Wednesday, April 26, 2017

RACE REPORT: White Lake Spring Half


April 22nd, 2017
White Lake, NC

Thanks to a solid race at IM 70.3 NC in October last year, my 2017 season had been lined up as of that sunny afternoon overlooking the USS North Carolina.  My focus was IM 70.3 Worlds in September.  With that in place, my coach and I decided to try something I've always wanted to, an earlier season A-race.  I live in CT, so the earliest we race multisport locally is late May with no big races until June.  I like to get in a sprint race or two before an A-race to shake the cobwebs off.  But I've always been intrigued by (read: jealous of those who have access to races in) the super early season.  So despite the typical weather, early it was, which meant traveling.  Fortune even had it so that my original plans for early May got changed to late April (earlier!!).

Why do such an early season race?

The benefit of a super early race is that it provides motivation for your training and provides plenty of time post-race to alter training as needed to address aspects that you want to improve before doing a mid-season or late season race.  If you know me or read my blog before, you might know that I've had some rather packed racing seasons (20-30 races) and slowly have worked back to making bigger targets of fewer races as my goals have become more defined.

The goals going into this race were to...
  • See where my training had gotten me over the winter, 
  • See where I need to focus before going into IM 70.3 Worlds in Sept, and
  • Test out how I do with such an early season race.
Ok... Racecation time!

One of my best friends and certainly my longest lives in NC and this was the perfect excuse to make a long weekend out of the trip.  Racecation!  And another great event from SetUp Events.




For a focused race, I like to be on site as early as possible.  Given that this was a Saturday race with a Friday athlete meeting (albeit optional), I made arrangements to be in town on Thursday.  And as I'm sure I've told myself before, I realized Wednesday mid-morning that I should have taken that day off as well.  I will always spend too much time getting things prepped and ultimately stay up too late the night before I get up at 2am for a 13 hour drive.  Haha.  Lesson learned.  ...I hope.

I arrived in NC on Thursday, rested, relaxed, and enjoyed good company.

Related image


On Friday, it was time to get into race prep mode!  I woke up without an alarm and did my early race prep shake out in and along Wrightsville Beach.  The water was warm enough to go without the wetsuit (and with shaved legs!).  It must have been mid-70s!! 



Once I was back to my host's home, I made a large pancake breakfast, gear organization, take a nap, scout the course, athlete meeting, and in bed early.  This day has become pretty typical for me.  The only changes I make to this are dictated by the specific race schedule (athlete meeting time mainly).

This bike course is flat!  351 feet of elevation change.


Race Report

For anyone looking for course info on the race, I've included an initial paragraph in each section below covering what to pay attention to.  I use your reports for the same info, so I can only give back!

Everything else is my own experience; mostly for my own recap and digestion, but also for your reading pleasure.  Hopefully I can be your dummy to trip up so that you don't have to.


PRE-RACE

The race is centered at the FFA Center at White Lake (Highway 53 in Elizabethtown, NC).  They have ample parking inside the park for the number of athletes the race pulls in with overflow 0.25 mile down the road for spectators and late athletes.  Gates opened at 5am, but there was no official close of transition.  The 70.3 race began at 7am and the International (Oly) at 8a.  As you'll read, the olympic athletes were in transition setting up when I ran in to get my bike.  It's a small race, so no issues.  You bring your bike and pick up your timing chip that morning during your transition set up.  They offer plastic bands which can dig into the skin, so I suggest bringing a fabric strap if you have one from another race.  The swim is off of two docks, which provides plenty of warm up area inside of the docks.  Plenty of bathrooms and ample space!  Great setup overall.

Race morning went pretty smooth.  I woke up at 3am, put on my Breathe Right nose strip, a couple of race tattoos, and sun tan lotion.  I made 3 over easy eggs, had a banana, an entire jar of unsweetened applesauce, and 2 pieces of bread.  Then I packed up the car (bike, gear, food, me) and made the 50 minute drive.  Along the way I picked up a bag of ice for my bike nutrition.

As I parked the car, I put in my headphones and started up the playlist.  That means one thing - it's game time!  At that point, I am in my own head - thinking about the race, mentally prepping for the day, and silently bouncing to the beat of the music.  This is how I remain calm pre-race.  It works great, but the playlist has taken some time to get right.

I got to transition at 4:51a and the gates were open already.  Score!  I parked, hit the bathroom, and started setting up.  I was the 2nd person in transition.  Many people like to get extra sleep and leave transition setup until later.  I much prefer being calm and taking my time.  I had transition fully set up by 6:30a.

One last trip to the car to get my wetsuit on (hoping that it would work smoothly - I hadn't put it on since my last race in October) and I was off to the water.  Full sleeves don't go on quickly, so I wasn't in the water until 6:50a.

Water temp was 75-76, so the wetsuit was merely for bouyancy.  The water was calm.  My stroke felt good.  My goggles (only retested yesterday after sitting in my bag all winter).  I certainly was going into this race with a couple questions as to where I would find cobwebs to shake off, but I was excited.  Now if only the weather could remain cloudy (forecast was for upper 80s)!!

Five minute delay to get the lifeguards out on the course meant a bit more time to warm up.  I was the second wave.  I was ready!

SWIM

White Lake is a man made, spring fed lake that only reaches 9 feet deep in the center.  Unless it is windy, the water is very calm.  The swim course is an clockwise upside down triangle with an in water start.  You start near the left side dock and head out in a Northern direction.  You turn after 3 buoys to head E/SE for 3 buoys, and then make the final turn to end at the right side dock where you exit the water by ladder.  Waves go off every 5 minutes, so you have plenty of space!

As the announcer counted down the time (5 min, 3 min, 90s, 60s, 30s, 15s, GO!), I went over my goals.  Hard out of the gate to find my space, then back it off to a maintainable effort.  If you can, find feet to draft, but don't expect it.  At the end, kick it home and finish hard.  I find it really helps to review those process goals in order to keep me from focusing on goals I can't control (time, place, etc).

As the buzzer went off, I shot out at likely 100 or 200 yard pace.  I'm a swimmer, so I don't mind the fray, but I might as well steer clear of it when I can.  Within that time, I was out ahead of the group.  A couple guys had speared ahead of the group off to the right side of the line, but I was pretty sure they were off the line towards the main buoy.  I'd let them find their own way.

Half way to the first buoy, I pulled the effort back an focused on something I felt I could hold for the whole race.  At the first buoy, I started to feel the mental dread; wondering why I do this.  Immediately, I told myself pushing to that mental point was not worth the 30s I might save, so I backed off again.

By the 2nd buoy, I noticed another white cap (my wave) off to my right.  The guy who had pulled ahead to the right of the start line must have caught back up.  However, he seemed to be veering right again.  I know that I veer left, so I made sure to check that it wasn't me moving away.  It may have been, but I seemed to be staying within reason of the line of sight.  Kept moving along.  Every time we hit a buoy (which were not aligned well with one another), me and I presume Steve Johnson (looking at the results) would come back together.  As soon as we passed the buoy, we'd separate again.  It was a little entertaining though I would always recheck my sight line because of it.

We passed a handful of swimmers from the first wave.  I was impressed that there weren't more of them.  The five minute separation time seemed to work well.

As we made our way down the final length of the clockwise course, my swim cap finally came off.  It's funny that as a swimmer my caps always seem to come off.  Maybe it means I need to look at limiting my head movement.  They never came off as a pool swimmer.  Has that happened to you?

As I hit the final buoy, I switched to primarily unilateral breathing.  This did push me a bit more left, but I shook off my only other competitor without a problem.  There was one other purple cap (wave #1) ahead of me and I swam by him just before making it to the closer ladder to exit the water.

I felt I had a solid swim.  My wetsuit and googles worked well, my new sleeved jersey didn't bother me, and nothing fell apart.  It could have been a bit faster (pushing harder to bearing the mental pain, having competition to edge me on), but I wasn't unhappy with it by any means. 


TRANSTITION 1

T1 starts on the dock as you exit the water.  You run down the wooden dock (0.05 mile?), along the roped off grass, and into transition.  Keep in mind that Olympic athletes will be setting up in transition when you get there, so don't be surprised.  The bike exit is next to the road and the mount line is very close, so there is very little running with your bike.  The rground itself is grass/dirt.  If it is wet, it could get muddy.  If it's dry, you may want a towel to brush off your feet. 

As I hopped onto the deck, the volunteer asked me what color cap I was.  'I knew you'd do that.'  I yelled "WHITE!" without even looking.  I enjoy transitions and making them fast.  I believe I think well with the HR elevated or at least I've gotten my pattern of what to do and how nailed into my muscle memory.

The wetsuit came down to my hips as I ran.  I took it off while standing at my bike easily enough, popped my nutrition into my jersey pockets, put on my helmet and sunglasses, and then took a little long putting on my arm coolers.  Given this heat, I was not going without them, but in previous races, it has taken me a mile or two to roll them up on my arms.  I've always left them rolled up, slipped them onto my wrists in T1 and then rolled them up while on the bike.  Today I decided to take the time in transition to roll them up and save myself the hassle on the bike.  It may still have saved me time but it still took longer than expected.

Note to Self:  Practice putting on arm coolers while wet

Once those were on, I was off.  I started the Garmin while I was exiting transition.  (Note: I do not swim with my watch, only the quick release band.  I leave the watch itself on my bike and then put it on my wrist in T2). 

BIKE

The bike course is one of the simplest I've ever seen.  There are five turns on the entire course and two of those are out of an into transition; so really there are only 3 turns.  And they are all right hand turns!!  I promise you cannot get lost here!  It also has a total of 351 feet of elevation gain.  This is flat!

You start out on Hwy 53 going 1.5 miles before taking a right and going 8.5 miles on Hwy 701.  Both of these roads are smooth with good riding surface.  At mile 11, you take a right onto Hwy 210 where you stay for 25 miles.  Hwy 210 is a smooth road to drive on, but a little bumpy on the bike.  If you stay within a foot of the white line (edge of the road), the surface is much smoother.  This road is open in places but has a fair amount of tree coverage providing both intermittent shade as well as a buffer from any wind.  The terrain would be considered rolling for a NC race.  It is enough of a change in grade to allow you to change gears regularly which is a nice mental break.  The last turn before transition puts you onto Hwy 53, which is much more open and as I've been told is always a headwind.  The road was 90% repaved as of race day and I presume the remaining 5 miles will finished shortly after.

Aid stations are at mile 22 & 39 and offer only water (no sport drink, gels, or food).  Both stations were staffed by 2 volunteers each handing out Deer Park sport top bottles that were NOT chilled.  Do not count on cold water.

As I left transition, someone was already yelling "Mount!" at me.  The mount line is roughly 5 run steps from the bike exit.  There is no way I'm mounting that close when I have another 90 degree turn 5 steps later.  For safety reasons, I ran the extra steps, entered the main road, and mounted there.  Since no one came after me, I decided it was a legal move.  I'm used to being yelled at for pushing my dismount RIGHT up to the line, but this was a first for waiting until much later to mount.  Flying mount and I'm away!

I pedaled for a bit, slipped my feet in the shoes, pedaled some more, pulled the straps tight, and was off.  Almost immediately, my left inner thigh had a rather sharp cramp.  'Uh-oh' was the only thing I could think.  I had been worried about what effect the heat may have on me.  I'm coming from CT and NC isn't exactly "cool" this time of year even for the locals.  I immediately began thinking that I may have to deal with cramping throughout the race.  But don't dwell on it!  I kept pedaling.  I coasted with the leg straight, coasted with it pulled up, I moved my knee out to stretch it, I rubbed it a bit (all of this within some 15s).  It eased a little; enough to pedal without much pain, so I pushed on and began sipping my UCan hydrate.  For the next 11 miles, I was focused on getting in my liquids to mitigate any additional cramping.  My leg was fine by mile 4.  Whether it was my focus on hydration or just dumb luck that the cramp wasn't heat related, I didn't have another cramp all day.

I quickly found an effort level to stick to.  As you may recall, I do not use any metric for pacing.  I find an effort I can hold and stick to it while shooting to kick it up a notch for a negative split on the back half.  My cadence tended to sit around 85-90 rpm most of the race.  In some of the later miles, I found it drop into 80-85 and still feel fine, but that felt really low in the first 20 miles or so.

Around mile 6.5, one person passed me.  That would be the only one of the day.  Otherwise, I passed 7 or 8 other athletes (3 girls and at least 4 guys). As nice as that was, it meant that the I only saw 7 or 8 people the entire time.  Twice I looked behind me and there was no one.  I might as well have been out for a long ride.  Very different from the bigger races.

Funny enough, despite the tiny nature of this race (compared to say WTC), I saw two officials drive by twice each.  I've been in IM races with huge packs drafting and not once did I see an official.  My hat is off to the USAT officials at White Lake!

Most of the ride was nothing to write home about.  Hwy 701 went well.  I peed quickly at mile 11 and didn't do so again until roughly 9pm that evening.  I managed to get in about 75% of a water bottle before the aid station at mile 22.  I may have gotten in 75% of another bottle along with 1.5 packs of Powerbar Energy Blasts before the aid station at 39.  I always bring my custom Infinit formula with me, but I rarely ever use it.  I find I take more liquid in when I separate my carb intake into solid food.  From mile 35-45, I got in my 16oz. coke.  I was likely low on liquid, but I felt consistent and solid getting off the bike.

As for terrain, I enjoyed the rolling feel of Hwy 210 though the bumpy road got annoying at times.  But oh man!  When we turned onto 53, that wind tunnel hits you.  It only took a minute or so for me to start saying goodbye to my time goals for the day.  I had hoped to go sub-4:30 with a sub-2:25/2:20 bike.  However, I had 20 miles on Hwy 53 and knew that even 10 miles of that wind would force me to go out of my race zone in order to hold onto that time goal.  That wasn't going to happen.  I stuck to effort and plugged along.

One worthy note was that as I turned onto Hwy 53, the police had stopped 2 cars to let me turn safely.  Once I had turned, the cars went by.  The first drove by at an acceptable speed and moved ahead.  The second came by a little slowly.  I figured they were just being cautious and nice, but they continued to only move 0.05 mile ahead of me and then pulled over to the side of the road.  Immediately I began thinking defensively... 'Is this person going to pull out in front of me?  I can't see them in the car - are they going to open their door?  Is anyone behind me?  Can I pull out into the lane to avoid this Bozo?'  I pulled out into the road a bit and with little room left noticed that they had let up on their brakes making slow forward progress.  'Here it comes.  They're going to pull out in front of me.  Here goes my race!'  Then I hear it....

"Kurt!!  Heeeeeeyyyy!!"

It was Papa Middleton; my best friends dad who I grew up with back home.  Haha!!  I heard later all about how he just happened to arrive at that intersection in time to see me make the turn.  What ironic timing!!

Making it back into the park area, I passed two more cyclists and felt good; happy to be out of that wind.  I pulled the arm coolers down, slipped my feet out, pedaled my way into transition, and dismounted.

Overall, a solid bike effort.  The wind will have slowed me down and I didn't get in as much liquid as I wanted, but I still felt good. 


TRANSITION 2

At this point in the day, transition is taken over by both half and Olympic athletes.  Everyone follows the same path, so there is no confusion at all.  You bike in on one end, rack the bike, change gear, and run out the opposite end.  However, instead of running straight (which would lead you back towards the lake), you wrap right around the transition, running right by the bike in/out side.  Again, the ground is grass/dirt so you may want a separate towel to brush off your feet before putting on socks/shoes.

This again took a little longer than expected.  As I ran in with the bike, I had the great idea of grabbing my watch off the bike to save time.  My front wheel quickly veered into me and I dropped the watch.

Note to Self:  Leave the watch on the bike until it's racked!

My  helmet and glasses came off smooth.  I unzipped my Castelli Free Speed jersey and pulled.  It didn't come off.  I pulled again.  The sleeve was stuck on my arm.  'Thanks Castelli, but I'm not that bulky.'  Again, pulled and it wouldn't budge.  I had to get my fingers under the sleeve to pull it off.  *sigh*

Note to Self:  Practice taking off a wet Castelli Free Speed Jersey

I sat down and realized how much dirt was on my feet.  I quickly brushed them off with my transition towel, put on my socks/shoes, grabbed my gear and ran.  I had my race belt and visor on before exiting transition.  I put the half jersey on once I was out onto the road (straight and no worry about bumps in the grass).


RUN

The run course is an out and back with a short out and back included on the out bound journey.  It is 99% open (no shade), so plan on being beaten down by the weather (sun, rain, hail, etc).  The course has 315 of elevation gain (only 36 feet less than the bike!).  Aid stations are roughly every mile.  However, between station 4 and 5, there is a sizeable distance (I would presume 1.5+ miles).  Aid stations are manned by 2-5 volunteers.  At most, someone is out ahead asking what you'd like.  Stations #1 & 2 (you hit #2 twice in the small O&B and #1 is the final station before the finish) are water and Gatorade only.  All the other stations have ice and wet towels. 

Runners run out along the right side of the road and back on the same side (left on the way back).  Be aware if this bothers your joints (US athletes are used to running with a left sloping tamber of the road, not the right which can affect your hips, knees, ankles, and lower back).   


My goal for this race was to go sub-1:30.  I have only done it once with a few 1:30-1:33s.  This time, instead of my typical process of going by HR and effort, my coach and I decided to target 7:00/mile for the first 6 miles.  Evenly split, a 1:30 half would be 6:52/mile.  I wanted to be conservative, get in my nutrition, and leave myself enough energy to have a push in the back half.  As an athlete, this type of racing scares me because I typically am not all with it mentally at the end and have trouble pushing at that point.  However, as a coach, I know that holding back and leaving yourself that mental faculty late in the race is the way to go.  So we tried it.

The plan worked.  ...somewhat.

Once I was out onto the road, I put on the Castelli Half Jersey (my Rev3 version of the sports bra), and immediately started checking my watch.  I felt like I was at an easy pace.  This wasn't a real push.  I could hold this for awhile.  Unfortunately, I was under 6:00/mile.  'Seriously?'  My effort based runs always have me at 6:00/mile in the first mile but it still feels like a bit more of a push.  I wanted to avoid the drop off in pace, so I kept pulling back.  Mile was still clipped off at a 6:10 pace.  I kept slowing down.

Unfortunately, something else deviated my mental focus.  At the first turn, the three volunteers were sitting off under a tree.  I can't argue against them wanting to stay cool.  I kept running straight towards the intersection where I made a right hand turn.  Behind me I heard them say "Go Right."  I turned around thinking 'Yeah, I am.  Why are you yelling that at me now?  I'm already passed you.'  Then I saw another athlete taking a right much sooner, running behind the gas station on the corner and into an aid station.  I was already half way into the turn, so I kept going.  I missed the first aid station completely.  I am thankful that the volunteers were out on the road directing athletes in towards the aid station on my return trip.  I can't be angry though (despite what was in my head at the time).  It's my job to know the course.

Either way, as I ran into mile 2, my adrenaline was a little higher and it was harder to slow myself down.  It went off at 6:28/mile.  Still needed to slow down.  I kept trying.

We turned off of the main road onto a side street to do a small out & back.  This was my first opportunity to see who was in front of me.  One guy was already done with the O&B (about 1.5 miles).  Even if he was from the first wave, there was no way he was only 5 minutes ahead of me.  Then a couple more guys passed.  I knew I was still in the top pack, but I didn't know who was from what wave.  I couldn't make out ages on the leg (despite trying), so I had to stick to my own race and focus on the 7:00/mile pace.

Aid station 2 (the first one I got to partake in) was ice and water for me.  Water to sip and pour over the head and ice into the bra and hands.  That felt good!  And the water sat well in my stomach which is always the first test.  We hit the turn around, came back, and this time I drank a full cup of gatorade, water over the head, and more ice.  That was my pattern for the rest of the race; get liquids in and stay cool!

Mile 3 was 6:44/mile.  I was doing better, but despite being happy about banked time, I was fearful that it would come back to bite me as usual.  In mile 4, I had to stop at an aid station for maybe 2 seconds to grab all the cups.  That mile clipped off at 6:59/mile.  Without giving it much thought, I locked onto that and let my body sit at that effort with a quick stop to grab cups at each station.  I was at my 7:00/mile pace!  I held that through mile 9.

I had three mental struggles during this run.

Between stations #4 and 5, there is a long distance; I would venture to guess 1.5 miles or a bit more.  That distance really wore on me and my mental state started drifting downward.  Maybe I need work on the mental factor, maybe I was overheating, maybe I need mental work in the heat.  Who knows, but I really wish they could move them closer.  As soon as I got to the next station, I felt better and the pace picked back up.  During this stretch (and a bit beyond), I switched my Garmin which had lap pace and HR on the screen to the menu screen.  There was no use in focusing on pace, so I took that away from myself.  Focus on what you can change!  Once my mood picked back up, I switched back.

The next was the mile markers.  As I was running, I noticed that there were miles spray painted on the road.  At one point, I ran over number "9" which faced the other direction.  I got excited.  I thought I recalled mile 9 being at the end of the turn around.  That meant that I had less than a mile before the turn around.  Within 0.25 mile, I saw a lawn sign which read "Mile 7. Run Course."  'Wait a second...'  I quickly realized I should follow the lawn signs; I believe the spray painted numbers were for the sprint race bike course the next day.  But that meant that I had farther to go.  My mood dropped immediately.

Thankfully, that mental low was boosted by the turn around coming roughly 0.5 mile before I expected.  As I rounded the turn, I told the two kids standing there 'You guys are awesome!  I've been looking for you!'  Making comments or jokes is one of the best ways I've found to keep my mood up.  As soon as I made the turn, my pace picked up a little and stayed there for about a mile.  Sometimes the smallest things make a huge difference!

Then at mile 10, the paced dropped off.  This was again when I was between the two stations with a much larger than 1 mile distance between them.  Maybe that did it.  Maybe it was the fact that I neglected to use any of my gels.  Either way, I dropped to a 7:20-7:30 pace and couldn't recover.  In fact, I battled myself mentally and did end up walking twice for 2-5 seconds each.  Both times my inner athlete pushed me along and I opted to slow down in order to maintain forward progress at 7:30/mile instead of walking at 15-20/mile.  Again, I switched the watch to the menu screen.  There was no use in having my motivation killed by seeing the pace. 




With about 0.5 mile to go, I picked up the pace and turned the Garmin screen back on to show overall average pace.  I was at 6:59/mile with a 171 HR.  As I pushed, it jumped to 175.  I focused on holding it there.  For a quarter mile it felt fine but then it was its own form of torture as my breathing intensified.  But it's half a mile, I can hold this; the finish line is RIGHT THERE!

As I entered the finish chute, Jim was there to snap a good picture (nice job dude!). 





I ran straight through the chute, collapsed in the shade, and tried my best to get my breathing under control.  Thankfully, another spectator/athlete grabbed me a water and I was good.  I sat there for a good 5 minutes!

Overall, the run wasn't what I had hoped, but it still went well.  The heat was similar to Eagleman last June and I broke down much more at that race (1:40 finish, 7:39/mile).  Knowing that I had held it to roughly 7:00/mile with only a few seconds spent at each aid station was a big improvement.  I cannot be unhappy about that. 

POST-RACE

Once past the finish line, SetUp Events had the required medal and water sitting in ice in a kiddie pool.  Just beyond that is the large pavilion where they have seating, more drinks (pop/soda, Gatorade, and water), snacks, and Dominoes pizza.  White Lake is only 30 feet from the pavilion and athletes are welcome to get in to cool off or warm down.

If you parked in the FFA Center, you are not allowed to leave until 1pm, but you are welcome to gather your things from transition at any time.  Awards for the Olympic were at 1pm.  Awards for the Half were at 2pm.  All top finishers received a White Lake Spring Half thermos.


Once I had recovered my breathing and my HR had dropped (that took 3 bottles of cold water), I made it back to my car where I laid down for 5 minutes before having the mental desire to start changing.  I did so and grabbed my gear from transition, finishing the rest of the liter of Coke I had brought in the process; quick carbs and caffeine!  I took my goggles and hopped into White Lake.  One thing I have learned is that if I am able to swim post-race, my recovery is significantly faster.  It may be the mobility, the cold therapy, or a mixture, but it is a staple for me.

While I was in the water, I spoke to another local athlete who was headed to a banquet that evening his company stuck him with going to (I hope it went okay for him!).  In asking for my name, he asked "Are you from one of the college teams?"  Haha.  Thanks!  I know I look young when I shave, but that's a decent stretch! 



Proof that being active keeps you young!

I did stick around for awards at 2pm before heading home.  I was 5th overall and 1st in my age group.  That is Thomas on the left and Mike on the right; both great guys!  While I waited around, I had some food and did a good amount of mobility to try and mitigate the soreness I'm sure would come.





After getting home, I showered and headed out to visit friends.  We had pizza and chatted before I left to go to a local production of a Shakespeare comedy.   Surprisingly, the only issue I had the rest of the day was that my left knee was painful (likely a tight ITB).  It wasn't until the next morning that the soreness set in.  Oooo!!!  But would that stop me?  No!  We went rock climbing that afternoon, which was actually quite good for the body.  I needed to move. 


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DATA ANALYSIS

I'll start by saying that I have no right to overly complain about this race.  I had a strong time which is quite consistent with my previous races.  However, I will not lie and tell you that I am completely happy.  I tend to pick out what I can fix first before I acknowledge the positives.  So the data always gets digested!!  Here we go!

I do not race with time.  I have had too many races where a bad time gets in my head and ruins the day.  I truly believe (as an athlete and coach) that most of us should be racing without time on our mini super computer watches.  So... the only thing I knew when I finished was that I had a roughly 7:00/mile pace on the run.  I asked Jim what time it was and based on that, I figured I had a 4:35-4:40 finish.  I fully admit, that does not make me happy.  Yes, it was a hot day.  Yes, it was a warm run.  But I wanted a sub-4:30 in optimal conditions.  However, I took a breathe and knew that I could pick things apart in the data.  



Swim = 31:20 (4th fastest)
T1 = 2:43
Bike = 2:28:26 (11th fastest)
T2 = 1:48
Run = 1:30:41 (4th fastest)
FINISH = 4:34:55 

SWIM
If that time is correct, then I swam WAY off course!  Based on that time, I would call that course a 1.35 mile swim instead of 1.2.  I haven't swum over 30 minutes since 2014.  My normal time is around 28 minutes.  Not that it's not possible, but it shocked me.  I did reach out to some other competitors who had gps data.  Their distance ranged from 2236 to 2450 yards (1.27 to 1.39 miles).  No one swims the perfect straight line, so we expect the gps to be slightly over (if it can be assumed to be accurate to start) and I don't know how well these guys sighted.  But given that not a single competitor broke 30 minutes, I am calling this swim long.   


BIKE
 In optimal conditions, I had hoped for a 2:25, maybe even 2:20.  My bike strength had increased since last fall but I didn't know where that would put me.  This course, however, was a bit windy and I knew my top ability wasn't going to show in the time.  No worries!  I know that a 2:28 can be bested.  But I also did a 2:26:11 at Eagleman last year.  So can I go sub-2:25?

My HR of 158 bpm is typical.  No surprise there.

I may look at getting a power meter in order to better compare the data post-race.  Either way, much more cycling is in my future.  I was 4th fastest on the swim and run.  If I was first on the swim, I could have gained 1:02.  If I was 1st on the run, I could have gained 5:07.  However, moving to fist on the bike would have saved me >12 minutes.  That's where I can make the biggest dent. 

RUN
I have run one sub-1:30 70.3 run and I wanted another!  The heat was going to be a factor for sure since my 1:29 run was on a cloudy day in the mid-60s.  Overall, I can't complain about 40s away from my goal while admitting that I lost roughly 75s in the final 3 miles from slowing down.  That would have been my sub-1:30 right there.

The goal was to run 7:00/mile for 6 miles and kick it up from there.  It took me 3 miles before I got that right.  That may have come back to bite me at mile 10.  But I held strong to that pace for 7 miles!  And I only broke down with 3 miles to go, not 5, 7, or 10!  I do think that staying slower at the start was a better decision (especially with the heat).  It allowed me to get more liquid in and stay cooler.  However, I should have attempted taking a gel so that I could rule that out for reasons why I slowed down in the final 3 miles.

I am looking at the options of doing a half marathon for testing purposes for practicing the mental side of pushing that back half. 

In the end, my total time was not what I wanted, but as you can see below, my times have been quite consistent which is something I AM proud of.  I've gone under 4:45 since for 7 out of 7 races since 2015. 


IN THE END

The White Lake Spring Half was a solid event.  SetUp did a wonderful job putting on the race and I thoroughly enjoyed my racecation.  As always, there are things to head back to the drawing board with, but that is the nature of the beast. 

Next up is Rev3 Quassy Olympic on June 3rd!  Let's bring it! 

Thanks to everyone who made this day possible.  Thanks to my coach Charlotte Saunders for putting up with me, Jim & Blair for hosting me in NC, Newington Bike for my race bike, Castelli & Rev3 for one awesome race kit, Powerbar for making some killer nutrition products, my triathlon club HEAT for letting me be quirky through the sport, and always my family for not thinking I'm "too" crazy.

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QUESTIONS
1.  Have you ever had your swim cap come off during the swim?
It's happened to me twice.  Honestly, I like when it does as it keeps me cooler.

2.  If you were to choose the perfect weather for race day, what would it be?
My perfect race day would be cloudy and in the 60s.  The swim would be incredibly windy, but it would settle down during the bike.  On the run, it would rain.

3.  What is your favorite post race activity?
I used to eat and nap all day.  Now, it's swim, eat, and keep the body moving!

DREAM.  BELIEVE.  ACHIEVE.