"I like you. I'll gladly sit down and have dinner with you after the race. But when the gun goes off, I pretty much hate you, and I want to stomp your guts out. That's racing." -J Rapp

"the best night of my life.....
...in the most beautiful place on earth"

"It's just one, long, tedious conversation with yourself" -Paula Newby Fraser

"Have faith- trust in the plan - the breakthrough will come. I promise. " Woo

"You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime.” -Mark Allen

“The only time you can be brave is when you’re afraid.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Fake-Racer: Mountain Man 70.3 Race Report

Wow, I haven't posted since May 27...since a week after IM Texas.  That seems like an eternity--2.5 months and no blabbering about my triathlon life.  I'm sure some of you welcomed the break from it ;-)  Wouldn't it be great to hear that I have rekindled the fire, am ready to go to battle at another IM, broke through previously unreachable levels of fitness???  Well, it's opposite day!  I have successfully broken myself (success in failure---love it).  Before this past weekend, I was about 90% sure I was not in a good place with this triathlon hobby.  Workouts were dragging, the temps have been consistently over 110 degrees, the pool has been 90+ degrees, and my general excitement towards triathlon has wavered. I guess that is what you get when you train for 4, almost 5 Ironmans over 2.5 years straight with almost no breaks.  Everyone says that this type of stupidity is, well, stupid...I guess I just needed to experience failure for myself while I tried to prove them wrong.

Mountain Man 70.3 Race Results Here

Mountain Man 70.3 this past weekend was the confirming race for all of the above...under the circumstances, I was actually happy with the result.  The only reason why:  I didn't want to race, was completely flat, and was thinking "DNF" on the bike and run for no other reason than a genuine lack of desire.  Just as I did for IM Texas, I headed to this race without my loved ones.  The thought of waking them at 4 am to drive to Transition sounded God-awful, so Jenny and I decided I'd head up solo for this one.  The Swetonics graciously took me in for friday/saturday night---an amazing family, and as they did last year, put on a fabulous pre-race ONE dinner that is a highlight of being a ONE member.  The Apples to Apples Game on friday night---a good laugh!    Catching up with "the usuals" is always a great time at Saturday's dinner...some fun pre-race banter, and I knew I had no business talking the talk...

I went through all the pre-race formalities like usual, and felt....blah.  I put on my trusty dusty Sailfish ONE wetsuit, went for a warm up swim, and STILL no butterflies, nervousness, excitement.  I've always told myself that when the time comes that I feel like this, it is time to reconsider what I am doing and why.  I think if I had Jenny and the kids at the race with me, I would have been fired up... but they weren't, and I felt like I had no reason to race, no spark, and the people who matter the most and have put up with my training aren't here to share the excitement of raceday.   This issue has to stop...no more racing without them there, period.  Their faces and cheers get me through the "suck" parts of racing---it makes it tolerable to suffer knowing that they are cheering away hopefully loving that their papa is staying in good health.

So, countdown from 10, horn/gun/whatever triggered the start on this day, and we are off.  The hardest part about this race, for those that don't know, is the 7,000' elevation..."it's like breathing through a straw."  My warmup was comfortable, so I just went with a steady pace strategy, and thought I would go hard if I had company off the line.  After 15 strokes I was clear (well, someone was on my feet 10 strokes in---I imagine it was Brian???), and I settled in conservatively so I wouldn't be gasping for air and dead in the water at the first buoy (that would be embarrassing...).  Rounding the first buoy at about 250 yards in, I rolled onto my back as I approached to get a good look at the competition, and to my delight I was clear by about 10 yards while swimming comfortable, smooth, and in control. My stroke felt perfect, dialed in, clean, fluid, and easy---automatic ;-)  Chris (coach Chris) has been an amazing swim/bike/run coach---he has gotten me to the front with a mediocre background in swimming at best (I vividly remember being DQ'ed in the 100 IM swimming for the Marinwood Waterdevils when I was 8, then decided I liked baseball and soccer more ;-)  So for those that think "the swim is the swim" and just "get through it," I am living proof that attention to good stroke mechanics and 3 swims a week (consistently and swimming with a purpose) is all it takes to be efficient in the water ;-)...so back to the race:  about half way to the second and final turn buoy, I flipped again, and was happy to see about a 100 yard gap, and no pack formation.  All in all, I give my swim an "A-"....yeah, I could have pushed the pedal down a bit more, but I swam straight as an arrow, and carried the pace until my hand hit the sand.  I took my second straight swim prime at Mountain Man 70.3; too bad its a triathlon and not just an open water swim.  I was happy to see a 28:xx on the clock, but then came a bit of a disaster.  I felt like I was walking on glass on the decently long run to my bike.  At my bike, getting my wetsuit off felt like I had never taken one off---it seemed to take me 90 seconds to strip down and off.  Finally off, helmet on, shoes on, nutrition into pocket, grab the bike, and I was out onto the bike course....which was prompted by Mr Stupid Mcstupidpants losing the top of my TorHans Aero Bottle because I never secured it after filling it in the morning. And as Napolean Dynamite would say "IDIOT!"

So here I am just like last year....the hunted.  Being first out of the water, while it's a great feeling, its also a horrible one all the same.  Last year, I took it out a bit too hard (averaging ~245W) on the uphill all the way to the Lake Mary turnaround only to average 225W for the entire ride, so I decided to hopefully learn from that.  I targeted 225W for this same stretch, and hit it right on the button...and you would think that I would be in great shape to keep the 225W average going, right?  Well, this is where I got confirmation that I was dead flat.  I went from feeling "well, this is good, you are at the front..." to "geez, I think I am going to DNF and not even try to run." I was conservative, and even that was too much to ask of myself.   I watched Brian Folts pass me like I was standing still, then had 2 more guys slip by, all while I watched the average watts plummet without any reaction in my mind to what was going on.  Going off the hunting metaphor, I stood broadside for whoever wanted to take a shot at me.  I "felt" good, but my mind was not into it...it was checked out and didn't want anything to do with what it takes to successfully race a 70.3---there would be no "embracing the suck" on this day.  I ended up passing a guy on the way back in, so it wasn't all bad (he would hammer the uphills and I would pass him on the flats and downhills---he needs to flatten the course out with his efforts).  A 5 Hour Energy bailed me out a bit at the half way point with a bit of a boost, and my nutrition/hydration plan worked perfectly as well, so at least I had that going for me (one good takeaway point...).  I made my way into transition and felt much the way I did at IM Texas, almost identical actually, yet I was sitting in 4th.   So the grade here: C- at best....I hung in there and rode a 2:31, but I averaged 202W, which is less than I have ridden for any of my Ironmans.  I'll take a 2:31 while riding at that low of an effort, but I am going backwards, especially compared to last year.  I know it's mental, which negates any fitness gains I was attempting to test.  I also know I need a new bike fit---I was moving all over and my position felt unpowerful.  I almost felt like someone had lowered my seat...no one did, but it needs a-raisin'.

It was a victory at this point just to make it out of T2...but again I "felt" great (duh, riding 202W is a nice aerobic training day...) and my primary goal for doing this race was to see where I'm at, especially on the run.  It seems like every run this summer has either been on the edge of heat stroke or been cut short to avoid it.  I was having a lot of questions about it's effect, fearing the worst, hoping for the best, but on this day with my mental status, I didn't even put up a good fight.  I did manage to make it to mile 5 in one piece (although a pit stop was needed) and I never broke pace.  But then came a rough patch and I just gave up, and the walkathon began.  Last year the race went very similar, and I tanked it a bit on the run there, but this time I lost interest.  The only person I even tried to hold off was Dan Beaver in the final half mile, but he had flatted on the bike, and here I am just fake-racing my way across the finish line 5.8 seconds ahead of him.  The results don't show it to many of you, but I know this was my worst race since I started racing again by a longshot...insert your favorite quotation about failure here :-)  "It's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get up."

I was embarrassed to pick up my 2nd place plaque in the 40-44 AG....I didn't deserve it, and only placed that high because Dan Beaver had a flat and another good buddy Jonathan Coffen rode off course for an extra 6 miles.  At least I can say I stayed on course (another win!  sorry JC, had to say it)  It was great to share the course with Ponch, and even more great to see him in such great fitness heading into Vegas 70.3 WC...he's gotta be one of the most fit 49 year olds on the planet!

On the way home I told Jenny I was taking a break, and I will finally listen to myself.  I've told Jenny this many times, and she is at the point where she doesn't believe me anymore, but for the rest of the year I am taking it easy, light, and fun.  Chris and I believe this all stems from the heat, but also from not having a goal...100% hit the tail on the donkey.  This sport has become an integral part of my life, my happiness, and my ability to stay in shape, but we (the fam) need a break from IM training, and even 70.3 training.  As JD says "Go Fast, have a Blast," that's my plan---I have never focused solely on Olympic Distance racing, and it will be a break compared to the past 3 years.  I'm looking for a FUN goal for the winter, so if you have any ideas, I have an ear that will listen...Ultraman, RAAM, the English Channel are not good examples ;-)