Galveston 70.3 was my first race state side of 2013. After a disappointing experience in Panama, I was determined to do much better. I changed coaches to Brian Grasky after Panama. Training picked up and I felt faster and stronger… significantly faster and stronger considering it was only 2 months of training under his guidance. I went through some good race simulation on the computrainer and did my best to time the workouts to get off the bike during the warmest part of the day, which typically was scorching 45 degrees!
I had a great place to stay in Galveston about 7 miles from the race venue thanks to a very loose connection (about 4 or 5 degrees of separation .. I guess Facebook is good for something!) with two girls about my age. They hooked me up with a room to myself and full access to the kitchen. I always like having a place to cook food to save money and eat what I’m comfortable with before the race.
Anyways, we will fast forward to race morning. I woke up at 5 and grabbed the last few things and hopped into the car and headed to the race venue. I got caught in race traffic and pulled over into a parking lot that was the furthest away because I knew I could find a place to park there and then ride my bike and carry my stuff in a transition backpack to the transition area. Due to this, I arrived significantly later than I was planning on the night before. I typically like to have about 75 minutes to get myself ready before a race once getting to transition. However, this time I only had 50 minutes and had to walk a half mile to the swim start AND get my wetsuit on before jumping into the unusually cold bay. It was a bit chaotic for me in the morning, but I managed to get myself to the swim start in time and have time to warm up before the gun went off.
Just before the swim started the race director went through all the pros that were racing. He got to my name and paused for a second, “oh… we have a birthday boy today…” and then continued on with the list of the remaining pro men field. The final seconds before the race started, I reminded myself of my goals for the race, to race my race, and have fun… after all, it was my birthday. I shot up a quick prayer thanking God for allowing me to do what I love and ask for safety as I raced. Bang, the gun sounded and the once calm water turned into a washing machine. I did my best to stay on Chris McDonald’s feet to get a draft on the swim since he is just a touch faster than me. I managed to stay with him for the first 500 meters or so and then he pulled away. My goal for the swim was a 26 minute swim. Thanks to some hard training and my new Tyr Cat. 5 Hurricane wetsuit, I managed to hit that goal. I exited the water mid pack, which is a big improvement. I typically came out of the water very near the back of the pro field. I ran to transition, after taking advantage of the wetsuit strippers and got myself prepared for a windy bike ride along the Texas coast line for 56 miles.
Bike 56 miles
The bike course was about as simple as they come. A few turns getting out of the race venue, make a right hand turn on Seawall Road and turn around at the 28-mile marker. Once I got to the seawall, I put down an effort that felt like the watts I wanted to push for the ride. I took a glance down and realized I forgot to do something very important during the set up process for the race. I didn’t calibrate the power meter. The numbers were way off… so I was force to go by feel. I decided not to let this bother me and just focused on what I could control: my effort, my hydration/nutrition, and my attitude.
On the way out, there was a 9 mph headwind/crosswind combination. I kept a close on the time on my computrainer to make sure I was drinking enough fluid and calories to get me through the race. When the one hour mark was nearing, I glanced down now and then to make sure I could estimate my average mph for the first hour. My garmin clicked to an hour at about 25.5 miles into the ride. I was extremely happy with that since just a year ago, I couldn’t go that fast for a 40-kilometer ride on a course with no wind. But, it did concern me… I thought maybe I over extended myself a little too much having to force to go off of effort rather than hard numbers from the computrainer.
I hit the half way point (28 miles) in 1:06. I figured with the little push from the wind on the way back in, I would easily make my goal of 1:12 on the bike. However, there was no tail wind, just a cross wind. No help this time! On the last 5 miles, I could tell my legs were running out of steam. However, I typically get a fresh wind on once I get to the run, so I wasn’t too concerned. I did a quick count of my calories in my head and it came to 900-950 for the bike. Right where it needs to be for my effort and body weight. I rolled into T2 ready to tackle the run.
Run 13.1 miles
I got off the bike feeling good. I found my legs rather quickly and was rolling 5:40 miles out for the first two miles. Then something started feeling a bit off. Quick… drink some Napalm to get a boost of energy and caffiene. However, I think my electrolytes were off this time. It wasn’t a lack of calories… I just didn’t take any electrolyte pills during the bike to balance all the water I was drinking supplementing the Infinit I was taking in. The first lap went good, the second lap alright, and the third lap was survival mode. I had two or three pro men pass me in the last mile. I just didn’t have any fight left. I crossed the line in 22nd out of 35 pros.
After the race, I hung around the finish area for a little while talking to some other racers. One of them, Ryan Rau, who I must have raced against in the past, came up to me after finishing a just a little behind me and complimented me on my swim and bike. He told me that he noticed a huge improvement in those two events from my previous performances. That was so encouraging to hear. I guess it’s not just a figment of my imagination that I’m getting faster and stronger… other people are noticing too.
Thanks to all my sponsor that helped make this birthday a success, as well as a learning experience. Next up Derby Festival Marathon.
Cya at the starting line…