It has been a crazy busy week! Let’s talk about the goal setting I did for Wildflower and my accomplishments toward them.
1. Sub-30 minute swim. I hesitate to write this. I was solidly on track for a great swim this year before the rotator cuff injury. I worked hard on my swimming all winter and even had a great first (and possibly only) pre-race open water swim. My time last year was 0:30:36 and I really want to break the 30-minute barrier this year.
Success! My swim time was 27:37 — shocking! I felt really slow in the water. I was out of breath for most of it and had trouble getting into a rhythm. I had to keep reminding myself to focus on displacing water, not just moving my arms in some sort of swimming fashion. I remembered looking at my watch at the turnaround point last year and it read 17 minutes. I was apprehensive to look this year, fearing it would be much slower than that. Much to my delight, it read 14 minutes! I finished the last straight-away strong and was thrilled when my watch read 27:33 as I stepped out of the water. Greg missed me coming out of the water because I was so fast!
I made the mistake of playing Stomp Rocket with the kids in the campground on Saturday night. Not thinking about my shoulder, I made several lunges to catch the rockets and my shoulder definitely felt the pull. I took 4 ibuprofen about 2 hours before the race and hoped for the best. It didn’t feel great during the swim, but not bad enough to be a real nuisance. It was obvious I was doing more pulling with my left arm because I’d tend to drift toward the right when I’d swim for any length of time without spotting myself. It has been a month since the accident and it isn’t getting any better, so I guess it’s time to have it checked out by a professional.
2. Faster transitions. My transition times last year were horrendous at 4:40 and 2:12, respectively. Admittedly, it’s a long run up the boat ramp from the water to the far side of the transition area… but I am clearly not being as efficient as possible once I get to my spot. Maybe I should practice this week like these guys?
Partial success. I reduced my overall transition time from 6:52 to 5:46, cutting 1:18 from T1 alone! But T2 went up by 8 seconds and I’m not sure why. It felt fast, I didn’t screw around with sunscreen or anything in the transition area. I don’t know what happened… All in all, I’m happy with my transitions. The transition area is huge, so just running across it from one entrance to the other exit would take at least a minute without stopping to change things out.
3. No walking. Before you write me off as a pussy, let me explain. There are actually people who RECOMMEND walking the hills on this course, saving their legs for the flat and downhill sections. This is not my run strategy. I tested both approaches in my training over the last three weeks and I shaved 2:30 off my run time by running all the hills (even though my lungs were burning and my HR was nearing danger levels the first time). My problem is this: my tendency is to leave everything I have out on the bike course. This is a hilly run course — 518 ft of elevation gain over 6.2 miles — and it is very exposed. My race starts at 10:35 AM, which will put me on the run course around 12:30 PM. My goal is to run all of it.
Fail. I went into the run knowing that it could be a disaster and I’d still break 3 hours overall. With a 3-minute improvement on the swim, at least a 1 minute improvement on the transitions, and a couple of minutes gained on the bike (by my watch), I knew I had some wiggle — or make that walk — room. I ran the first half and made it probably halfway up the long hill on the back side of the course before I gave in. No one in my age group had passed me and I could speed-walk as fast as some of these people were running. I ran up the last couple of small hills, taking Greg by surprise as he camped out at the top of Mile 5. I sailed down the hill for a strong finish!
4. Finish sub-3:00. Last year’s official race time was 3:00:07. I’d really like to come in under the three hour mark and I think it’s possible. If I plan to shave a couple of minutes on both transitions AND the swim and the run, this is doable. Right? Tell me my math works. My bike leg was very good last year at 1:29 and my cycling has been inconsistent this year. I don’t know that I can expect to do much better than that this year, especially since one of my goals is to leave enough for a strong run. I hope my savings in the other areas are enough…
Success! My official finish time was 2:55:40. Hooray! Considering I wasn’t in the mood to race that day and I didn’t feel like I gave it a full 100%, I am thrilled with the outcome. My stomach was very upset after the race because I took 3 AccelGels over the course of the three hours. I don’t train with them because I know they upset my stomach, but I also know they are great for quick energy in a race situation. I need to find a real food substitute — maybe an Amazeball. Does anyone have any other ideas?
I am considering this year an overall success! The Olympic distance — 0.9 mile swim + 24.8 mile bike + 6.2 mile run — is a really manageable distance, and it’s great to have the first race complete. I’m toying with the idea of Ironman Canada 2012 and I’ll have to do the long course (or some 70.3 distance race) in May if I commit. The long course at Wildflower scares me greatly, especially after watching Greg and Kidder suffer through it this year… Luckily, I have time to decide!
Next up: Bay to Breakers!