Vegas 70.3 this year was one of the toughest races I think I have ever done, and all in the last 60 min of the race. Wow, that was tough.
I have been trying to take some next steps this season, which is always tough. The plan was to try to see if I could improve my running, which ironically is the thing that I seem to be struggling with the most, even more than in years past. It is a tough situation because when you want to try to improve something you my definition are going to have to do things differently then you have before.
As I said in my last post, I think Mat and I am changing some good things, but like swimming, just takes time to see adjustments. The obvious fear is the stuff we are changing isn’t the right stuff and that I am actually not getting better. This is actually OK too, as you simply make another adjustment and move on. The tough part is waiting to find out which the answer is. I am seeing enough stuff in training however to think we are making mainly good changes.
Last year I was too run down all the time. Tired, probably close to over training and by the end of the season was not having my best performances. This year, we wanted to try to hold fitness off a bit until later, and then be fresher for bigger races like Vegas, Kona, and IMCOZ. Then you throw into it things like 105+ degrees with humidity at Vegas, and it’s very hard to tell where you stand. This is the frustrating part to me.
On to the race.
I wanted to swim pretty conservatively. As I said in my last post I think Steelhead I just went too hard in the swim, and it cost me the rest of the race. I didn’t want this to happen in Vegas and I just trusted I was going to have a good split even if just cruising. I started even let some guy lead, but decided after about 400-500 it was too slow, and I went around pretty easily. 27 min swim, looking back very good in the AG, nothing to really report here except I could have gone harder, but decided not too and think it was overall the right call.
On the Bike the plan this time was to hold back slightly and like the swim know that I was probably going to have a competitive bike, even if not trying to do so. This was a HUGE leap of faith, and a plan I agreed to try. I waited until about an hour in before I turned it up a little bit, boy was that tough to hold back. I actually had a couple guys pass me in the first hour which is not something I am used too and had to hold my ego in check, and let it happen. I got them all back by the end, but still decided to chill every time I was over 30mph and remind myself they measure times and velocity not power numbers.
To be honest I knew 2:20 was a going to be a top ag bike split, and I was about right on with that. Watching myself drop off that was tough but I stuck to the agreed plan. At the very end of the bike I caught Tim Hola, which was shocking. I have so much respect for Tim. By far one of the best people in the sport as a person, but also one of the most consistent competitors. I knew I had 10 min on him as he started 2 waves in front of me. So I felt pretty good with how I was feeling that he would out run me, but he wouldn’t out run me by 10 min with how I was feeling coming off. SoI chilled in T2 (the difference here actually cost me about 4-5 spots at the end of the day, but at the time, it was part of the plan. We knew it was going to be hot, the redbull I wanted was like 150 degrees and I got a cup with ice and drank it before taking off.
Starting the run I felt very controlled. The new form was clicking great and with all the turnarounds I saw I was like 2:30 behind Tim (so actually 7:30 up on him) and Sami was like 6:30 up. I thought he went in the first wave too so I figured I was leading at that point. It turns out he went in the 2nd wave, so he was only 5 min, not 10 difference in my start time.
Plan was to chill the first loop then gradually build. I saw with the “Chill first loop I was holding those guys steady, so decided on the 2nd loop to just stay that pace and hold the same spot. That went pretty well (went through 6.4 in 45 min) until the end of the loop. There was an aid station at the end of it or about mile 7.5 I’d say, but then not another for almost 2 miles. In that period of time I got SO hot I thought I was in serious trouble. I needed water but the water they were handing out was warm, and it didn’t help at all. You had to dig your own ice out of a bucket, which I tried to do but the ice was so large it was pretty worthless. Around mile 9-9.5 my vision started to get blurry and dark and it became hard to breathe, I had to stop and walk, or I literally thought I was going to pass out. I lost several min on that last 1.5 uphill or whatever it was and that was pretty much the end of my race.
So am I happy? Yes and no. I got my butt kicked by the first two guys, they had amazing races and they just were better that day. Well done to those guys! 3-13th I feel like I could have been in any of those spots, and I was close to all of them. Like less than 4 min off 4th I think, 90 sec from 8th. Those guys beat me fair and square on the same course, in the same conditions but I was in the mix and could have gone either way. Those guys are all good and I am happy with that company at the end of a day.
The tough part is I don’t ever remember feeling bad on my run. I went from “feeling fine, to I think I am going to die” – literally. There wasn’t a time where I had to think about how to pace differently, or anything like that. So it becomes super hard to figure out if the plan was a good one to hold back on the bike, or if I had biked harder would I have ran about the same. I can never tell. I can say my watts were about 30 less than last year so I know I could have biked harder, but could have meant I felt the heat sooner, or not. This is the main frustration. I am OK with having a bad plan, and knowing how to adjust, what’s tough is just not knowing.
Well, I have to get ready for Kona now. I am going to stick with the same game plans Mat and I have been discussing and try it through Hawaii. I think I need to finish the plan through and then make adjustments if needed. I hope it works, I think it will. If not, we will adjust and move on. Eventually getting better and learning as a coach the entire process.
Off to train.