Thursday, June 26, 2014
This was by far the most challenging 70.3 distance race I have done. It was also one of the most fun and I really enjoyed the race overall. Of the 70.3 distance races I have done, this was not my slowest. Muncie 70.3 holds that record from 2011. This was by far the hilliest I have done. The other races I have done were all pretty flat (Muncie x 2, Steelhead, and Deer Creek). By comparison, the net gain on the bike was never more than 700ft on any of those courses, Mohican was roughly 3,300 ft of elevation gain. The net gain on the other run courses was never over 200ft, Mohican was roughly 1,300. I chose this race this year to challenge me because of the hills and in prep for Ironman Mont Tremblant which (when doubled) will have a similar profile for the bike and about the same for the run.
My goals for this race were mainly to test my fitness level, use it as training for IMMT, and see how my ankle would do after my injury last November. Realistically after riding the course and glimpsing the run course a month ago, I fully expected an 8 hour race day and to wear the DFL title (for those that don't know, this means Dead F**king Last). Given the difficulty of the course, I assumed only bad ass athletes or those looking for a huge challenge would sign up. I felt I was part of the latter of that group.
I opted not to stay overnight in the area because I had a wedding to attend on Saturday in Columbus. So this would mean a 1.5 hour drive in the morning prior to the race. This was something I had never done before a race, mainly because I am not a morning person, so I would rather be as close to a race as possible to sleep in as late as I possibly can. But, I really wanted to attend the wedding. Which also presented an issue as I wouldn't be eating a typical pre-race meal. In fact it was very different than I even normally eat. for whatever reason, when I filled in the RSVP I ordered the prime rib. I rarely eat red meat, so not sure what possessed me to do this, but I did. So, I was already nervous about how this would affect my gut the next day. But I ate part of it anyway, as I was really hungry, filled up though with the veggies, bread, and mashed potatoes. Also had a glass of red wine and a cupcake. Figured since it wasn't my "A" race...what the hell, let's see what happens!
Race morning came far too early. I awoke with an upset stomach. Still choked down my normal breakfast and hit the road. Arrived at the race site and got everything situated in transition and hung with friends a bit. When they closed the transition area, I knew I had an hour until my wave would be getting in the water. I was really nervous so I took the time to just breath, get the wetsuit on and eat/drink a little more prior to the start of the race. I also subsequently missed whatever they were discussing at the athlete meeting as I went back to the car to get ready. Eventually I headed down to the swim area to stand around with the rest of my friends while waiting to start.
The Mohican swim area isn't easily accessible to the transition. In fact you have to go down a set of cement stairs and also about 1/4 mile of trail to get to the beach. So, the race organizers did send an email to suggest bringing shoes to run from the beach to transition, also a first in any race I had done. I found out after I got down there that one of the things covered in the athlete meeting was that they had shortened the swim to make up for the long run back to the transition area. So, people's swim times were definitely fast for this distance and that is why. The half distance is a two loop swim course. It was actually a really fast course anyway and one of the easiest ones i have done. Felt like I flew through the swim and per watch time, I was out in a little over 26 minutes. Grabbed my shoes and walked up the trail. By the time we got done it had started raining and the trail by the beach was all mud and really slippery. I saw several people almost one wipe out and one girl in flip flops who kept falling. Glad I had my old running shoes as the traction helped, but I still did it slowly. Also the hill/trail we had to walk was pretty steep so I didn't want to max out my HR right away. Took me a little over 4 minutes to get back to T1. But that was quick, I was in and out in 2:47 and that included taking the wetsuit off.
The nausea I had earlier in the day was gone by the time I got to the bike, so that was good. I gave myself 10 minutes to calm the HR and stomach down after the swim and started with cliff shots and water. After that I switched to liquid nutrition the rest of the race. This was new for me as well, but I have been wondering if all the GI issues I have had in past years was because of over saturation of stuff my gut simply couldn't break down. The bike course was as hilly as I remembered it being, but didn't seem as challenging as I remembered...guess the Zanesfield rides I had been doing were helping that. I went out less aggressively on the first loop as it had rained and the roads were wet. Didn't want to go down on a slippery curve, so played it safe. I also didn't wear a HR monitor this race. So I went entirely by feel. I tried to do more of a z2-3 effort for the first loop. Overall uneventful and I got back to the turn around area (which incidentally I missed) which added a little extra time as I added extra mileage up a hill that wasn't originally one the route. I also stopped to pee, which confirmed that my hydration was going well. Still haven't been able to pee on the bike, don't know if I ever will. Second loop felt better and tried to do more z3 and then to z4 the last 5 miles or so. I actually passed people on the bike...this never happens, so I was pretty happy with this! Overall, felt good on the bike. Time was 3:37:51. Not a super fast time, but solid for me.
T2 was also uneventful, in and out in 1:54.
The run was brutal. Hilliest run I have done. And that may even include the Big Sur Marathon. It was rollers leading out of the transition area for the first 1.5 miles, then you get to a 1/2 mile downhill that is steep. Just after 2 miles you come to the dam and the bring you down this hill.
At the bottom of this we jumped onto a trail for the next mile. It was really muddy, but fortunately pretty flat. The last 3.5 miles were into the actual park and all uphill until you get to a lookout point, which is the highest point in the park. The run is an out and back, so the good news is I then got to turn around and run mostly downhill for 3 miles, but then we had to come back up the dam hill and then back up the 1/2 mile hill at mile 11 of the run, then finish on rollers until transition. I was able to run most of the course but I did have to walk some of the 3.5 mile hill. My asthma kicked in and I had to use the inhaler, so for one segment I did a 1:1minute ratio of run:walk. I also walked up the stairs and at least part of the 1/2 mile climb. But, two things of note, my legs never felt tired (except on the dam stairs) and I never got nauseated on this run. This was huge for me! And despite the walking, my run time was a 2:30:56!
My overall time was 6:44:54, I was astounded! I also wasn't last. At least 15 more people were out on the course when I finished. And I wasn't even last in my AG group, I was 4 of 6!! So, I was more than thrilled with this race and how I did. Also, only 20 minutes slower than what I had done Muncie in last year on a much harder course. Despite the difficulty of the course, I loved it! Definitely enjoyed the race and would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone that wants a challenging race!