Thursday, August 2, 2012

The 70.3 Post Mortem

With a few days perspective, I feel like I’m in a good place to look at my race and judge what went well and what could have gone better. I’ll say at the outset that I definitely want to do this distance again, though not this year! As much as anything, I’m confident in my ability to improve.

What I Did

The Swim

There’s not much to say here. I had a goal of 35:12 and I finished in 38:39. However, the swim course was long—0.2 mile long to be specific. Adjusting for that, I swam it a little over 33:06. I’m swimming well. I may spend the off-season doing things like working on form and attempting to learn the flip-turn, but as far as open water goes, I’m where I need to be.

The Bike

I rode about five minutes faster than my conservative goal of 3:15. I didn’t want to be too aggressive about how fast I was going, considering the long run that awaited me after the finish. I’m pleased that I was able to stay well-hydrated and well-fed during this stage. I may have been tired and hot when I got to the run, but I never bonked. It’s always great to finish ahead of a goal, but I’m also satisfied to have essentially done what I planned on doing.

The Run

Ah, the run. What can I say about it? Through three races this year, I did better than expected. I was much faster at Summer Open Sprint. I was faster still at Greeley.  I was surprisingly faster at Boulder Peak. Finally, I was slower than expected at HITS. I’m not too unhappy about that, however. I saw a lot of folks struggle on that hot, dusty run and since it was my first time at that distance, I’m giving myself a break on what was my slowest half-marathon on record.

Running strategy has been a tricky for me. It’s the area in which I’ve seen the greatest year over year improvement. It’s also the area that concerns me the most. I want to run more and run faster, but I also feel especially vulnerable to injury. What’s clear is that at 10K or less, I’m doing pretty well. The time of 52:23 at the Boulder Peak is evidence of that. I’m less prepared for longer distances.

What I Would Do Differently

The Swim

What would I have done differently? In all honesty, there is not much.  I can probably squeeze a minute or two off my 1500 time and that might help me reach a new PR in the Oly distance, but other than that’s about it... I did a lot of open water training this year and I expect to do that again next year.

The Bike

To improve on the ride portion of any race, I need to do more long rides and increase the maximum distance of my longest ride. Having my bike breakdown on a 50 mile training ride was not helpful, but that should have been just one in a string of long rides. In actuality, the long rides were more like a handful.

Next year, I’ll plan on building up to the long mileage. I found myself discouraged or not motivated when a 60 mile ride came up on the training schedule. I can avoid that by doing several 40 to 45 mile rides first. Additionally, I need to plan for those long, most-of the-day type rides just to over-distance for the race. 56 miles ought to look like a walk in the park after going 70 plus.

Additionally, I need to find a good interval plan. I did pretty well with that earlier in the year but let it go as I focused on longer distances. That may not have been entirely wrong, but perhaps it would have done me some good. I suspect that my intervals may have been a little too aggressive and ended up wearing me out rather than effectively training me. It’s worth looking at for next year.

The Run

My run is the tale of two distances. On 10K or less, I’ve improved significantly over 2011. I’ve lost about 10 pounds over last year and I’ve developed my strength to the point that I’m able to run at paces in the 7:00 range for sprints and 8:30 or better for the Oly. At longer distances, my endurance clearly is not where it needs to be.

Earlier this year, I swore off bricks. They did me some good last year when I had never done any multi-sport racing. If nothing else, they mentally prepared me. Through three races, the lack of a brick did not harm me.

However, I think a modified brick would do me some good in preparing for the 70.3 distance. The point of such a race is endurance and nothing drives that like riding and then running. I don’t think I need to build up to a 56 mile ride followed by a 13.1 mile run, but perhaps doing five or six after a long ride might help. I’ve heard BRICK stands for Biking and Running, It Can Kill. But done properly, I suspect it can be especially valuable.

At this point, I don’t see a lot of value in hiring a coach or paying for a training plan. Experience is still the best teacher and I think I’ve developed some good perspective on how to approach this distance in the future.

For the rest of this year, there are two more major events for me. First the Rattlesnake Triathlon on August 18. This is an Olympic distance race that includes a ride portion on East Quincy Road where I’ve done several training rides. The run course appears to be flat and on a paved trail which also favors me. Heat, as it always is, will be a concern, but I’m confident in my ability to combat it.

Once that one is over, I’ll be focusing on the Rock and Roll Half Marathon on September 22. My goal for that one is to run a sub 2:00:00. I feel like I can do that, but I’ll be doing a lot of prep in anticipation.

Before all of that, though, I’m off for a few days in the Napa Valley. Training will continue while I’m there, of course, but it will be a nice respite from the normal routine.

Thanks for reading!

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