Having a “test” race a few weeks before my A-race was a great way to “kick the tires”. See IronMan 70.3 Waco

I found that writing down clear goals and my race intentions before I arrived in Florida kept me focused and freed me from impulsive on-course decisions. Being very specific was the key. I broke them into race sections.

  • Swim objectives – Swim with an average pace of 1:45-1:50 / 100 yds.
    • My stroke rate of 48 was incredibly consistent for the entire duration of the swim. Iโ€™ve reached a point in my swim efficiency that an increase in stroke turnover will probably be a good idea. I think that if I can achieve a higher turnover without jacking up my HR very much, my pace will drop significantly with a small increase in effort. 
    • Sighting – Having the proper goggles in addition to significantly more practice with this will help tremendously. During the race, I developed many bouts of mental anxiety and frustration because I was having difficulty sighting. Finding buoys, as well as timing when to lift my head and look were not second nature and they should be. Practicing this in the pool and during lake swims will be incorporated into future training. 
    • Finding a higher HR that is reasonably sustainable is necessary. I tend to pull back instead of stick it out and sustain the moderately intense efforts. Iโ€™m perfectly capable of sustaining them, I have to train my mind to release the tendency to pull back. 
    • Remaining focused on my effort reduced distractions – for example, I was unaware of how many athletes were struggling and being removed from the swim. 
  • Bike objectives – Maintain zone 2 effort for the whole 112-mile distance.
    • Sustaining zone 2 effort was fairly easy to do. Almost too easy, except I need useable legs to run a marathon. So, I guess itโ€™s perfect. Iโ€™d like to build my power base quite a bit so that zone 2 efforts are in the 200 Watt range instead of the mid 100 Watt range.  This will probably take years. 
    • I didnโ€™t feel the need to chase anyone down during this event. Staying on the plan was a bit easier than I expected. 
    • Riding past a home with the confederate flag above the American flag made me feel like I was an unwelcome guest in the city. The message I got was that “we are separatists before Americans, donโ€™t stick around here”. That was definitely motivation to keep moving, and a clear reminder that north Florida is an extension of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.
  • Run objectives- Run the entire distance, walk only at aid stations.
    • Starting off slowly and remaining focused on keeping my cadence was probably the best decision. Doing that kept my mind from wandering and creating negative stories on how it wanted me to stop.
    • Keeping my HR below 140 with the cooler temps worked to my advantage while the sun was shining by reducing my sweating. Less sweating meant that I didn’t have to be as concerned with losing too much salt and having cramping issues.
    • Walking the aid stations was a great goal. Doing it for 18 miles was a personal best, but not quite what I aimed to do. I will run from start to the finish line at a future race. I feel good about the progress toward that goal.
  • Make few nutrition mistakes.
    • Pre-race: beginning 4 days before race day, minimize fiber (no fiber two days prior to race day.). Be very intentional about staying hydrated 96+ oz of water each day with electrolytes. Carb-load with complex carbs. 170g oatmeal + apricots+ blueberries + 20g collagen every morning. Low fat pasta every evening. Nothing spicy 2 days before race day. No alcohol race week. No fried foods race week.
    • On Course:
      • Morning – 80g oatmeal + apricots + 1 cup black coffee. 20 oz water + UCAN electrolytes + bananna
      • Preswim – 1 bottle of water. 1 SIS gel pack 20-30 min before the swim.
      • Post-swim- 20 oz water + 1 pack UCAN superstarch + 1 Ucan bar.
      • On-bike – 3 bottles each with 2 scoops Infinit Nutrition + 1 peanut butter sandwich.  Repeat for 2nd half of bike.
      • Run – 1 bag Maurten powder in running bottle. Drink 1 bottle + UCAN electrolytes at least every hour. Eat pretzels and soup and grapes at various aid stations. 2nd half of the marathon, eat UCAN bar.
  • Don’t focus on a finish time.
    • Focus on executing a great race – see above goals ๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿฝ.

Overall Lessons

  • My pelvic floor recovery from the prostatectomy is not complete. I have to continue doing the exercise to strengthen those muscles. I mistakenly thought I was done and good to go. The race showed me that I am far from done with recovery. By accepting my limits at the moment I felt joy, gratitude during the race.
  • I can comfortably race in a tri kit. This was an unexpected lesson. Iโ€™d planned to wear a cycling kit while on the bike, but I broke the zipper the day before the race. Instead of purchasing a new kit, I opted to see what would happen.  The results were a welcomed surprise.
  • My ability to remain clear-headed in the water is fascinating. There are times where everyone around me seems to move in slow motion.  Finding this level of calm on both the bike and during the run would be ideal. I suspect itโ€™s a result of putting in hundreds of hours in the water in my lifetime. 
  • My Heartrate – was between 135-140 for the majority of the race. It was probably too low overall. I could have pushed harder and been fine.
  • My finish time was 2 1/2 hrs slower than last year, meaning that I was able to ignore the drive to finish as fast as possible. 
  • The way I executed my nutrition plan was excellent.
  • I also found that I prefer Maurten gels and drink mix to the SIS gels or Cliff blocks that I typically take.