Triathlon is Back. And so is my blog!

Work in progress, check back soon for more pictures and data

It’s been over three whole years since I have blogged. Am I ashamed? Of course not. You know no one ever said as they died, “I should have blogged more…” OK actually writing is pretty cool and there probably have been plenty of writers and people who on their death bed wished that they did write more before they left this life (and entered a new one of course duh). But at the same time, I like the waves of Doing and Reflecting. For some, those waves come daily and they write daily. For others like me, it feels like micro-waves within big waves that span over multiple years. Maybe this is an anomaly and I won’t write again until the next pandemic, but maybe not! Long-intro-summary-short, I’ve been living life to the ultimate fullest and I wish to write more, so here we go.

Texas 70.3 Race Report:

Screaming fast with the tail winds propelling us all. Photo: Scott Flathouse

Should I begin with the long drive from Austin to Galveston the Thursday before race day with my friend and athlete, Alex Sharp? Should I speak on the loads of chips, nuts, road-snacks, and coffee we ordered from Whole Foods and picked up awkwardly not knowing how the tech-age has changed grocery shopping during a global pandemic the day before? Or should I speak on behalf of five-months prior of signing up for this race last year in the middle of the COVID Times hoping the race was a go as it was taking place in a red state with little concern for a pesky virus? Obviously that race was canceled or “postponed,” of course the day we landed in Austin having made the drive down to Galveston in mid-November of 2019; so here we are. Some called it my redemption race. I called it another day to celebrate my training, my fitness, and my ability to line things up, and knock ’em down.

The race by the numbers:

Distance: 70.3mi/113km. For those unfamiliar, a 70.3 race consists of 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike ride, and a 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run. Recently I’ve switched to the metric system to mark off my km’s especially on the run. The bike I still have an alert that goes off every 5 miles. Every 5km on the run is a nice marker for me to keep track of hydration, fueling, form, and the ability to stay true to my unquantifiable amount of grit left in the proverbial Tank.

Fueling: Before the race I have simple oats, coffee, and electrolyte water. We microwaved some stuff at the hotel room and I threw in a banana for good measure for the potassium and carbs. At transition I ate a cliff bar slowly and sipped more water. I had to pee a lot I think I over hydrated, but I’d rather that than be dehydrated. Of course the port-o-potty line was long. I really wish they had line-monitors to help the masses figure out how to efficiently wait in lines for port-o-potties. That aspect of society still is regressive.

Pee pee: I peed again before the swim as we waited for the start. Then we were off. I probably drank some nasty, salt water during the windy swim. It wasn’t too bad though. On the bike I took in all 600 calories from my EFS gel that I diluted into one 24oz water bottle. I had a 500ml bottle with electrolytes+100mg caffeine on the down tube and another 24oz bottle behind the saddle with electrolytes. Total sodium chloride (salt) I took in was about 1600mg for a 2 hour and change bike ride. I could have taken in more calories and salt now looking back at how the last 5km of the run started to fall apart. I took a splash of water from one aid station but mostly used it to wash off the pee off my sticky thighs. TMI? Oh well that’s what brought you here right?

The Runs: On the run, I didn’t grab my gu gel for some reason. I ran with nothing in my hands and that felt liberating. I grabbed gatorade at every other aid station (every other mile) and then water at just about every aid station. Starting at mile 7 (just past 10k or the half-way mark), I started taking in Red Bull. That stuff is magical. I should have started taking it at 5km. Either than or Coca Cola. I don’t care if you don’t normally drink Coca Cola or Red Bull. Drink it on hard efforts and the caffeine + calorie combo will give you such a high. Seriously, do it.

Splits: My swim time was awesome at 27min and change. Faster than plenty of the pros and only 7th overall. However it was wetsuit legal for us age groupers (AG) so natrually we would beat some pros as they couldn’t use a wetsuit (the threshold for wetsuit eligibilty is 74 degrees F for AG and something like 68 for pros I believe? I should look this up again.) My transitions were not impressive. I took my time to ensure I had everything I needed. I need to hurry that up though next time. I went like 3min and most of the pros were going just under 2min.

The Bike: I had my goal of 245w to hit for normalized power on the 56mi and I was sticking to 240-247 to start. This was a new attempt for me. With all of the indoor riding and cycling focus I’ve put in the past few months, I had confidence I could achieve this. My fastest bike split was in the low 2 hour mark in 2019 at Indian Wells at a very flat and non-windy course. I hit 237w NP there. I’m lighter and stronger now with a higher FTP so I think I could hit 245w! I went for it. We blazed down 28 miles on the Galveston beach-front highway with the tailwind screaming at our back propelling us forward into the gulf coast. I was passing some female pros who started 5-10min before us. A few swimmers who beat me out of the water also were taken out by me. Then one mustached dude took me at around mile 20! I was impressed. However, he looked like he was smashing himself too hard. His upper body and legs were splayed out too wide I could tell it was a full body effort which is not sustainable at mile 20.

Sonic: At the turn-around we all knew what was coming. The tail wind turned into a vicious head wind. It punished us all equally and relentlessly. Compared to the side winds and gusts I know so well from here in Kona and Hawi, on the island I call home, Hawai’i Island–this consistent head wind really wasn’t that bad! I mean it was strong and mean, but steady. It was something I could zone out. As a petite dude (my Aussie mate loves to call me petite), I could tuck pretty low and I think this benefitted me! Hitting 245w at 67kg and only 172cm, I feel like I can get into a little Sonic the Hedgehog ball and roll through the course collecting rings as I go!

But don’t fall cause you lose all your rings like in the video game. And some chick did just that. Ouch. I hope she’s OK. I saw the crash just coming up over the bridge again at mile 35 or so, she was going the other way and she indo’d over her handlebars and caused a two bike crash with screams and I just remember seeing a body airborne flying forward with the wind like a kite.

Forward progress into the headwinds along Galveston’s beachfront highway. Photo: Scott Flathouse

Power Rangers: Well that mustache man started fading and I overtook him with 15mi to go. I kept passing female pros and eventually male pros too! I couldn’t believe it. My power was slowly dropping to the low 240s, but I was still feeling confident. I came back to the final 5km and really started fading since I was all alone and it was a twisty return back to the transition with lots of standing and cornering. I love that stuff. My disc wheel was epic and caused zero problems. I love racing with a disc.

Run baby run: Got back to transition and again could have gone faster by 30-40 seconds, but I had to make sure I had all my toys! The run was going swimmingly. I had a goal of 3:45/km pacing to break 1:18 for the 21.1km half-marathon. It was a 3-loop course of about 7km each loop and I loved that format. The pros were charging ahead but I could see them all the whole time. Lionel, Sam Long, Ben Kanute, Hanson, and Dreitz duking it out running around a 1:10 half-marathon pace! I couldn’t believe I was near them! Not close in finish time, but still right there! The fans of Texas pumped me up. They love a guy in a speed who smiles I guess! I let an EMJ guy pass me (apparently he went pro!) So I figured I was either in 2nd or 3rd. Little did I know I was in first place overall at that point still! It must have been around the 10km that I got “passed.” I quote that because it was by a dude who was behind me from the swim and bike. He was fast. He ended up running a 1:16! So I had already “lost” by half way through the run. But I was still charging and doing my best. My pace dropped significantly by the 5km mark and I was struggling to make 4min/km pace. I still managed to hit 1:20 on the run though! And indeed I won my age group and got 2nd overall! I got 26th in the pro field where over 60 pros had signed up!

Get Chicked: Only three women beat me and they were pro and they actually smashed me on the run so I definitely have a lot of respect for them. I know I’m not “there” yet until I can place in the top 10 of the pros. Someday!

Professional License Dreams:

Goals: OK so this is my goal. I have wanted to go pro for years. I want to race with the “big dogs.” I want to start with them and see where I am at all times just by looking around! I want to know that when I get passed, I am actually getting passed. And when I pass someone that means I am beating them! Sounds obvious in a race it should always be like that right? Well no, when you race as an age grouper, you are racing an individual time-trial just starting at a different time thatn everyone else. So you see your competition sure, maybe, but you never know what place you’re actually in becuase you could have started way before them, or vice versa! Racing as a pro has the added thrill of that stampede energy and the wisdom and experience of seasoned professionals right next to you.

After this placement of 2nd overall in the age group field and 1st in my M 30-34 age group, I feel confident that I’ll receive the required points threshold in conjuction with my last placing at Arizone 70.3 in October, to be able to apply for my professional license.

I’ll wait until after Worlds 70.3 in September though. I have three 70.3 races I have signed up for that I want to race before I go pro. But come late September, my goal is to be in the professional division! For that reason at Honu in 6 weeks here at Hawai’i 70.3 June 5, should I get my qualification for IRONMAN Worlds here in Kona (which I did the last two years), I will say no. I will let it roll down! I want to use this time her during the IRONMAN festivities to network, build my coaching business, and spectate and party!

Next Race:

Now it’s time to refocus and get ready for Honu. My goal is to win this thing overall. I have never won it. I have won my age group and placed top five overall. But this year is my year. I will smash the swim and destroy the bike. I will run my fastest Honu half marathon since it will be 3 loops again I love that energy of 3x7km with fans the whole time. I can’t wait.

Come back soon to see for updates and more data to share with all this. More photos to come and another post being worked on now about the social and emotional side of racing…

One more loop to go. Photo: Talbot Cox

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