Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Florida 70.3 Report

It's now been a little over a week since I raced in Florida, and my body seems to be recovering pretty well. Overall, the race went reasonably ok, but I had been hoping for a time a few minutes quicker. For the first race of the year, and my first race this early in the season I can't really complain, especially since I set a 3 minute PR.

Here are the basics if you don't want to read any further:

Our trip south began on a Friday when we woke up around 2:30 am in order to get a 6 am flight out of Providence, RI. The drive down was smooth, and we had plenty of time. We arrived in Orlando around 11:00 after a brief stop over in the state that has a grudge against the LGBT crowd - WTF North Carolina?? My mom had flown down the previous night and met us in the Orlando airport. We grabbed some lunch, then headed to our condo. We were staying in a time share called The Villas at Regal Palms, about 25 minutes north of the race venue in Haines City. I was able to get a 3 BR condo with two sleeper sofas for around $60 a night - the place was huge and we had tons of room to spread out and try to loose Jackson's toys!

On Friday the plan was to take it real easy, but life happens, and soon we ended up in an ER around 20 minutes away. Katie is 17 weeks pregnant, and began bleeding quite heavily. Thankfully, things turned out to be somewhat OK - Katie got an ultrasound at the hospital and heard the baby's HR. It turns out she has placenta previa, meaning the placenta is covering the cervix and there could (and probably will) be future complications. It also means any further travel is a no-no and that there could be future bleeding. Katie ended up spending around 4 hours in the ER as they did lots of tests, and after going back to shop for groceries, I returned to be with her for a little over two hours.

The plans for Saturday were to visit Lego Land, but Katie needed to stay at the condo to rest. She was still bleeding, which was not all that reassuring, especially since we had a miscarriage back in August. Jackson, Grandma, and I headed off to Lego Land on Saturday morning, leaving Katie to rest. We ended up spending around 3 1/2 hours at Lego Land. We had visited back in February, so I had an idea of what rides Jackson liked, so we pretty much did a repeat of our previous visit. He had an absolute blast, as did my Mom and I. We had to tear him away to get to packet pickup and get my bike from TriBikeTransport before they closed at 3:00 pm. Here's a shot from the morning and early afternoon at Lego Land.

Jackson fell asleep on the way to Haines City, so my Mom stayed in the car with him while I went to collect my bike, go on a short ride, then do packet pick up. It took a little over an hour to do everything, and I also saw a few teammates. Everything seemed ok with the bike, but I did get lost on a short 15 min ride and needed to use my phone to get back to the race site. I got the bike all set up and left it at transition, then we headed back to our condo to see Katie.

Bike ready for blast off - first race for the new ride:

Katie had a restful day and was doing a bit better. We were still a little unsure about how Sunday would unfold, as my Mom wasn't a 'legal' driver for the rental car. Eventually, we decided that Katie would drop me off on race morning with hopes that they could make it back by the end of my race.

Sunday morning dawned, and I was up around 3:30 am. I had a breakfast of 2 1/2 cups of applesauce, a bagel, a Powerbar, and a Gatorade. We left around 4:30 and I was dropped off just before 5 am. It took a little while to set up transition, and I chatted with a few folks racked around me. Doing a little research before the race, it looked like there were two folks in my AG who had gone sub 9 in an IM, along with lots of others who were in the sub 4:20 range. My goal was finishing near the top of my AG, but I was a bit unsure of how things would go on virtually all indoor biking and running.

With a 7:45 start in something like the 12th wave, I had quite a lot of time to wait after leaving transition. I had a bit more Gatorade, water, and took a Powerbar around 6:45. I also got in 500 yards of swimming in the outdoor pool for a warmup. It was my first swim in my new Roka Maverick Elite wetsuit, and I felt good. I had a Powerbar gel 20 minutes prior to the swim and had some more water to wash it down. With the swim being an odd 'M' shape due to the size of the lake, I was a little unsure of how things would go. At one point the swim was changed to a 2-loop swim, but it was changed back to the 'M' shape about 10 days prior to the race. 

My swim time was definitely slower than what I was hoping for. It always seems that I swim slower in races to start the season, then the speed comes as the months progress. Swimming a 35 was not the plan, but it looks like the swim was slower overall. I'm definitely hoping I'll be down closer to 30 minutes for my next race near the end of June. My swim was good for 32nd in my AG out of around 180. I thought I'd be closer to 32-33 with the wetsuit, but I didn't let it bother me and got on to the bike. Considering the slow swim, I was surprised afterwards to see it was 32nd in the AG - just a slow course in general with all those turns. Regarding the sign below, the only time I thought of the large reptiles that live in the lake was at the swim start when we were treading water and kicking reeds, but once swimming I was focused on the race. 

The plan for the bike had been to target a bit lower watts than normal because of the weather conditions. However, race day was cooler than in previous years (nearly 90 last year), so I decided to target the mid 270's for watts, about ten watts higher than I would have targeted in warmer weather. Unfortunately I had to stop twice in the first half hour to bend the cable back for my rear brake, as it was rubbing my chainring. I think that the shop I dropped my bike off at for TriBikeTransport adjusted the brakes - they were definitely wider - and as a result, the cable was rubbing. These two stops probably took 45-60 seconds off my bike split. 

The bike course is generally flat with a few rolling hills in the second half of the ride. The wind also seemed to pick up on the second half and I tried really hard to stay as aero as possible to cut through the wind. BBS had predicted a time of 2:13 around 265 watts, but I finished right at 2:16 on 272 watts. I think that the wind definitely led to the slower time (along with the two quick stops). I rolled into transition feeling good, and it was a good sign to see the racks pretty much empty around me. I was 5th in my AG coming off the bike. Ignore the IF - my FTP isn't set correctly on Garmin Connect. 

Getting out on to the run I was feeling quite good. I knew the 3-loop course was hilly on the first half of each loop, and the plan was to push hard on the uphills and try to recover a little on the downhills while keeping up a quick cadence and maintaining pace. Based on training, I felt a pace in the 6:30-6:40 range was a realistic goal. However, I think the hills and heat (upper 70's, but much hotter than at home) slowly got to me. I definitely slowed down a little bit on each lap, but I still picked up one spot in my AG, finishing in 4th. On the last lap I made a point of going a little slower through the aid stations to get in the fluids and keep myself cool. Maybe I could have been a bit quicker there, but I didn't want to take any chances on slowing down dramatically near the end. 

Katie, Jackson & my Mom managed to make it to the end of the race, and got the photo below of me near the finish. Katie pointed out that it looks like the person on the right side looks about ready to blind side me - not sure what's going on there! It was great to have them join me at the race, and it was the first time my Mom has ever seen me do a triathlon. Katie was also feeling a little better and the bleeding and pretty much subsided - making us feel better. I was so happy that she was 'ok' and that we weren't going to be heading home with heavy hearts!

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how the race played out. Yes, my swim was slower than I would have liked, but it looks like swims were generally slower on this course. The bike time was also a bit slower than I was hoping for, but sometimes that happens. The wind did seem to pick up a bit and having to stop twice to fix the rubbing on the chainring didn't help. The run is where I'm the most disappointed. Based on my run focus, I was really hoping to see a time a good two or three minutes quicker. I feel confident that as the weather warms and I can get in some runs in the 'relative heat' of New England I can bring my run split down into the mid 1:20's for my next three planned HIM's this season. 

One thing that I guess I need to work on is my sunscreen application. I'll be wearing a sleeved ZOOT trisuit this season - the Team Zoot suit is supposed to arrive by the end of April, but the neck area is the spot I seemed to miss. The photo below is after the race - I needed to put aloe on the neck area for a few days to mitigate peeling. 

After the race I decided not to make the family stay around for hours for the awards ceremony. I wasn't aiming for a WC slot (that's the focus at Timberman in August to get one for 2017) and didn't really care that much for a 4th place award. We headed back to our condo and packed up a bit. We then went out to Sweet Tomatoes, a salad bar restaurant, for dinner. The food was great, and it was nice to hang out with the family. Here we are after dinner before heading back to the condo. 

On Monday morning we were up early to catch a 7:25 am flight back home. Months ago Katie had bought tickets to Red Sox opening day for the two of us and her dad (Papa for Jackson), who is a huge 'Sox fan. Unfortunately, Katie wasn't able to go to the game - rest was the best option for her and the baby when we got home. We decided that it would be fun for Jackson to go to the game with Papa and I. The game, which began at 2 pm, worked out perfectly. Our flight got into Providence around 10:30 am, and we were at Katie's parents house a little after noon time. Even though the 'Sox ended up loosing (we left after five innings), it was great fun. I had to spend the first two innings trying to explain to Jackson why the Green Monster doesn't have teeth and why it's still called a monster. It's hard to put that into a coherent idea that a 3-year old understands!

The next race is the Patriot Half, a local HIM, that usually has around 600 participants. I've done the race several times in the past, and feel that barring any injuries I should be able be pretty quick there. I really hope I can consistently get in at least three swims a week, as that should help me get out of the water in a good spot in eight weeks time. 

I need to keep triathlon in perspective - I definitely love the training and racing, but the focus is on our family and making sure that Katie and our future baby are in the best possible situation to make us a family of four later this year.