Thank you, Brian, for your follow up! Your race recap was very helpful and let’s see what we can glean from it.
Swim: All about swim efficiency so nice work here. You can’t win the race on the swim but you can lose it. Conserve energy and work for that swim efficiency not swim speed. This is exactly what you did here and even beat your goals.
T1: Nice work. It’s really about keeping your body (mostly HR) under control. So glad you smartly moved through T1. You always have free speed here for next time 🙂
Bike: Lots of lessons here. Yes, this is why we must correlate HR with RPE. I can’t tell you the number of times that athletes tell me that their watch wasn’t working or there HR monitor dropped to their belly button and wouldn’t stay up…whatever it is. Technology is your friend but it can also be your foe. It’s technology! Thus this is why I always encourage you to correlate HR with RPE. Remember that talk test? We talked about it in detail at the Kick Off Meeting. I also talked about it in detail at the Pacing Strategy and Optimal Run Performance seminars that I held. And finally it’s well documented in the Athlete’s Guide if you are not familiar with the ‘talk test.’ It’s the only thing that is reliable if you know how to use it!
Also, even if you are the same pace, you have to remember the rules. It is for your safety, as well as the safety of all participants, volunteers, etc. No more riding together during a race 🙂
Run: Well, your situation is not unique. This happens all of the time and to the extent I can, I will talk through options. This is the downfall of these training programs. I don’t have complete access to your training history, nutrition plan, the ability to data analysis, etc. When I am familiar with these specifics, it’s much easier to decode.
However what I can share is my experience over the years with these situation. First off, if cramping happens during training, it can often be pushing too hard or a deficiency in something (daily nutrition like magnesium or dehydration or training nutrition like lack of calories or electrolytes). I believe you mentioned you started taking magnesium tablets after hearing Rebecca Mohning speak. Did you keep up with taking this supplement?
If cramping only happens during races, this is usually a matter of proper pacing since most research supports that cramping happens when you ask your body to do something it is not trained to do. Thus many athletes cramping during a race because they push just a little too hard. Since you don’t have race data, this could have been part of the situation. Did you push the pace just a little too hard? Did you push a gear that was just a little too hard? If you already had a tight muscles, this only exacerbates the issue and then when you get off to run, it rears it’s head due to the impact. Obviously being on your feet on Saturday to help volunteer could have slightly contributed but this is not the underlying issue of the situation . All of us must be on our feet pre race (you should see what is required for an IM race…you are on your feel for this preparation all day long!) so it likely contributed but it wasn’t the cause.
Also, did you go into the race being completely hydrated? Muscles are much more able and willing to cramp if they are dehydrated. Since you mentioned having the issue ongoing, you might have been in a consistent dehydrated state. Possibly you were drinking too much water, flushing away your electrolytes so that any fluids you were taking in were not being absorbed.
What did your nutrition plan look like on the bike? You mentioned that you were eating and drinking but you can eat and drink but it’s what you eat and drink, how often you do it and how much that all add into this equation.
Finally, if you are going into a race with an ache or pain, I always recommend that you get these resolved pre race. If you can do it on your own through foam rolling, yoga, stretching, etc, then do so. If not, then I always encourage you to get in with a sports minded PT to diagnose the issue. I remember you stating early on that you often cramp when you race. And since it happened again, this might be worth exploring with a coach or sports nutritionist (although we don’t know that it’s specifically nutrition/diet related), physical therapist or someone who can be monitoring you from a holistic approach to uncover the underlying issue.
In the end, it is all about finishing and you did just that! It’s not always pretty! Often, its not! But it’s the fact that you set a goal, worked hard towards it and accomplished it. You have many lessons learned here. Now is the time to embrace them and make you a strong and more knowledgable athletes for your next race/season. You finished your first Half Ironman! Remember that a very small percentage of the population will ever try 🙂
Awesome work, Brian! Thank you for sharing!