That was hot. And hilly. Not the big climbs I train for, but a never-ended slow grind of smaller hills that wear you down again and again and again.
|Repeat offender for the cutest finisher award.|
I ran the marathon portion of the Vineman 140.6 triathlon as part of a relay team, and it was hot. I went out at my target pace, about 8:30 mpm, which would normally be sustainable. I quickly realized it wasn’t, and near mile four, I decided that it would no longer a race for time, but a challenge to make a consistent effort with a strong finish.
The course is a triple out-and-back on a grid of rural roads emanating from Windsor high school. The start was surprisingly fun, because while you can predict a swimmer’s time to within 10 minutes, a cyclists time can be off by an hour or more, either way. So I warmed up to be ready to go an hour before his earliest expected time, and then hurried up and waited. In the hot sun in the middle of the afternoon.
I had woken up early to watch the swim and the swim-to-bike transition. This race is so damn long that I then went about my day, having lunch, playing with the kid, etc, etc, until it was time to get out the door a second time.
Back to mile 4. I flipped my GPS watch to the heart rate display and decided to ignore everything else and focus on maintaining a HR zone, since it’s one thing that doesn’t lie about how hard you’re working. It’s very easy for me to go too fast in heat and to quickly overheat/get sick/get tired/crash and burn/wait/hope/recover/etc/etc. Like the middle portion of Lake Sonoma this spring. I found myself running about 75% of the time and speed walking about 25% of the time to keep things under control, and I went with an ice bandana on the neck, which worked amazingly well at keeping me cool.
While the race was hot, it had this weird mix of dry rural farm road and pretty wine country vistas in the distance. Most everyone was slogging. Granted, I hadn’t biked over 100 miles, unlike a lot of the field. At mile 22, SS passed by on the way out as I was headed in, wrapping up his full 140.6.
At mile 22 I let my target HR creep up one beat per mile and let it go completely in the last half mile, speeding up whenever I passed some landmark that I was deciding on the fly. RR and RN joined in as I came in to the finish, and we ended up second in our relay division at 12:50 overall. I ran 4:53ish, which I did’t even bother to check until two days later, since I was quite happy with how I executed this race and how well the finish went. Even being a 140.6, I was surprised at how few sub-4-hour finishers there were.
|The front of a 2.4 mile swim is eerily quiet.|
Things done well:
- Ice bandana
- Using a target heart rate to maintain pace
- Strict management of pace increases toward the end let me finish strong, and feeling rather well over the next few days, considering I ran an ultra and a marathon in a week.
Things to improve:
- Walk into hot races with an ice/HR management plan right from the beginning. I had to learn this stuff as I went, but fortunately, I found a comfortable place pretty quickly.
- Heat training?
- Put a jacket in the finish line bag, even it's in the 80s during the race.