Tuesday, July 12, 2011

REV3 Portland Race Report - 3 Important Lessons

picture: Dave Erickson films me pumping up my tires pre-race.

I've never done a "REV3".

For those of you who don't know what it is, it has absolutely nothing to do with car engines or a re-enactment of the Revolution.

Instead, REV3 is a triathlon series, and actually pretty well known for being a "family-friendly" race, meaning that they have a bouncy castle at the race expo and you can carry your family, aunt, uncle and small dog across the finish line.

Ultimately, at the last minute, this Half-Ironman distance race was moved to a new location and completely redesigned course as the race directors were forced to change venues, and I was surprised to find a well-organized expo and race setup despite this conundrum.

They even had more than 3 porta-potties, bless their heart.

I tried a new training protocol for this race, and it went like this:
  • M: Upper Body Lift for 1 Hour, 60-90 minute full court basketball (ride bike to gym for basketball)
  • T: 30 Minute Swim, 1 Hour Tennis
  • W: Low Body Lift for 1 Hour, 60-90 minute full court basketball (ride bike to gym for basketball)
  • R: 30 Minute Swim, 1 Hour Tennis
  • F: Massage with Tim Gilreath from Therapproach (ride bike to massage), yoga or stretching in afternoon.
  • S: 90 minute Sufferfest bike (indoors), 30 minute swim
  • S: 60-90 minute run
I plan on using this same protocol to start training for Ironman Hawaii World Championships, but starting in August, I will extend my weekend bike ride to be 2-3 hours, my run to be up to 2 hours, and my weekend swim to be up to 4K. I'm also going to start using my new Elliptigo outdoor elliptical trainer as a substitute for 1-2 bicycle or run sessions.

Anyways, I learned three important lessons during this race, and here they are:

First Important Lesson: Sometimes the Straightest Route Isn't The Best

The swim took place in Blue Lake, a flat, fast, rectangular swim.

As is customary in most triathlons, for the first 200 meters of the swim, everyone is a rock star. Our wave of "under 40 year old guys" was rough and congested until we go to the first buoy, at which point the experienced pacers begin to separate from the people who just sprint until they hit a wall of fatigue.

Knowing that 3 waves of swimmers were ahead of our wave, I made a decision to avoid swimming "through" the other waves of swimmers, and instead I swam a bit of a curving line across the rectangles. This meant I couldn't draft, but when you're swimming through groups of swimmers, it's tough to draft anyways.

As a result, I was by myself the entire swim - relaxed with clear, smooth water, easy sighting, and nobody to swim around. It wasn't the straightest route around the rectangle, but I came out of the water in 28:12 - relaxed, in 8th place overall, and full of energy to sprint the quarter mile run up into the transition area.

Second Important Lesson: It's Hard To Catch Someone In A Tailwind

Immediately, I made it a chore on the bike to work my way up to the leaders - while attempting to pace myself enough to where I wasn't exhausted. The REV3 Portland bike course was:

-Out into a headwind
-Back with a tailwind
-Repeat 1x

At the first turnaround, I split the leader, my friend and fellow Pacific Northwester Derek Garcia, about 2 minutes ahead of me on the bike. At that point, I was in 4th place, with two other riders between Derek and I.

Once we made it into that tailwind, I knew I wouldn't make up much time on the leaders, since a tailwind is a great equalizer when it comes to bicycle racing.

Here is where I made my biggest race error. Once we turned back around to ride into the headwind for a second time, I held back too much. I should have sacrificed my body going out into the headwind so that I could make up time on the leaders that I probably wouldn't get in the tailwind.

Instead, I wasn't aggressive enough, and came off the bike still in 4th place and 2 minutes behind first place. And 2 minutes is a lot of time to make up on a half-marathon run.

Third Important Lesson: Use Intermediate Goals

The REV3 Portland run course, like the bike course, is flat and fast. It goes like this:

Run out and back one way...

...then run out and back the other way.

There were very few turns or hills.

In a run like that, with no terrain undulation or cornering, it can become monotonous and painful as you use the same running muscles over and over again.

So I used the trick I always use on a course like this: set intermediate goals.

I split the run up as follows:

Get to mile 1.

Get to first turnaround.

Get back to park.

Get halfway to second turnaround.

Get to second turnaround. Start to run harder.

Get halfway back to finish line.

Get to 1 mile left.

Get to finish line.

This strategy of setting intermediate goals really helped keep me "focused in the pain cave", and I ran a 1:26 half.

It wasn't fast enough to catch the leaders, but it was fast enough for:

1) Winning my division.

2) Racing a 4:15 Half, with a 28:12 1.2 mile swim, a 4:20 quarter mile run and wetsuit change from swim to T1,  2:16 56 mile bike, a 24 second T2, and a 1:26 half-marathon. I was very happy with this, especially considering I'm now running just once a week, and not riding longer than 90 minutes.

Big thanks to my sponsors! See below how I put my gear and nutrition together for this race.

REV3 Portland Triathlon Gear:
Race Kit: Champ-Sys One Piece Custom Triathlon Suit
Wetsuit: Synergy Sports Hybrid
Bike: Gray Storm TT
Helmet: Gray Aero Helmet
Wheels: Gray 9.5 Carbon Clinchers with Latex Tubes
Components: SRAM Red, SRAM return to position levers, SRAM Quarq crank
Seat: Adamo ISM Road Saddle
Cleats: Look KEO Blade
Bike Shoes: Specialized Trivent
Running Shoes: K-Swiss K-Ruuz
Sunglasses: Zeal Slingshots
Fuel Belt: Did not use. GU provided on run course aid stations.

REV3 Portland Triathlon Nutrition:
2 hours before race: 2 scoops LivingFuel SuperGreens with 1 teaspoon peanut butter and 1 sweet potato + 2 capsules CapraColostrum
30 minutes before race: 1 Nutrarev, 1 Energy28 and 1 delta-E, 20 Sprays Magnetic Oil, 10 Master Amino Pattern capsules, 8 Extreme Endurance (experimented with these for this race...)
5 minutes before race: 1 caffeinated GU Roctane
Every 20 minutes on bike: 1 GU Roctane
Every 30 minutes during entire race: 2 Millennium Sports Athlytes
End of each hour on bike: 4 GU Chomps
Every 3 miles on run: 1 GU (from an aid station)
Post-Race: 8 Recoverease


Chris said...

Im amazed at your ability to consume as many calories on the bike as you do.

I have about 20 lbs on you (I'm 6'5") and anything more than say 220 per hour and I just feel sick.

Brian said...

That's a crazy workout protocol, very impressive. How do you summarize being able to get that kind of fitness from non sport specific exercise? Is it knowing how to work at the right intensity, regardless of sport?

Ben Greenfield said...

Brian, I would say that the running from tennis and bball are sport specific in that they're...running...

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Chuck said...

Nice race Ben and great run! Your run is really getting faster!