Monday, May 6, 2013

Wildflower Race Report - Sufferfest

It's been a while since I had an update, and this one is going to be a tough one to write.  Wildflower 2013 (#3 for me) was a sufferfest.  My goal in writing this is to try to analyze what went wrong and to hopefully learn from it.  No one wants to have a bad race, and the key to avoiding them is analyzing and racing smart.  So let's begin:

Pre-race training:
Leading up to the race I was feeling good.  Training was consistent and mostly focused.  My swim was lacking a bit, but losing a minute or two on the swim was the least of my worries.  I was coming off of an amazing open half marathon PR, and my expectations were high.

Then race week happened.  Work was rough.  I was under prepared for a midterm.  We had to volunteer for the Treeathlon.  I had to pack for Wildflower.  And at the last minute I found out that I had to race on my newly built, unproven road bike.  Suffice to say, stress levels were through the roof.

Friday - HOLY CRAP it was hot.  My goal was to not do much and stay as hydrated as possible.  I was drinking water and Gatorade like crazy, and I was still thirsty.  From past experience, I DO NOT race well in the heat.  I was worried.

I really enjoyed this swim.  It is by far one of the easiest open water swims at any triathlon.  The water was smooth and WARM!  Oh man, I can't tell you how awesome the water temps were.  Perfect for a sleeveless wetsuit!  At 31min, my swim was a little slow, but as mentioned before, I expected that and was ok with it.

This is where the problems began.  10 miles into the bike, I had to stop.  My bottle cage holding down my Di2 battery was loose and rattling like crazy, and my bike seat was pushed all the way back.  I made the decision to stop and tighten things up.  The less I have to worry about, the better.

Then around the 20mi mark, my ass and lower back were killing me.  You're not supposed to try anything new for a race.  Well, not only did I have a new seat, but I also had a new BIKE.  Obviously not a good decision to race on it, but the alternative was just as undesirable.  Queue back stretches every few miles and standing breaks to relieve the ass pressure.

By mile 40, I was almost broken.  Bike noises, sore ass, and screaming back were wearing me down.  Nasty Grade never looked so steep.  I CRAWLED to the top.  It seems another thing was getting me down too: Dehydration.  While worrying about everything else, I was neglecting the fact that I had to take care of my body, and I was paying the price.  Lack of energy and ability to produce power added to the mental collapse.

This race ties with Ironman Florida for never wanting to get off my bike more in my life.  I wanted to be excited about running, but I wasn't.  Mentally, I was ruined.  Physically, I was ruined.  50 steps out of transition, I had to walk.  Quads were cramping.  This was the story for the entire run - all 13 miles of it.

Full results:

Post-race thoughts:
It's blantantly obvious that this race was poorly executed:
- High stress levels before the race - Better preparation could have helped.
- Dehydration on the bike - Better hydration plan with LOTS of practice.  If there's anything I need to learn, it's how to race in HOT weather.
- Bike issue - TEST the bike ahead of time.
- Use the right tools for the job - Road bikes are not for triathlon racing.

I think that's about it.  I wish I could been limited by fitness, and it's really soul-crushing for that not to be the case.  I know I'm fit, but long distance triathlon is as much about brains as it is about fitness.  THAT'S the reason I got into this game.  I'm not stupid, but on Saturday I was.  Time to learn and get better.

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