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All, happy to report that my virtual race went well and I finished with a time of 6 hours 27 minutes. This is very similar to my time when I raced this course two years ago with little training but real transitions and course support (and ending up in the medical tent), so I count it as a big success. A few things to note for others considering a virtual race:
- I second Ryan’s comments about the value of a hydration vest, that was key without course support. I wore it on the bike and the run, and filled it in the middle. I got the cheapest one at Walmart (Avia is the brand) and it worked fine, though I should have practiced with it more in advance.
- Friends and family support is always helpful, but it was absolutely critical to a virtual race. My parents watched me swim, met me with drinks and food once on the bike and twice on the run, and tracked my location on my iphone just in case I needed medical attention this time around (which I luckily did not). They are the best!
- Having a phone and headphones raised logistical issues, but was really nice to keep me entertained and motivated during a long lonely bike. I listened to a book on tape for most of it and switched to a motivational playlist for the run, which helped get me over the finish line despite the heat. I wish you could do that in real races.
On Coach AJ’s questions, my virtual race modifications went very well, my swim was very smooth and enjoyable, and my nutrition went pretty well. I knew from my training that I could keep the calories low, around 200/hour, and I still had plenty of energy even at the end. What I didn’t do as well was electrolytes, I had planned for about 200mg/hour of sodium on the bike, which was maybe a little low for the heat, and then my planning kind of fell off for the run. Combined with the rising heart rate in the heat (which was very noticeable) my run was significantly slower than planned, but still better than my first half iron effort.
Overall I felt pretty good at the end and likely could have pushed myself more with course support, which is important data for the next time. And it’s clear I have more opportunity on the bike, in terms of increasing power and better heart rate training and improving my gear and familiarizing myself more with the course.
After four days off, I’m ready to get back into training! I miss it more than I thought I would, and I’m confident I can drop time in a real race. I think I will look for a fall race that might still be happening and re-start the build cycles soon.
Happy fourth everyone! -Julia