Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Timberman Race Report...Well sort of...

Race reports take too damned long to report on. If I'm happy and stoked about my race, it's a little easier, but at this distance, I still have a bunch to learn, so this is a little bit of a task to write.

Hands down, Timberman was the best race I've ever been involved in. It's considered a "triathlon festival" and by all means lives up to this definition. It's like a weird cross between Woodstock and triathlon. There are plenty of hippies walking around, only instead of flowers in their hair, they're wearing compression socks with cargo shorts. Very interesting group and I'm proud to be a member.

So the race went well. It was a little hectic at times and I was proud to have stuck to my plan. In short, my swim was mediocre at best (I never thought I'd say a swim around 30 mins in a half iron race was mediocre, but for where I'm at as a swimmer now, I honestly feel that way). I did get kicked in the face 20 meters from the start, but that's just part of the game and it didn't rattle me in the least. The only reason I believe my swim was slow was the fact that I didn't swim in a wetsuit for 2 monts prior to the event. My last race was in June and at that point I was very fast in the wetsuit. Sunday I feel like it actually slowed me down as my shoulders tired prematurely.

The bike was by far the best part of my race. It wasn't the fastest time I was capable of, but I was happy with my pacing overall. I believe my bike split was around the 2:30 mark. I'm impressed because I honestly never got out of breath once on the bike, and at most times was holding waaaay back. My plan was to run like hell and I wanted every ounce of energy left to lay the smackdown on the half marathon.

On to the run. This is where things began to die slowly for me. When I'm fit I can run fast. I'm a teriffic 5 and 10 k runner, but the nature of a half ironman doesn't allow me to run like I'm capable of. My first 5k off the bike was strong. Not fast, as I was holding back, but strong. The next 5 k was also strong, but I still held back. My plan going into the race was to hold back on the first 10k, and crush the second 10k. However, by the time that final 10k came, I had no high gear. In fact, I found myself slowly fading, and fading, and fading.

From what I've read and listened to from coaches and athletes, the third 5k is usually where people fade, but often they come back strong in the final 5k. This is what I anticipated, but I never came back. It was a tough way to end what was otherwise a decent day, but just like all my races this season, it's taught me volumes about what it is going to take to get me to the level I want to be at in this sport.

In talking with my coach the night after the race, it because apparent that I didn't train to race the distance. Many of my longest days consisted of only 4 hours at the most. Simply put, my engine just wasn't tuned for what I tried to make it do. I've always had speed, and coming from explosive sports like football, lacrosse, hockey, and mma, I'm well equiped to sprint, but the long stuff has thus far eluded me. The good news, though, is that I've got time to learn and time to develop as a more complete triathlete.

I have one more half ironman distance race left this season, and I plan on putting in some long days in the five weeks before it. I don't expect this to make a gigantic difference, but I do expect it to change some things. I'm going into this final race with no specific intentions, only to see what the fruits of my labor will be. Six hour days will become a reality for me these final weeks. It'll be a good start.

Finally, self reflection is obviously a very important part of the game for any athlete. I've always been hard on myself because I've always had a lot of talent. I now see, though, that I've been too hard on myself many times. It takes a long time to get good at any sport, and with this one I need relax and work hard. It's not gonna happen overnight, but it is going to happen.

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