Muncie 70.3 – 13.1 “Playing Hurt”

Below is my good friend, Kevin Petty, post race report form Muncie 70.3. He is tough  as nails, but he made the right choices of pulling out of Muncie 70.3 yesterday. He has been fighting hamstring injury for the better part of a month.
First I want I apologize to my Tri-Loco team because every finish add points for the team mission, and I didn’t contribute. It was a pleasure meeting some of the most awesome athletes on the planet at the race and it was fun cheering you guys and gals on.
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If you’ve played a contact sport, or a collision sport, you’ve no doubt had to play with an injury. My list is pretty long. Sprained ankle, hip pointer, minor – yeah right, shoulder separation, thigh contusion, sprained knee, and I NEVER missed a football game. So I tend to push my limits from time to time. Other times I don’t. Muncie was that kind of a challenge for me. The first of that challenge was simply making up my mind to even go to the race. A few days before the race my problem child (Left hamstring) began to hurt during an 8 mile run, and I pretty much ignored it and reverted back to my football days and just ran through it, but at a more controlled, slower speed and shorter stride length. This hamstring has hampered my efforts in 2 of the three triathlons I’d already done this year, so I was sure that it’d be an issue at Muncie. My thought was to just not go because I didn’t want to run 13.1 miles with how it felt. But in the back of my mind, the thought of 2 first place and 1 second place age group finish in spite of my leg was a ‘dangling carrot” cuz I will play hurt.
In my decision making process I weigh all kinds of factors, and over a couple of days after proclaiming that I’d take a pass on Muncie, I started thinking long term, and that every race is a data set that you can use to learn from. My only important personal goal for this year is to make the USA Age Group Aqua Bike National Team and go to the 2018 World Championships and not just go, but win the darn thing. So I need competition data points. The team qualification is in Miami in mid November, and I’ve got plenty of time to work on getting stronger and faster over a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike ride. Muncie presented that race condition setting for me, so as the race got closer I wanted to at least do the swim/bike legs.
I was back and forth and was leaning toward going to Muncie and just seeing what I could do, and after spinning out 50 miles and doing a very short run Friday morning from my garage to my mailbox my hamstring still hurt, so I was certain it wouldn’t be any good for a race the next day. So again, I decided against going. And then it got stupid…
The Deciding Factors: I recently bought a Wheel Cover to make my rear wheel more aero and that it would make my bike speed faster. I looked at that wheel EVERY time I passed by it in my garage and it started yelling at me. “Kev, I promise you I’ll make you faster, let’s go race!!!” lol So it fed the ‘get data points under race conditions’ concept. The other factor was I saw Gregory Garcia’s post that due to weather the athlete sign-in was extended to 4AM race day morning. So with that, I decided to go ahead and go – it was 6 PM Race Eve at that point, and Muncie is about 190 miles away = Stupid.
I had two plans. 1) If my hamstring felt normal I’d do the whole race. 2) If my hamstring hurt at all, I’d forego the run. So let’s get to the race, and see how it worked out…
Pre-Race: All kinds of Jacked-Up!
For as many mistakes that I made, one would think I’d never done a triathlon. Never mind that I was operating on fumes cuz I’d only slept about 45 minutes @ a rest stop since about 10:30 the previous night. The only good thing about arriving on site at 3:15 AM was that I got to a spot in a field right across from the transition area before the parking guys set up and pointed cars to parking spots. I parked in that exact same spot last year, so I figured I was good to go, but I asked the parking crew if I needed to move, and they told me to stay put. That was very cool. That was pretty much the only thing I did right all morning because I kept forgetting stuff and had to return to the car to get it.
Not so great morning items:
  • The Wheel cover has a tape patch that goes over the access hole to pump air into your tire. After I pumped it up, it wouldn’t stick back on because of the dew that settled on the surface. I was able to use electrical tape after I towel dried the surface.
  • Flip flops and mud is NOT a good combination. I tweaked my hamstring and jolted my back when I slipped in the mud going to the athlete check-in tent. My back is still sore from that, but it didn’t slow me down.
  • I didn’t know the exact time my swim wave started until I just looked it up a day after the race. This is the type of stuff you should know and plan around.
  • I didn’t do a warm-up swim. I always swim faster if I warm up first. And not knowing the exact time of my swim start and being too stupid to at least ask meant I spent a good 50 minutes standing around with my thumb up my wetsuit instead of doing what I should have done.
  • Forgot my electrolytes. Yep, sure did. SMH… But plan B was to grab Gatorade on the bike course, so that worked out.
Enough of the bad stuff let’s go swimming.
The 1.2 Mile Swim:
I popped a bottle of Hot Shot anti-cramp stuff before the swim because I did cramp up on the Tri-Louisville swim and didn’t want to cramp up again for this one. That worked out great. No cramps. As an added bonus I am back to swimming straight lines. Last year I veered off to the left. I like to take the inside route and tick buoys off as I get to them. I didn’t have to make any large course corrections because every time I looked up I was headed to the buoy. That allowed me to keep my head down and swim aggressively, up to a point. When we headed back to the beach’s swim exit I could not see any distant buoys due to the sun/shade combination. I wore polarized goggles, so that helped some, but the buoys were dark orange and it was like trying to find a snowball in a blizzard. They had yellow ones on the way out, and I could see several of them from water level. I couldn’t see the orange ones until I was about 50 feet from them and I didn’t see any beyond that, so it was tough to know what line I was supposed to swim cuz I couldn’t see the line of buoys. I decided to pick up a landmark that was close to the swim exit and I stopped mid swim and found an area of trees that I could navigate off of and they took me where I needed to go.
I was initially disappointed in my swim time, but it was 2 minutes faster than last year, so I am okay with that.
After the swim I had to run about 150-200 yards to my bike, so I used that run to test my hamstring. It wasn’t happy, so I made up my mind right then that I wasn’t going to run, and to just go out and attack the bike course and have fun doing so.

Muncie 1.2 Mile Swim Garmin Data – 8 July 2017
Observe the squiggly line below, that’s me swimming back to the swim exit. The straight-er line depicts the part of the course where I could see the buoys. I’m starting to like my Garmin. This is funny…

Muncie 1.2 Mile Swim – 8 July 2017
The 56 Mile Bike:
After donning my Helmet, Gloves, and Camelbak in T1 I set out to crush the bike course. I wanted to average between 23.5-24.0 MPH, so I knew I had some work to do to achieve that. The Muncie course has 2 Twenty-ish mile loops and the route to the loop is about 8 miles. When I made it to the first loop there were guys who were just starting their 2nd loop. These were the youngsters whose swim wave started 50 minutes before mine. I figured if I could ride with these guys I’d have a fast first loop. THAT was fun. Not known for my hill climbing prowess, there were a couple of guys that I’d pass on the uphill grades and then they’d ZIPP past me on the downhills and level ground. We tapped mid 30s going downhill and stayed around 27 MPH on the level grades. I had a blast.
This was the first long race that I paid attention to wattage while riding. My watts shot way up going uphill, and it was funny. To maintain 20 MPH uphill I was hitting 250+ watts in easier gears 56T/15-16T, but to go 27 MPH on level stretches of road I was hitting 220-225 watts in harder/faster gears 56T/11-12T. Put me on a road where I can comfortably ride 56/11 and I’ll give you a pretty fast bike split. But my take away from this is that I can better manage my power expenditure just by paying attention to my Garmin while riding. Don’t kill myself on the hills, stuff like that. Cuz i didn’t ride many uphills at 250 watts. I let the speed go in order to save the legs and backed off to around 230 watts on the hills.
The funny part of my ride was that I’ve got a habit of counting the number of riders I pass during long rides like this one. I made three attempts at this but never made it past “1” because I was distracted by my watch and making sure I didn’t get into a drafting situation with the fast guys on the first loop. I had to concentrate on keeping a legal distance between bikes, especially when we had a race official hovering behind us for a few miles.
The second loop wasn’t as fun as the first loop cuz the pack of guys I rode with splintered off and headed to the bike finish. That left me to ride by myself, and it was pretty uneventful. I passed a ton of riders and no one passed me. That’s how it’s supposed to be because – 250+ miles a week of high resistance, high cadence trainer rides BETTER yield speed, lots of speed.
I was very happy with my bike split and my take aways from it are…
  • Camelbaks may slow me down, but not too much.
  • The whole reason for the Camelbak was so I wouldn’t have to slow down to pick up fluid from a volunteer. No slowing down = a faster bike split. But, since I forgot my electrolytes I had to slow down twice to pick up Gatorade. That was enough.
  • I ate one Cliff bar on course and it took forever to do so.
  • I popped another Hot Shot at 30 miles and remained cramp free for the entire ride.
After I dismounted my bike, I hoped that the ride would have somehow made my hamstring run ready, so I tested it again by running my bike back to the rack. I made it about half way and abandoned the run, and the rest of the race cuz my ham wasn’t having it. Looking at my Garmin data below my right leg did the lion’s share of work on this ride. Did I mention my left leg ain’t right. LOL This reminds me. Right before the swim started, as we were entering the lake the guy in front of me fell down and I reacted in time to catch him. My left thigh didn’t like that and it hurt for a few minutes. Not sure if the power loss was related or not, but I’m still happy to be able to go fast on 1.75 good legs, and I don’t take that for granted cuz there are athletes with less than what I have, and they don’t complain, they just go and do.

Muncie 56 Mile Bike Garmin Data – 8 July 2017
I’ve read some stuff that I don’t agree with about viewing races as training events. That’s exactly what this race was for me because I wanted to test a few things over the swim/bike portions and I was able to do that. I never was optimistic about the run, I’m heading to the USAT Aquabike Age Group Nationals in November with a level of confidence that I can’t even describe. To swim two minutes faster, and to crest the 23 MPH threshold on 45 minutes of sleep… imagine what I can do with a full hour of sleep with two good legs. ;0)
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