Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughts from Austin 70.3

I should clarify that title: these are my thoughts about the race; the race itself did not have any thoughts (that it shared with me anyway).

I'm not really going to go into the boring details of my heart rate, watts and pace for the race, as they're not that compelling for the majority of folks who read this blog (all .5 of you).

Here's a quick recap though:
  • I swam with the front group in my wave and hung with them despite a few surges on the leader's part. This is the first time I ever tried to go with the fast guys in a big race and not just start out steady and build into the race. Things only fell apart when we rolled into the wave ahead of us and our pack disintegrated. I swam the rest solid, finishing fairly high in the overall.
  • Just past five miles into the bike there's a sharp right turn that immediately goes into a steep little hill. I hadn't previewed the course the day before, so I had no idea about the hill. Needless to say, I dropped my chain and had to get off my bike to fix it (and to avoid falling over). When I tried to get going again, I couldn't clip my right foot in. It turned out that I had broken my cleat when I stepped off the bike. So, I rode the next 49+ miles at a lower effort to keep my foot on the pedal. Still PRed the distance though.
  • I had gotten over my grumpiness from the bike early enough by focusing on having a good run. It sure wasn't a land speed record, but it was the fastest I've ever run in a half ironman. I came within 10 seconds of even-splitting the two loops, mostly with a very uncomfortable back half. I moved myself up a good ways in my age group with that effort.
  • Mishaps or not, I still went the fastest I've ever gone over a half ironman; with my previous best time on a pancake-flat course in south Jersey in the early spring. Austin was hot and hilly, not a pancake-flat course in south Jersey.

So what did I learn?
  • I can swim with the big dogs -- at least those in the AG ranks -- without detonating myself.
  • I should always take the time to preview the course if I want to do well. No more "surprise" hills.
  • I can still race well relative to myself despite setbacks. I knew I was never really in the hunt for a real AG placing -- my bike and run aren't anywhere near the leaders. But, there is some potential there; I just need to find the race that the real fast guys all skip.

What's up next?
Not much actually. I've got a couple local running races between now and the end of the year. Then it's a matter of picking a race for early spring: big event and attempt to PR or smaller event to race for placing (I was only half kidding about avoiding the fast guys, my fragile ego can only handle so much whupping).

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