Monday, July 10, 2017

Race Recap: Ironman Eagleman 70.3

Finally got around to signing up for an Ironman branded 70.3. My last (and only) was Racine in 2014.  For two years, I'd heard nothing but wonderful things about this race and I knew I just had to do it.  The weather - BEAUTIFUL!  The course - epically SCENIC!  The Cambridge location - SO EASY TO GET THERE.

In truth - it was a very well put together race. Gerry Boyle does a phenomenal job with this location and he truly cares about the athletes.  They can't help that it takes place on a weekend where you can't discern between Earth and racing on the surface of the Sun.  Or that famous DC traffic... actually, really any traffic in the 100 mile radius of Virginia/Maryland/DC - its all terrible.

Holli, Bicycle Pete/Honest Sherpa, and myself stayed at the Comfort Inn, a few miles from transition - easy to navigate around town.  We arrived Friday evening and got checked in, thrilled to have that activity checked off the list of stuff to do the following day.  In an idiot move, I realized I had thrown my xlab aero bottle straw away (it was moldy and i'm only so into building up my immune system within reason) so I purchased some profile design products so I could fashion a new one.  In a McGuyver-esque move, I was able to drink water from the bottle while laying in bed since the straw was three feet long.  a completely useless party trick but amusing all the same.

In the morning, Holli and i geared up and did a 45 minute bike on the run course and a slow 10 minute run.  the temps were rising and by 10 am, it was getting a touch uncomfortable.  we reunited with BP/HS and traveled a few blocks up the road to a diner to enjoy a big breakfast and relax.  shortly after, we packed up the bikes and dropped them off in transition.  I bid miss daisy adieu and told her to behave herself overnight.  there were a lot of pretty bikes and i didn't want her getting distracted for the ride tomorrow.  like rider, like bike I always say.

back in the hotel, we settled in and relaxed.  and laughed a lot.  we danced.  okay, i danced.  i didn't feel a lot of race jitters - i was pretty happy hanging with my friends for the weekend, nearly forgetting at times that in less than 24 hours we would be done racing.  rotisserie chicken and sweet potatoes for dinner - capped off with a handful of E.L Fudge cookies, water, rocket fuel, and osmo preload.  mmmm SALT.

i coerced the group into falling asleep to titanic as i showed my skill at knowing nearly all the words to the 3 1/2 hour movie.  i don't want to brag but... i'm pretty cool.

race morning - up at 3:45ish.  obligatory 1 & 1/2 thomas blueberry bagels with peanut butter plus banana.  another bottle of preload to wash it down.  SALT.  YUM.  plus one bottle of rocket fuel to carry around for the morning - thank you BASE performance for the ever-so-excellent hydration products.

pete, holli, and i set out for transition - by the good grace of god, some fellow DC Tri-ers had a house 1 block from transition and were generous to let us park in the driveway and take over their abode for race morning (thanks you guys).

friends were doing a relay and adam had asked me when i thought it would pass him on the bike.  they were starting about an hour before i did.  my random guess?  mile 43.  we would see...

set up transition - bike was already there so topped off air in the tires, added bottles and nutrition, and set up camp on my red washington nationals rally towel.  good to go.  hung back at the DC tri house with a short solo dance party and then headed to swim start.  wetsuit on, quick little freak out with Joanna (bless you friend for your hugs), and it was time to go.

i honestly recall close to nothing about this swim other than people were obviously cutting the swim short which is lame.  as in - i could see them cutting buoys.  meh.  swam my swim, easy to sight with the sun way up (we were in one of the last waves), and it was pretty clear water, not a lot of wading through people with the lines i took so that made it easy.  water temp was a little warm, very comfortable in wetsuit.  really like my xterra vengeance for the shoulder flexibility and the rocking lavender sleeves.  before i knew it, i was at the arch and running out.

wetsuit off, everything already on the bike, so quick ponytail adjustment, helmet and sunglasses on and it was time to roll.  literally.  pete hollered out that i was 22nd AG.  we laughed.

goal was to keep HR at 140-145, i have the HR of a sloth, i know.  the course is pancake flat, fast, and fun. i borrowed a pair of 808's from liz and felt like i was on cruise control just steady spinning - which i LOVE.  none of those silly hills, just a constant high cadence and forward, steady movement.  i felt great nutrition wise for the first loop - had all my calories in via honey stinger waffles and downed 2 bottles of rocket fuel - which is delicious cold but less than stellar when it is warm.  as my heartrate set into the low 150's, i realized the heat was having an effect on me.  i didn't feel tired, i actually wanted to push it more, but i actively slowed and conserved energy to follow the plan.
early into the second loop, my stomach stopped cooperating and as i forced half a waffle into my mouth, i took a big swig of rocket fuel, swallowed, leaned over my aero bars and watched that waffle and liquid come right back up and all over my arms.  solid regurgitation at its finest.

well, bleh.  that was nasty prochnow, i thought to myself.  then a few lines of nasty girl ran across my brain and i laughed and looked around, still covered in puke.

this sport is pure glamour, start to finish.

i had my eyes peeled for adam as i rode into mile 40.  sure enough, at mile 42.8, i passed adam - BOOM!  "hey baby", i yelled at him, puke remnants still visible on my arms.  damn, who wouldn't want to date me?

as i cruised into the final mile, a rider two bikes up fell in the no passing zone which caused a fairly abrupt slow down and stop.  damn.  so close but so far... we waited a little bit and then were able to continue the two blocks into transition.

aka re-rack, helmet/gloves off, adjust ponytail, grab all your shit and keep running.

the plan here was to start with HR @ 140 for the first few miles- this is also known as fast-walking-in-the-heat speed - like 9:30-9:45 min miles - pretty awesomely sluggish.  i shuffled along for three miles, ate a gel and water, loaded myself with ice/cold water at the aid stations, and marveled at the squishiness of my shoes this early in the race.  i imagined the epic blisters that were likely forming with water going everywhere at all the aid stations/directly on my feet.  I picked it up through miles 3-6, still feeling really slow but good in the heat.  this wasn't a race to PR or set any records, more of a long training day and i understood that - though the competitor inside didn't love it.  definitely a lesson in patience and HR regulation.  after mile 6, i picked it up more and finally felt like i could run.  pace started to drop quicker and i moved into the mid-8's for another 3 miles.  I passed a few people as I myself got passed and i knew i was out of the top 5 - but again, training day.  the last few miles were low 8's, high 7's and i felt fine.  i could feel my quads tightening up around mile 11, but thats the homestretch!  you just have to get to the finish, which i did.  wasn't happy with the time, but for the 40th time, i reminded myself that i was sticking to ironman plan.

bigger picture, prochnow.

i felt a little weird for the first 15 minutes after finishing - i was just so hot.  got some water, sat down, and felt normal pretty quickly.  it was warm out there!  saw teammates, old friends, new friends - the beauty of a "local" race - so awesome.

On to Placid!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Race Recap: Monticelloman 70.3

Family!  Friends!  Loved ones!  Triathlon aficionados!

What a welcome!  Aw, you shouldn't have.  Thanks for coming over.  Sit around and crack open a nice cold bud light while I real-men-of-genius recount this latest race for you.

That really doesn't even make sense.  Wait, don't go.  I'm sorry, please stay.  I'll have beer at the end if you promise to hang around until the end.  Just kidding, that was a lie.  I have nothing for you.

Anyway.  Race season finally arrived after what seemed like the longest off-season ever.  After Vineman in July, I basically shunned triathlon but continued to work out so I could also continue to fill my excessive need for tacos, pizza, and alcohol.

It's a super healthy lifestyle and I highly recommend it.

I've definitely been training a fair amount.  Putting in some solid hours on the bike, lots of running, and the bare minimum for swimming (if we're being honest, and i think we are).  Swimming hasn't been a lot of fun with a sore, aching shoulder, but it too is coming around.  I was excited and nervous going into the first race of the season - aren't we always?  I was also very interested to see how my legs felt off the bike and how the bike would feel in general with a new QR and the amount of training I've been doing.  The gearing on the QR is a 53/39 with 11-25 in the back, my cervelo had 50/34 with 11-28 in the back.  Very, very different.  Not knowing too much about bikes and having only done a few outdoor hilly-ish rides, I wasn't super concerned.

Ignorance, they say, is bliss.

My friend Charlie from undergrad was also racing and came down Friday to hang out and do race prep with me.  My intent for the day was to sit and do nothing except watch movies all day.  However - I ended up a hot mess.  We ran errands, went to Arlington Cemetery and paid respects to his classmate that was buried there, and then attempted bike stuff.  I borrowed my teammate's (thank you Liz) new Zipp 808s and proceeded to inflate them and immediately found that one of the tubes was blown.  DAMN THE BIKE GODS.  and the valve stem on my spare tubes are great for anything less than an 808 so off to the bike shop we went.  I also had a dilemma about the carbon break pads - I wasn't sure if the QR came with them or not given that the race model comes with carbon wheels (which I didn't purchase).  After taking my cervelo's brake pads off and comparing them - it turns out I already had carbon pads on there.  Awesome.   The living room was a mess of bikes and parts and via telephone to Bicycle Pete, i next learned how to widen the brakes to fit the 808s.

What it comes down to is this - I'm basically a bike mechanic now.

Ordered sushi for dinner, watched Frozen and passed out.  So much for sitting on the couch all day watching movies.

Saturday morning - day before race: got up and took all the gear to Hains Point for a quick 45 min spin and 10 min run.  It had rained a fair amount the night before and for the first time in my experience, parts of HP were flooded.  Bike shoes got a bit soggy but not too bad.  Quick shake out run around the Jefferson memorial and it was back to the apartment for waffles.  Packed up and headed down to Charlottesville for race check-in.

Arrived at check-in around 2 pm.  Picked up all the stuff and met up with Joe, Mark, Ellen, and a few of the RTTC ladies.  Quick swim in the new Xterra Vengeance wetsuit to test her out and I felt good to go.  Love this wetsuit and the shoulder flexibility!  I also discovered the legs are cut shorter to mid-calf which is much better than the ankle cut in my opinion.  Its a size smaller than my old Xterra and that makes a world of difference in terms of fit - so much better!  Who knew?!

Checked into the hotel, got gear ready and packed for the following day and watched the Derby.  Headed to dinner and had a seafood pasta with one Stella which hit the spot.  Back to hotel for sleep!

Up at 5ish - late race start of 8:30 am so nice to "sleep in" a bit on race morning.  Transition opened at 6:30 - arrived at 6:45 or so.  Set up transition, milled around for a bit.  Used the bathroom a couple times.  Made sure to eat 1 & 1/2 Thomas blueberry bagels with peanut butter and 1 banana prior to putting wetsuit on around 8 am.  Ate a gel with water around 8:15 as I headed to the water.  Men started at 8:30 and women started at 8:33.  The familiar feeling of anticipation started to take over my chest and I could feel my heart start to race.  "Chill the eff out Prochnow", I told myself, "Swimming is your thanggggg".

Started out at the front of the group and ran/dove in from the beach.  Immediately, there were 3-4 girls around me for the first few minutes and eventually they dropped off until it was just myself and one girl to my left.  and... NO ONE IN FRONT.  its hard for me to maintain a race pace with no one to race and no one visible to catch.  so, I swam.  a bit too comfortably looking back - the pace was easy but i could see we were catching the men after a short time.  no memorable encounters with anyone during this go-around, though a quick tip to the few men who swam perpendicular to my line of sight - "you're going the wrong way dude... buoy is 90 degrees to your left...".
Saw the beach finally and headed in.  The girl crept up a bit - so i did too.  She managed to get out seconds in front of me.  *shakes fist and dizzily runs into transition.*

working on those quick transitions, had a three second debate about arm-warmers or not - determined it was too much work and ran out.

chilly getting on the bike, but i wouldn't regret the lack of arm-warmers in the minutes to follow.  I got into a groove and felt all right for the first loop.  however, i was having trouble chewing food and swallowing - bonk breakers are dense and still apparently difficult for me to swallow (did I learn nothing from last year?) so I struggled with nutrition.  it got to the point that every time 15 minutes came around and I went to eat the small 1/4 of a bar I got upset with myself and my stomach got queasy.  it would just sit in my mouth for minutes which made me want to throw up but i knew i had to eat something that was my only option.  hydration wise, i was good to go.  i started off with 2 full normally concentrated bottles of rocket fuel (2 scoops hydro, 1 scoop watermelon amino, 1 scoop salt) and 1 double concentrated bottle with only 1/4 filled with water - the idea being i can grab a water bottle at an aid station and mix my own drink without dealing with powder while not carrying the full weight of an additional 1-2 bottles.  worked awesome - i ended up drinking 3.5 bottles during the bike - easy peasy.  by the second loop, my legs were getting tired - rolling terrain was hurting, I wasn't able to fly up those hills with my current gearing like I used to and that was frustrating.  i got a little light headed, felt nauseous due to lack of eating, but forced myself to swallow chunks of the BB bars whole or I knew I would feel much worse on the run.  Definitely not the bike time i was anticipating and was disappointed about that as i headed into T2.

screw you bike, i'm out.

there has been a lack of "happy place" in my race running for a couple years now - or really running in general until the past 6 months.  we did some run focused prep over the winter and i started to love it again so i was curious how this would translate into tri.  heartrate was a little low off the bike and i felt a bit sluggish as i started into the run.  i did hear "3rd female" as i left T2 and then "... but they're at least 5 minutes ahead of you!".  i actually laughed and said "thanks dude!"

i appreciate honesty in sport.

i knew i wanted to build HR throughout the run - increasing about every few miles.  i started out at a good pace for me - high 7 - but the course was rolling.  very very rolling.  with every incline i told myself "good placid prep, yay!" and forced myself to believe it.  around mile three i could hear footsteps coming on strong - i hadn't been passed yet but i had a gut feeling those were female steps.

sure enough, a women surged past me and kept going.  i felt myself mentally shut down as i watched third place literally run away from me like i was standing still.  i let myself feel like a failure for a few seconds and decided i had enough gas in the tank to pick up the pace a bit without blowing my HR through the roof too early.  "just stay with her prochnow, only 9 or 10 miles to go." even thinking that statement felt a little ridiculous to me, but what was the worst that could happen?  i run out of steam and slow down to a walk?  this race means NOTHING at this point in the season!  so, i picked it up a bit - and she stopped gaining on me.  slowly, over the next couple miles, i crept up on her.  i could see that the inclines were not her friend and i took that opportunity to gain a little more with each one and ZOOM down the other side (free speed! use the hills!).  around miles 5-6 i found myself running on her heels and feeling my gas tank slowly filling back up as the pace slowed while i sat on her feet.  an uphill was ahead and i decided it was time to pass her and put some distance between us.  as i ran by, i told her how strong she looked - because she did.  she looked awesome.  i told her i'd been trying to catch her and she said she had taken it out too fast.

"anything can happen in a race regardless of who shows up to race."

i passed her and i charged a bit into the turn-around.  lo and behold, three more girls were coming up on my fast friend.  "oh crap... MUST-GO-FASTER-MUST-GO-FASTER." (thank you, Dr. Ian Malcolm).

i ran away from them as if that t-rex really was after me in my 1993 jeep wrangler.  around mile 10, i heard more footsteps and a strange yell - i turned around and a girl was RIGHT FREAKING THERE.  OH CRAP!  for the next 15 seconds, i wondered why she had made that strange noise and i turned around she was gone.

... wait, what?  i did a double take and sure enough, she had disappeared.

super weird, but whatever!  i kept running and slowing building my speed and HR - i was feeling really strong through mile 11 and i could feel my quads start to tighten and my stride shorten.  i thought to myself, "only two more mi---"

i heard the weird yell again, interrupting my self peptalk and realized the girl was behind me again.  WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON?  i gunned it for 15 seconds, turned around to see where she was - and she had vanished.  now, this particular part of the course is a straightaway, so after the second time this happened, i questioned my sanity.  now, sitting here, rehashing the race, i'm a little worried i was seeing/hearing things.  but i felt fine.  i actually felt really good all things considering at mile 11 of the run.

the last two miles are a bit of a blur - i tried to pick up the pace further and just hold on to my suspected third overall spot.  before i knew it, i was taking the left to the finish and the arch was right there - looked behind me and saw no one but at that point, who even knew where the ghost girl was at?  ran through the finish and saw my time - 5:15 - not great, but it was a rough bike.  my run was 2 minutes faster than 2 years prior when i considered myself to be in good run shape so I was really pleased with that.

overall, the run was a huge mental victory for me.  i stayed mentally strong instead of giving up and i worked my strengths and stayed patient.  im really proud of myself for how i handled the run and aside from the two-time break from reality (was that girl ever really there?  was i going crazy?), i had a strong, consistent run and i fought for my place and raced.

i ended up 2nd OA thanks to the collegiate category taking the first OA girl out of the open results.  ellen got 1st OA so we got to share the podium and were showered in prizes!  really cool.  joe won overall male, so DC Tri did pretty well in our first halves of the season.

on to the next one!  till next time...