Taking time off from triathlon is always a leap of faith. What happens when you go back? What if you forget how to race? What if you suddenly suck at it, or it’s not fun? What if you have so much caffeine that you suddenly blast off into outer space? These questions and more will be answered in this post…
Jack’s Generic two years in a row has proved that #offseason over summer is a really great thing and five weeks is definitely not long enough to lose enough fitness to care about.
It was a clash of things over the week:
- Rested legs vs lack of training. (obviously)
- Crappy sleep during the week vs AMAZING race night sleep. I was at over 4 hours slept debt for the week against my 8-per night minimum, but I fell asleep at 7:45 and slept almost 9 hours Saturday night. Unheard of race day sleep!
- Obsessing over the race vs not even thinking about it. It really didn’t hit me I was racing until I picked up my packet. I didn’t lay my stuff out until after dinner on Saturday. I didn’t type up or think about goals for it.
- Being underfed vs being a few lbs lighter. I had been at the lower calorie range for the last few weeks, but I was ~5 ish lbs lighter than when I raced last season.
My enthusiasm wasn’t all there this week. Just like last year, I wondered “why the hell did I sign up for this race?”, because who races well after 5 weeks of slacking? But, Saturday, I felt a twinge of “yay race” when I picked up the packet. Coupled with the amazing sleep and the fact that I ingested the proper amount of caffeine on race day morning (see above), I was peppy and happy and had the thought that I was just ready to go for racing hard, whatever that happened to be that day.
Pre race stuff: ate kind bar (going to switch over to more carbs, but I haven’t tried it before AM workouts yet so stuck with what I knew), had purple stuff, set up transition, pottied a few times, ran about half a mile with strides and WOW my legs were feeling great, got kicked out of transition because it was time to go, got a warmup swim, and then stood on the beach with Zliten and B and M and waited for our time to jump in line for the time trial start.
Due to the massive amount of Hydrilla in the lake, they skipped the normal course and bushwhacked the nature through this weird out and back. I can’t thank Hi 5 Race Productions enough for doing this – it would have been AWFUL to race through as it was. However, this resulted in a lot of dodging people going my way because the course was very narrow, not to mention avoiding stray swimmers coming toward me that were off course. No head on collisions, but there were a few close calls.
Besides playing crazy swim taxi, I felt pretty strong, passing people left and right, and I got passed maybe… once. I slowed down a little bit coming back. It was into the sun and I didn’t have a good judgment on how gassed I really was without training lately so I tried to stay… moderately gassed. 🙂
Swim was a little long, my time was 1:52/100 yard for 550 meters on the garmin – not my best, but under the circumstances, I felt like it was a good swim for me.
Swim time: 11:14/500m. 6/20 AG, 47/152 gender, 105/283 overall. 1:27 faster than last year. Very happy with the placement and the amount of time I took off from last year!
Long run over the rocky beach, and my feet just don’t love that, so all these people I passed on the swim went right by me. Ugh. Once I got to concrete I picked up the pace and got to my bike and didn’t fumble too much.
T1 time: 2:49. 7/20 AG, 42/152 gender, 104/283 overall. 4 seconds slower than last year. Eh, whatevs, close enough.
Got going on the bike and cooked it as hard as I could and sipped my gu brew because I was REALLY thirsty. Going to have to figure out how to tote around liquid when my start is an hour and a half after transition closing.
My goal was to just rock the bike as hard as I could since I knew the run would be miserable no matter what. I fell in (legally) behind this chick that was going right about my speed for a while, then passed her, then looked for the next person who was going about my speed, rinse and repeat.
The first 5 miles I took down real quick – I was close to 20 mph and thrilled about life and it was hard but I was fighting the good fight. However, the wheels started to come off (figuratively, not literally). I started losing the battle to race hard. I was feeling like I just didn’t have enough juice. I felt kind of nauseous. I was slowing. It was either give in, or take the chance on making things worse in the gut and try rocket fuel. So, rock and roll, I put down a caffeinated gel.
It was a good decision. In a mile or two my stomach settled. I felt like I had a little more to give. While it was a crowded course, I didn’t have too much trouble with people. I tried to ride aggressively as much as I could, but I think this is really where I felt the 5 weeks off more than anywhere. My power numbers vs effort will come back but it was definitely not quite where it was in June.
The power readings were absolutely USELESS during a sprint when you are just riding as hard as you possibly can the whole time, but gave me some nice stats for later: 171 HR AVG (92% of max), 83 cadence (decent with some coasting), 49% L/51% right balance, 157W avg, 161W 20 min power, 173W normalized power.
Bike Time: 43:09/12.9 miles. 4/20 AG, 29/152 gender, 104/283 overall. 44 seconds faster than last year. While I may be a little *meh* on the particulars of the bike, it’s solidly my strongest triathlon leg now in the rankings and I definitely gave all I had to give today. Looking forward to more work over the next 8 weeks to be able to give more.
My legs were a little wobbly getting out of the pedals but I made to back to my rack and changed without too much fumble or delay. I decided hell to the yes on a frozen bottle, which makes T2 a little slower to navigate, but I believe it may have saved my race.
T2 time: 1:38. 10/20 AG, 60/152 gender, 124/284 overall. 8 seconds faster than last year.
It was hot, my legs were pretty gassed, and I spent the entire time just hanging on the best I could. The pace was not pretty but I tried to just concentrate on effort. I worked the pace down little by little, and kept an eye on the overall time.
After the first mile, I calculated that I had an overall PR in me, but I had to be careful. Racing in August in the feels like 90+, I know myself, and I know I can blow up and do stupid things like walk during a 3 mile run.
So I tried to find that line, that inch before the explosion, and just hang onto it as tightly as possible. I rode that wave, just chanting to myself “You’re strong, you got this”, over and over and over for at least the last mile and a half. Looking ahead brought me out of the trance I was in, so I looked directly in front of my feet most of the time.
At about a quarter mile to go, a lady with a 60 on her leg passed me and I was like… aw hell no, so I found another gear and followed her into the finish. I couldn’t pass her but I stuck to her like glue. The finish video is hilarious, I look like I’m stalking her but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Stats: 177 HR AVG, 186 MAX. That’s 96% and 101% of my max HR, btw. There was truly nothing more I had to give on this run. Just like the bike, I’m excited to see how this shapes up once I have more to give.
Run Time: 29:31. These gains I’m making racing the swim and bike harder and faster are slowing my runs down a little but if I’m PRing overall every race, it’s acceptable collateral damage. My worst placement of the day, but I’ll take it: 10/20 AG, 60/152 women, 156/283 overall. 44 seconds slower than last year.
Overall time: 1:28:18 (1 min 34 sec faster than last year). 5/20 AG, 41/152 gender, 118/283 overall. Top quarter both AG and gender, and top half overall. I actually beat all these these guys this time, which is NEVER a given!
By FAR, my best placement in a triathlon. If I would have been able to find 2 more minutes on the course, I could have placed 3rd, but I can safely say I did not have 2 minutes anywhere today and raced my ass off. I found the floor of my pain cave and dug it a little deeper. I’ll be happy to take this stuff into the next training block.
After the race, I spent the day eating everything in sight, and went to bed around 8:30 to read and fell asleep around 9. I still feel a little brain-dead today, but not that sore and like some great sleep-healing went on last night.
Now, that I’ve had one last romp with the short stuff, with the 90 minutes of speedy pain, we start the volume build towards SIX HOURS OF PAIN at the end of September. 🙂