Despite mother nature’s best efforts to ‘cook my goose’ this past Sunday I am happy to report that I was able to get by relatively unscathed. I should say that I’ve gained a few kilos since my last race and I knew it was going to be a hot race so I wasn’t planning on setting any records. My goal for PJ was to maintain a conservative pace during the swim and bike legs so that I could hit the run as fresh as possible so as to minimize any needless suffering during the run leg. Before we go any further let me share a bit about my fueling and hydration in the days leading up to the race and then I’ll try to provide some chronological flow to how things went during the race.
Pre-Race Fueling and Hydration
3 days before race day I switched the majority of fluid intake to coconut water. Why would I do this? Check out the table below.
|*Based on value per 100g, which roughly equates to 100ml of liquid|
|Data source: USDA Agricultural Research Service|
|**Nuun data as per website: http://nuun.com.au/products/|
For comparison purposes I chose a standard market electrolyte drink (Gatorade, column A) as well as Nuun electrolyte tabs (column c), a common electrolyte supplement that is available here in Indonesia. No matter how you look at the data coconut water provides higher concentrations of minerals than Gatorade or Nuun. Just food for thought.
Besides coconut water I also made sure to down several cans of 100 Plus isotonic drink. 100 Plus was the isotonic they would be serving on course and I don’t normally drink it. So I just wanted to be sure that my stomach didn’t have any problems with it.
Unlike others I don’t stop eating fiber as I approach race day. I know what my system is like and I prefer to be regular and get as much out of my system as possible on race morning. To help with that I’ll eat a large breakfast, medium lunch, and light early dinner the day before the race. I think this worked out well as a quick trip to the toilet before swim start left me feeling light and unencumbered.
Rolling and Stretching
The night before the race I made sure to follow my regular foam rolling routine. Nothing extreme, just what I had normally been doing during training. Even if you’re not convinced on all the benefits of myofascial release at least post-roll it feels good and for me it helps my muscles to relax. After the rolling session I did a long full-body deep stretching session. This helped make falling asleep easier despite the lounge singer in the Pullman lobby doing her best to scream me awake until 10:30pm.
Race Day Breakfast
The alarm goes off at 4:30am and feels like seconds since I fell asleep. But we have a race to do so the brain goes into auto-pilot. Over a period of 15 minutes I apply 3 layers of sunblock while I eat my breakfast and get dressed. Breakfast consists of 2 bananas, 2 glasses of coconut water, and a small bowl of granola with yogurt. These are all my favourite and regular breakfast foods; nothing new or out of routine. 2 trips to the bathroom 45 minutes after waking up help lighten the load. At 5:35am it was time to gather our bags and depart for the race venue.
Transition Area Prep
I prefer to do the most of my preparation before bike check-in. That means all gels and salt stick holder is already taped to the bike; I don’t want to faff about race day morning with duct tape and gels. I normally clip my shoes into the bike and support them with rubber bands, but this time I wasn’t planning any speedy 2-minute transition runs so I just left my shoes on the ground. So, un-rack my bike and turn it around so that it is racked by the saddle, pump up the tires, bottles into their holders, fill up the aero bottle, tape 2 bananas to my aero bar (1 on each side), helmet on the aero bars secured by my race belt and on to the run prep. Shoes on the towel, left sock in left shoe and right sock into right shoe, Oakley’s into the left shoe, 910XT into right shoe, running hat on top of shoes, fuel belt on top of shoes, sun block placed right of the shoes. Why do I put things in my shoes? So I damn well don’t forget them. It’s hard to run with a GPS watch in your shoe.
Race Fueling Strategy
First, let me say that everybody is different. So what works for me might not work for you. Here’s what I planned to consume on each part of the race:
- Swim – 1 gel and 100ml of water with Nuun electrolyte tab pre-swim
- Bike – 60oz of vitamin water (about 1.8 litres) combined with 3 Nuun tabs, 6 gels, 2 energy bars, 5 salt sticks, 2 bananas. I brought a bidon of water for rinsing on the bike but I don’t drink water during the race, only isotonic or energy.
- Run – 5 gels, 3 salt sticks (but I brought 8 just in case).
All the types of food and liquid as well as amounts I have tried during long run or ride training sessions, nothing new or out of the ordinary.
Waiting in line I down my gel and polish off my super concentrated electrolyte water. I tell the wife to try and draft me as we make our way on to the dock but after 10 strokes I’ve lost her. For 600 meters the pace is brisk but manageable. As the first yellow buoy becomes visible I knock back the pace and try to find someone to draft. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to have a nice easy swim and avoid over-revving the engine. Luckily I find someone who has a similar pace and for the next 1.2km I’m just tickling his feet. 200 meters from the swim exit and its time to pee, get as much out as possible. Out of the water slowly and it’s a brisk walk to transition for me. Heart rate seems good and I can feel it settle by the time I get to the showers. So far so good.
Total swim time: 40:55
Just a casual stroll through transition.
I take my time at the bike putting on my race belt first, slide the number around to the back. Next is my spare kit which I’ve put into another belt and then the helmet goes on. Quick wipe of the feet and shoes are on, tighten things down a bit and then walk to the exit. Oops, forgot my energy bars. At least I have bananas.
T1 time: 5:16
Leaving transition to start the 2nd loop of the bike course.
Walk up to the mount area and clip in casually. Plenty of room to find a spot and not block the other competitors. A couple of pedal strokes and I am on my way. For some reason my Garmin isn’t showing my heart-rate. Peter Winata zooms by and says hi while I’m faffin about with the Garmin. A few more minutes of fiddling and eventually I get the setting right. Now the bike leg is under way. I keep the pace easy while I get my first gel, banana, and fluid into my system. I’m slowly building the effort level up to where I’m going at a moderate pace on the flats and slight inclines, but knocking it back to the 34/28 and spinning up the longer hills. My heart rate is good but I don’t pay much attention to it, instead using perceived exertion to gauge how hard I’m working. In one hour I down 2 gels, 2 salt sticks, 1 banana, and about 800ml of fluid. For the first lap the heat isn’t much of a factor and the pace is comfortable. As I leave the turn-around point in front of transition it’s encouraging to see Mahalia, Helen, Idir and some others on the corner taking photos and shouting encouragement. You guys are great.
The heat is starting to build-up but isn’t too much of a factor. I keep my pace the same as the first lap but maybe took it a bit too easy. Regardless, the second lap passes without any drama and not soon enough it’s back into transition for the run.
Total bike time: 3:22:27
I walk the bike back to rack nice and calm. I’m tired but not fatigued, overall things are looking good. I was able to get all my nutrition and hydration in on the bike. I think this may be the first time ever that I finished the bike leg well hydrated and with adequate nutrition. The bike goes on the rack, helmet off, spare tire kit off, and the first thing is to slather on a thick layer of white sunblock on my arms, neck, leg, and exposed areas around the arm openings of my trisuit. Nutrition belt goes on, hat goes on, Oakley’s, and 910XT. I sit down to wipe my feet and put on my socks before putting on my shoes. Turn the 910 on and then slather on another layer of sunblock. Which way is it to the run-out? Grab some isotonic on the way out and hit start on my 910.
T2 time: 6:05
As I left transition things got a bit complicated mentally. Am I seriously going to run 21k in this weather? Was that scale right showing that I gained almost 3kg’s since my last race? How could I have gained weight with all this training?!! Do we seriously have to do 2 laps of this crap? What’s my heart-rate? 158bpm. Oh no. That’s way higher than what I want especially since I just started the run! Gotta run in the shade, that must help, right?
I knock back my pace from 7:20/km to around 8:00/km; my standard long run pace. Cadence is steady at 89-91. By the first water station my heart rate has stabilized to the low 150’s and I’ve pushed the questions in my head out of mind. I start walking a few meters before the water station to down my first gel. Take your time, now. Water bath, great, hit that several times. Isotonic, yes, I’ll take two. Water, just to rinse my mouth. What’s this? An ice bath?! Awesome, drench myself in ice cold water and stick some ice cubes in my hat and back of my trisuit. By the time I leave the water station my heart rate is 128. Most excellent.
Towards the end of the first lap I catch-up with Maya, who had bonked on the bike and was just suffering through the run. We team up and run the rest of the race together. I don’t normally run with anyone else so it was the first time to have someone running with me. We came across Willy from Bali who had cramps during the swim and pulled out of the race. He was just doing the run leg for fun and to keep Elle company during her first 70.3 race. Not long after Han Choo passes through in his cowboy hat. At some point in the second lap we come across Ali who looks like a ghost, sitting in the shade cursing the living daylights out of triathlon. He would suffer with us for the next 8 kilometers and remind us constantly of how much he hates triathlon. Nice to have all these familiar faces on the course, it really helps keep your spirits up.
And that was basically it. For the next 18 kilometers or so I was basically sticking to my 8:00 long run pace and making sure I was getting enough nutrition and hydration at the water stations. Another important point was to utilize the water and ice baths as much as possible to get my core body temperature down. Each time I left the water stations I checked my heart rate and it was consistently below 130, which is great for me. While running in between the water stations my heartrate would get up to about 154 or so but it was manageable and it never felt out of control. Overall, my average heart rate was 147 for 21k, which is quite remarkable given the heat.
The last few kilometers to the finish were uneventful. The last 2 kilometers were tough but nowhere near the levels of deep dark suffering that I have felt in previous races (Danang and Penrith). Overall the run was excellent. I was able to maintain my regular long run pace and execute my nutrition and hydration strategy flawlessly. The run down the finishers chute didn’t have the same level of emotion as my first 70.3 race but it wasn’t any less rewarding.
Total run time: 2:58:47
They had a malfunction so the fireworks didn't go off when reached the finish.
Total race time: 7:13:30
In 2014 I did a relay for PJ with the wife. My swim time was 39:48 and my bike time was 3:13:47. What the numbers don’t show is that by the time I got out of the water my heart rate was through the roof and for the majority of the bike I was suffering from the heat, dehydration, and lack of energy. My heart rate couldn’t recover from the swim so I wasn’t able to get any proper nutrition or hydration in. After I finished the bike leg and the wife took over run duties I went and passed out for an hour in the shade. I was completely spent.
To come back in 2016 and be able to do the full race in such hot conditions and avoid any blow-ups or needless suffering brings me great satisfaction. My time isn’t the fastest, nor may it ever be, but I was able to plan and execute my race in such a manner that best took advantage of strengths and weaknesses. This was definitely my best race to date and makes me look forward to more training and more competitions in the future. I hope that everyone else was able to enjoy the race, or at least look back fondly in retrospect. Remember that the mistakes we make only make us stronger if we learn to not repeat them in future. Congratulations to all finishers and participants and see you at the next race.
Wife enjoying her well earned requisite photo with medal in front of transition.
WCC ladies with Inge Prasetyo and random bule looking good pre-race.
Abdul (right) came looking for me in transition the day before to ask for advice. Good thing he did cuz he killed it finishing in 4:36:39, just missing a podium finish by minutes. Next time, my friend.