It's true. I haven't been a very good blogger lately. I think this is the longest it's ever taken me to get a race report up. I'll do better next time.
Anyway, if you're wondering how the Galveston 70.3 went.....
We arrived in Galveston a couple of days before the race. We weren't really there to vacation. It was just a short trip to race. Living in Wisconsin means I hadn't been in open water since October so I really wanted to find a place to swim. You can't swim at the venue because you'll cut your feet up from the clam beds. A little searching online turned up a small lake in Houston called Lake 288 where people can swim. It was small and I had to do a couple of laps around the perimeter, but it was nice to get in open water and the water was clean.
|Swimming at Lake 288|
The forecast was for temps in the 80s, humidity in the 80s and winds of 15-20mph. Pretty much what I expected, although I didn't expect the humidity to remain in the 80s all day. East Texas is humid. Wow.
My plan for the swim was to PR. Simple as that. I've put in a lot of time in the pool this winter and needed proof that it was time well spent. I situated myself toward the front of the pack and planned on going out hard and getting on some fast feet and doing a better job of drafting than I have in the past. That didn't work out so well.
My plan was good until we started catching slower swimmers from earlier waves. That's when I lost contact with swimmers from my wave and spent the rest of the swim battling my way through slower swimmers. I didn't do a great job sighting and ended up drifting off course a little bit and swimming on my own for a while. That wasn't such a bad thing because it got me away from the slower swimmers, but I had lost the draft. I never do a good job drafting on the swim and this race was going to be different. That's definitely something I need to work on.
I worked my way back on course and caught a slow swimmer much, much faster than I expected. I swam right into him and his arm ripped my goggles off. I got them back on quickly, but they had filled with water so I finished the swim with salt water in my eyes. It didn't cost me much time overall, but it had me pretty frustrated. Seriously people, learn how to swim before you sign up for a half ironman. What that man was doing was barely recognizable as a swim stroke.
Other than that, the swim went pretty smooth and I got my PR. I came out of the water in 30:49, a PR by about 2 minutes. It wasn't sub 30 like I ultimately was hoping for, but it was proof my swim focus is paying off. A little more open water time to improve my sighting and I think I stand a chance of breaking 30 minutes for the swim yet this year.
|Heading into T1. Very happy with my swim split. A nice change of pace.|
The bike frustrated me a little. It's my strength and lately I feel like I've been struggling on the bike. I haven't had a ride I've been happy with since IMWI 2010 and this was no exception. It started out okay, but I just didn't have any power. I'm not sure what the deal was because my legs felt good going into the race so I wasn't tired. I don't know.
The course is by far the flattest 56 miles I've ever ridden. And it's an out and back on one road so there is no variety, no coasting, no standing, nothing. It's just get down in the aerobars and get on the gas and hold it for 56...I mean 57 miles. The course was a mile long, which is odd because it's an out and back on one road. I guess someone put the turnaround cone in the wrong place.
We had a head/cross wind heading out on the bike so it was slow moving on the way out. I'm not used to riding courses that flat and was having a tough time staying in the areobars that long without any breaks. I should have practiced that on the trainer. I needed to do a 2.5 hour ride staying in the aerobars the whole time and I didn't. My left hamstring started tightening up about the halfway point so I had to stand up and stretch it out a few times on the way back. I don't think that cost me a lot of time, but it definitely didn't help.
The way back was faster than the way out, but the wind was enough of a cross wind that we never really got a killer tailwind like we all wanted. Overall, it's not a very fast bike course despite being as flat as a pancake. It's fast, but not crazy fast like you'd expect for a course with 200 feet of climbing over 57 miles.
In the end, my bike was very middle of the road. It wasn't bad and I only struggled a little with my hamstring tightening up, but I didn't ride to my potential. I have work to do on the bike.
Bike time: 2:26:43
I started the run feeling decent.
|Here I am starting the run....wait...that's not me. Who is this guy and why did Courtney take so many pictures of him?|
My Garmin froze up about 30 seconds into the run so I had to run with no pacing info. I figured I would just run by feel, but I really wanted to get at least one split to know roughly what pace I was running. I tried to reset the watch with no luck, so I gave up and just ran.
There's not a lot to say about the run. It was hot and humid, but the heat didn't really bother me. I felt okay the whole time. Courtney summed up my run the best when she said, "You looked way too comfortable out there. You need to suffer more."
Sidenote: How perfect of a situation is this for her? If she's ever mad at me, all she needs to do is motivate me before a workout and I'll inflict pain on myself and she gets to sit back and laugh at me.
The run course is three laps and I really enjoyed it, although the section on the airport wasn't much fun. It reminded me of the Natural Energy Lab in Kona - desolate, hot, windy. A lot of people don't like loops, but I love them. It sets up a "hot corner" where Courtney was able to hang out all day and see lots of action. Loop 3 got really busy and I had a very hard time getting anything from aid stations, but that's because people were treating the aid stations like rest stops and coming to a complete stop and grabbing one of everything like they were at a buffet. Luckily I didn't need too much, but a little water here and there would have been nice. I don't think I managed to get more than one cup of water on the third loop.
I ran the same pace I always run at half ironmans and I'm getting tired of it. I need a breakthrough. But in the end, my watch freezing up may have been a blessing in disguise. Had I known what my pace was, I would have pushed harder and that may have injured my knee. In the end, my knee survived and I ran a decent race. Just not the breakthrough race I want/need to have.
Run time: 1:41:10
Total time: 4:42:44
Overall, I had fun and really enjoyed getting in an early season race. I hate to complain about times, but I am stuck in the 4:40s for half ironmans and it's driving me crazy. I ran faster than 1:41 in my second half ironman years ago. I went there to break 4:30 and I didn't get the job done. No excuses. My preparation for this race could have been better, and my race day execution could have been better. I blame no one other than myself for not breaking 4:30.
But like I said, I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed racing that early in the year. And best of all, I left Galveston fired up. My motivation is very high and that was my main reason for signing up for an early season half. My next half ironman is the Liberty Half in MN on June 9. I have a new strategy that I'll write about soon.
Oh yeah, beach time in March is always nice too....