Monday, May 11, 2009

Not A Good Day....Part Deaux

Like Austin Powers I apparently have lost my race "mojo". Gulf Coast turned into another disappointing day in a string of disappointing races. Looking back I haven't had a good multisport race since Chattanooga last year. The last 4 triathlon/duathlon races have been major disappointments in time, effort, and placing. The string started with the Steelhead 70.3 last August, and while I did nab a Clearwater slot (thank you M70-75 AG) it was a less than stellar effort. Clearwater itself was disappointing in that I fell apart on the run and was ~20 minutes off my 70.3 PR on a similar course. You can read the previous post to find out about Du Nats and read on here to see what happend this past weekend.

Race weekend started off well, I left Atlanta on Friday morning and made great time down to Ft. Rucker, Alabama where I met a good friend of mine that I hadn't seen in a couple of years for breakfast. After a quick pit stop I was off to Panama City Beach and met Courtney and Kraig at the condo (thanks for letting me stay with you). The legs felt good, the weather forecast was good, and I was feeling confident about racing strong on Saturday. The rest of Friday consisted of checking in, quick test ride on the bike, short run back from transition and a trip to Wal Mart. During the ride the wind picked up and I was a bit nervous about the 909 Disc/1080 Front wheel combination since I was being blown around quite a bit. After bike check in it was dinner, a short soak in the hot tub, and then bed time.

Saturday began at 4am with the prerace breakfast of a plain bagel with peanut butter, half a cup of coffee, and a shot of FRS energy drink in water. We strolled the quarter of a mile down to transition and waiting in line to get marked and then went over to set up our transition area. One of the things I love about Gulf Coast is that even though it is a large race you still have plenty of room to set up transition without being on top of your neighbor (unlike Steelhead where you have 6" to put out your towel and gear). After a LIBERAL application of Body Glide it was time to walk down to the beach for the start. For some reason the time pre-race seemed to go faster than in previous years and suddenly (or so it seemed) it was time to warm up and get ready to swim.

Swim-The water didn't look as rough as last year, but as we all found out looks can be deceiving. The water this year was every bit as rough as last year, sighting was tough and it was hard to get a breath without the accompanying mouth of water. I am not sure if the currents were strong or if the buoys moved making the swim long, but everyone was a good 3 minutes off of where the normal swim times are for this event. Even the Pro's were slow (of course we didn't find out about this until AFTER the event). My swim I thought was pretty good, I felt like I was knifing through the water and caught several swimmers from the wave in front of me. I have worked very hard in the pool this year and was really hoping to improve on my 33 minute swim at Clearwater, so imagine my disappointment when I saw 37 minutes on my watch coming out of the surf. I had already mentally prepared for a slower than anticipated swim (I can never tell if I am going fast in Open Water) even though I thought it was going to be a good time. I told myself that I had to hit my goal of 2:25 on the bike in order to go sub 5 for the race.

T1-In and out, no issues getting the wetsuit off.

Bike-The wind was out of the South-Southwest so it was a quartering tailwind on the out portion on the first out and back on Mystic. My HR was still jacked from the swim, but I didn't feel like I was working as hard as it said that I was so I was content just to let it settle in over the course of the ride. Once we hit the first turn around the wind was in our face, but it wasn't too bad. The next segment was a 6-8 mile leg parallel to the beach. Here the wind was almost a direct crosswind which buffeted me around a bit on the Disc/1080 combination. Once we made the right onto FL 79 it was GO time, the wind was a direct tailwind (which meant a headwind coming back in) so I put the hammer down to try to take as much advantage of it as I could. I was rolling about 27 mph through this section and feeling pretty good. The only concern was that my HR had not come down like I expected it too. My LT on the bike is 167bpm and I was rolling at 160bpm for most of the bike so that was a bit of a concern. The right turn off of 79 continued the tailwind so I kept on hammering. I hit the 28 mile mark in 1:08 so I thought I was going to destroy my bike PR, then came the turn around. Evidently the wind out of the west was stronger than I thought and I could not push my target wattage going back in. The wind going back in was a bit demoralizing and I could see my bike PR slipping away, by the time I made the left on Front Beach I saw my target time of 2:25 slipping away as well. I passed Courtney about 2 miles from transtion on the side of the road with a flat. I hit transition with a bike time of 2:33 which is 3 minutes slower than last year and 6 minutes off my bike PR here. By now my total time was 3:11 and so I knew that I would have to run a 1:40-1:45 half to go sub 5.

T2-I hopped off my bike and started to run over to my rack and my legs would just not fire. It was like I had lead around my ankles. My T2 time was 1:23 but it could have been much faster.

Run-By now I was at 3:14 total time and I knew that in the shape I was in that a 1:45 half wasn't happening. I jogged down about a half mile to see if I could bring the legs around, but they just weren't cooperating so I turned around and went back to transition to turn in my chip.

At the time I didn't feel bad about bailing on the race, I knew I could have gone out and suffered through a 2 hr Half and finished in 5:10-15 but since my goal was sub 5 and last year was 5:01 I didn't see the point. In hindsight I wished I had at least finished the race, I am not a quitter and I feel like I let myself and my friends down by bailing. I actually called my wife and told her I was retiring from triathlon (at least temporarily). In true Brett fashion (and by that I mean Brett Favre) I couldn't stay retired so I am still going to race this year.

As for what went wrong during the race, I really don't know and it bugs me that I can't figure it out. It wasn't a case of going to hard on the swim or bike, the swim was very easy and fluid and my Normalized Power on the bike was 189 watts (for those of you who don't train or know about power this is low when compared to my Threshold Power of 270 watts. I actually raced at about 70% of my FTP where I was shooting for 80%.) Having gone that "easy" on the bike I should have been able to run very well off the bike and in truth I didn't feel tired or dehydrated coming off the bike, I just couldn't get my legs to turn over. I am going to investigate all options to try and find out what is wrong, whether it be medical (getting blood work done) or training (comprehensive review of my training thus far this year to make sure I am not overtrained).

West Point is up next...let's hope this one goes better than the last few have.

Thanks for reading. Train Safe!


m said...

Sorry to read that it didn't go well. It was warm here over the weekend so I KNOW it was hot in Panama City.

You're a great athlete, you'll get your revenge... I'm sure of it.

cybonan said...

stop trippin, dude. bad races happen to great athletes. one suggestion, during your races forget all the gadgetry, don't fret about your HR or wattage and just go like the wind. racing is 90% mental. also, consider the overtraining factor. we all need rest days...even bad ass triathletes like you. oh, btw, next time i hear of you quitting because your projected time is less that satisfactory, i'll fly out and put my size 7 in your bung-whole!

Heather said...

I'm just catching up on your blog and noticed your thoughts were earily similar to mine about the last few races. With 4 DNFs I know of this one day - it had to be something in the air. At least I wasn't there to mess up your weather for the race. :)

(BTW - I think I saw it was hotter in NC than PCB that day, my weather trend continues!)