Racing Blind : Crystal River 1 Race Report

Ready to get this started
Win or lose, in every race you learn something.
If you do well you learn what worked for you in order to keep doing it. When you have a bad race you learn what mistakes you made in order to not repeat them.
Unless you’re like me of course, stubbornly clinging to bad habits like luggage, dragging it from race to race and then wondering why my results are not improving.
My most recent race, Crystal River 1, was supposed to be my “rebirth” from last year’s disappointing results. It was supposed to be proof of what training my ass off results in. It was supposed to be under 1:45:00. But with all my training, all my nutritional gains, someone forgot to fix my head.
Where the head goes, so goes the race.
Like I said though, each race brings a learning experience, and I have learned from this one as well.
I learned that my RPE (Rate of Perceived Effort) is WAY off. I had to race this race “blind” due to my Garmin crapping out on me and still waiting for it to be returned fixed. I thought that I should be able to tell, by reading how my body felt, what pace and speed I was at. I was wrong, but more on that later.
I learned that I have used my weight as a crutch; a reason to not perform better on the run. That stops now.
I learned that I need to accept the fact that I am going to hurt during a race and to learn to deal with this pain and push through.
I learned that all of those laps in the pool seem to be paying off finally. At least one good thing came from this race.
I learned that my nutrition pre-race and during the race is not right.
So with all that said, let’s do a race report.
The day started out great. No nerves at all. We got up early, had everything ready to go. It’s the best thing about this race series, because I know it’s a doable race. The only issue I had was the pre-race plan for nutrition. I had it in my head to make a fat coffee (which I failed to do) and then before that, on the ride to the race site, drink water with 1 scoop of Generation Ucan. This did not happen either. I have a problem eating or drinking anything in the morning, especially at 5:00 AM, and I think this might be adding to my race performances, or lack thereof.
We got to the race in plenty of time, got a great parking spot right by check in, got our numbers and set up transition. As per plan, we grabbed our swim gear and headed to the water. The air temperature was 70 degrees and the announced water temperature was 82 degrees. Very nice. It was the same as last year, where we end up staying in the water to keep warm. Nice change of pace from other races we do. This race was also the first one I tried to do wearing contact lenses, and besides the fact I had the right one in backwards the whole race, it went very well. A good decision on my part, being able to see the entire time was nice.
The swim was great. I had a personal best of 9:07 (2:14/100m pace) which was good to see since the rest of my training has not been translating the same way as the swim. The good part of this is that I think I can go even faster. My objective as I stood waiting for my wave to start was to catch someone in the previous wave. I caught 5 of them. My next goal will be to catch 8.
I came out of the water feeling good, even though I did not have a clue to how fast I was at the time. I took way too long in T1, so next time I go sockless. Another lesson learned. I need another type of shoe as well. I currently use Scott Python’s, which I love, but in transition they slow you down by having to crank them tight. I have a pair of Maverick triathlon shoes, which are great because they have one strap, but my feet cramp when I wear them. Not so bad on a Sprint race like this, but after 56 or so miles it hurts like hell. I need to look into this more.
Mistake #1 was evident on the bike immediately. I forgot water. What kind of idiot forgets water for a race?
This guy!
I was also racing blind, as I had mentioned before. I felt like I had hit a great stride, and joined in

with a group of three that seemed to be going the pace I was ok with, and started zoning out. Big mistake. About 4-5 miles in Jennifer caught me (I had beaten her in the swim by 3-4 minutes and she caught me that quickly). She yelled something at me as she flew by (I think it was along the lines of “get your lazy slow ass moving JC or you’re walking home, you Bastard!” but I could be mistaken) and I realized I was going much slower than I thought I was. I asked the guy behind me what his speed was, and he answered “a little above 14 mph”).

Shit!
My normal pace is between 17-18 mph, and have been training at a much higher pace, so I knew at that point my splits were done. I pulled out from behind them and started cranking as hard as I could. I never caught her, but no one after that passed me. By that point I know my bike portion was messed up. This is where I need to get better for certain. I need to be better at perceiving my speed regardless of my access to a watch or other electronic. I worked on this during my ride yesterday. I had a Motorola on my wrist, but would try to guess my speed at certain intervals then would check the watch. I sucked at first but was getting better by the end of the ride. I will keep working on this through the summer.
As an FYI, my training ride yesterday was 18.04 miles and my pace was 18.2 mph. Proof once more that I can do this speed.
The run was, well, the run. This is where my “come to Jesus” email with KC came from. I use my weight too much as the reason I cannot run, and I need to stop it. KC pointed this out to me in her Sunday spanking email. As she so eloquently pointed out, there is a difference between pain and injury. I can no longer use my weight nor pain as an excuse. Only if I am truly injured. I am going to do my best. Run my hardest. On that note, though, let me say this. I recently got an email from Jon Smith of Fit Fat Fast and he made a good point to me. It is hard to understand the pain we have when running if you have never had to do it. I am not going to use it as an excuse any longer, though.
What is the takeaway from this race? It is based in nutrition, being prepared, and driving more during training. The bottom line, though, is mental. I need to get harder (I know, I know … “that’s what she said”). I need to get tougher. Jennifer and I had the discussion after the training yesterday. The question is, can you change yourself in that way. I had written a blog post last year called “Killer Instinct” addressing my lack of it. Can you develop one at this time in your life if you’ve never had it? Jen pointed out that I had developed one in the swim, which has always been the hardest part for me mentally. I now stare at the wave divisions and know I am not letting anyone by me in my group, in the group behind me, and that I will catch the previous wave. So if I have developed that mentality in a discipline that previously scared the crap out of me, why can’t I develop it in the other two that I have never been scared of?
As far as nutrition, I have some other thoughts but will save it for another post.
Hope you enjoyed the read!
Swim Calm … Bike Strong … Run Steady

2 thoughts on “Racing Blind : Crystal River 1 Race Report

  • May 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm
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    you improved your swim… something I have yet to do.

    and it sounds like you figured out and fixed your bike issues.

    it's funny that many of us say that we are only racing against ourselves… yet find another gear when “Bob from accounting” passes us in a race. 🙂

    Just my $.02 but nutrition and (gasp!!!) hydration are basically irrelevant for a <2 hour effort.

  • June 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm
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    I completely undertand the running comments. You made me realize that I have also been using my weight as an excuse for my runs. I will never be fast, but I can certainly do much better than I am currently doing. Thanks for the inspiration!

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