It was my second time doing the Boston Triathlon (and my second Olympic distance). Last year, my only two goals were: to finish it and have a good time. I didn’t put a lot of hours into training but this year I wanted to use this race as a preparation for my first Ironman Lake Placid 70.3 in September. For this reason, I was expecting to do reasonably better.
I officially started training for Lake Placid 70.3 in March. I’ve been using TraineRoad’s training plans, but mostly for the bike part. Since I’m a terrible swimmer, I’ve been trying to swim 3 times a week and run 3/4 times. In a good week I managed to train for 6h/7h, peaking at 8h (due to long bike rides), but in a not-so-good weeks I only trained for 3h/4h, or less. You know, life happens sometimes. Looking in retrospect, I wish I had followed a proper training plan, instead of mixing TraineRoad’s bike workouts with scattered swimming and running workouts here and there. I can’t change that now, but at least I was consistent with my training.
Training totals (since March 1st):
- Swim: 41.00 mi / 25:34:48 - 47 activities
- Bike: 739 mi / 45:58:26 - 46 activities
- Run: 295 mi / 42:41:46 - 62 activities
I checked-in my bike the day before and I’m glad I did that. One less thing to worry about on race day. On Sunday morning, I woke up at 4:50, had my usual race breakfast (toast with peanut butter and banana), had some coffee and drank coconut water. I arrived at the race around 6am and went straight to the transition area to setup my equipment. This is something I need to practice more - more on this subject later. I put my wetsuit on and headed to the swim start.
Before I start, I’d like to quickly recap my last year’s race. As I mentioned before, I’m a terrible swimmer. My last year’s swim time was 0:39:21 (average 2:06 min/100 yd). Yes, pretty bad. But I wasn’t training 3x a week nor going as far as I did this year and I didn’t have a wetsuit. On top of that, I decided to start in the last wave, geared towards beginners. That was probably the right decision, but it delayed my start for almost an hour. So, it was a long time between breakfast and the race. By the end of the swim, I was already exhausted, hungry, thirsty and I had a hard time transitioning into the bike because my legs were cramping.
I learned my lesson. This year, I was in the second wave instead of the last. I also had a gel 15 minutes before the start and sipped water throughout the morning. When the gun went off, off I went. The water wasn’t too crowded but it took at good 5 minutes until people dispersed. Unfortunately, I could tell there was something wrong. It felt like my right arm had a restrictive movement and every stroke felt like my shoulder was being dislocated. It’s hard to explain, but it was painful. I must have put the wetsuit on incorrectly. I practiced OWS with my new Roka Maverick at least three times before the race and never had that issue. Eventually I found a stroke that wouldn’t hurt. Besides that, the swim went really well. This year my sighting was pretty good and I was able to follow the buoys closely.
Time: 0:31:50 (average 1:46 min/100 yd). That’s 7 minutes faster than last year!! I couldn’t be happier. I guess all the training paid off (and the wetsuit too!)
The transition was approximately 1/4 mile from the beach. My legs did cramp again, but this time for only a few seconds. I wasted some time taking the wetsuit off because it got stuck on the timing chip (neoprene strap) that was around my ankle. Next time, I will try to keep the wetsuit on top of the strap. I got my bike, shoes, helmet, sunglasses, a gel and a bar.
Time: 3:25 (25 seconds slower than last year - 2:50)
The beginning of the bike leg was perfect because there weren’t a lot of people on the road. Mainly the pros and people from my age group. The race organizers changed the running course, freeing the entire road for the bikes. This was an excellent change and made the course safer and faster. However, I was frustrated because I forgot that my tri top doesn’t have pockets in the back and I didn’t have a place to keep the gel and the bar. I eat the bar straight away and held the gel until the last lap (4 laps total). Bummer.
I was pushing hard on the bike because I thought that all those hours spent in the basement using TrainerRoad and watching Netflix would translate into a better time. But I guess I wasn’t taking into consideration the wind. I can’t remember how bad the wind was in 2016 (I now regret not writing a race report), but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t as strong as this year. I was constantly fighting the head-wind for almost 2/3 of the course.
In the beginning of the last lap, I took the gel in preparation for the run. Right after that, I heard a noise coming from my rear wheel. I decided to stop to check it out but I couldn’t see anything. I kept going because at that point it was only 4mi/6km until the end. The last lap was harder than the previous laps, as expected, but once I arrived at the transition I noticed my rear tire was pretty low. I was glad it was over.
Time: 1:06:03 (average 19.0mph/30.5kmh). That’s 4 seconds slower than last year (1:05:59). I’m not gonna lie.. I was disappointed.
That’s the moment I became aware that I need to practice the transition more. When I got there, I couldn’t find my running shoes. At first I thought someone took them by mistake… but I quickly realized I forgot to take them out of my transition bag. Face palm. At least I didn’t forget to take off my helmet (yeah, I’ve seen people running with their helmet on). I put my running shoes on, got my race belt and off I went again.
Time: 2:18 (16 seconds faster than last year - 2:34)
I didn’t run well last year because I was recovering from an IT-Band issue. I’m glad this is behind me now (knock on wood) and I’ve been running consistently and doing my long runs almost every weekend. My expectations were pretty high and I was hoping to keep a 8:15/8:20 min/mi pace. To my surprise, the first 15 minutes I was running at about 8min/mi. At first I thought my Garmin was acting up, but then I checked my heart rate and confirmed the higher than usual number. I was able to keep that pace the entire run, only slowing down twice to drink Gatorade. When I approached the transition area I pushed even harder, to a stunning 6:50min/mi pace to finish the race strong.
Time: 47:59 (average 7:53 min/mi). Another 7 minutes shaved off from last year’s race (55:07). I was stoked! It went much better than I thought.
I was 14:06 faster than 2016 (2:45:48).
I went into this race knowing that I was more prepared and expecting to finish reasonably faster. I’m extremely happy with both my swimming and running improvements. In reality, all the gains came from these two sports. But I can’t deny I’m slightly disappointed with my bike performance. Oh well, the only thing I can do now is to prioritize my training in the next few weeks.
My next race, Ironman Lake Placid 70.3, is coming up. This is my 2017 “A” race. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time. Lake Placid has a challenging course: 4,006ft/1220m gain on the bike and 802ft/245m on the run and it’s my first Half Ironman distance. It hasn’t been easy to find hills with that kind of elevation around Boston, MA, but I’m doing my best. I will keep training hard and get ready for it but I’m confident I have a good training base and I will be ok in the end.