IM 70.3 Galveston Apr ’11

Executive Summary:
Race Priority:    B
Race Execution: A-               Time     Rank     Stats   Notes
Swim:     36:03     484/42    Link     Good swim for me
T1:          3:38
Bike:      2:48:28   468/39    Link     Okay ride overall
T2:         2:52
Run:      1:48:20    374/35     Link    Slower than target
Total      5:19:21

Nutrition:

  • Breakfast:  Hammer Bar & Kashi Bar (430 cals total).  2 salt tabs plus vitamins.
  • Swim:  1 GU prior to swim / 1 GU after (200 cals total)
  • Bike:  2 Scoops of Carbo-Pro plus Hammer electrolytes (2 scoops) per 24 oz water bottle.  1 GU at hour 1, 2, and before finish (972 cals total)
  • Run:  1 GU every 3 miles, 1 salt tab every 6.  Water every mile.  Skipped GU at mile 12.  (300 cals total)

Weather conditions:  Clear skies, 78 degrees (peak) with 79% relative humidity.  Wind South at 15-25 mph.

Overall:

  • What went well:  All my events were faster this year than last year.  The swim felt much better.  Other than an equipment problem on the bike, I handled the wind fairly well overall, with decent power.
  • What could have been better:  My aero bottle was loose and I messed with it most of the ride.   My run was slower than expected, and I had a side ache after mile 3.  My transitions were poor overall.
  • What I learned:  Tape the aero bottle in place, as a precaution.  No more drinking / eating in transition (I never do this on shorter races anyway).

Race Report Commentary:
This was my second 70.3 at Galveston, and was part of my training plan for my IM at CDA in June.  I ranked it as a “B” race, as my intent was to improve over the prior year, but not destroy myself pushing the pace.  It gave me a good chance to check my nutrition and practice in a race setting.

The prior year was my first 70.3 at Galveston, and I finished in 5:37:23.  Overall it wasn’t a bad first HIM, my biggest issue was a terrible swim… taking 46:21.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I swam easy (i.e. slowly…) and was surprised just how slow it was when I came out of the water.  My bike was okay at 2:52:27, as we had quite a bit of wind, which switched part way through the race (not pushing us back as expected).  My run was fine, at 1:52:21.  Overall I finished the race feeling good physically and emotionally.

Going into the race my goal was to complete the race in less than 5:30:00.  I felt like I could pick up 6 minutes in my swim, as I was swimming a bit faster… but mostly just trying to stay focused and pushing a bit.  I was just hoping to be able to match my bike time from the prior year.  During my training, I was actually putting down higher numbers the prior year (56 miles at over just over 200 watts average on the Computrainer) and wasn’t able to keep that high of output this year.  But, I was running quite a bit faster this year, and hoped to make up the difference in the run… intending to be around 8:00/mile on average.

I got a good night sleep, calling it a night around 9:00 pm.  I woke up feeling good and rested, had breakfast, a quick shower and headed to the race.  The temp was warm and humid already, with a relatively high and gusty South wind.  I mixed up my carbo-pro with water, and put them in my aero container plus my spare water bottles.   Kristi Warren was nice enough to let me borrow her pump to pump up my tires.  I noticed she was taping her water bottle in place, and I remember thinking that was probably a good idea… but didn’t do it.  I grabbed a GU, my goggles, swim cap and wetsuit, and then relaxed in the porta potty line before going to the race start.  The old man division is near the end, so I spent a lot of time waiting and watching before the race started.  Finally we were lined up and ready to go.

The only time I don’t heel strike…

It is a deep water start, so you jump off the dock and tread water for several minutes before starting.  I decided to try to position up a little closer to the front this year, but near the outside lane (away from the buoys).  When we started, I tried to keep long even strokes, with a moderate pace.  Although I bounced off people periodically, I seemed to be able to get away from people and was able to get a good rhythm going.  My thoughts were simply that I needed to take long strokes, and not to dilly dally… as this was a race.  I was surprised to overtake a few people from the age group in front of me in the first third of the swim.  I was more surprised when I passed people from two groups in front of me by about 2/3rds of the swim.  I felt like I had a good swim, but was shocked when I came out of the water in the 36 minute mark… 10 minutes ahead of last year.
I jogged into transition, and tried not to push too hard to give my body a chance to rest a little.  I ate a quick GU, and washed it down with water.  I put on my shoes, helmet and race belt, grabbed my bike and headed out of transition.
I road for a couple of minutes, when my aero drink bottle popped out of it’s plastic holder and slid down my aero bars.  I tried to pull it back in place, but could not get it secured with the Velcro as I road.  I decided to bit the bullet and pull off the road and try to get it secured.  I was consciously counting off the seconds as I sat there and tried to thread a small Velcro strap through what seemed to be an even smaller slot in the plastic holder. After what seemed like an eternity (a little over 30 seconds), I got the strap through and pulled in front securing it in place.  I get back up to speed… losing just over a minute between stopping, fixing, and starting again.  I went down the road a couple of tenths of a mile… and it popped out again.  I pondered throwing the whole bottle away, but it was full of my nutrition.  I decided to hold on to the bottle between my forearms, drink it up and then decide what to do near the 20 mile aid station.  It was a constant battle of the trying to hold the bottle in place… it slipping out, and then pulling it back in place.  I found that it was actually too thick to fall out of the aerobars completely, but basically it just bounced around and sprayed my carbo-pro all over if I didn’t keep it up in it’s holder.  I eventually decided to just hold it in place for the entire ride.  It became less of distraction to me after an hour, and I focused more on my riding.

Cursing my aero bottle, before filling it up again.

Other than my water bottle, I felt good on the bike.  I was passing quite a few people, but felt like I was better at managing my power this year than last year.  The prior year I was so paranoid about a drafting penalty, I tended to hammer it when I passed people, spiking my power and then backing off.  This year I tried to keep a much more even pace overall, which eventually paid off.  Even with stopping and fighting with my water bottle, I was pleasantly surprised to see I actually made up a few minutes on the bike.

Back to transition and again I had a GU and water, loaded up GU and electrolytes in my Tri top pockets, and headed out for the run.  I felt really good and although I intended to start slow… my first mile was about a 7:30.  It quickly became apparent I needed to do something different with my GU packs, as they were bouncing all around in my Tri top rear pocket.  I decided to drop them in the sides of my Tri shorts, with the idea I’d just grab them out when I needed them.

My right short leg crept up, giving me a fine bright red stripe on my leg.

My second and third were under 8:00/mile and I was feeling good overall.  Then things got interesting.  My GU packs worked their way down my legs and started coming out near the bottom of my shorts leg (note to self… not a good plan).  Next, I got a side ache, which I kept until about mile 12.  The temp and humidity started to bother me and my HR was rising, even though my pace was slowing.  I kept on my nutrition plan, with GU every three miles, salt tabs every 6, and water at every stop.  I also poured water on myself at every stop and put ice down my shirt.  After mile 10 I started to feel a little better.  When my side ache finally dropped away, I felt like I could push again and at least had a little better finish.  Although it wasn’t the run I had hoped for, I still took several minutes off my previous year’s run.  In retrospect… I started off too fast the first three miles and I suspect it hurt me a bit in the run overall.

Actually enough energy for a bit of sprint at the end… must have meant I didn’t push hard enough earlier.

As a whole, I was very happy with the results.  Looking at what I should improve on… the first has got to be my transitions.  I am usually quick through transitions in sprints, and I just need to eliminate any eating / drinking in transitions in longer events as well.  Looking at comparable people’s times, I lost a couple of minutes in transitions.  Of course, securing equipment is an easy fix as well.  Starting out a little slower on the run… just takes a little more views of the Garmin in the first couple of miles, pulling the pace back to stay on plan… no matter how good I feel in the first couple of miles.

In the end, I met my goals for the race.  I improved my times and picked up a few lessons and ideas for my IM at CDA in June.

Thoughts on the Galveston 70.3:

  • Relatively easy event overall.  I think this is a good starter ½ IM.  The biggest challenge is the wind, heat and humidity.
  • Other than the deep water start, the swim is straight forward.  You can get some waves in the bay where you swim.  The water is typically wetsuit legal.  It was low 70’s in 2011.
  • The bike course is a straight out and back.  Generally the roads are nice.  The first mile is a bit bumpy and the last couple before the turn are rough, but the rest are relatively new and smooth.
  • The run course isn’t my favorite, as it is four loops within the Moody Gardens park.  Each loop also has a lot of turns, so between the congestion and turns it is a bit hard to get a good rhythm.  The upside is there are people cheering you for most of the course.

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