The Rage Triathlon
1.2 Mile Swim
56 Mile Bike
13.1 Mile Run
I approached this race with excitement and anticipation as this was my first race of the triathlon season. This was my third year doing the Rage and I am in love with this venue. While this race is a challenging course, I feel like it tells me so much more about my fitness than other races. I also like the two wave starts – men and women. I believe a little competitive element is lost when there are multiple wave starts because you really don’t know where your competitors stand in the overall race to the finish. This race allows you to be competitive in “real time”
Nutrition Plan – This race was a nutritional experiment for me.
I started the morning with my usual pre-race breakfast. One very strong cup of coffee, two pieces of dense white bread, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a half of banana about 2.5 hours prior to my start time. Oh, water and sodium as well. My morning meal was about 375 -400 calories.
The experiment part came during the actual race. My goal was to test myself to see how few calories I could use to get through the race. When your body becomes metabolically efficient at using the stored fat in your body for fuel, then you are less dependent on supplemental calories during competition which reduces the likelihood of GI distress. For long course racing this is extremely important for success in the last few hours of the race.
My plan was to pack 400 calories on the bike and use it as I saw fit. I planned on supplementing with additional sodium as well as water. By the time I got off of the bike I consumed less than half the amount of E-gel in my flask so I estimated it at 200 calories total. I ingested an additional 400 mg of sodium and about 64 ounces of water while on the bike.
When I got off of the bike I felt great, but I grabbed an e-gel for the road just in case I needed it. My stomach felt fantastic and I just continued to sip a little water at each aid station. I decided to pass on the E-gel and get to the finish line without any additional calories.
Swim: 38:54 – I have always been a little hesitant to push the pace on the swim. Today was no different. Going into this race I have definitely put in more swim time than I ever have, so I was optimistic about what my swim split would be. I decided to take the swim as I always have – nice and easy. I noticed something interesting about today’s swim though. About halfway through the swim I found a few other gears that I don’t usually have. I definitely swam a faster second half, but the exciting part for me is that I felt in total control of my pace and I felt completely relaxed – maybe a little too relaxed? I didn’t dwell on it too much. Up the ramp I went and into transition.
Bike: 2:43:18 – The tough part about this bike course is the constant change of rhythm – you are never in the same gear for more than a minute. I would estimate about 2 miles of flat terrain on the whole course. I exited transition with a set game plan – I wanted to control my effort for the first half of the bike and then let it go a little more for the second half. I also decided to race with no speedometer, heart rate monitor, or any other objective measures of intensity. I really wanted perceived effort to be my guide.
As I hit the turnaround point of this out an back course I quickly realized that I may have been a little too relaxed on the bike. I immediately began to pick up the pace and by mile 45 I was back on target with my goal pace. I used distance and elapsed time on my timex watch to compute my average speeds. This helps to break up the ride and gives me something to think about.
Run: 1:27:52 – The first half of this run is almost all uphill. There are parts where you definitely know you’re climbing and there are other parts that feel like you might be climbing. At any rate, the first half is definitely tougher than the second half. I knew if I held back a little on the way out, then I would be able to capitalize on the downhill on the way back. The nice part about an out and back run course (as well as a all male wave start) is that you get an opportunity to see how many people are in front of you. I can usually estimate the pace of an oncoming runner fairly well – both cadence and knee drive tell me a lot. I like to estimate how many minutes runners are in front of me and then I figure what sort of pace I need to run to try and catch them by the end of the race. After the turnaround I was able to catch 9 runners total and fortunately nobody caught me.
Finishing Time – 4:54:04
My goal for this race was to hit the 4:53:00 – 5:53:59 mark. My finishing time was 4:54:04. Close but no cigar. This was a course PR for me by 2 minutes.
Compared to last year’s race
Swim – 20 seconds slower
Bike – 56 seconds faster
Run 1:49 faster
Post Race Observations
Swim – I wish I would have trusted my swim conditioning and pushed the pace a lot more.
Bike – I was far too relaxed on the first half and, as a result, I pushed too hard on the second half of the bike. While my time balanced out to within 2 minutes of what I was anticipating, I had to push about 7 minutes faster on the return route to achieve this. I felt my glutes begin to tighten up right about mile 45 as I was definitely riding at a pace that was outside of my threshold.
Run – I was very happy with my run. Last year on this course I pushed a little too hard on the first half and I was struggling to hang on for the return trip. This time around I was able to push all the way through the end.
Moving ahead – Long course racing is always a balance between going hard, but not so hard that you blow up at the end of the race. I believe I have a good grasp of what this means for me, but I’m thinking I need to find a race where I am ok pushing too hard and risk blowing up. I believe this will teach me a lot about where my limits are.
Nutrition – I consumed a total of 200 calories, 500-600 mg of sodium, and about 70 ounces of water for the entire race. I never felt like I hit the wall so my energy balance was spot on. My nutrition experiment was a success.
The season has officially started!