Sunday, April 3, 2011

Powerman Alabama Race Report

Sorry for the delay! I've been busy with work and organizing my life, but wanted to give a recap of my first race of the season. I decided to open the 2011 racing year with a race I've done two other times: Powerman Alabama. This race is put on by Team-Magic and they do a great job. I wanted to do this race because it was the Duathlon Long Course National Championships...not to mention there is a pretty good prize purse involved with $1000 going to the winner. I've never had a good race with my first one me getting a penalty on the bike (a very strange stagger rule that is involved with Powerman Elite races) and the other one me barely finishing and being hooked up on an IV once crossing the line (not to mention I finished almost last). This past winter, I switched focus and was tired of having the past few years flop on me. The 2010 season was more than disappointing. I constantly raced just trying to have a good performance and didn't focus on my training. Additionally, I had too many mechanicals on the bike to count. Starting in January, I started to ramp up my training and made it a goal to bike and run 6 days a week. My running increased from about 20 miles/week to over 55. So that was quite a jump. Another change was focusing on dropping my weight. If you've been reading my blog, you've seen the changes over the last 3 months (dropping over 15 lbs). The last change was deciding to get a coach to really focus my efforts on key races this year. I went to Sharone Aharone out of Well-Fit in Chicago. He has been writing all of my workouts and making sure each day I'm getting the right amount of intensities and durations. Ok, so onto the race. I'm going to jump right into it and start with: -Race morning: I woke up and had a usual pre-race meal of mainly carbs. At the race site, I jogged around a bit and felt a little sluggish. My calves were a bit sore from the weekend before where I ran a hard effort on a hilly course. It left me feeling sore for longer than I wanted, but it wasn't bad enough to fray my effort. This race started off with a 1ok run (6.2 miles), 60k bike (38 miles), and 10k run to finish. I was expecting the race to go out hard with some quick athletes such as Dereck Treadwell and David Thompson. Last year, I wasn't able to keep up with Treadwell and stuggled to hold onto Thompson. This year, I felt that with my improved running and weight, I would be able to run faster at a lower effort. In regards to the run course, there was one big change from the previous year...Around mile 3 of the run, we had to run 1.5 mile uphill coming to an 8% grade. Once at the top, we turned around and came right back down. It really ate the legs up and made for a difficult race. When the gun went off, I felt great and went out hard. My goal was to run comfortable, but try to get a lead and see how long I could hold on. Around mile two of the first run, I opened up a lead and was able to hold onto it. Once we started to hit the hills I really opened it up and got away from everyone in the field. I finished up the first 10k in 32:37 which was very surprising. I was expecting to be closer to 34:30 with the difficulty of the course. It was a good sign because I wasn't labored at all and still ran a faster time than the previous year while it being a harder course! Into the transition, I went as quick as possible. I wanted to make sure I took advantage of every second I could get. I ended up having the fastest transition! On the bike, this year I am riding a Quarq powermeter. I watched my watts right from the start. Sharone told me to go a little under my FTP and hold it. I kept my power pretty solid and low on the first loop of the 3. With the turnarounds, I was able to gauge where I was at in comparison to the competition. I honestly just wanted to not get caught by Treadwell and Thompson. I am used to being gobbled up right away. I was just happy to make it through the first lap holding onto 1st place. Once I started lap 2, I felt like I could pick the pace up a bit. I increased my power and kept taking in fluids and gels. I stuck with PowerBar Perform for fluids and PowerBar Rasberry Creme/Straw-Banana/Green Apple Gels. I was taking in a gel each 30 mins and drinking constantly. I noticed that the guys behind weren't really gaining on me, but rather, I was pulling ahead. It was a nice feeling staying up front! Onto the third loop, I was able to cut my efforts down and save some energy for the last run. In T2, I made sure to hurry and was able to get a time check to see how far up I was. I had over a 3 min lead and knew I could relax for the final 10k. There is nothing quite like leading a race and knowing you've won it with about 40 mins to go! I just enjoyed the run and tackled the hills the best I could. I was very surprised to see that I ran 35 mins on that hard of a course at the end. The victory gave me my first Powerman win and a great confidence booster to the year. I feel faster, more fit, and stronger than I ever have. I look forward to using this fitness and rolling it into my next big race of the race which will be Short Course Du Nationals in Arizona (end of April). *nice side note is that I had the same bike split as Joerie Vansteelant from the past year's race. He is the World Champ!! So that is definitely encouraging :)


Tri-Atch-Lon said...

Nicely done dude

Scott Niemann said...

Great blog, and great race. I've got some motivation now to lose some extra pounds to get some speed. Keep it up!