Tuesday, September 20, 2011

AC International Triathlon

This weekend marked my second to last triathlon for the year...getting me ready for my big athletic endeavor this year (and ever), the Poconos 70.3 Half Ironman which is fast approaching on October 2nd. 

The Race Details: The Atlantic City International Triathlon
.9m Ocean Swim
22 Mile Bike
6.2 Mile Run

Mine is blue and white, but same design

What's new for me this race is that I experimented with some new foods trying to stay Paleo while getting more fuel in me on the bike and I got a new race outfit.  I finally got a real tri suit.  It's from Zoot and a one piece which is great because that means my top won't ride up and I don't have to worry about pulling my shorts off along with my wetsuit in transition...but it's really tough to get on and off, especially if you're in a port-a-potty.  The good news is that I had no problem with the suit, but at this Tri we had regular bathrooms with plenty of arm and leg room, so the port-a-potty check will have to happen in the Poconos.

The Swim
I was excited for the swim, a .9m (almost a mile) ocean swim was going to be difficult but honestly the hardest part about ocean swims is getting out there and then coming back in...which I did in the Wildwood Tri, so just adding some distance once I got out there.  They shortened the swim from .9m to .6m and changed the start location around 5:30am because of conditions, they wanted the swimmers to go with the current because it was pretty strong.  When we left transition and headed down the beach to the swim start, the water was really choppy - it was windy and had been raining the night before and the water definitely didn't look as calm as it does in the website picture featured on the AC website.
Instead of flat water, there were still 8 - 10ft swells where the buoys were.  The swim course was down the beach, you go out to the buoys and then keep them on your right and swim down the beach - turn at the yellow ones (marking the first and last buoys).  The first 2 heats of men went into the water and we saw them drifting down and struggling to get out to the buoys.  A few guys had overshot the buoy and were trying to swim against the current to get back around the first buoy.  After the second wave went out and still had just as much trouble, then people started coming in and the lifeguards starting pulling people out of the water on their paddle boards and jet skis - they decided to call the swim.  I was on the beach, waiting for them to say go, and instead they said canceled.

With that I started scanning more for my husband who had been in the first wave, and walked down the beach to see where he may have come out.  I made it to the finish and saw him finish the swim and then run into transition only to find that the swim had been canceled.  He said the swim was the hardest he had every done and he wasn't the only guy there that was worried about a friend, significant other, or spouse that was also competing and how they were going to do out there in the waves.

The Bike
Since the race director was forced to cancel the swim, the Tri no longer became a Tri but an bike and run "time trial" where you are timed on the bike and run and see how you do.  I did get a an opportunity to talk with some of the ladies in my age group about tips and tricks for what to wear for a half ironman, what clothes they like on the bike when its cold, and that swimming in skins under your wetsuit worked out pretty well in an Half Ironman.  The start of the bike wasn't at the end of T1 like usual, so to space us out we lined up by wave and then they had people walk over the timing mat single file, run to the white line and then start their ride.

The Bike course was primarily on the Atlantic City Expressway - What's that you say?  Yes they actually shut down the AC Expressway for a few hours so that we could do the bike.  If you have a few minutes check out this video from the race site showing the bike course.  It was kind of crazy to be riding on the shoulder and sometimes the right lane of the AC Expressway.  The road was surprisingly smooth too, except for the jumping over the rumble strips a few times and going over the bridge on the overpass at Exit 4.  The AC Expressway North was mostly shut down, and blocked off.  The South side had the right lane blocked, and reduced traffic on it, but that still meant that there were cars.  At one point I passed a long row of cars that were backed up, most looked like they were in park and had been there awhile.  It was funny to see some of the people standing outside of their cars and taking pictures of us - I'm not sure if they were excited or if they thought we were all crazy!

The bike was WINDY, it was pretty flat since we were at the Jersey shore.  The wind gusts definately made up for the lack of hills though, there were a few times when I was ducking my head and trying to be as aerodynamic as possible and pedaling hard and looking at my computer like, how is it possible that I am only going 12.5mph!  Overall I was pretty happy with my time bike time.  I averaged about 17.5mph, and generally average about 18 - 19mph, and the 22m bike took me 1:14.  I made sure I moved around a lot, since I didn't get a chance to go to the bike shop to get my bike fit adjusted.  I'm planning to do that BEFORE the Poconos race.  I definately noticed that people were passing me with ease had some crazy bikes, I am happy with my pace and know that I could improve my time if I upgraded my road bike from an entry level one to something middle of the road or tri specfic, but at the end of the day I'm not looking to WIN the race but placing in my age group would be pretty cool.

I tried some new food to fuel my bike ride too, and had a package Peter Rabbit Organics Sweet Potato, Corn, and Apple baby food in that cool squeezy pouch.  Not thrilled with the corn, but corn doesn't have gluten in it so it's ok on my stomach.  I really liked this, it helped give me some energy and was easy to eat on the ride.  I also tried some dark chocolate covred espresso beans...these sounded good in theory but were really hard to eat and way too dry.  I liked the idea of the caffine boost but in the Half Ironman I think I'll have to find another way to get some caffine.  These also sat in my stomach and I felt like they were a little hard to digest.

The Run

It was quick to go from transition, down the red carpet and out the door to the boardwalk for the run.  We cam out of Boardwalk Hall and headed to the right (or South) for 1.5 miles, turned around and headed another 3.1 miles down the boardwalk, had a final turnaround and then finished in front of Boardwalk Hall. 
I didn't eat the honey stinger gel that I had planned on my bike since I didn't actually do the swim in this race, so I grabbed it out of my bike pouch and took it with me on the run.  I hate eating and drinking when running, so trying to eat this gel while running was going to be a challenge for me.  I had the gel over the first 3 miles, and that worked pretty well for me. The wind wasn't too bad on the first part of the boardwalk, but after I passed Boardwalk Hall the second time the wind picked up and then the sand started to blow.  At one point when I was running into the wind I had my hand covering my eyes, was running on the center line, and was barely looking up since I was trying to keep the sand out of my contacts.  A special thanks to the volunteers that were stationed down at that end making sure we turned around. I was happy with my run, my spilts were between 7:32 and 7:48 for all 6.2 miles :)  I felt great when I crossed the finish line, I still had energy, wanted some water but overall felt like I had a good race or time trial I guess I should say.

It was really interesting to have the tranistion area inside the convention hall - there was no question where to go as they said, jut follow the red carpet.  It was a bit inconvenient being inside because it was warmer than outside, so when you got outside it felt a bit cooler at first.  Also I like to use a GPS watch for my run, and that can't get itself started inside.  I just upgraded to a Garmin Forerunner 210 (only because my old one stopped working) and it doesn't have a tri mode on it, so I can't track biking on it.  The good thing about it though is that it finds the satelites in a fraction of the time that my old one (the 205) took.  So I kept it on during my bike, and when I ran outside for the run it located the satelite right away and I instantly got a reading.

Final Wrap Up
So after completing the AC Time Trial, am I ready for the Poconos?  Doing a longer tri instead of a sprint one as the last tri experience before the Half Ironman was something I mentally needed to do.  It's very different doing a 12 mile bike and then jumping to a 56 mile bike, so hopefully my experience with this "middle distance" tri will help me mentally.  Although I'm really bummed I didn't do the swim at the same time I'm really glad that I didn't do the swim.  I feel strong in the swim and am not worried about the 1.2 mile distance, let's hope I still feel that way after the Half Ironman Race!  I did much better on my nutrition this time, using the baby food and honey stinger gel.  When I finished this race I didn't feel totally zapped from energy or have an terrible headache or stomach ache like I did at the end of the Philly Olympic Tri in June.

I can tell you one thing, the training for this longer distance tri is really wearing me out.  My current bike distance record is 40.5 miles, meaning that it's still 16 miles SHORTER than what I'll have to do on race day.  I've been able to fit in a long run (11m), a long swim (~1m in the bay), and a longish bike (40.5m) along with a few brick workouts (Bike and then Run) which are important and have been doing some speed work and hills as well.  I'm still doing Crossfit twice a week, and I think that is really helping me stay strong and sane.  Basic workouts for the week are rest, Crossfit, and tempo runs usually, and then all the long stuff is all smashed into the weekend.  Now that the Poconos race is 2 weeks out, I should be starting to taper, but I have a feeling that I am going to squeeze in a second 10 - 12 mile run and try another long bike, hopefully hitting the 50 mile range.

Up next....Poconos here I come!

1 comment:

  1. You're a champ. We're working hard to make your experience better in 2012. Thanks!