Thank you to everyone for the support! Warning, this is a long post. I tried to keep it short, but there was too much that needed to be shared and documented (so that I can go back and keep the lessons learned). Also, I’ve found that it helps me to learn what other triathletes have experienced, so I didn’t want to keep out some key details. Hope you enjoy it!
I arrived to the beach at about 6:40 am to get ready for the swim only to find out that the current and waves decided to pick up overnight. Normally, the waves wouldn’t bug me too much, but rather than push it hard in the open water on the first of two scheduled “Big Days” I decided to move to the backup location, a community pool nearby.
Big Day Swim Recap: 3,650 meters; 59:31 total time
As we pulled up to the pool, it was actually looking great. Nobody around, lanes in the pool, and all to myself. I felt ready and got into my wetsuit (I’ll be wearing it on race day so I want to get as comfortable in it as possible). Ironically, I think that was the demise of my bike portion (more on that later).
The swim started out pretty good, and I felt comfortable. I had a little tightness in the shoulders of my wetsuit for the first 20 laps, but then it subsided and I found a steady rhythm. About 20 minutes into the swim I started to notice that I was definitely warming up a little too much. Thoughts started to pass through the mind, and I should have listened to my gut which said to take off my swim cap and possibly even get out of the wetsuit so that I didn’t overheat. Rather than listen to my instinct I forced myself to continue to push on and even started to push a little harder in the swim. After all, my muscles felt good and my breathing wasn’t too bad so why not keep going.
As I was nearing the end of my scheduled 1 hour swim, my better half and awesome support crew, said that I was close to 70 laps. I was absolutely amazed and started to do the math in my head… I was near the full distance swim in around an hour’s time. Unbelievable!! I decided to keep pushing and ended up swimming a total of 73 laps (3,650 meters or 2.27 miles) in 59:31. I really couldn’t believe the distance/pace on this. Got out of the pool pretty happy to say the least.
As I walked over to the shower to rinse off, I noticed that I felt a little dehydrated, so I got some water in pretty quickly. Figured that I just needed about 24 oz or so, and headed to the house for a quick rest before the bike. This would turn out to be a big mistake.
Big Day Bike Recap: 61 miles, 18.3 mph - Very Dehydrated
I started off on the bike and had a nice 50 mile loop planned. As I got into the first few minutes of the ride I noticed that my heart rate was about 15 beats per minute higher than they normally were. Though this seemed much too high at the time I figured that it might have just been the wind or maybe the hard effort I put in on the swim… either way, surely it would come down. It didn’t.
I settled in to my peddling rhythm and began to focus on my nutrition plan. I kept thinking my heart rate seemed high, but also kept finding what I thought to be logical explanations… must be the effort, the pace (was holding about 20mph in a strong cross wind), the earlier swim, the heat… and so the list went on. The only item that wasn’t in the list was the one that would take me off the bike at just over the halfway point of my scheduled ride time. Dehydration.
After noticing that I was going through water much faster than my normal long rides, I was so thankful to be able to take on additional bottles from my better half and wonderful support crew who met me out on the training route. I started to feel a little better, but that only lasted for a brief few minutes. Miles 40-50, my heart rate continued to be elevated, my perceived effort was much greater than it seemed it should be, and my mental state started to crumble a bit. When I pulled in to the planned quick stop at mile 50 I felt light headed, and a little nauseous. Something was wrong.
No matter how hard it feels, I normally keep pushing through, but this time, I just couldn’t do it. I drank some more water, had a couple more endurolytes, and got off the bike. ”I think I cooked my insides,” were some of the first words that I could mutter. At this point, I realized that the decision to keep the wetsuit and swim cap on for the entire hour swim was a big mistake and I was paying for it dearly. Later in the day we estimated that I lost nearly 5% of my body weight due to dehydration, even though I was taking in water at a slightly higher rate than normal on the bike. Simply put, this was/is unacceptable and a huge lesson learned.
After a short period of time, I decided that I needed to at least try and get back on the bike. After about 7 more miles, I realized that I was doing more damage than good and decided to call it short. Humbled, hurt, and mentally distraught I slowly peddled back to base camp for the day.
Big Day Run Recap: 10 miles, 1:47 time
After an extra hour recovery after the bike, about a gallon of water, some Hammer HEED, a turkey sandwich, and some more water, I decided that I had to at least give the run a try. I was concerned that if I wasn’t able to complete the run my mental confidence would be in a state of hurt. So, with that focus I set out, my wonderful support crew along with me on her bike the whole way. It was not the fastest run by far, but it felt good to get it done and finish out the day. The first 45 minutes of the run felt pretty good overall, the next 20 minutes were a little tough, but the last portion was just what I needed. I averaged about 155 heart rate (steady zone 2 for me) at a 9:40 pace and then was able to push the last mile at a sub 8 pace. With that, I decided to call it a wrap for the day rather than continue another mile… I wanted to end on a high note and needed it mentally.
Big Day Recap Totals:
All in all I can look at this big day a couple of different ways. I’m choosing to look at the positive from it and take away the lessons learned. Not only am I choosing this path because I would rather be optimistic, but also because as a first time iron-distance triathlete, I need to keep the negative thoughts out of my mind. There are only 7 weeks left until Rev 3 Cedar Point and I can’t afford to let negativity settle in to the mind.
With that, here are some lessons learned and positives from the day:
At the end of a long day like this, I’ve found that I still enjoy the sport of triathlon and I want to do better next time. I look forward to my next Big Day on August, 13th and will be ready.
Thanks for reading.