Galveston 70.3 Race Report

This was the first time I have attempted a meaningful race this early in the season.  It was also the first time I was going to be traveling alone and competing (I usually travel to races with my family and/or training partners).  I was excited to finally shake off the cobwebs of the new season and open up the engines to find out what my winter of training had produced.

When I arrived in Galveston I was relieved that the weather was warm and humid.  I far prefer heat to cold and our spring in Indiana has been fantastic for training.  The pre-race preparations were uneventful and I followed my usual protocol.  The only difference was that I found myself on race morning to be very nervous.  Unusually nervous.  As in “I have a big final exam and I cannot fail” nervous.  I am noticing each season that the first big race seems to generate big nerves.

I decided to take my anxiety and leave early anticipating that the other 2800 athletes would make the arrival to the race site difficult.  Traffic wasn’t too bad but on further reflection, this race was huge in terms of numbers and by far the largest 70.3 I have attended.

My race:

Swim:  Uneventful.  I have learned to just have one cup of coffee the morning of the race.  I manage my nerves better and I am much more comfortable in the swim.  This race was my first in my new Xterra wetsuit (thanks to Justin Daerr, Xterra, and Endurance Corner).  I felt very comfortable wearing a wetsuit with sleeves for the first time and ended up with a three minute PR in the swim.  I even drafted a bit during the swim.  I worked hard in the beginning of the swim to not get dropped and settled in after the initial start.  I stayed comfortably uncomfortable.

Bike:  Fortunately, I saw pro Justin Daerr before the race and he coached me on the wind directions and how to play the course.  The course itself was a simple out and back with a 10-15mph head/cross wind on the way out and a tail/crosswind on the way back.

Gordo instructed me to push the bike to the point that I risked “impairing myself on the run.”  A very important component of this race for me was about achieving the necessary training stimulus in my preparation for Ironman Texas.  If you have followed my blog, you know that the work I have most needed to do is on the bike.

I pushed the entire bike course and was totally uncomfortable.  The first hour and a half on the way out were slower than I anticipated (but nothing like the wind at camp in Tucson).  I knew a reward was waiting after the turn around and I felt like I was flying as I headed back to transition with a slight tailwind.  I was pleasantly surprised to find myself passing people including people in my age group!

The day started to get steamy after the turn around.  I was wearing my aero helmet for the first time and felt a bit like I was stuck in an oven.  I missed being able to dump water over my head and had to settle for dumping water on my body.

My nutrition went well:  400 calories of First Endurance Grape with Pre-Race and 175 calories of Perform.  After reviewing my power data, I burned far more calories than I anticipated (approximately 1700).  Although I felt well fueled, I need to increase my calories per hour to almost 300 per hour and see how I tolerate it.  Time to train the gut.

Run:  2800 athletes on a four mile loop for three laps is great for the spectators and problematic for the athletes.  Not to mention the volunteers.  Most of the aid stations reminded me of the movies where the Huns overrun the castle.  The defenders are totally in fear but have nowhere to run as the Huns stream past them.  I was one of the Huns!

The run had a lot of twists and turns.  The wind slowed us down to a crawl when we ran on on the tarmac at the airport.  It also got steamy when the sun came out.  Unfortunately, the drinks were warm and there was almost no ice to cool myself down.  It was fine but I realized how spoiled I am in an Ironman.

My last loop is where the aid stations really fell apart and the course was incredibly congested.  On one part as we were entering the airport, the course narrows considerably, and I remember having to ask people to move to the right to allow me to pass.

The run went well but I knew that I would not be able to rip it because of a niggle in my hamstring/hip/glute that developed the week before the race.  I kept the work level high and consistent focusing on maintaining pace.  I consumed an espresso Gu before I started the run, and again at miles five and eight.

Overall the day finished well with a Podium position in 4th place.

I felt like I really was out there racing and just not participating.  I am not sure I am capable of ever going fast at a 70.3 but it is an important training stepping stone in my IM preparation.  Some things to address between now and Texas:

  • Bike position.  I should be a touch faster for the watts I averaged.  I will spend some time working to clean up my front end by bringing my elbows closer together and lowering my pads a bit.
  • Nutrition.  I am going to train my gut to take in 50-100 more calories an hour on the bike.
  • Sunscreen.  I forgot that a 70.3 race does not cater to you like an Ironman.  I was an idiot and ended up with the sunburn on my shoulders to prove it.
  • My right leg.  I am being aggressive and doing ART and “transformational” massage/stretching once per week until Texas.  I am also doing hip bridges and mobility work.
  • Training.  Fitness is deep (I had no decoupling on the bike or run) and tempo training continues to be the focus.  I need to go fast (Ironman fast) in Texas.

Some additional highlights of the race were seeing many of my Endurance Corner team mates, watching all the amazing pros on the bike and run and having my new friends Danny and Marie find me all over the course.

Thanks again to everyone that supports my journey and to Gordo for guiding the journey.  Six weeks until race day…

 

 

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