HITS Napa (OLY), Recap

Swim leg went better than expected.Strangely enough – I felt pretty lagged-out during the swim. The combination of the pre-race nerves from the commute delays getting to the race site + the limited time for transition prep had me feeling a little stressed out. I guess my well-honed techniques for stress manangement have paid off.

I really just tried to block everything out, focused on exhaling through the stroke, and focused a lot on my catch angle & rotation press. Swimming is 100% technique! Sighting was a bit of an issue because of the sun’s position. It was very hard to see the the first turn buoy due to blinding sunlight. But I guess I managed to pull out a decent swim, by my standards (sub 30 min, 6th out of the water in my age group of over 30 bloaks). My first sense that I was doing well was when I came out of the water after the first lap, glanced at my swim watch, and saw 13 minutes. Mentally I had planned to see anything from 15 to 18 minutes at that first turn. A solid 26 minute 1,500 meter swim, plus a couple minute jog through to the transponder checkpoint was awesome.

What triathlon giveth, however, triathlon taketh.

The bike leg started off shaky. As soon as I crossed the mount line and got going – I hit a bump that somehow launched my bike computer flying. WTH!! So I had to unclick & get to the side (no chance I’m leaving a $400 gadget in the middle of the road 😉 ). Lucky enough for me, one of the sprint distance runners was kind enough to grab my computer and run it up to me. Not far behind me was a cyclist in my group who yelled, “common, get it together!!” LOL True Dat. WTH! I don’t know what happend to me! Note to self: dude, click in your effing computer. Double check. Triple check.  Partly I blame the limited transition setup time; and I fully blame me 🙂

So – finally – got onto the bike course and I immediately knew this wasn’t exactly the course I had trained for. About 1,000 ft of climbing! I simply focused on high-cadence and blocked out the rest on the never ending climbs. Felt brutal.

But I will say that my training program had me feeling conditioned. I really just put confidence in that. I kept my power pegged at 220 watts + on the climbs, and tried to make it up on the descents.

While my bike split was 3 tenths slower than my Pac Grove performance, this is a pretty amazing leap forward in my view. My current bike fitness at a flatter course like Pac Grove (150ft per out and back) should have me well ahead of where I was last year, even this early in the season.  And I can put significant bike fitness on in 5 months! A lot of it will come through my Vineman 70.3 training. Training with a power meter is paying dividends.

Onto the run. Have I ever mentioned that I freaking hate running! ? But I love swimming and cycling enough, however, that I can deal with the run. Somehow I managed to put in an improvement over my Pac Grove performance (9:52/mile vs. 10:03 @ Pac Grove). While initially, I considered this largely a failure becuase of the obvious run problems at Pac Grove, per my garmin, there was over 780ft of climbing involved on the run!!! So, at the end of the day, I also consider this a good performance gain. I did zero hill work and pulled off an improvement. I’ll take it.

With that positive aside, I started to feel the all-to-familiar IT-band stress midway through the run. This has me slightly concerned for Vineman 70.3 this summer because of the longer distance. Hopefully I can elimate this through more volume training in the next few months.

Couple of thoughts on nutrition
My central failure at Pac Grove last year on the run was nutrition planning. It was principally fluids based (i.e. one bottle of cytomax water on the bike + whatever needed on-course). Learning from the slosh-gut that ensued on the run (because I needed the carbs, not the fluids), I switched it up to:

  • Minus 2hr: full brekfast, oatmill, coffee, (whatever), etc.
  • Minus 30min: Cliff Bar
  • On bike:
    • Carry bottle of water only; sip throughout – but don’t drink whole thing.
    • Get a rocktane gel in as soon as possible.
    • Get another rocktane gel in after turnaround
  • On the run:
    • Get a rocktane gel in from the start of the run (I accidentally forgot it this time though).
  • Water only on the course as needed. Because I forgot my rocktane at t2, I decided to take some HEED water at the last checkpoint.  But I secretly feel the missed rocktane cost me solid time on the run.  Such is life.

Overall – this felt pretty good to me. I’ll definitely adapt this to my Vineman 70.3 race in a few months. I felt great when starting the run. And the water bottle on my bike was 25% full after the ride.

Key takeaways & summary:

  • Do more course research before Vineman 70.3, this much is obvious.
  • Triple check that my cycling computer is clipped in.

Key takeaways on HITS Napa

  • Good organization for being such a new program.
  • Feels very exclusive with the fairly small participant base (only the 2nd year running).
  • During the “prerace meeting,” the race director thanked us for being part of something new.  That felt cool.  He also offered a prayer for those that were interested, but didn’t mandate it for the entire field of athletes.  That struck me as extremely intuitive and considerate of those that don’t underpin their actions with faith, while accommodating those that do.
  • Super fun race. 100% for sure doing this again next year!!! Lake Berryessa is amazing!  Just requires a solid bit of mountain driving to get there.

lake_berryessa

Lake Berryessa (Photo from Google)

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