Austin 70.3 Race Report

Posted: November 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a race report of any kind, but I since I am beginning to train again and get back into triathlon, I thought now was as good a time as any to give it a shot.

Austin, TX is a downright cool city – great people, good food, and a funky vibe that needs to be experienced to be appreciated. We flew down a few days in advance of the race and took advantage of being in Texas to visit my sister-in-law, her husband and twin nephews in Waco.  It is always enjoyable to see where the people you love live and work and hang out including a few of their favorite places.  Waco may not be the hippest spot on the planet, but it has some cool hangouts like Dichotomy (a hip coffee/bar joint in the old downtown) and Welhous (Wheel House) a custom bike and hi-fi shop. But this is a far cry from a race report.

Race day begins bright and early as they all do, or not so bright at 5:00 am.  I eat my oatmeal, 1/2 a bagel w/almond butter and banana with 2 cups of coffee and get packed to head to the race.  The drive to the race should be uneventful, but the roads we scoped out the day before and now closed and under construction.  Not the best way to start out your day.  We quickly find an alternate route to the race venue and after adding about 10 minutes to the travel time, begin our wait in the mile long line of bumper to bumper vehicles waiting to be ushered to their parking spot.  Traffic jams before your race just add to the tension of the situation, but with so many racers in the same predicament, I manage to keep a level head as we wait.  Slowly but surely we get parked.  I quickly head to T2 and drop of the run bag and hop on the bus to T1 a with about 15 minutes to spare before transition closes (or at least I thought).

Once in T1, as the sun is rising, it becomes apparent we are standing in a sea of thick fog. Bikes are covered with condensation and visibility is down to 100 yards.  Soon, we hear that the swim start will be delayed due to fog and that transition will remain open for an extra 15 minutes, so I will have time to get everythign in order before heading to the lake. All seems normal at this time as they close transition at 7:30 and we head down to swim start.  The delay drags on and as the sun continues to rise on the horizon, visibility dropping until you can’t see the first buoy and the kayakers on the lake appear to be floating on the horizon.  Finally, at 8:30, the announcers states the swim has been canceled and we will begin the bike portion of the race as a rolling time trial start, pros first, then age groupers by order of their bib numbers.  As number 1182, this means I will be waiting a while to start.

Male pros begin their day promptly at 9:00am, females pros shortly thereafter and then the challenged athletes take off.  Finally the lower number bibs begin their continuous march to the start line.  Austin is known for having thick thorns in the grasses around transition, so you actually carry your bike to the start line.  It is a little chaotic, but everyone seems to be playing along and ready to finally start their day.  I begin my journey on the bike course at 10:10am.

On the bike, I found myself quickly accelerating up to speed and continuously passing athletes one after the other.  In fact, given the new rules of drafting, the only choice you have is to either sit back and take it easy, or continue to pass other riders looking for an opening to settle into your pace.  After just a few minutes, I was working a little harder than I intended on the bike, but I felt great and couldn’t seem to settle into an easier pace. This continued on for the first 20 miles or so of the course as we roll over a few hills and through a few of the neighboring towns.  I finally began to settle into my pace in the 2nd third of the ride, but by now, I have already found my nutritional plan of RX bars a little hard to swallow (literally) and even harder to digest.  I knew I would need to slow it down a bit or end up in trouble on the run.

The last third of the ride, I was able eat again and take on water and began preparing myself mentally for the run.  Everything seemed to be going swimmingly (funny since we didn’t swim at all) and it was.  I was 12 minutes ahead of my goal pace and feeling confident on the day.  The only question I had in my mind was how would my stomach respond once I transitioned to the run.

T2 came at 2:38 into the race and went without a glitch.  Of course, I always feel I could be a little more speedy as I grab my things, but under 2 minutes in T2 is fast enough for me.

As soon as I hit the run course, I knew it was going to be a long run.  My legs felt good leaving transition, my stomach a little ‘burpy’, but the heat and humidity was sweltering. The one surprise from my research online about the course was how hilly the run course ended up being.  It looked pretty flat in the course profile but in reality, there was hardly a flat spot on the course. The 3 loop course was relatively open on the first lap and became increasingly crowded as more and more athletes joined the sauna run.

The first mile went by way too fast at 7:30 and my concern became reality after the first aid station.  I took a hit of my EFS shot and a glass of water and my stomach just didn’t want to do the work.  I slowed my pace bit and focused on taking in plenty of water to help get everything moving again.  By the start of the second lap, my mind was not in a great place and I was starting to think about the heat, the crowded course, and the fact that at my current pace, I would give up all 12 minutes I gained on the bike and quite possibly much more.  I began walking the aid stations and focusing on ice and water and regaining focus and confidence to keep going.  At 8 miles in, I decide to start drinking coke and all things become clear, confident and the world seems bright again.  Calories and caffeine can totally change your perspective.

I didn’t speed up much on the final lap, but I was certain I would finish the race within my expected goal time and was looking forward to the air conditioned arena of the Travis County Exposition Center.  Running down the IM finisher chute after a 4 year hiatus was a great feeling.  I survived the run in 1:57. I was happy to be done with this race and already contemplating where I would race next. The day started a bit rough and finished feeling hopeful and confident of things to come.

Overall finish time of 4:37:42 was right on pace with my goal time for the race (5:15:00). I finished 261st out of over 2600 athletes and 24th in my AG.  (30th after the bike and 24th after the run).  Given the a 4-year break from the sport, I feel ready for a great winter base season and emerge this next spring ready for a new season or PRs and hopefully a chance to qualify for the 70.3 World Championship in 2017.

Just keep training and trust the process – Coach Wade