Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rev3 Dells Revenge

A super late recap- but better late than never.  Post race, I got super busy with work and used all spare time for training :) So here it is:

Last season, I put a small focus on performing well at Rev3 Wisconsin Dells Half Ironman.  It was in early August last year, so it was going to be a good race to get in before heading to Kona in October.  I was hoping that I would have a break-through race and build some confidence going forward.  To cut the story short, I had a good swim, strong bike that put me out front with a 3 minute lead, and then fell apart during the run and was passed early to go on and finish 2nd overall with a slow time.  

Fast forward to this season.  The Rev3 Wisconsin Dells race was moved to mid June and came at a time that I had raced 5 straight weekends in a row:

5/18 Memphis in May Olympic Tri
5/25 Mixed Team Relay (only a 10 minute race, but all out)
6/1 Leons Olympic Triathlon
6/9 Kansas 70.3
6/15 Lake in the Hills Tri

To be honest, I wasn’t even planning on racing, but with being up their to work the expo, I figured I’d at least give it a go and use it as a good training day.  I made the trip up to the Dells on Friday evening after getting in some workouts and work, then set up to work the expo on Saturday.  I was at the expo from 8:40am until 6:30pm, which made for a long day, but luckily the time went quickly as athletes were filtering through and getting ready for the race.  Jacqui was able to make the trip as well which made the weekend even better.  She was able to get out and ride the 56 mile bike course and do some open water swimming while I worked the expo.  Team Elite member, Terry, was also around to help for a little while during the day.  

Post expo, Jacqui and I met up with a few others to grab dinner at a local Italian restaurant.  At dinner, they forgot the salmon on my salad, so I ended up with a cup of soup and small house salad.  It was a good thing we had some left-over pizza from the night before that I was able to munch on back at the hotel!  We made it back, I put all my race gear together, checked over my brakes to make sure a repeat of Kansas didn’t happen!, and called it an early night.  As a side note, the magnet on my bike fell off and I couldn’t find it, so I was going to be riding without power.  I was really hoping to have the power file and to make sure I wasn’t riding too hard as I wasn’t fresh coming into the race.  I had a heavy week of training and didn’t back off at all.  So overall, I was a little afraid I would ride too hard on tired legs and blow apart.  

Race morning, was up at 5am to get over to the expo and prep for the work and race day!  I am going to be honest here and say that upon waking, I was 95% sure I wouldn’t race.  My whole body ached, I felt tired, sluggish, and just wanted to go back to bed.  Most of the time this is normal and it takes me 15 minutes to wake up and get going and then I’m fine.  Not this time--I was tired all the way up to the start--and even during the race itself.  

Back to race morning:  Since I was racing, I needed to have a few extra steps in my morning.  I made it over to the finish line area around 5:45 and started to prep my station.  I filled the PowerBar Recovery cooler, mixed it, and had it ready for the finishers once they were done.  I also got all the samples of blasts, protein bars, and performance bars ready so that it was available in case something happened to me out on course.  I was also lucky enough to have Jacqui there to help out at the tent while I was out.  From there, it was time to get all my gear ready and off to the transition area!

The swim start was held at the Tommy Bartlett water show arena...a very cool set up.  Bleachers for the spectators, concessions, lots of bathrooms--awesome!  They even had a pre-race show for everyone of a guy doing tricks on hover-boots.  Might need to get myself a pair!

I opted to wear my Castelli stealth top again under my wetsuit as it seemed to work out well in Kansas.  The swim was a time trial start which meant everyone lined up and they sent the swimmers out one by one every 2-3 seconds.  One guy asked what I was planning on swimming, to which I said hopefully around 30 minutes.  He said that we should start together as he was around the same.  I knew this meant he was going to try and catch a draft off of me!  I was about 20th into the water--the guy behind me (my new swim friend) immediately came charging up on me.  He was slapping my feet and legs and really slowing me down.  I don’t mind when my feet get hit, but when you’re getting up to my calves and pushing them down, I am not going to be able to swim as fast.  I also typically don’t like to start fast in the water when I don’t need to.  I like to ease into it and get things going as I go along.  Anyways, with me getting slowed down so much, it seemed like I was going too slow for him and he finally came around to go past me.  I latched on behind him and decided to play nice and keep a small distance.  The only problem was that I could tell I was extremely tired still and started really questioning why I was racing.  I kept telling myself that I was too tired, have been racing too much, and it was time to take a break.  From there, it was a lot of negative thoughts which doesn’t bode well for a good race.  

Shortly after we made the turn around at the far end of the swim, I noticed that I was getting awfully close to the swimmers that were making their way out to the turnaround.  I ended up going head to head with the swimmers which meant I was off course.  I looked up and saw I had gone much too far off to the left and immediately turned back to steer myself back to the right to get on track.  Even more negative thoughts came in as I knew I would have a super slow swim from- 1: being tired  and 2: going off course.  After what felt like my longest swim of the year (felt even longer than Ironman Cabo)- I made it back to land in 31 minutes.  Not too bad of a time, but definitely much slower than where I should be at.  

I saw Jacqui as I was running up to transition--which was a LONG HUGE HILL.  Very tough to get up after that swim.  Jacqui said I was 3 minutes down from the leader and in about 15th place.  After a quick transition, I hopped onto the bike and made my way out onto the rolling and often times very steep course.  

Riding without power, I told myself that I would ride easy and try to get faster as I went along.  Right from the start, I noticed the rider in front of me and remembered it was the same guy that was leading the race from last year.  It took me until about mile 50 to catch him, so I knew he was a decent rider.  I eased in and followed his pace for the first few miles until we caught another rider.  He immediately re-passed and went ahead a little.  I decided the pace was a touch too slow and made a pass around both guys.  After another few miles, I noticed the one guys was still sitting behind me and going my pace.  It wasn’t until the hill around mile 8 that I put a surge in and broke away.  From there, I upped the power and started to gain ground on the leader.  At mile 15, I pulled into the lead and had a nice lead vehicle to follow.  

One thing about the Rev3 Dells bike course---  it is HARD.  A few really steep hills, small punchy hills, and open roads where the wind can really hit you.  Total climbing is right around 4,000 total over the 56 miles (actually ended up as 57.4 miles).  

On one of the first hard hills, I really pushed hard on it and was started to gasp for air.  I knew the effort was most likely too high, but I really wanted to build up a lead and hopefully take the run easy.  There is also the added benefit that once you get up the hills, there are the downhills for recovery!  The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful.  I had no idea on how far behind me anyone was, so just kept my aero position and hammered away.  I could feel some fatigue starting to set in at mile 40, but nothing terrible.  I think it was primarily the hills that were chewing me up.  I knew I wasn’t pushing too hard though as I still had some good efforts going up the hills and none of them were too much of a struggle.  As a side note- I went through 56 miles in 2:22.  This was a minute faster than what I rode at Kansas.  Keep in mind Kansas was a MUCH easier course.  My bike split ended up being slower than Kansas though because they tacked on an extra 1.5 miles to make it 57.4 miles total.  

Off the bike in 1st with the fastest overall bike split is always a great feeling.  I had a quick transition, threw on the super fast Saucony type a6 racing shoes, grabbed my nutrition, and off on the run I went.  Since the road that we run out on is the same as the one we biked back in on, I was keeping an eye on when the next guy would be coming through.  I was almost at the half mile mark before I saw the next I figured I had a good lead of close to 5 minutes.  I also hit the first mile in 5:45, so I knew I was primed to have a good run since the effort wasn’t too high. The sun came out and started to really warm things up so I made sure to take in fluids at each aide station.  

The run course is no different than the bike--- hilly and hard!  Big difference was that I felt completely different from the previous year where I barely could hold 6:30 pace on the same exact course.  At mile 3, there is the first good hard climb.  Surprisingly, I had no trouble going up and actually held my pace that I was running.  The next few miles I just cruised and didn’t exert myself any more than I needed.  It was a very uneventful run as I was solo the entire way, but I won't complain about that!  At the half way turnaround, I was able to see the few behind me and was glad to see my lead really opened up.  It was time to play it safe and just enjoy the run without going too hard to blow up and walk it in.  From miles 10-13, it is constant up and down hills which can really take their toll especially at the end of a long day.  My paced slowed slightly, but held on strong to finish up the run in 1:17.  A 1:17 on this course is more like a 1:13 on a flat one.  Over 1000 feet of elevation for the run made it very difficult to run fast.  Also, it was 10 minutes faster than what I ran last year--so the run is definitely coming around!

Post race, I was glad that I never gave up with how I felt early in the day.  After just about deciding to skip the race and rest- I pulled out a performance that I can be happy with.  It is nice to know that I can still perform with tired legs and a tired body.  

Next up-- a few weeks of solid training.  Time to log some big miles on the bike in order to start the Kona prep.  I had my fun with the "short" races, but in order to perform well in Kona, I need to increase the mileage and get my body prepared to make 112 miles of riding feel "easy."  If I can do that, a sub 3 hour marathon could be in the cards.  I still will have a few races lined up leading into Kona, with Steelhead being the biggest focus.  I will be prepared to have a great day there and looking to drop my half time by quite a bit.  Until then, wheels up!

No comments: