Friday, August 23, 2013

Moving Forward and Heading to Ontario

With a few more days post race I got what I considered a crazy idea in my head. I had been looking on the IM website, and saw that Muskoka 70.3 was still open, had 100 70.3 WC slots, and was relatively drivable. I posed this possibility to Katie, knowing that it was far from ideal. After a discussion, we came to the conclusion that this race would help me feel better about my IMMT result, and give me a shot at securing a 70.3 WC slot for 2014, a full year away. In doing this, I would be able to get by with minimal training for most of the school year, spending a lot more time with Katie and Jackson, and not do a spring HIM.

So, two weeks from today I will be hitting the road to drive around 680 miles to race a HIM, then turn around and drive back home. The Muskoka course is challenging, especially the bike, which is a little long at 94 KM, and includes quite a lot of climbing. However, I feel that I can use my IM fitness to have a good enough result to grab a World Championship slot. I already feel pretty recovered, but know I'm not back at full strength. If anything, not pushing and digging deep on the run at IMMT may help out in two weeks time. If all goes well, I'll be heading back to Tremblant in just over a year to try vindicating my poor IM performance there.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

7 Seconds.........

Well, I'm sitting here two days after IMMT with mixed emotions. I signed up for this race about one year ago with the one goal of qualifying for Kona, and I missed a slot by seven seconds. My race took a little over 35,000 seconds to complete, so to come down to such a small amount of time is pretty disappointing.

I could sit here and think of everything I could have done to be that tiny bit faster: wipe my butt faster in the porta-pottie at mile 19 of the run, be a bit more aero on the bike, quicker transitions......the list could go on. The fact is that I didn't execute and I feel it's mainly due to my lack of mental fortitude, especially on the run.

My swim went as well as I could have hoped, and I came out of the water at 1:06. This was the exact time I was hoping for, so I felt the day was off to a good start. My T1 was probably a little slower than I would have liked (7 sec????), and I got onto the bike just before 8 AM. My plan was to target around 240 watts. Initially, I was a bit above that #, but it felt incredibly easy. I tried to reign myself in and focus on sitting on my power #'s. Racers were flying by me, especially up the hills, but I was hoping they were going to blow up later, so I let them go. Over time, I reeled just about all of these guys back in.

At the halfway point of the bike I was right at 2:33, which was a little slower than I was hoping for (my goal was around a 5:00 bike time). However, I was feeling great and the legs were very happy. Just after the halfway point I made a quick stop for my special needs bag to get my 2nd bottle of Infinit (7 sec here????), and then I was off again. On the section of 117 the wind definitely picked up a bit on lap #2, but my power stayed steady and I managed another 2:33, even splitting the bike, and finishing in 5:06, good for 5th in the AG. Average power was 232 and normalized power was 242. Coming back into T2 I didn't quite know where I was AG wise, but hoped it was close to top 10.
Garmin file for bike. 

T2 was pretty smooth, and soon I was out on the run course - only a marathon to go! Coach Steve told me to take the first few miles easy, and they rolled by around 7:40. I then settled into what I felt was a manageable pace for the next 5 miles, right around 7:30 or so. Just before the 6 mile mark I hit the first turn around spot, and began the long and gradual uphill back towards the finish area. It was also as I was nearing the turnaround that I realized I was around 12-13th in my AG. The grade was only 1-2%, but it slowed me down and soon my pace was only around 8:00. I felt like I could sustain that pace, and came through the half marathon in 1:41. Doing the math in my head, I said if I could hold 8:00ish pace I could run a 3:26 marathon.

As I mentioned earlier, I feel that I lack the mental strength to push when things get tough. As the run progressed I feel like my mind wasn't able to push at the pace I felt I could run. I was only taking water and coke at the aid stations, and it continued that way for the whole race. I was carrying 4 gels in a flask and some cliff blocks, but didn't touch them. In hindsight, this wasn't such a good idea, but again I wasn't thinking as well as I would have liked.

My pace began to get progressively slower, drifting towards 8:30's, which is what I hit until the turnaround around near mile 19. It was also around this time that I had to visit the porta-pottie. Up until this point I had peed 8 times on the bike and 6 times on the run, but I made the decision to not go #2 on myself. Of course, in hindsight I could have been that guy that people were cheering for until I got close enough and then they would stop and point and whisper. The fact is I spent about 90 seconds waiting to jump in a porta-pottie and do my business, and that was my Kona slot.

The last seven miles of the marathon weren't that much fun. Sitting here now, I feel like I could have gone faster. Yes, I was hurting, but I firmly believe I could have pushed harder through that pain, and I simply chose not to. I didn't have that drive and determination when it mattered most, and it cost me. As I neared the finish area, I was a bit unsure of my placing in the AG, and in the last 1/4 mile I got passed by two guys in my AG. I tried to hang on and pseudo-sprint at the end, but I finished 6 seconds back, watching my trip to Hawaii go bye-bye. My marathon time was 3:35 and my finishing time was 9:56:11.

Garmin file for run.

I had imagined a celebratory crossing of the finish line, but I just walked across, arms down, dejected. I somehow knew that those two guys had just taken the last two slots. It turned out that the last slot in our AG rolled to 11, and I finished 12th. So, it was 7 seconds from going to Kona.

Now that I've had two days to reflect, I'm still upset, sad, and frustrated. Katie is trying to make me realize that I had good race, but I simply can't get past loosing a slot by such a narrow margin. It would have been better if I lost out on a slot by minutes, not seconds. However, I guess there are a few positives that will come from this:

- not spending at least $4,000 on the trip to Hawaii
- not having to spend two entire days flying to and from Hawaii with a 6 month old
- getting to spend more time with Katie and Jackson, especially on the weekends
- not having to take my disk cover off my race wheels (kind of minor here)
- learning that I need to focus and dig deeper in future races to meet my goals

This was my one real shot at Kona in the foreseeable future. It isn't fair to devote weekends to long training sessions and leave Katie and Jackson at home. That isn't what I want to do - I want to be there for him as he grows up. Maybe I'll give it another shot when I age up to the 40-45 AG in five years.

As for the near future, I'm hoping to run the 2014 Boston Marathon. I have a BQ -5 min, which I hope will get me in. Next season I may look at focusing on the 70.3 distance, with less training volume. Eagleman could be a goal race in June, with the hope of qualifying for the 70.3 WC, which will be at Mont Tremblant next year - that could be a bit of redemption. We'll have to see how things pan out....

It's time to stop being upset and frustrated. That won't help me at all. I will learn from this race and move forward to become a stronger athlete.