Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Boulder 70.3 Race Report - Evan Macfarlane

One of these days, I'll put together my perfect race. Over the past year I've had a lot of races where my bike or run is solid, and I'm even happy when my swim doesn't take me completely out of contention for the AG win. Yet in every race I've also had a lack luster discipline. That happened again today, and this time where I least expected it -- on the run.

SwimKnowing I veer left while swimming, I lined up on the far right so that other swimmers would box me in and prevent me from heading off course. I kept my turnover high and even found a few pairs of feet to sit on at times. About 1250m into the swim, I felt something against my neck and thought it was a strand of sea weed. I grabbed the thing and yanked it, only to pull off my own goggles. Oops. I quickly put the goggles back on even though they were flooded with water. To my surprise, my vision was amazing. Turns out I've been having sighting issues in large part because my goggles are completely fogged up. With goggles full of water, I could see everything -- picking a line and finding feet to sit on have never been so easy. I've found few strategies to prevent goggle fog and hopefully I'll perfect then before IM Louisville in two weeks.

The swim went well for me and I exited in 31:24, good for 14th out of 86 in my age group. That's five minutes off my competitors' times, but I was also off by five minutes at the shorter Boulder Peak swim. That's progress, I suppose.

This is a fast bike course. Even though it's two loops, it seems like the route is 3/4 downhill.

Heading out of T1, I kept an eye on the SRM and kept my power below 300W. It's easy to crush the first few minutes of the bike, but that's not a wise strategy. Still, when the first few miles are crowded -- and they were very crowded since I started in one of the last waves -- I'm will to put out a bit more power than would otherwise be prudent.

About 5 miles into the ride two-time IM world champ Tim DeBoom passed me (due to the wave format and Tim being much faster than me, he was on his second loop while I was on my first). I was actually able to legally hang onto him for a bit, and even had to sit up at times to avoid getting too close, before he pulled away on an uphill. The rest of the pro pack following Tim soon passed. These guys ride hard uphill, and for a while I put out more watts than I wanted to an attempt to keep up. I was hoping to legally ride their train for the rest of the loop. My lack of legal drafting experience got the better of me, however, and I allowed such a large gap to open that I was no longer getting any benefit. I'd have had to push real hard to catch back up, and even then I was afraid of getting a penalty. Anyhow, there's an out and back 15 miles later and I was able to see that they only put about a minute on me during that time.

I drank a lot on the bike. Two sports drinks, almost two waters, and a few Gus. That's probably IM equivalent fueling at about 400 cal/hr. A tad much for a half, but my stomach was quickly taking care of any pooling from the big gulps I was taking.

Usually at the end of a hard 56 mile ride my legs are beat. Actually, they're typically beat about 40 miles in, and I spend the last 16 miles really focusing to keep the effort up. At this race, however, leg tiredness was never an issue. I got off the bike feeling better than I can ever remember for a half. Not that there was no fatigue, but I never had to dig deep on the bike.

Time: 2:10 (a whopping 8 minute PR for a 56 mile ride). This ride moved me up to second in my AG and in position to get the AG and overall amateur win with a really good run.

239 average W (Yes, just 239 W for 25.8 mph.)
243 W normalized
87 rpm average
164 bpm average (Wow, is that high! This number may include some inaccurate readings since that's about my HR for an FTP test.)
48.8 max speed (Where'd that happen? St Vrain?)

I left T2 2:44 into my race, sporting a new pair of Zoot TT 4.0s (more on these later). That meant a 1:20 run, two minutes slower than my PR, would give me a 4:04 half IM. Great, I thought, don't push too hard, just hang onto 6:00-6:15/mile and run right around 1:20. No need to try for 1:18 only to blow up and run 1:30.

The run started great. I was easily hitting 6:00/mile (well, not easily, but maybe 0.5/10 below the PE I think I can hold for a half). I was really thinking I could hold that pace until mile 9 or 10 and then go all in from there. Through the first half of the race, my plan was working. 6:08/mile for the first 6.55 miles -- right on track for 1:20 and feeling good.

(A nice shot by my coach taken along the Boulder Reservoir. Nice shoes!)

Then, pretty shortly after mile 7, I recognized some trouble. There's a short hill and my PE climbed way up just to get over the thing. I had a bit of fluid pooling in my stomach, but I craved water. That's always the worst situation -- the one thing you want the most will only exacerbate your other problem. The temp was hot at 90 degrees or so, but not unbearable and not unlike what I've been training in.

I think some salt pills would have aided my digestion, allowing me to take in more water and Coke. I haven't been successful racing in heat, and fueling is one primary reason for that (or at least that's my present theory). Yes, this is another "oh, I'd have gone faster if I had nailed my nutrition" race report. I apologize for that, but I *think* it's the case. My run strength is there and my endurance is there, so there's no reason to fade other than heat (which wasn't
that bad) and fueling.

Anyhow, I dropped to 6:46/mile for the last 6.55 miles and finished the run in 1:24. Bah! A 1:20 would have put me right in the vicinity of Brian Schaning, a fast dude and the eventual AG winner, and while I'm not the fastest runner in triathlon I'd be glad to have a race come down to the run.

So, there ya have it. Acceptable swim, fast bike, good 1st half of the run, bad second half of the run. Overall, I still finished 2nd in my AG and 16th overall. Plus my bike was only about 5 minutes back of some of the top guys in the sport. Now just to put it all together!

(A cell-phone podium shot.)

Back to those Zoot TT 4.0s, I received them shortly before the race and only had a chance to do two short runs in them. Still, I've been perfectly comfortable running sockless in the TT 3.0s so I figured I'd give the 4.0s a go sans socks. My experience was very positive even though they were a new shoe -- I had one blister on my right heel but otherwise I was fine. Not only that, but thanks to the shoes' drainage vents my shoes never got soaked with water even though I poured what seemed like gallons of it over my head during the race.

My one tip for those running sockless (and this is regardless of what brand of shoe you wear) is to put gobs of vasoline on any areas of the shoe where you normally get blisters. I neglected to do this at Boulder 70.3 even though I'm pretty sure it would have prevented me from getting any blisters. I was so confident with the Zoot shoes that I didn't even think of bringing vasoline. Now that the shoes are broken in, I probably don't need the lubricant, but I will still err on the side of caution and use it.

Next up for me: Ironman Louisville. This is my AAA race for the year and the only one I've really been training for. It's tough to put all your eggs in one basket like that, but when you're an amateur that races Ironman it's so difficult to race more than one a year. At any rate, wish me luck on August 29.

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