Austin 70.3 Race Report
This weekend, I got to back up my Soma half ironman race PR from last weekend with the Austin half. I have given a lot of thought to racing two full ironmans a week a part so I figured this would be a good opportunity to go half ass and learn something new. I outlined what I did between races and pre-race protocol over here if you are interested and also some travel tips since I had some free time on the flight back home.
I had a long night (hotel chaos) and a long downtime (in the rain) after I got to the race site at 5am (my wave started an hour after the pro’s started – 9am). I was itching to get going but stuck to my routine and just changed up the timing a bit. After many races over the years, I now accept these “normal” changes as part of getting to the starting line. They expectedly fall into my race prep protocol, trusting it is working, that I will learn how to make it better going forward or that there is little I can do about it anyways. The transition maybe a mud pit but I am here and ready to party!
By the time my swim wave went off, I fell right into race mode and worked my way behind a single guy that broke away from our wave. I managed to get on his feet right as we caught the wave in front of us and worked really hard to try and stay with him. Somewhere in the next few minutes (that felt like 20) I finally lost contact. Hard start. I finished trying to hold that pace but my effort was much higher than last weekend at Soma – probably better off dropping back earlier and swimming my pace – I didn’t gain that much as I slowed more at the end. I just focused on working my way around the big U shape loop of the swim course back to the big run up to T1 before starting the big single bike loop. It is Texas you know…. T1 & T2 were longer than expected. The rain we had the night before as well as that morning turned the T1 floor into some mud and a helpful volunteer took my shoes off of my bike and shoved them into my bag and then double knotted it to the rack. Really? Nothing on the ground was the rule. No worries. T2 I had the same thing and ended up having to rip my bag open because I could not get the knot out. Blow it off and blow out of transition. Keep going positive.
The bike was a time best for me but every course is different. I had the big advantage of starting in the second to last wave with over 2,700 people ahead of me. Lets be honest here, I had the wind turned up in front of me as I passed over 2,500 people by the time I crossed the finish line. I really felt like I was rolling along without much added effort until about mile 30 when I past the majority of people and the wind started to pick up a little more (the downside of a late wave start). My CP60 was the last hour of the ride so it was back-end loaded. Not ideal but still close to even pacing and I never looked at my watts until I downloaded my files (266watts NP). I felt like I was not holding any fatigue from last weeks race on the bike and was feeling like I could have another PB run. I had absolutely no idea where I was overall or age group and my goals were very different for this race as noted but I was still RACING so I was going to give it all I had.
Every course is different and although Austin is more “hilly” than Soma I think it is actually a better fit for me. I have more strength than speed right now (ultrarunning, body comp, past training experiences) and I was stoked to be able to mix it up with the grades. The run is 3 loops with good positioning and frequent aid stations. The volunteers at this race are awesome! It was nice to get out, even on my first lap, and have so many people out there to run with and volunteers encouraging everyone. I was alone most of the run at Soma. Although I didn’t feel like I was holding fatigue in my legs starting out the run I realized I am not 100% recovered and expected if I felt it anywhere it would be on the run. My surprise was that my turnover was better than expected and probably better than ever. It is rare when I am ever running sub 6min/mi and I has able to get my legs going for ~5:40’s on the down hills even on the last lap. Big improvement for the specific training and me is helping a lot. I did fade on each lap and just never found that pop to hold pace. My climbing was okay but looking back it was the sections between the up’s and down’s where I just needed to stay on it and I dropped off pace. All good. I kept focus on building a strong stride to the finish and managed to get into the barn finishing in 4:14. Not a killer run for me but glimpses of what is to come and positive feedback on pacing. Considering that I have only had 3 runs over 8 miles in the last few month (Leadman, Soma, Austin) and my run volume is less than half of what it has been in the past (and I raced last weekend) I would have to say the running I have been doing is pretty high quality. Plus, I am just so happy I can run again.
Got to share the podium with one of my old training buddies Harold Wilson!
I was pretty stoked on the Austin experience and racing a little longer on back to back weekends. I have put in a couple Oly/Sprint or Oly/half ironman races back to back but doing the same distance two weekends in a row was good in that I fell into “70.3 pace” right away and knew exactly (by feel of course) where I needed to be for effort. Managing race jitters, transitions (even if worlds apart) and things like pounding the 800+ calories of Vitargo I took in on the bike and mental push to finish the last 4 miles of the run felt as though they were on autopilot. Routine. It can help you or it can crush you.
Thanks to my friends, family and supporters – Bike Religion, Sole, Vitargo, Feed The Machine, 110% Play Harder. This year was a very challenging and victorious year for Monique and me but much of that was outside of racing so it was nice to be able to get out and race this far into the year. I do have flights and a package to race Ironman Cozumel in December so pending our little baby on the way I may take a quick break after this weekend and get on one more training block before then. Thats the only other race plans for this year.