying in low tempo HR zone. The ab cramp started to creep in around mile three but I noticed that if I kept my HR below 172 then the ab cramp would go away. Around mile 6 my left foot started to hurt a lot. This caused me to slow down significantly even though legs and body felt pretty good. At mile 10 it was more just about finishing than caring where I was going to place. I need to find a solution for this 1st metatarsal joint pain. It is definitely impact related so next race I am going to try a gel bunion sleeve and racing in the Altra One. The Altra One provides a little more cushion compared to the racing flats I had been wearing. I am hoping that this will limit or remove the pain and allow me to really run to my potential.
REV3 puts on an amazing event and really cares about every athlete. I was impressed at every step of the race in how well everything was planned out and executed. I will definitely be racing with REV3 again!
I am also extremely grateful that my amazing wife could come "watch" me race. I use quotation marks around watch because long course triathlon can be very boring. 4-5 hours of racing but only really seeing me for about 2 minutes. She was an amazing motivation for me to keep pushing.
My next race is going to be a little shorter. This weekend I am racing the Category 4 Winston-Salem Cycling Classic Criterium. No real goals here, but I always do race for 1st ;)
After Winston-Salem I head to Raleigh for another 70.3 race. The loose goal is to qualify for the USAT elite card but really the goals are work harder during swim, no bike problems, and no foot pain/ab cramping. I think the hard goals are easy to hit if I just concentrate and check my gear.