Finished 4:34:36 and that was good enough for a 25minute PR and 5th place in my age group and 64th overall, exceeding all expectations I had for the day. Oh yea, I also qualified for 70.3® Worlds in Mont Tremblant.
My training this year has gone very well. Everything from the OS to GF to HIM, and IM plans have all been going well and I’m completing almost 100% of my workouts. I’m motivated and making progress. What’s been key this year and different from years past is that I have managed to remain pretty much injury free. When I wrote out my goals for 2014, at the top of my list was to show up for my races healthy and recovered. Tactically, I made the decision at the beginning of the year to step down from the advanced plan to the intermediate plan. I felt the advanced plan that I did last year was too much for me and may have brought me from one workout to the next in a compromised state. The intermediate plan felt more manageable and whenever I was feeling strong, I’d dip into the advanced plan for a workout or two. I also incorporated elements of the run durability plan, adding in an additional 1 or 2 easy runs per week, bringing my run frequency to 5-6 runs per week. This formula has worked well for me and I plan to continue this approach for the rest of the year.
I have raced the 70.3® every year since 2012 and I occasionally train on the course so I know it very well. It’s a fast course and moving it from August to June only made it faster. I arrived in Boulder the day before, checked in my bike, checked into my hotel and got all my gear organized. I was up at 3:30AM had 2 cups of applesauce, whey protein, a honey stinger waffle, and sipped on a bottle of Gatorade. Logistically, I stayed in Longmont this year which is north of Boulder. Last year I was stuck in traffic for 30minutes trying to enter the reservoir on race morning. That gave me only a short time to setup transition. This year, by staying North, I drove straight into the reservoir from the North entrance which is the dirt road that makes up the first part of the run course. This approach worked great and I highly recommend this to anyone doing this race in the future. I setup transition, working through my checklist, had a banana, drank about 16oz of perform and then hit the porta-potties twice. Right before the race I slammed small bottles of pickle juice, beet juice, and 1 caffeinated gel.
For this race, Boulder was experimenting with an approach of letting the All World Athlete’s go off in their own male and female waves starting 10 minutes after the pro women. The male AWA’s went first and then 2 minutes later the female AWA’s started. I must say I thought this was a great advantage to be in this wave. It was more than an hour earlier than the final waves. After talking to people who were in the last waves they experienced significantly more wind on the bike and the run than I did. This is clearly a tactical advantage so it will be interesting to see if this makes its way into more and more races. It doesn’t cost WTC anything, and the advantage that it creates is only going to make more people seek out this designation so I’m thinking this will start to become the norm. I guess we’ll see.
My swim is clearly the weakest part of my race so my plan this time around was to try to shorten the distance by swimming as close to the buoy line as possible. I knew this would mean more contact, but my thought process going in was that I might find clear water being part of AWA seeing as my swim times are around 36/37min vs. the times of the faster dudes in the same wave. Starting the swim there was more contact than I experienced in previous races, but it settled after about the first 200M or so. I focused on trying to keep good form and staying in my box. I stayed with my plan swam close the buoys, actually running into or having to swim under a few of them. The water temp was 68 degrees so it was a perfect temp. Before the race I counted buoys so I knew I had 8 to the first turn, 6 to the second turn and I think 7 to the finish. When I finally finished I checked my watch and saw I finished 36:50, but it was probably 15-20 meters of hip deep water to wade through before I hit the beach and could actually start running to transition.
In past races I always felt like I left time on the table with my transitions. My goal this year was just to do my business and get moving. Normally, I over think my transitions and hesitate, thinking that I’m forgetting something. This was my first race where I just trusted my process, let it happen and just got moving.
In the past I’ve lost time on the early part of this course, so my plan here was to put my foot on the gas from the start. My plan was to ride at 216-217 watts which is about 85% of my 255 FTP. I really tried to focus on keeping a steady effort early on in the bike. There were lots of people blowing by me on the uphills, but I was working hard on the downhills just to keep above 200watts which was not easy, but I was blowing by those same people. Again another advantage of being in the early AWA wave was that there were not as many people clustered together as is typical in this race. I was passing people, but at times I also had large blocks of space between me and the riders up ahead. My bike was very uneventful which is exactly how I liked it. I was a bit cold at the beginning, but warmed by about 2/3 of the way through. I ended up drinking only about 54 ounces of perform, about a bottle less than normal and I consumed the equivalent of 3 gels and ½ of a powerbar. Not a lot of calories or hydration, but it was cool (mid 50’s) and I peed 3 times so I feel like I took in what I needed based on the temperature. I felt strong, but I noticed about ¾ of the way through my IF had been dropping. For the last 15-17 miles I consciously focused on meeting and slightly exceeding my power targets. I felt fine all the way through, but I think I just lost focus for a short stretch. It’s a good learning about the need to not take your eye off the ball even for a minute. I finished the bike with a 6 minute PR over the previous year and feel like I could have been a couple minutes faster. The technical details are as follows:
See T1. Very quick, but lost 4-5 seconds trying to visually locate “Run Out”. Was disoriented for a couple seconds.
All day long I couldn’t wait to get out on the run to see what I could do. My plan was to run 7:30 miles until I got to the top of the 2 climbs at about mile 3 and then try to drop to 7min/mile pace, but I made an in game decision to change my approach. I felt very good off the bike and I know the coaches warn about the disconnect between how your pace feels vs how hard you really should be running. I started off running about a 6:45 pace and backed it down to 7 and it felt like I was crawling and I felt my RPE was very manageable. I decided to see how long I could hold this pace. I slowed down to just over 7s over the 2 uphills and then resumed a sub seven pace. I passed a guy in my AG who asked if I was trying to go to worlds. I told him, “yes, I’m trying”, to which his response was “I’m going to run my race and hope that I see you again on the second lap”. We wished each other good luck and then I kept moving, but it did make me nervous and I wondered if he had the better strategy and if I was running head-on into an explosion somewhere on lap #2. It turns out, I used his words the rest of run as motivation to keep going and keep pushing hard. The fact that he was coming after what I hoped to achieve really helped push me all the way to the finish. I continued pumping out sub 7 minute miles and the last 3 or so miles really hurt especially when you can see the finish way off in the distance on the other side of the reservoir. I wanted to stop and walk so bad, but I kept going and used every image I could think of to keep pushing. I focused a lot on all the early morning training sessions and the hard work I put in over the past 8 months and I kept running the “training self” vs. “racing self” mantra over and over in my head. “Racing Mark, owes Training Mark his best effort on race day”. I counted down the miles and the minutes and when finally saw the turn off for the finish it was a great site. I had the finish chute to myself and crossed in 4:34:56 with a 1:29:32 run.
I can honestly say for this race I completely emptied the tank. I raced as hard as I ever have and feel like I left everything I had to give out on the course. Maybe I could have pushed a few more watts on the bike, but who knows what that may have done to my run. I knew I did well because there were very few finishers milling around in the expo. When I called my wife she told me I was in 4th place. The one disadvantage about the AWA group is that you don’t know your final placing until you do the math based on the start time of the rest of your group. I was thinking if I’m lucky I will be in the top 10. Pretty cool! She kept texting me letting me know I was in 4th, then I slipped to 5th, and then I noticed an hour went by and I was still in 5th place. I checked the posted results and they had me in 5th place and I couldn’t believe I earned a podium spot. Unbelievable! I was shocked and this was beyond any expectations I had coming in. There were 3 slots for worlds in my AG and all 3 were available when roll down started. They called my name and I grabbed my spot. I was hoping for a roll down spot, but by no means was I counting on it. Needless to say, nobody had a better father’s day than I did!!
It was truly a race to remember. I’d like to thank my family for giving the freedom to train and race, and allowing me to keep chasing after my max potential. I’d also like to thank the coaches and the team at Endurance Nation for their never ending streams of wisdom and support. And finally I’d like to thank my local tri club, Altitude Multisport for keeping the sport of triathlon fun and also for their support and encouragement.