2018 DRC Jacksonville Olympic Triathlon Race #2
Pre-race: Being the second time in a month doing this triathlon, the preparation, check in, etc. was old hat and it was a relaxing start to the day. I’d been hydrating well and I ate well, packed extra hydration and nutrition, good to go. To get personal, I have a morning coffee and “business” routine every day and I know if that happens “regularly” it’ll be a good day. Today my routine strangely happened multiple times, which on any other day is fantastic news, so I took it as a great sign, I figured it was just race day jitters. Sorry for the #2 talk but it’ll be relevant later on.
The swim: Last swim didn’t go so well due to not knowing just how strong the current was going to be and I expelled a lot of energy at the end to stay on course. On top of that I had the beginnings of some panic at the start of the swim from not having any warm up and past experiences. Today the current was about half the speed of last time, which stinks if you’re like me and you’re not the greatest swimmer. On the positive side I knew how to navigate the river now and could approach it with confidence. I stayed at the end of the pack getting in the water, took long deliberate strokes to get as much air as I could while my heart rate picked up and I acclimated to the river – I was cool as a cucumber and had no struggle whatsoever. I anticipated currents and stayed on course in one of my best race day swims over all. Not fast, I’ll never claim to be fast, but it was a good swim for me. I even managed to see Kristin running along the shoreline with the camera and gave a smile and wave while swimming.
The bike: This was my first race on my new (to me) bike. The difference between a no frills road bike and a well-made tri bike made a noticeable difference. My typical race pace is 21 mph with really givin ‘er, today I broke just over 22 mph and felt effortless. The bike held me in a compact aero posture and the Ultegra groupset pretty much shifts on its own without even touching it. I made sure to drink all of the hydration that I planned for the ride and managed to choke down an energy bar. Lesson learned – I need to try using gel packs or chews because actual food is hard to chew with heavy breaths.
The run: The run started smooth and restrained, remembering I came out last race “feeling great” at almost a full sprint and hit a wall pretty early on. I kept my planned pace for the first 4 or 5k then felt my energy plummet. Assessing my race day and the day before, I ate well and hydrated, but my “business” from earlier was raising a red flag. My only guess is that my stomach didn’t agree with something and everything that was supposed to be my fuel for today took the express lane and left early leaving just enough reserves to have a great swim and bike and leave me stranded on the run. Halfway through the run there just wasn’t enough calories I could consume to fill those reserves back up and I just had to muscle through the last 5k to the finish, at a pace that was almost a full 2 minutes per mile slower than usual.
Summary: Today was a reminder that we can plan and execute to our best abilities, but sometimes something crappy (pun intended) can happen anyway and screw up a race. On the bright side – 1) The first race I struggled and learned from the swim, 2) I benefited from an equipment upgrade to improve on the bike portion, and 3) Today I struggled and will work on mitigating gut issues so I can have energy for the run. With 3 races in the series, if I play my cards right I can pull together a complete race next time and see how I actually stack up against the field.
I shared some course tips in my race #1 report, but I can’t emphasize enough knowing the current and where it will carry you. There were a handful of swimmers that got carried way off course (in the middle of the river instead of the side where the exit ladders are). Site your targets and make your moves early!