florida 70.3 - what worked and what didn't

June 22, 2011

with welland only days away and a couple of weeks to reflect on my experience in florida, here are a few things that worked and will stay the same, and a few things that didn't work and need improvement.

what worked:

bike setup
i've spent the past few seasons building up my tt bike... starting with the bike itself in 2008, aero wheels in 2009, lower, more aggressive aerobars in 2010, and a new saddle for 2011.  i've always felt right at home on my bike, as if it was designed specifically for me, and this first longer race was no exception.  everything felt solid.

swim training
while swimming may not be the focus of my training, what coach has me doing is working.  i've already  shaved more than 2 minutes off my 1500-yard time from the beginning of march.

i've made some pretty serious mistakes over the past few years when it comes to nutrition and hydration, have lost some races because of it and have learned some valuable lessons.  i'm determined not to make any of those mistakes again, and for this race i spent several weeks preparing a plan and testing it out.  i'm going to write an entire post devoted to my nutrition, so to keep things simple for this post i'll just say my homemade gels and hydration formula kept me sufficiently fueled and hydrated in florida's heat and humidity.

salt pills
this was the first time i'd used salt pills while racing and they worked so well that i don't think i'll ever race without them in the future.  to maintain a steady level of electrolytes i took one pill every 20 minutes on the bike and run.  i also popped two before the swim.

sun block
the last thing i wanted was the sun sucking more from me than necessary so i slopped on three layers of waterproof sunblock (20 - 30 mins apart) before getting in the water.  i got a pretty sweet tan out of the day and not a hint of burn.  i have to thank the slowtwitch forums for recommending Bull Frog sunblock.

what didn't work:

spare tire
i lost my spare tire somewhere on course.  it was secured with a velcro strap that was bolted to my rear bottle cage but the screw came out and the tire disappeared with it.  should have double-checked that it was secure.  an expensive blunder.

swim sighting
definitely the area where i can make the most substantial time improvement.  in the water i zig-zagged left and right and up and down and added several minutes to my time.

transition set up
another area with potential for huge improvement.  in all fairness it was a frantic set up in the dark and it was pouring rain, but i made a few oversights that cost me lots of time during the race.  next time i'll prepare everything separately ahead of time for t1 and t2.  rookie mistake for sure.

rear tire
at the end of the race when i picked up my bike from transition i noticed my rear tire was really low on air.  it wasn't flat (and isn't flat... it's perfectly fine) but something went wrong somewhere.  i most likely didn't pump it up enough during the mad transition-area-setup rush.  pumping up a disc wheel is difficult at the best of times but, again, i should have double-checked.

salt pills in bento
the salt pills definitely worked but i need to find some sort of waterproof container i can put in my bento bag.  the bag got soaked from the rain and the pills along with it.  several of them burst and stuck together.  it got pretty messy but wasn't so bad i couldn't have the pills at all.  a small detail that needs to be sorted out.

yet another thing to add to my list of things to double-check.  it's no fun having to pull off to the side to make a silly adjustment like lining up the speedometer magnet with sensor.

it's important to say that overall i feel my first 70.3 race was a great success and i'm really happy with my results, and these things are nothing more than a bunch of small, nitpicky things.  except the swim sighting.  that one really needs some improvement.  when visiting new places i'm happy to play tourist, take the scenic route, stop for a picnic, and take some pictures along the way, but when i'm racing i prefer the shortest-distance-between-point-A-and-point-B approach.  less to complain about that way.