Sunday, September 13, 2009

Patriots International Race Report

I have never before gone into a triathlon with such confidence and hope for a strong performance. I have always known what I am capable of on the bike; god gave me the quadzillas to eat flats and well struggle up hills; but it has taken me a long time to learn how to swim and run for distance. Last week Coach Orton had me do a 500 yard swim test and 6 minute run test.

The results:
500 yards - 7 minutes, 48 seconds
6 minute run - 1 mile

I was a pretty decent swimmer when I was a little kid but moved away from the sport as my body developed for the gridiron. However, running has never been my strong suit. For high school lacrosse, I once dropped 20 lbs in a 15 day period so I could receive extra points on our fitness test for my bench to weight/ squat to weight ratio since I knew I couldn't run consecutive 8 minute miles. So running a mile in 6 minutes was a huge success for me, and something I am astonished and thrilled about. Given that, I had all the hope in the world that I would finally live up to my expectations at the Patriots International Triathlon.

Pre Race
Saturday was a bit of a weird day. I woke up and had my fruit and protein shake; went for an hour bike ride, and then devoured pancakes before driving to Williamsburg. Prior to getting into the car my blood sugar was in the 80s, an hour later it was 118 but I felt kind of weird. I had a clif bar at this point; bolused as normal but my blood sugar was in the 250s about an hour and 1/2 after that. For the better part of the next 5 hours I struggled to get my blood sugar below 300 - awesome, just what I want the day before the race. I made sure I took in extra salt for all the water I was drinking to try and flush my system.

That night for dinner I had 1 cup and 1/4 of whole wheat pasta, a 1/4 lbs of ground buffalo and tomato basil sauce - about 65 grams of carbs. I had trouble falling asleep, by 11:50 my blood sugar was 55, so I took in a clif builder bar; finally falling asleep at 1am. My alarm went off at 5:20, I woke to a blood sugar of 120 - perfect I thought.

For breakfast I had a banana, some mixed berries, 1 scoop of muscel milk light, 4 oz of odawala superfood and some chia seeds all blended together. I gave myself a 2 unit bolus for this. At 6:50 am I turned my pump down to 41% (i'm kind of weird and don't like to round down) and 10 minutes later had my clif bar. At 7:20 am I took in my 2 scoops of EFS, and then tested; uhoh 355 - umm how'd that happen. .8 units of insulin and off to the water to swim.


The start of the swim was alot of fun. Having done all my triathlons in freezing cold water I felt like I was in the Caribbean during my warm up. I cracked up as the mostly southern field complained how the water was freezing. Try Jersey in early April for freezing guys, this was like a bath tub! I felt great during my swim warm up, lined myself to the right, the gun went off and there I went.

The entire time during the swim I kept thinking I was going really slow; I had open space the entire time, and from what I could tell no one from the previous wave had passed me. I exited the water, 4th in my age group! I did the 1500 yard swim in 28:21; a great swim, I was calm the entire time and just felt comfortable in the water. In T1, I tested my blood sugar and was relived to see 224; still high but headed in the right direction.

Swim Results: Final Time 28:21; 4th in age group
Swim Grade: A


I felt great in my new groovy aero helmet on the bike; I actually headed out to the bike course next to an undergrad on the UVA tri club team so that was pretty cool. I passed by him and yelled out go UVA, only to realize I was about to encounter an insanely sharp turn. I gripped my breaks, my tire screeched, I cut my front wheel, my rear wheel slid off the road where there was a drop off, I slid onto the road at 20 mph, shifting my aero bars out of position, throwing my nutrition and shredding up my leg. For the first time in my tri career I crashed during a race:

Amazingly the only part of my pump that was damaged in the crash is the clip, and really just some superficial scratches. However where the pump sits on my hip as I ride has an awful case of road rash; I would take pictures of that but I try and keep this blog PG. I'm pretty sore and pretty banged up but.....

I collected my things from the road, dusted myself off and jumped back on my bike. After a couple minutes of riding my bike didn't feel right so I pulled off the race course, checked my tires, checked my cranks, and everything seemed good to go. I kept my pace at 19 mph as I convinced myself that nothing was broken. I finally settled back into my groove and wound up passing the same UVA dude that I had crashed in front of; this time I didn't say hello.
My bike was great; I kept my cadence above 90; and even with the crash my average speed was about 22 mph. According to my race data it looks like I lost about 5 minutes due to the crash; and its pretty cool to see my heart rate totally spike when I realized I was going down. Overall I'm pretty happy with the bike, with how aggressively I push the bike I'm going to dump it from time to time, thats part in due to the confidence I have from learning to ride and Manhattan and in part because I'm an absolute meathead who loves to hammer. I love the way I ride, and I love riding hard; I'm not upset about the crash, and am psyched I was able to get up, bounce back and still have a pretty good bike.

Bike Results: Final Time 1:09:14, 13th in age group
Bike Grade: B, solid effort, but still below my goal pace of 25 mph, crash or not

I knew that my goal of breaking 2:25 was out the window when I finished the bike in over an hour. With a good run, breaking 2:30 was within my reach however, I had planned to go out at an 8 minute pace, see how I felt after 4 miles and then fire the legs to try and close at a 7:30 pace; well that was the plan at least.
I went out at an 8 minute pace and felt freaking great; my legs felt strong, I felt well hydrated and was just looking forward to enjoying a good solid race. About 1.5 miles into the run I started to cramp up on the right side of my sternum. A mile later my legs started to feel heavy, and my pace began to slow from 8 minutes, to 8:30, to 9, to 9:30. By the 3.5 mile mark my calves had cramped so badly that I almost fell over. At this point I was upset, disheartened and just plain disappointed.

All that training, all the effort, killing myself during all those intervals didn't let my body hold up. I don't know if it was the high blood sugar the morning of the race or the day before, I don't know if I didn't take in enough salt, or if to be honest I just can't run. I've improved my swimming, I've become a solid biker, yet I still can't put it together on the run and I'm frustrated. I can work through pain, I can work through heat, I can't work through what my legs wont let me do and I need to understand why my legs are preventing me from running. I work hard enough to be better than this, its time my race results are indicative of how much effort I put into this sport.

Run Results: Final Time 58:46
Run Grade: F
Even though my run was awful I'm pretty happy with my performance in the race. The first two segments of the tri went to plan; even with the crash I had a decent bike. Even with the poor run I took 15 minutes off my Mooseman International time in early June. To really improve I need to really dig into the reasons behind my high blood sugars and awful performance on the run. Coach Orton and I have to address why my run times are so off my training paces. I'm excited that I was finally able to take performance pressures off myself during a race allowing me to juts enjoy the event. However, I'm not satisfied and will really need to push myself to figure out this run issue, as in 3 weeks I have this seasons A race, the South Carolina Half Iron.


PJ said...

Jeebus. After the high BS and a crash on the bike, I am not surprised the run didn't go as planned! I'm sure the blood sugars were part of your cramping issues (maybe you're starting to get pre-race adrenaline highs like I always have gotten).

I'm sure you know this but when you go high, you lose a lot of potassium (more so than sodium). Hydration products carry more sodium than potassium. I always bring potassium pills with to my races in case I spike for any period of time. And bananas. (Note: too much potassium can be bad for you so I don't use them unless I've been high for some time feel "crampy", you know, that high crampy feeling).

Nice work on that swim and bike! The run too, honestly. Without the bad ones, we have nothing to learn from, you know?


jpnairn said...

Good job.
There's no way you should give yourself an F on the run. Think of how well you did on the run and how much worse it could have gone.
Besides, the run depends on what you have left from the bike and swim. I'm sure crashing on the bike, and hammering to catch up, didn't give you the best possible odds for a good run.
As you said, you've got a lot to be pleased about with this race. You'll figure it out.

Amanda said...

Nice job on taking the time off... and still having such a great bike despite the crash! The cramps and bs are frustrating, no doubt...but we're really quite fortunate to live the life of tri :)

Well done!

Train-This said...

Dear Gawd ED! I am so happy you are all right. Whew. Now trust me that run is going to come. The swim came the bike came and the run will come. The blood sugars are rocking...... trust me. Your coach knows exactly what he's doing and man you've been a damn good student!