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Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas - Triathlon


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Galveston, Texas
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
26C / 79F
Sunny
Total Time = 4h 58m 46s
Overall Rank = 255/~2800
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 12/170
Pre-race routine:

FYI, if you don’t like numbers, this is not the right race report to read.

My goal for this race was to gauge where my fitness is this time of year.

Of course I wanted to do well but I was not willing to wipe myself out. My more important race is in June and my best HIMs, when I give everything wipe me out for 2 weeks. I need a good 6-7 week block so wiping myself out was not an option.

Just making up numbers, if you imagine “emptying your tank”, emptying to 80% is uncomfortable, 90% really hurts and 100% has consequences for multiple weeks following the race. I was willing to go maybe 85% here. So the plan was to be more on the conservative side

I needed to figure out what my outdoor power numbers should be. Blowing up and then adjusting downwards was not the way to go.

Going under under 5hrs would be nice and I figured a 35min swim, 2h30 bike, 1:45 run + 10min of transitions and "buffer" (bike conditions permitting) would make sense.

In hindsight I did not foresee what heat would do to me on the run. I now realize it was quite predictable. Going from Canadian freezing to Texas heat and humidity is sub optimal. Going from mostly trainer to road is sub optimal. I did little outdoor riding so far this year

My expectations on the run were not really set since my longest run this year is 10 miles due to injuries, which are now pretty well healed up and the main focus of the next build block.


Swim
  • 36m 11s
  • 2112 yards
  • 01m 43s / 100 yards
Comments:

2nd to last wave. I had hoped for a wetsuit swim since that gives me a good 3min. But the water was too warm.

It was pleasant swim, little contact, pretty straight line. There was one guy I tried drafting but he was all over the place. We ended up swimming the whole race near each other but I didn’t really get much drafting. I really need to put more effort into finding a good set of feet. A few times I surged to get past slower people from the previous waves and I fell back into my pace easily. I do have the ability to surge whe needed which is an important ability in racing.

Swimming is strange, the fine line between too easy and too hard is very hard to find. There is probably a 6 sec/100m difference between the two.

I was disappointed but not surprised by the poor swim time. I simply did not put enough effort. I am really bad at swim pacing. Normally when I get on the bike my HR is 145ish and I try to bring it down to 140ish. I started the bike with 132 so proof I slacked off on the swim. But it was enjoyable.


What would you do differently?:

I will do a 1500m pool race in a few weeks to confirm where my swim really is.

Swim improvements are hard to measure because of inaccurate distances. So I rely on Andy Potts.

70.3 Worlds 2011
Andy 23:19
Me 36:05
12m46 behind

70.3 Worlds 2013
Andy 23:25
Me 35:49
12m24 behind

This race
Andy Potts 24:00
Me 36:11
12m11 behind

I am closing in
Joking aside, the course was definitely long, Looking at other races and my Garmin, I suspect this was was close to 75m long.
Transition 1
  • 02m 38s
Comments:

Nothing exciting. By the time I got out of T1, I was at 40min. Quick math, I had 2h30 for the bike, 1:45 for the run, and 5min for T2 and “buffer” to stay within my 5hr budget
Bike
  • 2h 31m 33s
  • 56 miles
  • 22.17 mile/hr
Comments:

When I got on the bike it was confirmed I slacked off on the swim. I usually need 10 or 15min to get my HR down to my bike target. I got on the bike a few BPM below bike target, so the swim did not take anything out of me. Less learned : next time I will do the first part 10km of the bike a little harder if I under swam.

I race with a power meter but I do also follow my HR. I am not sure of my outdoor threshold power but I suspected it was around 272ish. At 80% that would be 217w. Ususally on a HIM I am around 140BPM. The important thing was to get a HR/power ratio to confirm my proper race power

(BTW, FTP tests would put me around 285ish watts, but like most people, they overestimate my FTP. Through other tests, I confirmed 272 to be more accurate)

I wanted to bike about 15-20 watts lower than my ability, so say 200w. I am also very much 3 BPM per 10 watts. So I was going to bike around 135 BPM and see what that gave. Based on my trainer rides, my guess was 200 watts or so.

Going out was a bit of a tail wind. Normally in a tail wind/head wind situation you put a few more watts into the head wind and less with the tail wind. So I decided to go out a little conservative.

First third, I was cruising at 23.5 mph on 194 watts, HR 134. My HR and power lines up so I knew all was good. I knew I was banking time for a 2h30 split, but also knew I would have the head wind on the way back but said “I’ll just bike harder then”

Second third I got hit by quite a bit of rain and a weird head/tail combo. I can tell by my watts/speed if there is a slight head wind and in this case it changed during this segment. 22.4 mph, 196 watts, HR 133. Again it lined up with my watts/HR expectation. But I was below HR target and quite frankly being lazy. I should have pushed a bit more. I should have put in a 10 watts more and HR a few beats higher. I had banked about 2.5 minutes on my 2h30 pace, so I became lazy.

Last third, was poorly executed. I knew I had banked time for my 2h30 goal. But it was all head wind. 21.3 mph, 184 watts, HR 132. I should have just ignored speed and went by watts or HR, but I was conservatively preserving myself. Silly. I should have rode 3 beats higher, 195-200 watts. This is mental weakness. On top of that the last few miles were rough road, lots of turns...so you lose a lot of time. I went from 2.5 minutes up to 1.5 minutes down but knew I had 5 minutes allocated to T2 which now become 3.5minutes.

Overall I rode 191w, 133BPM. 3 more BPM would give 200w at 136BPM, exactly my prediction. I know my outdoor FTP is right and I should be able to hold 80% with a few more long rides. Next race I will race around 215ish and suck it up. My HR will be 139-140 where it should be.

Nutrition : a cliff block every 15min, so 10 x 8g of carbs x 4 calories per gram = 320 calories for the entire bike. I drank 2 bottles of water for the entire ride, so about 48oz. Each bottle had 600mg of sodium, Interesting facts on this at the end.

There was a “no pass zone” at the end and we were bunched up so I decided to save a bit of time in the porta potty. It was a “no pass zone” not a “no piss zone” so I was good. I did look back before proceeding. Nobody behind. Let her rip. If you plan to do this, remember to pour water to avoid irritation.

So I finished the bike, 1.5 minutes slower than my target. So my 5min with T2 and “buffer” was now 3.5minutes





What would you do differently?:

I am confident that my FTP and 80% are good.
I have a few outdoor bike TTs to confirm some power numbers and some aero stuff, but I am confident my bike is good enough for June.

I did the whole ride in aero, minus a few times where cars we screwing things up or on a few sections of very rough road

I need a few more long rides on real roads for my endurance, but overall it's not bad.
Transition 2
  • 01m 49s
Comments:

T2 took about 1.5minutes, so my “buffer” was now 2 minutes assuming a 1h45 run to go under 5h. I was feeling really good so I wasn’t too worried

Normally your legs feel weird running with your bike in T2. I had my run legs immediately. I was happy.
Run
  • 1h 46m 45s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 09s  min/mile
Comments:

Very simple, to have a good run, I need something to motivate me. By best 3 HIM runs were when I was racing a friend (Tremblant 70.3) , chasing an AG win (Muskoka 70.3) and trying to break a time barrier (Miami 70.3). My only motivator here was to not cramp and to finish under 5h.

I pace my runs by HR. My goal was to stay under 148 for the first half of the race, creep to 152 by ¾ and then whatever for the last quarter.

Again I know my pace to HR numbers very well so this should be a piece of cake. I did not think through the heat factor completely. In hindsight this was silly.

I suck in the heat especially when not acclimatized. I saw my pace/HR was off just based on a few runs the days before but I ignored it. My HR was a good 6 beats higher in this weather. I saw it the 2 days before the race.

I have a ton of HR/pace/temperature data. I am very consistent, 1BPM=3sec/km.
Since, I have looked more closely at the temperature angle of it. Going from cold to hot, I am 6BPM higher heart at the same pace. So should have expected to be 18sec/km slower than in cool weather

I would be happy with 5min/km or 8min miles. I suspected it would be a tad slower. But I had a 2 minute buffer, so all is fine. Off I went. First 5km (3miles) I felt really good. My running legs were there immediately. As I said I felt good running with my bike in T2.

But my HR started to creep very quickly. I should have slowed down, but I cannot naturally run slow enough to do that, as silly as that sounds

I decided to dump as much water and ice on myself as I could. I took very little water and no calories on the run. I did walk the aid stations to dump water on me, try and grab ice and get my HR under control.

Normally when I pee on the bike I pour water “down there” to dilute things and avoid irritation. Mistake….I was wearing a one piece with the zipper on the back. So the girl at the aid station stared at me as I threw glasses of water at my crotch.

The only way to get my HR under control was a 10-20sec walk now and then. I never walked much longer than that, but they were much more frequent than I would have wanted. I never really felt I was truly wiped nor that I was anywhere near cramping but I am a strong believer in keeping HR under control and rising very slowly

I held back a lot to keep my HR in check but I always doing it keeping in mind the 5h target. Every km I would do the math to see how far or behind I was and I saw the 2 minute gap I had dwindle slowly. I would run at about 4:52ish/km, (about 7:50/miles) walk 10-20 seconds that that would bring me to 5:02 or so. I think I averaged 5:05 to 5:06. With a 2minutes 120 sec buffer, losing 5 seconds per km on a 21km race is cutting it close

Every km I did the math to see how close I was to 5h. I also realized it may be more than 21km (13.1miles) so I needed a little buffer. What if the course was long ? At 18km I thought I was on track to finish with 1 minute buffer. I ended up with a 1m2s buffer

At about 500m before the end there was a small hill. I decided I would walk up the hill (maybe 10 seconds) and sprint to the end. How stupid is that ? I took off at the top ran a 4m20 pace (sub 7min/mile) so I knew I was not spent

BTW, if you think all this math is too much, I do this will riding/running. It passes the time.
Overall I am happy that I am where I thought I should be this time of year

Went across the finish line, saw Matt and we started doing the math of when Nicole would finish.

What would you do differently?:

Properly anticipate the heat and just run slower than 4:52 and not walk. Overall it would have been faster.

Had I run in weather I was acclimatized to, this would have been around 1h40 HIM which sounds about right this time of year back home. As summer goes by, I get more adapted to heat and while there is a difference of pace, it’s less than this time of year.
Post race
Warm down:

I am a type 2 diabetic so at the end of the race I usually go to the med test and have my glucose checked. While waiting for Nicole I decided to drop by. Normally it’s a simple finger sample, but here they actually took a full tube of blood and put it through a test machine. I got my glucose (180 normal/high), but also got all my electrolytes, sodium….I was all normal.

It looks like my sodium intake is just right for me. 320 calories for the full race, probably around 60oz total liquid and 1200mg of sodium

I use HRV (heart rate variability) to track my fatigue levels and I have seen what they are when I dig deep. Next morning, I was fine. No soreness. So I know I didn’t dig deep enough for a good result, but a good assessment of where I am this time of year was really the goal.

Next day HRV was low, so I think the race+travel may have pushed me a bit more.


Next race I promise to go somewhere between 90 and 100%, closer to 100 :-)


What limited your ability to perform faster:

Limited long rides, limited long runs and lack of acclimatization to the heat

More importantly, I didn't push hard enough




Last updated: 2015-04-27 12:00 AM
Swimming
00:36:11 | 2112 yards | 01m 43s / 100yards
Age Group: 20/170
Overall: 0/~2800
Performance:
Suit: No wetsuit/DeSoto tri suit
Course:
Start type: Deep Water Plus:
Water temp: 77F / 25C Current:
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
T1
Time: 02:38
Performance:
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
Biking
02:31:33 | 56 miles | 22.17 mile/hr
Age Group: 12/170
Overall: 0/~2800
Performance:
Wind:
Course:
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
T2
Time: 01:49
Overall:
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
Running
01:46:45 | 13.1 miles | 08m 09s  min/mile
Age Group: 12/170
Overall: 0/~2800
Performance:
Course:
Keeping cool Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

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2015-04-29 6:24 AM

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Subject: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas


2015-04-29 7:08 AM
in reply to: #5111676

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812
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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Sounds like you executed this race just as you hoped, nice work!

Thanks for all the details, I loved reading all of it. It really gives great perspective to a newby like me on how I can better pace myself, especially on the run. I should have listened to my body/HR more on the first half of the run for sure.

I'm a bit surprised by the seemingly minimal amount of calories you took in though. Is that a normal number for you? How much do you weigh? I had some stomach issues on the first half of the run and I think it was because I took in too many calories on the bike, but I don't see how I could get by on as little as you did, especially not taking any in on the run. You only drank water?

Thanks for the report and congrats on a great race!
2015-04-29 7:52 AM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Originally posted by Jet Black

Sounds like you executed this race just as you hoped, nice work!

Thanks for all the details, I loved reading all of it. It really gives great perspective to a newby like me on how I can better pace myself, especially on the run. I should have listened to my body/HR more on the first half of the run for sure.

I'm a bit surprised by the seemingly minimal amount of calories you took in though. Is that a normal number for you? How much do you weigh? I had some stomach issues on the first half of the run and I think it was because I took in too many calories on the bike, but I don't see how I could get by on as little as you did, especially not taking any in on the run. You only drank water?

Thanks for the report and congrats on a great race!


thank you.

Yes, I go on very few calories. None on the run. Just water.

Being diabetic I cannot take on much more. But it's ok, my body has adapted to be a fat burner. And anyone can learn to burn more fat.

Also, as a result of being diabetic, I have a low carb diet in my day to day life. A low carb, higher fat diet will adapt your body to rely less on carbs and more on fat stores. No ifs or buts about it.

There are good and bad parts of such a diet. I have no choice, but if I were non diabetic I would still do it, with a bit more very specific carbs properly timed. A guy I am working with was a real sugar burner and has slowly learned to rely more on fat. As a person moves to full IM, this is even more important

I do believe that many people take on too many carbs in a race and this is the #1 cause of GI distress.

For pacing, the key to a good HIM (IMO) is not overcook the bike and give it all on an evenly paced run with an incredible amount of suffering on the last 5km (3miles).

Edited by marcag 2015-04-29 7:55 AM
2015-04-29 9:08 AM
in reply to: #5111676

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Congrats on your day and good luck in June...
2015-04-29 1:29 PM
in reply to: #5111676

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Good stuff Marc.  I love that you are constantly doing math like that, it's *exactly* what I do - especially in the pool or running outside.

Congrats on the race, like you the heat at this time of year would hit me pretty hard too.  There are lots of early season races I'd like to do but I would have to suck it up knowing I couldn't perform at my best.

Great report!

2015-04-29 2:01 PM
in reply to: #5111676

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Pro
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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Marc, thanks for writing this...great report.  Going from Canada to TX for an early season race had to be a bit of a shock to the system. I also 'do the math' when training or during the 'infrequent' race. I've found the deterioration of my math skills to be a strong predictor that am enroute to blowing up or bonking. Brain fails before the body. Lol.  

how do you typically pace your swims during a race? 



2015-04-29 2:27 PM
in reply to: kcarroll

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Marc, terrific report and a great race!  You beat your target with typical precision, and looked very comfortable doing so.

Your analysis is actually very helpful to me in parsing my own results in each of the legs, so thanks for writing this up.  I suspect I and a number of other BTers will be re-reading this next year, as well.

It was a real pleasure meeting up with you and Nicole after the race (and the beer was a bonus!).  Really enjoyed talking shop, as it were.

Congrats again and I look forward to the RR from you crushing it in June.

Matt

2015-04-29 3:54 PM
in reply to: kcarroll

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Originally posted by kcarroll

Marc, thanks for writing this...great report.  Going from Canada to TX for an early season race had to be a bit of a shock to the system. I also 'do the math' when training or during the 'infrequent' race. I've found the deterioration of my math skills to be a strong predictor that am enroute to blowing up or bonking. Brain fails before the body. Lol.  

how do you typically pace your swims during a race? 




thanks for all the comments

For swim pacing, well, I am not great at it but in the past I have gone by strength of the pull and that worked much better. I will probably go back to that.

For the math, you are right. it's actually a sign of low fueling when you can't do the math anymore.
2015-04-29 6:15 PM
in reply to: marcag

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Seattle
Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

I hate numbers. Didn't read.

 

Nahhhh just kidding. This was awesome. I love your Andy Potts-method. Although, what if he has a bad race? Do you check his post race interviews then thrown in some sort of a graded percentage into the equation?

Nearly everyone runs slower in the heat, coming from Canada just compounds that. (insert Canadian joke here) It takes me an eternity to adapt to the warm weather and even then I run slower. 

I am really impressed with your ability to do the math nearly 4.5 hours into a race!

 

So, what is the recovery like for you off of an 85% race?

 

2015-04-29 6:34 PM
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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas
Originally posted by Asalzwed

I hate numbers. Didn't read.

 

Nahhhh just kidding. This was awesome. I love your Andy Potts-method. Although, what if he has a bad race? Do you check his post race interviews then thrown in some sort of a graded percentage into the equation?

Nearly everyone runs slower in the heat, coming from Canada just compounds that. (insert Canadian joke here) It takes me an eternity to adapt to the warm weather and even then I run slower. 

I am really impressed with your ability to do the math nearly 4.5 hours into a race!

 

So, what is the recovery like for you off of an 85% race?

 





I am surprised with my recovery

HRV (heart rate variability) works well for me. I was back to normal this AM

I did a 2000m swim this AM and my paces were really good. I did a 2h bike this afternoon at 40w higher than my race and it felt good.

The only real way to assess swim fitness is to do pool swim meets. That's why I registered for a masters meet in 2 weeks. But I like to believe I am catching Andy :-)

Edited by marcag 2015-04-29 6:34 PM
2015-04-29 7:56 PM
in reply to: #5111676

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Master
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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Awesome read, thanks a bunch for all of the nuggets of info. More importantly, congrats on going under 5! As a Floridian, I'm just going to have to agree, hot running is different. It simply beats you down. Good on ya for getting through it like the beast that you are.



2015-04-30 10:47 AM
in reply to: marcag

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

You know how I know you're an engineer?

Seriously, I love that you have HR / pace / power / temperature / etc. all correlated so well and understand exactly how one affects the others.  I'm also very impressed that you are able/willing to make yourself hurt just a little more so you can stay within your time goal (while staying within your 85% tank-emptying plan).  Learning to push past a point of discomfort is something I have not yet figured out and you do it so well!

Congrats on a nicely executed early season race -- looking forward to following along for Tremblant in June.  Was really nice to see you again and get the chance to grab a post-race beer!

2015-04-30 3:59 PM
in reply to: #5111676

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Subject: RE: Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas

Very nicely done Marc - love the details you stick to on race day, and knowing how fine the line is between just right and too hard.  Also, really impressed how slippery you are on the bike - those are great power numbers at those speeds.

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