2011 Ocean Shores Big Weekend Race Report

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This may just be a bit of a long report since it will encompass an entire weekend of racing, volunteering, and coaching…so bear with me.

Friday, July 8, 2011:

Early in the year, I contacted the Tri Freaks about collaborating on some of their events this year.  I particularly targeted their Ocean Shores events because it is not a Seattle event and seemed to be closer to Bremerton (turns out that it is not close at all…but anyway).  Also, my wife’s sister’s husband’s parents have a house in Ocean Shores that I could use…a nice perk.

Anyway, what we came up with is that I would provide a free Total Immersion swim clinic in exchange for space for a B.A.S.E. Training booth at the event.  My vision was to have an open water swim clinic at the lake on the night before the race but we ended up going with a power point presentation on swimming rather than a clinic in the water.  This was a first for me and it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to put in the presentation.  I took some cues from Total Immersion founder Terry Laughlin and some of the presentations he has done in the recent past and added some of my own analogies and ideas.

The presentation was on Friday night during the packet pick-up hours at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Ocean Shores.  We started the presentation at 7:30pm with the course overview where I went through the course turn by turn with all of the athletes in attendance and then we went right into the swim clinic presentation.

The attendance for the course overview was good and there were plenty of questions.  I felt like that went very well.  I have never given the course overview at a race before so there were some questions that I did not anticipate but the race director was there and was able to jump in if necessary.

After the course overview the crowd thinned a little as some did not want to stay for the swim presentation but there were still quite a few people.  I must say though, I have never given a swim presentation without being in the water to demonstrate techniques and ideas.  Giving a swimming presentation without the ability to demonstrate is a bit tough.  On the night of the presentation, I thought it went badly…however, I did get some positive feedback the next day at the race and so did the race directors so I am not too unhappy with it.

In addition to giving the presentation, I also helped out with some athlete body marking, answered some athlete questions and participated in the carb-loading dinner.

I got out of there about 9:30pm and stopped by the store to get some milk (for my Shakeology the next morning of course) and some water on my way to the house where I was staying.  I made it to bed around 10:30pm or so.

Saturday, July 9, 2011:

Since I was setting up a booth as well as racing, I needed to be there early.  I got up around 4:15am and started the day the way I start every day…Shakeology…not coffee (disgusting).  Then I loaded up everything I needed for the day and headed over to the park.  I arrived just before 5 am and began setting up my booth next to the food and beer garden (my momma didn’t raise no dummy).  I set up some flyers and business cards at the table in the booth and put up a nice little sign on the table that said something like “I am out racing right now!  Feel free to take a brochure and a business card and stop back later to talk”.

Things went much quicker with the booth than I thought they would so now I had plenty of time.  I made my way over to the transition area eventually (it didn’t really open until 6am or so) and set up my stuff and just hung around and watched the event directors and staff work their tails off to get things set up and ready to go (I helped a little).

This event has three different distances (not including the kid’s tri):  Sprint, Olympic, and half iron.  I opted for the Olympic distance this year for a couple of reasons:  1)  It would be a good build-up for my half iron in August and 2)  I hadn’t raced Olympic distance since early in 2009 and I really love that distance.

The half iron was scheduled to start first (at 7am) followed by the Olympic (7:45) and the Sprint (8:15).

The Swim:

The swim was in Duck Lake starting just off the boat ramp at North Bay Park on the north end of the lake.  It was a deep water start (meaning that you are treading water when your wave starts…no running in off the beach or diving off the dock).  The water temp was in the low 60’s (the race director had it posted as 60 degrees exactly but it felt a little warmer than that to me).  I opted for my full length wetsuit given the water temp (my suit is a De Soto First Wave 2-piece and I have the luxury of having a sleeveless top and a full sleeve top to choose from).

They divided each race distance into two “self-select waves” as they called it.  I had never seen this before in a race.  Basically, since there were about 70 people in the half iron, they got everyone up behind a timing mat and asked for those that considered themselves to be the faster swimmers to walk across the mat to activate their chips and then head down to the water.  They let about 35 people go across the mat and then cut it off.  Those people went in the first wave of half iron competitors and the remainder went in the second wave.  It actually seemed to work pretty well.  They did the same thing with the Olympic race and I chose to be in the first wave.  I am not sure how many waves they had for the sprint because I was already on the race course at that point.

I think they actually started the Olympic a little early and some people were a little upset about that because they were rushed but I think it turned out just fine in the end…it was only a couple minutes early if at all when they actually started the first wave.

I settled into a nice rhythm fairly early in the swim and felt really smooth and relaxed on my way out.  I could tell that there were only a couple of people ahead of me but I wasn’t sure how many exactly.  The course was supposed to be a straight out and back course with small orange buoys along the way and a larger orange buoy at the turnaround.  However, the course drifted on them a little and it ended up lengthening the course a little since the middle orange buoys did not stay in a straight line.  The curved course and the sun on one side caused me to go off course a little on the way back but not too badly.  I swam the 1500m course in 25:51 which was the 6th best time overall.  That is not a PR for me in Olympic distance and I think it was a combination of some directional issues on the way back and a course that was a little long (although someone did swim it in under 19 minutes which is pretty good even if the course was the correct distance…so maybe I was just slow that day).  Oddly enough, my place coming out of the water turned out to be my overall place as well….I was never passed the rest of the day nor did I pass anyone else.

T1:

The transition area is the same for all of the distances during this event and it is located within probably 30 yards of the exit from the water.  So, there is almost no distance to run from the water exit to the transition area.

My T1 time was 1:35.  I am fairly happy with that T1 time since, in the past, my T1 times have been more like 2 minutes.  This is likely due to the fact that I have been biking sockless this year.  My new bike shoes are Shimano TR52 triathlon shoes and much more comfortable for me without socks or a sockliner (gives my forefoot more room).  In the past, I only went sockless in sprint races and not even in some of those.  This was, in fact, my first race going sockless on the bike (and the run actually).

So, anyway, the transition went fairly well and I was off on my bike.

The Bike: 

Ah yes…the bike!  This is usually my favorite part and it was certainly no exception this time as I had a brand new carbon tri bike (see below), new aero carbon race wheels, a new aero helmet, and a perfectly flat course!  The only thing that I had to combat was a 5-7mph wind (not bad really) out of the North/West.

As I got out on the course, I started passing people like crazy.  I realized within the first mile or so of the ride that these were not people that beat me out of the water.  I was moving my way through a bunch of the slower half ironman athletes (they started the swim about 30 minutes before the Olympic) that were out on the bike course.  This made it very difficult to tell how many people were in front of me.  I knew there weren’t many (less than 10) based on the swim but it was almost impossible to tell who was who out on the bike course.

As I neared the Olympic turnaround on the bike course, I started to see some pretty fast bikers heading back the other way.  I speculated that these must be my competitors but they could also be half ironman athletes that had to go a couple miles further before turning around.  It was still very difficult to pick out my competition.

In general, my speed going south or east on the course was right around 23.5-24 mph and my speed going north or west into the wind was about 22 mph.  I ended up with a 1:06:30 bike split for 24.8 miles which comes out around 22.5 mph.  I was hoping for a little more on a course that flat but the wind took a little more than I was expecting it to.  Overall, I felt amazing on the bike and loved the course…it was a true time trial course with great roads.

T2:

T2 also went pretty well.  There were some relay racers that were standing right where my bike rack was located so I had to ask them to move so I could rack my bike but it really didn’t make more than a second or two of difference. 

This was also my first race with my new laces in my shoes.  In the past, I have always used Yankz and had a good experience with them overall.  However, I had heard about these new laces called Xtenex laces.  I put them in my Newton’s about 2 months ago (see pic below) and I have been extremely impressed with their performance.  They allow a lot more adjustability than the Yankz in that you can loosen the forefoot while keeping the upper laces tighter (I like a roomy toebox because of Metatarsalgia issues from having a wider foot).  You don’t have to readjust the entire lace to do this…you just pull knots one way or the other to loosen or tighten different sections.  I highly recommend these laces.

Anyway, I slipped my Newton’s on (sockless) and headed out on the run with a 1:00 T2 time.

The Run:

I held back a little on the first half of the run on purpose because I have a history of losing speed and pretty much petering out on the last half of the run on anything over a sprint distance race.  I always assumed that this was because I hammered on the bike too hard.  However, I now think that it is partially a nutrition issue (more on that later in the nutrition section).

The run course is an out and back and is almost completely flat as well, but 2.2 miles of the run is out on the beach.  Most of that is on the hard pack and does not really affect running speed but there is a short section (probably about 200 yards each way) that is soft sand that most certainly slows you down.

After I got to the turnaround point out on the beach, I started to turn up the speed a little as planned.  I felt amazing at this point and knew I had something left in the tank to put into the second half of this run.  In fact, I started to wonder if I had held back too much.

On the run, it started to get a little easier to tell who I was competing against because the sprint athletes turn around before the beach and even the fastest half ironman athletes hadn’t made it to the beach yet for their run.  So, anyone that was out on the beach when I was running was an Olympic length athlete.  This made the beach a great place to size up the competition.  It turned out that the person ahead of me was too far ahead to catch but I learned after the turnaround that there was a guy trailing within about a ¼ mile of me and he was looking pretty strong…I knew I would have to keep an eye on him for the last half of the run.

He continued to gain on me and was probably within 100 yards by the time I got off the beach (2 miles to go).  As soon as I got out of the soft sand, I started pushing it hard.  This was specifically for the purpose of breaking his confidence because I knew he would watch me pulling away as he struggled through the soft sand.  This worked quite well!!!  I felt like Chris McCormack…the power of the mental game.  Ha!  If you haven’t heard, there is a well-known hill in Kona called Palani hill.  This hill serves the same purpose for many athletes that the soft sand did for me here…if two runners come to the hill at the end of the marathon and one is leading the other by just a little, when that runner reaches the downhill at Palani before the other runner it can have the effect of breaking the trailing runner’s resolve when he sees the lead runner pulling away downhill as he continues to struggle uphill to reach the crest and get the relief of the downhill.  I guess I did learn something from that stupid Chris McCormack book after all (not a recommended read though).

Anyway, after the beach, he pretty much stayed in the same spot behind me as we both slowly turned up the speed to the finish line.  I felt absolutely amazing throughout the run and really wished I would have pushed a little harder on the first half.  It probably would not have made a difference in my overall place (well, at least not in my male overall place…more on that in a minute) but it would have been an even bigger PR 10K time for me.  In the end, it was a 44:06 10K split (about a 7:06 pace) which is a PR for me (for a 10K in a triathlon…or outside of a triathlon since I have actually never run just a straight 10K road race).

Overall:

My overall time was 2:19:00.  My overall male placing was 5th.  My age group placing was 1st

However, even though my overall Male placing was 5th, my overall placing was 6th.  Yes, that means that I got “chicked” and only by 90 seconds…so I guess I have to defend myself on that one right?  Well, not really but I will provide the context of that…not because I am insecure or anything…no really, I’m not.  Does this sound desperate?

The context behind getting “chicked”:  As I mentioned at the beginning of this race report, we were allowed to divide ourselves into two “self-select” wave starts.  The instruction was for the faster racers to go in the first wave and the slower racers to go in the second wave.  When I finished and the preliminary results were posted, I was 5th overall with 4 males above me.  A few minutes later, I was all of a sudden sitting in 6th overall with one female above me.  Why?  Because she went in the second wave!  So when I was out on the beach assessing the competition, she was behind me physically but actually ahead of me in time.  Would I have run her down if she was in the same wave as me?  Not sure… but there was no chance when she went in the second wave.  I guess I have to give her the credit.  There was no way to force the faster racers into the first wave and she took advantage.  It could have gone either way for her though too…maybe she would have been even faster if she would have been in our wave and had someone chasing her.

Nutrition:

I saved my nutrition report for a special section instead of adding it into each part because I am pretty excited about how it went and wanted to talk specifically about what I am using.

About a month ago, I started using a new fuel called “Generation UCAN”.  This fuel is built on the concept of reducing the blood sugar spike/crash effect that comes from most high sugar fuel sources like gels and most sports nutrition products.  UCAN uses a “superstarch” as the fuel source and boasts a much more constant blood sugar and energy level throughout which allows the body to use more fat as fuel (because you don’t get the insulin response that shuts down fat utilization).  It is a very appealing concept for the endurance athlete (especially the long distance athlete) because you have nearly endless fat stores (no, I am not calling you fat…even if you are lean you have 60,000 calories of fat stores available for use as fuel) but can only handle a limited amount of calories per hour in your stomach when exercising.

Anyway, I started using the stuff on my longer rides and training runs and found that I could go on fewer calories with better energy.  However, the taste was beyond disgusting in my opinion (others seem to be fine with it so try it before you take my word).  I was almost ready to give up after my last long training ride before this race but I came up with a plan.  I contacted a coach and sports nutritionist (Bob Seebohar) that uses this stuff and asked if he thought it would mess anything up to add some Crystal Light to the mix to cover the starch taste.  He agreed that it should be fine and so I tried it in this race.  It worked great!  No bad taste!!!!

So, here is what I used for nutrition for this race:

4:30am:  Shakeology made with fat free milk (about 220 calories)

7:00am:  Chocolate Generation UCAN made with water (about 120 calories).  I choked this one down without adding anything to it to cover the taste.  The chocolate is not as bad as the lemonade one.

7:45am race start

8am-9am:  Lemonade Generation UCAN made with water, one packet of Berry Crystal Light, and one scoop of Base Performance salt (for electrolytes).  I drank this slowly through the bike ride.  This is about 120 calories as well.

The rest of the race was just water (about 24 ounces on the bike and none on the run)

I probably would have had some water on the run if it was warmer, but it did not even break 60 degrees until after I was done racing.

Anyway, I have NEVER felt this good in a race before…especially on only 120 calories during the race.  The energy level was just amazing throughout and the only thing I changed was my fuel source.  60 calories per hour, even during an Olympic is pretty insane in my opinion.  I don’t think I have even done a sprint on less than 120 calories per hour.  Even if you count the UCAN that I had 45 minutes before the start that is only around 100 calories per hour.  Most coaches are recommending “training” your stomach to be able to process upwards of 250 calories per hour with at least one coach I know recommending 450 calories per hour so this just seems unheard of.

I am super excited to use this stuff in my half ironman in August and I will certainly report on how it works there.

After the race on Saturday:

So, after I was done racing, I spent most of my time at my booth talking to athletes and spectators.  I am starting to find though as I do more and more booths at events that people are much more interested in “stuff” than they are in training methods and coaching.  If you don’t have gear to sell, you are likely not going to get a lot of visits.  I am thinking that I am going to have to start taking some Finis swim products, heart rate monitors, P90X sets, and other stuff to these events if I want visitors.  I just haven’t been willing to make the investment to have stuff in inventory.

So, anyway, I got out of there around 4:30 pm or so after the half iron finishers had crossed the line and the crowd was thin enough that it was mostly just event staff cleaning up and getting ready for the next day.

I went back to the house and showered and then headed down to the coffee shop to get some wifi so that I could do my athlete training plans for the week and post some pics of the event on Facebook (someone from our local tri club was the overall male winner in the sprint distance and I wanted to get some pics up for the club to see).

After that it was back to the house for dinner and relaxing with a Redbox movie.

Sunday, July 10, 2011:

So, I had also agreed to volunteer for the running races the next day.  This was the easier day for the race directors.  There was a 5k, a 10K, and a half marathon and the courses were exactly the same as the run courses for the three triathlons the previous day.  No transition area to worry about, no swim course and kayakers and boats, no bike course, etc. 

I arrived about 5 am to start setting up.  I was given a GPS watch and assigned the task of putting out the mile markers for the run courses.  So, I hopped in the truck and headed out with some cones and mile marker signs.  It was actually a lot of fun trying to be precise about it and get the mile markers to be right where they should be.  I hate it when I run a race and I know the mile marker signs are wrong so I was very careful.  When I pulled back up to the finish line, the GPS said 13.09 miles…not bad at all.

After the mile markers were set up, I headed out to the 10K turnaround on the beach and helped run that aid station for the rest of the morning.  I worked with a great couple from Spokane that had done one of the races the previous day as well.

When there were only a few half marathon racers left on the course, I told the Spokane couple to go ahead and take off (they had an 8 hour drive ahead of them) and I waited for the final racers.  When they passed my aid station, I cleaned up and took stuff back to the park.

After that it was just a matter of cleaning up at the house and heading back home.

Final thoughts:

This was an amazing weekend of racing and volunteering.  I highly recommend doing any of the Tri Freaks events.  They are a great group of people and put on some good events.  I am sure I will be working with them again in the near future so look for me at another Trifreaks event. 

I would like to thank my sponsor De Soto Sport for allowing me to represent you!  I raced in my new De Soto limited edition trisuit and loved it!

I would also like to thank the Kitsap Tribabes that came out and volunteered for the whole weekend upon my request.  You guys made me look good.  Thanks for your help.

Sorry for such a lengthy post but there was a lot to say.

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