Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ironman Couer d'Alene

It's been awhile since I posted, sorry. Race has come and gone. Overall a pretty good race, but not what I had wished for. The weather through some major curve balls and I through in one myself the day before the race.

Arrived in CDA on Thursday afternoon, checked into cabin, picked up bike from Tribike Transport. Met up with my friends Chris, Jerry, Toby, and a few new friends from Atlanta on Fri morning at 6 am for a swim at the race site. 6 AM is 9 AM Atlanta time so it wasn't that early to us. We were the first to arrive, and we were running a little late to boot. It was cold with a nasty wind. The temp was mid 50's with 15 mph wind. Rain was in the forecast for the day, but wasn't raining at the moment. My Dad come with us to walk along the Lake while we trained. Got wetsuit on and swam about 20 mins. We were then going to ride an hour and I was going to run 20 mins. Chris and I got out of our wetsuits and got our bikes ready and headed over to Toby's hotel to get everyone else. There was an issue with a car and Jerry and Angela had to take it back to their hotel. We waited awhile for them to get back. It was now very cold and I only had a long sleeve t-shirt on with my wet tri shorts and wet tri top on under. The wind was whistling and I was freezing. We finally got started and rode the first out and back section of the course which was about 13 miles or so. I saw my Dad on the way out and slowed to tell him I'd meet him at the car at 9:30. I decided I'd run from the cabin later that day instead of making him wait. Well, it started to rain a little on the bike and an hour later it rained for the rest of the day. I didn't get my run in and should have just skipped it.

Saturday morning came and it was clear and crisp out. Mom and Dan went to town to walk along the lake. I decided to get that easy run in. I was planning on just a 3 mile run. About 2.5 miles in disaster struck. I was running on the oncoming traffic side of this windy lakeside narrow road carved into the side of the mountain when a large pickup truck approached. I moved as far over to the shoulder as I could to leave room for the truck. The edge of the blacktop was jagged and broken up a bit. As the truck was passing I stepped down and a piece of the blacktop broke off and I rolled my ankle. Next thing I know I am rolling on the ground as the truck wheel passed just inches from my face. At first I thought I may have broken my ankle as pain shot up my leg. I decided to get home as fast as possible to get ice on it. I was able to slowly hobble home, luckily only 1/2 mile away. I was in complete shock and disbelief that this had just happened. I iced and gobbled ibuprofen the rest of the day. The pain that night was intense and it woke me up about every 30 mins. A poor night of sleep before an Ironman for certain. The worst part of it was the distraction it created. The day's leading up to an Ironman are incredibly mental. You have to focus on being positive in your mind...you have done enough training, you are strong enough, you can endure the pain, YOU WILL DO THIS. Having a kink in your armor wrecks havoc in this mental preparation and I was the least prepared mentally for this ironman. Probably the most prepared physically, but at mile 20 on the run, it isn't physical - it's 100% mental. To say I was disappointed is a major understatement.

I'll copy and paste the details from the race from my race report in my training blog.....here you go...

Pre-race routine:Typical pre-race breakfast, nothing different. We were staying up at Lake Hayden (by the upper part of the bike course) so it was about a 15 min drive to the race site. Found a parking spot and walked about 5-6 blocks to the park. Planned on getting there at 5:30 and I was right on time. I had a very detailed list of todo's (I'm a list person) on my Blackberry and got right to it. Pumping tires was the frst on the list as if you don't find someone with a pump you have to get in line for one of the support pumps and that can take 15-20 minutes. Guy next to me who I met at the Cheah Challenge Century in May (he's from Atlanta) had a pump and let me use it. Then off to get T bags set up. Then drop off bike special needs bag which they had all the way on the other side of the park and required walking alone the waterfront sidewalk. This sidewalk was VERY crowded and it took about 10 mins each way moving through like a herd of cattle. Now time for the morning potty break. There were at least 300 (not exaggerating here) people in line so I went looking for another bathroom. I knew there were bathrooms on the other side of the park and headed that way. Of course there was a line but I got in it and waited. Pro start went....still in line, they they announced to start moving to the swim start. It was now 6:40 and I was still in line without wetsuit on. Finished bathroom and ran to get my wetsuit on. Found my parents and got my wetsuit on and headed back through the crowds. At 6:57 I stopped being polite and waiting for all of the non-racers moving through the crowd and just pushed my way through to the timing gate, which you had to walk over to register your chip into the race. Made my way over to the far left, inside the buoy line, got my goggles and hat on and 10 seconds later the cannon went off. Um, yeah, zero warm up. Not even any arm stretches.


So no warm up and off I go. the wind was coming from the South, which is typical I understand, which means we were heading straight into the waves on the way out and with them on the way back. Going out was tough. About every 3-4 breaths a wave would come over my head just as I was inhaling and I would get a mouth full of water. I ended up swallowing a bunch of water on the first loop. I got much better at sensing the waves on the second and would just skip the breath when I could tell the wave was over my head, but the damage was done at that point. More on this later. The trip back to the beach on each lap was actually nice as I was riding the waves and I really stretched out my stroke and took advantage of the glide. This enabled me to bring my HR back down.


Ironman doesn't allow shoes clipped into bike in transition. wetsuit strippers took forever to get my suit off. I think I was laying on my back for about 15 seconds. I told them just to pull it off of my ankle. She kept trying to use her fingers to work it off. That's a tough volunteer job so I was nice. They had a shortage of volunteers at some of the stations and this was evident in the T1 tent. It was self serve all the way. I had to put everything in my bag and even find a volunteer to hand it off to when I had it loaded with my wetsuit, cap and goggles. Resulted in a slow T1. I was hoping for a sub 3:00 T1.


In Ironman it's all about the bike, not just because it is the longest, but also because it is where you set up your run. I knew coming in that my nutritional plan needed modification. The low temperatures meant I wouldn't be drinking enough and therefore I wouldn't be getting those liquid calories. I made adjustments and packed more gels and bars. I started off fine and then about mile 20 my stomach started cramping. When I got on the bike my stomach was very bloated from the lake water I had taken in. I am guessing that upset things. I tried to get the calories in but things were getting ugly. I decided to switch over to water from GE and that helped, but made the caloric deficient even worst. I supplemented the lack of GE with salt tabs (1 per hr instead of the usual 3/hr I take while racing). All told I was about 3/4 of a bar and 4 gels short on calories at the end of the bike (about 600 calories).


forgot to take off bike race belt and replace with run race belt and had to turn around (still in the tent) to switch them out. Probably 5-6 seconds.


Not happy with this run. The lack of calories on the bike caught up to me about mile 8. I couldn't turn my legs over and I couldn't even get my HR into zone 1. I finally stopped at mile 11 aid station and pitched a little tent and had two hand fulls of pretzels, some chicken broth, 2 cookies, and some water. I was going to see if I could keep it down. Started running again and did the same thing at mile 12 aid station. Started running again and I could tell that stuff, to my surprise, was starting to help. Ate a bunch more at mile 15 aid station, then again at 20, but this time just jogged through them. My ankle was hurting, but I told myself the night before I wasn't going to allow it to be an "out", so I just mentally shut off the nerves in my left foot. If I focus everything I have, I can do this. It is very weird but my whole left foot was numb (like if it were frozen), not just my ankle, so I guess it worked.

Mental toughness wasn't there for me today on this run. First races can be like that as you just are wasting mental energy trying to figure out what the course will throw at you and the conditions were doing the same. My ankle took my head out of the race on Saturday. I need to spend the day before the race without any surprises, and man was that a big one. Calories, or lack of, was the issue. I'm not sure why I couldn't get my gels in. I may need to do some experimenting with run fueling?

My finishing time was 10:30:24, 178/2200, 32/362 in my age group. My friend Jerry, who missed Kona by 4 minutes at this race last year finished 18 mins faster and took the last Kona slot in our AG. Overall the AG was 18 mins faster in much tougher conditions. Every year the races get faster and faster. There is a lot of controversy brewing on whether AG athlete's who accept Kona slots should have to take a drug test (performance enhancing drugs) when they accept the slot. Many races are at the point where the last Kona slot winner's finishing time (typically, 12th place for my AG) would have won the AG just 4 or 5 years ago. Times have come down 25 or 30 mins. It is quite common for the 40-45 AG winner to finish the race top 10 overall (amongst the Pro's). That is just crazy, and in my opinion begs investigation!

So now it's on to Florida in November. I am feeling very good about this race. My recovery has been great and I am ahead of schedule and ready to hit it hard August 1!

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