In my Midwest Mayhem race a few weeks ago, it was HOT and HUMID! I thought that was going to be a good test of my aptitude to race a longer distance in tough conditions. From Mayhem I knew I could push through some pain and get it done, and only needed to make some minor tweaks for future events in the heat. Not really.
I've lived in Colorado before and I'm all about the absence of humidity, but we here in the low lands of the Midwest think we can make up for altitude with humidity. That may be a factor in the aerobic endurance, but in the realm of dehydration and salt loss, it's a whole different ball game.
Here's how my race broke down versus my goals (you can read my detailed goals HERE. ):
Make sure everything I need for the race makes it into my luggage for the trip! - Everything made it but my USAT card! I figure that was a solid packing job to only have to shell out $10 for a one day USAT pass.
Get my bike to Colorado in one piece. - SCORE one for the newbie tri bike air traveler. There and back without much problem. I was even able to put it together in Boulder without having to resort to a bike shop for adjustments!
Swim - I think it's realistic to expect a sub 34 minute swim like IM KS 70.3 in 2010. - Wetsuit legal made for just a miss of 1 minute for my goal. 35:07 officially. I think if I hadn't had my goggles knocked off in the last 300 yards, I would have had my goal. Surprisingly it was a slug fest from start to end as I was the next to last wave. Being a middle of the pack swimmer gets you lapped by the fast swimmers in the trailing wave and you run into the stragglers from previous waves. Rarely any opportunities to swim unimpeded.
Bike - I think a 3:00 is doable. - 3:05:10, missed by 5 minutes. I'm not bent out of shape about this goal since the bike leg has been a struggle this season. My goal was to stay even keeled and within myself so as not to burn my matches before the run. The heat was coming and I was going to need everything I had to get through 13.1 miles with no shade. Steady, hydration and nutrition was on the menu for 56 miles.
Run - the wild card. My best half marathon time is 1:42. I'm confident a 1:55 or a little better is possible. - Hello hot sun, do you mind? I'm trying to run a half marathon here! 2:13:55. That says it all. The wheels kind of came off here. Now, I'm not trying to make excuses but it wasn't exactly fun to start over an hour after the first wave and let the sun start baking the course and the wind start blowing across the reservoir. That being said, there's no excuse for not being prepared.
The first 5 miles was battling a little GI distress. Sorry to any an all athletes I ran past or you passed me that I belched or passed wind around. I didn't need a port-a-potty, but something wasn't right. That passed for the most part but as I rounded for loop two, cramping started. Right hamstring, left groin, left quad, right hamstring again was the order. I could get about a mile in at a time at a hack-kneed hop-trot "stride" before the next muscle group seized up.
Add all of that up and you have a 5:29 HIM. - At 5:59:26, it's not my worst half, but it's not my goal of 5:30.
In retrospect there are two glaringly obvious issues to address.
Training - My training was consistent, however, it did not drastically look different than Ironman Kansas 70.3. No huge spikes in time or distance. If I'm going to up my goals, especially for a destination event, I better up the training in intensity and volume.
Hydration / Nutrition. I arrived in Boulder Friday and drank water and gatorade till the pee was clear! Before the race, I have no doubt I was properly hydrated and had my pre-race nutrition in order. I even believe I was properly hydrated on the bike. The run was a grab-fest of water / gatorade / coke and anything that would settle. I didn't go overload with fluid, the main issue was my clothes.
They were covered in salt. We don't have that issue as much in Kansas humidity. You just don't notice that salt loss unless you're looking for it. When you're out on the course, you're at the mercy of the aid stations if you didn't plan. Lesson learned - look into supplements for salt / electrolyte replacement and how that fits in with my proven (for me) methods of hydration and nutrition and the specific race.
Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans. Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts HERE and he collects race reviews at www.Triathlon-Reviews.blogspot.com. Contact Ryan at: [email protected] or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan.