Brineman 70.3

My year leading up to the race : The year and the events leading up to this non Ironman branded race have been nothing but eventful. The year started with me hiring a coach for the first time and then having to let him go in about a month due to myriads of reasons. I was then contemplating if I should hire another coach or just be self coached. It’s not that I lacked knowledge on how to come up with a training plan but it was the fact that I wanted to be held accountable and wanted to avoid any bias in my workouts. I finally got  in touch with Ray Kelly who I found on Tinder for triathletes – Trainingpeaks. He’s been extremely patient with me. It felt like I was interviewing him before I decided to hire him as my coach . I asked him a lot of questions and his opinion on a few things before I decided to get coached by him.  If I was to coach a person like myself who thinks he/she knows better and would try and persuade me every couple of weeks to coach the athlete his/her way instead of letting me coach them my way, I would have refused to coach that athlete. So thanks for putting up with me Ray!

Goals for the race : Beat my buddy Shariq. He’s 2-0 against me and also the one who got me into running 5 years ago.  I also knew if I was to beat him , I would probably have to go sub 5:30 which was painfully obvious to me that it was not going to happen because my stupid FTP just hasn’t budged in the last 3 years, no matter what I do. I still can’t figure out why ? If someone has ideas please let me know !

Short Version :
Swim – 36:32
Bike- 3:02:14
Run- 2:03:42

Long Version and my rant :

Pre Race : Fed ex/Bikeflights missed delivering Shariq’s bike on 2 occasions to the bike shop for reasons unknown. It just said delivery exception. We spent the Friday/day before the race running from fed ex location to the warehouse and back. And we got to hear from fed ex warehouse that a few fed ex contractors quit so no deliveries were made the last 3 days. After numerous phone calls and running around, at the end of it we finally were able to get his bike around 5 PM and have it assembled the night before the race.

Nutrition :My nutrition plan varies on how what I feel like trying each year. This year on Thursday, 2 days before the race I decided to go with UCAN but I couldn’t find a store which sold it and I did not have time to order it online so I decided to go with Hammer nutrition. My nutrition plan is sort of by feel and how the day is going to be. I prefer hot races so I can take my nutrition in the form of liquids and not worry about peeing on the bike. My goal usually is eat and drink enough so I’m not hungry which works out to be 250-300 calories an hour depending on how heavy my breakfast was. I can usually treat my body like a moving dumpster and just keep taking Gels, cliff bars, infinit nutrition , honey stingers, coke etc. whatever I get my hands on. For this race I carried 3 bottles of Hammer nutrition ( 2 scoops) along with 3 gels on the bike , but I never used the 3 gels. I’ve read stories of how people over did their nutrition and were bloated and threw up during the race. The issue I have is not eating enough. If I have to throw up I throw up before the race because of anxiousness, and then I eat a banana and a gel or something and by then it’s time to enter the water.

Race morning : We parked our cars, picked up our timings chips and are figuring things out and I feel like throwing up. It’s happened to me before and it’s not a big deal. I just got some hammer nutrition in later and I was good to go.

I’m riding my bike to T1 from the parking lot to set up my bike and my drawstring bag with my wetsuit etc falls of my shoulder straight into the front wheel and I fall of the bike and get a minor bruise on my knee. I get up and see that my front wheel is completely out of true and is scrubbing against the breaks and a spoke is broken. This is 30 – 45 minutes before the start of the race. A guy on a scooter, (yup those little scooters kids have) saw me fall and said he could probably help and I should meet him in T1. He got in touch with someone from Salt lake triathlon club , who had a spare wheel in their truck , but his truck was parked a mile away from T1. Another friend of mine Mary was racing the shorter distance and her start time was 20 min after me. So we figured I could borrow her wheel and when the guy comes back with the front wheel on the scooter, she could use that instead. I don’t know how we coordinated this , but Bill Fowler the stranger who saw me fall was able to get the wheel to Mary’s bike before she finished her swim. I can’t thank him enough. I tried looking for him after the race, but never found him to thank him in person.

Swim : Heading into the swim I knew my swim game was on point. My 500 yard time was the best it’s ever been. The swim was in a lake, it looked more like a pond to me which had us do 2 loops ( one shorter one longer). I really did not even know where was the entrance and the exit for the swim as I got my wetsuit on just 2 minutes before the start as prior to the swim ( the first time I had it on backwards). You would expect someone who has been racing for 5 years to know better, but with the broken wheel thing at 7 AM, I had no idea what was I doing).  Shariq and I started next to each other . I was breathing to my right , so I had him in sight the first few strokes and then I broke away from him in the first 50 or 100 yards. On my second loop I had to pass a lot of the Olympic distance swimmers, which wasn’t bad. It was just a draft for me I guess. When I was done with the second loop I just couldn’t figure out where was the exit.I wasn’t paying attention to the swim instructions as I had been trying to arrange a new wheel. I finally tapped one of the slower Olympic distance swimmers who was standing and catching his breath for the second loop near the island and asked where is the exit and he pointed me towards the carpet. The race had me clock in 36:30 on the swim .Ray expected me to go sub 33 based on my time trials. I was off by 3 minutes on the swim.  I saw my wife on my way to T1. The first thing I checked for when I went towards my bike was to look for Shariq’s bike. I saw his bike which meant I was ahead of him. As I was wearing my cleats I saw Shariq come up next to me stripping off his wetusit. I had probably put in about 2 minutes on him.

 

Sighting was a bit of an issue with the buoys so far out. It was a 2 loop swim with the first loop shorter than the second one.

Bike : I just knew that Shariq was going to bike hard and try catch me on the bike, because if it came down to the run he was going to smoke me. He is a 1:16 half marathoner and my PR is 1:39. As always I had a shit ton of people pass me the first 6 miles on the bike. This has been the story for the last 3 years and I hate it so much that I wanted to get off my bike and trash it. My coach Ray had asked me to keep my watts around 166 , but even before the race maybe a week ago I had made up my mind of going hard because I had raced Arizona 70.3 last year at 167 Watts, so if I have to race at the same watts a year later, it’s like I’ve made no progress. So even if it meant having a painful and slow run I was willing to accept it. My goal for this year was to race at 200 watts. My FTP this year was 223. So even if I wanted to , it was physically impossible for me to hold 200 watts for 56 miles. If it was possible and it meant blowing up on the run, I would have actually done it. This entire year all I cared about was improving my bike and it just did not happen.The improvement was marginal at best. The first half of the race was pretty flat and eventually went through Antelope Island. The island is real pretty , but it’s also hilly:). You can also spot Bisons etc.

I was holding around 175 on the flats I think. Around mile 25 I think at the turn around on the top of a hill , as I was on my way down I saw Shariq!. I probably had 20 seconds on him at best. I looked back a couple of times and every time I looked back he seemed a bit closer , eventually he caught me . We chit chatted for quite a bit as to how the course was hilly etc and remained close to each other the majority of the time.  On one of the slight downhills I decided to stomp on my pedals and when I looked back he did not respond but he wasn’t far away. Also the last 15 miles or so I was struggling to hold 160 watts. Towards the end I was confused on what left turn to take and there was one guy yelling “trail”. I had to slow down and I was on the wrong turn. My buddy caught up to me and asked me to come back . We just rode into T2 together. I looked at my garmin, I had a time of 3:02 which is my slowest bike split ever , but comparing times on courses isn’t fair, this was a relatively hilly course with about 1700 feet of net elevation gain. I like to look at watts. Trainingpeaks has my NP at 174 which is about 8 watts more than last year at Arizona.  Since Shariq’s bike and my bike were racked next to each other and as we were wearing our run shoes , I asked him what was his bike split, he told me 2:58. I was a bit surprised that his bike split was 4 minutes faster than mine. He was slower than me in 2015 at Muncie, he was 2 minutes faster in Arizona last year and this year he was 4 minutes faster. And my entire goal for this year has been to improve my bike split.  I had a peak performance per trainingpeaks where I held 177 watts for 90 minutes. I have mixed emotions around it. It’s good to see peak performances, but it’s no where close to where I wanted to be this year and also the fact that the last 40 minutes of the bike I averaged 150 watts(which is shit).

The bike course is pretty !

Run : I left T2 a bit earlier than my buddy and I wanted to “race”. In my head I was thinking maybe it’s going to be like the great Iron War where we run toe to toe, but till mile 12 instead of mile 23 since this is a half. I was holding 7:40/mile and I knew this was too fast for me but I was willing to risk it because I just did not want to lose and I knew if it was hurting me , it probably hurt my buddy as well since he biked really hard to catch up to me. So if it slows us both down, I was fine with it. Anyways he caught up to me but did not pass me which was a good sign. In the past it’s been hey Shray ! and by the time I respond he’s gone. I think his quads were cramping and I dropped him. This is literally the first time ever in the last 5 years I’ve been racing with him, that I’ve ever been able to hang on to him for more than 30 seconds, dropping him was something which gave me a morale boost . He caught up to me again and we ran together for about 2 miles which is remarkable considering the fact that his open half marathon time is 25 min faster than mine. I was hurting, my HR was over 163. In my head I was thinking , maybe it’s hurting him too and he should slow down. But that never happened, I had to slow down and it was agonizing to say the least. I tried keeping him in sight , thinking maybe when he does slow down I’ll make a move. That never happened. I was at mile 6 at the 50 minute mark which isn’t bad but Mile 9,10,11,12 ended up as a walk/jog. I was paying the price of going hard on the bike and and starting my run out too fast. I somehow ran mile 13. I finally ended with a 2:02 run split and Shariq had a 1:49 run split which is slow for him because he’s run a 1:34 at Muncie 70.3. It was clear that both of us biked a bit too hard! I remember seeing him standing and mashing the pedals on the hills. The race had a KOM segment and his bike split was 45 seconds faster than mine on that hill.  This was a pretty small race with about 12 participants in my age group. I ended up 4th in my age group and Shariq took 3rd.

I was just happy that I got to race after having a miserable start to the day:

Post Race : Nothing much really, they did not have pizza:( All they had was watermelon , bananas and a few bars. We went and dropped our bikes to the bike store, grabbed dinner and headed out for a 5 hour drive to Zion.

 

Can’t thank Mary enough for letting me borrow the Zipp 808 from her bike. Also glad that I did not get a flat because I’ve never used valve extenders.  I’d like to specially thank Bill Fowler. He was the one who arranged a wheel for me and went and got it from the truck. If anyone of you is in the salt lake city area and are looking for a training group, reach out to him.

Why did I bike so hard and not listen to my coach ? 

I am not necessarily disappointed with the performance, but I’m disappointed in the fact that I was no where close to my goal wattage for the year. I can’t expect to hold 200 watts in a 70.3 if my FTP is 220. For some reason I had this in my mind that maybe my FTP has gone up during the taper because in the build leading up to the taper I had dropped the weight sessions and increased the frequency of the bike from 3 to 4 times a week, but again I wouldn’t know it till I tried holding a higher wattage in the race( I did not take an FTP test in the taper weeks, so I have no idea what my FTP was but looking at my data I don’t think my FTP budged too much).  So keeping in mind that my FTP was around 220, racing at a NP of 174 watts is probably not the best idea, but if I raced at 165 watts, I would have been a lot slower and if my bike split was a 3:05 or slower, I would have just lost it and been demoralized . I’ve been in awe of uber bikers and wanting to go fast on the bike since I got into triathlons. I wanted a 2:45 bike split this year, which was only possible if I raced at 200 watts or so.

My coach Ray probably thinks that I should have stuck to myrace plan and raced my race and not worried about what the other person was doing. That’s probably a good idea if I was just trying to finish but I wanted to race my buddy and win , not just finish.  Also the fact that I hate losing { I’m down 3-0 to Shariq after this race 😦 } and I hate getting passed on the bike. If I was to do this race again, I would do the exact same thing, probably gone even harder on the bike if I could. I wish that I can say that I should have biked harder and made the run painful for both of us but I don’t think I could have biked any harder. The data makes it obvious. I was averaging less than 150 watts the last 40 minutes or so which is about 25 watts lower than what I started which makes it clear that I biked a bit too hard but then again I wanted to race at 200 watts( my goal for the year) race Shariq and win , not just finish the race. So biking at 165 watts was just unacceptable to me( I held this number last year, I had to beat it no matter what). I had even asked Ray how many watts should I hold for the race just to see what number he had in mind ( I already knew what his answer was going to be) , but I had already made up my mind , that I was going to go  hard on the bike and hold a higher wattage than last year even if it meant walking the run.  Had I not biked hard, my buddy would have caught up a lot sooner and would have blazed past me on the run. I would have lost either ways, but I’d rather “race”and lose rather than just stick to my plan and finish and still lose.

I still need to figure out what’s it going to cost to repair the HED carbon wheel which I broke on race morning.I bought a used pair for 650 bucks 3 weeks ago and did not even get to race on it:( . So annoyed !

Nevertheless I would like to thank Ray for keeping me sane and preventing me from overdoing my training( I actually suggested that we should do 5 bike workouts a week with doubles on 1 of the days). And had I not had a coach to keep me accountable and sane I would have actually done it. I’ve dug myself into a hole in the past when my FTP wasn’t improving and I got pissed and trained more and it just went downhill from there because I just killed myself on the bike. This is one of the reasons I wanted to get a coach, it’s not that I’m not aware on how to create a training plan, but it’s to prevent emotions taking  control of your training plan.

Would I recommend Brineman 70.3 as an A race to someone ?

Probably not. There was a lack of volunteers, I almost got lost twice on the course, they had issues with their timing chips, there was no packet pick up on Friday ( they had it on Thursday instead and race morning) and there was no pizza after the race. But for a 100 bucks for a 70.3, a couple of free photos , this isn’t a bad race. Antelope canyon is pretty, the lake at it’s deepest is just 7 feet. It’s like swimming in a really big pool. I wanted to plan a trip to Zion and Bryce for a while , that’s the reason I picked this race in Utah over an Ironman branded race.

 

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