Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Monterrey 70.3

I have always lived a life of organization.  Everything needs to be organized, categorized, alphabetized and so on.  So when it comes to training, I like to do the same.  I set out the best training plan that I can fit into my life that my body can handle and start rolling.  Monterrey 70.3 was the earliest I had ever competed in a triathlon; so, this was a bit of an experiment.  After coming back from injury, I felt extremely fit, and I believe it showed in many areas of my race.  When I arrived in Mexico, I had a stressful first evening trying to get a taxi and get to the hotel as I speak zero Spanish.  After finally making it to the hotel quite late, I realized that not only had my bag been open when it came out on the carousel but that my cell phone charger and Ipad charger were both gone. 

After a night of sleep, I headed to the swim start area to take a swim and get used to the water and canal that I would be swimming in.  I was able to get in a smooth but very cold dip in the water.  Then, I picked up my packet and headed on a journey to find a cell phone charger.  Luckily at a local outdoor mall I was able to find what I needed and with pointing and hand gestures I had a new cell phone charger.  My bad luck was now behind me and I was ready to go to the hotel and relax all afternoon. 

When I arrived back in my hotel room, the maid had cleaned my room and nicely put my swim cap, timing chip, and free bag on the bed.  However, something was missing.  IT WAS MY BIB NUMBERS for the bike, helmet, and run number.  She must have thrown the white envelope away.  I ripped the room apart looking and hoping to find it, but with no luck.  Instead of relaxing for the afternoon, I traveled the mile walk through town to the bike area to try and get new numbers or come up with a plan.  Sadly all I got from the race was that I could not race without a number, but I could check back at 5 p.m. with the director for other options.  By the time I got back to the hotel it was time for final prep of the bike and to head back to the check in with my bike.  The race director said I could make my own numbers or not race.  This is not what I had wanted, as I am the OCD organized type, and this unorganized screw up was really stressing me out.  So, with my dad's suggestion I found an Office Max and bought shipping labels.  I turned my dinner and evening into an art project as I fashioned new bike, helmet, and bib numbers with a black Sharpie and a pocket knife. 

Finally, the race was here, I had prepared as best as I could, and it was time to go.  Or was it?  The past few years I have been blessed to be able to compete as an elite/pro triathlete.  This is highly beneficial because the elites go off and leave me in the water giving me plenty of space and clear line to swim.  This time, however, I was racing as an age group athlete, and my wave took off over an hour after the professionals.   So, when I finally did start, the canal was full of athletes that I would spend the next 1.2 miles trying to swim over and around.  When I finally exited the water, the rain began to fall.  The elites had nearly finished a bike lap by then with their earlier start, but unfortunately I would be biking the full 56.2 miles in a downpour of rain. 
Despite the rain, I managed my fastest bike split on a 70.3 even with a rough back cramp the last 16 miles.  What gives me even more confidence for future races is the fact that I had to walk my bike up a hill on both laps due to the pouring rain on slick cobble stones that prevented people from biking up.  As I took off on the run, I knew to go out conservative, but cool weather mixed with moisture was like a dream come true.  I flew through the first few miles picking off hundreds of age groupers who I had been catching all day.  There was only one problem.  I was starving.  I had been hungry since 35 miles into the bike.  Looking back, I should have taken on more fuel, but with the cooler temperature I felt good, so I hadn’t eaten my last two gels on the bike.  By mile 8, I felt dizzy and sick.  I knew I had to walk and start eating at every aid station or this trip wouldn’t even produce a finishing time.  So, for four miles I jogged very slowly and walked every aid station eating oranges, gels and drinking Gatorade.  Finally, midway through mile 11, I felt a little better and put a last decent surge in to finish at 4 hours and 55 min.  This was a solid 25 min slower than I had hoped for, but when I consider the 20-25 min slower than projected run, a crowded swim course, and walking on the bike portion, I have to be happy with my effort. 

This was not my fastest race, but it was a successful one due to the fact that I finished. What I can take from this race is a greater sense of responsibility for organization.  While I thought I had it all figured out, life threw me a curve ball, and now I will be more prepared in the future.  Nearly five hours of competing with no one to talk to, and not even a single fan to say "Good Job" in English; perhaps they were cheering in Spanish, but needless to say it was a lonely day if I wouldn’t have had my faith.  The constant conversation in prayer with Jesus pushes me, reassures me when I want to quit, and helps me to overcome obstacles I never thought possible.  I owe a special thank you to my mom who spent tons of time on the phone and researching this race trying to use her Spanish and travel background to help me in every way possible.  With all the stresses of this trip she did a fantastic job of keeping me calm and helping me through.  My dad I also need to thank as it was his idea to use office labels to make my creative numbers, and without that I would have wasted a trip.  I am blessed to have such a strong relationship with my Savior and with my amazing parents that he gave me.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Leading into Monterrey 70.3

In just a couple days I will be at another starting line anticipating the gun.  After racing so many times for many years, I rarely feel the nervous, exciting feeling where you might just vomit, and in all
honesty I kind of miss experiencing that.  I have not raced since the Chile Pepper XC festival in September where my feet gave out.  Now, with rest and three months of training, I am hoping that I stacked the deck in my favor.

When it comes to racing, you can stack the deck in your favor.  This doesn't promise a perfect race, but I'd rather be as prepared as possible and fail knowing I left it all out there than half ass it and get destroyed by the competition.

Sleep.. a plan I stick to is when I figure out what time I'm waking up on race day and count back 8-9 hours, and that is my bedtime for a week leading into the race.  This allows my body to develop a sleep rhythm.  Lack of consistent sleep is an overlooked ingredient to success.

The A race, coming from the man who loves to race, race, race.  I know that I do much better when I pick out important races aka "A" race.  By training for one specific race, I hope that I haven't peaked early or over exerted myself on a "B" or lower race.  Getting in a couple easy races that are spread out to test fitness wouldn't have been a bad idea for most, but with my nagging injuries I knew to steer clear of too many races.

I have never been as diligent in eating healthy as I should.  I did make one huge advance in racing nutrition by finiding the perfect gel for me which happens to be the Honey Stinger fruit punch gel.  Hopefully this will keep me firing with high energy throughout the race and avoiding the bonk.

One last ingredient to my success will and always has been my faith.  It's that trust in God that I am using the gifts He has blessed me with that allows a true sense of fulfillment.  It doesn't matter if I'm injured or healthy, racing well or poorly.  It's the attitude in which I conduct myself that matters.  Each day that God blesses me with, I will be joyful and make the most of it.

So I am rested, minus a little plantar problems, I would say I am healthy.  My all around fitness and anaerobic capacity is very high and my faith is at an all time high.  So, I chose the cards in my hand, now I just have to wait until Sunday to see what the dealer has in store.  Ironman Monterrey 70.3 here I come ready to finish fast in my new lime green Brooks T7's!