(Sorry in advance for the long winded response)
Swim cancellation was a bummer, but I was ok with it after thinking about a conversation I had with one of the kayakers prior to the announcement. She was more nervous about being on the water than any of the athletes I encountered. It would have been very challenging for the race coordinators from a safety point of view. A small craft advisory is not to be taken lightly. It would have been nice to see if all of our swim workouts would have resulted in a good swim, but I am afraid that swimming in those conditions would have made for a bad day from the get-go.
Mentally, it was a bit challenging to deal with the swim cancellation….the first thought is that the race suddenly became an easy day, but then you realize that there are still 69.1 miles ahead of you! I ended up sticking with my nutrition plan. I figured that if I had used it successfully on my long weekend rides with a brick, then it should be ok for this effort. I had eaten breakfast around 4:45, but was kinda hungry by the time I got going on the bike around 8:30, so the timing seemed to work out ok (obviously sitting around takes less calories than swimming).
I also didn’t change my pacing strategy on the bike..stay in Zone 3. I was surprised at the start that, despite a somewhat relaxed beginning, the adrenaline had already pushed my heart rate pretty high. I settled down. I got passed A LOT during the first 5 miles of the bike, but I had set a goal to stay in my zones and not get distracted, so I was able to be content with being passed. It definitely paid off on the run.
Oh, the rain! Started around mile 5 for me. Then the rain and the wind. Wow! After surviving the bike, I don’t feel guilty about not swimming. I tend to be a fair weather cyclist, so I wasn’t quite ready for it, but I managed ok in terms of pedaling and handling. A big challenge was sunglasses, which were fogged up and needed windshield wipers. I kept bouncing back and forth between wearing sunglasses and taking them off. Wish I had brought the clear ones instead. Since I wear contacts, I was a bit worried, but I opted to keep them off a fair amount.
Best Advice Ever on this Message Board 🙂 : When rain is forecast, bring a plastic bag for run/bike gear, pack a dry pair of socks for the run. I also had a dry towel in a plastic bag. My socks after biking were drenched. The dry socks were awesome. (I was lucky to be in T2 during a dry spell).
On the run, I was planning to run 9 mins, walk 1 minute. Here was my only major change, which I justified to not having to swim and feeling better than expected. I ended up running the route except for a couple of aid stations. It worked out really well. While I stayed in Zone 3, the second half I started pushing into the higher Zone 3 level. Of course, the wind was at our backs on the way out and in our face going in. But, we benefited greatly on the run by low temperatures and overcast skies, albeit with rain sprinkled in. During the last two miles I started pushing to Zone 4 since I was still feeling strong. I was able to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.
While it’s hard to know whether my plan would have worked if there were a swim or whether I would have felt as good on the run with a swim, I was really excited to feel good at the end. Most triathlons I have done, I usually question the rationality of the sport during the run. 🙂
Oh well, enough rambling. A few big takeaways…
- First of all, I would like to thank Coach AJ for putting together a great plan and for instilling confidence, especially in terms of race planning, nutrition, and pacing. It was so great going into the race with a plan that I had tried and knowing that I was in good shape physically. I am psyched that I made it through the training with no injury, and felt well rested during race week. I am definitely now a believer in the pre-workout warmups, post-workout stretching/rolling/nutrition, especially as I am getting older. I was pretty calm the night before, slept well, and had a good time pre-race.
- Warmup: I had done a nice warmup with dynamic stretches, plyometrics, a quick jog. Then the swim got cancelled and the start moved about 1.5 h later. Ugh. I did some dynamic stretching about 15 minutes before going off, hopefully that worked out ok, but definitely threw off the pre-race prep.
- Pacing: while I was getting frustrated at times about getting passed so much on the bike , I am really glad that I held back on the bike, as it made the run so much more enjoyable. And, not to be too competitive, but I ended up passing a lot of people on the run. 🙂 An opportunity for me to improve is certainly my bike speed, and perhaps getting more comfortable biking in rain.
- Nutrition: It worked really well. Of course, no swim and mild temperatures made for easier conditions, but no GI issues. I had solid food, with some salty snacks and a sweeter bar, during the first 2 hours of the bike. Last hour of bike I switched to gels. A couple of gels on the run and some water/endurolytes.
I am signed up for Atlantic City in September, so I am hoping to see if the preparation and plans works as well for a full triathlon as for a duathlon. 🙂
Any suggestions from anyone regarding how much recovery time is appropriate after a goal race prior to getting back into training?
Good luck to those with races ahead…have a great time!