Rev3 Quassy Race Report

Arrival at Quassy. See the red bouy out on the lake?

After nine hours of driving, we arrived at Quassy mid-afternoon on a beautiful Saturday.

First thought: those bouys look impossibly far out on that lake!

Anne noticed a deep chip in one of my tires, so I bought a couple new race tires at the expo. What’s another $100 after all the time and money that’s gone into this adventure already?

Had a nice, light sushi dinner the night before the race.

Race morning, up at 3:40 and slammed to cans of Illy espresso. Had my usual race-morning breakfast of three slices Ezekial toast with almond butter and jelly, got the hotel room packed up and were off to the race venue just as day was breaking.

Pre-race was intense. All these athletes that have worked so hard, almost all of them with fancier gear than mine, most of them with more experience than me. Once I was sure I had everything set up just right (and had been to the bathroom a couple times), I wandered around a bit, watching my fellow athletes, visioning the way the day would go, calmly and quietly taking it all in.

Then, suddenly, it was go time. Slammed a gel, hid my sandals near the start, got about 10 minutes of warmup swimming in, and then it was time to line up on the beach.

The swim was crowded at first, and I really just wanted some space to focus on my rhythm and form. I drafted off and on, but was having trouble staying on the feet of anyone, so I opted to just do my thing. It was a pleasant swim. Fairly calm water, and once the crowd dispersed a bit and I let go of trying to draft, I was able to swim the way I’ve been training, breathing bilaterally, taking long smooth strokes. By the time I was nearing the end of the swim, I was surprised at how not-winded I felt. I felt like I could have swum that pace all day. Or at least for 2.4 miles. ;^>

Coming out of the swim, I saw Anne, who decided to volunteer during the race and was charged with keeping spectators and photographers where they were supposed to be. When I saw her, she looked concerned, and I though, yikes, did I swim that slowly? Of course, that wasn’t her concern, she was worried about turning her back on her post for a second to watch me come out of the water… so responsible!

Transition 1 went smoothly. I brought my gear in a 5 gallon bucket, and had everything for T2 under the bucket so it wouldn’t distract me, and so I could sit on the bucket. In contrast to my last race, my wet suit came off without issue (thanks to the ladies with the Pam pre-race!).

As I settled on the bike, I held to my plan, letting others pass me and keeping to the heart rate zone I had planned. The course was awesome — beautiful, hilly, but not overwhelming. Great roads, great race support. Kept it high zone 1, low zone 2 for the first half, and high zone 2, low zone 3 for the second half… except the hills, of course; however, it’s worth noting that I never crossed LT on the bike, never even close. Probably could up the intensity a bit for my next HIM. Consumed 104oz of Gatorade Pro, 2 oz hammergel, and 1 Clif Kids bar. Plus some water.

Had to stop about half way through to pee. I tried to pee while I was riding. I’ve tried and failed in training, and I couldn’t do it on race day either. Not sure how to learn that to do that, but it probably would have saved me over a minute had I not had to pull over to relieve myself.

Coming out of T2, I saw Anne for a second time, smiled and waved, and then looked down at my Garmin and saw 6:25/mile. Whoa! Slammed on the brakes. I had planned to run no faster than 8:00/mile for the first 5k leading up to the big hill.

It was really hard to keep it below 8 minutes/mile. It meant running well below zone 2, which was frustrating, but I knew from my long training bricks that if I blasted off into the run, my HR would elevate more quickly than I wanted it to. And, after all, I did still have a half marathon to run.

So I plugged along, stopped again to pee, and after 25 minutes arrived at the big hill. I knew it was coming, and I knew I was ready for it. I’ve trained in hills all season, and I had conserved my energy. I let my HR up into Z3 for the hill, and it was tough, but no big deal.

After that, I passed mile markers 5 and 6 and realized I was track for a great race.

As the mile markers went by, I continued to feel good, and continued to hold a pace well under 8 minutes/mile.

The only really tough part of the day was the final hill. Right when you think you’re just about done, there’s one last ascent, and it feels huge. And then when you think you’re at the top of it, it turns out there’s one more section of the hill to push over.

But then you come around a corner and realize you’re running right up to the Quassy parking lot and suddenly the sound of the finish feels your ears and whatever pain and frustration you’ve been feeling dissolves into relief and joy.

As I rounded the corner into the finisher shoot, I looked for Anne and Dipity, but I didn’t see them. As I entered the shoot, I figured they weren’t there to run in with me, and I felt a little twinge of disappointment. But then Anne sprang up out of nowhere, and Dip with her, and we joined hands to run to the finish.

In the end, I finished in 5:13:01, 27 minutes faster than even my most optimistic goal. Here’s the breakdown:

Swim: 34:06

Bike: 2:55:23

Run: 1:39:09

The run was an eight minute half-marathon PR for me, and on a hilly course at the end of a long morning!

Needless to say, I’m thrilled with the result. My training was solid and consistent. I ran a solid, conservative race, and it paid off, big time. Could I have gone a little faster on the bike? Probably, but it’s hard to say how much I would’ve given up on the run. We’ll play around with getting more aggressive next year.

The race was excellently run. I have nothing but good things to say about Rev3 and the Quassy race. Great venue, great people, great execution. If I’m in the neighborhood, I’d definitely consider coming back again next year.

Quassy Half Iron Plan & Goals

This weekend I race my first half-ironman.

It’s a tough 70.3 miles: Quassy.

Here are my goals and my plan. I’ll be back next week to see how well I hit them.

Goals

  1. Finish, smiling
  2. Follow plan, avoid blowing up
  3. Sub 6hr
  4. 5:40:09

Goal 4 is for a race promotion: the three racers who guess closest to their times win a Yakama bike rack. A new bike rack is on the short list of things I need, so that’d be pretty sweet. 5:40 is aggressive, but who wants to win a prize for a mediocre performance?

Plan

Swim

Start easy, focused on form: long strokes with glide, body position, bilateral breathing. Find someone to draft off of. Increase intensity to moderate level toward middle of the swim.

Goal time = 38 minutes

Bike

The course

Start easy. Let them pass. 10-15 minutes in easy gear, let heart rate and stomach settle, drink just a little water.

First 18 miles: Let them pass. HR high zone 1 – low zone 2, allowing some zone 3 on the climb from miles 7.5-13.8. Start in on nutrition.

Second 18 miles: This includes the big climb, almost 1,000′ in less than 10 miles. Solid zone 2 riding, trying to stay aerobic (out of zone 4) on the hills.

Third 18 miles: The climbing is almost done. Assess how I’m feeling and decide on zone 2 and/or 3 then.

Goal time: 3:10. Really, I have no idea. I’ve never raced this distance, and I don’t know the course. 3:10 would be an average of 17.68 mph. That’s about what my long training rides have been, which are similarly hilly, but perhaps I can bump the intensity a bit for the race and finish the bike sub-3? We’ll see.

Run

The course

The first miles off the bike always feel funny, but I have felt strong on my long ride bricks for the last few weeks. Hopefully that continues into the race.

First couple miles: smooth and easy, keep pace well above 8min/mile, let HR settle, pay attention to breathing and stride rate.

At mile 3.6, there’s a 160′ climb in 1 mile. Going to try to stay in zone 3 through that climb.

Miles 4.7 – 8.5 are pretty flat. I’ll be aiming for the zone 2/3 boundary here, being sure to take in gels and water.

Then there’s a long descent, followed by a finale of climbing for the last mile and a half. At that point, all I can do is go by feel. I honestly have no idea what it’s going to feel like at that point.

Goal time: 1:45. That would be an 8:00 pace throughout. I think that will be tough, especially given the hills, but I think it’s doable. I feel strong, and I feel prepared for this race. It would be a PR HM for me. I’ve run three, the first was a downhill half, a year ago to the day of this race, on no real training in 1:47, the second, a hilly trail half in 1:57, and the third last winter, during an excruciating stomach flu, in… wait for it…. 1:47, just 12 seconds off my earlier half time.

Give me 4 minutes for T1 and 3 minutes for T2, and that works out to 5:40.