This race is quite a nice one to think about post race and decide what I could have perhaps done different / better since I am pleased with it and am not convinced that doing anything different would have produced a better time. Even so, it’s worth looking at and considering what might have been done differently. Thanks to Gordo and Albert for making me think about certain things.
The main problem with my race was my big fade second half of the run. A common problem for many of us. My gut reaction is to blame it on my lack of running. It’s nice to have an injury 18 months a go as an excuse but really is that valid ? My run mileage may be low compared to my pre injury days but it was still pretty decent. In the build up I averaged 36 miles per week and managed numerous runs over 15 miles and six of 20 or more with the later long runs done at pace – generally 4:45 / km or better.
This begs the question if it wasn’t lack of running what was it ? Two things come to mind. Pacing and Nutrition. Given that what did I do and what could be done different in future ?
My ride was done for 2/3 at ~ 240 watts and 142 HR. The final lap was closer to 220 but for a similar HR. That surely suggests that I went out too hard. Interestingly enough it didn’t feel like I was fading as most of the people around me for the first two laps were there for the last one, including Kate Bevalaqua (the womens winner). With hindsight though I can see that the two guys that pulled away weren’t putting on a spurt they were just not fading. I can even visualise the precise point it started to happen.
The other question is whether I swam too hard ? Compared to Ironman swims in the past this was relatively easy in terms of perceived effort but perhaps this is difficult to judge when you’re just focussing on staying in a pack.
Looking back to some of my harder training rides I find that I did a 90 minute interval at the end of a 130k ride at an average power of 271 watts with an average HR of 143. Certainly would appear that right from the outset my watts were low for my HR. A proviso though – the HR data for the first lap has been ignored as it was clearly wrong (have the time being well over 220).
Overall, it would seem I swam too hard and rode too hard !
Given the race again and this knowledge would I race differently. Not sure. Once on the bike I was with the front age group pack and to lower my effort would have meant a conscious decision to drop off. Pacing is mentally so much easier in the group. Similarly, in the swim I would have had to drop off the front group. It’s probably a sign that I was working hard that I did consider this during the race but told myself to stop being so soft ;o). If I’d dropped to the next group I would probably not have made the front pack on the bike and perhaps have paced the ride more evenly. In 2009 I didn’t make the front swim pack, swam 2 minutes slower but rode 3 minutes quicker with 3 almost (to the second) identical laps !
Challenge Wanaka is my next race. A much smaller field will probably mean I swim and bike on my own so it’s an ideal time to try racing more conservatively during the swim and bike.
In the lead up to this race I was a little more free with my carbs. Not carbo loading by any means but I had toast with my scrambled egg each morning and ate more than normal carbs the night before. Breakfast was a couple of slices of toast with an obscene pile of butter and marmalade on top. At most it would come to 400 cals I reckon. During the bike I managed to get down my 1,800 cal gel mix in my bottle plus one banana and one bottle of coke. I’m guessing a little over 2,000 cals in just under 5 hours. I suffered no gastro problems. On the run I had a gel per aid station missing only I think three the whole course. Thats 13 gels or ~ 1,300 cals. Plus I had cups of coke in the latter half of the run. At most I would think thats 1,500 cals in 3.5 hrs. This means I went the first hour without cals, then got about 400 per hour down on the bike and about the same on the run. Not even an inkling of gastro problems throughout.
Perhaps I just didn’t eat enough. At Wanaka I will definitely push this up a little and see what happens:
- Will force more breakfast down. I could eat double what I had perhaps more. I will need to practise this ahead of time as I don’t each much bread in general so need to ensure my stomach can handle so much grain.
- On the bike I will load up at least 2,500 cals in my bottle. Wanaka is a slower course so imagine that will end up at about 500 per hour. I will think about this further and perhaps try and bolster it.
- On the run, continue with the gel per aid station (assuming they’re about every 2k) but will hit the coke earlier whilst I’m still running well.
As I say this is all speculation. I was thoroughly happy with how I performed on the day but any fade like that on the run shows that I mis-paced the race for my given level of fitness. There was an element of going for it on the run to at least try for sub 9 hours. In fact, going through 10k I was on pace for 8:53 (a bit ambitious!), at 21k was on for 9:02 and by 32k needed a mere 39 minute 10k to round it off. Yes, I definitely hit the run too hard but perhaps I also hit the swim and bike too hard. I’ll never know for certain but a big part of the fun of this game is trying to figure it out.
It’s unusual this close after a race but I’m already up for racing hard at Wanaka.