|The Swim Workouts, the Trainer Sessions...|
First off, for those of you that are new to reading my "stuff," I tend to write too much---Race Reports, instead of getting shorter and to the point, are becoming in depth reviews of my race....those that have read other posts (a fair amount of you do...thanks!), I can't apologize because it's your choice to come back after previous ramblings. This post is much more than a Race Report: I consider it my chance to close out this chapter of racing, what I have learned from it, and if I come back to race IM's again, that I can use these references to get me back up to speed with what worked and made me tick at this moment in time. My racing strategy is in there, and I truly believe in it...it works for me, maybe not for you, but if I desire to get back to what I have built with Chris, this post will be an invaluable piece of that puzzle...
Five Ironmans in 2 years. One kid born. 2 moves. 10 words is all it takes to review the past 2+ years. I wish I could have the numbers of yards in the pool and miles on the bike and in running shoes. Consider that I have trained consistently since January of 2010 (34 months), and looking at 732 miles a month as a decent number, I would estimate I traveled 24,901 miles; OR, I travelled around the world on my own power in that span. With the 2 moves, and with Andrews birth. And don't forget Sophia, who was 20 months old when I started this journey...now she's almost 5.
So here's a brief recap of The Five IMs...
To shorten it even further: Most Exhilarating, Most Amazing Experience, Biggest Test, Most Adversity...that is why there is nothing like racing this distance for me. I simply feel the most "alive" when I am on a race course.
I met up with Cam Loos while we were putting the finishing touches on our swim prep....Cam and I had chatted on Facebook a lot leading into this race. Cam's goal was a 9:08, and guess what, he did a 9:08 and won the 40-44...almost nailing his predictions to the minute. I knew he was out of my reach from the get go, but nonetheless someone to spot in the field as I knew with his strong swim/bike that he would lead the AG.
- 8th in 40-44
- 24th Amateur (nerding out with some result hunting: 37 Pros swam faster than me, so 61st Overall)
|Cam on the Right, Max probably Top Left, and I was the splash below him, I think!|
My takeaway from the swim: more in Ironman than in any other distance of triathlon, your pace is dictated by your training. The last 2 weeks of swim workouts were some of the toughest I have put myself through. Not because of the workout, but how I approached them. I got my 100 time down to 1:10 on 4 or 5 x 100 with 10 seconds rest. When I started with Chris, I was swimming 1:30's. No matter what anyone says, not only is a fast swim a huge advantage, but getting out of the water not even winded and being able to make smart decisions on the bike when you are ahead of everyone else makes racing tactics a blast. Being up front THROUGH the swim saves a ton of energy, along with zero frustration that I hear about from those behind me...mostly, the slugfest at the start line (in Kona I experienced that "hell" ...while it was crazy and even "fun," I would rather swim by myself).
My swim strategy: use a fast swim to set the tone for the day. Get off the line fast, but not anaerobic...just enough to stay clear. If I can get out before my AG competition, I can control my race intensity much more than if I am playing catch up on the bike, which I am not strong enough to do, and its much easier to be up front on the swim with proper training than become a fast biker with the extra hours it takes weekly. Granted, I fast bike is sexy, but I am realistic with my expectations and the time I have for training...at this point. Plus you can fake a fast bike with a fast swim, decent bike ;-)
I normally wouldn't be happy with this, but I went the sock route, and I am now a firm believer in socks for the IM bike. I take everything Chris says as if it was written in the Bible, and this was the first time for socks. Zero issues, zero hot spots that always creep in, so try it if you have IM bike foot issues. Otherwise, I carried my Espresso Quick Fill in my back pocket which makes perfect sense. Why tape it to the frame when ideally you want your nutrition in front of you?
- 6th off the bike in 40-44* (or "would" have been 3rd without the non-drafting but getting blocked into a drafting penalty)
- ~23rd Amateur off the bike (73rd Overall)
- First EVER penalty in over 50 Triathlons
- "would" have been 3rd without the non-drafting but getting blocked into a drafting penalty while sitting up and not pedaling for things to clear out
Bryan Dunn has become a fixture at the Turnaround, and seeing his mug up there is welcoming with some news----"you're 8th" he tells me, while trying to count his fingers and hold up the correct number, and the "Kona Bound" sign with your huge smile on had me laughing ;-). With that bit of headwind now turning into a tailwind for the trip back to Tempe, I had the race course to myself, and my bike was humming---really, the Firecrest 808 and Disc on the Storck were flying! Post race, I figure I had made my way into 3rd or 4th in 40-44 by this point with the early catches on the bike--I did notice some 40-44 calf numbers on my way up, and realizing now that Bryan was going off of the Swim placing and looking at the results, I was sitting PERFECT!!!!
|The Final Setup...and the best one to date. 2 cages, clean, tidy, FAST!|
|My cockpit...bottle for water up front (bottle behind the seat for Sports Drink), PC 7 keeping me on track, calories in the Stealth. Not cumbersome...absolutely perfect finally!!!|
|Lap 2 Power File|
During the final 10 miles of Lap 1 I had peaked back and noticed a foursome catching me slowly. Once I saw them, my goal was to hold steady and keep them away until the start of Lap 2...luckily this came naturally at my goal pacing, but I was "on alert."
|Finishing Lap 1...feeling perfect!|
Anyways, back to my weak-minded self sitting on the back of a foursome...it was great as the guy up front was behaving just like my swimming buddy who lead the way to T1. I was more than happy to take "pulls," but I continually checked my pace/wattage an decided that, heck, if they're gonna just let me sit here, this is perfect...AGAIN! We kept it legal, and the Marshals were now out on full patrol. As the caboose, it was easy to stay legal, take advantage and re-fuel and hydrate. (I was using the reflector spacing as my guide for legal positioning, which was plenty of space). I kept saying to myself CONSERVE ENERGY. I simply waited for them to tire out fighting the head wind. We hit the turnaround, saw Bryan again, mumbled a bit, and a memory from that same point last year popped into my head---a memory about how wrecked I was at that point (the halfway point) last year as I had no business being out there. Totally different feeling this time...smiling, fresh, and fast.
The group was breaking apart as we approached the turnaround (half way point of the bike), were I had caught what seemed to be a pack of the Womens Pro field...lots of Zoot Kits in there! On the way back, I worked through them, but one of them (no names...but I know who you are ;-) passed me back right away. I waited, passed back, only to then have a group of 3 pass me back again. We approached two lapped athletes who were riding side by side (blocking!), and after passing narrowly and sitting in third of the now foursome, all of us were sitting up as we reassembled (this happened, gosh, 20 times in Kona last year...you just sit up, stop pedaling, and let it sort out). Next thing I know "Number 1859, penalty for drafting." I look over and " hold back with everything I can from saying "you gotta be _____ kidding me!" We had also just passed the slight rise at the Special Needs Zone which was full of congestion and riders not paying attention to a straight line...I still don't understand the penalty if he was watching the situation, but so be it. I knew he was back there from a previous glance...I also let him know I disagreed as I was not making any agressive move, not taking any advantage, waiting for it to clear...oh well. The guy in front of me was not helping, as he was sitting right on a wheel now like he had been since I joined him--maybe I too close for too long, but maybe it was guilty by association. Hot, I just bolted, doing what I should have done in the first place. I was almost to the Gas Station on the Bee Line by now, and I just laid it out there riding 220W+ to the Penalty Box stationed just before the Turn for Lap 3. I got it out of my head as fast as I could, used the 4 minute stop to eat, drink what I had left on board, and watched the Zoot Ladies sail on by. At least it took them 2:30+ before they caught up to me while I sat....but I had wimped out and got a penalty for being safe. The "mistake of the day" had been made. I shoulda chased Patrick and the Zoot guy maybe, I shoulda taken off after the turn definitely...I felt GREAT. Instead, I was in no mans land now behind the women pros I wanted to pace with as I have learned that they typically pace the bike very consistently...
|The Turn for Lap #3...Post Penalty Box :-(|
|Lap 3 Power File...|
- I wanted a sub 5 bike split...nope!
- I wanted to hit T2 under 6 hours...nope!
- I would have been in 3rd-4th place in 40-44...nope!
- I would have been A LOT fresher having someone to ride with for Lap 3 (AG'ers fall off, women pros = solid pace!)...nope!
- I could have paced off the Lady Zooters on the run with this fresher me...nope!
- I would have been AT LEAST 4 minutes faster on the day with the penalty time and losing that "place" in the field...NOPE!
|Somewhere...who knows when, during the bike...|
|They got the tracking set up really well for this year...basically, there are 4 sections to each Lap...so Splits 1-4 are 4 even quarters of Lap1, 5-8 for Lap 2, and 9-12 for Lap 3|
Lap #2: 25:34 28:27 21:13 27:22
Lap #3: 24:42 26:52 23:48 25:38
It's pretty obvious to see that the wind changed directions...blowing down the Bee Line for Lap 1, neutral for Lap 2, then blowing up the Bee Line for Lap3...a typical day on the Bee Line! Spectators in Tempe thought there was no wind, but I'd say it was about 4 mph all day long.
Nutrition/Hydration on the bike:
As I finished the bike, Chris asked how I was--I said "good" but that stomach issue was lingering, and I spent the last 10 miles of the bike focused on trying to resolve the issue, even stopping at Special Needs on the 3rd Loop to get another bottle of OSMO (I didn't stop prior). Perform, I have decided after 3 races using it, is awful. I've had the same exact stomach tightness each time versus EFS which has given me zero problems. I do use Perform mixed from powder in training to accommodate to it, but the bottled version I think is just too concentrated for my gut to handle. My plan was to sip water every time I took a chug, but I guess I didn't do that enough. So, no more on-the-bike Perform for me. My total calorie intake was low...in the 900-1000 calorie range (EFS Liquid Shot, Clif Bar, Gu), but I felt well fueled all bike long. I simply took in some food when I felt the slightest hunger come on. 1.25 bottles of OSMO, 2 bottles of Perform, and 6 bottles of water sounds about right for liquids on the day. This seems low for me, but I had a consistent sweat on, and pee'd right out of T2. Maybe next time add another bottle or 2 in the same 80 degree conditions? Peeing on the bike past the half way point would be an ideal marker.
Takeaway and tactics from the bike: well, if the above wasn't long enough, I'm still gonna add more thoughts here. My word for the day was PATIENCE. I think I was a bit too patient, but really, I think it is impossible to be too patient on the bike all the same...you still have a marathon to run. I hit the 100 mile mark at 4:24ish feeling fresh, and I gained ground on the bike on this day...this was a first for me, even with the penalty. I really couldn't be happier about it. I trained for 7 weeks for this race after all, and my bike fitness 7 weeks ago was suspect. But I also think IM racing is my "niche" in triathlon...its where I can excel the most and my pacing seems controlled, maintainable, and consistent. 70.3 are the death of me, and the Olympic distance is just plain fun. I must have the "aerobic gene" versus the "threshold gene." This would have been my fastest bike split (it was a fast day though), but it was my lowest average power IM bike at 201W average (207W for both Kona 2011 IMAZ 2011). For a sub 5 bike split at that wattage, I have to be extremely aero...I wasn't out of the aero bars at all until mile 100. Another tactic I used was changing cadence periodically on an pancake flat bike course. Sometimes I was at 85 cadence, other times as low as 70 cadence. The variety kept my legs from getting stale, and gave me something to stay focused on.
|Bike Power File|
Ok, its nothing to win a medal for, but the speed of my T2 tells a lot about how I was feeling...decently fast means I was alert and ready to run (last year, I didn't want to leave the tent). A quick change of socks, shoes on, have my helper put my 5 Hour Energy and Saltstick dispenser in my back pocket, and off I go with visor and glasses in hand.
The only problem? The Saltstick Dispenser stayed in T2. If the penalty was the biggest mistake of the day, this was the even bigger biggest mistake of the day. We talked pre-race about 300 mg of salt per hour starting in T2. Frickity frack, I didn't realize how screwed I was as I needed it BAD...
Run: 3:45:26...my slowest run split :-(
(no need to figure out where this split was overall...I'll wait for Slowtwitch Enhanced Results to see the damage...
|Out of T2 my family was RIGHT THERE to greet me...smiling, but not long after this, the smiles would be no more...|
With that bit of GI issue, I headed out onto the run course stressed. I felt decent, but all of the sudden the smooth race I was having into T2 was no longer with me. Pace was 7:10-7:20ish, comfortable, relaxed, but at the same time I was feeling a lot of tightness in my rib cage---a Salt Tab would have done wonders. I reached around after crossing the Priest Dr bridge...and panicked when I couldn't feel my Saltstick Dispenser. My damage control instantly went into overdrive as my rib cage tightened to the point that I could only take shallow breaths (zero diaphragmatic breathing). This defined the success or failure of the day at least from a goal time perspective. I crossed the bridge back to the south side of TTL eager to see my family there, but I was becoming seriously worried that I would have to run the marathon feeling this way, and I was not even half way through the first lap.
|Crossing the bridge on Lap 1 in panic mode...|
I mumbled a bit to my family as I really couldn't come up with anything to say...I may have even faked that I was ok here. It didn't help that as I passed the guy in bright Orange shoes my right foot clipped one of the railing bases heading through the uneven path behind transition while heading down to TTL. I kept the rubber side down on the bike, but now I can't even run without falling? It knocked the wind out of me and dislocated my right ring finger. I know...I am accident prone.
|LOTS of 8's....when I shooting for all 7's; that was the difference between my goal and my actual....|
From here, I went from racing to consistent attention to damage control all the way to the finish. The support on the course was incredible--home field advantage carried me through 23 miles with a completely seized up rib cage. ONE-mates, you are spectacular! Neal and Dani Gelb: we already talked about our funny moment....one word: delirious! Ponch: thanks for the hugs! JD, Carlos, Sue and Rika: you know how to yell! Russ, you gave me everything you had to get me going...I just couldn't move any faster! Thanks a ton bud, that was incredibly cool of you to be out there in the way that you were.
I stopped a few times and took a huge breath while letting my upper body completely go limp and got a little relief, but otherwise, I wanted someone to jump on my back or take what felt like an ice pick in my spine out. The 5 Hour Energy had to be used at the end of Lap 1, but had zero effect, and I ended up walking every aid station trying to stretch it out, drink some Perform. Chris came to my rescue with some salt at the end of Lap 2. It seemed to help and I was able to settle into some semi-decent rhythm finally, but at this point my legs were trashed from fighting my upper body for ~20 miles of the run. I maintained my position in the race for the last loop, and had just enough juice to keep two 40-44 guys from beating me to the line for 10th by seconds.
9:50 sounds like a good time, and when people tell me "great race" I simply smile and say thanks, but I had my battles out there and created a lot of adversity for myself with some really stupid mistakes---the penalty, not taking stock of the Salt Stick Dispenser, and my little crash on the run.
There were many dark times on the run, but I just kept fighting---but there was no way I was going supra-10. I made sure I would remember the pain by having conversations with myself about how much it hurt and to remember the mistakes I made that put me there in the first place. My run splits over the past three years here really make it obvious again as to how bad this run was...
2010: 3:21 (felt perfect---with a perfect 16 week build)
2011: 3:31 (didn't even want to run---6 weeks post Kona)
2012: 3:45 (thought I was going to PR the run pre-race...WOW...24 minutes slower than that)
It's hard to really even call that a run...more like a jog. Still, it could have been a lot worse, and looking at the training and the issues I had, there is an immediate solution even if I went with a 7 week build down the road; simply add 3-4 long runs in there of 16-20 miles (2-2:30 runs) and change nothing else as long as I had a good base going into it.
|Fuzzy...how I felt!|
|I think this is Lap 2...ONE support was amazing all day! Rika, Carlos, Sue, Dan, Mom, Dad, Jeantte, Jenny and Sophia...you kept me going! Among others!|
Team BSR is being kicked off this year by New Zealand Pro Triathlete Chris McDonald who lives here in Tucson some of the year. The team is an Elite group of 45 triathletes from the US and Australia looking to make their mark in the Tri Community in 2012. My teammate Max Biessmann won the Swim Prime at IMAZ with a 52:37, went 9:15, and was 11th Amateur, punching his second ticket to Kona with a 2nd place in 25-29. That's some good company and just what I need moving forward to challenge me to get faster...but it won't be in an IM any time soon ;-) Train hard, race hard, play hard!
Sponsors of the team include...