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37 yr, 6’2″, 195 lb
2nd Ironman: 11.3.2012
1 hr and 19 min PR!
I’ve been a member of EN for just over 2 years now. Prior to 2012, I always trained alone and somewhat followed training plans. I had success at races and was getting better, but I lacked consistency in training. I had learned a lot at EN very quickly, but really wasn’t doing what I should be. That all changed in 2012.
Over the past 6 months, I had the pleasure of training with a group of amazing triathletes and friends (all EN’rs) and we all followed the same EN Training Plan. I always felt training with others meant people having to accommodate for others and changing your pacing/distances for the group. Not true. Training with others forces you to commit to a schedule and to be there for each other. Training with others means not cutting a workout short because you’re tired. Training with others makes you work harder to set the pace or just keep up. We all learned a lot from each other is past year and I think we’re all much better triathletes because of it. I very much look forward to training with everyone in 2013.
Now on with the race report!
I flew SWA from Midway with my wife, kids, and fellow EN’rs Brian Comiskey, John Molchin and Mike Sullivan. Arrived in PCB at 10 am and went straight to check in. The line looked long, but moved fast. We then headed to our condo. Last year, we stayed at the Boardwalk (host hotel) because of the location, but it’s a dive. This year, my wife got us a condo at the Boardwalk Condos right next door. They are extremely nice and very affordable ($750 for 1 week). We then met up with everyone at the organized EN dinner at Sharky’s. Both coaches were in town and it was great to see them. We gave them the EN Chicago Sleeper Cell “Reservoir Dogs” and “Kill Bill” shirts. We then headed back to the hotel to take it easy the rest of the night.
Headed to the back of the Boardwalk hotel to listen to the Four Keys talk by the coaches. It helped a lot last year, and again helped this year. A bunch of us then did a quick wetsuit swim. I then headed back to my room to get my bags ready and checked them in with my bike. Dinner was safe…sandwich at Mellow Mushroom. I really wanted pizza, but that had to wait.
Saturday (Race Day)
2:00 am: 2 Naked Juices (440 calories)
5:00 am: ½ Banana, Protein PowerBar, Water
5:30 am: Headed to transition to get body marked, put bottles on bike and adjust tire pressure. Sipped bottle of Infinit.
6:15 am: Met fellow EN’rs by the Boardwalk gazebo and got ready. Took 1 PowerBar gel.
6:45 am: Headed down to the beach. I opted to get in the water to get some water in my wetsuit. For those of you who don’t feel comfortable in wetsuits, I highly recommend this. I always pull my collar out and let a bunch of water go down my chest, back, legs and arms. It empties out and removes the tightness of the wetsuit. Getting your wetsuit pulled tight in all areas and adding the water to “lubricate” it against your body helps tremendously…less stress on your arms and legs equals more comfort, more speed and less wasted energy. And if you get neck rashes like I used to, here’s the 2 fixes: don’t sight so much and use Tri Slide. I completely solved that problem this past year.
6:59 am: Pulled goggles on and the strap came loose. Stayed calm and rethreaded the strap…no problem. I seeded myself towards the front. Swimming is my strength and I prefer to be swum over than mix it up with people I should be ahead of.
7:00 am: Cannon goes off. It’s go time!
Gear: EN Singlet, Zoot Ultra Tri Shorts, Speedo Vanquisher 2 Goggles, TYR Hurricane Cat 5 wetsuit,DeSoto Arm Coolers, CEP compression calf sleeves, Tri Slide and Dramamine
The first ½ mile out had a lot of contact. I got an elbow to the goggles, a slap to the face and a scratch on my left foot…welcome back to Ironman® I guess. It’s amazing how aggressive and rude people can be. I could tell some people just didn’t care and were going to plow through whoever they had to. That’s not my style. I kept my cool, paused and let people go by a few times and played a little defense with my arms when necessary. Around ¾ mile, I started feeling a bit queasy. The waves were pretty big and you could feel the swells. I have been known to get seasick in bad conditions so I did whatever I could to distract myself (it is hugely mental!) and got to shore. Standing up and walking even just for 30 seconds at the end of the first lap helped reset my stomach. I saw the clock…34 min…right on schedule! I thought the 2nd lap would be faster/easier, and it felt like it, but somehow it was a bit slower. I got queasy again on lap 2 and felt like I was going to throw up a few times but held it together. I hit the beach, stopped for the wetsuit strippers (for you non-triathletes, sorry, it’s not what you think) and then stopped in the shower for a few seconds to wash off the salt water.
Next year: I need to get a swim analysis done. I think I swam as fast as I could while maintaining form but didn’t swim as fast as I thought I would. I’m sure the nausea slowed me down a bit too.
The changing tent wasn’t too busy so I grabbed a seat and dumped my bag. I changed quickly and got out of there.
Next year: Not much change…just move faster!
Gear: Trek Speed Concept 9.9, Zipp 808 front, Zipp 900 rear disc with PowerTap SL+, Conti GP4000 @ 110 psi, Garmin Edge 800, Giro Advantage 2, Oakley Split Jacket, Shimano SH-TR71 shoes, Bontrager Gloves, Body Glide and My Athlete Real Time GPS tracker.
Special Needs: 1 tube, 2 CO2 cartridges, 1 Bottle with 2 servings of Infinit
Nutrition: 3 bottles of Infinit @ 600 cal/bottle. Refill aero water bottle 6-7 times. 1 Saltstick tablet/hr
I was feeling pretty good and ready to ride. I got out of T1 and realized I never turned on the GPS tracker. My family was spectating and I got it for them. I pulled it from the gear box and turned it on (I thought), but couldn’t see the blinking light. It was too important not to have on so I stopped and tried to make sure it was on. I thought I got it on (I didn’t actually) and got going again.
Then I noticed my cadence and power meters weren’t registering. WTF? Re-syncing usually isn’t a big deal, unless you’re around a ton of bikes with power meters…like at an Ironman! I kept getting message “Power meter detected” quickly followed by “Multiple power meters detected”. Damn it! This was very frustrating as I had it synced weeks ago. What the hell happened? Oh well…wait until it thins out and try again.
For the first 30 min, I drank water only. The rest of the ride consisted of sipping concentrated Infinit and washing it down with water every 12 min. I took 1 Salt caplet per hr. We had a bit of a tailwind on the way out and I was able to hold 22-24 mph without pushing. My plan was to ride comfortably…JRA (Just Ride Along) for the first hour. I know I could have ridden lot faster, but I kept in my box and made sure I set myself up for a solid run.
Around the 1 hour mark, I then tried syncing the power meter a few more times. It did get it to sync and got some readings, but it would then disappear 10 seconds later. I have to give up on it and go by perceived exertion. I skipped Bike Special Needs as my nutrition was going well and I didn’t need any tubes/CO2. Around the 70 mile mark, I went for salt and dropped the pill holder. I hit the brakes hard (nobody was near me) and stopped the bike. I laid it on the grass, walked back 20 ft and grabbed the holder. It would have been stupid to keep going to save 30 sec. Since I was already stopped, I decided to check the GPS tracker. I’m glad I did…it wasn’t on. Now I was able to verify I correctly turned it on. 3rdtimes a charm I guess.
Around the 90 mile mark, I also noticed I lost my last bottle. Shit! I had 1 hour to go and not much nutrition left. Not good but not too big a deal. I felt like I was well stocked on nutrition and I could get by with what I had left plus a little extra salt and water. It ended up working out and I pulled into transition feeling good. I remember last year having a lot of headwind on the way back. It wasn’t too bad this year. I heard people needing 5:45 or more got a bit more wind as it changed direction and picked up.
A few more comments about the bike…
1. I’m not a fan of medication, but I decided to take 2 doses of Tylenol on the bike…first at 1 hr and the second at 5 hrs. I went into this race with a torn labrum and have shoulder surgery scheduled for Nov 28th. I usually have a tremendous amount of pain after 30-35 miles. Fortunately it didn’t hurt too much today probably because of the Tylenol.
2. At mile 35, my left hip started stinging when I pushed. I had to hold back a bit and let it go away. It would come back every 10-15 min and hurt like hell for maybe 5-10 sec. At mile 65, my right hip started doing the same thing. I think it might be from being aero so long…I did stretch a lot, but was more aero than any ride I’ve ever done. I might need a bike fitting adjustment too.
3. I didn’t stop for bathroom breaks the entire ride. Per EN, I should have stopped at least 2 times. This concerned me a little on the ride, but I also liked saving the time. I did need to stop the last hour, but I kept riding. I did take in plenty of water so I must have sweat most of it out. Fortunately, this worked out for me…probably a little too much “rolling the dice” though.
Next year: I worked a lot on my bike strength this past year and it showed…but I need to work harder. Unfortunately, my surgery will take me out of training for a few months, but I’ll need to get on it big time when I can. I also need to remember to turn the GPS Tracker on before the race.
As expected, the changing tent wasn’t too bad this time. I grabbed a chair, swapped my gear and took off. I stopped for a quick bathroom break on the way out.
Next year: No real improvements. 6’ with a bathroom break is pretty fast.
Gear: IM running hat, Newton Gravitas, Balega Socks, Garmin 910XT and Body Glide.
Special Needs: Long Sleeve Tech Shirt, Extra Socks, Visor
Nutrition: Water every aid station. Alternate IM Perform and Coke each aid station. 1 GU Roctane and 1 Salt caplet every hr.
I spent most of last year’s out season recovering from a hamstring injury and spent a lot of the past year working on my run. Training with a group and following the EN training plan made my bike quite a bit stronger, but the run is where I really improved. Running 10, 12, 18 miles was no problem…it became the norm. Holding aggressive paces for 6-10 miles was getting easier and easier. If you’re the kind of person who sort of follows the training plans, you’re screwing up!
Mile 1: My family was spectating at Mile 1/14 of the run so I saw them right away and stopped for kisses, hugs and a quick photo. J
Miles 2-10: My goal for this year was to run 11:00/mile. I felt I could do it if the weather was decent, but you never know what the day throws at you. For the first few miles, I had to hold back a lot just to run 10:00-10:30/mile. This was supposedly too fast, but it was too easy to go any slower. By 6 miles, I had averaged 10:15/mile and felt great. At mile 6, it was time to transition to my Ironman® marathon pace…but what is it now that I’m feeling so good? I decided 10:30 was the right pace then.
Even though it was hot out (somewhere around 83 degrees), I wasn’t feeling too bad. I normally don’t handle the heat too well, but today was going well. My ritual at every aid station was: ice water on head – ice water on arm coolers – ice water on thighs – take in water, Perform, Coke, and/or a salt caplet or gel…no more than 20-30 steps…and get going! This worked great and I felt reenergized after each aid station.
Miles 11-13: The crowd support started to get thicker and that helped keep the pace going. Just before the turnaround, I stopped for 30 sec at Run Special Needs to change out my soaked socks. That felt great even though they were soaked again 2 miles later.
Mile 14: I stopped again for a quick energy boost (kisses and hugs) and took another a quick photo with my kids.
Miles 15-18: I was feeling pretty good, but didn’t know things were about to get a little rough. I was really starting to fatigue but kept pushing.
Mile 19: At the aid station, the thought of drinking/eating anything finally became impossible. I remember looking at a cup of water, tasting it, spitting it out and throwing the cup on the ground. I had 2 options: walk a little and let my stomach start working again or keep running and skip nutrition. I wasn’t cramping (yet) and felt OK so I decided to keep running. My goal to break 12:00 was pretty much a done deal…I could have walked quite a bit of the last 7 miles and made it. But I had other goals…I really wanted to run the entire marathon. And I also knew I had a few friends hot on my trail.
Miles 20-24: This is when the race got ugly. My coaches said I need to be prepared to go to a very dark place if I was truly committed to putting it all out there. They weren’t just talking about the physical part of racing…it’s the mental game that really messes with you. The next 4 miles consisted of my brain fighting with itself:
- Holy crap everything hurts…maybe walk a little. No!
- Ouch…I’m starting to cramp…maybe walk a little. No!
- You’re well under the 12:00 mark…maybe walk a little. No!
- I still have 6, 5, 4, etc. miles to go. You can’t keep going like this…maybe walk a little. No!
- (Look at watch and think you ran another ½ mile but only ran 1 block). Walk? No!
- (Look at watch and see pace is dipping into 12:00/mi…you’re slowing down). Walk? No!
- And many more…over and over and over…
This is when I had to dig really deep and decide how I wanted to remember this race. The answer to this question helps define who I am. Yeah, I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. It would be really easy to slow down and walk. I’d have a great race time, but I’d regret it. I trained a year for this race…in my mind, I would be a failure if I didn’t completely bury myself out on the course and leave it all out there. So that’s what I did…I kept going and never stopped. These 4 miles were harder that the other 136.6 combined.
Just before getting to the Mile 24 aid station I blanked out for a few seconds. I quickly realized it and knew I needed to get some nutrition in even though my stomach didn’t want any of it. I got to the aid station and drank a cup of coke. I had to suck it up, keep alert and keep going.
Miles 25-26: The last two miles weren’t too bad. The crowds got thicker and louder and I fed off it. I really looked forward to seeing my family and I was going as fast as I could to keep in front of the friends chasing me down.
Finish: About 5 steps before the finish line, my left quad cramped really bad and I almost fell over. I held it together for the finish line photo, but the volunteers grabbed me a few seconds later. I think that was a good indication that I had nothing left. I grabbed my medal, hat, shirt and took my photos and headed back to the hotel. My recovery was great: Stopped at the hotel hot tub on the way back to the room and sat in it for 20 min, had a few beers, some pizza, threw on Brian Comiskey’s Normatec compression boots for 30 min and got a massage the next morning.
Next year: I have shoulder surgery scheduled for Nov 28th so my out season is going to start later than I’d like. When I can, I plan to do lower body strength training and some bike riding. Also during this downtime, my goal is to drop 10-15 lbs (thinking Paleo). I also need to do a sweat test…I think I need to take in more salt in races. I’m already signed up for Lake Placid and Wisconsin with some friends so dropping weight and getting stronger on the bike are priority #1.