Race Report by Zach Jones
Good news! I’m still alive in the world of triathlon. Since the end of the school year, my training has been less than ideal and for reasons we don’t need to relive, I went from the best fitness of my life to almost two whole months off. And then instead of taking the time to get it all back, I was swamped by the MCAT all summer. Turns out studying for the MCAT up a lot of time. But then finally, after MCAT (which went pretty well, btw) and I was able to train again… But for what? I knew I wasn’t done with triathlon and since I still live in Berkeley there’s no reason to be done with Cal Tri yet either. So I made a long-term goal and signed up for Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa in July 2019. So I started training regularly again in all sports and finally saw a glimmer of my old shape in last few weeks before Davis. But indeed it was just a glimmer. My 100% Tunnel effort was a good 20s off my PR and my tempo running pace went from low 6s to low 7s. Swimming had made a slow comeback as well but for some reason I pr’ed 5 on 5 with a 1:05 average. Since mid-August after the MCAT I had been putting in 6ish hours/wk which was enough to sustain but not improve. But now, with Davis behind me and a new motivation, I return to my favorite form of journalism to discuss my experience at Davis and my plans to prepare for my big race.
I actually did PR in this race, which I said I would be upset if I did. It was a subtle PR of 10 seconds, but with the headwinds on the bike and generally a bit slower times this year, it is still notable that I’m even near where I was last year. I PR’ed the swim even after I got accidentally knocked over by a collegiate girl got out of the pool at the same time as me. I’m not super worried about my swim training since I’m continuing to improve (and bc it doesn’t matter at 70.3) and bc I have a good schedule for now. Three swims a week (M,W,Su) with around 10K. It would be nice to crank down the FPSO to 1:20 at some point, but I know that 1:25 will be nice and difficult for a while.
The reason I said I would be mad about PR’ing is bc even though I knew I was in worse shape, I had a new TT bike that I didn’t last year. Sure enough, even with the winds I PR’ed the bike split by 40s over the previous year, even with evidence that my overall shape wasn’t where it had been previously. That said, I still had the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike course ever this weekend. I felt great, spun fast, kept it smooth and tried to keep the legs fresh for the run (I knew I’d need it). I knew I could go a bit faster and still be under LT, but I am fairly happy with my pacing overall. I have big plans for my bike leg though. I really wanna put the miles in and get better at this. In order to do everything I want, I’ll need to wait till Xmas when I have money, but for now I really have to put the nice slow miles in on Saturdays as well as squeezing in good miles on other days (W, Fri, maybe Tu/Th).
The run was definitely not a PR but it wasn’t as bad as I would have thought. My running mileage has been scarce and from what tempo work I’ve done, I have not been too happy with the results. I can be at 160+ going 7:00, even 7:30 whereas last summer I could crank 6:20 pretty comfortably. But, the answer is simple. Make your runs higher quality. Go to Tuesday Tempos and follow instructions at track so you don’t crash out. But most importantly, I need to make sure I’m getting in my Sunday miles. Especially this far out from my big race, I need to be working on endurance. Raise the volume and understand what it means to work when you’re already tired. Especially on the run. I know that 13.1 at the end a long day sounds daughting, and I’m sure it will be but by putting in the long slow miles, I can move up that base layer and make myself more likely to be ready. I’d like to build my way up to 25-30 miles by January.
So in summary, Davis was a great chance to remind me why I like doing this so much. I love the training and at Davis I realized I might actually like showing it off too. Racing age-group was a great experience for me to see that it really is just for me to show myself what I can do. That’s harder to notice when you’re racing all your friends/rivals. So now I enthusiastically shift into a period of long, slow preparation for 70.3. I will hold this most of this until at least January and probably through March where I will start thinking more about race paces and speed work. Until then, I’ll continue to train, race and enjoy triathlon!