Tuesday, April 9, 2013

4th Time's a Charm - Glaveston 70.3 Reviewed

For the fourth year in a row my dad and two boys travelled with me to the southern coast of central Texas.  A lovely sea town called Galveston.  Many people ask, why there or just plan why?  For them I answer and ask, "Have you lived through an Iowa winter, why not?"  I find that this race gives me a great goal to work for through the winter months.  The winter training helps to build the mental toughness required to be successful in endurance sports.  It is also a nice way to see my fitness level and experiment with any new methods I may be trying to employ.  With that being said the trip has been a nice way for my boys and dad to have some "guy time" and get away for a bit.

With that being said on to the guts of the review.  Galveston poses two main challenges to me every year.  The first is heat and the second is wind.  The swim is a tread water start in a protected salt water bay on the north side of the island with two left hand turns.  The bike (wind) is then ridden on the south side of the island going from southwesterly then turning around and heading northeasterly on an unprotected coastal road.  The run (heat) is then concluded in a 3 loop run within one of the feature attractions of Galveston, Moody Gardens.

The race start for the pro wave was at 7am, I say that because my wave did not start until 7:55am.  The sun was up, calm, waters, and overcast skies. Water temp at race start was 65 degrees, air temp was 64, I thought I wouldn't notice the difference, I was wrong! I wore a sleeveless long john wetsuit and used the full 3 minutes of tread to acclimate to the water temp. At the gun and for the first time I had really no significant event in the water.  There were a few interactions here and there with various swimmers but mostly just a nudge to let folks know I was there.  It was a smooth and steady swim. Total swim time for 1.2 miles: 35:10 (1:49 avg 100, 74 out of 539 in age group).

Clouds were still covering the sky but the winds had picked up.  I had planned for the wind though.  This was my fourth attempt here and have become accustomed to the steady blow that is the wind off the Gulf of Mexico.  The course starts south to the seawall and then we turn right and the journey begins 24 miles to the turnaround.  The wind was at my back, so I decided to ride a bit conservatively knowing I had a long push back into a strong headwind (20mph steady from the east) that would be unrelenting.  At the turn I was averaging about 23 mph, following the turn my speed did drop but not too much.  This year they did make a change into how we returned to transition in that we rode on a dilapidated airport tarmac.  This was a crazy place to ride, lots of cracks, potholes, two cones to mark a nearly 3/4 mile course, and even aircraft tiedown hooks.  I avoided all of them, luckily. Total bike time for 56 miles: 2:28:59 (22.55 avg mph, 39th out of 539 age group).

Coming off a year of ultra endeavors I have had an epiphany about my running.  Enjoy.  Enjoy the time, Enjoy the experience, and absorb it all.  I focused on heart rate, pace, and thanking everyone I came across.  My plan was to run in between every aid station and to finally beat the Texas heat that has always taken it's toll on my body and usually left me wilted and beaten.  This year it was not going to end that way. I left transition with an easy pace and focused on my first lap to keep my heart rate in the 140's.  Mission accomplished. 

My second lap, felt just as good though I was dealing with a new issue that I failed to prepare for - I had developed two blisters (big) encompassing the middle part of my big toe to the ball of my foot.  Both feet had the same blistering.  I never wear socks, though I have recently been wearing a new pair of shoes that would not allow for sockless wear.  So I had to gut it up and gut it out. At mile 6.5 nature called and a potty break was in order following that I readjusted my socks and continued on my merry way. Aimed to keep my heart rate in the 150's, and again Mission Accomplished.

The final lap, was just awesome.  I was relaxed.  I even felt like I had a kick.  My breathing was easy and my feet were screaming!  Every walk through the aid station caused a recurrance of the pain until I could get back to speed and ignore the burning under my feet. I skipped the last aid station and focused on finishing strong and steady.  Heart rate was to be damned and all I wanted to see was my boys cause that meant the end was near!  I finished strong, running all the way through.  Mission Accomplished.   Total run time: 2:07:47 (9:45 avg pace, 91st out of 539 age group)  Total race time: 5 hrs 18 min 48 secs

This past year I have made many changes to how I approach my races, training, and life in general and I have finally reaped the rewards. 
My nutrition for race day:
Pre swim: two scoops stone cut
 oats and a cup of coffee
Bike: two packages Earth's Best Baby food - pumpkin and squash flavor, one bottle (20oz) electrolytes, 8 oz Ensure, new water bottle every aid station
Run: water/electrolyte mix every aid station, one Baby Food packet pumpkin and squash

I tried to never focus on a time goal.  For once I never looked for an overall time during the race.  I just let the race happen.  I followed my plan and it worked.  So often folks follow a training plan but never have a plan for the race.  They focus solely on a time.  By focusing on my race plan I was able to walk away satisfied and happy with a solid performance.  Thanks to all those that followed me during the day and those that sent well wishes.  I encourage you to go to www.atcp.org and make a donation.  In your upcoming season seek a purpose in what you are doing, make a plan, and execute it.  Then you too can walk away satisified and ready for the next step.

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