Monday, June 9, 2008

Race Report: Mooseman Half Ironman; Just Gut It Out!

Hot, humid and hotter!!! Those are the 3 words I'd use to describe the Mooseman Half Ironman on Sunday June 8th. While the Mooseman course didn't present the 107 degree temperature that Eagleman did last weekend, the 95 degree heat was plenty hot enough! The day presented several highs and lows, offered tremendous learning experiences for Lake Placid and allowed me to accomplish my most important goal; to just have fun.


The heat & humidity wreaked havoc on my nutrition plan. From the moment I broke into a full sweat during my dinner the night before the race I knew Sunday was going to be "different." I didn't digest my bowl of whole wheat protein pasta and 1/2 lbs of ground beef as quickly as I normally do so an hour after my meal I was down to a blood sugar of 55. This low took 2 glasses of orange juice and a chocolate bar to correct for. However, that night I woke up to use the bathroom 3 or 4 times and was greeted by a blood sugar of 225 when my alarm went off at 4:45 am.

My blood sugar naturally returned to 165 by 5:10 am so I took 1.5 units of insulin for my pistachio muffin. At 6 am an hour and 1/2 before the race I turned my pump down to 35%, had a clif bar and then my pre-race nutrition drink, 20 minutes before the swim start I was at 189.

5 minutes before the swim I had 2 scoops of carbo pro and 2 scoops of cytomax, I had hopped this would allow me to exit the water at 200 but when I got through the wet suit stripping area I was down to 120. While that blood sugar would be awesome on a Tuesday at the office, my face in this picture tells you all you need to know about that bs on race day:

I waited in transition for close to 10 minutes while drinking my "emergency" blood sugar booster - a highly concentrated water bottle with 3 scoops of cytomax and 1 scoop of EFS. My blood sugar rose to 144 quickly after I finished the drink, I gobbled up 1/2 a clif mojo bar and then headed out for the bike.

On the bike, the heat really started to get to me, I drank 5 water bottles but never peed although my blood sugars was 180 both times I tested on the ride, I think they may have been higher then the finger pricks showed. Due to the pot holes on the Mooseman course I ejected a bottle of my nutrition during the 2nd lap of the bike - made the smart move by pulling over, running back to get the nutrition and then hopping back on my bike, staying healthy is way important than a fast time! Entering T2 my blood sugar was 212 which let me rush to the beach to begin my run.

Throughout the entire run I felt like no mater how much water I drank I couldn't get enough of it. At one point I asked an aid station for an entire water bottle, pounded it and was still thirsty as anything after it. The high heat and humidity made me look like someone spray painted my tri suit with salt and the cramps in my legs were unreal. Now that we're in the hotter summer months I'll be visiting Lauren again to revamp my nutrition plan and figure out why I couldn't quench my thirst at Mooseman.

Nutrition Grade: B-, smart decision in T1 to wait for my blood sugars to go up but did not use a dual wave bolus the night before the race for a high protein meal; needed to adapt nutrition plan to the heat better


After the Terrier Open Water Clinic last week and swimming with my Train-This friends in Newfound Lake the day before the race I was exited to get into the water to see how much I had improved since Bassman. I got into the lake 15 minutes before the swim started, warmed up doing backstroke and spent about a minute doing regular free style. At 7:30 I was ready to go, the first wave of the day was for men under 34 and male elites! Going off with the pros was pretty freaking intimidating.

When the gun went off, I put my face in the water and just swam - no freak outs, no major problems, which was such a huge improvement from Bassman. When my shoulder started to kill me I switched to back stroke, and to get a quick breather I did breast stroke during the swim. I stayed mainly on course and really enjoyed just being in the water. My stroke still needs improvement as I was breathing every 2 strokes instead of alternating sides every 3 strokes like I do in the pool but my time was greatly improved over the last open water disaster. I believe the biggest challenge is the mental block that an unknown distance presents. When I could clearly see the finish of the swim my normal stroke returned allowing me to feel much more efficient in the water; I think overcoming this mental block will allow a huge improvement without too much additional work.

Swim Grade - B, 39 minutes 16 seconds - huge improvement over Bassman still 4 minutes slower than the goal but not a disaster.


How can something this pretty:

cause me so much pain?????

I started the bike in a blaze of fury, at a cadence of 90 in a comfortable gear I sped up to 22 mph heading into devil's hill. I had heard so much about this hill and was expecting a battle with the beast. I shifted into the small ring up front, put it into an easier gear in the back and spun up the hill comfortably. Devil's Hill was short and steep, much different than the long more gradual climbs at placid; Coach Egg will be happy to know I didn't even have to leave my saddle to climb the hill. When I reached the crest of the devil, disaster struck.

I went to shift into my big ring but the gears wouldn't move - the freaking front derailleur issue happened again! I pulled over to the side of the road to lift the derailleur but still had no luck shifting into the big ring. About 5 minutes later my seat post fell, forcing me to pull over again where I worked on the gear issue and the seat post for a few minutes. 10 minutes after that my seat post feel for a second time and I still couldn't fix the front derailleur. Throughout this process I lost about 15 to 20 minutes off my bike time.

For the rest of the Mooseman bike course I was stuck in my little front ring. I had to coast the downhills because I didn't have a big enough gear to speed up on them and lost 1 to 2 mph on the flats. I was also forced to race at a cadence much higher than what I'm comfortable with. On the flats I hit 105 pedal strokes per minute and on the downhills was above 115. I negative split the bike by 5 minutes and gutted out a decent performance but am furious that a bike which cost me so much money breaks so consistently. I'm going to contact Orbea this week to find out WTF is going on with the issues I seem to always have.

Bike - B-, 3 hours, 14 minutes - a gritty performance with major mechanical issues, way off my goal time of 2 hours 50 minutes but I didn't launch my bike into the lake with all the mechanical issues like I had wanted to!d


The real fun started on the run. As I mentioned in the nutrition section from the second I started the run I could tell something was "off". I almost felt like I did prior to T1 diagnosis where no matter how much water you drank you were still thirsty. I set out with 2 of my Train This friends and was psyched to have 2 pretty fast people to run with. Sarah was able to maintain her pace, Kevin and I were not. My plan on the run was to start off at an 8 minute pace and then ramp it up to a 7:45 pace on the second loop of the course - that simply didn't happen. My legs were cramping so badly that I could barely muster a 10 minute pace; the heat was almost unbearable during the first 2 miles of the run course; the only section of the course without an aid station. I felt delirious, dizzy and awful for 99% of the run and tested about every 20 minutes. At one point my cramps were so bad that my right foot turned completely outward, I thought to myself all I have to do is keep moving forward. My blood sugars were near 200 for the run which I think led to some of the dehydration issues, I also may have screwed up my salt intake and was just suffering from a total nutrition melt down.

Run - C-, 2 hours 21 minutes, 10:48 pace; I pushed through the run on a very tough day but my pace is GOD AWFUL, my E pace for training is 8:50, and I've been able to easily maintain a 9 minute pace off the bike without hard effort for all my brick training. Nutrition had more to do with my performance than anything else but I am not satisfied posting a 2 hour 21 minute half marathon.


While I'm not happy with a final time of 6 hours 25 minutes I'm ecstatic with how I approached the race, and the gritty performance I needed to get through Mooseman. From blood sugar issues after the swim, to mechanical issues on the bike and finally a total blow up on the run I stared adversity in the face and made sure I willed myself to the finish. I've never had doubt in my will power, focus or desire so I know given almost any condition I'll be able to find the heart to get across the finish line; that however doesn't guarantee me of meeting my performance goals.

As I said before the race my goal was to go out there and have fun. Staying at Train-This New Hampshire's headquarters (2 cabins we rented on the north end of the lake) really set the tone for a fun weekend. Bill, Hannah, Shannon, Kevin, Jeremy, Adam and Sarah (who came in second in her age group!) are all just such great people and Bill's daughter Hannah brought smiles to our faces all weekend. Having others to race with and share the experience with let me soak in everything Mooseman had to offer. I met some great people in transition, cracked jokes with some guys on the run course, asked people how their race was, got a hug from a random sweaty girl at the finish and talked to other bloggers. On the 8th I found out what triathlon is all about; I pushed myself to the limit, left it all out on the course and asked everyone whom I could find how their race was. My time might not have been what I wanted but the insight I gained and enjoyment I had was worth every second of the 6 hours and 25 minutes:

Overall Grade - C+, a gritty performance makes up for alot but doesn't earn enough brownie points to let me be satisfied by my time.

I'm now feeling as tired as the pooch in the picture, but ready to get my legs fresh and push for Placid; Coach and I have some questions to answer, and some things to figure out. I'm now half way to the goal but the mountain is considerably steeper for the next 6 weeks.


Train-This said...

Great report Ed. Remember this: Mooseman is the MidTerm and Placid is the final. We needed to learn some lessons: nutrition being the biggest. We hit the worst case scenerio with heat. Now we will structure training to bring up the end and IMLP will be even sweeter!

Anne said...

congrat's on gutting it through the race. Heat & humidity can change things drastically.

I'm sure you'll work through the issues with your coach but perhaps you could bump your basal up slightly if you see consistent high numbers? if numbers around 200 are not typical for you then it might make you pee more. Also were you drinking water or another drink? I've been using Vitalyte on my runs and it works great. It is basically the same formula used to rehydrate victims of cholera etc and it works well for me. It is also lower in carbs that some other drinks. For Ironman CDA I am going to put a bottle with just the powder in my special needs bag and then fill it up with cold water at one of the aid stations. Anyway, you have a good support team but these are just a couple ideas I've had.

Congrat's again. Good to have these issues in a training race so you can address them before Lake Placid.


PJ said...

Way to gut it out, Ed. It was a tough day out there and you hung strong. High blood sugar levels cause potassium loss (as I'm sure you know). So when it's hot out there like it was, cramping is really hard to avoid. I certainly learned that the very hard way this weekend.

Congratulations on a smart race and dealing with the bike issues without killing anything.

Kim said...

despite EVERYTHING you encountered, from crazy nutrition stuff, mechanical issues, cramping and that effin heat, you still finished and you looked good doing it! train-this is right, mooseman was only a little test in our grand master plan on IMLP. i cant wait to cross that finish line with you (maybe you can find another random sweaty girl to hug?!)

Brett said...

100 degrees with the heat index is 100 degrees. Throw everything else out the window. Training times will mean nothing. A bet a lot of people didn't even finish (dunno, just a guess).

You should be incredibly satisfied to finish, you had every reason to quit. And you will be much better for it because you had 6 hours of heat training!

LOL @ your comment about not throwing your bike into the lake. I could totally see that.

Alison said...

Nice report and pictures, Ed.

Brett said...

As a followup to my previous post, I went for a 40 minute run today in the heat of the day - heat index 100. I weighed myself before and after. It was a recovery run - heart rate not a tempo run, and I still lost 2 1/2 pounds. Thats 1/3 of a gallon in volume.

Do you think endurolyte tablets or whatever you call them will help - salt tablets? I take them in all my longer events.

rr said...

Congratulations on surviving those crazy conditions and keeping yourself healthy along the way..

Sorry your bike misbehaved.. there is nothing more frustrating in a race. I've been stuck in the small ring before - AG Nats last year - and it stinks. Recover well, great race report!

Rami said...

Congrats on your 1/2 IM. Hopefully you'll get your nutrition worked out before Placid, but the heat shouldn't cause a problem there. I had problems with cramps in hot weather too, and salt tablets helped me. I took one every 45 mins or so when needed. Placid will also have pretzels on the run course. BTW-my roommate at Darden (Ivy) is a pro triathlete...he trains with the Olympic guys. Nothing like a pro to make you feel lazy and inadequate!

Dying Water Buffalo said...

Yet another great picture of Moose. He needs his own blog. Or at least a dogster page.