Monday, 2 February 2015

There is always a first....(A Race Report)

What is this first you ask? On Sunday 1st February, I had my first DNF - Did Not Finish.

Warning - contents of this race report contains reference to female things. Read at your own discretion.

The event was the Challenge Melbourne (half iron-distance) triathlon - 1.9km swim. 90km ride and a 21.1km run.

I have mentioned a few times about this "monthly issue" that I have been having the last 2 years or so. This issue has become so bad that some days, I have had to take a sick day(s) off work and/or a non-training routine. I have seen a GP and a specialist and currently am on prescription medication to manage the pain. For the month of Jan/Feb, it happened to fall around the Challenge Melb race event. On Friday night, I was in bed with pain from about 9pm, took meds. On Saturday morning, I should have slept in, instead I took meds and went out for a race re-con which was not a great idea as the session was so short, we finished well before 8am and the race kit pick up was around 10am. I didn't end up taking meds before the race as I wasn't sure how the meds would impact me during the event, would I feel drowsy during the swim and the bike that I would be putting myself and others in danger? I didn't want to risk it.

After picking up the race kit on Saturday around 11am, I went home and slept for the afternoon and to ride out my woes lying horizontally on the bed or floor. Had fish and rice for dinner and a glass of electrolytes for hydration.

On Sunday, the alarm was set at 3:50am. As transition was opened at 5:30am, my plan was to leave the house at 4:20am and get there just after 4:30am to set up, visit toilets and all the usual pre-race shenanigans. Alike last year, transition set up was in the dark - luckily I had a head torch from the Afterglow run to use. Win!

I decided for a minimalist strategy for this race - only carry one bidon of hydration as I never go through a complete bottle during a 90km ride (even at Shepparton) and considering the weather was cold and wet, I would not be sweating as much. I also had a small amount of coke and 6 servings of gels (in 2 separate flasks) all ready on the bike for the day. For the run, I had 3 servings of gels in a flask and a caffeine back-up which I would place in the back pocket. The most significant "minimalist strategy" I had was I raced without a Garmin. I knew on which location I would take nutrition during the run leg - same strategy as Shepparton and during my training run. For the ride, as it was 3 laps, I knew my approx time of reaching each end and so sorted out a strategy of every 30min or just after every U-turn. I just wanted to "do" this event rather than caring about times during the race.

The swim strategy remained as the "M" shape as per the Friday email. I loved the swim! The swells were huge but I did enjoy tackling through it. I saw plenty of people who swam towards the wrong buoys and so I have a feeling that some people would either have a super long time having to back track to the right buoys or their swim times were super fast as they would have missed a few key turns. Lets just say, it was hard to see and people coped in ways which they could. I heard around 70 athletes were pulled out of the water and plenty more opted out of the swim.

I think my swim was around 44min, slow for a 1.9km, I realised that my pace was well below my average and I never thought about my increasing my speed during the race, it was just a matter of "where am I going?...ok, got it, head down"

I didn't find my bike-legs until about 20km into the race. They were just made of lead and my hips were in pain. I enjoyed the bike leg when I could finally push through the harder gears and had snippets of tailwind to assist with my average speed. My right turns were shocking, made worse with the rain - I completed 3 out of 5 of the U-turns without having to unclip out of my pedals. I think my bike leg was around 3:05...the last time I checked for my results.

I knew my run was going to be a painful journey but I wanted to keep going and so I plodded along. The first 3km or so, the area around my hips were ok, but the wheels started to fall apart from about 3.05km through to 7km. I was in so much pain I had to concentrate my energy into not crying rather than holding onto good technique. When I reached the 7km mark of the course, I couldn't manage it any longer. I saw familiar faces and just burst out in tears as I was in so much pain. I decided then and there that I was done for the day and walked out off the course and handed in my timing chip. My race was done for the day.

I hung around for about 2 hours after the race to support the people I knew who were still racing. Luckily, the rest of the squad managed a great day out on the course so it was good to see. There were some first-timers and Challenge Melbourne is a great course for a half iron-distance as the times are fast and would have been a great booster of confidence.

A few take-away comments:
  • Work on speed rather than just "get through it with a lower pace"
  • Need to get some strength in my core - it may help to manage my pains
  • Nutrition strategy was good - not the worse conditions for race day (it was not hot or humid)
  • Bikeskills needs work - learn to handle bike better on sharp U turns. My aim is to not unclip out of my shoes for Shepparton 2015.
  • Might have to look into taking the pill again to manage my monthly cycles and to manage my pains.
I am glad that I competed to the best of my ability and managed to pull up ok this morning, as I had done 14km less than everyone else. Whats next on the cards? I am taking a few days off training as I have massages and work functions booked in. I will do a few light sessions and will participate in the Liv Ride on Saturday 7th. I will also be travelling down to Geelong to support the other group of athletes competing at the Geelong 70.3 and 5150 event.

I still have 1 more race confirmed for the 1st March (hoping to manage the pains before the event) and may do an olympic distance too. If not, 1st March will be my last triathlon for the season. A 400m swim, 10km ride and a 4km run - this one will hurt!

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