Rev3 Quassy Race Report: Darren Freeman, 45' PR!

REV3 Quassy 2014 Half Race Report

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Name: Darren Freeman
Age Group: M40-44
Race Date: June 1st, 2014
First Triathlon: May 2012
Years with EN: 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Goals:

When racing, I like to establish several goals for my events so that I can measure myself against what I can do and what I am actually capable of doing.  Starting out, I set goals based solely on what I know I can achieve, then I set goals which could happen if I blow up, experience an issue or some other situation arises; and then I set a somewhat crazy super stretch goal which is unlikely but is more like a dream come true goal than anything but which I like to have because you cannot hit the moon if you don’t even try.

For the Quassy Half I set the below goals.

Reasonable Goal Worst Case Goal Stretch Goal (PRs)
Swim 37 min >37 min <30 min
Bike 3 hrs 15 min >3 hrs 15 min < 3 hrs
Run 1 hr 45 min >2 hrs 1 hrs 30 min
Total Time 5 hrs 37 min >6 hrs <5 hrs

 

The reasonable swim goal is based on a recent 1.2 mile swim race a week before, bike based on a race rehearsal ride I did on the Quassy course three weeks before, and finally run goal based on my ability to run with consideration of the hills on the Quassy course.

One other goal I had set was to finish before 1pm.  This wasn’t necessarily tied to the above goals, but was just a time I had in my head which would still keep me happy if I finished before then.  As a benchmark to my performance until now, all my previous 70.3® race times have exceeded 6 hours which have been a bit of a monkey on my back so 1pm would at least give me a new personal record for the distance but nothing earth shattering.

Pre-Race:

Saturday was a very eventful day as I got up early, drove to the race venue and hung out with all the other EN members whom I’ve newly met or met previously from other events.  There was a lot of great positive energy among the members which made everyone really excited and looking forward to race day on Sunday.  I think the highlight of the day for all the members who hadn’t done so before was getting to meet and speak with Mr. Tim Cronk (including myself).  After lunch, it was time to get going and check-in, get the final spin on the bike and drop it off in transition.

Race preparation for me is always more stressful than anything else.  I always find this time tough because the clock is ticking and you will soon run out of time to organize, check your list and tweak the equipment.  I am very mindful to use my packing lists, read the race reports and ensure that I have all my gear and knowledge I need for the race.  However, there is always something which seems to slip through the cracks that puts a bit of panic in the back of my mind.

The one panic moment that started the ball rolling was when after my last checkout spin on my bike I was moving my bike and pushed down on the seat and all of a sudden my Adamo seat twisted a bit causing the forward seat post to be out of square. WTH!! Somehow the seat bolt had loosened over time and finally was loose enough to allow the seat to twist.  Ok.. Time to reposition and level the seat and torque the bolt.. but wait?!?  What is the torque spec for a carbon cervelo seat post?  Aaagh!  Thank goodness for smart phones.. but wait?!?!  Is the torque spec online right?  Well, if I remember right torque spec in Newton Meters is +1 the mm bolt size (don’t quote me on this, but it is always an easy way to remember the value; 3 mm = 4 N/m, 4mm = 5 N/m).  What the hey!! 5 N/m it is..    This is it.. It is Go Time.. Chain lubed and bike checked in with still that little thought I might have missed something.  Too late now.   Oh well!

Now, hotel check in.. Drive 20 minutes to the La Quinta in Danbury (next time I would stay closer).  Load gear into room, find food at the local supermarket while still in a bit of panicked state as it is about 6:30pm and the desire to get back to the hotel.  Now back at hotel.  (Ok, end panicked state)  Evening meal was two vanilla milks, large Gatorade and a half a turkey sub.  I finally was able to settle down and start to relax at 8:30pm, do my final layout of gear and remove anything I wasn’t going to use on race day and pack it up so I was ready to go in the morning.  Fell asleep about 10pm and slept for two hours before getting up to eat 4 cups of applesauce with three scoops of vanilla protein power at midnight.  Slept for three more hours and finally got up to shower, dressed, accidentally sprayed myself in the face a couple times with sun block (I see you laughing.) and then loaded the car.  Ate two servings of Cream of Wheat (simple easy to digest breakfast), a cup of coffee, sipping sports drink and I was out the door at 4:20am to the Quassy parking lot.

Setup and Warm-up:

Transition setup went smoothly and as expected.  Laid out my gear, inflated my tires to 100 psi on the rear and 95-97.5 psi on the front.  Wasn’t sure if that would do or not but wanted to leave some room in case it got exceptionally warm, but eventually figured it would do.  I then moved all remaining non-essential gear back to my car.  Ate a Powerbar at 6am and sipped sports drink.  Went out and ran for 15 minutes to warm up and break a sweat while listening to 80s hair metal.  Def Leapoard was the first song,  “Eye of the Tiger” from the Rocky Soundtrack was next (very appropriate), Bon Jovi, etc. Really these are all the songs I listen to in training so it just help keep me calm down and get my game face on and ready.   Went back into transition to do the final check and visited with a couple other athletes.

Doh! 6:20am Team Picture – Run to the EN tent.. Missed it by 2 minutes.. Oh well! Bummer.  Next time..  I should have run to the fence instead of run all the way around the back way through the park.

Headed to the swim start with the EN crew and warmed up in the water.  Got out and visited with Coach Patrick for a few minutes since he was in my wave and then headed to the shoot to wait for my turn to start.

Swim:

Water Temp: 65º (perfect temp)
Wetsuit: Sleeveless Xterra Vortex
Goggles: TYR Tracer Race Goggles

The Quassy swim is a beach start which I particularly like.  Mostly because that is how I have always envisioned how a triathlon should start.  I like the idea of a running start and diving into the water as part of the race.  The other thing I like about a running beach start is it seems to help reduce the amount of people running over each other and knocking into one another in the water through allowing the racers to make more space for themselves by how quickly the enter the water.  In water starts seem to create a lot of problems since most people are close together when the gun goes off and not all can get going quickly enough causing bottle necks and others swimming running over them.

ITS GO TIME!! :  I lined up one person back from the water line and about 20 feet to the left from the main buoy line where I’m sure the majority of the fray would exists. Mostly I got up front because I knew this last years’ worth of swim training has significantly improved my speed and technique making me a much stronger swimmer than all my previous years to date  (A big THANK YOU!! to my swim coach!) and because of this I knew I could possibly outswim most of the people in my wave.  There was about another 10 feet to my left so I wasn’t all the way at the edge but just off enough to the side to avoid the main body of swimmers hugging the buoys.

My initial start went as well as expect (better than most other starts I’ve had).  I ran into the water after the gun went off and made some space for myself and dove in.  There was the interment bumping and rubbing with other swimmers but not too bad.  There were a few cases of a swimmer crossing in front of me headed to the buoy line (or completely lost in their navigation skills) and me needing to swim over their feet to keep moving forward, but I kept my head to control the emotion (slight panic feeling) and tried to swim as straight as possible about 20 to 30 feet from the buoy line.  I made sure to swim with strong purposeful strokes making sure to keep my form and reach, pull and then push as much as possible as I had been taught with as few gaps in my cadence as possible but not over doing it.  Eventually I found myself with quite a bit of room and moving along rather quickly and the majority of those around me falling behind as I moved forward.

About two thirds of the way to the first turn buoy I started to move closer to the buoy line to close the space I needed to make up and round the turn buoy to the right. I breathe solely on my right side on the swim and which gives me a stronger right arm pull than left.  This expresses itself as a slight left turn as I am swimming requiring me to have to correct my direction right every now and then.  As a correction factor to this drift I have been sighting more right than where I’m heading to compensate for the shift in direction which appeared to work rather well once I got it dialed in.

After getting away from everyone I was on the buoy line and finally reach the first turn buoy and started my way onto turn buoy number two.  On this leg the sun was directly in line with the buoys making it nearly impossible to see where I was going since I didn’t wear tinted swim goggles (they tend to make me feel a bit claustrophobic).  At first I went really wide of the buoy line and was probably 30 feet from it at one point.  But quickly realizing I was getting farther off and redirected to get back on track.  I still couldn’t see the next buoy but after a minute I figured out that if I can’t see the buoys because of the sun then just swim directly at the sun (INGENIOUS!!).  This worked very well and I was on every buoy by about 10 feet or so after that.

After the first turn buoy I started seeing the swim caps from the two previous waves before me which were all spaced five minutes apart.  This in my mind was a very good sign as I had caught those waves and only motivated me more to swim with strong purposeful strokes to continue my progress.

Finally I reached the second turn buoy and was on the final leg of the swim.  Continuing what I had been doing before; sighting to the next buoy was easy and they could be clearly seen all the way to the exit.  After not much longer I swam as close to the swim exit until I touched the sand, stood up and started to run out with high heels kicking sidewise to get my feet out of the water and enable me to run across the timing matt and on to transition.

Time: 0:34:19 (PR)
Pace: 01:47/100m
Division: 23 of 149
Gender: 81 of 549
Wave: 18 of 98
Race: 105 of 745

 

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/512021203

Misc Notes:  One thing I did forget to remember was to consume a GU gel and drink some water 15 minutes before swim start.  Although it would have been good to have it, it didn’t seem to impact my swim in the least because I was properly fueled beforehand.

Swim Performance: Ultimately, I couldn’t have asked for a better swim.  Everything went really well for me on this leg.  I would have liked to not have the additional 0.06 mi (100 feet) on the distance but sighting on the swim is one of my weak points which I only get to use in open water swims.  Not something I get to do too often in NJ except in races.  Otherwise this is probably my best open water swim to date.

T1:

While running to transition I moved my goggles up to my forehead, unzipped my wetsuit and pulled it down to the waist.  Ran into transition took off my cap and goggles and got the wetsuit off without any problems.  My transition spot was directly between the entrance and exit which allow me the least amount of deviation from a straight path between the two.  Helmet on, sun glasses, socks and bike shoes and then I’m off.

I exit transition and mounted my bike, hit the start button my Edge 810 and lap button my 910xt and I’m off for an everyday ride with 800 other people.

Time:  0:02:23

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/512021205

BIKE:  (Just another bike ride.  Aka. Routine!)

Bike: Cervelo P2
Wheels: Zipp 404s
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11/28
Power Meter: Crank Based SRM
Bike Computers: Edge 810 and Forerunner 910xt
Helmet: Rudy Project Wingspan
Tubes: Vittoria Latex
Tires: Continental Grand Prix 4000s
Sun Glasses: IM Foster Grants
Nutrition: Pineapple, Salted Carmel GUs and Carmel Peanut Fusion PowerBars
Hydration: Water and one packet of The Rights Stuff per bottle

Target Power and Effort: 80-85% (190-202 watts) or middle to high zone 3.

Nutrition Plan:  My nutrition plan for the bike was very simple.  Immediately on the bike I was to start consuming my nutrition.  My plan was to eat half a PowerBar ever hour, consume one GU every 30 minutes and drink as much hydration as possible without getting bloated.

Hydration wise I have been using this product called “The Right Stuff” because I’ve been finding from previous races that I get dehydrated much more quickly because of all the sugars in Powerbar Perform and in combination with Gus and PowerBars than with just plain water.  Since an excess of just plain water can lead to hyponatremia (a major no/no), I am combining this products with water which is a liquid blend of sodium/chloride/citrate to improve water absorption in the gut without the sugars you find in Perform and other products. In my experience I have a much better time hydrating and can drink much more without the bloating feeling with sugar based hydration products.  This is purely a personal choice and likely won’t work for everyone but if you are having a problem with Perform or other sugar based hydration products you might want to give this a try.

‘The Right Stuff” http://www.therightstuff-usa.com/

Race Plan:  I started out as much as possible to keep to my race strategy of the first 20 minutes in zone 2 (or 70-75% power) to give my legs time to boot up and get online.  However I think it only took me 10 to 15 minutes to get going since I warmed up pretty well before the race start by running and with the quick introduction of hills on the course.  Many people were passing me at this point but I was staying in my box and doing what I needed to do regardless of what everyone else was doing by hammering it so early in the race.  After enough time I jumped into game mode and it was all systems GO.  Time to race.

My one and only issue on the bike:   DANG CADENCE MAGNET!!  GRRR..  So I’ve had this standing issue with the alignment of my cadence magnet for some time.  Every now and then my power will drop out on my bike computers and show zero even though I’m pedaling and it was just fine a minute ago.  As a result I had to stop four times to make a quick adjustment to the alignment of the magnet and continue on until it was resolved. Ultimately this only took me about thirty seconds of time to fix so it wasn’t a great lose, but it was more important that I had power numbers than ride blind and potentially over extend (or worse under extend) myself on my power numbers.

Hills, hills and more hills:  For me the hills weren’t all the bad.  The best way I can explain it is that they were routine to say the least.  I had done harder hills than these in training. There wasn’t anything unexpected in them for me.  It was time to just get this ride DONE.  My only suggestion to anyone doing a tough course which contains a large hill component would be to do one or more preview rides of the course.  There is a huge psychological advantage to knowing the course over someone who has never done it before and you know what to expect.  No surprises on race day!

Mile 15 Aid Station:  Keeping with my strategy I planned to reload one water bottle at the very first aid station.  As I saw the aid station ahead, I drank what was left in my bottle as much as I could, stopped and took the top off and asked for water.  The volunteer quickly remove the top to the water bottle and started to pour it in to my bottle all while I gave it a squeeze to quickly dump all of it into my bottle.  I was quickly off in about 10 seconds.  The great thing about this first stop was nobody was stopping there because it was so early.  The volunteer that helped me was super gung-ho and was Johnny-On-The-Spot. If I had money I would have left him a tip.

Note:  The quickest way to fill another bottle from one that is full is to squeeze it.  Pouring is just plain slow and can take forever (glug, glug glug.. squeeze that puppy and you fill it like you are at a NASCAR pit stop and get on your way.)  The worst is you or the volunteer get a little wet.

For me I think the bike was pretty uneventful.  Other than witnessing an individual crash about 100 yards ahead of me (he was alright) it went off without a hitch.  This was just a normal everyday with an always be pushing ride with lots of hills which is what I had been doing in training leading up to this day.  It pretty much is why we race like we train and not the other way around.

Nutrition Consumed:

5 GUs

1 PowerBar

1.5 bottles of water with ‘The Right Stuff’

1 bottle of water

Bike Performance:  I’m very happy with my bike performance.   I rode as smoothly as I could and made as much of an effort to not spike my power numbers too much.  I do think I push it a bit hard in the first half of the race as I was averaging an IF (intensity factor) of 82% for the first 30 miles.  After 30 miles the IF began to drop to 80.2% as the course began to level out and lead mostly into some flat and very long downhill sections.   I was very surprised to see that my Aerobic Decoupling was negative 0.68% when examining my race data.  WOW!  Was my fitness ready for this race or what?  Overall I executed as well as I could and made it through feeling confident and ready for the run.

One thing that did happen within the last 5 miles of the bike is I had a large group of racers go flying past me toward then end.  I don’t know if I was slowing down or they were smoking along at the very end but this did make me lose a number of positions at that point in the race.  Anyway, there really wasn’t anything I could do about it so late on the bike and likely would make that up on the run.

I likely could have done better on my nutrition and I’m not making any excuses.  I tried my best to stick to my schedule and came off the bike feeling pretty good.

Time: 3:00:00 (PR)
Avg. Power: 177 watts
N. Power: 193 watts
IF: 0.809
VI: 1.09
Aerobic Decoupling: -0.68%
Pace: 18.65 mph
Division: 36 of 149
Gender: 95 of 549
Wave: 26 of 98
Race: 119 of 745

 

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/512022226

T2:

Things went smoothly in T2. As I was coming in off the bike I undid the velcro straps on my bike shoes, removed my right foot and set it on top of my shoe and then did the same to my other foot.  Continued pedaling until I reach the dismount line, dismounted and then ran into transition.  Not the smoothest way to remove my shoes but I didn’t want to crash in the last 100 yards on the bike.  Bike was finished, safe without incident.  From there I racked my bike, removed my helmet, put my running shoes on, ate one GU and then took a quick drink of water which was warm from the sun and went on my way.

Time:  0:01:22

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/512021212

RUN:

Nutrition: GUs
Hydration: On course water and coke
Shoes: ASICS GT-2000
Race Belt: IM Fuel Belt with little zip pocket in front
Hat: IM Syracuse 70.3® Race Hat
Sun Glasses: IM Foster Grants

Now it is time to work.  I exited transition and headed on my way.  My one mistake right away was not drinking enough water after eating the GU and passing the first aid station right outside transition.  After a minutes or two it didn’t feel so great as I could have had more to drink so I had to suck it up until the next aid station at mile two.

The first mile of the run is all downhill which would give me some time to recover and warm up the run legs from the bike.  Essentially it was at as easy a pace as I could go without making it hard or spiking my heart rate too early.  My strategy for the course was to only run between aid stations and then walk through the aid stations while grabbing a minimum of two cups of water to re-hydrate, exit the station and begin running again.

Having been a runner all my life I have taught myself to use the downhill’s as much as possible since they are essentially free speed.  In the first mile everyone was moving at a pretty good clip so there really wasn’t any advantage to try and outrun anyone since it was so early.  I told myself “Be patient and the time will come!, Let the others blow themselves up early and you will pull them back in over the long haul”

The Dirt Road:  After three and a half miles the work begins on this course.  This is where the road turns to dirt and there is exactly one mile of climbing with a few very short flat sections but essentially it is straight up a long one mile hill.  My goal was to get up this section to the next aid station without spiking my heart rate too much and stopping to walk.  This was a tough section but after the fact I think there are other sections of the course which was far worse than the dirt road segment since it is mostly in the shade.

The Out and Back: After reaching the top of the dirt road hill, you take a right onto a paved stretch of road that makes up an out and back part of the course and which is made up of rolling hills. This was a welcome break to the constant uphill from the previous leg so it was a much needed mental break.  At the turn around there is an aid station where I consumed a GU and drank a cup of water.  After leaving the aid station, once again the GU just didn’t seem to do it for me.  Maybe it was just too much sugar in one shot or not enough water.  Time to make a change at the next aid station and not to consume any more GUs for the rest of the race.

Big Houses and Yards:  The out and back was complete, I took a right turn on the course and it was time return back toward the park.  A few larger down hills allowed me to stretch my legs and get moving but of course they are met with equivalent up hills.  Eventually you start to exit the shade of the trees and the temps start to increase due to the sun.  Take a right and you see the welcome sight of an aid station up ahead however it is at the top of a rather long hill off in the distance.  It wasn’t too steep but enough to make you suffer just a bit.  I commented to another runner that with the heat it made for a welcome Oasis (or Mirage) off in the distance.  Finally the aid station was real, proceeded to walk and make the change in my hydration to drinking two cups of water instead of one.  Oh and I barely remember enjoying the incredible houses along the way.

From the last aid station the course was pretty much all downhill except for the last obvious hill on the course elevation profile. I was feeling pretty good with the downhill since I like the downhill’s and put some distance on some other runners.  Rounded the course back on the Route 64 toward the park, made a left to start the final loop and hit the next aid station.

Coke is the Ticket:  At this point, at the aid station by the park I knew I had to do something different to replace the GUs so I switch to take a cup of water and a cup of coke, mixing them and down it at each aid station.  I like to drink coke but usually drink diet only, but for racing full sugar coke in my opinion is the ticket and serves me very well.  Within 30 seconds of drinking the first coke and water I immediately felt a rush of energy which the GUs hadn’t given me.

So if you remember after the Oasis aid station I said the course was essentially downhill.  (Boy! was I wrong).  The course is very much downhill from there, but there were some smaller rolling hills that definitely made you notice them.  Not to mention that one segment of the run has a very large un-even road which made it tough because you had to compensate for that in your running form.

This run course to the south of the park I wasn’t familiar with except on the course map.  The day before I drove the north loop of the course but didn’t drive the south loop since it appear essentially flat.  This was a mistake on my part because I had no clue about the uneven road or where the turn around on the out and back section was causing me a bit of mental stress.  I knew it wasn’t far but the mental toll of not knowing was worse.  (Note to self:  Always drive the entire run course!)

Oh that last hill:  Finally, I’m on the last stretch back to the park heading to the last hill.  I was feeling alright but wasn’t looking forward to another grind up a hill.  For this section you can see the underpass to the bridge and the hill pretty far off.  (Which didn’t help me mentally).  As I got closer I started to consider walking this hill, and to my chagrin my mind won out right at the foot of the hill.  My quads where nearly shot, my mind had checked out for a few minutes and I gave in. (more on this in a minute).  At first the quads where thanking me but as one person passed me running up the hill (he was 50!) I continued to walk and figured that the 1 to 2 minutes lost on this hill wouldn’t impact my run all the bad since it was the only time I walked except for aid stations.

Once I reached the top of the hill, I kicked it into gear again and wrapped up the run, crossing the finish line and gave out a big celebratory yell as I had finished.

Run Performance: Overall I was very happy with my run performance.  I stuck to my race plan, was able to quickly adjust my nutrition and hydration when something wasn’t working right and made the necessary change to keep me focused and on track.  I ran between all the aid stations without stopping (except one), walked through them and went right back to work.  I wouldn’t say it was my best run and the run that I really wanted but it was a good effort.  I would have liked to been faster but it was a great effort for the first time on this course.

My only true regret on this run was that I convinced myself to walk that final hill.  It wasn’t that long and I wasn’t so far on empty that I couldn’t have run it.  I just let my mind win.  I know I’m tougher than that and it would have been a temporary moment of suffering.

Lastly, in hindsight this was a pretty good run considering I swam 1.2 miles and bike 56 miles prior to doing the run and it was so hilly.  In comparison, in 2012 I did the Rutgers Half Marathon with a time of 1:44:42 and in 2013 a time of 1:36:27.  To complete the run in the time I did was a huge accomplishment and a testament of the hard work and training that I had been doing.

Time: 1:49:46
Pace: 08:23/mi

 

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/512021216

Final Evaluation and Results:

Overall, I had a great day.  I can’t put it any other way.  The swim was great, clean fresh water and I also set a personal best for the distance.  The bike was a routine ride with another personal best in a race and I hit all my targets.  The run was good (not great), but still a good achievement given the difficulty of the course and was only four minutes off my reasonable goal time.  All in all I’m very happy with the result and it was one of the most difficult 70.3® courses on the east coast.

Total Time: 5:27:57
Division: 35 of 149
Gender: 113 of 549
Wave: 29 of 98
Race: 129 of 745

 

For comparison below are all my 70.3® results to date.

2012

2013

2013

2014

IM 70.3® Pocono

Black Bear Half

IM 70.3® Syracuse

Rev3 Quassy

Swim:

0:46:51

0:38:07

0:40:13

0:34:17

T1:

0:05:05

0:04:32

0:03:46

0:02:30

Bike:

3:04:03

3:32:28

3:03:10

3:00:07

T2:

0:03:43

0:03:20

0:03:09

0:01:16

Run:

2:14:10

1:59:32

2:25:25

1:49:46

Total:

6:13:51

6:17:59

6:15:30

5:27:57 (PR)

 

That is all, thanks the entire EN team for making it a fun event.  Great efforts by everyone and congrats on all your finished.  You deserved it!

Thanks for reading my extremely long race report!

Darren

 

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