This race report was written by a good friend Kevin Petty – he placed 2nd in the Male 50 and over category. He is a good friend and great competitor.
This race report is to highlight some of the mistakes I made at the 2016 ToughMan Indiana Half-Aquabike.
Race Prep: My training was spot on. I had fast swims in the pool, and I prefer to work bike speed in killer Trainer Sessions where I max out the resistance and try to maintain a 25 MPH avg speed over 50-60 miles. Done & Done.
For pre-race nutrition I go with Genesis Pure Sports Nutrition Products – E2 and Moomiyo Edge; and UCAN. The E2 is for energy, and the Moomyo Edge makes the body more receptive to oxygen intake. UCAN is supposed to help my body use its fat for energy, so no-to-low Carbs or High Sugar content on race day. I got out of Carb loading last year and it’s been good.
For on-course nutrition I went with my UCAN & Hammer Perpetuem Sludge Mixture. And for hydration, I just went with water in my Camelbak.
Lastly for Anti-Cramp Defense I go with ItsTheNerve. I pop a bottle before the swim, a bottle before I mount up, and a third bottle at around the 26 mile mark of the ride.
My good friend Wayne Robinson did the 70.3, and we arrived at the race location at around 05:30 and found an excellent place to park, which was within 100 feet of the transition area. It was raining when we got there, but the forecast had the rain stopping about 45 minutes before race time, and then it was going to be low 60s throughout the race. Forecast was right.
We took our stuff to the Transition Area and set up. All I needed was my bike, helmet, shoes, CamelBak, fuel, and socks. I normally don’t wear socks, but it was cold, so I figured I’d need them. After I got set up I went back to my car and put my wetsuit on, and then proceeded to mistake #1 – No Warm Up Swim. When I made it to the lake, I stepped in and my feet got real cold real fast, and so I made the snap decision to not do a warmup swim. Bad idea. I swim a lot faster after a good 400 meters of warm up. Still, it didn’t kill me, it just cost me a little time.
So I stand around waiting for the race officials to give a course briefing. Bad thing about needing hearing aids is that when they give a course briefing and my hearing aids are in the car cuz I don’t race with them, I miss instructions, a lot of instructions. But I heard most of what they said, so I thought I was good to go. But herein lies mistake #2 – Ask For Specifics. When they told us to go around the yellow buoy on the return trip, I mistakenly thought they meant the one we had to go by first on the way out, not the one that was 20 feet from the swim exit. More on that later, and it did cost me some time. But for now, let’s swim!
The Swim – 1.2 Miles: We did a time trial swim start where each athlete started alone with 3-5 second intervals between each one. We were seeded by race number and so I was way in the back. I liked starting near the back because I like passing people on the bike. I figured there would be plenty of folks ahead of me, so I was looking forward to going into ‘see, catch, pass’ mode on the ride. When I hit the water I immediately got jolted by the cold. The wetsuit helped, but it was still very cold. It was an out and back 1.2 mile swim in which the turn around point was a small island. We had to follow three yellow buoys to get to the Island, and then four orange ones on the way back.
I’m very good at open water swimming, and I love it… when I can see. Mistake #3 – Old Crusty Goggles. I didn’t have any new goggles with me, but I had two pair of tinted goggles that I thought would be fine. I put baby shampoo on the lenses, then lightly buff them. This keeps them clear and fog free for the duration of the swim. Not if they are old, crusty goggles with a bunch of scrapes on them. To make matters worse, the buoys were so far apart I had trouble finding them, so I had to resort to hoping the people I followed were going straight. I know I didn’t go straight because when I’d finally spot the buoy it was not directly in front of me, so I had to make adjustments in the water to go straight. This took time. To my surprise I passed a whole lot of people in the water. That was fun. I made it to the island, swam around it, and headed back. The Orange buoys were easier to find, so I kept a good line on the way back, and then I went way off course because I swam toward the wrong yellow buoy at the exit. A kayaker had to flag me down and send me to the right one. I easily lost a good minute to two minutes, but no matter, I was happy to get out of that cold water and get on my bike, but something was not quite right in T1.
Swim Time (From My Garmin): 39:03 1:49/100 Yards
T1 – Way Too Slow. The event didn’t have a lot of volunteers, so there were wetsuit strippers who help swimmers pull them off. It took forever to get mine off. And then I’d decided to wear socks because it was cold. Try putting socks on when your fingers are numb from cold. The only blessing was the air temp was a lot warmer than the water, so I did start to warm up.
Wayne got in to T1 just after I did, and he was out about a minute before I left. This slow transition ultimately cost me the race. But, once I got all of my stuff on and was ready to roll, I went into ATTACK mode. Time to Ride!!
The Bike – 56+ Miles: The only time I’ve wrecked my bike at speed was in a turn on a rainy day. I’ve fallen over plenty of times, but have only had one ‘Lose my Skin’ wreck. I had that in the back of my mind because it rained earlier so the roads were still wet. The first major turn before we got on to the main part of the race course was a round-a-bout. I was right behind a guy as we went into the turn, but I’d slowed down because I didn’t want to have a repeat of my crash. Sure enough the guy ahead of lost traction and went sliding sideways like he was stealing second base. Some sportsman I am, I laughed when it happened because there was no damage done. He may have lost some skin, but he looked fine when I passed him.
The bulk of the bike course was a huge rectangle that was about a 24 mile loop. The first long stretch was a gradual uphill. Nothing steep, but long, and into a headwind. I’d mentioned earlier in the week that if I didn’t ride the course at 23 MPH if it had no hills, or 20 MPH with hills that I’d give my bike away and retire from Triathlons. That first long stretch of road I was waving bye-bye to Darth Blur IV because it was all I could do to hold 15-18 MPH. Mistake #4 – Seat Adjustment. Riding on my trainer, and riding on the road require different seat heights, and I forgot to raise the seat before the race, so I wasn’t getting the most bang for the buck in my legs. Throw in that it also takes 15-20 miles of riding before my legs are warmed up enough to go into sustained high power and speed. So I was worried. But it was soon to get a whole lot better.
After riding through the long incline against a headwind, the course got really fun. What goes up, must go down, fast, really, really, really, fast. The return section I had mad speed. I effortlessly hit and maintained 25 MPH, and for long stretches I kept it between 27-29 MPH. And I flew past riders like they were standing still. I loved it, until Mistake #5 – Pay Attention Idiot!! I was doing 28 MPH at the time I went past one guy and I’m all poised to ride hard and collect up other riders. What I should have been doing was paying attention to the turn-left arrow instead of looking at my speedometer. I saw the arrow just as I went past it, so I had to slow down, turn around and get back on course. I lost a good 20-30 seconds by going off course. But this made me mad and I pushed even harder to maintain a high speed.
At about the 26 mile mark I drank down my second bottle of ItsTheNerve, and that gave me confidence that I could hammer out the rest of the race cramp free, which was the case. At about mile 30 Mistake #6 – Fuel Up Dude! kicked in. I started to get hungry, and my calories and energy sustainment sludge was in my water bottle, but I hadn’t touched it. My game plan was to drink a couple gulps every ten miles. If I’d done that I wouldn’t have gotten hungry. I was worried that being hungry would sap my energy, but I was fine after drinking about half of what I had. On to the second loop.
I rode a little bit faster on the front end of the second lap. Still not great, but I kept it between 17-20 MPH with most of it being in the 18-19 range. But the return trip was just as fast and when I got to the bike dismount, Mistake #7 – Finish the Race! happened. I’ve done a whole lot of Aqua-Bike races and time stops when the bike crosses the timing mat. Not the case for this one. We had to dismount, rack the bike, and run up the hill about 100 yards to the finish. I didn’t know that, so I took the first load of my gear and put it in my car and was carrying my second load when a race official told me that if I was an Aqua-Biker that I needed to cross the finish line. At that point all I could do was laugh and run up the hill. I lost a good 7-8 minutes of clock time. I don’t think that hurt in the overall, but the teaching point is don’t assume the race is over when your bike crosses the timing mat. Evidently, not all Aqua-Bike races are made the same.
I don’t know how many people I passed on the bike, but it was a lot, and only one guy passed me, and sure enough, he had the same bike model that I have, so I didn’t feel bad. Go P5s!!
Bike Split (From My Garmin) – 2:39:28 21.5 MPH (I get to keep Darth Blur IV)
– Jesus. The Lord is my strength. With Him I NEVER fail.
– Mike Borger, AKA the ‘Pit Crew’ at Outdoor Ventures in Radcliff, KY. Man, you got DB IV dialed in perfectly yet again.
– Andrea N Wayne Robinson, thanks for doing the event with me. And congrats on a nice race yourself. You rode faster than I did this time. This time… LOL I owe you one.