The first triathlon of the year and first real test leading up to Lake Placid was a half iron distance race in Dartmouth. My coach recommended I find a half distance race 4-6 weeks out from ironman – and I chose Epic Dartmouth. I learned a lot from the race, but overall it was a very frustrating day (I’ll explain below).
Swim: 33:47 (1900m)
I wasn’t particularly pleased about my swim time, but I sighted well and I suspect the course was a bit long – so overall I was content coming out of the water in second place. I felt as if I gauged my effort well and kept a fairly even pace throughout the swim. Unfortunately, I ended up swimming most of the distance alone because the leader (Corey) was about two minutes ahead.
This portion of the race could have been a lot faster. There were wetsuit strippers set up as we entered T1, but I was so disoriented that I didn’t notice they were there, and no one said anything to me, so I lost about a minute when I got to my bike taking off my wetsuit. Other than that, I kept it simple and got on my bike relatively quickly.
Bike: 2:43:23 (95k)
The bike started out great! I was able to settle into a good comfortable pace. However, things went south very quickly. I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade at the first aid station as I was entered the roughest section of the course. While trying to refill my aero drink bottle and dodge potholes at the same time, I hit the middle of huge pothole, which caused me to almost fall off the bike. I got back into the aero position and felt relieved that I had dodged a bullet. However, what I soon realized is that I now had a flat front tire. I got off my bike, tried to stay calm and get the tire changed as quick as possible. I was very pleased to get the new tube in placed within about 2 minutes. I then used a CO2 tank to try to inflate the tire. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the adaptor at the right angle so I had to try again with my second of two CO2 tanks. Essentially the same thing happened again Now I had no CO2 tanks and a front tire at about 50psi. Luckily, an older couple that was out on the course offered me a third C02 tanks and they had an adaptor that I was more comfortable with. The third C02 tank worked well and I was back on my bike. Needless to say, I won’t be using my CO2 adaptor ever again J. All joking aside, this was very frustrating. I had now lost 6:33 and was passed by 6 athletes, which moved me from 2nd down to 7th. I tried to forget about it as I settled back into race mode. I was hoping to average 260 watts on the bike and I was right on target. I continued along at this pace until I entered a roundabout at about 60km. At this point I had clawed my way back into 2nd place. To my surprise, there were no course marshals and no signage anywhere. I was forced to make a quick decision and decided to take the first turn inside the round about. Within a few hundred meters I realized that I had taken a wrong turn so I turned around and went back down the exit ramp. This only added to my sense of frustration, but it was only a short distance and I wasn’t passed by anyone. The only problem was, when I reentered the roundabout, I still didn’t know what direction to go. The race was called “Epic Dartmouth” so I chose the exit to Dartmouth – which was a safe choice I thought. 1.6km up a gradual incline a guy driving past flagged me down and told me that I had gone the wrong way. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I had gone the wrong way twice at the same spot? All I could think was “why on earth was there no marshal/signage?” At this point I felt completely defeated, but I turned my bike around and raced back to the roundabout. I knew exactly where to go at that point because there was only one option left. I found out later that these two detours cost me over seven minutes and that I had dropped into 6th place overall. Nonetheless, with 30k left on the bike, I focused on maintaining my goal power of 260 watts and contemplated whether or not I would even bother running. Ordinarily I would never let a thought like that enter my mind, but I had been nursing a hamstring injury and hadn’t been able to do any speed work or long runs in a few weeks, so I was already reluctant to run 13 miles. That said, by the time I finished the bike all doubts left my mind and I decided to run. After all, it would be a good test for my hamstring. My average power for the entire bike was 261 – which I was very pleased with.
I was not particularly happy with T2 either, but I can place most of the blame on myself. The dismount line was at the bottom of a steep hill and for some reason, I didn’t think to remove my feet from my shoes in time. As a result, I had to run a considerable distance in my bike shoes – which was very slow and surprisingly painful. I also forgot my watch, which was mounted to my aero bars, so I had to go back to my bike (which was taken by a volunteer at the dismount line). Needless to say, I was happy to get out of T2 and onto the run.
Run: 1:29:28 (21.1k)
I was very pleased with my run – mostly due to the fact that had very little pain in my hamstring. My coach wanted me to try for 6:30/mile, but I knew deep down that that wasn’t possible with the lack of speed work I had done in the weeks leading up to the race. I settled into a pace I thought I could maintain for 13 miles (6:45/mile). I was able to maintain this until the last few miles when pain in my hamstring left me with my choice but to slow down. All and all, I was happy with an overall pace of 6:53/mile. This left me feeling fairly confident I could run a solid marathon at Ironman.
Total time: 4:51:13 (4th place)