Headed to Lake Stevens last Sunday for a half-ironman triathlon. The half-ironman distance is now being referred to as ‘70.3’ as this is the combined distance in miles of the swim/bike/run legs combined. I still like calling them half-ironman races since the term 70.3 doesn’t really mean much in my mind.
With just a couple of weeks of recovery from the White River 50, my legs were not sore but definitely were feeling tired in the lead-up to the race. My primary motivation for racing were to join a bunch of other athletes from my team, VO2 Multisport, and also to race what was sure to be a very scenic bike course (and one I rode in training a few weeks ago). The weather was also promising to be awesome, with temperatures in the 70’s with some cloud cover in the morning.
I like races where you can just roll up a few minutes – maybe an hour – before the start, register and go. This was NOT one of those races! By chance I was talking with a friend who was racing as well on Friday night (the race was on Sunday) and she mentioned that we needed to check in on Saturday. I had no clue since I hadn’t read any of the pre-race instructions yet, saving that task for the night before the race. Indeed, all athletes needed to make the drive up to Lake Stevens, check-in and drop off their bikes, then drive back up on race day! I drove up, took care of things and then returned back home for an early dinner, a short run and some stretching.
My race gear:
Swim: TYR Hurricane 5 wetsuit, Blue Seventy mirrored goggles, DeSoto 1-piece triathlon racing suit
Bike: Cervelo P3 w/ Williams Carbon Wheels (80mm deep), sunglasses (I didn’t end up using), race belt, Shimano shoes
Run: Brooks GTS Racer shoes, visor
My nutrition plan was:
Swim: nothing 🙂
Bike: 250 calories/hr (2 packs chomps and hammer gel flask with 5 gels), 2 endurolytes per hour; one bottle water per hour (it wasn’t very hot)
Run: 8 ounces of coke per hour; 8 ounces water per hour (at most….adjust depending on temperature)
My goal pacing was:
Swim: take it easy, 35 minutes.
Bike: stick to 140 watts on the first lap and 150 watts on the second (my FTP is 175 if you know what that means). this was a conservative plan, but again I wanted to be able to run strong. Shooting for 3 hours but the goal was to stick to the wattage plan and whatever time that resulted in would be fine. Hoped for a 3 hour or faster bike time.
Run: first 5K 8 min/miles; next 10K 7:45 min/miles; last 5K 7:30 min/miles or faster. Time of ~1:40 or so.
Total time: 5hrs 20mins (assume 2:30 transitions)
The swim went in waves – each with ~100 people. As such, the start was relatively calm. The course was simple, a long rectangle. There was also a wire running under the water (the buoys were tied to it) that you could follow to make sighting a non-issue. I never ended up seeing the wire once, since there were so many folks crowded around it. I just swam a little off to the side, and out of the crowds.
Sighting went well, floated in and out of drafts. At one point was kicked in the head pretty hard but shook that off and it didn’t slow me down much.With the wave start – was reeling in swimmers from previous waves. Came out of the water feeling good and had a feeling my time was decent (wasn’t sure of that, didn’t see a clock).
Started off the bike conservatively, letting my legs warm up and as usual a boatload of people past me. The course was a hilly 25 mile loop done twice (plus an out and back portion back to the transition area to make it a full 56 miles). I slowly built up to a steady pace, and closing out on my first loop, my power numbers were a little high (averaged 150 watts for the first lap). I wasn’t so worried about it since I felt very fresh and didn’t feel like I was pushing.
Throughout the bike I saw a bunch of friends who were also racing. Focused on nailing my nutrition and hydration and came off the bike with a time that was slower than expected, but my average watts were what I planned and my legs felt pretty fresh.
Came off the bike with 148 average watts (or so), averaged a little over 18mph with over 3 hours on the clock. Wasn’t so happy with the total time but other than that felt good.
Hit the porta potty and then started the run. Off the bike my feet (I’ve been battling plantar fascia issues for the past 5 months) hurt pretty bad. That was normal and I just took it easy for a couple of miles for my feet to loosen up. At one point, I stopped and took off my left shoe, convinced there was a rock in it…there was no rock…it was just the muscles in my feet all bound up! That stop cost me about 45 seconds.
After 20 minutes my feet relaxed and I was able to pick up the pace. My strategy of taking in 2-4 ounces of coke and then alternating with water at each aid station worked wonderfully well. I skipped a few aid stations since I felt well hydrated and didn’t want to overdo it. I am a huge fan of racing on Coke….the stuff is incredible and I’ve had no stomach issues using it for IMCDA, White River 50 or in this race.
The sun started to come out and I was dumping water on my head and staying cool, but felt good overall and after the first lap, picked up the pace a little. I also had to make a porta potty stop that cost me just over a minute of time. Next time I need to be sure about eating dinner earlier the night before and sticking to a liquid breakfast!
With about 5K to go, I picked up the pace again, running as hard as I could. With a mile to go I was really was going all out. I couldn’t have gone faster if a tiger was chasing me. I looked at my watch and realized that a sub 1:40 run split was possible if I really pushed. During the last few miles it became obvious to me that I should have pushed harder on the first lap. I left too much on the table again.
I cross the line totally exhausted but relieved to be done.
While I didn’t beat my time goal I was very close, and my splits were almost dead-on to what I wanted. Without my porta-potty stops (two of them) and my little shoe incident I would have been very close to my time goal.
The final score:
I learned a bunch of things in this race.
Pay attention to your meals the day before and morning of a race. I was very relaxed going into this race. Since my previous few races were longer (IMCDA and White River), I really was totally relaxed and not one bit nervous for this one. As a result, I didn’t pay as much attention to my pre-race nutrition plan. The porta potty stops were totally preventable by eating a lighter dinner earlier the day before and having a liquid breakfast.
At Ironman races they pass out skinny water bottles on the bike course, and these bottles slip right out of the bottle cage on my bike when I stand out of the saddle to climb! I never noticed this before, but lost two bottles due to this. I need to replace that downtube bottle holder with a Gorilla Cage.
I stuck to my wattage plan on the bike, but probably left 10 minutes (at least) on the table. I should have pushed harder on the bike. I don’t think that would have affected my run.
My first 10K on the run was too slow. I was being cautious, but I should have pushed the pace a little harder. I left a few minutes on the table there.
I’m very thankful to have finished and the experience was incredible. I learned far more from this race than I have in other races that I was actually able to “race.” I learned that we are really able to accomplish more than we think we can. I also learned that we are capable of going from feelings of total despair to optimism in a matter of minutes…if you are just willing to endure a little.
This is my third Ironman finish, and not my fastest time but I am actually most of proud of this result. A few weeks ago I didn’t even think I’d be able to race. I was just planning on doing the swim. However, a couple of weeks ago I decided to give it a shot after my doctor told me that my knee wouldn’t have any permanent damage to it if I decided to race.
The inflammation in my knee might “hurt like hell” but it wouldn’t cause any tears or breaks….so I got the green light. Mentally, this made all the difference as it just became a game of pacing and seeing how I could manage my energy during the day and keep the pressure off my left knee.
It was also great to have over a dozen people from my team, VO2 Multisport, racing and spectating. It makes all the difference to know people who will be out on the course. It can provide motivation that keeps you going for miles and miles, just knowing someone will be there expecting to see you.
Here’s how it all went down:
I arrived at in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on Thursday around 5pm. My accommodations were SUPER DELUXE. I mean that. They were THE BEST ACCOMMODATIONS EVERY. You see, I am a Product Planning Lead at Microsoft by day, but by night in my personal life I do practically no planning WHATSOEVER. The week before the race I still hadn’t sorted out where I would stay. Browsing the interwebs I came across a nondescript ad with no photo mentioning an “RV” trailer available. I gave the guy a call and he seemed super nice and sent me some photos. SCORE! The place was awesome, cheap and located on an acre of lawn less than 1/2 mile from the race start! The perfect spot. The owner also had this super cool golden lab that I got to play around with.
I dropped my bike and gear off in the RV and went down to the race start area, which is a beach right in downtown. Immediately I saw at least 30-40 triathletes swimming or hanging around the beach or lawn. Many had just gotten done swimming and everyone was talking about how cold and choppy the water was.
I threw on my wetsuit and dropped in for a 20 minute swim. It was frigid! Even coming from swimming Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish it was cold. The chop was also very bad. I got out of the water and definitely feeling like the swim would NOT be the cake-walk I was expecting.
My original race plan called for an hour-long bike ride, but given that it was getting late, I went to get some dinner and hit the sack early for the night after sorting out my gear.
I did a short 30 minute bike ride along and out and back section to Higgins Point along the edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene. I was very cold at 8am, and I was biking in toe-covers, a warm jacket and leg warmers. I was thinking that I should re-assess my race uniform and wear a long sleeve shirt on the bike. I went out and bought a cheap one at a local sporting goods store for $15. I planned on wearing it for 20-30 miles on race day until it warmed up and them taking it off.
The rest of the day entailed registering for the race and walking around the Race Expo. The were all kinds of interesting bikes on display and other gadgetry.
In the evening I headed out to a VO2 Multisport member’s home for a dinner with a bunch of people. It was nice to catch up with people and gorge on pasta, salad and cookies! For those of you thinking of racing a marathon or triathlon, remember that the key carbo-load dinner is NOT the night before the race…it is two nights before! This given the food time to digest and get into your muscles.
Saturday morning starting with a mini race-rehearsal with the VO2 Team. We all met at 9am and did (more or less) a 10-20 minute swim, 30-45 min ride and 10-20 minute run. My workout was on the low-end of the scale. The water was feeling a little warmer and it wasn’t very choppy.
After the rehearsal I ate some lunch and gathered my gear bags to check-in. At an Ironman race, you check in your Bike and Swim-Bike and Bike-Run bags the day before the race. You can put other things in them on race morning but this ensures that there are no lines/bottlenecks on race-day.
Swim: Tyr Hurricane Wetsuit, Aquasphere goggles and two swim caps. I wore two caps for extra warmth. I wore a Timex Ironman Watch during the entire race as well.
Swim/Bike Bag: Bike shoes with toe covers (I kept these on the whole ride), helmet, sunglasses, 2 packs of GU Chomps, 1 gel flask with 500 calories of gel, 1 tube of endurolytes tablets for electrolytes.
Bike: 2010 Cervelo P3 w/ Williams Aero Wheels (80 MM deep wheels) + PowerTap. I used an XLAB bottle cage off the pack and XLAB food pouch near the head tube to store my endurolytes and GU Chomps.
Bike special needs bag: 2 packs of GU Chomps, 1 gel flask, 1 GU packet
Bike/Run Bag: Brooks Racer shoes, gel flask with 500 calories (I didn’t use it), visor
Run special needs bag: 2 GU Chomps, 2 GU gel packets (I didn’t use any of this stuff)
Other Run Gear: I used my watch to take splits for the first half-marathon at every mile. After that, I stopped caring about time and just focused on finishing 🙂 .
As per my race plan, my fueling strategy was simple and focused on pure sugar (no protein consumption) and plenty of water:
Consume 300 calories per hour on the bike. Use a mix of Hammer Gel and GU Chomps.
Consume 2 Hammer Endurolytes per hour on the bike (more if it was getting hot).
Consume 1-2 bottles per hour on bike (1 if cool, 2 if hot – I ended up consuming 1 bottle/hr).
Consume 2-4oz of Coke and few sips of water/ice at every aid station on the run.
Sunday: Race Day!
I slept surprisingly well in the RV, and the three alarms I had set assured a swift 4am wake-up. I ate a cliff bar and drank a bottle of water (with Nuun) and laid around until 5am. I gathered my things and walked the 1/2 mile to a coffeshop for a small Americano, and was at the transition area by 6am.
I went to my transition bags and put some more stuff in them, then found a spot on the grass and did some light stretching. It was funny to see people already wearing their wetsuits at 6:15am! 45 minutes is a long time to be sitting around in neoprene.
I did some push-ups and yoga to warm up, and donned my wetsuit by 6:40am and joined the masses on the beach. It was a HUGE swim start. 2500 people is a lot of people! My last ironman had 1600 people and this felt far bigger I decided to position myself towards the front and in the middle of the crowd. The last thing I wanted was to get stuck behind a bunch of slower swimmers.
The Swim: …a Combat Sport
Promptly at 7am the gun went off and all hell broke loose. People were incredibly aggressive in the swim, which amazed me given how long a day it would be. I was punched by a half-dozen different people, grabbed by several and dunked by one – all in the first 500 yards. I swam fairly conservative and at one point actually swam to the outer edge of the pack to find some calmer water.
In retrospect I should have placed myself more towards the far side of the beach, and stood a few rows further back.
The swim course was two loops around a big rectangle, making all left turns. The first left turn was nuts since you had a very wide pack of swimmers all attempting to converge and make a tight corner.
I kept my pace controlled, and aside from worrying about getting kicked or pulled, stayed calm and my breathing was controlled the entire time.
I emerged from the first lap in 35 minutes, did a short run on the beach and jumped back in for my second lap.
The second lap was far calmer, and I focused on drafting and staying relaxed. Coming out of the water, there was a short run along the beach into the transition area.
Time = 1:16:35. I expected my swim to be 1:05-10 and my last swim at IMCDA in 2003 was 1:01. 1:16 was surprisingly slow but the day was long and I wasn’t worried too much about it.
I ran into transition and had my wetsuit stripped (yes, they have wetsuit strippers at these races! You sit on the ground and they yank it off), grabbed my transition bag and headed into the changing tent. One mistake I made was to not wear my racing uniform (a 1 piece DeSoto triathlon uniform) under my wetsuit. Putting this on took FOREVER and it kept getting stuck on my arms and legs. At least 5 minutes were lost here. Amazing how slow you move when your body is freezing. My total T1 time was 8 minutes or so….which is a LOT of time.
The Bike: Staying Relaxed
The bike was the biggest wildcard of this entire race. I knew deep down that if I could make if through the bike I would finish the race. I know how to gut out a marathon even if it means power walking it. My knee was the biggest factor. I hadn’t tested it with a ride over a few hours in several months, and really didn’t know what would happen.I had an amazing knee tape job (with kineseo-tape) by a PT before the race. This ended up being a huge help.
My strategy was to race with my powermeter as a guide. This device basically measure wattage produced and with appropriate testing during training, can give an indication of how hard or easy you should it. During an Ironman race, the goal for me is to ride steadily at 70-75% of the watts that I could hold for 1 hour during a time trial (this is 175 watts). Based on previous testing I had done, this meant I needed to keep my power between 122-132 watts for the entire race. On uphills this means I need to spin in an easy gear and take it easy, and push hard on the downhills and flats instead of coasting. Given the issues with my knee, I decided to go even easier, and stay between 118-125 watts. If I felt good, I would pick it up for the second loop of the 2 loop bike course. WISHFUL THINKING as this didn’t end up happening.
Starting the ride I felt quite good. A little cold, but it warmed up quickly and I didn’t need to wear arm-warmers or a long sleeve shirt, but was glad I had my toe-covers on. There were so many athletes on the course that everyone was pretty much riding in a single ginormous pack for the first 30 miles or so! Since my bike ride is comparatively slower than my swim, people were passing me almost the entire time on the bike course.
After about 90 minutes of riding, my fueling strategy was working well. Gel and chomps with water. I took 2 endurolytes per hour. It wasn’t very hot but since Hammer Gel doesn’t have sodium, I took the endurolytes anyway.
After about two hours I started feeling my knee. It was a dull ache and I intentionally slowed to keep it from flaring up. After three hours, the pain got worse, almost like a stabbing pain on the medial side of my knee. It was really worried at this point. I tried adjusting my bike position and stretching while riding by it wouldn’t go away.
After 50 miles of riding, on my way back into town to start the second loop of the race, I was certain that I would need to drop out. I couldn’t fathom riding another 56 miles with this kind of pain.
Riding by the transition area, for some reason I don’t really know….I decided to just keep pedaling for another 10 miles to see what happened.
One think I have learned from racing a few ultra-marathons over the past year, is just when you think things cannot possibly get any worse….they don’t….and they actually start getting better!
Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn -Harriet Beecher Stowe
The road was pretty flat and I focused on pedaling more with my right leg (which felt fine) instead of my left. I kept riding in this way and eventually (after 70 miles) the pain subsided almost completely!
I really cannot explain why this happened, but my knee basically felt numb (like I had iced it) and the pain was gone. I continued to ride and aside from some stiffness in my lower back and neck, felt OK through the remainder of the 112 mile course. Every 20 minutes I would stand and do some “cat and cow” yoga poses while riding to loosen up my back.
My second lap was much slower, not much I could do about that. On the plus-side my nutrition was spot-on and I came off the bike feeling totally fine. Measurements from my power meter:
My first lap took 3:12 @ 120 average watts (140 normalized)
My second lap took 3:32 @ 108 average watts (126 normalized)
Total bike time was ~6:45 @ 114 average watts (133 normalized)
The Run: more like a “shuffle”
My transition was pretty quick, and I walked out of transition (intentionally) for about 200 yards and then started a slow jog. I felt very good and came through the first mile in 8:50 – which was far too fast. I was planning to hit 10 minutes miles for the first half of the run (including walking every aid station) and then run 9 min/miles for the second half.
The next few miles also came through around 9 min/mile pace and I forced myself to slow down to around 9:30-10min/mile pace with brief walk breaks at each aid station.
Here’s how the run went down (2 loops of a 13.1 mile course):
Miles 1-3: Felt really great and ended up going out a little too fast.
Miles 3-10: Felt good still, fueled completely on Coke (at each aid station) with a little water. Pace slowed a little to 10 min miles. Coke is amazing and I’m glad I started drinking it right away on the run.
Miles 10-13.1: Starting to feel more tired, but still able to jog and took short walk-breaks between aid stations.By the time I hit the half-way point I knew I would finish the race no matter what which was a huge relief.
Miles 13.1-20: Painful! I ended up walking 2/3’s of this section. It was really tough. My knee didn’t bother me at all really, my legs were just totally dead and the bottoms of my feet were super sore from all the pounding. I never knew it was possible to run so slow…it’s called the “Ironman Shuffle”…I was barely picking my feet of the ground…but still moving faster than a walk – so it counts as running! The pic below is photographic evidence of what a “shuffle” looks like.
Miles 20-26.2: I ended up seeing some team-mates, and also a friend that was competing. This gave me a big boost and I ran about half of this stretch. It was slow but at least I ran!
The last few miles of the run were impossibly hard. You’d think having run 50 miles just a few months ago I could at least jog the last 5K in, but it was impossible. I jogged about 400 yards and walked for 30 seconds….repeat, repeat, repeat. I ran the last half-mile, and took the time to make sure noone was around me so I could get a good finish picture 🙂
The marathon ended up being an over 5 hour affair, not the 4 hours I planned. Whatever, I finished and am happy with that!
Bellevue WA USA
2.4 mi. (1:16:35)
BIKE SPLIT 1: 34.2 mi
34.2 mi (1:56:07)
BIKE SPLIT 2: 90.2 mi
56 mi (3:27:22)
BIKE SPLIT 3: 112 mi
21.8 mi (1:20:36)
112 mi (6:44:05)
RUN SPLIT 1: 6.6 mi
6.6 mi (1:02:51)
RUN SPLIT 2: 13.4 mi
6.8 mi (1:14:25)
RUN SPLIT 3: 19.5 mi
6.1 mi (1:29:43)
RUN SPLIT 4: 26.2 mi
6.7 mi (1:25:41)
26.2 mi (5:12:40)
After finishing, I spent some time talking with a friend who also just finished, got a post-race massage, grabbed pizza and found grass to lay in. I stayed in that spot for a good 30 minutes – totally catatonic! I felt surprisingly good but didn’t want to move. Eventually I got up, got my bags and bike, and headed back to my RV where I showered, took a short nap and then headed back to the race finish to cheer on the final athletes who finished between 11pm and midnight. The energy during the last hour of an Ironman is ABSOLUTELY INSANE! It is inspiring to see what people are able to do and all walks of life crossed that line…old, young and all shapes and sizes.
I am convinced that the key to racing Ironman (or any endurance race) is STAYING HEALTHY!
All the fancy gear and training is worthless unless you are healthy enough to race comfortably. Nutrition and pacing strategies also matter but I’m really coming away from this race experience with a new appreciation for how important it is to be healthy come race day. In the future if I have to decide between training more and doing some PT/therapy/yoga or self-care to heal my body…I know what I am going to choose. There is also a whole bunch of exercises I’ll be doing to strengthen my joints/soft tissue to prevent future injury.
First priority is to get my knee 100% healthy and also remedy the plantar fascia issues that I’ve had since the Copper Canyon race in March. I want to do another Iron-distance race this year to take advantage of the fitness I’ve built up and there are a few events I have my eye on, more to come on that.
I really had to dig deep this time. The swim went well and I didn’t push too hard given the length of the day ahead. With almost 2,500 athletes in the water it was VERY aggressive and I was getting punched, kicked and dunked every few minutes. I came out of the water 5-10 minutes slower than expected.
The bike ride was OK, and again had to keep the pace slow to keep my knee from flaring up. I was really concerned about even being able to finish the race. After 50 miles on the bike I really didn’t think I would finish, as my knee was really hurting and I just focused on pedaling with my right (pain-free) leg.
Since there was nothing I could do about in the moment, I just stopped thinking about it and after another 20 miles it sorta became numb and the pain was just a dull ache instead of a short-stabbing pain that usually happens, totally bearable.
The run was humbling. Normally my strong suit, after having not put in many miles running or biking in the past 10 weeks on account of injury, I was only able to slowly jog the first 13 miles (around 9:30 min/mile pace) before walking/shuffling the last 13 miles. My knee didn’t cause me too much trouble during the run, my legs were just totally dead overall.
Finishing, however, made me happy and accomplished my goal!
I can’t believe that not even 6 weeks ago I wrote this, essentially giving up all hope of being able to race. At the time it was painful to walk and the thought of doing an Ironman was laughable. My lesson in all this is that sometimes listening to your body’s aches and pains and giving yourself a total rest is the right thing, and other times it’s about getting the FULL STORY on what is actually going on.
In my case, some amazing doctors, a great coach and knowledgeable friends helped me pin-point the issue, treat it and come up with a plan that had a good chance of working…and it did work!
Today featured a morning “race rehearsal” swim (10mins) / bike (15 mins) / run (10 mins) followed by copious amounts of sitting around and not doing much. At an Ironman race, you also drop off all your gear the day before the race, including your bike and both transition bags with bike/run gear. I did that between naps.
For fun, I also drove the “Hayden Loop” of the bike course. This route is fairly technical with plenty of short climbs, sharp turns and some curved roads that you can cruise through with plenty of speed if you are aware of how the road carries through the corners.
As per my race plan I had a pasta dinner (at 6pm) and will be up at 4:30 for breakfast and down at the race site before 6am. We enter the beach at 6:30am and the cannon (or gun or horn or whatever they use) goes off at 7am. Over 2,500 athletes are here. The swim start will be EPIC!
If you are not a tri-geek like me…you might not want to bother reading any more of this post 🙂
Here is my detailed race plan for Ironman CDA. It helps to write things down, even if in these types of races NOTHING seems to go as planned! The act of writing at least gives the illusion of control and some peace of mind. It also gives me a chance to make sure my fueling and pacing strategies are right.
Leaving tomorrow for Idaho.
IMCDA Race Plan. Ravi Raman. 6/26/2011
Overall goal = FINISH! Anticipated pacing as follows:
· Swim: 1:10 relaxed and easy, focus on drafting and conserving energy
· T1: 4 mins
· Bike: 7hrs with focus on nutrition and keeping knee under control
· T2: 4 mins
· Run: 4:30 with focus on a stronger second half of the marathon
· Estimate time: 12:50
· The time goals provided are simply for pacing purposes. Until I hit half-way in the marathon I will not be pushing even if I feel great. My singular goal is to finish this race and enjoy the experience.
· 5am: Wake up, Yoga in my trailer (yes, I’m staying in a trailer down by the lake!).
· 9am: PT and foam roller, stretching
· Before Noon: Treatment at ART booth
· Noon: Lunch – sandwich and fruit
· Afternoon: Athlete Check-in
· 7pm: Dinner at Macaroni grill (pasta and plain salad)
· 10pm: Bed
· 5am: Cliff bar
· 7am: Mini race rehearsal of swim 15min followed by 20min bike and 15min run. A accelerations during each.
· Recovery drink
· 9am: PT and foam roller, stretching
· Before Noon: Treatment at ART booth, KT Tape application
· Noon: Lunch – sandwich and fruit
· Afternoon: Bike and gear check-in
· 6pm: Dinner at Macaroni grill (pasta – low fiber)
· 9pm: Bed
Sunday: RACE DAY!
· 4am: 1 Cliff Bar + 1 Banana + Coffee (350 cal) + 24 oz water w/ Nuun
· 7am: Race!
· Before Midnight: Finish!
Gear T1 Bag (Transition Area)
· KT Tape
· 2 GU
· GU Flask
· Water bottle
Gear T2 Bag (Transition Area)
· KT Tape
· 2 GU w/ Caffeine
· Water bottle
Gear Bike Special Needs
· Hammer Gel Flask
· 10 Endurolytes
Gear Run Special needs
· Hammer Gel Flask
· 10 Endurolytes
Morning Nutrition Before the Race
· Early Pre-Race: 1 Cliff Bar + 1 Banana + Coffee (350 cal) + 24 oz water w/ Nuun
· Just Before Swim: 1 GU + Bottle Nuun (100 cal)
Pre-Race Warm Up and Swim
· Light yoga/stretching
· 200 yards easy warm up
· Swim goal is to finish in 1:10 and feel well rested for the bike/run
· Grab T bag
· Put on socks, shoes, glasses, helmet
· Put gel flask in pocket (only drink and eat after 15 minutes of riding)
· T1 time <4 minutes
· Goal is to finish 🙂 in 7 hours and keep under control
· Watts Avg 122-30 (FTP 175 @70-5%)
· Nutrition of 300 cal/hr (Hammer Gel + Gu Chomps) + Nuun
· 2 gel + 1/2 chomps pack per hour + 2 endurolytes tab
· Grab T bag
· Rack bike and take off helmet
· Put on visor and shoes and bodyglide
· Grab Hammer Gel flask + water bottle
· T2 time <4 minutes
· Goal is to finish 🙂 in under 4.5 hours and have an awesome time
· Strategy to walk every aid station no matter what (until halfway point)
· Run at 10 min/miles through halfway including walking aid stations (~ 30 seconds/mile)
· Run at 9 min/miles for last half if feeling great
· Run: 250 cal/hr (Hammer Gel, cola & sports drink)
· First 5 miles: 2 gel + 1 cola/sports drink per hour
· After 5 miles: switch to all cola + sports drink
Last night I hit up the Friday Night Swim Race at Lake Meridian. It was a great event. Pretty low-key with a nice BBQ after (just like Hagg Lake, swimmers know how to do it right).
This event was fun since about a dozen VO2 Multisport athletes (my team) also raced, with many of doing Ironman CDA next week. This was a great race prep session.
My goal was to finish in 1:05. Logic being I did a 1:09 at Hagg Lake and during that race:
I sighted very poorly
I wore an older wetsuit (that is slower and leaks water)
I have had a few extra weeks of training, with lots of open water sessions
Know it’s possible for me to swim faster (my last Ironman swim was 1:01)
Well, that didn’t happen, I finished in 1:10.
I’m still happy with the time as the true goal is to make it out of the swim at CDA in around 70 minutes without being super tired. I am confident I can achieve that goal (especially with the massive drafting that happens with 2000 swimmers in an Ironman). However I was really expecting to swim faster so I’ll need to reflect on what I can improve.
Here’s how it all went down:
Pre-race: I ended up getting to the race site early. Good idea as there was epic traffic for folks getting there from Seattle (Kent, WA is about 25 miles south of the city). Several athletes got there just minutes before the start.
Warm-up: Swam about 5 minutes. The water was not too cold (probably mid 60’s).
Course: Two clockwise loops of a large rectangular route. They had multicolored buoy’s (orange, yellow and green). The yellow buoys were furthest away and also the toughest to see. If it wasn’t for the setting sun, signting wouldn’t have been an issue. Definitely a good race for mirrorized goggles to eliminate glare.
Start: The field wasn’t that big, I guesstimate 80 people in a deep water start.
1/4 mile: I start at the front and cruise to the first buoy, with some jostling around with others. Nothing violent like an Ironman start, folks were pretty civil.
1/2 mile: Doing a good job drafting. it’s tough to see the buoy’s with the sun directly in line with them. I just follow the feet in front of me and stay relaxed.
1 .2 mile: Rounding a few more buoy’s and complete the first lap, I lose the draft and from here on out pretty must swim alone, with the occasional pass-by that I draft from. Sighting is going pretty well. Feeling good.
1.5 mile: I notice someone drafting behind me for a few hundred yards, I round a buoy and get really disoriented and end up pointing in the wrong direction towards the wrong buoy. Before I go far the person behind me point me in the right direction (thanks David!) and I continue on my way.
1.6 mile: I start feeling cramps in my right calf and also in my right ribs and back! This rarely happens for me. I end up swimming with my right foot flexed from here on out to keep the cramps from coming on full strength.
2.4 mile: I come onto shore and run across the timing mat. Seeing the time, 1:10 I almost don’t believe it. Seems way too slow given my past times and I didn’t feel like I was swimming slow compared to Hagg Lake.
Full results posted here.
Hydrate well during the day for a night race. I have no doubt this was the cause for my cramps.
Fight to stay in the draft, it’s worth a little extra energy early to save a lot later.
Swim more. I’ve been swimming for less than 3 months after a 7 year hiatus. I can’t expect to return to my old form without putting in some time.
Strength work. After IMCDA I definitely need to put in some more swim-strength specific work with paddles, stretch cords and pull ups along with core work. My aerobic fitness felt fine during the race but arms sure were tired.