2013 Arizona Race Report: Rian Bogle – 2 Years On TeamEN Shaves 4 Hours Off His IM time…10:52!

Listen to Coach Rich’s chat with Rian about his performance at Arizona2013 on the Endurance Nation Podcast, available in the player at the end of this post!

Wow! Where to start? There are many things to say, and the numbers are spinning around in my head. Its another year and another Ironman® down: My third Ironman® race, my third year of triathlon, my second Ironman® Arizona, my second year with Endurance Nation, and by no coincidence my second very successful year. In two years with EN I have taken 4 hours off of my Ironman® time, and gone from 1000th place to 169th.

So, I would be remiss in not saying here at the top, Thank-You! To Patrick and Rich. To the Wicked Smarts, to my EN teammates and friends, and MOST of all to my wife, Bridget, and son, Ian, who advise, sympathize, help, encourage and suffer along with me every day.

I’m a data geek, and by nature could gleefully spin off the numbers of training, testing, and racing this year in an ultimately very short and boring (to most!) report. But while I love this sport for its technical nature, I love it more for the mental challenge and the sheer will power it can consume to do it well, so bear with me while I try my best in this report to mix it up and spin some insight into my process this year and this race. (If you can’t bear it, trust me, I get it.  Scroll on down, the data and summary is at the end!)

Rian Bogle Training

After my Arizonalast year, I set some lofty benchmark goals for my training this year, and starting in January buckled down. The beginning of the year did not go well for me, however. I struggled through the first 4 months, what we call our Outseason, which is normally when we build our biggest speed and power gains. I fell ill frequently, gained weight, starting finding myself short of breath, and even getting dizzy spells. I could barely reach and maintain the level of fitness I had had in November, and by mid-May, when I was supposed to be well into the build for Ironman® Coeur D’Alene in June, I was a wreck. Finally we figured out, after lots of scary possibilities and tons of tests, that I was hypothyroid due to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Basically my body’s thermostat and metabolic regulator is shutting down, due to my own immune system attacking my thyroid. Sounds awful, there’s no cure really, but there is a pretty simple fix: take thyroid hormone to replace what my thyroid won’t make any longer, one pill daily. By the time we got things figured out, I had to pass on IMCdA and decided with Coach Rich, to reboot my season. I threw in 6 weeks of Get-Faster work, and then switched to a Half-Ironman® training plan to build and prep for a Half IM in August, which got me near to my 2012 peak fitness levels by mid-August.

At that point, I believed the year was a wash, that I might gain some small improvements, and with luck have a race in Arizona similar to last year. Nevertheless, I pulled up my big-boy pants, loaded up an Ironman® training plan, and got to work. In the end, the 12-weeks leading up to Arizona were the most surprising and rewarding training weeks I’ve ever had. I carefully regulated my rest days, adding more rest to my schedule the minute I felt my motivation flag and the fatigue build. This was, mentally, a surprisingly difficult thing to do: in American and Triathlon culture, resting is often considered a sign of weakness and laziness, not a powerful way to maximize the work you do, and so there are strong biases to overcome by resting more instead of working more. I found I could train in a tight periodized cycle, 1-2 weeks very hard (doing every single workout) followed by 1 week of lots of rest, only doing the key workouts. I usually sandbagged the sunday rides or skipped them, using sunday as a day off, or recovery day. I also shortened up my FTP (Functional Threshold Power is essentially the power you can output consistently for 1 hour) workouts on the bike and rode 5-10 minute intervals at ~ 105-110% during the hard part of the cycle, and did long 20 minute FTP intervals in the easy weeks, using them as proxy tests. Each cycle my swim, bike, and run got faster, or at least more comfortable. By the time we hit the last 4 weeks pre-race I had put on 30 watts to my FTP, added ~1+ Vdot ( Vdot is a measure of your run fitness and prescribes particular paces for training and racing), and had taken 7 sec/100yd off my swim CSS times!!!  (Critical Swim Speed is the swim pace equivalent of FTP or Vdot.) My biggest training weeks were the Race Rehearsal weeks which topped out at 12 hours of work, otherwise I usually was in the ~10hrs per week range.

The only setback I really experienced during the build to Arizona was an incident with a kamikaze raccoon, who decided to blast out of the undergrowth and unseat me, sending me sliding down the pavement, while I was doing 27mph on an afternoon ride in september. My human-suit was torn up, but luckily both bike and bones remained intact, yet sadly, the raccoon didn’t make it…poor little guy. Sniff. Darwinian selection at its, errm, weirdest, I guess. At the point of only few weeks to go, it was time to set some real goals for the race itself…..

Fitness Measures

2012 Peak

2013 Goals

2013 Peak

Weight

165

160

161

Swim

1:45/100yd

1:37/100yd

1:35/100yd

Bike

235w FTP

265w FTP

265w FTP

Run

49 Vdot (8:50/mi IM)

52 Vdot (8:15/mi IM)

50-51 (8:30/mi IM)

 

Setting Goals

Lets face it, Ironman® is all about the run, its a 134 mile warm-up for a 10k race. If you get the warm-up right, the last 6 miles of the run are manageable. If you mess it up, woe be to you, and the dark place you must suffer in for those last miles. So carefully planning out that 134 mile warm-up and setting the right goals for each discipline is critical to race success.

The swim is what it will be, you get so little feedback during the swim it’s sort of a black box. For the swim I based my goal time of under 1:10 off the 4200yd pool swims I did in the last few weeks of training. Thats the best information I had, as it was too cold to open water swim at home.

The bike, IF you do it right is also fairly fixed. Your FTP dictates what you ride, and going for time on the bike becomes irrelevant. To do it right you essentially ride by miles-per-gallon instead of miles-per-hour, metering out your power carefully. My FTP was 265 in testing, and I rode a couple 112mi rehearsals @ 70% of FTP feeling pretty good in 5:25 with twice as much elevation gain as the course in Tempe. Adding in the effects of aerogear and a flatter course for the race I figured a ride of 5:15 would be a solid guestimate for the race.

Ideally, the run too should be fixed like the bike: you come in raceday with a Vdot prescribed pace, you sit on that pace for 26.2 miles, end of story. But what if your not sure about your Vdot? What if its been changing fast, and your benchmark workouts keep getting faster? What if you train at 7000ft, and your Vdot pace will be faster @ 2000ft? How do you get your maximized run in an IM and not blow-up? My experience from last year indicated, instead of backing off my training Vdot by 2 points to find an equivalent IM race Vdot (the conventional EN wisdom) my Vdot should be the same or even 1 point faster with the altitude change. But that was an experience n=1 and last year’s race felt very comfortable, even maybe too easy. That left lots of unknowns and variables spinning in my head on how to approach the run this year. I was pretty sure I could run ~8:30 pace doing the run conservatively and evenly paced, but I also wondered if I could push that some more. I didn’t want to leave anything on the table at the end of the day. Ultimately, I set a goal of sub-3:40 (8:25ish pace) for the run, but had in my head maybe a 3:35 (8:10ish), if things went really well. Adding those up and factoring in transitions, I figured the right total time would be 10:13 or less. If I had a miracle day, I could just possibly go sub-10 hours.

Mental prep

Besides the data geekery and alphabet soup of FTP, Vdot, CSS numbers and goals, I’ve learned that the mental preparation and approach to the race is critical. All the fitness in the world does little good to you on race day, if you can’t keep your focus and know how to dig deep when the time comes. Part of prepping for this is visualizing the positive outcomes utilizing the goals I had set, simulating how it would feel to make each of these, as well as how I would feel at the end. The other piece, was prepping the mental focuses to use during the race itself. I planned to focus on three things: gratitude, love and smiles. I’ve been particularly struck by something Pete Jacobs, Ironman® Pro and 2012 world champ, said after his win at Kona concerning approaching the race and training with a positive focus. Jacobs focused on how much support and love he receives from family and friends, how much he loves the sport and the race and the struggle. That remembering and being grateful for those things, followed by a smile, when you are suffering or struggling can turn even the most dark moments of a race around. My goals involved reminding myself to smile every chance I got, to remember those things about gratitude and love. You might say its hokey, maybe, but I know he’s right and after last year I know it works. Now, how bout that race?!

Swim

6:50am into the water. I positioned myself in a nice big empty spot, halfway between the wall on the right and the buoy line on the left, about 5 yards back from the big kids. This clear spot seems to develop every year as newbies hang to the wall side, and the fish cling to the buoy line. Starting here allowed me to get up to speed quickly without sprinting or fighting for position. My goals here were to swim steady, sight often, remain calm, and swim the shortest line. I think because I’m faster this year, I never found myself clear of traffic on the swim, and while it wasn’t ‘rough’ it was a congested swim, with lots of tangled arms and tugging of feet and legs. It was difficult to keep rhythm for more than a couple minutes at a time. The upside to the additional congestion this year was that it was easy to find drafting opportunities throughout the swim. I rounded the 2nd red turn buoy, back toward home, in 31:30, and while not quite halfway, I knew this was 3 minutes ahead of last year, which put me on target for my goal. The congestion thins a bit on the return leg, so you have to work harder to find and keep drafting positions, but I had prepped by telling myself that the real work would start now, and began to dig hard to maintain my pace. I climbed out of the water with a time of 1:08. 2 minutes ahead of schedule, a 7 minute PR and the fastest swim I’ve ever had. I wasn’t even winded. I pulled off my top and cap, and smiled.

T1

The first transition is a long one at Arizona, more than a ¼ mile run from the swim exit to the transition tent. I jogged to the wetsuit strippers, got help with my speedtube pants, and then starting running hard. I think I passed more than 20 people in transition. I slipped on my bike shoes, grabbed my helmet, and continued to run to the bike rack. I finished T1 in 3:54, almost 2 minutes faster than last year. I smiled.

Bike

Theres a certain relief that comes from getting on the bike at this point. The anxiety of the swim start and transition has dissipated, and now its time to settle in, get something to eat and drink, and watch that power meter…for the next 5+ hours. Arizona has a 3 lap course, which helps in staying on even pace, but because its wide open flat desert, you get exposed to more and more wind as the day progresses. I rode the first 2 laps nearly dead even around 1:40 each, averaging 185 watts and 22 mph, this put me 10 minutes ahead of my goal. I saw the pros whip by on each of my first 2 laps, and saw a couple EN folks from a distance doing their thing. I chatted briefly with Wolf G, doing his first IM, he was feeling great, happy, focused and in the zone! I kept to drinking perform every 6 minutes and eating a Clif Shot Mocha gel every 30 minutes, taking in about 30oz of liquid and 460 calories per hour. If you’re concerned with time at IMAZ, you don’t stop to get rid of all that extra fluid, you learn to go on the move. Apparently, this is something that takes more practice than I gave it this season, and after 4 hours, I really, really, painfully had to GO, but couldn’t. I was going to have to stop. On the last lap, at the top of the hill, just past the aid station, instead of waiting in line at the porta potties, I pulled over and did what I had to do….90 seconds later….I didn’t even know it was possible to store that much fluid….I was rolling again. This next year I will have to truly practice going in motion, the discomfort I suffered on the last lap and a half of the ride had clearly slowed me down. The wind had come up at this point and the last lap, between stop and head wind, slowed by almost 8 minutes, but I was still ahead of the game on the bike by over 7 minutes. I rolled into T2 with a time of 5:08, a 25 minute PR. Stats were TSS 253, IF .7, NP 183, Av MPH 21.7.

T2

Dismount barefoot, handoff the bike and smile. I’m always glad when the bike is over. Now the ‘fun’ part is coming. I jogged through to the bags, scooped up mine, and dumped it on the lawn avoiding the tent. A nice volunteer ran over and started spreading the tangle of things out for me. Did my socks, shoes, visor, fumbled with my fuelbelt, and got the pickle juice flasks, and gel flask on, sucked down a flask of pickle juice and jogged to the porta potties. I got out the door in 3:28 including pit stop, so a little slower than last year, but last year I pitted in the first mile of the run, so its a wash.

Rian Bogle Crosses the Finish Line

Run

If you are a runner at heart, the Ironman® run is a thrill and a nightmare at once. At the start you can’t wait to get there, because its your thing, and then you live the nightmare of having to run with the shackles of the last 114 miles of work slowing you down. I fumbled with my watch at the start and so my pace for the first mile was showing really off — like 10:30 pace, so I had no real idea of how fast I was going, but I kept pushing to slow down, trying to stick to 8:30 pace. My plan was vaguely to go 8:30 for the first 3 miles or so, see how the legs felt and wind up to 8:15 pace including aid station walks. By mile 3, I was feeling very smooth and relaxed and committed to running a pace between 8:15 and 8:30. Nutritionally my plan was to drink perform at every aid station and sip on my gel flask filled with Clif Shot Mocha gels every 3 miles till the half-way point, and then switch to the sweet, cold, manna that is coke, for calories and caffeine. I found out however, at mile 3 that Clif Shots don’t flow, even warm, from a flask. Hmmm, plan B, drink coke and perform. Not as much caffeine or calories, but doable. So on I chugged laying down 8:15-25s, keeping an eye on several guys in my AG ahead of me, by only seconds, not wanting to break contact with them, and also put some fear in them that I was lurking back there; each turn-around I’d get a nod from each as they went by. This was fun, a race of sorts with some head games…chicken soup for the competitive soul. I saw my wife at mile 5, and did a quick stop to get a kiss. More good stuff for the soul. I saw En’ers along the way and tried to give everyone a high-five, I got cheers from some volunteering on the course too, which was really great. I saw Al T. twice on the loop in almost the same place, looking smooth and in command. We atta-boy’d each other, and it was buoying to see he was having a great race.

Endurance Nation talks about the line at mile 18-20, for which you spend your whole day preparing. The line at which success is marked by slowing down less than all the others. The line at which begins the Suck. If you screw things up preparing for the line, then you bring on the Suck early. For me the Suck hit at mile 13…way, way too early. Oy. This suck came on less like a wall and more like a falling stage curtain: I started to slow, my will began to fade, my heart rate dropped, the pain began to come on in my legs and feet and the negative voices in my head started to take over. Those voices say bad things, mean and nasty, selfish, tricksy things: “phone it in,” “you’re not going to qualify, so who cares,” “whatever you do now is a pr, so just walk a little more,” and my favorite: “this is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done, why do you do this to yourself?” Luckily, I remembered to smile, at everyone, like the village idiot. I remembered about being grateful, about loving this sport, about how I’d feel at the finish if I did anything less than my most, about my family, friends, and teammates. I remembered I was still in contact with the AG guys, I remembered I was wearing an EN jersey. Let me tell you the inner dialog was both brutal and enlightening. I hung on. I gave myself small concessions: an extra few seconds walk here, and extra sip there. I got rewards: I reeled in some of the guys ahead of me, I had some faster miles, I never walked outside the aid stations. The thought occurred to me to get more caffeine, so I doubled down on coke at a couple aid stations. I fought to hold my form and pick up my cadence, to drive up my HR. I watched the pace slow into the 9’s, and set that as my limit. I would brook nothing more. I was calculating averages in my head, looking at the clock and figuring out what I could finish in. Then I saw mile 22 and like a fresh breeze, I knew I’d made it. I could pick it up from there, I began to dig in, I reeled in two more guys. I had my eye on one guy about 300 yards ahead, with whom I had been cat and mousing all day. That became the one thing: get that guy, I don’t care what AG he’s in, he’s mine. I got a little choked up, when I realized how far I’d come, how deep I’d gone, and how I’d just come out the other side. I did it. I smiled. I drove my knees and lifted my head. I caught my guy, Bill, at mile 25 doing sub-8 min pace, he smiled at me, said something like: “been waiting for you, you’re like a freakin’ machine,” and off we went. We weren’t competing, just running together fast, savoring the dying light, the last mile. These minutes were so oddly peaceful, and serene. Just the soughing of our footsteps on the pavement. My last IM for a while, he said…. A big PR for me, I said…Take the chute man, he said, I want a moment to savor it. You sure? Yup, its all yours. See you there, I said. I looked up and there was Coach Rich, on his moto, with a ½ mile to go. Beep-Beep. Thumbs up. Nice. I round the corner and can finally hear Mike Reilly and the crowd. Ease off the gas now, smiling big grins, high fives, I hear my name from the left and right, I wave, and then from the center overhead: “YOU are an Ironman!” And theres the clock: 10:08:14. Nice. Big smile. Gratitude. Love.

Postscript

It’ll take me a while to process the lessons from this race, but I think most things went well and right. I learned, probably the only way I could, how I should set my goals for running pace, and I wasn’t far off in retrospect. A worthy experiment. My average pace ended up being just where I thought is should be: ~8:32. My total run was a 3:44 which was almost a 12 minute PR, but still slower than the 3:40 I was aiming for. Should I have started slower and eased in more, I might have brought that down a bit and saved myself some suffering. But I also know now I have what it takes to get through it. I did it. That’s a good lesson.

Below is some of the summary data from the race and pacing. I PR’d the race by almost 45 minutes, and finished in 30th place in my AG, 169th overall. The AG was very fast this year compared to the last two years. This year, the top 14 in 40-44 went under 9:45,  the likely Kona qualifiers (top 7) under 9:30, that means the qualifying time dropped by almost 20 minutes this year. This year’s 40-44 winner did it in 8:54 beating last years winner (who himself was 7 minutes faster than last year) by 8 minutes. For perspective, ENer Dave Tallo, who qualified for Kona last year, would have needed almost 20 minutes more to qualify this year. My time this year would have been 22nd place in 2012. I’ve got more work to do to get to race with the big boys, but I think I’m starting to tug the right threads to unravel this thing. So I’ll be back again in 2014.

Data:

 

Time

2012

2013 Goals

2013

2013/12 diff

Swim

01:15:31

1:10

01:08:51

-00:06:40

T1

00:05:49

5:00

00:03:54

-00:01:54

Bike

05:32:47

5:15

05:08:05

-00:24:42

T2

00:03:11

3:00

00:03:28

+00:00:17

Run

03:55:38

3:40

03:44:00

-00:11:38

Total

10:52:56

10:13

10:08:14

-00:44:20

 

Place

2013

2012

AG

30 out of 419 — 7%

65 out of 415 — 15%

Overall

169 out of 2514 — 6%

349 out of 2367 — 15%

Run Data

Lap

Time

Distance

Pace

1

8:29.2

1.00

8:29

2

8:12.7

1.00

8:13

3

8:15.1

1.00

8:15

4

8:15.6

1.00

8:15

5

8:13.3

1.00

8:13

6

8:25.8

1.00

8:26

7

8:22.2

1.00

8:22

8

8:16.3

1.00

8:16

9

8:14.1

1.00

8:14

10

8:13.2

1.00

8:13

11

8:13.0

1.00

8:13

12

8:27.9

1.00

8:28

13

8:44.6

1.00

8:45

14

8:39.7

1.00

8:40

15

8:45.2

1.00

8:45

16

8:38.9

1.00

8:39

17

8:46.1

1.00

8:46

18

8:59.6

1.00

9:00

19

9:48.9

1.00

9:49

20

8:47.1

1.00

8:47

21

9:04.3

1.00

9:04

22

9:05.1

1.00

9:05

23

9:24.0

1.00

9:24

24

8:47.0

1.00

8:47

25

8:11.9

1.00

8:12

26

8:01.1

1.00

8:01

27

1:24.8

0.19

7:31

3:44:00

26.19

8:32

Rian Bogle Heart Rate Graph Arizona2013

 

 

 

AUTHOR

Coach P

All stories by: Coach P
2 comments
  • Paul Olin
    REPLY

    Rian,
    Congratulations on a great race! I too deal with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. If possible, I would like to discuss your approach/periodization.
    Thank you,
    Paul

  • Paul Olin
    REPLY

    Rian,
    Congratulations on a great race! I too deal with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. If possible, I would like to discuss your approach/periodization.
    Thank you,
    Paul

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