It has taken me a couple of days to process this race in more than just a race report format. In the car ride home I went over what could have been done better or done differently to improve my results.
Some may read that and say to themselves: Is this guy for real? He just set a 14 minute PR at this distance and he is looking for ways to get better. My response to that is: YES. If I settle for those results how do I get better? How can I relay my experiences to those looking to get into the sport? How can I look myself in the mirror and tell somebody to push harder if Io’m not pushing harder?
All that being said I will say that I had a very good day at the office and it was not easy to break down this race into places and spaces where I could get better. After much thought and processing I have come up with a few ways to improve so that when training starts for 70.3 Puerto Rico in March I am prepared to race faster and improve on my 5:28:06 from 70.3 Austin.
I have been working hard on swimming in terms of form and that has improved my speed. There is no denying that I am faster today than I was in April, but my sighting is horrible. My watch calculated that I swam 1.38 miles in 40min 06sec. Had I swam that pace for ONLY 1.2 miles I would have gotten out of the water in 34 minutes. That is a 6 minute difference between my actual time and the pace I swam. That is not acceptable.
I spent a lot of time trying to get to the buoy that I wasted energy and bigger than that mental capabilities. Every time I thought I was swimming at the buoys and wound up just going straight or right I got mentally deflated.
One way I plan on improving this is to continue to do more open water swims, but when the winter hits and I’m in the pool I need to do something different. I plan on putting a small object at the end of each lane and focusing on finding that object as I swim. This will help improve my sighting and help me develop proper balance so when I do sight my legs don’t drop like anchors.
The other idea I’m contemplating is not starting out right but instead starting either on the buoy line or just centered. It will be a lot more contact but I’m more confident in my swim. I know that I can get out there and muck it up with the best of them. Go hard and battle and then settle in.
I learned to embrace the suck on the bike as evidenced by my 2:49:15 split which equates to 19.85 mph over 56 miles. I was thrilled with this bike split but there are certainly areas that I can improve on.
First off is to always drive, at the least, the bike route. Know the course and know the different roads. Had I not known that the road turned hard right on that one section I would have flown straight across the road and into the trees and pasture instead of controlling the bike and avoiding a catastrophe.
Secondly, my training has to include more rides with faster cyclists. I can learn how to keep up or I can fall back and as a competitor I will always try to keep up. This will help my overall speed.
Third in this process is getting to be a better legal drafter. I have 15 or 20 seconds to enter the ‘drafting’ region and pass. I need to learn to enter into this area and draft legally before passing instead of just hammering my way past them. Will this bother some riders? Of course, but it is well within the rules to do so and this will not only help me get faster but also conserve my legs for the run.
I had a very tough run yesterday on a tough course. I will say that I got mentally beaten on this run. It was a never-ending run of climbing or downhill. It was unrelenting and I let my mind beat me just a tad. Embracing the suck on the bike needs to be transferred to embracing the suck on the run.
At one point I got so tired of consuming EFS Liquid Shot but I realize now that it was all one flavor. I consumed vanilla on the bike for 3 hours and then vanilla on the run for another hour before tossing the bottle. A way to avoid this is to have vanilla on the bike and wild berry on the run.
I also have always liquified the EFS and carried it in a handheld but yesterday I developed a routine of drinking the liquid shot straight and then sipping water. I did this because I found that by the end of a 10k I did not want to carry the water bottle. I can either learn to deal with the hand-held, get a fuel belt or get a smaller hand-held that will fit in the back of my jersey while on the run.
These are all small in retrospect but it is the small things that add up in the end. I will get to work next week, after this week of recovery, of incorporating the little things.