To tell you the truth, I was not looking forward to the Mighty Magnolia. This is the 4th year of our local race and I have never done it. I have volunteered several years but there was always a reason I was unable to compete.
I let things get in the way so I would not have to race. You see, I hate racing this late in the year. By the time October rolls around I have already peaked, crashed and peaked again. I am worn out from the summer. I have also already started my marathon base building.
But this year was different. I signed up for the race the first week registration opened. I knew that if I waited I would have another reason to not sign up. Heck, last year I even had a promotional entry (that I won at an auction) that I donated to another athlete. I wished that I had gone ahead and raced last year. I regretted not competing.
But once again, by the time race week rolled around I was not excited. I must admit that it was nice sleeping in my own bed and waking up at a reasonable hour and still getting to the race site with plenty of time to spare.
Enough about my motivation, the swim was changed this year to be a point to point across the lake. The water temperature was a brisk 71 degrees at race start. I had gone out to the lake for packet pickup the night before and swum across the lake and back. I needed to try out the wetsuit. I had not worn it for about 18 months, not since the Dragonfly or Heat Wave last year. I was not concerned about my swim but I really have not been in the pool much since the summer session of Master’s Swim ended back in early August. I have been going through the paces and swimming twice a week but never more than 1500 yards at a time.
I have done this twice before, while walking across the dam to the swim start. Even though I was wearing flip flops my foot slipped and got cut. It was not enough to have an impact on the race but it was disturbing.
The start of the race is in time trail fashion. You enter the water every 3 seconds. I was number 27 so I would be in the water pretty quick. Most of the really fast swimmers were in front of me and I would never see them. When it was my turn I ran into the water and started my swim. I just swam a nice steady pace. I never got in any danger of blowing up. I never needed to slack off and catch a breath. I just motored through the water. I passed several people and got passed once or twice. My swim effort is what I call ‘water jogging.’ I often say, “I not going to win the race in the swim but I sure can lose it.” I am a much better swimmer than in years past. I exited the water knowing that I had an efficient swim. I had forgotten how much the wetsuit aids my swim. I ran up the hill into T1. I was surprised at how well I removed the wetsuit. I mean, I have not practiced this at all this year. I completed the 500ish yard swim in 8:48. Swim age group rank 2 out of 15. T1 – 1:16
I rolled out of transition and started the bike. I was surprised at how much I was struggling. I was biking hard up some of the small hills exiting the subdivision. I was not making any progress passing the bikes up ahead. I had my race wheels (HED3’s) on my bike with my race cassette. I have not had these wheels on the bike much and the shifting left much to be desired. I was already looking for another gear going up the easy rises. Turning onto the surface road you could start to feel the wind. It was whipping everyone around. I am not a strong enough cyclist to punch through a head wind. It was a challenging bike with the hills and the wind. A couple of miles into the bike my legs started to come around. I wasn’t riding any faster but I was not hurting as much. I was reeling in several riders that were in front of me. It was the second group of riders. The super fast guys were long gone, never to be seen. It took a couple of miles but soon I was in between the groups riding out in no man’s land. I never had another cyclist near me. My heart rate was steady. I was trying to cycle right near my biking LT level. I know that during our 11.8 mile TT my heart rate will average 175 BPM. However, at that level I cannot even stand after the bike, much less run. So I kept it in check and rode a solid bike. My heart rate for the bike averaged 170 BPM for the 16.5 miles. I finished the bike in 47:42 with a 20.8 MPH average. Bike age group rank 4 out of 15.
I hit the dismount line and ran through transition. From out of nowhere there was a guy racking his bike next to me. He must have come on me quick. We were right next to each other and I mentioned how windy the bike was. I racked the bike and changed shoes. Grabbed my hat and race belt and ran out of T2. I knew that I was still at the front of the second pack. There couldn’t be many behind me. T2 – 0:47
Starting the run (clipping on the race belt)
I just started off on the run. I could see someone just ahead of me. I started to pull them in. Once again I was keeping my heart rate in check. This time I was letting it rise an additional 10 BPM to 180. I made some progress and passed the next runner. I also got passed by the guy that was next to me in transition. This is a hilly run but I was feeling strong. I kept the pressure up and kept the heart rate at a solid rolling boil. This was not an easy simmer on the back burners. This was front of the stove, pot uncovered, steam filling the air, making a mess. I was having a good run. I kept the guy that passed me in sight but I was really in no man’s land again. My heart rate averaged 180 BPM for the run. This will be my new run LT training range – about 5 BPM higher than it has been. I finished the 3 mile run in 19:01 with an average pace of 6:21. Run age group rank 2 out of 15. (If my math is correct it was also the 4th fastest of the day.)
Talking with friends post race.
Total time for the race was 1:17:22 which placed me 3rd in age group (I was helped because the guy who won the race was in my age group) and 11th overall.
I had a great time at the race and I am glad that I participated. I had a solid swim and a solid run and a good enough bike. I know where I need to work.
I am proud of the intensity!