"I like you. I'll gladly sit down and have dinner with you after the race. But when the gun goes off, I pretty much hate you, and I want to stomp your guts out. That's racing." -J Rapp

"the best night of my life.....
...in the most beautiful place on earth"

"It's just one, long, tedious conversation with yourself" -Paula Newby Fraser

"Have faith- trust in the plan - the breakthrough will come. I promise. " Woo

"You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime.” -Mark Allen

“The only time you can be brave is when you’re afraid.”

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The B Side of IM Texas...Notes, Fueling, Pics, Thoughts

Lots of tidbits from IM Texas....since writing my IM Texas Race Report, I've had a chance to recover a bit more---mainly mentally (lets just say I received a few concerned calls, emails, texts about it...thanks for caring for me...I'm good with it, I just wanted to capture the moment in its rawest form...I think I succeeded....).
Thanks Grant for this pic...while I was running through here, it really captures how I felt in the final 100 yards.  From the high fives with my road washed hand to the stress I see in my face and upper body...great ad for Cinemark too ;-)
My card from the family that I opened race day morning...love them so much!
....first time Sophia has written I love you to me...a treasure!
Jenny sent me this pic before the race...another treasure!
Here he is, Coach Hauth...right out of the pool with a mop on his head....

I'm over it, I think, but here are some odds and ends about Texas, mostly just notes and pics from the trip.  These are basically for reference...they seem to work very well for me leading into an IM, so I thought I'd post them while it is fresh in my mind and for the future.  I also put some off the cuff stuff in there from Texas just so I have an organized place for this stuff.

Hydration/Nutriton leading into Race Day:
I start cutting coffee out of my routine about 2 weeks prior to an IM.  I find that coffee does exactly what they say it does---dehydrate you.  I want my cells stuffed with water, so I start my hydration focus about 2 weeks out.  I don't overdo it, but I just make sure I am giving my body all it needs to recover and prepare for race day.  When I get that craving for coffee (I'm a 2+ cups of coffee/day kind of guy), I go for some frooffy tea...like pomegranate or lemon ginger...I find that its the hot beverage that is appealing moreso than the coffee...and maybe I am just tricking myself into believing that .

Day prior to race day nutrition plan:
BLAND, BIG, and EARLY...(of course learned from Chris...)
The dinner 2 nights before an IM is where I really start my food plan.  I go big on that night with "good" carbs with some fish or chicken as well as a decent salad.. In Texas I had a house salad, focaccia, salmon, asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes, a beer, and plenty of water. 

Breakfast 24 hours out:  More of the same, bland big early---oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, all of the healthy variety versus packets or store bought frozen foods.   In Texas I ended up going with scrambled eggs, english muffin, plenty of oatmeal, OJ, water.  

My goal the day before the race is, well, to pee clear by noon.  So lots of water again, and then I head into lunch, which is massive, especially if the race is going to be hot, in which case I count this lunch as my last big meal, with a small(er) dinner coming at 5-6 pm THE LATEST.

Here is my day before lunch from IM Texas,courtesy of Hubbell and Hudson (one of the best markets I have ever entered...)
Hubbell and Hudson...perfect race fueling stop! And right at the finish line.
turkey sandwich: on wheat, skipped the mayo, cheese as I don't do dairy at all these days
Sweet potato fries:  I go for salt any way I can, even if its fried...this for some reason is becoming a pre-race tradition..dunno why, but they are tasty.
Orzo: some veggies in there--straight out of the kitchen there...good stuff, and i took home the same size serving for part of my early dinner...trying to reduce the amount of gluten...not always successful, but rice is the way to go to reduce it.
Coconut water:  yes, I follow the fad.  This may not be the best choice in brands, but it was better than just plain old water in my mind at the time.
Synergy kombucha tea:   Ok, now I a full on fad follower, but I love this stuff (they say its loaded with probiotics--good belly they say...I'm a follower).  Honestly though, it's hard to not feel great drinking the stuff.
And yes, I did eat all this, and was searching the store for more goodies...add a banana in there, plus a liter of EFS, then I headed back to my room for solitary confinement (hint: this is when you just simply don't want to be near me...it's full on warfare tactics 100% of the time while watching some television---annoyingly focused on the next day).

So after lunch, I keep sipping on EFS...I don't want to "wash out" the electrolytes, and now want to top them off---I never don't have a bottle with me through the afternoon, and i am typically on a bed with my feet up, watching sports, a movie, on the computer...CHILLAXING for sure, but the mind is in full tilt...BUT, it looks like and feel like I am in full couch potato mode for sure.  I watched "The Last Lecture" at this point in Kona...it still is sticking with me now, so I highly recommend it, especially if one of your inspirations is your kids.

Before my 5-6pm light, bland dinner, I go for an easy walk...In Texas, it was to Walmart ;-)  I just needed to get some fresh air, move the legs, and distract myself before prepping for bed.  I look around and notice that life is still moving for the rest of the world versus what is going on in my life...for some reason it is really relaxing to see that life is just the way it has always been ;-)
So, dinner in Texas was that serving of Orzo, some sliced turkey (bland!), and a bowl of oatmeal---it may seem like a lot, but it is at 5-6pm, and compared to both lunch and what i typically eat in an evening, this is an appetizer.  I stay away from the high veggie driven diet I am typically on because A) it has fiber, and B) its not what my body needs for the following day---I am repaired from the heavy IM builds, I just need fuel.  I will graze a bit after this meal, but I make sure it is only to curb the little bit of hunger I feel.  I am fully tapped at this point, and if I was to step on a scale (which I don't) I am sure I am 3-4 pounds heavier than I have been over the past week...I don't care of course, I need the fuel, and all these foods have given me a layered dosage of energy....and I feel like a topped off diesel engine.  The snacks tend to be granola bars, bananas, Ezekiel tortilla with nut butter.

Race Day breakfast:
There are so many options here, but I have always stuck to the same thing, and it works perfect for me, and i try to get this in by 4 am (3 hours before start time)....big glass of water first, Oatmeal, scoop of Ultragen (First Endurance), nut butter, banana (typically), more EFS...somewhere in the range of 800 calories.  I also take my daily dose of Optygen HP, MultiV (First Endurance again), and a decently massive does of CoQ10 for my heart, which I have been taking all week leading up to the race.  I will have the television going, and will eat slowly, and still relaxing in bed if possible---I want this food in my belly as fast I can get it there, but not eating it fast.  I will relax in bed for ~20 minutes post meal going through my morning regime.
If I can, I take a hot shower to loosen up the muscles, stretch a bit (especially the hips), then find my way to the race HQ.  I will sip on EFS the entire time---1bottle through transition tidying, with some water following as well as adding a Clif Bar in small bites throughout the morning, and more if I feel hungry, but that is never the case.  Once I am an hour out, no more solid food at all, and I should be taking my Pre-Race about 30 minutes to GO time.  Before jumping in the water, I put a GU into the stomach with some swigs of water. Peeing while waiting for the gun is always a good sign---everyone does it...kind of sick to think about when you are treading water feeling "warm spots" in the water---oh well, so is the life of an IM athlete.  At IMAZ 2011 I actually had to pee half way through the swim, and again at mile 60 on the bike (a perfect place to need to pee on the bike as you are reassured that you are hydrating properly)...why all this talk about pee!!!  IM Texas, no such issue on the mid swim and on the bike---a bit of shock therapy on the bike probably kept everything in, an i had lost my appetite and thirst to boot.

This plan leaves me feeling perfect, and there is no way I am not topped off with hydration and nutrition....the gun goes off, and away I go!

It's a simple down and back, keeping the buoys always on your left...hint:  as you approach the canal, hug the right side shore line and sight off of the kayaks lining the approach...that line was the perfect line...

...what the canal looks like from T1 exit. This canal swim is ~1000+ yards...FUN!!!  Specatators line the shore...if you have people there watching you, make sure they are on your dominant breathing side, as you are sure to see them like they are standing right next to you...

Another look at the canal...
Once onto the bike, my first goal is to drink some water only as the swim dehydrates you no matter what, and you never realize this.  After the water (maybe 45 minutes in...) I start the calorie counting, but go mostly by feel and hunger.  As Chris says, its good to ride that edge of hunger and satisfied.  I find that if I do that, I will not get enough calories in and will pay for it later (find that out on my training rides all the time when I eat minimally at the beginning---I've made that error too many times to know that I need those calories to start flowing.  I go for around 250 calls/hr.  If I push that, I tend to get a "full" feeling that makes me feel sluggish----hence I like the ever so slightly hungry feeling that Chris talks about.  If I hit a bad patch on the bike, I tend to eat my way into feeling better, but also dialing back the intensity because of the patch.  I come out of it quickly, and am ready with a new purpose  (note: the bad patch comes typically because I simply waited too long to take in calories----I just want to avoid taking too many in and ending up with GI issues, which I have never had).  If it's hot, I add one SaltStick Tablet an hour.  I now use one bottle as a super bottle (1000 calls of EFS liquid shot + Gu to create a tasty menu for the day----IM Texas it was 800 calls of Kona Mocha EFS Gel, one Espresso Love GU (has caffeine), and one Peanut Butter GU...talk about the tastiest Mocha Peanut Butter Latte (wait, no one makes that.....hmmm)....it was irresistible!
I also carried a Clif Bar (270 cals) in my back pocket, and wished I carried 2 for IM Texas.  But again, my nutrition plan went by the wayside as I lost my appetite because of the crash.  I take in plenty of on course PERFORM as well.  With aid stations 10 miles apart, I am guaranteed fresh bottles at least every 30 minutes.  I will take water at one (one into the cage on the aeros, grab another, drink half of it, and pour the remainder over me, and grab another if I can, if it is hot like Texas), and then grab a PERFORM at the next (and grab a water again, but dump the entire bottle over myself).  I alternate like this throughout, and change it up if I feel I really want  more Perform.  If I am ahead on calories due to being more hungry than normal, I then ditch the super bottle and start taking a water and a PERFORM at each aid station, and maybe even a GU now that they serve it on course ;-)

bike cockpit that worked out well
Bike Setup...best yet, but another bottle would have taken some concern off my mind in the later miles when I needed maybe just a bit more fluids 
Racked and ready to go...
sideways view of the Bike Gear Bag...didn't use the arm coolers, so just helmet and shoes, and a bar or two for the pockets...
I leave Special Needs for "just in case" issues.  One flask of EFS gel, an extra bar, and MAYBE some tasty snack, but I haven't done that since IMAZ 2010.

Oh, and Pre-Race:  I take another 3 caps (I use the larger SaltStick dispenser to hold pills...) when I feel the mid bike lethargy set in...works like a charm every single time!!!!  The dispenser typically is loaded to have 2 Saltstick tabs come out first (taken at 1 and 2 hours in), then 3 Pre-Race tabs somewhere around the 3rd hour, and a final Saltstick tab for prep before the the run.  That is all it holds, and I just work with that, and count on the EFS liquid shot as well as the PERFORM to supplement the electrolytes, and that seems to work!

Onto the run...
you are on your own here...grab whatever sounds good, but don't overdo it...you can get a real dinner after the race that will be much more rewarding than the extra 20 minutes of stoppage that occurs when you treat them like buffet tables.  For me, I go with an alternating plan here as well if all is going well.....PERFORM at one aid station, then water with a Gu at the next.  I can and will skip stations depending on how well I am fueled from the bike, and how i am feeling about taking in calories on the run.  Again I ride that edge of satisfied, slightly hungry line and it works well for me in training and racing.   At some point Coke always comes front and center for me, and then it is Coke all the way, with some water here and there to dilute it a bit, as well as  Orange slices.  Once i go with Coke, I am done with Gu/gels....the sequence goes solid calories (bars), semi-solid calories (gels), then full on liquid calories...and when I switch totally depends on what I feel like. And I try to hold off on switching to the next category until I just can tolerate where I'm at anymore.

my hand the day after the race...not too bad, and wasn't really an issue other than it was a bloody mess the entire ride
and healing well 8 days post race.  Thanks to Pinky for the Tegaderm recommendation, which allowed me to work with gloves without affecting healing...in comparison to....
it doesn't look terrible here, but it was how deep it went versus how large the rash looks...of course my smile doesn't help sell it....on my 3rd loop walkathon....
the elbow at 8 days out...ways to go, and still sore...this was a "stage 4 rash" if there is such a classification ;-) I tried the Tegaderm, but because it is a decent "divot" into my elbow, that void filled with all sorts of "fluids"---greenish and oozing, so I went with Betadine

Im not sure if I will buy the photos from FinisherPix, so I'm just posting the proofs here so I have them in one spot ;-)

I never thought I'd be proud to see an 11:08 on the finishing picture, but DNF was front and center from mile 10 on the bike to the finish...yes, it was a defining moment for me, but the disappointment that came with the crash has been PTSD for me for sure...I will get over it, and will redeem this for my own selfish fulfillment someday.  But until that happens, I know that I endured something I never thought i was tough enough to endure...9+ hours of pretty severe pain, bleeding all over the place, all while completed an Ironman.  I guess this is what defines Ironman racing in a sense; you can't always have a great day out there...shit happens.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ironman Texas Race Report....

An awesome production done by WTC about the IM Texas...

I keep re-writing this race report.  I've tried every day since the race to get this done, but it ends up being much like the race was.....a bloody mess.  I think this one is going to stick.  First off, I feel incredibly blessed.  The support I have received from the local tri community, my friends near and far, family, Jenny, Sophia, and even 8 month old Andrew...as Jack Nicholson said it so well..."you (all) make me want to be a better man."  IM Texas was SUPPOSED to be an all out attack for my best Ironman---Ironman 4.0 as I called it. The training leading into the race was near perfect, my test Olympic Tri two weeks out was the same (PR of 2:05:10), even though I was sick with a cold with congestion in the chest that would carry into IM Texas.  I trained almost completely alone for 16 weeks---solo 120 mile rides, 2h30m runs...completely alone, hitting the zones, the paces, the recovery, the nutrition.  Outside of work and home life, I was a hermit.  The result of this sacrifice: I expected A LOT.  I wasn't chasing a trip to Kona, I was chasing a top ten amateur result (beating Patrick Schuster in 40-44 is not in my engine...).  Kona of course would come with that "top 10", and I was more looking forward to sharing Kona with Jenny, Sophia, and Andrew than the race itself, as they missed Kona 2011 because Andrew was born 2 weeks prior.  So I was counting my chickens before they hatched, but I had complete faith in myself that I was going to make these goals a reality.  I was so confident (I don't know why I am putting this out there...), that we decided Jenny and the kids would stay home to save money for Kona---one of the bigger mistakes I've made.   Little did I know what IM Texas would become...

I've heard it so many times: Ironman racing is about managing the things that can go wrong.  Nutrition, hydration, mechanical, flat tire, penalties...I felt prepared for most of these (mechanicals notwithstanding).  I had booked this adventure through Endurance Sports Travel...awesome company, people...highly recommended!  I flew into George Bush Intercontinental on the Wednesday before the race to give me some time to get used to the humidity (AZ has been hotter than Texas), the 2 hour time change, and get some final prep work in.  Bill Jones and I ended up hanging out wednesday and thursday....Bill, it was a great time! We did some easy SBR workouts, including a swim at the Conroe Natatorium---a very nice 50 M pool about 2 miles from the race epicenter.  I was feeling fishlike in the water, aero and stealth-ish on the bike, and the my leg turnover on the quick runs was fast, light, and easy.  Again the taper was absolutely perfect, even with the cold I had been nursing---Chris, you are a triathlon God ;-)  Bill and I were relaxed, joked around a bit, drove the entire bike course and were almost in disbelief with how fast it looked (of course in a car that is easy to say, but there was also no wind when we drove it).  Friday checkin came and went (skipped the pre-game swim in the lake....coach didn't want us to get sick from the water....GOOD CALL!!!).  I met up with Darren who is also an AIMPer (and is racing 3 IM's in 6 weeks!!! (Texas, CDA, and Austria/Switzerland, can't remember which one).  An hour spin over the first and last 10 miles of the bike course confirmed what Bill and I had thought....FAST!  I felt like i was on the Autobahn, just spinning EZ at 20+ mph with the WHOOSH of the disc humming in my ears.  So...friday night I settled in feeling perfect...with a huge very bland early dinner.

As a side note, The Woodlands surprised me...a wonderful community with all sorts of great activities, restaurants, and a very open community for us IM people to come in and take over their town---thumbs were up everywhere I turned.  If you are thinking about IM Texas...I highly recommend it.  The conditions are tough, for spectators it is ideal (except for the high heat/humidity, which is one of the reasons Jenny and the kids stayed home...), and the course is awesome, which I'll get to in the report.  So, if you are thinking about it, book it, you will really enjoy racing there.  I was a skeptic, but I'd be back if it fit the schedule down the road.

Race morning, I was up at 3:30am----slept well, wasn't nervous, ate breakfast, took a hot shower, and relaxed a bit before jumping in the transport to transition.  I had my concerns at this point---I felt like I didn't have the fire I've had in the past.   IMAZ 2010 and Kona 2011...pretty hard not to be excited at your first IM start and I would think at any Kona start you'd be dead to not be juiced to be there, athlete or spectator.  I felt more like I was going to work (no offense) than about to fulfill a dream.  I started having thoughts of "no kidding!  this is 4 Ironmans in 19 months!"  (Bryan/Ritch, you don't ned to state the obvious ;-).  All the same, I was ready for battle---I would argue that anyone about to head into war is giddy with excitement.  Maybe I was just so focused that the excitement was replaced with determination.
I made a few mistakes in my pre-race prep, like forgetting to take my First Endurance Pre Race caps (how the hell could I forget those!!!).  Trivial things nonetheless.  I was more concerned about getting in the water early enough to position myself in the front/center of the non-wetsuit wave.  A final high five to Bill, a small leap, and I was in the crappy Lake Woodlands (for real, it was brown as bull shit).  I got to my spot easily, wished Caroline Gregory a great race (fellow AIMPer), and before I knew it, the canon fires...

Swim:      58:48...9th division...67th overall
My goal for the swim:  go hard the first ~300 yards to get clear (worked at IMAZ both times), settle in to a solid pace, find a group, then decide whether to hammer the canal section or hold place.  The swim start was rougher than I expected---300 yards in and I was getting sandwiched and hit from all sides.  The swim start was narrow, and maybe I was a bit too complacent with my start speed...OR, the competition is getting fiercer.  It was a battle (although swimming was not the issue, just the clutter) for the first 500, then guys started to drop, and by the time we made the first left turn (maybe 1500 in), it was decently clear.  I was completely alone as I hit the second turn buoy, and it was looking like I had missed the second pack, which was 25+ yards ahead at the mid way point.  There was another small group to my left, and as they pulled up on me, I jumped in and continued with them into the canal...this group of 6 or so was a stellar pack.  It was almost like a draft line on the bike, with the head swimmer pulling off every 100 yards or so...everyone knew their role, and everyone obeyed the "rules."  I swam with them for about 500 yards, then started to cut into the canal a bit earlier than they wanted to as my goal was to hug the shoreline on the right as much as I could, which ended up being the perfect line to take.  The "pod" ended up following suit, and we funneled into the 15 meter-wide canal--awesome way to end an IM swim.  I had noticed a guy with some tattoos in the group, and when we hit the steps to end the swim, I heard Mike Rielly say, "and all the way from Kailua Kona, Jano Soto!"  What am I, chopped liver?  Well, I think he is well known in the triathlon world ;-)  He was one of my "marks" on the day as I knew he would be in the mix (he finished 11th, but it looks like his marathon led to his fall from the top 5 as he got off the bike close to the eventual 3rd and 4th place 40-44 men).
don't worry, it's not an obsession, just a mark ;-)
Another sde note:  The canal section of the swim was amazing, and if you do this race in the future, make sure your family is there and is on your dominant breathing side---you are staring at every one of them as you swim, and they are less than 10 yards away from you and could easily walk/jog to watch you swim all the way to T1.

T1:  3:17
Quick and easy...next time start towards the bike while putting your helmet on!  Swimskin off, shoes on, cliff bar into jersey pocket, helmet on...go!  Even then, I passed 2 guys in 40-44 in T1, and was sitting in 7th to start the bike.

Bike:   5:27:47...23rd in 40-44....168th overall
Jumped onto the bike, heard a few GO ERIK!! yells (Dana and co, I think that was you at the bike mount line...I heard you!!!  First good sign: not a lot of people on the course...and Jano Soto was immediately in front of me, sitting 6th.  The goal on the bike was to take it easier the first 40+ miles (210-220 watts) to save myself for the ride back to town, including 40+ miles into a decent head/cross wind.  So I just sat there...about 10m behind Jano as we hauled in bikers, and had a couple other guys join us all the same.  The pace was decently fast, and the effort was easy; I was fully aerobic and I thought..."perfect, just sit here and let it come to you, don't force ANYTHING."  We had passed a couple more 40-44 guys in the first 5 miles, which means we were sitting about 4th-5th in the AG...ugh.   I figured if someone blew by that I would consider going with them as it felt soo easy, but that never happened.   I took a couple turns in the front, and would then drop to the back of our line, feeling like I was barely working. We kept passing bikers, and no one was passing us...again perfect!  As we approached the first aid station, I took inventory of my "stuff," and decided I didn't need to grab anything (what the #$%#% was I thinking!!  Always grab a new cold water at the very least!).  Chris told us to stay cold as long as possible, even if it meant feeling chilly---why didn't I listen???  My bottle of water was 3/4 full, so I guess I was thinking mile 20 aid for a new one.  At the same time, I was in the back of the group, so I sat up and let them get their aid.  With us moving slower, and thus a bit bunched up, I turned my attention to the other guys as they jockeyed with their hands full.  A little swerve from one, a small reaction from another, and my front end goes haywire.  I am  suddenly out of the saddle having a "Matrix" moment...my quads are up against my bars, hands out front of the wheels. My hands had slipped off the front of the bars, and my momentum carried me forward---I hit a "sinkhole like" depression in the road, that I definitely felt, but never saw.  The "OH SHIT" moment came (that moment when you realize there's nothing you can do to correct, and down you go), and here I am, slamming onto my left hip an elbow, followed by a 10 yard slide grinding holes in my knee and elbow the worst, but also leading to some decent road rash on my ankle, knee, hip, back, shoulder, and hand (thankfully just the right hand).

Immediately I was in total shock...WHAT JUST HAPPENED?  I was laying on the ground with my right shoe still clipped in---I think that saved me from going straight over the handle bars like I did in 2010 when I broke my clavicle.  Almost immediately, a support vehicle was there to help.  While I took inventory of the blood all over the left side of my body, these two guys jumped into action repairing my bike---front wheel was 45 degrees skewed off line, but all else seemed okay.  Looking back at this 3 minutes of horror, I can see it so clearly it haunts me.  I remember the panic I felt, the disbelief of what had just happened; this was my version of dropping the baton in the 4 x 100 relay for the Gold Medal in the Olympics.  How could this happen I thought?  What the heck were you thinking Erik!  I could go on and on and on with all of the thoughts that popped in my head all at once...I had just ruined all the work I had done to get there with a stupid lapse in attention.  So if you can't tell, I am still not over it.  Quitting was not even in my vocabulary at this point---I jumped back on, and fired away down the road...no longer in that "comfortable" 210-220 W range.  It took a few miles to regain my sanity---I wasn't racing with an HRM, but that data would be "fun" to look at for sure.  10 minutes later, I needed water...lots of it (go figure). My right hand was basically dripping blood from my fingers, as was my elbow and knee.  Everything felt numb--I was in shock for sure.  I finally took a good look at my elbow, and by this point it was also swelling up and too hard to diagnose as it had shredded skin all around its borders.  The support guys assured me that I didn't need medical attention at that point, so I just simply went with it..after all, it wasn't hurting...yet.

As time passed it actually seemed like I was holding my own---I was feeling like I still had a chance at pulling this one out.  Right after the crash I decided to just dig my elbow into the aero pad, and it was okay, but by the time I hit mile 40, the shock and numbness were wearing off, and the pain to my elbow and hip started to take over my day.  My left IT band was not working, and my normal pedal stroke was aggravating with every turn.  My left elbow was now pulsating with pain, and I could only handle 30 seconds in the aeros before it was too much for me to handle.  My race...was over.  I had no choice but to sit up and ride.  I constantly surveyed my conditions---wrist, hand and fingers on the elbow-mashed side were ok.  Left hip continued to keep me from pedaling with any more than 50-75% effort.  Right hand was luckily torn up in spots that were not in contact with the bar (4 road rash sites along the medial side of my palm and up along my thumb.  Left knee road rash wasn't big, but it was ground down to what felt like that little bone protrusion on the side of your knee.  I kept thinking---"Thank God you are wearing RED!!!"  But really, it would have been cool in a sick and twisted kind of way to have been in a white kit..but then I would have fainted for sure (#skiddish!).

I became content with becoming a middle of the packer, as that's where I was quickly heading.  Highlight of the bike was watching a pack of 30+ guys and 2 girls (who were high in the women's AG race) sail by, most of them sitting up, having a chat, riding 2-3 abreast, with at most a 5 foot gap in between.  Great job guys...you all suck.  Even better---the marshall that pulled up on them, slowed down, then just kept going---honestly, I just have nothing to say.  This was not the only incident, and there were 2 more where the Marshall just rode by blatant drafters..and some of this was earlier where these guys were all in the hunt for Kona slots...I give up.

So back to me, because this is what this blog is about ;-)))  The final 40ish miles were just brutal...I was getting slaughtered, even by the AG women while I sat up and took the 40 miles of "very decent" headwind in the chest versus hiding from the wind in the aero bars.  I was fairly insane at this point and chuckled a few dozen times as I recalled what I had said at least 10 times in the 2 days leading up to the race..."all these guys buy TT bikes, aero helmets, deep dish wheels and discs, yet they ride "up" for most of the race versus in the aeros."  THAT WAS ME!!!!  By the time I made it back to the streets of The Woodlands, I was done..I just couldn't handle the crash issues any more. The entire left side of my body was destroyed pretty much, I had just ridden 100 miles AFTER crashing, and my mind was not in a healthy place.  I kept fighting and fighting, but had convinced myself that there was no way I could mentally handle running a marathon in this condition after biking 100 miles with it.  I was a cortisol factory.

But I did stay in the game through all of this...my nutrition and hydration plan staying intact, except for the lack of aid over the last 20+ miles of the bike (where was the mile 90 aid station???).  I remember riding into the T2 chute thinking "how do I quit?"  "what do I do, just walk into transition and stop?"  If Chris would have been on the fence in T2, I would have never left.  I aimlessly followed the volunteers directing me to my Run Bag.  I saw Dana Jones and told her what had happened and that I was not going to run...told the same thing to Grant Harrell.  But into the T2 tent I went with my Run Bag in my arms.  I sat down, put my socks and shoes on, grabbed my visor and Oakleys, and put my little baggie of salt tabs and Pre Race into my back pocket as well as a 5 Hour Energy for a late run B12 boost.  I was out of it...am I going to run????  Like I said before, I didn't know how to do anything other than keep going.  Falk had passed me in T2 (fellow AIMPer), which told me I was still in decent shape...so I exited T2 and wandered onto the run course...am I going to do this?  2 minutes later Chris and Steve Fried were there to assess and I gave him the news.  His response: run a lap (8.4 miles) at least.  So I again settled in with pain and kept moving---that about sums up the pace---moving.  Matt Russell blew by me (lapping me)...I still felt like I had no clue what I was doing out there.  Am I still racing?  Do I push this hip?  Do I quit after one loop?  Do I just walk the entire thing?  Aid stations became buffet tables (ah Steve Fuller...just for you).  At least I'm going to enjoy the snacks along the way if this is what its going to be.  I would jog a bit, but the hip would tell me who was boss, and I'd be walking a minute later.  I don't remember feeling hot at all, but it was 95 degrees and humid...if you can't tell, I was pretty much lost...

At about mile 6, the breaking point came...all I can say is thank you Dana Jones and the rest of the Jones team.  I came around a bend and there they were---Bills support crew...all in orange, and cheering me on as if I was Bill.  It reminded me of Kona when I was having issues on Alii, and there was my family in their Orange shirts as well.  This is hard for me to write...I completely lost it, and I still lose it just thinking about that moment.  I had been alone for 6 hours dealing with this crash and the pain that came with it...I needed to just let everything out that I was keeping in...so sorry to Dana and the kids, as I probably scared the crap out of them.  I stopped, bent over, put my hands on my knees, and started sobbing uncontrollably.  Thinking about it now, I think it was mostly the pain, but also the disappointment in what had happened that just became too much for me to keep in anymore. I was so done being done, I was just ...done (JD, for you).  Dana called Jenny for me, I told her what happened, and asked Dana to post something so that the people tracking me weren't worried that I was in bonkland or headed to medical because of the heat illness. I know it wasn't the best trip for Jenny and the kids to be on due to the heat, but I was so pissed that I made that choice for them not to come...I never needed Jenny more than at that moment, but I would have scared them to death all the same.  For that 5 minutes, my race was over...but, I had gone this far, and I wanted that medal.  I know someday I will look at that thing and chuckle...I imagine it will become a symbol of determination in our house.  So after my on-course one-actor soap opera, I moved on...I still have 20 miles to go.  I managed to actually put some decent miles together in the middle stages, but as I hit the high teens, my hip screamed "no more."  I was relegated to walking 90% of the final lap (a nice 12:41/mile pace) completing 8.6 miles in a blistering 1:48:51...almost slower than the first 13 miles in Kona where I ended up walking 50% with cramps (wimp).   To compare this to my goal for the day...it was 1:0x per lap (8.6 miles).  As I finished this thing up, Chris was there to greet me in the last mile...when I saw him, I couldn't say a word.  I just gave him a high five, put my head down and shuffled along---no words or encouragement was needed.  It's as if he knew that nothing could be said that would fit the day for me.  I think he by knows by now what makes me tick.  But with that, the pains went away as I hit the final turn towards the finish.  It was almost like nothing had happened, I could suddenly run...I was high 5ing with my road-rashed hand (sorry people, you had your hand out...).  I had been visualizing about the finish line the entire run---kind of like when you are on a long road trip heading home, and all you want to see is your turnoff, your street sign, and then, your driveway.  What would I do?  Would I lose it again?  Would I just walk across the line with a smirk on my face?  Well, the atmosphere of that finishing area, it was hard not to be excited and happy even though inside I was shelled more than I ever have been in my life...with the high 5's came 2 hands raised over my head as I crossed the line.  After 3 great races keeping a sub 10 streak intact, I had conquered the "bad race" going 69 minutes slower than my previous worst time, on a day that  I thought I would set PRs across the board SBR and overall time.  The experience of this Ironman will go down as a complete failure in my book (don't try to convince me otherwise), but at the very least, I got that medal, gave it to Sophia on the way home, and will be certain that she knows what her papa went through to get it.  IM Texas.....CHECK!  Moving on....


If you ever want to see the results broken down to every little detail possible, here's a link to the enhanced results page on Slowtwitch...perfect for the nit picker like me  Enhanced Results

It's now 5 days since IM Texas.  Here are my takeaways from the race:

Pre Race:  write down the game plan, to a "T" and carry it with you...I always forget, and it would be nice to not have to use brainpower to try and remember what I should be doing/taking/eating/drinking in the final hours before the race.

Swim:  I think I have the IM swim figured out...BUT it would be good to work on the start speed a bit more...get a faster start!

T1:  The top of the food chain in the AG IM race is becoming so competitive that these seconds are starting to count.  9:32 took 3rd in 40-44, and 9:38 took 6th...and there were 6 slots for Kona for us.  Looking at the comparison of 6th place 40-44 transitions to 7th place 40-44 transitions, 6th place guy was 2:28 faster through T1 and T2, and beat the 7th place guy by 3:08 in final time.  If they were equal in transition time, the gap was down to 40 seconds...point proven.

Look at how close 4 through 7 are...and Schuster: Go Pro ;-)

Bike:  I have nothing to say here...I am an idiot...focus!!!  I was feeling great on the bike.  I know I was strong enough to get through the bike, and into my running shoes feeling strong for a great marathon while holding a good pace to keep me in the AG podium race, if not better.  I ended up with a 5:27 bike split, riding non-aero at 20-30 watts lower than my goal wattage, and I gave up the last 20 miles of the ride.  Three negatives plus 5 minutes of stoppage due to the crash, and I bet I would have biked a 5:0x, possibly slipping into a 4:59...BUT I just don't know because I ruined that opportunity.  The hardest part of this is building this engine and not knowing what it was capable of (talking about myself in the third person...great...). The day after the race, I felt like I didn't even workout on Sunday---or, I felt like I did a long base ride at 190 watts.  Hardly the effort I was planning on...

Run:  I would have had to run a sub 3:30 marathon (8:00/mi pace)...and I felt like I had that in me, easy.  I was going in thinking 3:15 (7:30 pace), but somewhere in that range of 3:15 and 3:30 would have been just fine.  Woulda...coulda...shoulda....again, I ruined that chance to see what I could do with the pain of the late miles of the marathon.  I will never know...

The End

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rio Salado Race Report

Some ONE boys heading out for some fun!
 After seeing what happened in St George and also sharing the weekend with IM Australia and Wildflower, I hardly feel like what happened here in Tempe this past Saturday was a "race."  But it was, so here's my race report for this local Olympic Triathlon...swam in a man made lake without a ripple, a bike course that's largest hill is an overpass, and a run that is fairly pancake flat as well.  Ho-hum to the 40 mph winds in St George (not to mention the climbs...), and the challenge that Wildflower presents to the competitor--"Mr Toad's Wild Ride"-as I have nicknamed that course for years (I did the long course 6 times, but haven't been out there since 1997).  I am humbled by my 40-44 stud friends.... Bryan Dunn's AG win at St George, and Ritch Viola's AG win at Wildflower....I need to find some slower 40-44 friends to make me feel faster.  Add coach Chris into this mix (along with all you other guys....you know who you are ;)   So...on to the RR, I have to give Rio Salado Olympic some justice!!!
With 2 weeks to go to IM Texas, I was happy to have this race fall onto the calendar more or less as a test and a chance to blow off some steam before the Texas race completely takes over every thought in my head.  It almost is a nice distraction, maybe even a psychological stimulant, to have this "in the way" of the race I've been focused on for 14+ weeks.  The week prior to this race was anything but normal...the monday prior I was visited by "Mr Cold," not to mention the allergies that were kicked into full gear due to the Palo Verde trees dropping millions of little yellow flowers all over the valley.  Claritin D and Mucinex were both called upon to alleviate the symptoms, but the damage was done, and I was put on a "48 hour hold" from training.  24 hours in, I felt fat, out of shape, and thought I had lost all of my fitness (of course all not true ;-)...I did get to watch "We Bought a Zoo" with the family---such a great night to let me know what life will be like post-IM, not to mention that movie is one of the best I have seen in a LONG time...I even got a little teary!  So the week went on, Chris gave me the "go"  to race on friday, so I registered last minute...but I was excited to race finally!

I had a great dinner friday night with the Dean's at Gordon Biersch (yes, I even ate the garlic fries...I needed as much salt as possible!), then it was home to get the gear in order.  This "test run" for IM Texas had a few new toys in the game...a new aero helmet from Airpark (Bell Javelin Helmet), new race kit from TYR (TYR Carbon Line), and new running shoes from Nike (Nike Zoom Elites).  To review these all together:  they are all amazing products---the helmet is very aero, and very comfortable (the shield is the way to go on an aero helmet, and theres is perfect).  I can't quite say why I like the TYR kit so much---the material is truly space age, comfortable, and does everything it should do and nothing it shouldn't.  The Nike's were better than I thought they would be as well----better for me compared to the Lunaracer+'s I wore last year (a bit more of a shoe, well worth the ounce or two as I approach 40 ;-)  I'm not one to just say "everything is great," but with these 3 changes, I will not be going back to something I liked more, because, well, I like these more ;-)

For breakfast race morning, I had my usual...oats, flax seed, scoop of Ultragen, almond milk.  Took my Optygen HP, MultiV, Salt Stick Tab (just one).   I slept great (I sleep in Fia's bed on race nights...kind of a good ritual for sleep if you know what I mean when you have 2 little ones at home ;-)  Off to TTL, I sipped on a 24oz bottle of EFS...I wanted to make sure all systems were topped off as I knew it would be hot.  I hit transition, said hi to my racing buddy for the day (Stephen Stromberg---racked together, rode together, ran together ;-).   Then it was off to my warm up routine, which serves the purpose to simply let key heart know what I am going to put it through on race day.  I head up to the bridge, do pickups across and back, and I'm ready to go.  A few swigs of Liquid Shot Kona Mocha (there is NOT a better tasting gel out there...well, maybe Peanut Butter GU...okay, it's a tie!)(EFS by First Endurance), half a Clif Bar--I felt well fueled with 30 minutes to "go" time.  Also, in went the 3 Pre-Race Capsules---yup, the First Endurance products are all over the place in my triathlon life ;-) Surprisingly, they announced that the race was WETSUIT LEGAL...I dunno about that, but I went with it, but should have gone speedsuit--it was warm.  Went through a good warmup for the swim muscles, and I felt pretty decent about racing while being sick all week. After a slight delay for race course issues, it was time to jump in...

My race strategy was to use the Wave Start to my advantage.  0-39 were in Wave 1, starting 3 minutes in front of my wave (40+).  My goal was to hammer the swim to close their 3 minute "lead" and allowing me to see the cushion versus having to run from behind.  Luckily, it worked, and I felt like I had a good feeling about where I was placed the entire race, and could gauge my effort somewhat to work with the gap and hold my position.  BUT it would be nicer if we had an Elite wave where we would all be on the same time...just my honest opinion.  At Nathan's Olympic in the fall they reverse it...35+ is wave #1...I can't have that working for me all the time I guess..
I'm trying to cheat...I'm the front most guy on the right side, white goggles.

yup, must have cheated...I'm in the lead 5 yards in.  I'm glad I didn't line up in the
middle, but look at the chaos in the back!!!
I got my clear water, but a bumpy road was ahead..
Swim:  I could tell on the jump-in that Speed Suit was the right call...oh well, too late now.  I decided to line up inside front versus my normal outside front spot---mistake number one.  The gun goes off, it's clear sailing, but only for what seems like 200 yards.  I had another "blue cap" to my right (must have started outside!!!), and we were pacing together well, but all of the sudden I was in a traffic jam, and watched the blue cap head outside along the shoulder of the jam into clear water while I proceeded to "bob and weave" the wave that started 3 minutes prior.  As I hit the traffic, I watched that blue cap head off into the Wave 2 swim lead...arg!!! Back to my bad choice, it wasn't without incident, but I managed to find a way through the maze relatively untouched (but had to use my head up drill to find a route every third stroke), except for the one poor guy that got my hand crunched onto the top of his head at the turn (sorry buddy...there was room for 2 swimmers but there was 3 of us...).  The buoys were flying by, but at the turnaround I started to get overheated---the lats were melting!   I learned my lesson and stayed wide after the turn, got to the final turn buoy, and started my "land prep" kicking harder to get some blood into my legs...I couldn't wait to get my wetsuit off.


Out of the water---reaching for the zipper pull when it's
right there in front of me ;-)

Brian, eventual winner, and me 5 seconds back in the red...
almost caught him from 3 minutes back on the swim
I look pissed ;-)

T1:  I think I've simplified my transitions over the years to the point that, well it is this:  wetsuit off, helmet on, grab bike, and GO!  The built in visor saves a second or two, and everything else I have accounted for in various ways...like tying rubber bands to the straps on my shoes for a flying mount...works like a charm for these short races.

The new helmet and kit are sweet!
Bike:  Chris didn't need to tell me much for this race:  it is simply "hammer the entire race."  So, I hammered the entire race, but maybe minus 5% for self preservation.  I just kept looking at the watts, and they were high, but it felt good.  If you don't know this bike course (I think I could do it in my sleep now), it is full of turns (its 2 loops), including 4 u-turns.  Not exactly a course that lets you settle in and create a good rhythm.  It felt a bit forced the first loop, but I was having fun seeing that I was in perfect, if not better than perfect position.  I had passed most of the only wave that started before me in the water, and I was happy to see that I was ahead of those I considered race favorites, although I needed maybe 100 more yards to catch Brian Folts, as I exited the water 5 seconds behind him.  Once on the bike, he was gone---but Josh Terwoord (who I thought was the guy to beat along with Folts) to my surprise, was behind me, so I had 3+ minutes of cushion if I could just stay near him on the bike.  Josh and Stephen caught me midway through the 2nd lap, and I just hung off the back of this group ...which gave me a chance to back off maybe 1-2%, and re-passing was just the stupidest thing I could have done.   We hit T2 lined up and now it was time to simply control the damage that Josh could do on the run, knowing that he is a superb runner (a sub 3 marathon at IMAZ in your first IM kind of gets everyones attention).   Nutrition/hydration wise, I tried something new, and it was perfect as well..I had one bottle of VitaCoco Coconut Water (diluted a bit with water and ice) on the bike....quenched my thirst, and kept me feeling hydrated.  I also took in a GU at the beginning of the second lap, and that was it for calories all race.

T2:  I fumbled at bit, bit again kept it simple:  helmet was off while running to the rack (and flying dismount = no shoes).  Shoes on, grab number belt, visor, glasses, and a 10 oz water bottle (which was key on this hot day!).

Run:  We kept our lineup intact, with Josh in front, Stephen in the middle, and me in the rear heading out onto the run.  Josh started to pull away, and I used just about everything I had to stay with Stephen.   That 10 oz water bottle allowed me to drink without slowing at all, and the cold water over the head at every aid station seemed to be the perfect plan.  Maybe I could have used a GU (I had one in my back pocket), but I was just too lazy to reach for it.  Onto lap 2, and I managed to catch up to Stephen, and that was all I had, so I ran with him.  at mile 4 I did a time check on Josh, who was 2 minutes ahead (did I already say he is a speedster???).  So I had 2.2 miles to go, and had 1 minute of cushion before Josh would pass me in the standings...but it was no time to let up.  I stuck with Stephen to the bridge, and then fell off his pace as we crossed the bridge---there was no way Josh was running :30/mile faster, and if he was, he earned it.  I was on fumes coming into the finish...I guess a good sign that I had left it all out there.  I was hoping for 2nd overall amateur, and I did it!  I was very stoked to have beaten a guy I feel is an amazing athlete, and is just the feeling I needed coming out of this IM "test" race.  I had no shot at the overall win, but I'm happy with my result and my approach more importantly---I'm not in my 20's anymore, using my wisdom is hopefully becoming my trump card ;-)

The Finish Chute..that flask was a GOOD call!  If I held it for 6.2 miles, it was treasured...
Me 2nd, Brian 1st, Josh 3rd...yeah they are youngins ;-)