Lessons learned from this race.
- PRE-RACE: I did not really anticipate just how many people were going to be at the start of this race. I should have arrived at transition a little bit earlier. Although the walk to the swim start was only about a mile and a half I really think walking bare foot started me off on the wrong foot (so to speak). Also, the shoes for the run were just plan silly. By selecting 'light and fast' shoes to save a few seconds per mile it cost me tens and twenties of seconds per mile. For these longer races I have to go with a cushioned trainer. I already knew this but was blinded by some artificial time goals - that was a mistake.
- SWIM: My swim wave was larger than some of the local triathlons that I have been in - I got very disoriented and claustrophobic being in the middle of the churn. I never thought that I was going to die or drown or anything like that - but my breathing was out of control and I was struggling. Looking at my heart rate for the entire race - it was the highest during the swim - for all of the swim. I know that this not only cost me minutes on the swim but minutes on the bike and minutes on the run. I need to continue to be more confident in the water - not just with swimming but in positioning myself with other racers. This will be one of the toughest to improve on - a few days after the race (or really just a few seconds out of the swim) it is hard to imagine getting that messed up just swimming. I did hear of several racers climbing out of the water in disgust and throwing there goggles off. Knowing what I was feeling that could have been me. I am going to try and do as many races this year to help build that 'swim race' experience.
- BIKE: I did pretty good on the bike. I was walking a tight line on keeping the pace up and saving energy for the run. At this point it is hard to tell if I pushed too hard or not hard enough - my run was off and was going to be off regardless. On the back half of the bike - into the wind - my effort dropped. I will work on the mental toughness required to keep the pace up! I have done a lot of bricks this season but none at race pace - In need to throw in a lot of race pace bricks.
- RUN: I never got into a groove on the run. My feet were sore before I even left transition. However, even if I was feeling great (and my lungs and legs felt pretty good - but not great) I am still not sure if I would have been able to find that extra gear. When I ran that half marathon in the fall my heart rate was up near LT. This run was low zone 2. I'm just not sure if I could have picked it up and raced the run. I just ran it. Once again I need to have some race paced bricks and work on the mental toughness to deliver in these conditions.
- ENJOY THE RACE: I do a pretty good job of this but why not push through the pain, run a fast race and enjoy it the entire time. After all, I am doing this because they are fun. I need to live it up more - my pay check does not depend on my race results - it is okay to have fun.
Things that I did right.
- I tested my boundaries successfully. No injuries. I enjoyed the experience. At the time I was not sure if I wanted to continue this long distance racing after this year. A day or two out and I can't wait to test myself again.
- Swam in a wetsuit with out problem. Sure I had problems in the swim but it was not because of the wetsuit - if anything the wetsuit gave me confidence. I would probably be more scratched up if I did not have the suit on.
- Nutrition and hydration never caused me any problems. I took a gel just about every half hour once I was out of the swim. I taped them to the top tube of my bike and that worked great. I took them prior to the water stations on the run and that worked great. In training I took them every 45 minutes but I think 30 minute is just about right. I drank lots of water during the bike and run. I never had to pee but I also never really felt thirsty. The April heat was not a problem - of course I did not fly into town from some snow covered part of the country. I was also done with the race by 1PM - before the real heat of the day.
- Transitions went well. When I saw the size of the transition area I thought that there would be no way to do this fast. I thought 4 minutes a piece would be tough. Well, my bike placement was exceptional and that allowed for me to have both transitions combined come out to less than 6 minutes. I still need to learn to do the flying mount / dismount.
- Recovery was much better after this race than even the half marathon that I did in the fall. This race was a much longer duration (4 hours longer) but the intensity was a lot less. Also, I only had one beer at the race finish. I am sure that the beer negatively affects my recovery.
All things considered I learned a lot from this first 1/2 Ironman and I am confident that I can improve on my racing. I'm still excited!
Kristin over at The Lazy Marathoner told me that she over heard a spectator ask the runners what they got for finishing. One of the racers immediately yelled back "SATISFACTION"! Well said.