Door County 70.3 Race Report: Confessions of a Clydesdale
Hi. My name is Matt and I’m a Clydesdale. I don’t work for Budweiser or pull a wagon full of beer. (not since college anyway) Rather, I’m triathlete of a certain size.
Now that that’s off my chest, I have a confession to make. I long to be a thoroughbred. This causes me to suffer from a condition that is all too common in the world of triathlon. I am prone to measuring my success based on the success of others. When you’re on a team like Madison Multisport, those “others” are some ridiculously hardworking, fast and talented athletes.
Why does this matter? Well, when you put in almost 5 hours to complete the Door County 70.3, you should feel good about yourself. You should feel proud. The vast majority of people can’t complete a half Ironman. So, rather than succumb to my affliction, I will focus on all the positives from Sunday’s race.
1) I got extra time to warm up.
The wind was pretty strong on race morning and my race start was delayed by about 42 minutes. I arrived onsite at about 6:30am which meant I had about 3 hours to get warmed up. My warm-up mainly consisted of standing around with my teammates talking about the weather and wondering when people were going to go for a run. No one did. Wetsuits went on really early because it was a little chilly out. My warm-up ended being a few sprints while wearing my wetsuit and 10 minutes in the water getting acclimated.
2) I did something new on race day and lived to tell about it.
I drank an iced coffee for the first time in my life. In fact, it’s the first cup of coffee I’ve ever had. I needed/wanted some caffeine and it was my only choice. I added a little sugar to it and actually enjoyed it. I was buzzing pretty quickly (which counts as part of my warm up) and it certainly is true what they say about coffee helping get things moving along…
3) I got to swim in a washing machine.
The delay in the start of the race was caused by wind and waves. The swim was shortened to 400M. That was a smart call by the race directors. With my late start, I got to watch a bunch of swimmers get pulled out by lifeguards. Not what you want to see before a swim, but I was confident in my ability to swim and manage the mental stress of getting battered by waves. The first 50M were relatively calm because the waves were blocked by a pier. Once you cleared the pier, it was nuts. Sighting was extremely difficult. Thankfully the course was lined with friendly lifeguards who yelled at me to get back on course.
4) I got to try out a new nutrition plan.
I had my nutrition planned out really well. My main source of nutrition was to be my bottle of Infinit bike mix. I had some salt chews in my bento. I was also going to try something new in this race - peanut butter and jelly. Well, the best laid plans fall apart when you come out of aero, hit some bumps and lose your nutrition bottle at mile 10. I watched it hit the ground and then thought, “I can’t afford to take the time to stop and get it”. I thought that because I’m an idiot and thought 30 seconds would make a difference in my race result. Lesson learned. Plus, I still had the PB&Js. I was excited to eat my first half sandwich about mile 23. I pulled it out of my bento box and in the process knocked the other half out and onto the ground. I also managed to drop a salt chew. So, I decided at mile 24 that I’d give Gatorade Endurance a try. Not too bad.
5) I learned that you can take time to smell the roses in transition.
In my race plan, I bumped up my T2 estimate to 6 minutes because I was thinking about changing clothes. I was really only going to change tops. Coach Cindi, was having none of this and asked if I was planning to spend all that time in the bathroom. Point taken. I went as slowly as I possibly could in T2 and it still only took 2:28. That’s kind of a good feeling. You can take some time to compose yourself and get ready for the run and it really doesn’t cost all that much time. Again, 30 seconds was not what kept me off the podium.
6) I’m getting close to figuring out how to be ready for the run.
Despite all my nutrition issues, I still felt really good at the start of the run. I managed my effort on the bike really carefully and even dialed back a little on the ride before the finish. I was willing to sacrifice some time on the bike to have a better run. It worked. I’ve completed three 70.3 races in the last 8 months and this is the first time I broke 2 hours in the run.
7) Having teammates on course is amazing.
I’m on a great team with great people and great coaches. Crossing paths with my teammates who were competing was encouraging every time. After Olivia yelled “Maaaatttt” as we ran past each other, I think I smiled for 5 minutes. (We’re easy to spot in our sweet orange, blue and black tri suits.) Having even more teammates on the race course cheering makes a huge difference. Teresa even walked up the bluff with me at mile 9. She did that about 10 times on the day. That was not an easy walk up a very steep hill.
All of these positives actually led me to setting a 70.3 PR by about 20 minutes (adjusting for the shortened swim). That’s amazing! Sure, it wasn’t as fast as some of my teammates, but that’s not relevant. I raced my race. I did the best I could. The fact that I still think I can do better is what gets me back out training and marching towards Ironman WI.