Woke up @ 3:45 (7.5 hours sleep). Drove 3 hours down from Pleasanton to Lake San Antonio with a Micky D’s rest stop / coffee top off / leg stretch. Checked in (my “purple cap” wave was to leave at 8:35 as I already knew). Set up my transition. Did a little jogging & stretch cordz to warm up. I got to the swim start area a hair over 10 minutes early.
When I arrived I saw the purple caps about to start! The announcer started counting down. I KNOW that my wave is supposed to leave at 8:35, but it’s only 8:25! I ask someone “I thought the purple caps were leaving at 8:35?” He looked at me like I’m crazy– “No, we leave now.” I asked someone else “Is my cap the same color as yours?” He looked at me like I’m crazy “yes.” The announcer started the wave. I had to decide now! I looked behind me– it didn’t look like there was another wave of purple caps back there getting ready to leave in 10 minutes. I made a split second decision — better to go with the wrong wave than to risk missing my wave altogether! And I went!
It was a case of absolutely perfectly bad timing. If I was one minute earlier I would have had time to investigate and think to ask the RIGHT question (i.e. “What age group is this wave?”). If I was one minute later I wouldn’t have even seen the other purple cap wave. Turns out I was in the wrong wave (what the program called the “cardinal” cap wave which had 100% identical caps to my purple wave), so I left 10 minutes too early (which is why my swim was originally listed on the site as 21 minutes instead of 31!)
Started pretty far back in the pack because I had to get up there at the very last second. Didn’t go anaerobic at all at start since I wasn’t very far up in the bunch. I was able to draft for maybe 5 min of the race; otherwise I swam on my own. On the way back in I stopped for a second to look around for other purple caps and didn’t see any so I gave up on drafting. On the plus side, it freed me to take the best line back in. On the swim to the boat ramp I made my annual mistake of aiming at the start banner instead of the orange exit banner (remember this for next year).
31:48 (rank: 195) SLOW! I now realize I swam at my regular default OW wetsuit pace (IM intensity). I have to admit I was distracted thinking about whether I had left with the wrong wave. I didn’t get to start my watch, so I didn’t know how slow I was, which was good. I sighted well, but I need to work on my drafting skills before IMCdA.
I walked up the boat ramp a little then took my wetsuit off. Then I jogged / walked up the rest of the ramp & jogged into transition. (I used to run up the boat ramp, which is very tiring). A little sloppy in transition, but not bad.
This was my first WF with power. The biggest value in having a power meter was holding back on the early steep hills even though it felt super easy and I was going the same pace as everyone else around me (racers of all shapes and sizes). I spent the first 10-20 miles a little preoccupied with whether I had started in the wrong wave and I even asked a couple of people if they were in the purple cap wave, but I couldn’t find anyone who was (the “cardinal” caps were the 30-34 “B” wave). It became obvious that I had been in the wrong wave when I only ended up seeing a couple of other people in my AG the entire time I was on the bike course.
My wattage caps were 290-300 on the hills 250 on the flats. I eased off the power every time my speed was over 25 mph and coasted when my speed was over 30 mph. By coasting and soft pedaling at higher speeds I got 45 seconds of “rest” (biking in my easy zone), including 15 minutes of coasting. On the negative side, I spent almost 15 minutes above 300 watts (my wattage cap), which is surprising since I made an honest effort to stay below it! This was truly a solo TT effort, and I didn’t benefit from any legal (or illegal) packs for even a second. From what I saw it was a very legal race and I saw the draft marshals at least 10 times during the ride.
In the past I had tended to ride somewhat conservatively in HIM races, but today I thought I’d try to ride very close to my wattage caps, to see what I was capable of. In reality, the course undulates so much and my speed changed so much that I was varying my wattage almost constantly based on my speed. I did sometimes push HARDER (than I would have just based on PE) based on my power—I wonder if this is healthy.
I remember thinking after the ride that 230-240 watts on the flats and 270-280 on the hills would be my “green zone” for this course. (i.e. my absolutely safe wattages). Anything above these wattages might be in my gray zone.
Time: 2:42:03 (rank: 55)
Wattage: averaged 220 watts (240 NP)
Nutrition: 600 cals of heed washed down with plenty of water. 1 1/3 cliff bars. So approx 900 cals on the bike. (I tend to eat at IM levels at this race to test my IM nutrition strategy)
Had a pretty good flying dismount. A bit of a sloppy transition (overshot my spot, then starting going w/o garmin so I had to go back and get it). But I was still 1 minute faster than my SUPER sloppy transition last year.
I was concerned about the run because I’ve been having mysterious troubles with my running in training in over the last couple of weeks. I started out running relaxed and my speed was good. I forgot how many little steep hills there are in the first few miles along the lake. I was running at my normal HIM effort. I noticed that I was feeling a little weak on the uphills, but I wasn’t too concerned because I tend to get stronger as a HIM run goes on.
On the big uphill part of the course (mile 5) I realized I didn’t have my run legs and that I was going to have to adjust my strategy and expectations. It was disconcerting be in survival / conservation mode so early in the run (I am accustomed to be the aggressor on the latter parts of the run.) But I went to plan B and started walking short parts of the steep hills. When I got to the top of the big hill, I was able to FLY down the hill and I realized that I would still be able to run the downhills quickly just on the basis of good technique. Miles 6-10 are primarily downhill and I was able to keep a decent average pace (6:30s) by slogging through the flats and uphills and running the downhills very quickly. I was able to muster a decent effort running out of the pit and held it together until the big Lynch Hill descent. I ran quickly but controlled down Lynch Hill then ran pretty strong to the finish, but not all out. I wish I had sprinted to the finish line (I missed 4th in my AG by just a few seconds).
I was only able to average 166 BPM on this run (last year at WF and at Big Kahuna Half this year I was able to average 171 bpm).
NUTRITION: drank 200 cals of heed in a ¾ liter bottle that I was holding in my hand. Finished the bottle by mile 6. Started to feel some hints of nausea, so 200 cal of heed per ¾ liter might be too concentrated for IM run. After this I had a couple of the small cups of water and 1 cup of Gatorade. So all in all I had a little over 200 cals on the run.
Time: 1:27:06 (rank: 14)
Finish: 4:45:19 (rank: 19th overall, 5th 35-39)
SUMMARY / LESSONS:
• Get to the swim start earlier (or later!)
• Swim a little more aggressively in a HIM. My default pace is my IM pace, so I’ll need to concentrate a little bit.
• Work on my swim drafting before IMCdA.
• Watch my wattages more carefully. I shouldn’t have spent almost 15 minutes above 300 watts.
• I’m not sure if my sub-par run was a result of biking too hard or if it was a continuation my poor running legs that I’ve had for the last couple weeks, or some combination of the two.
• On the plus side I was able to adjust and hold it together and put together a respectable run despite my not having my best legs. I probably should have adjusted earlier and started walking parts of ALL the short and steep uphills on the first few miles. It’s good to have the run/walk in my repertoire for such an occasion!
• Never give up hope! Even though I was a bit distracted and bummed out by my mishap at the start (and a little concerned I might be DQ’d), and even though I didn’t have my usual strong run legs, I ended up having a much stronger placing than I would have hoped! By the way, the WF people were very organized and nice about fixing my snafu. (Although it was nice to see a 21 minute swim for a little while in the results.)
• 200 cals of heed for .75 liters might be too concentrated for a run drink.