Attila Matyas // 44 yr // 6’1” // 185 // FTP: 231 // VDot: 39 // First IM
Finish: 12:34:27 // Swim: 1:25:06 // Bike: 5:57:53 // Run: 4:52:19
I live in South Jersey right outside of Philadelphia so I spent the better part of the week worrying about Sandy heading right for us. I switched flights around a bunch of times only to have them cancelled. I was flying out of BWI (Baltimore) so I still had to be able to drive to the airport even if I had a flight which was not easy since they closed all the major roads around me for non-essential traffic. My incessant pacing and mumbling to myself was driving my wife nuts I think. The upshot is that I was around with the family during the storm as the guilt of leaving them alone during the storm was also stressing me out. We lucked out and didn’t get any major damage and I was able to fly down on Wednesday.
I shipped my bike out the previous Thursday via shipbikes.com in my own case and my bike was waiting for me when I checked in which was great. The next couple of days went by quickly with all the logistics of getting everything squared away 100 times.
We did a little swim test on Thursday morning and it did not give me much confidence for the race. The water was rough with strong currents and some swells. Being a week swimmer I immediately started to question what the hell I got myself into.
My spirits were lifted by meeting all the great folks on the team at the team dinner. It was nice to put face to the many people I’ve seen online. Those little avatars just don’t do people justice.
Friday was the 4 keys talk and it was great to hear all of the course specific tips. After the talk I took my bike out for a short test ride. It ended up being even shorter than I had planned. As I started riding I kept hearing a constant thump from my front tire from around the valve stem. After stopping a bunch of times I realized I had a little hop in my front tubular, probably the valve was not pushed in and it did not glue down flat. No way was I going to listen to that for 112 miles. I packed extra glue so off to the hotel to re-glue the front tire.
By this time my family were all there so we went out for an early dinner and then my mom and in-laws took the kids for the night so I could sleep. This was a great help and I can’t thank them enough.
Race Day: Pre-Race
Woke up at 3AM so I could get my bearings and get started on my core diet apple sauce breakfast. Poured the 4.25 cups mixed in protein powder and sat on the bed in the dark eating my gourmet breakfast. Topped it off with a banana and perform. I gathered up my BSN, RSN, pump and bike/run nutrition that I forgot to add to bags the day before. We were staying at the host hotel on the 4th floor directly looking at the swim start. So before heading down I walked over just to look at the beach. The waves were crashing down and moving pretty good, oh sh$t I thought. The applesauce kicked in right away and I was on my way back to the hotel room. After some relief I headed back down to transition and got everything taken care of.
I went back up to the room and got fully dressed and undressed about 4 more times. Race day nerves were definitely getting the best of me. By now the beach looked like the invasion of Normandy with so many people and vehicles all over the place. The water still looked angry and I was in full panic mode.
I said my goodbyes and took a quick picture with the family (Jessica, thx for snapping a picture of us too). They were going to watch the first lap from the balcony.
I lined to the right of the buoys about half way. I didn’t want to be too far to the right. I sat down in the water just to get the shock over with before the start. It was hard not to get emotional right before the start. The cannon went off and it took some time to get out past the breakers with some Tarzan swimming. From there it was just hand-to-hand combat. I got kicked; goggle came clear off, elbowed, swam over and everything in between. I read many accounts of an IM swim and until I was in it I couldn’t appreciate how physical it really is. The current and swells were not helping either. I was waiting to sight until I got to the top of a swell since the buoys disappeared when you were at the bottom. About 400 meters in I had one of my vintage panic attacks as I got crushed and swam over by a huge group. I sat up lifted my goggles and just took about 4-5 deep breaths and remembered the box. I put myself back in and got moving. I ran down the beach for the second lap start past the small buoy. The second lap was a little calmer then the first but the current and swells continued. Got to shore saw my family and stopped to give my kids a quick kiss and off to the wet suit strippers.
After the run up from the beach and a little shower it was off to the changing tent, or in this case a large ballroom inside the hotel. I put on my helmet, socks, sunglasses and stuffed my nutrition in my jersey pocket but kept my shoes off. I don’t fancy running in cleats all that much. I got lubed up with sunscreen and put my shoes on just before exiting the bike. Mounted bike past mount line which was filled with tons of people who I guess thought you must get on your bike right on the line. Saw RnP on the way out and Rich was yelling at me to go faster, by now I was smiling since I survived the swim.
Bike: 5:57:53 / 147W NP
I rode easy going out of town and my watts seemed super low for my speed so I guess I had a tail wind. I didn’t push it and started on my eating and hydration. My plan was to front-load the hydration as it was supposed to get on the warm side. I also didn’t pee on the swim since I had too many other things on my mind but now I had to go pretty bad. On each of my RRs I just couldn’t bring myself to pee on my bike especially when I just got new shoes. I promised myself today would be different, I was not about to wait in porta pot lines. Took some concentration but I finally got it done and from then on it was pretty easy. Only in this crazy sport can I write about peeing all over myself as something to celebrate!
So with the problem solved I pushed through on the bike and did not stop for the rest of the ride. I skipped special needs since I didn’t need anything and would stretch periodically on the bike. Draft marshals were out in force and I saw several people get popped for drafting. Maybe because of the marshals or maybe I was just too late out of the water but I did not see the large packs that are always talked about for this race. There was one that I was in the middle and couldn’t move when I was riding for a little bit with Nate but the draft marshal broke it up pretty quickly. It was great to find a teammate to ride along with for a few minutes.
The sun was beating down on me pretty good but I continued to hydrate and stay cool by pouring water on my arm coolers. The winds picked up as the day went on and the back bumpy section was miserable and tense with so much junk in the road falling from people’s bikes. You really had to watch where you were going so there was not much aero riding on that section.
I could use some work riding steady but with so many people I found it hard to keep a rhythm without going overboard on the watts in trying to pass multiple people. So I decided to just relax and enjoy the ride and this paid for itself later on the run.
I setup a little picnic area at my chair. It was so comfortable on that chair, I chatted with the volunteers, fiddled with my compression socks and ate my banana. I did not seem to have any sense of urgency, thus my time, but being my first IM I also wanted to enjoy my time and this was time well spent for me.
All season on my long Thursday runs I had trouble going the LRP+30 which for my already slow run pace is now super slow. I really had to stare at the Garmin to try and slow down on the initial 6 miles which went by quickly. I continued to fuel with clif bloks, gels and perform. At each aid station I dumped a cup of ice down my shorts and poured water on my arm coolers this kept me pretty comfortable. As the miles ticked off my pace started to degrade but not as much as I thought it would which just confirmed the earlier decision to chill on the bike. I was also thinking, man I didn’t realize how many EN folks I met at the group dinner because as I ran along people kept yelling my name constantly. I was honestly puzzled because I just didn’t think that many EN folks were out on the course. It took until about mile 8 for me to realize that my name was on my race number and people were just reading that and yelling it out….what a nooob!
I saw RnP at the state park which was pretty cool and Rich just said stay steady and that is what I tried to do. I was still passing people and by now it was starting to look like the march of the living dead for many people. It was great validation for me to literally see everything the coaches said pre-race unfold before my eyes.
At the end of the first lap I saw my family by special needs and stopped for a minute to say hi and give some hugs, again well worth any time lost. I didn’t need special needs so I kept going.
I got to mile 18 and the suck did not come so I was pretty happy though my legs were on fire it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be since my longest training run was only 15 miles. I plugged away into the park and I kind of liked the quiet darkness there, it reminded me of my 3:30AM Thursday runs. I got to mile 22 and the brick wall of suck hit me right over the head. I had to start talking to myself constantly to just keep pushing, drink coke and don’t walk since that hurt more than my shuffle run thing I was doing at the time. The crowd support is pretty cool especially in the last 2-3 miles where they are partying in the street and girls wearing latex are smacking you with a whip ; ) When I got to that section about 2 miles from the finish I dug as deep as I could and started running again and just kept going until the end. What a feeling it was to run down that chute. I was completely over run with emotion crossing that line. My family was on the side cheering me on, I got my medal, space blanket and had my picture taken.
I used the core race plan for the whole race and it worked very well for me. I have been training with it all summer and it continued to work on race day.
After the finish we snapped a couple of pictures and said goodbye to the in-laws, my mom and my two kids. They were all such troopers but my 4 year old was cooked. She never wants to give her daddy a kiss after a workout because in her words “eewww daddy you’re sweaty”. Well I had to agree with her on this day so I just blew her a kiss and they were off.
I walked around for a little bit not wanting to sit down right away and finally made it upstairs and got cleaned up. Slammed down my 4 scoops of R4 recovery and headed off to the Mellow Mushroom to meet fellow EN folks for a bite and some beers. We all hung out for a while and then it was time to head back, the coaches were leaving at some ungodly hour in the morning.
My wife and I stuck around to watch the midnight finishers all come in which is an amazing part of the race to watch.
Now that I have the confidence that I can complete an IM I can go to work on improving. My two weaker events are the run and swim.
Over the winter I will see if I can find a swim stroke coach locally to give me some help. In addition, I plan on heading up to Connecticut to meet with the folks from PAP to hear the honest truth about how much work is ahead for me to improve my run.
Execution is the key. I held back on the bike and probably left a little on the table but I had a better race for it because my run did not suffer more than I expected since it was my first marathon. This chart illustrates this very well.
Number of people past in each leg:
# PLACES IN T1 OVERALL
# PLACES ON BIKE OVERALL
# PLACES IN T2 OVERALL
# PLACES ON RUN OVERALL
# PLACES SWIM TO END OVERALL
It was a great season of training and meeting my goals and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family. It meant the world to me to see my family cheering for me out on the course and having their encouragement. EN has really helped me tune out all the static in the tri space and focus on what I need to get done in the short amount of time I have each week. All of the knowledge and execution details got me to the finish line well ahead of what I thought was possible for a first timer.
I’m thankful that I can be out there training and racing and I’m looking forward to next year.