I debated doing a race report, but decided some folks may be interested in my experimentation for this race. I didn't really taper for Columbia this year, just cut back intensity for three days prior. My focus is on Eagleman, so I wanted to try out my pacing strategy and nutrition at CT to see how it went. Many of my workouts have been geared to finding the right pace I should do Eagleman at, since I have no HIM race experience. Since running is my nemesis, I have geared the swim and bike to make sure I have enough left in the tank for the run.
I had a bowl of oatmeal with almond milk and a coffee for breakfast and headed out the door without my bike rain jacket. That turned out to not be a major issue, but I was worried about it until the rain finally let up. Gloria S and I are next door neighbors, so we end up sharing a ride to a lot of events. Thanks Gloria! We sat in her car watching folks get stuck in the mud in the parking lot until about 6:00. I didn't do anything different in my set up except put two small plastic bags over top. I put a small towel over my helmet and glasses. I ate half a bagel about an hour before the race (at the wonderful club tent - thank you all so much!), and I had one Gu just before the swim start.
As with all the legs of the race, I started easyish and built up my pace as I went. I have been working on keeping my elbows higher and gliding more, and my times have been coming down in the pool, but I guess I reverted to bad habits somewhat in the race. My time was pretty much the same as last year. Perhaps I took it a bit too easy at the start. This was by far one of my most stress-free swims since I took it a bit wide and avoided most of the crowds.
Ouch. I attribute about 30 seconds of that too fumbling with putting on my Garmin. First time I have used it in a race, but I wanted my HR and pace. Some of that was the mud, and some of it was trying to wipe my feet with a sopping wet towel.
I wanted to keep my HR in the mid 140's (at AT) for the first third of the bike, which is very difficult at Columbia! I let it go up to the mid-150's on the climbs, then I let it stay in the mid-150's for the middle section. I couldn't really push it harder later on the downhills because I was being more cautious in the wet conditions. I did grab a water bottle at the Ten Oaks Circle on the way back just to try it out since I plan on doing that at Eagleman. BTW, great cheering section at the circle! I was impressed at and grateful for all the MMTC supporters all through the race course! My effort level for the bike felt about the same as last year, but I ended up 8 minutes faster, so that's a good sign I'm getting fitter. One thing different for me was not really knowing or caring what my time was out on the bike. I was fixated on my HR the whole time. I had one bottle with 300 calories of Heed and one water bottle that I just sipped at. It wasn't hot enough to drink too much water.
It felt faster than that. Guess it needs more work.
Again, I started the run trying to keep my HR below AT, which for me is 148 on the run. It kept wanting to creep up to 151, and I felt okay, so I let it. I let the HR go into the mid-150's the first time up Gatorade Hill and pretty much kept it there through the whole back of the course in the neighborhoods. I had one Gu at mile three and sipped water the rest of the time. Again, I wasn't hot enough to drink too much water. For the last two downhill miles, I let the HR go into the mid-160's, and boy I felt good passing people! I was determined not to go over my LT of 168, though, since I needed to still be fresh enough for my peak week starting on Monday. I love going downhill now. My house is at the bottom of a mile-long descent with a couple kind of steep places, and I've learned how to run down without messing up my quads (very short strides, keeping my foot strikes as far under me as possible, letting gravity do most of the work). It turned out that my time was 2 minutes faster than last year, which I think is good because I did it without trashing my legs this year.
I think the experiment payed off in that I am now a true believer in starting out easier than I know I can go, and building momentum toward the end of the race. There is a danger in starting out too slow, but I think the risk of losing a little time outweighs the greater risk of blowing up on the run and losing much more time. I'm looking forward to putting all this into practice at Eagleman!