One housekeeping item before we dive into the race report. I want to say Thank You to all of the people that follow this blog, my Twitter account or Facebook account for the support prior to the race and the high-fives (while virtual) for after the race. It is awesome to be surrounded by supportive people who encourage, motivate, inspire, drive and teach. It takes a village to raise a triathlete and I live in a great village.
A little background on this race. Last year I raced the sprint distance and this race was my first open water swim. It was a beach start so you have to run into the water and at some point decide when you were taking the plunge instead of continuing to run. As I dove in the water and got hit by every racer in the event I freaked out. I flipped on my back and backstroked approximately 85-90% of the swim. My swim time for the 500m was 14:04 or 2:49/100m. I set my sights on this race from the moment it ended and knew I was going to get my revenge on this race no matter what it took.
On Saturday night I drove Karen to Fort Worth as she was going to be racing a 25K in El Scorcho that started at midnight. Fort Worth is about an hour away from my house and when I left her at 9pm I knew I wouldn’t be home until 10pm and still had to get my secret weapon eaten. The night before every race I have a nut butter and jelly sandwich and this was going to be no different. I walked in the house at around 9:45p and made myself my sandwich and went to bed. Luckily I had planned ahead and packed everything.
When the alarm went off at 3:00am I was ready to rock and roll. This race is about an hour away in the other direction of Fort Worth and with transition opening at 5:30am I had to be at my buddy’s house at 4:30am. After picking him up and getting to the race site in plenty of time I was ready to get warmed up but first had to deal with some stomach issues. Took care of business and off to rack bike and get body marked. I laid out all my gear so I knew what I was doing in transition and even went through each step. I’m sure I looked funny as I practiced putting on race belt, sunglasses, helmet. Then removing cycling shoes and putting on hat while turning race bib around while not actually touching anything. Transition is all set so time to warm up.
I went out and ran about 3/4 of a mile and worked up a good lather. This was going to be a hot race and I was happy to have my liquid calories from Prolong in my Speedfil plus a bottle in my cage filled with water. I also had 1.5 HoneyStingers in my bento box. My nutrition should be all set and with that I headed down to the water to get a few hundred meters of warm up and warm being the operative word. As soon as I put my feet in the water I just thought I would not even take a bath in this it is so hot. Water temperature was around 84* at race time.
After warming up I walked back to the transition area and found Shannon. I knew she was racing the Olympic distance so we hung out until race start just chatting and watching a complete cluster of a start that was an open wave. The open wave went off and from shore Shannon and I could barely find the turn buoys as we were staring into the sun and there was a group of buoys missing. There were to be three buoys yet we only found two. After talking to a race official we found out that the distance for the X-50 (a combination of Olympic and HIM of 1 mile swim, 40 mile bike and 9 mile run) was going to be the same as the Olympic which meant we were going longer than an Olympic distance swim. As we stood talking about this we noticed that the group had to run across a sand bar and then we see them swimming toward the second turn buoy instead of straight toward the first buoy. Marked that as a lesson to swim straight and really to know your course. Now the race official called our wave which consisted of both men and women 39 and younger, so this was a rather large wave.
Shannon and I walked into the water and watched as people started diving into about 1 foot of water to only stand up and dive again. I just kept running until I thought it was deep enough to start swimming. Shannon yelled out find a hole and go….that is what she said. So I did and jumped in and like all other open water swims there was hitting and kicking. I slapped more feet and legs and got slapped by more feet and legs than all other open water swims combined but I kept my composure because my swim has been getting stronger.
I was in a good rhythm and then bam my arm hit the sand bar and I knew I had to walk/run across this but I also realized that my timing chip was coming loose. I stopped moving to adjust this strap and it took me about 15-20 seconds to do this as I did not want to lose the chip in the water. As I was playing around with this I hear Shannon yell ‘Let’s go Herbalife’ and with that I finally got my chip on tight enough and just started swimming.
I got into a very good rhythm but did not bother trying to sight for the turn buoy because the sun was right into your eyes. I just kept looking for other swim caps and feet and kept going strong. As I finally got to one point to spot the buoy I turned it on as I wanted to get to this turn as quickly as possible and stop having to stare into the sun. As I made the turn I noticed a guy on my right. I started to use him to draft off of but kept slapping him. I would spot the 2nd turn buoy and just knew I was swimming straight but for some reason I kept hitting this guy. I finally stopped for a moment and watched as this guy went swimming across my face, across the face of the next two swimmers and completely away from the course. I started up again and turned on the after burners because this swim was starting to feel like it was a 5000m swim and I wanted it over with.
I made the second turn and knew it was over and started to push it. At this time I saw a few red caps from the previous open wave. I also noticed people doing the breast stroke and others stopping and for some reason this excited me. I got fired up that I was having such a strong swim and started pushing and pushing and eventually when I got to a point that I could stand I did and started running out of the water and when I hit the timing mat I hit my watch and noticed a 00:3x:xx. I wanted to swim the 1500m in 30 minutes or less and I knew that I missed that goal, but I also forgot to calculate that the distance was longer than 1500m.
Goal Time: 00:30:00
Actual Time: 00:34:25 (2:18/100m based on 1500m but the swim was approximately 1667m which is 2:03/100m)
PR for 1500m: 00:31:40 (2:06/100m so I set a PR based on pace per 100m)
Transition 1: This is a long run from the beach to the transition area on an uneven cement trail. You have to be careful not to stub a toe as your run. I navigated this well and got into T1 and got all my gear on when I hear off your bike, off your bike. I look over and there is a racer literally ready to pedal out of the transition area and he was in my row. I took this moment to eat one half of a HoneyStinger as my stomach felt starved. Time in T1: 2:18 (5th fastest time of M35-39)
Once I hit the mount line and got on my bike I knew I was going to hammer this home. I looked at my watch and saw a time of approximately 00:3x:00 so I knew that if I came back into T2 at 1:45 I would have managed a 20 mph bike speed as it takes 1 hour 15 minutes to ride 24.8 miles.
The driveway into and out of the park is perfectly paved and so you had the ability to build up bike speed but the moment you turned right out of the park you hit chip seal. Every pedal stroke was met with vibration in the handle bars. My plan on the bike was to just go hard and attack the hills. For nutrition and hydration I planned on drinking the Prolong every 15 minutes and to eat one half of the HoneyStinger every 30 minutes. I would get all my calories and be hydrated by the time the bike finished.
As I started pedaling I noticed that my legs felt very strong and I knew I could really start to push harder. I was riding without a heart rate monitor and my cateye was not producing a speed or cadence. I noticed at the end of the race that the transmitter had broken off so this was a ride based on feel. While on the road I noticed that there was always a spot just to the inside of the right lane line that was smooth and was about 6 inches wide. Keep your wheel in this line and you could avoid the vibration of the chip seal.
The bike course has some climbs to them (Texas climbs) and I was not going to let up. At one point you make a right turn for the Olympic distance and I had a cyclist come up on my left and pass me, but I said I am going to hang with him as long as possible. I pushed and pushed and then all the sudden two other cyclists came up on me and passed me. We got to the turn around point and I made my decision to stay with them and we pushed the limits of my speed potential.
As we faced some climbs I would feel strong and pass them but on the downhills they would pass me. We got to the last turn around and I thought to myself….WOW we are already headed back home. I looked at my watch and did some calculation and felt that if I maintained my pace I would be able to get to the T2 area in 1 hour and 15 minutes or a 20mph bike speed. My plan to hang up with these guys was working perfectly and then they pulled away but I was not defeated. I put my head down and just kept pedaling. As we got back to the park entrance I kept the hammer on and kept pushing. I was not going to let up and wound up passing one of the guys that I was hanging onto along with about 4 others.
At this point I saw one rider getting yelled at by his family and I just told him that it was awesome to see. He told me his 5 year old was asking when he could race and I told him about my step son lifting weights and we just laughed. I finally pulled away a bit and got my feet out of my shoes and got ready to hit the mount line and start running.
Goal Time: 1:15:00
Actual Time: 1:08:29.3 (21.8 mph)
PR for 1500m: 1:18:16 (19.1 mph)
Transition 2: My bike rack was the fourth rack in so I was close and got my bike racked and put my hat on and sneakers on as quick as I could. Took a quick swig of water from my bottle and off I went. T2 Time: 54.5 (Fastest time of M35-39)
The run is a two loop course that is run in a park that is well shaded but by now the temperatures in the 100s and it is brutally hot. On the recommendation of Jeff over at Dangle the Carrot I brought an EFS liquid shot. This product has 400 calories, 1500mg of electrolytes and 1000mg of amino acids plus 100g of simple and complex carbohydrates. I felt this would be perfect for me on the run. What I did not realize is that this somewhat thick like a GU and I would have been better off liquifying it in water since I don’t do too well with the thickness of the mixture. My plan was to take a sip of the liquid shot every mile.
As I started running I could feel the heat but felt very strong and this is when the start of my mistakes hit. I ran through each aid station feeling I could take care of my needs with EFS, but with suck a thick liquid these calories would not get into my blood stream as fast as I would need them. I kept pushing but felt myself slowing down with each mile and at around that turn around point to head back out for loop #2 I could feel my legs get extremely heavy and that is when I could feel myself dehydrating and starting to puke. I choked it all down and kept right on going but it seemed that with every step a burp came and the feeling of losing my insides came with it. I made it to an aid station and water and ice never felt so good. I poured water over my head from one cup, sipped from another and then with the wet towel I squeezed ice water onto my head and then sucked on the towel as I kept running.
It was at this point that I junked the bottle of EFS and went straight for water only. At one turn around point I grabbed a handful of ice in a cup and channeling my inner Macca put it right on my heart to cool off my system. It seemed to work as I then began to pick up the pace. It was at this point that I saw a runner in front of my struggling but he was wearing a jersey that said ‘Fueled by Beef’ and the first thing I thought was PASS HIM! As I was passing him I thought about looking his way like Macca did to Raelert and saying ‘That’s Cool….I’m fueled by plants’ and take off but I was a good sport and just passed him easily.
At this point on the course I knew how much I had left to run and so I turned it on and started passing other competitors left and right and I could hear some of them say out loud ‘where is that energy coming from’ and it made me smile and that is how I finished….smiling. I could hear my boy Juan and Curtis at the finish line yelling Go Baha! and I kept chugging along until I crossed the timing mat and hit my watch.
Goal Time: 45 minutes
Actual Time: 52:33 (8:29/mile)
PR TIme: 48:26 (7:48/mile)
I looked at my watch and internally fist pumped as it read 2:38 and I knew I had just set a PR by 7 minutes on a difficult course in horrible temperatures. I grabbed two bottles of water and water and walked toward Juan and Curtis and dumped one over me and the other I drank but I was feeling dehydrated and sick. I told them I was going into the lake and I took another bottle of water and walked into the lake and sat down in the water for about 5 minutes trying to bring my core temperature down.
After feeling better I grabbed another bottle of water and walked up to my bike gear to grab my recovery drink and after swallowing that down I felt human again. I kept drinking water and eventually I felt great and could actually talk to people and be coherent.
It took a while but they finally posted the results and my watch was spot on. My official time was 2:38:40 and a PR by 7 minutes from last months CapTexTri time of 2:45:25.
My goal time when I told Coach C about this race was 2:35 – 2:40 and I hit that dead on but I could have been faster if not for my mistake on the run course. Had I actually drank water along with the EFS in the first 3 miles I would have been fueled for the long haul. This was a rookie mistake and it cost me at least 3 minutes on the run. How do I know this? Here are my mile splits: 8:13; 8:22; 8:47; 9:31; 9:39; 7:59. Imagine if I had taken in water to help those calories and electrolytes get into my system faster. That pace of 8:22 would have held steady and thus my time lost because of this was 2:51. Big mistake and one not to be repeated ever again.
As another example of how hot it was and how dehydrated I was: Start race at 143 lbs. Weigh in at the end of the night after drinking water and eating all day long and my weight was 142 lbs. I probably finished the race at a weight of 130-133lbs as I am a sweater.
Tough race, great results and can’t wait to get back there for next year and attempt to podium. I finished 5th in my Age Group after the winner was DQ’d for only running 1 loop of the 2 loop course.