Friday, April 18, 2014

New Orleans 70.3

It's difficult writing a race report after a race where expectations were not met.  I've reached the point in my athletic journey where I don't think I can consider any race I complete or walk away from uninjured as a "bad" race though.  Even if everything doesn't go as planned or hoped there is still so much to enjoy and appreciate about the experience.  New Orleans 70.3 had it's highs and lows but the good far outweighed the bad.

The Swim:

The swim turned out to be the best leg of the day for me as it related to my expectations.  Something I can absolutely say without a doubt has never occurred before in my triathlon career.  With a time of 33 minutes and change there is nothing on the face that is impressive about it, but personally I can look at it as a huge confidence boost.  I took Sept through March off of swimming to work on a tattoo and between when I did my first swim back and the race, my Training Peaks records show exactly 3 times where I got in the water.  Looking back to 2013 my last race in August I also swam a 33:xx.  For an olympic distance race.  With the Nola swim time including a :30-:45 sec run from the water to the first mat this was likely a swim pr for me at the distance.  I strongly believe the only reason my swim fitness is anything remotely close to respectable is because of the Vasa machine I purchased back in Jan.  Honestly, it took me a month or two before I started using it consistently since there is absolutely nothing that is enjoyable about it. Once I buckled down with a race looming on the horizon and a work schedule that only allowed me 1 trip to the pool a week though, the value it provided became quickly apparent.  I've never felt as comfortable with a steady effort in the water as I did last weekend.  It gives me hope that with continued Vasa and pool work I might one day (this year hopefully) be able to crack the 30 min 1.2 mile barrier in the swim.

The Bike:

The simple fact of the matter is I rode stupid.  I pushed the wattage a bit higher than I should have early on when it felt easy and paid for it when the wheels started to come off around mile 40.  The wind this year felt a lot tougher than last.  In years past on this course it has been mostly headwind going out with a tailwind coming back in.  This year there were only 2 short sections where it felt like we were getting a tailwind of any form but I tried to ride the course the same way I have in the past rather than adapting to the conditions.  2:24 was 6 minutes slower than last year although I think the conditions were slightly more difficult.  The best example that demonstrates how poorly I paced the ride was the fact that average wattage dropped 10 watts over the final 15 miles. That is a huge drop and is something I will need to address in how I ride going forward. 


The Run:

The run started out as badly as the bike ended.  I can look back on races where I've ridden an intelligent wattage range and I know that my legs usually start feeling good around 1.5 miles into the run.  There was no feeling good 1.5 miles in at Nola though.  The first 6+ miles included several porta john stops as well as walking/stopping at most aid stations.  I made a mental commitment to not dnf and keep moving forward as that accomplishment was likely the only positive takeaway I was going to have.  Looking back at my miles splits, it's amazing how much damage aid station stops can do to your time.  It doesn't seem like much in your head in the moment, but do it more than a few times and it creates a dramatic hit to your average pace.  Around mile 7 something clicked for me and I stopped thinking and just started running.  My stomach was feeling better and the legs finally started turning over.  Miles 7-12 I actually started moving up through the field and running down a few people who had passed me earlier.  It was too little far too late to salvage any sort of good result but it felt good to actually be moving up instead of backwards.  It was a big boost to see a couple Wattie Ink teammates cheering on the course although the people they claimed were JUST ahead of me turned out to be slightly further :-)  It's hard to feel sorry for yourself even if things aren't going great when good friends are around. 

Despite the sub par race it was still a great weekend.  Thanks so much to Mary for letting me crash at her house as well as driving me all over the place dealing with the difficult split transition set up that Nola has.  Also thanks to Jeff at NOLA Paddleboards for letting me take out a board the day before the race.  I feel like there may have to be a paddleboard purchase in my future.  Meeting new friends and seeing old ones is what makes these race weekends great.  The racing is just the icing on top.  On to St George here in a few weeks for a chance at putting together a slightly smarter race with what is hopefully a better result.

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