Friday, June 7, 2019

70.3 CT (Quassy) Report & looking towards IM Norway

When Ironman bought what had been Rev3 Quassy I had mixed emotions. I raced Quassy twice in the past (2015 and 2018) and enjoyed the experience. Having done many Ironman events, I knew the venue would be pretty cramped with at least twice the number of athletes, and this was definitely true. Transition was much larger than in the past, and the course was far more congested. Overall, it was mostly a positive experience.

With the focus on Ironman Norway in just over three weeks, I looked at 70.3 CT as a race to somewhat ‘train through.’ For most 70.3 races I generally would do a 10-12 day taper, but for this race I kept up what my typical IM training was through the Tuesday of race week. After that I eased up for Wed-Sat heading into the race. I still hoped to do quite well, but realized I wouldn’t be able to put out my best performance due to lingering training fatigue. I tried to get my feet up a little for rest at t-ball the day before we left.

We headed to CT around one o’clock on the day prior to the race. For those who haven’t raced at this venue, it is staged at a small amusement park on a small lake. It’s a great location for my two young kids (2 ½ and 6), as they loved going on rides! We arrived around 3:00 and were able to park on site (I was a bit worried we would have to deal with parking issues). I was able to quickly register and get my bike racked while Katie and the kids found some rides. Hannah is currently obsessed with merry-go-rounds, and was very excited to go on one. I met up with them and was able to go on the wooden roller coaster with Jackson. After a bit more time at the park we headed to our hotel, where things got a bit interesting.

I reserved our hotel around seven months ago, when I registered for the race, and used However, once we got to the hotel, I was informed we had no reservation and that the hotel was sold out. Not exactly ideal… I called and was told through the friendly automated system that I had at least 30 minutes to wait. Lovely. During my time on hold, the woman at the reception (who was very nice and helpful) informed me there had been a last-minute cancellation and that we could have the room. After finally getting through the they worked it out and we were able to stay in the one available room. That certainly turned out better than it could have, especially with not a ton of hotels in the area, the majority of which were probably sold out for the race.

We were able to get to be around 8:30 pm, and my alarm went off at 3:00 am, after a fairly decent night of sleep. I was being picked up by an athlete of a coach I knew, as my wife wasn’t all that excited about waking up the troops to drive me to the race. Many thanks to Chris Eckett for picking me up and giving me a ride to transition! It was nice to chat and get to know him on the way to park at Quassy.

I was able to set up my transition area pretty quickly, and then get my swim stuff ready. I headed out of transition and down toward the lake (visiting the bathroom on the way), and was met with a foggy scene down at the beach. An announcement was soon made that the start was being delayed in hopes of the fog lifting. Another twenty minutes later another announcement was made saying the swim was being shortened to 750m. Good news for me, as a non-fish. However, the way that the swim was sent off was a bit odd once the race began. Initially a couple of groups of 40-50 athletes were sent off, but then they began sending two folks off every ten seconds – at that rate folks would be done with the bike before everyone began the swim! It was changed to four every five seconds after a little while, and eventually I started, but over 20 minutes back of those first few groups.

I was out of the water in around 13 minutes, and got onto the biking portion. I made the choice to not clip my shoes into the pedals because the pavement was so poor. It was a good decision, but, as it turned out, I cut the bottom of my left foot on something coming back into T2 as I ran with my bike. The bike ride was relatively uneventful for me. I had made a decision prior to the race to not try hitting normal HIM wattage 270-280 watts because of training fatigue. I ended up at 252/263 AP/NP for the ride with a time of just over 2:21. The speed was about one mph faster than last year, when I had to use my road bike for this race. I had no real idea where I stood AG wise coming off the bike, due to the staggered swim start. Nutrition wise, I took in 600 calories of Infinit and 100 calories from half of a Powerbar.

I felt pretty solid heading out on the run, and decided to see if I could run under 1:30. Last year I ran 1:36, but the course was hillier (not that the new version wasn’t hilly). I settled into an effort with my HR in the upper 150’s to low 160s, which translated into a pace of around 6:40 for the first bit of the run. All but three of my mile splits were under 7:00 pace, and I finished the run in just over 1:29. It would have been slightly faster, but I was thrown off near the finishing chute, when my family called out to me. I ran right by the entrance to the chute, had to stop completely, and then come back to the finish area! This probably only cost me ten seconds, but it meant finishing 15th overall instead of 14th. Not a biggie in my mind. I ended up 3rd in my AG, about 30 seconds off of 2nd place, but a ton off a Canadian, who ran a 1:19, and was ten minutes quicker overall in my AG.

Missing the finish chute (yes there is a sign & arrow I somehow ran right by!): 

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how the race went. I’m currently taking things very easy in the week after the race. I’m going to try to swim a bit more than I have been over the next two weeks, and I should be able to get in a decent block of 10-12 days of solid training before starting to taper for IM Norway. After all of the planning for this race and trip, it almost seems weird that we’re less than three weeks from being in Norway.

I feel that this year I’ve been very consistent in my training, and during my IM build I’ve been in the 14-18 hr/week range. I’m doing my best to squeeze in as much sleep as possible, averaging around 7 ¼ hours a night over the course of a week. I’m also being smart with my nutrition, fueling after every workout, and eating well balanced meals and snacks over the course of the day. My weight was down to 167 prior to the CT race, and I feel I don’t need to go any lower than that for the IM.

Logistically, things are a bit ‘interesting’ for getting to the race site. Here is the nitty-gritty: overnight flight on Monday from Boston on to London, 3-hr layover, flight to Copenhagen and staying at a hotel at the airport, flight the following day to Stavanger (Norway), and a two hour bus ride to Haugesund (race site). Mixed in there will probably be a two taxi rides. We will have three large suitcases, two car seats, three backpacks, my bike case, and a stroller. I honestly don’t quite know how this will all work, and I’ll be very relieved once we arrive in Haugesund on Wednesday evening. That will leave three full days in Norway prior to the race. I’m somewhat optimistic that the kids, Katie and I will be able to adjust to the time change and be able to get decent sleep, but it could be the complete opposite. We’ll just have to see how things go. Honestly, I think that the travel and logistics of getting to the race site might be harder than the race itself!

In terms of IM Norway, I want to be able to look back and tell myself I did everything I could to put myself in a position to have a strong race. I have watched some online videos of the bike and run course, so I have an idea of what to expect on race day. I’m confident that if I can race smart and stay in the moment I will have the race I’m capable of. I'm going to dedicate my Norway race to my Dad, who has Parkinsons and also suffers from dementia. He has been unable to walk for the past three years, but was an amazing athlete in his youth, almost making the Olympics in rowing in the days when the top collegiate team went (his Princeton eight placed second in the collegiate eights). So, I'll be thinking of my Dad and my family during that last 10k of the run and will smile knowing that I will run for him, regardless of how bad I feel. I know that will help me be able to finish strong and achieve my goal of knowing I raced to the best of my abilities. 

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