Zenner Race Report from Gustavo Graf

This was just sent in by long time Zenner Gustavo Graf. After many seasons of injuries and burnout Gustavo came to BodyZen for coaching and has progressed each year and met his goals of a sub 5 hour Half Ironman and made USAT All American. Gustavo trains in a very organized manner and does so while working 45-50 hour per week. He works personally with Coach Lee.
Here’s his Ironman 70.3. Race Report:
> Had been training well, hitting all key workouts right up to Wed prior to the race. Felt kind of heavy and lazy during most of taper week. Could not workout on Thu due to a long work day, so took 2 days off (Thu and Fri). On Sat, spent a lot of time helping my brother set up his bike, so I went a while without eating, but aside from that had an ez day. Did a short bike-run brick in the early pm and felt pretty good. Ate a lot of gnocci for dinner and went to bed at about 10-10:30pm.
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> Knowing that I was in a late wave, decided to wake up a bit later (4:45) to get an extra half hour of sleep. Had some bananas with oatmeal and honey and a smoothie of fruit, soymilk and juices for breakfast. Arrived at transition at about 6:15 and it was raining from then until my wave start. Had my cycling and running shoes with a pair of socks each in plastic bags to keep them dry until it was time to wear them. This worked out nicely because it had stopped raining by the time I started to run and I did more than half the run with dry socks and shoes. Took a salt pill before leaving transition to wait for the swim start. I was wearing a jacket but it was not waterproof and got completely wet. Although it blocked the wind, I was still cold for about an hour until my wave started.
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> Started the swim at a moderate pace. Decided to go relatively ez to save energy for the bike and run. Nevertheless, I think I took the lead of the wave just past the second yellow buoy. After about a third of the course, another swimmer from the same wave (orange cap) caught up to me and was swimming at pretty much my pace. I decided to fall into his wake and followed him to the end of the swim. I had the impression that he was slowing down a couple of times and pulled out of his wake to try to pass him but then realized that he was still at the same pace and fell back into the wake. At about three quarters of the way I started feeling as if I would cramp up on the inside of the left thigh and on the right calf. I never really cramped up, but had this feeling through the rest of the swim. At the end of the swim I felt like I had swum at a good pace but had managed to save myself well for the bike and run. From the official results, my swim time was 30’29”, 13th in the age group and 95th overall. In retrospect, I think I had the potential to have placed better in the swim leg, but I think saving myself for the bike and run was the right thing to do.
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> Also took it ez in the run from the water exit to the bike and took the opportunity to grab a cup of water and rinse the salt off of my mouth. Sat down by the bike, socks on, shoes on, stuffed a couple of half bananas in the back pocket of my singlet, helmet on, glasses on, and off to the ride. T1 time was 3’31”. The nutrition plan was to take in a packet of gel at the start and then alternate a half banana and a packet of gel every half hour, with a salt capsule about every 45min, and clifshot electrolyte drink or water every 7’30” or so. I was able to stick to it well throughout the ride.
> I started out aiming to maintain just above 20mph or HR in the high 130s (whatever was the limiter). It turns out that HR in the high 130s allowed me to maintain about 22 to 23mph. I stuck to it as much as I could and, although there was a lot of wind, it felt ez and I was tempted to push a bit harder, but I decided to stick to the plan. HR only climbed into the mid to high 140s when passing or eating. Was able to keep it up until about mile 20 or 22 when course turned into the wind.
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> With the head wind (for about 8 miles or so), HR went up into the 140s (and low 150s on occasion) and the average speed dropped to 19 – 20 mph. I didn’t mind the lower speed as I knew I would make some up on the way back with tail wind so I did not try to push any harder. At about this time I started feeling some discomfort on the crotch from the saddle and some discomfort / pain on the lower back from the aero position.
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> After turn around I picked up speed with the tail wind to about 24 – 25mph, but maintained HR in the 130s. Started feeling some fatigue during the long stretch back on Okeechobee with the strong cross wind, and the HR started climbing into the high 140s to keep the 21 – 22mph speed. I decided to maintain the speed and let the HR climb a little, as I was nearing the end of the bike. Although I felt some fatigue, I was not as tired as when I finished some of the long training rides and I figured I would have to hurt if I wanted to go below 5 hrs. From the official results, I completed the bike in 2h36’28” (about 21.5mph average speed), overall HRave 139 HRmax 151. From 13th in the age group after the swim, I dropped to 48th at the end of the bike, and overall from 95th to 230th.
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> On a side note, I was disappointed by how many riders I saw purposefully drafting. I had to shake two guys off of my tail. I think that a lot of the guys who did the race under 5hrs did so by drafting on the bike.
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> At the transition I dropped the bike, changed the socks, put the shoes on, hat, fuel belt, and out. T2 time was 2’12”.
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> I felt pretty good at the beginning of the run, but I purposefully tried to maintain the HR in the high 140s / low 150s to try to avoid bonking on the second half of the run like I had done on all previous halves. The plan was to keep taking gels every 45min or so, plus a salt capsule in between and water and clifshot electrolyte drink every 7min or so, and I kept it up pretty much to the end. At the first mile I was surprised to see that I was running at about a 7min/mile pace, as I thought I would be running slower given my HR (from the official results the average pace on the first quarter of the run was 7’19″/mile). The first climb of the bridge with a head wind felt pretty heavy on the legs, but I was able to keep going steady and passing a lot of runners. Felt good throughout the first half (from the official results the average pace on the second quarter of the run was 7’31″/mile).
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> My legs started to feel very tired on the beginning of the second half and the pace started to drop slowly, first to just above 7:30min/miles and then to about 8min/miles. The second climb of the bridge into the wind felt extremely hard on the legs, but I kept running. By the end of the third quarter of the run, HR had climbed into the high 150s and sometimes into the 160s. From the official results the average pace on the third quarter of the run was 7’48″/mile).
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> Despite the fatigue on the legs, I still had enough in me to speed up and improve the pace again once I turned into the last quarter of the run. By this time, I knew that if I was able to keep the pace I would finish below 5hrs, and I felt good enough to start pushing to try to finish under 4:50. I just concentrated and tried to manage the fatigue in the legs as much as possible. HR started to climb into the 170s (from the official results the average pace on the last quarter of the run was 7’07″/mile). Pushed hard on the last stretch to try to beat 4:50 but ended up missing it by 9 seconds. Finished the run in 1h37’29”, overall HRave 155 HRmax 174. From the 48th place in the age group at the end of the bike, I improved to 30th place at the end of the run. Overall I improved from 230th to 172nd.
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> After the finish, did not feel exhausted but my legs felt very sore and tight. I sat for a while to eat some watermelon and it was hard to get up afterwards because my legs got pretty stiff. Felt soreness on the legs for a couple of days after the race.
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> Maybe I could have pushed a little harder on the swim or bike or early in the run to shave off a few minutes from the overall time. But I feel like it would have been a very thin line between saving a few minutes or bonking halfway through the run. Overall I was happy with my result.

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