- Age: 41 year old male
- Weight: ~195 lbs
- FTP 262
Overall, I walked away from this race a little disappointed. Out of the six 70.3 distance races I’ve completed this was my 5th slowest (in case you’re wondering my slowest was a 5:50:47 in Oceanside in 2014 – a bike course that destroyed me & a major calf cramp that left me gimping for 6 miles). I recognize that not every race can be a PR but I’m still a bit bummed at my bike execution in this race.
For much of this year I’ve struggled with my run. The off and on cramping in my glutes / hamstrings / calves really hurt me in my training for Galveston way back in April. I was able to add some more volume for Buffalo Springs but still not anywhere near enough to feel prepared. Starting almost immediately after Galveston I began to incorporate some simple, but daily exercises to begin strengthening my glutes. I’ve not missed a day of these exercises since July 6th. The result has been an ability to slowly but steady increase in my run volume for this training block. My run is still not where it needs to be but it’s in a better spot than it has been all year.
To not overly burden my family, I continued my commitment to not have two big training days on the weekends. I’d do my long bike on Saturday but I’d either take off on Sunday or only schedule short run.
In terms of my official training block for this race I got serious on September 10th (after a glorious 17th anniversary get away to Grand Cayman with my bride). I continued to work out after Buffalo Springs (which was on June 28th) but in a fairly unstructured way (my TSS never dipped below 0 in July or August so whatever I was doing wasn’t super intense). So call it an 8-week training build for this race.
I did have one hiccup during the 8-week build. I did my final race rehearsal on October 22nd (two weeks before the race). The race rehearsal went great but shortly after I was done my lower back started tightening up. Over the next 12 hours it got really bad – as in I was having a difficult time standing up straight & walking. I decided that a several rest day were needed and as a result I started my taper about a week early. Not ideal; but I wanted to make sure that my back wasn’t going to prohibit me from competing.
Here’s what my schedule / volume looked like.
Total Duration by Week – Average 8:01 per week
Total Distance by Week – Average 97 miles
Training % by Discipline
Training Peaks – Overall Stress Load
Day Before Race
We left Dallas Saturday morning around 9 a.m. to drive down to Austin. Our older two kids stayed in Dallas due to other commitments so it was Missy & me plus our four youngest kiddos.
We pulled into the Travis County Expo Center around 12:30 p.m. Made my way through the check-in process and headed over to T1 to drop my bike off. It had been raining in Austin pretty steady and T1 was a veritable mud pit. Fortunately, the rain had subsided for a bit so I was able to take my bike for a very quick spin to make sure all was in order.
Once the bike was racked we headed over to our hotel. We stayed at The Renaissance Austin (Arboretum area) – this is the same hotel we stayed in 2013. It’s a nice hotel; not too far from the race venue with lots of restaurant choices close by.
Once we were checked in I started working to get my transition bags all set while Missy and the kids watched a movie on my laptop. For dinner we went to a brick oven pizza place where we met up with fellow EN teammate Chris Oubre & his bride. Chris also raced Galveston & Buffalo Springs this year so this was our 3rd race together this year. We had a great time catching up with them.
Back to the hotel, finish up the transition bags and in bed, lights out at 9:28 p.m.
Up out of the bed at 3:54 a.m. Breakfast was 2 ½ cups of applesauce with two scoops of protein powder (480 calories). Got ready & we were headed out the door at 5 a.m. Two things caught my attention the moment we walked out of the hotel: (1) it was really chilly & (2) it was really, really windy.
About 15 minutes later we pulled into the Travis County Expo Center and got my T2 bag set up and hopped on the bus to make the mile or so trek to the swim start. Missy & the kids stayed in the swagger wagon and had some breakfast. They would catch up to me at the lake.
Arrived at with plenty of time to get everything set up – fluids, nutrition, bike computer, power meter calibrated, etc… Once that was done just laid low, sipped some Perform, hooked back up with Missy & the kids and waited for the race to start. The weather was cold and crisp and the lake was very choppy.
- Goal: < 31:00
- Actual: 33:56
- AG Place: 21 / 280
- Garmin File: https://connect.garmin.com/activity/951815354
This year the race organizers decided to reverse the swim course from counterclockwise to clockwise. I only breathe on my left – which makes a counterclockwise swim course perfect for sighting. Needless to say this change was not helpful for me. I think this decision was an effort to make it easier on the spectators to move from the swim exit to T1 – but it didn’t bless me.
The male 40-44 age group was split into a couple of groups. I was in the second group which was somewhere in the middle of the 19 or so swim wave starts. Once in the water I made my way to the front of the group – dead center. Walter E. Long Lake was alive with waves, wind & chop.
This was also my first race in my new sleeveless wetsuit. I purchased one about a month before the race because I felt like my full wetsuit provided too much constraint on my shoulders & created unnecessary fatigue. I’d tested my new suit prior to the race & felt good about the choice.
Figuring I’d finish the swim in the top 5-10% of my AG I positioned myself up at the front in the middle of the two start buoys. I felt good about my swim coming into the race (both in terms of fitness and form) and I actually I felt like I swam pretty well – but my time was disappointing. I chalk it up to the fact that it was just a tougher swim due to the very windy conditions on the lake – lots of chop meant lots more lake water in my mouth (not pleasant). Not a ton of contact. I was able to find someone to draft off of for the final a 1/3 of the swim. And the sighting wasn’t too bad though I still prefer the counterclockwise swim.
- Goal: < 3:00
- Actual: 3:04
Out of the water and up the hill towards T1. I hit the wetsuit strippers and hustled up the hill. As I mentioned the rain had created a mud pit around a particular section of the transition area. To get my bike over to the bike-out section I had to go directly through this part of transition. I’ve never practiced the flying mount or dismount and I sure wasn’t going to attempt it on race morning. So after I got my helmet on I elected to carry my bike & shoes over towards bike-out and then put my shoes on. Not ideal but it worked.
- Goal: IF of 0.83 – 0.85 (217W – 222W) with a VI of 1.05 or less (time & speed would take care of themselves)
- Actual: IF 0.84, VI 1.07 (AP 208, NP 222) Time of 2:50:19; Average Speed 20.00 MPH
- AG Place: 22 / 280
- Garmin File: https://connect.garmin.com/activity/951747898
It was chilly on the bike. My Garmin Edge shows a starting temp of 51.1 degrees at the start and 58.5 degrees at the end. This was a little colder than I prefer but not too bad. The decision by WTC to move the race back two weeks from late-October to early November was a good call in my opinion. The prior two years had been hot…the early-November race date allowed for cooler temps.
Also, fairly insignificant is that they changed one part of the bike course between miles 5 – 10. The routed us up Parmer Lane rather than Blue Bluff Road. Nothing major but it looks like it added an extra 1/2 mile or so to the bike course.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed with my bike riding. Though my IF and NP were in the desired range the fact is that I pushed harder than I should have – particularly in the first 25 miles of the ride. Last year the first 15 miles or so of the bike were really fast (last year – avg. power of 209; avg. speed for me was 22.6 mph). So, I had my mind set on the fact that I’d be able to really cruise early on and my expectations were dashed thanks to a constant stiff headwind (this year – avg. power of 219; avg. speed for me was 19.6 mph). So I was having to work harder and getting slower results and this really, really frustrated me. I found myself trying to make something happen rather than adjust to the race day conditions. That was foolish.
I stayed on top of my nutrition and my sodium & peed twice on the bike. Other than that, the rest of the bike was a combination of me riding too hard, being frustrated and dodging potholes and really bad road conditions.
I’ve been critical of the road conditions for the past two years but I’ve continued to sign up for this race because of how close it is to Dallas. This year’s conditions were the worst they’ve been. There were parts of the course where I actually felt unsafe and kept expecting a tire blowout. I’ve instructed my bride to prevent me from signing up for this race again until there is a major overhaul of the bike course.
- Goal: <2:00
- Actual: 3:05
Hopped off my bike and jogged to my rack spot. Recognizing that there would be no PRs on this day I took a little more time in T2. My spot was right along the fence so my clan was waiting for me with plenty of cheers and support. Took a second to give them all kisses. Wanted to hit the port-o-potty but there was a line so skipped it.
- Goal: < 1:55
- Actual: 2:02:00 (9:30 pr/mile) – Garmin shows 12.86 miles
- AG Place: 43 / 280
- Garmin File: https://connect.garmin.com/activity/951815501
Off the bike in 22nd place in my AG. Finished the run in 43rd place. That pretty much sums up my season. Good swim…decent bike (in terms of AG placing though not necessarily in terms of execution)…sub-par run. With the nagging injuries I’ve not been able to achieve the needed training volume to build the required endurance to shine in this part of the race.
Once I got out onto the run course I noticed almost immediately that a muscle in my leg, just above my knee (the vastus medialis muscle) was on the verge of cramping up. This was not encouraging – especially in light of the fact that’s an area where I don’t usually have problems. I stopped and stretched it. Jogged a little more – and felt like at any step it would cramp. Hit a port-o-potty; stretched some more and pounded a pickle juice then started jogging. Thankfully, the cramp worked itself out and didn’t pop up again.
Other than that the run was pretty uneventful. Took another pickle juice shot around mile 6. Tried to stay on top of my fluids and GUs. Walked some of the aid stations, though not every one. Honestly, I’m not overly discouraged by my run because I felt like I ran well…just not as fast as I’d like. There was one guy in my AG who would pass me and then I’d pass him and then he’d pass me. This went on for half the run. He passed me in the last ½ mile of the run and I decided I’d summon what little mojo I had and make a go at getting around him. Happy to say that with about 100-150 yards left I cleared him.
Here were my splits for the day:
I’ve got work to do for next year. I’m planning on doing Galveston in April and I’m already registered for my second full Ironman in Lake Placid in July. With that in mind, there are two items I’ve got to process.
- What do I need to do to get my run back to a spot where it isn’t my glaring weakness? What changes do I need to make so that I can ramp up my volume & avoid injury? I’ll be working through this with my EN coaches & teammates.
- What changes do I need to make if I want to make a serious go at breaking the 5-hour mark in a 70.3 distance race? I think for that to be a reality I need to rethink my Sunday “no big workout” schedule. Life is about choices and I think for me to break the 5-hour mark I’m going to have to add back that second big workout day to my weekend. The question then becomes, “Is that a choice I want to make for me and for my family?” Right now I don’t know the answer. I’ll need to process it with my bride to determine if the payoff is worth the cost & honestly, I’m not sure that it is for us. But we’ll see.
Austin Race Results