Thursday, June 16, 2016

REV3 Quassy: Using a race to build fitness

The Quassy race course is one of the most challenging and honest courses that I've raced throughout the years. It deserves a lot of respect. I was a bit concerned coming into this year's race with how I would hold up covering the punchy hills with my level of fitness. So my goal for this race was to use it strictly as a training race. If I felt good I would go with it, but I was not going to dig deep at any point during the day. Swim: 28:35 This was the one discipline I felt pretty good about coming into the race. I had a good warm-up and did my usual pick-ups so I could avoid the hypoxic feeling. The swim start is on the beach and the first 15 yards is kind of a funnel. I lined up on the inside hoping to get out quick and out of the chaos. I was able to do this and noticed that only 2 guys got out in front of me. I tried to quickly jump on the feet of one of the swimmers. I was able to do this, but in the process the lead swimmer got a 10 meter gap. In hindsight, that gap was inevitable as the lead swimmer was a former Olympic swimmer, Pie Geelen. I was pleased when I came out of the water 2nd place in my age group. Bike: 2:38:16 My mantra right from the beginning was to ride steady. I did not want to feel any leg burning throughout the ride. Whenever I felt like I was starting to bear down to much, I would back it off a notch. I felt relatively smooth and was actually enjoying myself in the rainy conditions. There are some sections of the course that I had to be a bit more cautious due to the conditions, but it was the same for everyone. I managed to ride up to the lead vehicle by the half way point. At this point, I focused on maintaining my caloric intake and sticking to my strategy. Things were rolling along well and I was pleasantly surprised that my legs were holding up. I knew the real test was going to come on the back half of the run, but I was happy with my bike effort up to that point. At mile 55, Brian Duffy blew past me like a freight train. He was cooking and ended up completely blowing the race apart. His 4:09 final overall time was 6 minutes faster than my best time at this race back in 2009. He is going to smoke IM Lake Placid in July. Once I got over the ego bashing pass from Brian I finished up as 2nd athlete into T2. I had stuck to my game plan while riding over 2 hours in Z2 and only 16 minutes in Z3 heart rate. Run: 1:26:34 This discipline was my biggest question mark coming into the race. I was really concerned that my lack of spring specific training would leave me weak on the run. I knew I needed to find a decent rhythm as quickly as I could. The course is very hilly and it never really lets you settle in. It can be very fun if you are run fit, but it can be a killer if you are behind the curve. When I am fit, I try to get right up into Z3 heart rate. That was not the goal at this race. I spent the first 15 minutes in Z1, then ran the next 1hr 9mins in Z2. I only hit Z3 for 1 minute during the run. By mile 8, Dave Slavinski (M45-49), had closed the 5 minute head start I had gotten by my wave starting first. Dave was extremely nice and he turned into a perfect diversion from the pain I was starting to feel. He slowed down and ran with me for about 2 miles. His company helped to get me over two really steep hills. At this point, I was really struggling and just tried to run steady for the remainder of the race. I willed myself the remaining distance and crossed the line with a total time of 4:35:59 1st M40-44 and 4th Overall. There are times when an athlete can be very fit and not have an optimal performance. Then there are times when an athlete can be at a lower fitness level, but can outperform that fitness level. I was very happy to say that I really outperformed my fitness level for this race and I was really happy with the result. I know that I will get a nice fitness boost from the effort and that it will help point me in the right direction for my push into Kona in October.

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