2014 Couer d'Alene Race Report: Jason Brandt goes sub 11hrs in his 2nd Ironman!

IMCdA Race Report – Jason Brandt June 29, 2014
2nd Ironman® (1st was 2013 Arizona in 10:26)

Race Day Stats

Total Time 10:46:28 22th of 359 (M40-44) 136 of 2466 140.6 miles
Swim 1:07:40 / 55 / 296 2.4 miles
T1 3:23
Bike 5:41:25 / 25 / 152 112 miles
T2 1:54
Run 3:52:06 / 22 / 136 26.2 miles

Race Day Goals

  1. Execute like a Ninja (MOSTLY ACCOMPLISHED)
  2. Race less than 11 Hours (ACCOMPLISHED)

Part of the appeal of Ironman® is that you got to earn it no matter what comes your way. That was going to be the case when I caught my first glimpse of the chop on the lake from the gusty morning winds. Also knew that meant I’d be dealing with a two loop bike with a 21 mile uphill stretch that was going straight into those winds. I have no idea what the actual winds were but they seemed greater than the forecasted 10-12mph. Meant my bike split would be longer that anticipated but that would be the case for everyone. As a comparison, the person in my age group last year that finished 22nd was 15 minutes faster, that is my best way of measuring the impact of the conditions.

This is my second Ironman® having done Arizona just 7 months earlier. While I put the training in I needed I worried that my performance might be hindered a little because of a new job assignment that had me travelling quite a bit causing me to juggle or rearrange workouts every week. I had such determination in the first IM to earn that moniker and I was hoping the drive would be equally strong for #2. Needed to make sure I had my multiple one things that would carry me in the final miles. We had an unspeakable tragedy with a fellow EN athletes son and all of us were dedicating this race to TJ and I had inked his initials on my shoulders as a tribute.

I returned home to connect my Garmin only to find out that my 910xt data file was corrupted, it served me well during the race but I had no GPS retained nor any data from the run. Very disappointing and in a year + of having the watch the first corrupted data file I’ve had. I spent an hour on the phone with Garmin and we loaded what limited data I did have.

SWIM:

Weather/Conditions/Notes. 50 degrees air temperature, 61.3 degree water temperature. IMCdA uses the swim smart start that had us self seeded by 10 minute corrals and all athletes were in the water within 16 minutes. Two loop swim with a timing mat crossing between each loop. Winds and waves would slow the outbound section and would carry us on way back. Sun was a non issue.

Goal was 1:08+/- 2minutes. Swam a 1:08 at Arizona and was on track for that with race rehearsals. Had a practice swim on Friday in the lake with similar conditions and was convinced the conditions would slow me by a few minutes.

The race seemed to start very quickly for me. Went from hanging out with family in my zone to somebody saying I got to go now as it takes awhile to get down there. Dropped my morning clothes bag and had enough time to get in the water to calm my nerves and boost my confidence that I could do this. Seeded in the middle of the 1:00-1:10 pack. I was in water within 2 minutes of actual start. It was rough going for the first few hundred yards, seemed like I was only successful breathing on one side which kept me from settling down. There was definitelly much less contact than the mass start I experienced at IMAZ. Only really contact area was around each of the two turn buoys which felt like we all came to a standstill. Coming back certainly felt faster and easier for bilateral breathing. Second loop was more settled then the first and felt I had an easier time finding some feet to follow (surrounded by my pace swimmers) though I’m still not good at that. I guess I prefer open water in front of me.

T1:

Didn’t see my famlly when I came out of the water but they saw me. Transition was pretty straightforward because I kept it simple. Strippers helped we with my wetsuit and then into the tent for socks shoes and helmet/visor and I was off with a quick stop for sunscreen. Volunteers were great provided you told them what you needed. The transition at CDA is condensed so has the potential to be very fast. I think I was faster than most given the number of spots I had climbed from swim exit to first bike split. (55 to 31). Not sure I would make any changes here. Perhaps if I start biking without socks that could save me another 35 seconds.

BIKE:

2 Loop course. First 13 mile section takes you through town with a whole bunch of turns and then out along the lake and back to transition and then it is headed out south on 95 for the remainder as an out and back then repeat.. As Coach R says that is a really long time to have a small mistake become a big one. The stretch of 95 is hilly but nothing more than 6% and is generally uphill going out. Challenge here was going to be to keep the watts from spiking going up and gain on the field in the crests and downhill provided I could keep pushing watts without spinning out.

Goal:

As I found out at Arizona predicting a bike split time is hard to do given road & weather conditions. Plus time or mph is not within my control so I would just ride my targeted watts and let the time be what it was. At Arizona I rode 179W which at the time was 70% of my FTP and I had a 5:17. My FTP at last test was 276 and I was going to ride 208W NP (75%). In posting my race plan, this was the area I got a lot of feedback on which I really appreciated and it had me going back to scrub my race rehearsals, heart rate data, post bike runs, etc. I really appreciated this and is some of the real value of EN. At the end in some discussion with Coach R, I kept to my validated 208W but suspected that perhaps my FTP was actually a little higher as I was running better than a 75% would have suggested. This is going to be my last IM for awhile and I wanted to see what was possible but it did force me to be careful as I didn’t want to be one of those “fit” athletes who walks the marathon talking about the awesome bike split they had.

Power Goals

First 13 miles 200W NP
Remainder at 208W NP (IF~ .75) not to be exceeded or I would pay for it.

Narrative:

Bike was unremarkable until I hit Hwy 95. Shortly after turning on hwy 95 the road starts a long steady 6% climb. I had ridden this on Thursday so knew I could keep the watts in check. I was aiming to about 235W on the climb knowing on the return I’d likely be under the watt goal given I’d likely be coasting when I was 38+mph. That would make for a higher variability index meaning the climbing would take a toll but one I was hoping to keep in check by ensuring total ride was at NP goal of 208. I got passed by a number of folks on the outbound stretch including a number that were out of the saddle and clearly spiking their watts. I just smiled knowing I would pass several of them. The turnaround was longer than what my mental math had calculated but finally came and it sure was fun to be going the other way. I hit speeds past 40mph seven times including a new personal best top speed of 45.7mph. I did what I could to push the watts but with the road surface, winds and sometimes narrower bike lane I did a fair amount of coasting. I think my NP after 56 miles was 213W so I made a mental note to take it easier on the hills in the second lap. The stretch through town was unremarkable again and it was good to see the family as I passed by them twice before heading out to Hwy95. The second time on HWY 95 I kept my climbing watts closer to 215-225 and I think I was at 210 total NP by the time I hit the turaround. I was at an overall NP of 208W as I exited 95 and was headed back into town. VI was 1.05 and higher than I would have liked. With my Garmin data loss cannot pinpoint which laps were way off but assume it was the hills on hwy 95. My watch lapped every 9.33 miles(1/12 of IM distance) and my splits are shown below. Nutrition went as planned with doing a bottle of perforrm for virtually every aid station and if I recall 3-4 gels and 4-5 salt tabs. My body was telling me I was amply hydrated or perhaps I just have a small bladder.

Reflection:

In hind sight I should have ridden a little easier in the first lap going up the hills though I adjusted for it in tthe second half. Also when I realized I’d be doing a 5:40 or so split but had used an IF for a planned 5:15 split I was worried that I’d have too high of a TSS for the run but I think it turned out ok. Also I wonder if I over hydrated. It didn’t slow me down but is there a negative effect from having too great a percent of calories come from sports drink?

Bike STATS

Split Avg Speed Max Speed Avg HR Max HR Avg Bike Cadence NP Power Avg Power
1 19.8 36.5 136 184 82 ? 199
2 21.5 39.1 130 138 82 ? 198
3 15.8 41.1 134 143 83 ? 219
4 17.4 41.9 135 150 84 ? 212
5 29 45.7 140 152 79 ? 188
6 20.8 42.2 143 150 80 ? 208
7 19.8 38 139 149 82 ? 199
8 19.5 35.7 139 149 80 ? 198
9 14.7 36.7 141 153 78 ? 196
10 16.7 39.3 138 146 83 ? 192
11 27.4 40.6 137 149 79 ? 182
12 22 43.5 135 150 72 ? 167
Summary 19.6 45.7 137 184 80 208 198 1.050505 VI

Jason Brandt Coeur d'Alene14

T2:

Approaching the dismount I got my feet out and on top of my shoes and was careful to gracefully dismount. Ran and was handed my bag. Tied my shoes, got my belt and grabbed my go bag. Stopped for 15 seconds to get sunscreened up, that was the best part of the whole transition. And I was off, transition felt good and don’t think I would make any changes.

RUN:

2 loop mostly flat course with lots of spectators and energy in town. There is a hill you go up and down just before you turn around on each lap. Must be about 1.3 miles each way but total elevation gain still makes it a flat course. Must have been high 60s and I encountered wind, clouds, sun and even a little rain right before I finished.

Goal:

My vDOT indicates I should run a 3:53:00 achieved thru 6 miles of 9:10 and remainder at 8:40 without slowing down. Plan to run each mile 15 seconds or so faster to allow for 10-20 seconds of walking at each aid station to down the fluids and treat my body to a very short walk. That walk was something I would look forward to as the miles wore on. I ran a 3:52:06 so I was right as predicted but I was hoping I might be able to run a 3:46.

Narrative:

Told myself I had completed 114 miles of this journey and only 26 to go, tried not to think it would be the toughest portion yet ahead. Having the go bag, helped slow me down as I put on my hat, sunglasses, gel, salt tabs. There was a high energy vibe running down Lakeside and Sherman which had me running faster than I should of. Kept telling myself to slow. I wasn’t overly successful and my first 6 miles probably averaged 8:30 versus the planned 9:00 but that was better than the 7:23 I would have been running otherwise and I saw a fair number of people doing around me. Was excited to high five my family as I passed them 7th and Sherman. Coach R was right that there are way too many turns to get out to the lake. It was fun though to see all of the people and hear the music blaring from the multiple block parties. Mile 6 when I was allowed to start running LRP coincided with the hill and I would have to climb and descend before turning around to cliimb and descend that same hill. Not sure my pace improved much because of the hills but I do recall seeing some good splits over the next 10 miles or so. Tried to take my mind off the running by trying to read every funny triathlon sign that folks had made, the chalk sayings and stealing energy from the block parties. The runner in front of me had friends on a boat and so we had a boat escort with their blaring tunes for a few miles. All in all helped to take my mind off the run. Saw lots of my Endurance Nation teamates on the run and our words of encouragement dwindled as we all got tired into just a thumbs up or short “Go EN” Mile 18 came and went and I didn’t hit the wall but I wasn’t ready to pick it up especially not with having to climb and descend the hill so I told myself I’d get that done and then see if I had anything more to give. Walked for 20 steps each direction on the hill. Started drawing my mental energy from thinking about my one things: making my wife and kids proud with my accomplishment, showing what is possible, being determined, and I thought of TJ often! I ran the whole marathon except the 2 twenty step hill breaks and the aid station when I was consuming fluids. I passed a lot of folks in the last 7 miles though many of them were on the first lap but it turns out I passed 4 in my agegroup and 7 overall in those last 6 miles. I have no Garmin data for the run.

Finish:

I had the finish chute all to myself. Stopped for a big hug to family in the stands and then ran onto the finish. I didn’t get as much air time from Mike Reilly being a second time finisher but the words “You Are an Ironman” sounded just as sweet. Was really pleased with my time and in line with what my secret race goal had been.

Nutrition:

Ate the CD breakfast at 3:30AM. My goal was to use all on course nutrition offerings plus a few gels in case I missed a station + salt tabs. I drank 2-3 bottles of perform in first hour on bike and then 1-2 per hour after that, gel every 60minutes. On the run had 1 sometimes 2 3-4 oz servings alternating between perform and coke and a gel every ~30 minutes (gel just first half of run). Discovered by mistake they had Red Bull on the RUN course and decided I had never had that and wasn’t about to do any more than my accidental cup I consumed early. Wasn’t as much ice on the course as I would have liked so ended up using a lot of water to stay cool. Never refused ice or water over the head. Think I overdid it with the salt tabs, kept taking them more for their caffeine than the Na/K content, ended up with lots of salt stains on the run that I was constantly trying to wash off. For the last 7 miles only took sports drink every other aid station as I knew I had plenty of fuel in me and was determined to enjoy some post race pizza.

Following race: Took in post race massage, chocolate mile and some veggie pizza. I’m writing this report on Monday as we drive home from the race and added the splits once I got the Garmin connected at home. Feeling ok. Legs from knees down ache and my system seems a little off (probably from 2.5 gallons of perform and no solid food on race day) . Suspect my high from a great race has masked the soreness. Back to the airport for work tomorrow.

Thanks for reading my race report. I’d love your feedback especially on power strategy when you know there are two long stretches where you won’t be able to hit target watts, nutrition–is there benefit to consuming same number of calories with less liquid when I’m amply hydrated. Personally, I’d like to beoome a faster runner and think that will be my focus so I can come into my next IM race with a higher start ing vDOT.

Love all that EN has done for me! I work hard but I work smart. Thanks Coach Rich and Coach Patrick!

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