So I promised on whatsapp to share the good, the bad and the questions from Triathlone yesterday, something which might be relevant to those doing 70.3 for the first time in August so here it is - a back of the pack perspective! For the more competitive perspective the WTC women at the race looked like they had a savage day. Also, this is my first middle distance since the lost sheep in 2013 having lost most of last year to illness so I expected a challenge.
The event was well organised, with a good, challenging course. Support on the run was super despite the torrential rain earlier in the day and the marshalls were great - whether on the bike course or the run course. They did an excellent job.
For once my swim was textbook. I hate mass starts so being stuck in a river with 400 men who on the starter's klaxon behave like 400 adolescent male chimps would if they were forced to simultaneously swim in the learning pool in shoreline; i.e. baiting the bejaysus out of each other, was not a prospect I relished. That said, I carved out a nice line, sighted every third stroke and did a 37 min swim which for me is stellar. I took the swim at about 65 percent effort so very happy despite my right calf cramping from about 500 metres in.
While the event was well organised I found the 'continental' transition a bit messy but probably a good dry run for Dublin. That and the 500m hoof from the swim exit in the heavy rain meant that T1 was a little epic. That said, again, the marshalls in Transition were on the ball.
From the get go on the bike the cramp from the swim set in and moved into my right hamstring and hip so for much of the bike I was pedalling lopsided. My strategy was to pace myself at 80 percent of FTP which based on the evidence of previous rides should have been a breeze. This year was the first year training using a power metre and I have tried hard to get right on the bike. For the first 40km I stayed with the strategy but at the 40km mark with the pain in my right side I dropped off the power substantially and never got back on it. For downhill sections I was hunkered with my right leg stuck out like my dog when you scratch her on the back - anything to try and relieve the pain in the leg but really to no avail. I waited and waited of the mythological tail wind back into Athlone only for it never to reappear and eventually I made it back to T2 but already had doubts about the run.
The run was tough. I had been warned the little hills in Athlone turn into monsters when you're tired and indeed they did. No point in labouring over the detail but cramp and puking with the odd stop to pleasantly dry retch against the barrack walls made the run epic and I was happy to make it over the line. Watching the rest of WTC work out the run successfully in front of my was good though! Well done!
The questions - take note 70.3ers!
1. The bike. Like I said the bike strategy was sensible - paced out at a good but manageable pace and while the cramping was painful in my mind it doesn't explain why I couldn't stick with the pace/power output. I'm still confused about that one.
2. Nutrition. I don't buy in to carb-loading etc (actually, I saw a tweet from Tim Nokes not he morning of Triathlone linking an article that discusses how carb-loading needs to be closely matched to the specific metabolism of each individual and generally is not effective. I normally have a high fat low carb diet (that's how I dropped 20kg two years ago) so I listen to what he says) and on the morning of an event I just cannot eat. I never have been able to - part nerves, part excitement I suppose. So with this event starting at 12 noon I was on the road from 6am and hadn't eaten. I had a basic and straightforward nutrition plan on the bike with half a power bar every hour, the odd gel, but no solids on the last 30km. I stuck to it but on the run it came back to haunt me. Bloated and nauseous for the full 21km I stopped numerous times to wretch/puke. In trail running I run up to 20km pre-breakfast on a good empty stomach. My thinking is that like some people I know, I need to train more to run (or tri) on empty. During an event my body does not want food so even on the bike forcing down bits of powerbar is just not going to work. For Dublin I am considering going on empty for the whole thing. Even today I am still in 'gastric distress'.
3. Cramping. I'm dogged with cramps. Usually in the calves but as can be seen yesterday they can come up anywhere. I've tried everything - bananas, particular drinks, stretching, blah, blah, blah but am thinking that these old limbs need yoga or pilates to keep them moving in the future. Either that or a Segway.
So that's it. I said I'd spill the beans on how challenging a day yesterday was and there it is. I was chuffed with the swim but if I am honest I will admit to questioning my ability to finish the run and for the last lap of 7km I forced myself to continue with the mantra 'you will not beat me' - repeated in my head as it's difficult to talk when you're blowing chunks outside Athlone garda station
well done ahthony, a tough day but lots of lessons learned!
on the bike, and 80% FTP strategy could be a little high... might be ok if you were an uber bike
try aiming off 70% FTP for first hour, let the body settle and if feeling good gradually ramp - 75% FTP next hour then see how you go.
i'm in a similar position, my FTP is 300W, and i'm a solid biker, 80% FTP would put me at 240W, which i know would leave me suffering even more for the run, so i'm going for a 220 - 230 target. (75% ).
As for nutrition, your body simply wont handle 5+ hrs on empty. Look at getting your calories in liquid form. I suffer from GI problems too, and since using liquid cals... Accelerade seems to work wonders.
Well done Anthony. You didn't look like you were suffering when I saw you.
In case you're interested I had porridge and toast at about 8.30am and on the bike only had 1 gel at 30k and a Clif bar at about 65k. Then had 1 more gel at 14k on the run. For once I had no stomach issues at all .
The 12 o clock start was a strange one alright.
Well done everyone in Athlone and especially Anthony, sounds like you had a tough time out there.
The low point for me was when the hail hit us. The high point was the 3min stop at the train crossing waiting for the train to pass - I was fed some yummy snacks by the marshalls, chatted to fellow competitors and gave my legs a rest.....and then had the 3min deducted from my overall time. If only there was a rest stop like that in every triathlon!
If this is any help, breakfast at 9am was a little porridge, scrambled eggs on toast, a couple more pieces of toast and finished with a small bowl of white rice.
When I got onto the bike I ate a sandwich and High5 bar in the first half hour (was planning these to last a little longer, but I was soooo hungry). I ate another High5 bar about an hour later. 3 isogels on the bike (1 at 1hr, 1 at 2hrs and a third just before getting off the bike) and 2 bottles of High5. I had 1 more isogel mid run but in hindsight I didn't really need it.
The only stomach problems I had were from hunger pains (I definately needed 1 more sandwich on the bike). A sandwich is easy to eat if you cut the crusts off and cut into 4's. After a couple of hours, I find the sweetness from gels and energy drink turns me off eating, so I put vegemite (like marmite) on the sandwiches because it's not sweet. I wouldn't have a sandwich for sprint or olympic distance, but definately the longer distance it works for me.
Keep trying different things until you find what works for you.
Well done Anthony, Lisa, Amanda, gabby, Liam, john & obviously Kevin for winning + anybody else I missed.
Great race despite the fact that athlone seemed to get farther away on the bike return& as for the speed bumps on the run, I swear they got bigger on each loop. The cheers from Yvonne, rose and Brendan, Brendan Brendan (he turned up everywhere) made a big difference when the going got tough.
On the food front, it evidently depends on the person but I would not recommend trying that on empty. I am more in Amanda's camp, porridge for brekkie, bread roll on the bike, 4 bottles of water/sports drink, banana, coke on the run.....I've done the dehydration thing before and it's not pretty so the strategy is to keep fluid and nutrition levels up.
The downside is having to take a leak while cycling!!!! Probably a bit too much info...