Date: Sunday, June 6
Location: Buffalo, MN
Results: Sprint Results, Oly Results
Goal: None, first time at this event
Overall: 35 (724 total); top 4.8%
Overall Male Age Group (45-49): 5 (57 total) top 8.7%
It wasn't my day. I offer up the following not as excuses, but as possible answers so that I might not repeat them and also to help others.
- I had spent two days with family in North Dakota as we laid my grandmother to rest. Sort of hard to avoid the funeral of a loved one, especially my favorite grandparent. It was emotionally draining to say the least. I'm still processing it.
- Travel to and from NoDak meant that I spent ten hours on the road. I can't say it really affected training as I would have been tapering anyone and I was able to get in one run. But the legs were dead. I'm not sure if this can be viewed as an issue as I had no problems with my drive to Arkansas earlier in the year.
- Over hydration possibility. Here's where I want to focus some time, offer up some facts and also hear from my fellow tri-geeks to see what they think. I really encourage some comments here! So let us dive into what I think bothered me the most at Buffalo.
During swim warm up I noticed that my hams were on verge of cramping up. Some toes did cramp up. This was highly unusual. Sure, that happens at the pool sometimes towards the end of a work out. But never in warm ups.
On the bike, my hands were experiencing cramps. I was becoming, shall we say, overtly concerned. So what was going on?
Optimal nutritional support for endurance athletics means consuming the right amount of the right nutrients at the right time. You can neither overload nor under supply your body without compromising athletic performance and incurring detrimental results. The principle of avoiding both too much and too little especially applies to hydration, where serious consequences occur from either mistake. If you don’t drink enough, you’ll suffer from unpleasant and performance-ruining dehydration. Drink too much, however, and you’ll not only end up with impaired athletic performance, you may even be flirting with potentially life-threatening water intoxication.
One of the most respected researchers on hydration, Dr. Tim Noakes, studied the effects of thousands of endurance athletes and noted that the front-runners typically tend to dehydrate, while over hydration occurs most often among middle to back-of-the-pack athletes. Both conditions lead to hyponatremia (low blood sodium), but through different processes. Excess water consumption causes what is known as “dilutional hyponatremia,” or an overly diluted level of sodium and electrolytes in the blood. This is as bad as under-hydrating in regards to increased potential for muscular cramping, but has the added disadvantages of stomach discomfort, bloating, and extra urine output. And, as mentioned earlier, in some unfortunate circumstances, excess hydration can lead to severe physiological circumstances, including death.
The last few races it seems I have been reaching a point early in the bike where I reach the puke stage. I never do, I just feel like I'm going to hurl and then it goes away. And leading up to the gun, you can find me in the line for that one last 'nervous pee', which may in fact not be nerves at all, but over hydration?
Unfortunately, endurance athletes too often adopt the “if a little is good, a lot is better” approach. This can lead to significant problems when you’re trying to meet your hydration requirements. All it takes is one poor performance or DNF due to cramping and you start thinking, “Hmm, maybe I didn’t drink enough.” This was me at Buffalo. I'd been cramping up in the calves the last couple of races. Next thing you know, you’re drinking so much water and fluids that your thirst is quenched but your belly is sloshing and you’re still cramping. Remember, both under supply and oversupply of fluid intake will get you in trouble.
How much should one drink? One expert, Dr. Ian Rogers, suggests that between 500-750 milliliters/hr (about 17-25 fluid ounces/hr) will fulfill most athletes’ hydration requirements under most conditions. I believe all athletes would benefit from what Dr. Rogers says: “Like most things in life, balance is the key and the balance is likely to be at a fluid intake not much above 500 milliliters (about 17 ounces) per hour in most situations, unless predicted losses are very substantial.”
Let's get into the race segments.
Swim - 1/4 mile (440 yards)
Goal - None, as this was my first time at this venue. Was hoping for under 7:20
Time - 6:03 (1:23 per 100 yds)
Overall Rank - 60th (724 total)
AG (45-49) Rank - 7th (57 total)
Buffalo Lake is apparently low this year so the start was essentially wading, jumping and sloshing to a point where you could actually begin to swim. I felt good through the first half. The second half I took in several mouthfuls of water and had some mild panic but was otherwise fine. But my mind was just not right. I kept thinking, "there is just no way I can do 1500-meters next weekend at the Liberty Oly." It's never a good sign that you are in a race and looking towards the next one, especially with glass-half-empty attitude.
Otherwise, I was extremely pleased with the time. The DeSoto Water Rover was a bit warm, but again performed flawlessly.
Goal - None, first time at event
Time - 2:26
This is a fairly long transition, but not overtly horrid. There is a steep hill/ramp that one had to navigate to get out of T1 but otherwise this was a good transition setup. I had only minor issues with the wet suit removal.
Bike - 13 miles
Goal - None, first time at event, but wanted over 22 MPH
Time - 36:34 (21.0 MPH)
Overall Rank - 41st (724 total)
AG (45-49) Rank - 7th (57 total)
I was never comfortable during the bike, as spoken to earlier. I started out fine, but once we got into the hills it sort of all fell apart on me and I never regained form. I just felt sort of ill, and I was really struggling with some of the grades that should really not have bothered me that much. I never got into attack mode. I got passed a half dozen times, and simply could not respond.
Goal - None, first time at event
Time - 1:30
This was actually very smooth for me. I had no issues with cramps during the switch into racing flats. I went out the T2 exit intent on trying to make up some lost time.
Run - 3 miles
Goal - None, first time at event, but wanted to be under 6:40 per mile
Time - 20:21 (6:47 per mile)
Overall Rank - 32nd (724 total)
AG (45-49) Rank - 3rd (57 total)
The first 1/3 of a mile of the out-and-back course was pretty painful as it seemed like both hamstrings wanted to cramp up on me. I was worried I was going to have to walk and stretch it out. I shortened my steps and everything came back for me. I was clicking pretty good and remained strong through the whole run. I'm sure I could have gone harder. I was just trying to spy ages on the back of legs to see if I could pass anyone in my age group. I passed two, little good that it did me as it was not to be a podium day for me.
I liked the event. The lake has a great sandy bottom. It was well run and organized and everything held to schedule. Could have use a few more biffies, but then, everyone always complains about lack of those! The bike course (oval) was challenging, but not horribly so. The last 1/2 mile of the bike was a little weird navigating through some back alleys and side streets. And the roads were a bit rough in some spots.
The run (out-and-back) was flat. It was congested at times as you were competing with the bikers coming in in conjunction with runners going both directions. And there was a few areas of back alley moments were it was really crowded. I'm nit picking. If you've not done the event, I think it is one you should consider.
The goody bag was sweet. A nice mesh bag, a water bottle, and a t-shirt. The finishers medal was very nice as well, on pare with some of the better finishers medals out there today.
And as always, I met a lot of nice people. I must have been looking very handsome today as I had a lot of the 40-49 chicks asking me a ton of questions. The Well Kept Wife™ might want to start appearing at these events instead of ranging in her garden!?!? The questions posed ranged from my bike setup to the calf compression sleeves I wore. Which worked well under the wet suit and since I didn't have a calf cramp...did their job?
Next Event: Liberty Olympic Distance triathlon. Prediction - I won't make it out of the water.