While waiting for Karel to finish the windy 56 mile bike portion, my parents, Campy and I walked around and ate breakfast under a pavilion. It was a nice morning picnic (with a great view) as I enjoyed a PB and J sandwich and a banana.
The tracking for Rev3 was excellent. A bit confusing at first because it is different than Ironman Live tracking but it is extremely advanced. The coolest part about the expo was having two huge TV's hooked up to the Internet, which allowed the spectators to track on a big screen (vs our iphones). The tracking included things like splits and paces but took it one step further by not only telling where the markers were for splits but also what time the athletes arrived to the check point and how far behind the leader in their age group. I found this very useful because I was able to guess when Karel would be back at the transition area and to tell how he was doing in the race. Karel had been dealing with hamstring soreness all week due to working on our new 90-gallon fish tank. More like doing an hour of dead lifts trying to clean and prep our new tank (can't wait to share pics). Karel wanted to take a few risks during this race but with the questionable hamstring ache, Karel knew he would need to play it smart if he wanted to finish.
One of the greatest outcomes of being an experienced athlete is learning from mistakes. I fully believe that as athletes, we are all going to make mistakes and wish we could have a do-over. I remember a few years ago when I was not training smart and not wanting to taper for a 10K, I continued lifting on race week in addition to not tapering because I didn't want to lose fitness. After struggling with super tight hamstrings all race week, I realized that this interfered with not only my physical performance on race day but also my mindset leading up to the race. Rather than keeping my energy bottled for race day, I was spending all my energy worrying about my hamstrings and telling myself that I really regretted by decision to not taper for a race. Since then, I learned and no matter what race, I respect my body before and after races. Karel comes from a different background and with cycling, he is use to racing weekend after weekend so he is looking forward to learning as he goes.....Of course, we are a team and he asks for advice but sometimes we can't plan for everything. Thankfully, a massage, epson salt bath, stretching and a few non weight bearing workouts on race week helped him feel a bit more normal by race day.
After Karel finished the bike, he quickly transitioned to the run. Again, still learning, Karel forgot that he can run with his hat and race belt and put it on as he is running. Looking back, he was frustrated that he had a slow transition by putting on everything in front of his bike instead of grabbing and going. Live and learn.
With only tailwind for the first 16 miles, Karel battled with inner thigh (adductor) cramps on one leg for the last third of the bike. He even joked that he got "chicked" because he was trying to stretch at an aid station. Oh, but don't worry - he made sure to tell me that he passed the female pro a little later in the bike portion. Karel always has the best play-by-plays post-race.
What I love the most about Karel as an athlete is that he is competitive and smart as an athlete. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to race this race like he wanted because his leg was screaming at him during the last 3rd of the bike. He was really looking forward to putting his cycling skills to the test by riding in the wind but despite trying to keep his competition in his sights, he wasn't able to respond with the other guys. We aren't excuses type of athletes so Karel is thankful for finishing the ride but is anxious to figure out his long-term race-day only cramping issue (since he was a young kid and racing as a cyclist) so that it isn't a limiter in triathlons.
Many would blame sodium but I rarely address "sodium" with my athletes (or Karel) when someone tells me they cramp. I have worked with many athletes who suffer from cramping and before I make recommendations, I make sure I understand the athletes training plan, racing plan, diet and sport nutrition regime. Then I ask the two most common questions "Do you stretch enough and do you strength train?
Other focal points for dealing with cramping:
-not enough magnesium in the diet, too much calcium in the diet
-not warming up enough or actively/cooling down before training/racing
-nutrient timing for the daily diet
-nutrient timing for sport nutrition (before and after training) or lack of sport nutrition during training
-type of sport nutrition
-training periodization, taper and race day pacing (intensity)
-too much processed food, not enough real food
-epson salt baths and flex power cream/massage/physical therapy
-muscular or nerve related?
Amazingly, Karel finished the bike in 2:21 with the following splits:
Split 1: 16.8 miles - average 27.39 mph
Split 2: 19.2 miles - average 25.27 mph
Split 3: 20 miles - average 20.66 mph
Karel looked strong when I saw him but he told me he was cramping really bad. I got a little nervous because Karel has dealt with cramping in cycling races and when he cramps, he can't dig deep. Karel loves to dig deep and suffer so I knew this run may not be really pretty. In cycling races, if you can't keep up, your day is done and you don't finish. In triathlons, certainly it is an individualized sport so we all have the opportunity to get our own body to the finish line. Having only quit one race in my life (Miami marathon in 2008) due to extreme heel pain (which started during the race which was odd, but it was pouring rain before and during the race so maybe I did something too it - I guess I need to re-read my race report) I just hoped Karel would find a way to finish (albeit slower than he would like) and would walk/run if needed to not make things worse or he would have the strength to stop and DNF so that he wouldn't hurt himself long-term. Either way, I wanted Karel to race smart.
The first time when I saw Karel he was less than 1/2 mile away from transition and just starting the run. My dad took this picture about a mile or so into the race and my dad said that he looked strong. Looking at the pics that my dad took as Karel continued running, I thought the same....but still worried about (that's what wife's are for, right??)
I checked, re-checked and kept checking the results and nothing was coming up for Karel, despite the results coming in for the top guys in Karel's age group. Karel was sitting in 4th place for his age group (35-39) and with some tough competition ahead of him, I started to get worried....he quit. I would never be made at him for quitting but just more concerned as to what was going on in his body. I think more than anything, Karel is so new to the sport that he is going to need many more races under his belt to learn how to mentally get over obstacles during races. Because I work with all levels of athletes (both with coaching and nutrition), Karel is certainly an anomaly in that he knows how to suffer. But what I often remind my athletes is that we are all out to race our own race and we can't expect things to be easy. There are going to be moments that you are forced to make a decision that can either positively or negatively affect the rest of the race. These moments occur over and over again but as athletes, we love to take chances. However, you can take smart risks and I hoped Karel was doing just that.
I texted Karel's boss Jeff K. (also a triathlete) that Karel was cramping. He texted back, "he can't be hurting that bad for running sub 7 min/miles!"
Not too long later, I see Karel and I was relieved. Still looking great, I could tell he was hurting. Since we have all "been there", I could only cheer him on and be his #1 fan. I wanted him to know I believed in him so that hopefully, he could believe in himself. Let's not forget that despite Karel being a phenomenal cyclist, this is his 4th ever triathlon, 2nd half IM (modified) and only 4th time "racing" a run off the bike. 13.1 miles is a looooong way to go.
Finally, Karel's splits came up.
Split 1: .8 miles - 6:27 min/mile pace
Split 2: 2.95 miles - 6:59 min/mile pace
Split 3: 3.28 miles - 6:50 min/mile pace
Campy was a trooper all day - talk about an Ironman doggy day! But we still had cheering to do!
Around 7 miles, we saw Karel and Campy gave his biggest bark to cheer for his daddy.
Looking strong and focused, it would be another 40 or so minutes (give or talk a few aid station walk breaks - which Karel said he walked every aid station) before we saw Karel at the finish.
Waiting anxiously, we saw a few friends to keep us busy......
I spotted my nutrition athlete and friend Katie A. in the medical tent, hearing that she collided with a motorized wheelchair crossing the street. She was flying (literally) at 27 mph when she hit the wheelchair and her bike did not survive....luckily, she did. A sad way to end her season as she was beyond ready for a strong performance but thankfully, she will live to race again.
Truly digging deep, Karel ran down the finish chute and I could tell he was so happy to be finished. The finishing line was amazing and there was a big jumbo tron behind the finish line with each athletes picture. Rev3 did an amazing job with the volunteers, support and professionalism of this race - I highly recommend Rev3triathlons!
I don't know how he did it, but Karel managed to run 1:31!!!
His last two splits:
3 miles - 6:58 min/mile
3 miles - 7:14 min/mile
Total for 56 mile bike + 13.1 mile run = 3:53
5th age group (out of 45). 16th male (out of 305)
Karel was too sore for a massage and didn't want an IV so he just suffered in a chair for a few minutes and was then able to shuffle his way to me to take a picture.
Karel is really happy with his performances this season with 4 top 5 age group finishes. He has had time to reflect and he knows he has a lot of work to do before Lake Placid next year. We both love to work hard so I'm really excited to see what lies ahead in 2013. Also - the fish tank is finally set up!!! Karel is fully enjoying his off season and is looking forward to stretching more and building strength in his adductors. Also, a big congrats to Trimarni Nutrition athlete Chris D. who race strong with the race day conditions. Chris worked really hard on her sport nutrition and I'm excited to see what she can do with all 3 sports put together.
I recently read my friend (and mental coach) Gloria's race report
from Austin 70.3. She (and her hubby) had their own obstacles overcome in the race so I wanted to share a very strong quote that she posted in her blog:
"My, the amazing wonders of the body and mind! The mind always wants to protect the body and will diminish pain perception so that it can continue to function in the manner that it needs.NEEDS, however, is subjective because we triathletes choose to put our bodies under such stress. At the same time, we live and learn, and then move on to try to be better versions of ourselves each day, each race, and hopefully each living moment. Sometimes we don't know how far we are willing to go until we are pushed to our limits...."