September 16, 2008

Quakerman HIM race analysis

I usually do the race analysis for my A-races, but the result of the Quakerman Half Ironman race was quite surprising for me as I did not specifically train this season for HIM distance and still placed well in the race overall and also in my age group. The race report is in one of the earlier posts on this site. In this post I'll focus on performance in each leg.

Swim 1.2mi (36:13)

The swim leg started pretty tough as the whole 85+ field started in one wave, but separated pretty soon. I kept focused on the improvements of my swimming that Erica recommended and kept swimming at reasonably good pace. I was not pushing the pace though as there is really no point to do that in such a long race where the swim leg represents fairly short part of the overall race. I may start pushing more going forward, but in this race I wanted to take it conservatively to prevent any blow-ups later in the day. I had few surges as I tried to keep-up with my draft few times, but when I lost contact I did not push harder to catch-up. It just did not seem like a good strategy. I started pushing little more on second lap, but stayed within reasonable RPE that allowed me to breathe with no troubles. I exited the water in 36:13 which is very good for me. Almost 5 minutes behind the overall winner and about 3 minutes faster than last year so definitely an improvement.

I usually do fairly fast T1, but this one was very close to be a messy one - as I wrote in the original race report I almost took my bike without putting on my helmet and that would be a sure DQ. The T1 time was 52 seconds which is 13 seconds behind the winner, but that is not very significant. After comparing my times with other people I noticed that my swim split was 19th overall, but I left transition as 17th - I passed two people in transition. Just shows you that fast transitions are quite important if you want to race well.

Bike 56.7mi (2:40:19)

Onto the bike leg. I followed Craig's guidance and started conservatively, kept my power output within the limits we set for each split of the bike. I started taking in nutrition about 10 minutes into the bike and kept it up knowing that nothing beats a great lunch on the bike. All jokes aside - bike is the only leg in the race where you can take in significant amount of nutrition. Any eating during swim is impossible and during the run the intake level can not be kept as high as on the bike.
The bike course was 3 loops around the lake and I overtook a good number of people on the first half of the first loop and then rode pretty much alone. I started to catch-up with few riders every 10-20 minutes after that. I usually slowly caught-up with a group of 2-3 people and passed them slowly over few miles. I was not hammering to pass people as I did during the Steelman, I was saving my legs for the run. On second loop Erica told me (very loudly :-) that I'm sixth overall. That was very encouraging as I had no idea where I was in the field. Looking at the bike split I entered the transition as 6th overall about 5 minutes after a guy in 5th place and 3 minutes ahead of the guy after me. This still meant that I was 17 minutes behind the overall leader (and there was no way he was letting anyone pas him on the run - ran the whole 13.1mi at 6:36 min/mi - wow that is some speed). T2 was very fast even with taking the shoes and socks from ziploc bag as I did not want them get wet before the run start. The T2 time was 44 seconds and was very close to the leaders.

Run 13.1mi (1:49:45)

I started the run pretty fast, but then slowed down knowing I can not sustain running that fast for very long. My overall pace for the run was 8:20 min/mi, but I'm very sure I did run slower in the second half than the first one. I kept the fluid and gels intake every 10-15 minutes sipping from gel flask. At the beginning of the race I decided that I'm racing to beat my last year's time and that I'll not necessarily follow people that pass me. And I stuck with that strategy through out the run leg. I had four people pass me on the run and they all ran sub 8:00 min/mi. I re-passed few guys that passed me in the early stages of the run and then blew-up, but I did not catch-up to any of the people that finished biking ahead of me or the four that passed me with and looked very strong. Run is definitely area that I need to work on (along with swimming where I can already see good progress from changing the way I swim).

The per leg stats show that I placed 19th in swim, 6th on the bike and 26th on the run. If I was able to sustain sub-8:00 min/mi pace it would have placed me at 19th spot in the run leg and would improve my overall time by about 5 minutes. I guess more threshold running and intervals are in store for me - endurance is there, but keeping the pace up for entire half marathon seems to be an issue after the swim and bike.

Update: In all the excitement I did not include the final tally: the overall course time was 5:07:53 which was 10th overall and 2nd in my age group. If you want to take a look at the results you can find them on this site. The event also posted pictures and all mine are in the lost and found. I found 10 pictures can you?

Course profile

Few friends commented on the race results and I just wanted to share two pictures with you and people that plan to do this race - it is hilly on both bike and run. The pictures below show the course profile - top one shows bike and bottom one run course. You can see that the elevation profile on second loop of the run is slightly shifted in the picture - that is due to the weather change in the middle part of the run - from cloudy to rain.Quakerman HIM bike profile.jpg
Quakerman HIM run profile.jpg

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