Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Challenge New Albany 70.3 Race Report - Edited!

I'm feeling good about my performance at Challenge New Albany last weekend. It could have went better if I had not made some silly mistakes and suffered from some significant GI issues during the run. Staying focused on my goal of going for a PR helped me push through on a tough day. I was able to walk away knowing that I did my best for that day, I am improving even when I get in my own way and I was able to enjoy the experience of the race. This was my 5th half iron distance race and I really am starting to enjoy racing the 70.3 distance. While this will be my last 70.3 this season I will definitely be excited to take on some more next season!


Steve and I had packed up a lot of our stuff already and just had a couple things left to do including taking our bikes out for a little 30-minute test ride followed by a short transition run and then pack up our cooler, put on the bike rack, etc. We were packed up and ready to head out for the race expo by 10 after a quick stop at Pulp to get some road trip smoothies.

At the expo with Rev3 teammate Maggs
We hit a little traffic heading into Columbus but were on schedule to meet my teammate Maggs at the expo at 1:00. After picking up our race bags we took advantage of the complimentary chiropractic services. I had tore up my shoulders last week from the combo of higher swim mileage and attending yoga class after not doing it for a while. The Dr. really helped stretch things out and I felt some instant relief.

After that we headed over to Alum Creek where the swim start would be to check in our bikes. The wind was getting pretty intense and it was clear a storm was rolling in. Fortunately we were checked into our hotel at the Courtyard Marriott New Albany before things got nasty.

Steve and I after racking our bikes at T1
We headed out for a relaxing prerace dinner at The Rusty Bucket and it was perfect as the restaurant was literally right by the race finish! We enjoyed a tasty dinner then headed over to the finish to check it out. After that it was back to the hotel for a little reading, snacking and bedtime around 10. Unfortunately I tossed and turned for a couple of hours so didn't have the greatest night of sleep but I slept well the week leading up to the race.

Race Morning:

It was an early start to the morning with the wake up call at 3:45am. Our plan was to be on the way to New Albany High School where T2 and the shuttles would be by 4:30. We were on schedule and arrived at the High School around 4:40 to drop off our T2 stuff. The only downside here was it was still dark, which made it difficult to find our spots in the TA. We ran into Maggs and took a quick team pic and then off to the shuttle it was. The shuttles were actually school buses, which made for a bumpy 30-minute ride to Alum Creek.
Prerace Rev3 girls!

We arrived to Alum Creek around 5:40 and had ample time to setup our T1 stuff, use the restroom and get a swim warmup in.

The Swim - 1.2 Miles - 

The water was very calm on race morning, which was nice. The swim was a run in from the beach and it was shallow for a minute or two so I did a long run in and a couple dolphin dives and waited for the crowd to thin out a little before settling into a freestyle. We had to swim out to the right for a short distance before turning around a couple of square buoys and then it was pretty much a straight shot down with the buoys on our left until we reached the square buoys at the opposite end and then after turning around the remaining buoys were on the right. I enjoyed the swim for the most part except the section where the sun was blinding us. I was able to stay calm even when I ran into someone's feet with my head. I think I could have been at least a few minutes faster here but I am not very aggressive with my swim. I tend to move out of the way when people are passing or bump me as I like to position myself away from others. I know this is inefficient so as I build my swim confidence I need to get more comfortable with swimming in a pack. My time of 42:29 was not a PR but a decent time for me. My goal for next season is to get that number down to
somewhere in the high 30s.

T1 -

I had an unncessarily long T1. I don't know how but I went to the wrong spot in transition and then was just confused until a friend saw me and said hey aren't you close to me on the rack. Between that and being slow to get the wetsuit off, etc I lost a minute or two. I can do better than a 4:26 T1!

The Bike: 56 Miles - 

The bike course was nice overall but more challenging than I expected. According to the race elevation map there was only supposed to be about 1,000 ft of gain so I thought it would be a pretty flat course. According to Garmin data the gain was actually 1545 although it still felt like more to me. The beginning 10 miles or so were flat and fast but from mile 12-48 or so there were a good amount of rollers including a couple good climbs. I was definitely in my small ring more than I anticipated.  I was not super happy with my time of 3:00 flat, which is slower than my average 2:55 or so. This brought my average pace down to 18.67 versus my normal 19.1 or 19.2 for a half distance. There was also a fair amount of wind during some of the hilly sections so the resistance was a bit intense in some sections. Up and into the wind is not fun. Overall I enjoyed the bike but was ready to get on with the run! My goal for next season for the bike will be to get faster. I'd like to average 19.5-20+ mph for this distance.

T2 - 

T2 went pretty smooth but still a little long at 1:51.

The Run: 13.1 Miles - 

I felt strong starting the run. My first few miles were between 8:15-8:25, which is a nice pace for me in this event. Unfortunately around mile 4 I started to feel some GI troubles as well as some hot spots on my feet. I had done two stupid things here (forgot my personal stash of salt tabs and so had to take in Gatorade at the aid stations for the electrolytes and wore a new pair of socks). Needless to say I paid for these mistakes. By Mile 6 I had to stop and relieve myself in the porta potty. I lost a good 2-3 minutes here at least but it made the rest of my run more tolerable. I then stopped about a mile later to remove my socks and just ran sockless. By then I had a couple of blisters but it actually felt better without the socks.

I almost threw up a couple of times from the Gatorade but was able to slow down a little and continue on. The run was actually at least .4-.5 mile long as the oly course was actually 6.75 versus 6.2. My split time of 1:58:56 was okay but I had hoped for lower 1:50s. If I deduct the time I lost from the potty break and sock issue I may have been around 1:54 or 1:55 which would have been better. I think my actual split would be better if the course was accurate I would have been at 1:54 or 1:55 and with the adjustments I should have been close to my goal pace of 1:50-1:52. The last couple of miles I felt strong and I was pumped for the finish. My teammate Maggs was able to get a nice finisher shot of me bringing it home. My goal for next season will be to get that run time down. I'll be shooting to break 1:50.

Finish & Post Race - 

Sprinting to the finish!
I finished in 5:47:41, about 2.5 minutes faster than Rev3 Williamsburg so I managed a little PR despite a tough day. I finished 3rd in the 35-39 AG and 11th female. I'm not unhappy with my progress I just should have done better. I think based on my fitness now I should have been closer to a 5:40. My goal for next season will be along those lines somewhere between 5:30-5:40.

Maggs and Steve were waiting for me at the Finish and it was nice to be able to enjoy a post race IPA with them. After we got our gear we headed out for a post race meal at a place in New Albany called The Goat. After that it was time to hit the road and head back to Cleveland.

Post race with Maggs!

Overall I think that Challenge and HFP Racing, who managed the race did a nice job with the inaugural race. There are a few things that need to be improved for next year but it sounds like from their post race email that they are already addressing those things. I would definitely consider doing this one again based on how close it is to home and how well it fit into my training schedule. It was nice to see so many Cleveland Tri Club folks representing at the race as well!

Thanks to my sponsors: Rev3 Triathlon, Powerbar, Pearl Izumi, SBR Sports and Blue Seventy for helping me succeed in another 70.3 race!

Celebrating another 70.3 with a hoppy beer! Mmm!

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