What better time to get to my race recap than while icing my bike during recovery? Before addressing my current state, it’s probably a good idea to figure out how I got here.
Rev3 Williamsburg was on my list for one simple reason – gauge progress from last year to this year. I had a solid race last year and set a great personal best for me. But if that was it, then what’s the point in continuing to develop. Inherent in gauging progress was also recognizing and hopefully realizing a few early season goals. Namely, increase my FTP which would then increase race day performance, address practice swim versus race day swim discrepancies, and continue to be aggressive on the run.
The year started off with Jerseyman which was also a race from last year. I had issues with cold water in 2016 and my body reacted badly. That sensation lingered the whole season so it was important to start 2017 off well. That race was good and then led in to some quality sessions with Coach Earl about tweaking the swim stroke. Now to put it into practice.
This year’s Williamsburg race used the same swim course as last year. The only difference was that we didn’t really have a current to aid the swim this year. The gun went off and I focused on a nice strong stroke rather than turning things over quickly and spiking my heart rate. Bingo! I settled in and just cranked away. About half way through, I actually had to stand in order to make any forward progress because the water got so shallow. I ran a couple steps and then dove back down and started swimming again. The rest went smoothly, no issues, and made it to the end of the swim before having to wade out of the muck and mud. Glancing down at my watch, I covered the 1.2mi course in 27:50 which was definitely a non-current best for me. This put me in 11th place heading into transition.
I pulled out the bike and got right to work. I had just latched on to the second group in the water so there was a collection of people just in front of me. In no time, I moved from 11th to 5th and worked with another athlete for the next 20 miles. Working within the rules, it was great to have company on the roads to keep me focused and honest. I had a target NP = 260w and found myself well above it but easily maintaining the level of effort. After a little bit, I moved up into 3rd position and was by myself. A few minutes later, still over target at 272w, I began to draw close to 2nd place until I passed him on a hill. I was banking on having a quick ride back to transition, but we had an unexpected crosswind that made the trip back to the park a little tougher. In the end, it was a great ride and I had a NP = 267w which was good for 2:12 and a 6.5 minute improvement from last year.
Since I hadn’t seen first place at all, I knew he was far ahead and I didn’t think I had much of a chance at catching him. It was starting to get hot outside and the temperature was creeping into the high 80s without any heat index bump. Finally, around mile 3, we passed each other on the out and back turnaround. He had about 7.5min and roughly a 1.1mi lead on me. An olympic distance competitor told me I could catch him but I basically shrugged off that idea. Still, I kept plugging along. I started the run with 3 miles in 5:59, 6:07, and 6:10 to keep 3rd place at bay and let him know he was in for a serious effort. That worked and I settled into roughly 6:15-6:20 pace. I had a rough idea of where 1st place should be as I approached the end of the first loop, but he wasn’t there. I kept moving along and still no sight of him yet. Finally, much closer to the turnaround, I crossed paths with him. By the time I came back to the same spot, I had made up 2.5 minutes. GAME ON! I buckled down and got focused on pulling him back. I had 6 miles to make up 5min. It all was going to depend on the last turnaround between markers 9 and 10. I got close to that, still hadn’t seen him until it was almost time for me to begin heading back. The lead was less than 1.5min and 0.2mi. That was it. I saw him, give the pace a push, and made up the ground in no time. By mile 11, I had overtaken first place and was in control. The only downside was that my back was beginning to tighten up. I enjoyed the bike escort through the rest of the course and then came into the finishing straight to the best site possible – Kim and the 3 kids waiting for me. We all ran down the finishing chute together and broke the tape for the overall win. Total race time was 4:06:41 for roughly a 9min improvement from last year.
More importantly, I had tangible results to gauge my progress. The swim as faster, the bike was faster and stronger with the same effort (HR), the run was faster and that came after a higher output on the bike.
This was race 2 of 4 but the next two race weekends are in doubt. The drive down crushed my back. I recovered somewhat but then the race aggravated it again. It’s all about recovery at the moment. I still can’t bend down to put my shoes on, but I’m beginning to feel looser each day. There’s been lots of quality time with Dr. Todd and he’s been pulling out all the stops to get things calm, relaxed, and back in working order.
If you’re still reading this, well, Thank you. I know some of you are interested in nutrition so I’m going to get into that separately and also keep it brief. Elevate by Nicci has been awesome support. One of the things I like most about working with Nicci, is that she pushes me to understand and apply our decisions. I’ve been able to recognize opportunities to tweak plans and identify different ways to integrate the necessary nutritional elements.
Nutrition started the night before with sodium loading. This has really helped the onset of muscle cramps. I sweat a lot and the forecast was for mostly sunny skies, reaching 85 by 10am and feeling like 93+. In the morning, breakfast was a piece of toast with peanut butter, top-off on sodium loading, and then 1.5 scoops of UCAN. From that point, it was UCAN as my main nutrition until the end of the race.
The Ventum One comes with a 40oz bottle which is plenty to dump in two 1500mg sachets of Precision Hydration electrolytes. I love PH because I can get the concentration I need without severely changing caloric intake or glucose levels. This has been huge. I added a few salt tabs on the bike too due to the heat. During the 2+ hours on the bike, I worked on a bottle of UCAN that had both regular and protein mix in it to curb the hunger and give me the energy I needed. No issues there and on to the run.
I had a UCAN “shot” just in case I needed it but the bike nutrition was enough to give me the energy I needed for the bulk of the run. Salt tabs were the key and the legs never got to the point of cramping. It’s so great to have the right combination of nutrition. I can race and focus only on racing and not when my stomach is going to give out or anything like that. Around mile 9, I had a PacificHealth Labs 2nd surge. These gels are great for me because they have a protein component and don’t upset my stomach. Plus, the Surge has caffeine so I don’t have to worry about taking on something else too. Caffeine late in the race is a game changer. It brings a little boost of energy but also brings you right back into focus. And that’s it. Pretty straightforward and simple but such a powerful combination.
Thanks to everyone for the support. There really is nothing celebrating the win with the whole family. Now, on to the next race which will hopefully be NYC Tri this weekend.