Last weekend I raced my second Rev3 event; Charlie Patten and the Rev3 staff again didn’t disappoint. A venue that seemed hidden in a tiny city in western Connecticut(or maybe that’s just because I’m used to really big cities), the race course give great climbs and a snapshot of the state. After all of my travel woes getting there (here’s that story), I raced alright. And I learned the reason my swims during races are at least 10minutes slower than in training, making this race very useful. Here’s what happened that weekend once we(mom and I) finally settled into the hotel the night before race day.
After getting my bike checked in at the deadline Thursday night, my mom and I set off to find some food. Quassy has a population of maybe 12 people, there’s no street lights, and street signs are hard to come by, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when it took us an hour to find a restaurant. After finishing dinner right around 10pm, we headed back towards the hotel. My bag still hadn’t showed up, and there were supplements in there that I wasn’t going to chance not having before a race; the really important ones being a probiotic and melatonin. I wasn’t going to gamble with having an angry gut on race day, or not getting some deep sleep. Remember when j said small city? Well everything is on one street, and (almost) everything closes at 10pm. Drug stores, gas station, and so on. What happens when your wife is pregnant and has a NEED for pickles and ice cream? Or your kid gets sick after 10 and you need some Triaminic? So after driving around for 45minutes, we found a Stop and Shop, aka grocery store in New England speak. Found some melatonin and a probiotic, and headed back to the hotel. So after sleeping on every flight on the way to Quassy, I already felt rested. Which was good since I’d only have about 5hours of sleep before I would be up to get ready and race. I’m sure my coach is shaking his head at that, but since my normal sleep is 5-6 hours with a mid-day nap, it wasn’t too far from normal. He’s probably shaking his head even more now…
4:03 alarm, and there’s a message from the front desk saying my bag made it. SCORE!! Besides the fact that I had my pre-measured nutrition for the race(always First Endurance. Never a stomach upset or a bonk), it had my SPEEDFIL bottle in it. Even though it was borderline cold, at least in comparison to ATL where it’s 78* with 90% humidity at 5am, I still needed hydration for the bike. And here’s where I made my mistake that caused my to have a 28minute swim…it hurts even typing that… I drink coffee in the mornings for its…”digestive”…properties. 3cups equalling around 240mg of caffeine. I’m sure some of your jaws just shattered as they hit the floor, but that’s the dose I’ve been on for pretty much a year. The first row in that picture explains my mistake. The coffee at about 445am, shower, shave, get dressed, and pack my transition bag; then PRERACE. I’ve written about First Endurance PRERACE before, and the stuff works wonders. But it has 300mg caffeine in a full dose. I already have the ~240mg from my coffee; with PRERACE that’s ~550mg, or a whopping 7cups of coffee. Yeah; I don’t like numbers, and I never thought about it until after the race. I’ll tell you what my coach said after.
And fast forward to the race site…and I’m in transition. I take my bike out for a quick 10minutes to run through the gears, and then come back, almost shivering, and don my TYR Hurricane wetsuit, wondering if I can swim 1.5k in under 17minutes in training, what can I do in a race? Well walking down to the mass swim start I was already in the bottom of zone3 for my heart rate. Very strange since I wasn’t nervous, but I shrugged it off. Got in a very quick 5minutes swimming mainly to get wet so that I didn’t get shocked by the 69* water temp, and very soon after the horn went off signally our race had started.
I somehow ended up in the back of the pack…and besides the fact that my stroke was non-existent, and I was having to breathe every stroke, the guys I was behind wouldn’t let me pass. Weird; right? It was like they knew where I was going to swim, and moved over to block me. I finally got fed up and just swam over people; became more of an open water melee than a swim. My stroke still wasn’t there, my heart was racing, and for with the sun just cresting the tree line, the funny lighting made spotting really hard. I finally saw the first buoy maybe 20meters away, and then after the turn into the sun, I gave up spotting. I felt like I wasn’t moving, and with no idea where the buoy was, I just followed the white water from the other competitors in front of me. Here’s where I started inhaling water. As in lungfuls of water. Numerous times. I blame my form being AWOL because of the major dose of caffeine. Enough complaining about the swim. 28:13 later(blech)…
1:47 T1 due to having to run the full length of transition in and out, perfect flying mount, and out to the small uphill. After cresting the hill, there’s maybe 45seconds before the first downhill and turn, meaning I need to get my feet in my shoes and strapped in ASAP. Done and done; let’s keep my HR at my bottom of zone4 all ride. I know my climbing prowess has greatly improved from my coach making me hills…a lot, so I know I have the ability to really attack 3hills on the back half of the bike course. I tuck into aero, forget about my swim, and that I’m freezing, and pedal. I start passing people, and I don’t notice anyone except my TRAKKERS teammates, but even that’s only for a second. All my teammates recognized me, cheered, and I just kelt pedaling. I heard them say my name, but didn’t really listen. Nothing personal, but this is supposed to be my A race, and I’m trying to get tunnel vision. One TRAKKERS teamie of mine, Jamie, played tug of war for awhile where I’d pass him, then he’d pass me, ect. I think I ended up passing him 3 times before I was finally ahead far enough where he didn’t catch me; races inside races are fun. (according to Jamie’s blog, there was one point where we almost had a line of me, Jamie, and Mark all in our TRAKKERS kits passing people. Hells. Yeah.) The bike was kinda tough; I didn’t feel like it was any harder than Knoxville, but there’s a really good chance that’s due to my training building up to Quassy. And while the roads in Connecticut are abysmal as far as paving goes, they were smooth enough for me to hit 47+mph on a couple of the down hills. Not to mention that Cassia(my Kestrel) allowed me to fly past people on all the down hills that were far heavier than me, and therefore should have easily passed me thanks to Newton’s laws. It’s a true testament to the bike. Kept my HR where I wanted it, and while it was still higher than I wanted for the first 10miles from the caffeine, it evened out and I had a decent ride. 1:16 wasn’t the fastest bike split of the day, but it was enough to move up 4 places in my age group, and 76places overall. I’d say that makes it a pretty successful ride.
1:09 T2, out on the run. I felt good, I was already catching people, and then I saw it. Mount freakin Everest at mile2 on the run course. See it on the elevation profile? Half a mile of climbing up a 5.5% grade, and then a 30 foot decent before another .25mile climb up a 7.5% grade. I knew there were hills, and some sizable climbs, but I had trained and was ready. I had the ability to fully sprint up 2, maybe 3 hills, but I wanted to keep those in my pocket for the last 3 miles. So I just kept it steady on that hill, and watched my pace go 7…7:45…8:30…9…10:15… My lungs were on fire, and my throat too from all the coughing in the water. There was one guy, who had to be part of a relay because he was in strictly running gear(shorts and singlet), who FLEW up the hill past me like it was nothing. He even had the ability to speak in full sentences to me while I was crawling up that hill. I probably should have tried to draft him, at least going up the hill, but I was pretty much in awe at how easy he made this hill look. Crested the hill, and kept my pace at about 7:30 for the rest of the run. And sat on a faster runner’s heels for about a mile. That was uncomfortable, but the main thing I’m working on right now. I can get to that uncomfortable pace, (the one where you feel like you’re legs are about to fall off and your lungs simply can’t get you enough O2), but I can’t hold it long enough. Coach says it’s a mental thing, and gives me one, maybe two more serious runs before I figure it out. My mom shot a clip of my running at the end of the run, and I know I pushed because my form isn’t great running down the chute; you can see I’m clearly fatigued. Finished the run in 47:01 in my AVIA Bolt IIs(actually the last race in this pair; switching over to my black/red/yellow pair next week) dropping back 2places OA, but held the same place on my AG… Or did I?
The top 3 kids in my AG went 1,2,5 OA, meaning I finished 5th AG and 64 OA in 2:34:52. And that 10mins, and however much the caffeine cost me on the bike, cost me an AG podium. Good learning though, and glad I found out now. Why? Because if I can place in my AG(though I’m shooting for OA) in the rest of the Tri The Parks series like I did in the earlier season races, I may place in the series. And the John Tanner #2 sprint is the SE regional sprint qualifier(!!!!!!). Going to need perfect execution there. And at the 5150 race in Clearwater so get an invite to the championship in Hy-Vee next year. So was it really an A race? No. But it was very very important for me to learn from for the future, in terms of the caffeine and my terrible swim splits, and in holding that max sustainable(painful) pace. Giving the 100% we’re really capable of instead feeling we’re at our maximums just because it’s tough. It seems we’re always learning, no matter how knowledgable we believe we are. And we must take those lessons, and use their message to grow into a better competitor, and a better person in life.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” -Gandhi