Well, I’m getting this up less than 7 days after the race, which unfortunately isn’t really a good thing because (in this case) I’m trying to capture my recollections surrounding the race, wash my hands of it, and move on to the next race, which is TBD. My teammate Chris Hague, who stayed with me in Syracuse, had a far better day than I, winning 20-24 AG by almost 30 minutes and punching his Vegas ticket. You can read his RR here, but more importantly, read his “Prelude to a Race Report” to understand how I intend to write my report. Obviously, its a bit easier to write a RR when things went well, and harder when you didn’t race well. But I will press on.
Seven days before the race, I came down with either a 24 hour flu or a prolonged battle with food poisoning. I was sick Saturday night and in the fetal position on the couch all day Sunday. Monday I was a bit better, but perhaps tried to do too much too soon (not even working out, just trying to eat!), and by Monday, was still feeling crappy again. By Tuesday I was back to feeling a bit better, and managed to get a light workout in. Wednesday I biked and swam, and both workouts went great, particularly the swim set. The MS was 4×250, with 125 fast, 125 pace. On the first one, I went 1:02 for the fist 100, and 2:55 for the set. Suffice to say, I felt great, and the mystery disease seemed to be gone. I packed Wednesday night, drove to NJ Thursday AM for work, then drove up to Syracuse Thursday afternoon. I arrived and went right to the course to get a light run in on some of the run course; I checked out the big hill climb at the end of the run, and it seemed pretty legit, even on fresh legs. Friday was spent being super low key, worked all day from my hotel, got checked in that evening, and met up with Chris, as well as a Greater > Than teammate, Josh White. Saturday we drove the bike course, racked bikes, and jumped in the lake to just shake everything out. All in all, I felt pretty good.
What I did not feel good about was my Garmin 910xt. You may realize that I’m a pretty big number nerd, and my Garmin had decided that the week before Syracuse was the ideal time to stop working. I had contacted Garmin and explained to them what happened, and they quickly agreed to ship me a replacement one. It was supposed to be shipped direct to my hotel in time for the race. On the drive up Thursday, I called because I hadn’t gotten a shipment notification, and I was told it was backordered and not ready to ship until the 26th. I told them this wasn’t okay. They told me there wasn’t anything they could do. So after some frantic texts and phone calls, Philly Bikesmith was able to not only order a new one, but arrange for it to arrive in their shop the next day (Friday) and then catch a ride up with another Philly athlete to get given to me. To say these guys know what great customer service is is the understatement of the year. HUGE TREMENDOUS thanks to Richie for this. I got the watch Saturday evening and all was good for the big day. Race morning I was up at 4:50, dressed, out the door for a 20′ drive to the course. Went into transition, got everything setup, said hello to friends and teammates, and then found a bench to chill by, since I had over an hour to kill between the pros going off and my wave.
The swim was a triangle shape, with a long straight away out, a right hand turn for another long leg, and then a last turn for a shorter swim. I got on the start line, inside and front row, and at the horn started booking it. Was able to clear the group (I think there was ~175 in my AG/wave) by the time we hit the first buoy, and quickly found some feet to ride on. The swim itself was relatively uneventful, just the usual swimming over slow stragglers, causing me to disconnect from my new friend who was towing me around the course. Coming toward the beach for the exit, I was able to see that I was in a group of 2 other swimmers, with another guy just ahead of us. As we came out, I was told I was in 6th place, and a minute down on 1st. So thanks to my quick math skills, that told me that 1st and 2nd place were out and gone, with 3rd just in front of me, and 4th and 5th coming out of the water with me. I actually ran past one of the guys, and hit the timing mat in 5th place. I saw that my swim time was pretty darn slow, but after seeing that Joe Gambles had “only” swam in the high 26:xx, I figured it was just a long/slow course.
29:43, 5th AG, 34th OA (beat 8 pro guys… sadly this is likely the highlight of the day). Garmin here
Stuff: blueseventy Helix, blueseventy Vision goggles
Lots of running, first out of the water, then upon getting my bike, what was probably 2 minutes of running out of transition and to the mount line. Sheesh, that took a while.
The course was fast for 2 miles out of transition, then for about 14 miles there was climbing in the form of either hills or false flats. I stuck to my guns as best as I could on all the climbs, trying to just keep my cadence up and not come out of my saddle too much, and just do my best to not over-exert myself. I was still passing a lot of people, and saw people walking within 10′ of being on my bike (?!?). I gritted out the first hour or so, making sure to stay hydrated with Powerbar Perform. I was trading positions with a couple guys in my AG, but unfortunately wasn’t keeping them behind me, and throughout the race I was passed a handful of times by guys. Once we cleared mile 15 it was a lot of flat and downhill riding, but a noticeable cross-headwind had picked up, slowing me down a bit. I still managed to hit 50mph on one of the descents, and the back half of the course moved along quite quickly. I was taking a lot of fluids and salt in, because it was very hot, and I had come out of the water with some arm cramping.
Objectively, I didn’t ride very smoothly, which is reflective of the course profile, but I think I could have ridden much more smoothly regardless. My Variability Index (NP/AP) was 1.08, which is kind of high for that distance. My power really came down in the back half, and while it was flat, it wasn’t so flat that I couldn’t have put out a bit more power without having to work exponentially harder. I don’t know if smoother riding would have translated into a faster bike split, slower bike split, or faster run split, but it ultimately would have likely helped me produce a faster overall race. I think the lesson learned from the bike was that due to my size, I’m better at pure watts riding (flat courses) than I am watts/kg riding (which is important for climbing courses). Reflecting post-race, I don’t think I had a great bike for the reasons given above, and I also wonder if my nutrition was starting to hurt me. Even going through 2.5 bottles of Perform, 4 gels, and 1.5 bottles of water, I still didn’t feel sprightly coming into T2, and that obviously showed on the run.
2:34:14, 11th AG, 51st OA. Garmin data here.
Stuff: Trek SC 9.9, Quarq, Zipp 808/Sub 9, Zipp Tangente tubulars, ISM Breakaway, Speedfil A2, Powerbar gels, Powerbar Perform, Rudy Project Wingspan, Edge 500
At least this was quick, dropped my bike, got my socks and shoes on as quick as possible, grabbed my Fuelbelt and my ziplock bag of race belt, gels, and other things, and was off.
The first length of the run went relatively okay. I got water at each aid station, and was running step for step with someone in my AG. Fuck, it was HOT out, and damn I wish I had a hat on. Once we got to the first big hill climb, I kept trucking along, and my AG friend dropped back. After climbing the steep hill, I made a right hand turn, and did more climbing, finally making it to the turn around. I hit the turn-around, started running downhill… and whoa, I don’t feel good. Problems: it was really hot out, with little shade. I hadn’t taken any calories in on the run so far. Not knowing this at the time, but reflectively, I was probably also running low on calories from the bike.
The run back towards transition quickly turned into a death march. I was shuffling along, and soon started shivering pretty badly. Stupidly, I still didn’t take in any nutrition. The run back to transition included some hill climbs in the blazing sun, and as I struggled up them in the balls hot sun, I started to question the purpose of a second lap. I was in ~11th place, which almost certainly wasn’t going to be good for a Vegas spot. Burying myself for another 6.5 miles wasn’t going to have any positive impact on getting ready to go race Muncie or Racine, which were on my radar as last chance opportunities for Vegas. And oh yea, I was feeling really cold, despite the temperature climbing into the 90s. On the other hand, am I really going to quit? Don’t be a pussy Adam, just grind it out. I finally got back into the park, which meant that I was quickly going to need to make a decision about going back out or quitting. I don’t know now what made me finally make a decision, but I had decided to call it a day, but for some reason, I didn’t take off my timing chip, and I kept walking along the course (although I did stop my watch). I saw Erica first, and then Kiley and Todd, and announced my decision. Kiley asked if I needed some Perform, and I said no (worried about outside support?). I then saw Erik, who was somehow already done racing. I tried to tell him what I was doing, but he wouldn’t have it. “If you’re healthy, you need to go out there and do it. I don’t care if its hot, you need to learn how to suffer.” I don’t know why, but that last command made me snap out of it. Okay, off we go again. Fuck this shit.
I made it out of the park, and slogged through to the next aid station, where I finally walked, taking time to douse myself with ice and water. At the next aid station, I accidentally picked up some Coke, and pretty much said YOLO, and drank it. Almost instantaneously, I felt better. Okay! Let’s go run up that fucking hill again. Up we went, and I was sure to soak myself wherever possible from any of the nice neighbors who were running their hoses all day. At the turn-around, more coke, ice, water, and some more water, and finally I was starting my last leg of the day. I actually ran down the hill at a reasonably paced clip, and was back into the sun for two last aid station stops, and of course some more hills, before making it home. When I got into the park, I expected that I would be diverted right to the finish line area, but noooooo I still had to go all the way around the edge before finally getting to the finish. I cleaned myself up, crossed the finish line, and hated everything.
Run: 1:54:31 12th AG, 89th OA. Garmin data here.
Stuff: KSwiss Kwicky Blade Lights, Oakley M-Frame, FuelBelt, Garmin 910xt
da finish: 5:02:16, 12th AG, 89th OA. First time ever going over 5 hours.
Post race thoughts
Stopping to contemplate the second loop, why I did this nonsensical sport, what was to be gained, etc, was the difference between over/under 5 hours… although I suppose you could make the argument that I would have blown up even worse had I not stopped for a prolonged time to “catch my breath.” I lost 1 position, maybe 2 in my AG. I honestly am not beating myself up about that too much, either, because 10th really isn’t a good enough performance for a Vegas qualifier, either. I’m glad I had some practice at suffering, and its important to go through races from start to finish, even when they aren’t good, so that you can learn from them. I did learn a good amount about this race:
- my nutrition plans: not as effective in the heat
- my mental toughness: not as strong as I thought
- my physical strengths: I’m now a good AG swimmer, and okay biker, and a less than okay runner. I know I need to improve my run, but this brings to light that my bike isn’t as strong as I thought
- the types of courses that suit me well: flat runs, and flat-ish bike courses
- and how this race impacts the rest of the season: despite immediate thoughts on going to Racine/Muncie, I realize that traveling halfway across the country doesn’t make a lot of sense, and I’d do better to buckle down and just grind out several good weeks of training. Ultimately, the big goal for this year is IMFL and a Kona spot, and a Vegas qualification was simply a check mark that meant I was making progress. By not qualifying, I really need to re-focus those efforts to get faster, which is a more effective use of my time than chasing a Vegas spot.
So, that’s all for now, I’m closing in on 2500 words, which is entirely too long for a RR. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on everything and more insight to what happens from here, but for now, it’s time to put the axe back to the grindstone.
As always, a big thank you to the folks that help me make this happen, and I can only say I wish I had done a better job representing you all:
- Wattie Ink., and the team sponsors: KSwiss, blueseventy, Powerbar, ISM, Fuelbelt, and Speedfil
- my coach Brian from Accelerate3
- Greater > Than for help in recovery and looking fly
- Philly Bikesmith for all my bike maintenance and care, and as previously touched on, the amazing customer service in helping me having a working Garmin to tell me how slowly I was going all day