Thank you, Heidi, for sharing your race report! This is awesome! As I recommended, it’s always best to go into your first attempt at any distance, particularly long course racing, without a time expectations. This way you are never disappointed with the hard work you put in and the outcome. If you do put on a time goal/expectation and something doesn’t go as planned, you are now disappointed when you have never raced this distance or gained this experience before. So nice work covering up that cumulative time data!
Since you have so much helpful insights in your report, I am going to highlight some of them that can be good lessons for others. This is the whole point and hope of a group training program!
Pre-Race: I am impressed that you got a solid 6 hours of sleep on pre race night. Please share how you did so! Did you take a sleeping aid? Are you a really good sleeper? Most athletes struggle here so this is why the sleep you get two nights before your race is really the key sleep time. If you get good sleep then, you are not as exhausted and fatigued if you don’t get a decent night’s sleep come the night before the race. We welcome your strategy here! 🙂
Swim: Everyone has noted the swim conditions! It must have been dark under there! And you did the right thing by swimming instead of walking. It was shared that most were sinking knee deep when they tried to walk. Obviously this is not the fastest strategy. And research will suggest that the fastest strategy is to always swim (even if you can walk) until you cannot swim any further. So great choice again!
T1: Desoto Coolwings (many athletes swear by them). Something to consider if you sweat a lot or overheat.
Bike: Like the recommendation that you are better going into a race undertrained than overtrained, the same principle applies to executing the race. You are better to dial back the bike than overpush it. And while you did just that, now you know you have some room for improvement for future races 🙂 However for your first race, it is better to enjoy the race, gain the experience and then you can build upon it. Your cadence was excellent (!!) and now you can build up to more zone 3 efforts so it’s more attainable in a race setting.
You can also practice water bottle handoffs, filling your bottles while riding, etc if you want to save some time.
Let’s talk about your nutrition since this is an area where many can struggle. You mention that you were taking in fluids and salt. However, like Juan, you didn’t mention what you were taking in. How much sports drink (per hour, ounces)? How much sports drink versus water (per hour, ounces)? Also, how much salt were you taking in? What form (electrolyte tablets, etc)?
In the end, if you are taking in too much water (versus sports drink), it can wash away all of your electrolytes needed for your body to absorb any fluids. Thus athletes feel like they are drinking and drinking and their body is not absorbing the fluids because they don’t have enough electrolytes to absorb the fluids. This often happens with athletes trying to be healthy and minimize salt and sugary product intake. This can also happen with athletes that just are not aware. Again, this can lead to a deadly condition called hyponatremia so you want to avoid this at all costs.
My questions for you would be…how much were you drinking per hour? What did it consist of? How much sodium were you getting in per hour? If you do not pee by mile 35 on the bike, the rule typically suggests that you are in a dehydrated state. So you want to be peeing on the bike. However if you are urinating at every stop, it could be one of several things (this is where it’s hard because I don’t have any nutrition history on you). Again, what were you drinking? How much sports drink versus water? How much do you sweat? What is your sweat rate? How much sodium are you getting in per hour? What did the rest of your nutrition look like on the bike? This is what we would balance throughout the season to understand what your needs are. However my guess is that if you were urinating this much, you were likely not getting in enough sodium/electrolytes pre and during your race. Obviously there isn’t room here to dissect and diagnose all of this but there are opportunities for next time.
Run: Nice work executing your mantra and self talk. We all seem to get to that point where our legs (or mind) are ready to slow down or walk. Remember that this is the benefit of a well planned, executed run/walk. With brief walk breaks, it will recover your HR, break your run up into manageable chunks, etc. Thankfully it sounds like you were smart about pacing and imparting a great deal of mental fortitude. So nice work!
Post Race: All athletes would expect that they could sleep well after you just raced longer than you ever have before. But then you cannot sleep. This is not unusual so don’t overthink it! I have never slept a minute after just racing an IM. Your body and mind are just on overdrive, your system is fired up on endorphins and even some leftover sugar. You will sleep just fine the second night after your race. See a trend here! 🙂
Your lessons learned are just perfect! They are all good points that will only benefit you going forward. Pushing yourself, dialing in nutrition…they all take time and now with the experience under your belt, you can be smarter about your training and racing for whatever is next.
Another recommendation that I always offer is that ‘if you are racing too hard to thank the volunteers, you are racing too hard.’ One of my athletes that just raced Challenge Roth on Sunday told me that this recommendation is what both saved and succeeded his race. It’s the best advise I can recommend to everyone who has not raced yet. Not only is it the right thing to do (!), it takes your mind off of your pain. This is a win win! Great strategy to employ Heidi!
It sounds like you gained a lot of energy and value from your training program and other HIP participants. This is exactly what we hope everyone will experience. Just don’t forget your chapstick next time. 🙂
Have fun hiking Mt Shasta! Cross training is a very important part of the training plan too!