As seen by the stunning photos in Malia's post, St. George, UT is an amazing town. The whole experience was AWESOME. The best run 70.3 I've done so far. I can't say enough how amazing the volunteers were and how awesome it was to have spectators out in the middle of nowhere cheering on the bike course!
I'll begin by giving a brief history of my experiences to date with the 70.3 distance:
- decent swim
- decent bike
- MASSIVE DETONATION ON THE RUN
After each race, I felt like this:
It's been a puzzle for me to figure out this distance. Not long enough where you pace for an all day effort, but not short enough so hydration and nutrion still play a big role in overall performance. Yes, I come from a cycling background, so yes I've had to learn how to pay my tithe to the triathlon gods and not blitz every bike course. Apparently, I'm a bit of a slow learner (no comments needed, Malia :) ) on this one since it took me 7 half-iron races to get it in the ballpark.
This winter, CTS Coach Lindsay and I narrowed down my run issues to: going a little too hard on the bike and needing to dial in my nutrition strategy. So in addition to becoming as fit as possible, hunting down a nutrition/hydration strategy that worked for me became my top priority. In the past, I've trained and raced with the latest sports nutrition gels/bars/etc with limited success. Usually running events were met with some unpleasant GI issues and triathlons were met with a good bout of dehydration.
Last fall, Malia and I got Allen Lim and Chef Biju's "Feed Zone" cookbook, and instantly fell in love with their rice cake recipe--and their philosophy that human bodies work best when drinking hydration and eating nutrition. With a few adaptations and suggestions from friends, we (and by we, I mean Malia) started making our rice cakes in mini-muffin pans:
This is the perfect size for triathlon, since they pack nicely in a bento box and are bite sized.
It's a common misconception in the triathlon world that eating "real" food while racing will wreak havoc on your GI system. (Disclaimer - as with any other nutrition strategy, please train with it long before you race with it!) I've had good experience eating real food on the bike for long stage races, but never tried it running before. One evening while perusing foodie blogs, Malia discovered that dates would make an excellent run food. With similar nutritional content to a gel, we started packing them in hand-held packets to take on runs (packet shown is ~120 calories):
In addition to the real-food nutrition, I've become only slightly addicted to the Skratch Labs Drink Mix (pineapples to be exact). This stuff goes down like water. After reading the science behind Allen Lim's development of the mix, it makes an amazing amount of sense (for those interested, check out the forward in the "Feed Zone Portables" cookbook)!
With a few months of training with Skratch mix and real-food nutrition with great success, I was very excited to give it a run through at the St. George 70.3.
Ok! Hopefully you're still reading and aren't too bored yet...you're almost to the good stuff!! I'll keep the race reporting brief, since there is a point I'm trying to make :).
I had a good swim, solid, but had a few too many 'where the hell is the bouy' moments :). As always, I'd like to go faster in the swim, but still was 3rd out of the water. All the work in the pool that Coach Lindsay has been having us do paid off with a 70.3 PR swim split :).
My goal on the bike was to keep it very steady and very controlled. I was going to ride MY race and ignore everyone else on course--even if guys in my age group passed me. My mission was to pay very close attention to nutrition, hydration and pacing so I could come off the bike and run well. Mission accomplished. [Hindsight is always 20-20, and Lindsay identified a few areas on the course where I probably should have gone harder and not lost an additional 3-5 min on the top guys in my age group. All good things to know, since we'll be back next year!!]
By the time I got to the run, I was actually excited for it! Yes, it was a nasty brutal course, but I felt good coming off the bike--the first time that's happened at this distance. I planned to keep the pace well within myself on the climbs and let loose on the downhills. I chowed down on my dates and stayed hydrated with a bottle of Skratch mix in my handheld. By the time I got through 9 miles (and had just seen Malia come past the other way!), I was getting giddy. I've never ran all the way through 9 miles in a 70.3 run before. Usually, I explode 5k into the race and am walking aid stations and trying to not pass out. Not today! Since the last 5k was all downhill, I felt like the nutrition plan/hydration strategy worked as I could bump the pace up several notches and go flat out until the finish! The run result was a 70.3 half marathon PR by 7 or so minutes on one of the toughest 13 mile routes I've ever ran.
My overall placing of 9th in the 25-29AG wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but that wasn't my main goal for the day. The goal was to RACE the run, and I felt I succeeded in that. My first REAL race...and my first race with REAL food!
I so pumped that Malia got 5th in her AG! After overcoming a frozen start to the day, I'm really proud of how she handled a few curve-balls throughout the day (including a flat tire in transition!) and was able to dial it back up and have a solid day.
A huge thanks to CTS and Coach Lindsay for getting my swim, bike and run ability to where they are now! I don't doubt the workouts and the work that I put in, since I know they have purpose and Coach Lindsay's objective perspective is spot on.
Thanks also goes out to the best bike/tri/bike-fitting shop in Denver, Tribellas and Denver Fit Loft. The bike was perfect on race day and the fit was spot on. Thanks James, Liz and Josh!
A huge thanks also goes to Malia, for dealing with my aftermath of rough training sessions, tough days at work, injuries, etc. Love you, babe!
I'm really looking forward to putting everything to work again at the Kansas 70.3 in a month!
Until next time,