2012 70.3 Galveston

Executive Summary:

Race Priority: B

Race Execution: B+

Performance Summary, comparing 2010, 2011, 2012 plan and 2012 actual data:

2010 2011 2012 Goal 2012 Actual
Swim 00:46:21 00:36:03 00:36:30 00:37:04
T1 00:03:58 00:03:38 00:03:00 00:02:28
Bike 02:51:27 02:48:28 02:40:00 02:44:29
T2 00:03:17 00:02:52 00:02:30 00:01:40
Run 01:52:20 01:48:20 01:46:00 01:50:00
Total 05:37:23 05:19:21 05:08:00 05:15:41

Note:   My TrainingPeaks reports are linked to the hyperlinks above, where the words Swim, Bike and Run are shown.  Note that the times above shown as 2012 actual includes the time to fix my flat tire at mile 23, at approximately 7 total minutes.

Nutrition:

  • Breakfast: Hammer Bar & GU (330 cals total). 2 salt tabs plus vitamins.
  • Swim: 1 GU prior to swim (100 cals total)
  • Bike: 2 Scoops of Carbo-Pro plus two Salt tabs per 24 oz water bottle, in three bottles carried on the bike. 1 GU at beginning of ride, ½ GU at 1 hr and 2 hr marks for a total of 860 cals for the bike ride.
  • Run: 1 GU at miles 1, 4, 7 and 11. Planned for salt tabs at 1 and 7, but lost them somewhere in mile 1. Planned for a glass of water every mile, but actually did 1 glass every other mile, and 2 glasses at the other aid stations, as I was feeling dehydrated.

Weather conditions:   Partly cloudy skies, 79 degrees (peak) with 82% relative humidity (peak). Wind South at 15 mph.

Overall:

  • What went well:  One of my goals this year was to treat the transitions like a short course, getting in and out quickly. I accomplished this and took 2:12 off my total time from 2011 in transitions. Other than my flat tire on the bike, I put out better power, speed and efficiency on the bike, resulting in an 11 minute time improvement on the bike, after considering the 7 minute time dealing with the flat.
  • What could have been better:  Of course the flat had the biggest impact, but was probably not something I could control. My swim time was worse than expected, which I believe was due to not sighting enough (swimming off line). My run time was worse than expected, due primarily to heat / dehydration.
  • What I learned:  Sight more on the swim, make sure your salt tabs make it in your pocket…not on the ground, add more water to the bike leg on hot days, and always use shoes with drain holes on long course events.
  • Overall Age Group Rankings:  Total division (45-49 male) had 220 starters.  Swim 65th, Bike 56th (with the flat), Run 43rd, with the total being 38th (17.3%).  Taking the time out for the flat would have changed my bike to 30th position in the division, and 30th overall as well (13.6%).  But shoulda… coulda… woulda… it wasn’t meant to be.

Race Report Commentary:

In my past long course events, I have looked at them more as an endurance event rather than a race. I have been fairly conservative with the bike leg, to ensure I didn’t have a melt down on the run. I have also looked at the transitions as a chance to lower my heart rate in between events. Looking at 2012, I wanted to push the pace a bit more and see how my body reacted overall. Clearly looking at 2011 numbers at Galveston, some “easy” time was to be had by simply cutting transition times. This meant simply treating it like a short course race by running through transition, leaving my shoes on my bike and only eating or drinking while moving. The other significant opportunity seemed to be in the bike leg. Last year I pushed my short course bike portions harder, and was pleasantly surprised I was still able to run at a decent pace (for me). I felt like I could swim at a similar pace to last year, and pick up a little time on the run as well (last year I had a side ache on the run), so my overall target for the race was 5:08.

The day started uneventfully. I got up about 4:30 (½ earlier than my alarm) and had breakfast and started getting ready. I don’t like to think too much on race morning, so I have a series of lists that detail what to do when as well as having all of my gear packed in bags the day before (my lists are located here). At transition in the morning, I simply follow the instructions and get everything set up as planned. I had time to walk back and forth from run in to bike out and back several times to avoid any confusion later. I organized my helmet, shoes, glasses, etc. the same way I do on short courses. I did pack all of my run nutrition in a small baggie with a small tube of sunscreen, so I could just grab it and put it in my pockets on mile 1 of the run.

One of the down sides of being in the old man division is that we start near the back of the swim waves. The Pro’s went off at 7:00, and I got to sit around until 8:00, since my wave started at 8:10. That gives you plenty of time to waste energy and note that the temperature keeps going up… even before you start the event. When I finally jumped in the water (it’s a deep water start), I moved over to the right side of the start line, away from the

Starting the “on your left” chant before I even got to the bike leg.

buoys. My goals for the swim were to do a better job starting a bit slower, and keeping a more consistent pace in the middle (sometimes I tend to lose focus and slow part way through the swim). Overall I felt like my pacing was pretty good. What didn’t go well was my sighting, as I didn’t sight enough. I often sight off other people and did this somewhat unsuccessfully this race… following people off line. I found myself on the wrong side of the buoys twice, and more than 25 yards away at other times. Although my speed felt okay, I felt like I was zig zagging a bit on the course, which probably cost time versus last year’s race (my Garmin showed 40 extra yards this year). Although I was a bit disappointed with my time when I came out of the water, I felt my goal was still within reach.

T1 went really well. The only snag I had was with the wetsuit strippers, who took a couple of tries to get my wetsuit off me. This was only a couple of seconds overall, and everything else went well. I ran to my bike, put on my glasses, helmet and race belt (WTC requires numbers be worn on the bike leg too). I ran with my bike, hopped on at the mount line, pedaled a couple of tenths to get up to speed and put my shoes on while I was riding. I ate a quick GU and washed it down with some Carbo-Pro water, before getting far from transition.

My coach suggested I take it easy on the first couple of miles on the bike leg, and I followed the plan. This gave me a little time to get my HR down after running through transition, and get settled in on the bike. My goal was to target just over 21 mph average,

Feeling good with the wind to my back on the return… but still looking dorky in an aero helmet…

with an average watts of just over 200 for the ride. The course is basically an out and back along the ocean, so winds are always a factor… typically in the form of a headwind during the first half. This year the winds were slightly lower with less gusts, so I was making good headway on the bike ride, averaging over 20 mph. Near mile 20, the road goes from new asphalt to old paving with a lot of small stones, making a rough ride. There are also bumps and potholes where they have tried to fix the pavement. Although I felt like I had dodged all the bumps and rocks, at mile 23 my bike started to feel weird. I kept looking down at my rear tire and slowing down… and then I watched my tire fold under my rim. I stopped and pulled off to the side of the road and changed my tube. My Edge 500 was on auto-pause, while my 910XT continued to run. This allowed me to see that I was physically stopped for 5:30, and the total slow, stop and back up to speed time was just over 7:00 total. To add to the joy of a flat tire, I also picked up 20 new mosquito friends, who left bites all over my back. Once I got back up to speed I had to figure out plan B. I knew my goal was out of reach, but thought that I may still be able to beat my time from last year, even with the flat. With a new goal in mind, I continued to push the bike leg. Other than a lot of people riding on the left side of the shoulder (we were supposed to be riding the 5′ wide shoulders) causing me to pass in car traffic, the rest of the ride went well. I followed my nutrition plan, but started to feel a little thirsty late in the bike leg. I did slow a bit at the last aid station and picked up a bottle of water, drinking about 8 oz and pouring the rest on my body. Heading back to transition I slowed the pace a bit, slipped my shoes off (pedaling on top), and prepared for a quick transition.  With the exception of the start and finish sections through town where I dropped my power intentionally, my power average was 200 watts going into the wind (at 20.5 mph) and 195 watts coming back (at 22.7 mph).

T2 went well overall. I ran my bike back, took my helmet off, grabbed a visor and my nutrition bag and ran out. Once on the course, I put my salt tabs in my back shorts pocket, and my GU in my shirt and short side pockets. I grabbed water right outside transition, drinking one and pouring one on my head, with the plan to start nutrition at the first aid station at mile one.

My goal this year for the run was to pace at 8:15 the first mile and around 8:10 for the next two. After that I wanted to stick around 8:00 mile for the rest of the race. I was running just over a pace of 8:10 as I approached the aid station at mile 1. I reached back and found

Trying to look better than I felt with a little kick at the end.

that the salt tabs I had thought went into my back pocket were gone, so I’d have no electrolytes for the run. I ate a GU, drank a cup of water and poured another on my head. The high relative humidity was making it feel really hot on the run, even early on. I ran under spray tents when they were available. My first 5k was basically just a little ahead of plan at 8:08 per mile. I felt good overall with a HR at about 150. I started to pick up the pace to see how I felt. What I found was that my perceived effort went up, my HR went up, and my pace stayed about the same for the next couple of miles. I also noticed that my shoes were soaked (Kinvaras… no drain holes), and being size 13 they felt really heavy. Soon after I could feel blisters forming on the balls of each of my feet, from my water logged feet and socks. I continued to take GU every 3 miles, water every mile, and every other mile I’d stop or walk and drink two glasses of water. I was progressively getting warmer and feeling more dehydrated as the race went on, and at about mile 7 my HR continued to climb closer to 160 and my pace continued to drop down to around 8:30/mile. I kept looking at my watch and trying to figure out what I needed to maintain to beat my time from last year. At this point I simply pushed on, trying to keep my HR from getting too high. I wasn’t feeling great, but I was still making headway relative to most of the people on the course. I did manage to pick it up a little at the end, but finished well short of my goal at a time of 1:50:00.  After the race I drank 72 oz of water before I perked up.  In retrospect, I had started to become dehydrated and hot, which was driving up my HR in the race.

As a whole, I was still happy with the overall results. Of course there is always room for some improvement along the way. Hopefully I’ll avoid the flats in races going forward, but I can improve my sighting frequency, getting my electrolytes in my pocket, adding additional water on hot days on the bike to stay hydrated, and wearing more Tri specific shoes on my long course events.

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 72 in 2012.
  • 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, and they made it worse in 2012 rather than better. It was four loops within the Moody Gardens park, but now they added a section at the airport and made it three loops. 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 airport section is ugly, with no spectators… it’s not any fun. The upside of the multiple loops is that is is very spectator friendly, and there are a lot of people cheering along the way.

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