Tuesday, October 7, 2008

d - o - n - e

OK, here goes....the whole enchilada....

The day dawned after only a few hours sleep....really anxious prior to the race. Woke up about 2am and then really didn't go back to sleep. Ate a peanut butter and bagel, a banana and a bottle of Heed to sip on prior to the race. Got to the site, shuttled to the transition area (about a mile and a half - more on this later), got body marked and went in to set up transition. It seemed I have never done a triathlon before, I had no clue how to set up my area. I didn't bring my own pump as they assured us there would be several there. There were, but they were all different than mine and I thought I messed up my Presta valve on my front tire - there's another worry for the day. I was already stressed about being in wave 14 of 15. The national anthem was sung and the pros were off. I got to see them as they exited the water before I even started. I commented that would be the last time I would see them that day. It was finally my start.

Now, here is where I begin to do everything I had planned not to do. They had figured out a way to make it wetsuit legal so I wore the wetsuit (I think they dropped a block of ice into the lake and put the thermometer on the block of ice). I caught a draft and held it for a large part of the swim. It was a triangle and in no time I made the first left, swam what seemed to be a short time and was turning for home. Swim time - a remarkable 32 minutes and change.....faster than either Olympic swim (I have some reason to think it may have been short but others felt their time was pretty close to right). That means - I went out too hard. Heart rate was a little high but not too bad.

Walked to T1 and took my time - and then it was off to the bike. I had driven the bike course on Saturday so I knew I would need my hill game. Not really any excessively long climbs but some steep ones nonetheless. Did I mention it was also starting to get windy? And they kept coming and coming. There is a final hill on the course at 55.5 miles that is the longest, steepest climb of the course. That was nice. I went out too fast on the bike, kept telling myself I was working too hard but I could not bring down the effort. HR was still below AT but a little higher than I wanted, but I felt really pretty good. At about 35-40 miles, I really started to feel my neck and shoulders.....sit bones begin to talk to me too. At 50 miles or so, I made a deal with my bike that if it got me home, I would not sit on it for 2 weeks -- it brought me home and then....the run.....er....stumble.

T2 - pretty smooth - just took my time, made a pit stop and then off I went. Walked a little and then started to run a bit. I realized very quickly it was going to be a LONG stumble. I entered the world of math and began to do all the miles vs time calculations and knew I would finish unless I just died. I also knew it wasn't going to be pretty. I ran a little and then I would walk. A ton of the run was uphill and I walked virtually every uphill and tried to run some of the downs but I ended up walking somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of the run. I think the effort on the bike cost me quite a bit of time on run. I really need to hang onto my plan - there's an understatement.

Here are the times:

Distance Long
Clock Time 7:22:19
Chip Time 7:22:19
Overall Place 1694 / 1929
Gender Place 1229 / 1313
Division Place 104 / 119
Swim 1 2Mi Rank 1134
Swim 1 2Mi Time 32:44
Swim 1 2Mi Pace 1:42/M
T1 Time 05:33
Bike 56Mi Rank 1594
Bike 56Mi Time 3:25:33
Bike 56Mi Pace 16.3mph
T2 Time 05:01
Run 13 1Mi Rank 1759
Run 13 1Mi Time 3:13:26
Run 13 1Mi Pace 14:46/M

I felt very good about my times up to the run. I felt I fell apart. Now for the excuses. At about mile 30 of the bike I really started to lose my stomach. I really couldn't get myself to take in calories. It was beginning to heat up (the high for the day was 94). By the stumble, it was just water and a few Endurolytes. My fueling strategy was to use Perpetuem on the bike - about 580 calories of which I probably drank 2/3s, I had also planned on a couple of gels to get me to about 760 calories over 3-3.5 hours. Also, sip on water with about a 18-20 ounce consumption per rest station - there were four and I would say I probably took in about 60 - 70 ounces of water through the whole ride. My plan on the run was a two hour bottle of Heed - about 400 calories with a gel or two if I preferred. Because my stomach was bothering me on the run, I took a gel at the end of the bike with some water. Other than that, I took a couple of swallows of the Heed but didn't feel I could drink more. On the second loop of the run, I tried some Gatorade Endurance and some flat Coke and even tried diluting the Gatorade with water but it still didn't sit really well. I was never really sick but my stomach seemed to be revolting or on the verge of revolt. Part of the run was on a trail that was very dry and dusty including a hill called Quadzilla - draw what inference you want from that name...it was worse in reality. I doubt very seriously I drank nearly enough water on the run now that I look at it but I was afraid I had consumed too much. There were probably 15 aid stations on the run and considering 4 ounces of water per aid station that would be 60 ounces of water in 3.25 hours. Probably somewhat short for me, especially in the heat. What a learning experience.

And then the glorious finish line.....OH MY GOD....what a beautiful site and to hear the announcer proclaim my official finish. A medal around my neck, a Ironman 70.3 finisher towel on my shoulders, a finisher's water bottle full of water and someone to take off my chip. I was DONE.

I had a few bites of burrito, ate some oranges, drank some really sweet water ice - like a slush and drank a Diet Coke. I was beginning to feel okay except for my legs and the bottoms of my feet - Oh, the bottoms of my feet.

The only really physical pain was my feet were on FIRE. The balls of my feet really hurt and my toes had irritated one another in the toe box of my shoes. Got to solve those two issues. Every step was a message of irritation to the brain. There are a lot of steps in a half marathon....although anything 13.1 miles should NOT be called half of anything.

So what did I learn. I have to get my fueling strategy SOLIDIFIED. I don't know if it was the heat, the protein, the lack of consumption, the lack of water or what but I have to get it down, period.

I also must STICK WITH MY PLAN - I went too hard on the swim and bike. I think 5 minutes more on the swim and 15-20 minutes more on the bike may have saved me 30-45 minutes on the run. Not a huge difference but I think I would have appreciated running a little more than I did. That said, there were a ton of uphills on the run and I probably still would have walked most of them.

Those are my big two things learned.

After I finished, I was looking for Ray - my friend from Dallas who also completed the race. He finished 3 minutes ahead of me and was in the medical tent when I finished. He ended up with an IV for fluids. He said it was a big bag and he felt pretty good after he got it.

Since I couldn't find Ray, Debbie and I walked to transition as I was ready to get out of the heat. I sat on the ground to pack up my stuff. I was tired. And I had to get my bike back to the car - a LONG mile and a half away with two uphills....crap. I seriously contemplated just leaving my bike. Hey, I could get another one. Someone else might really need this one. Maybe they would find me. In the end, I wheeled it over, met Debbie and we headed out on the march of death to the car. She thought about crossing the road and catching the bus to the car and I decided if she was going to do that I could ride my bike back to the car. I know I promised my bike that I would not ride it but I lied. Sorry bike. I haven't been on you since. By the way, when I got back to the parking lot, I couldn't find the car. It took about 5 minutes of riding to find it....it felt like another 56 miles. I got the bike loaded and then Ray showed up so we had to discuss the race laying in the back of his pick-up truck (we are in Texas you know so there had to be a truck in the story).

I was wondering if I was as dehydrated as Ray so when I got home I decided to weigh to see what the effect of the day was on weight. I had lost almost 10 pounds...that's too much - even for a big guy. I hit the water again to try to get the hydration in line as I realized I had not had a pit stop since 7:30 that morning other than the couple of ounces prior to the run...it had been twelve hours. I am still down about 5-6 pounds but the hydration level seems right now from everything I have read. This is another reason I know the fueling strategy is critical to on-going successful effort in this crazy sport.

Recovery - drove home - about a hour and a half, stopped an got a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake. They all tasted great. Got home, took a shower, then soaked in a cool tub for a while (not an ice bath just cool water) and then iced my calves for a while and my hammies for a shorter time. I cramped a bit through the night as I changed positions but more like a pinched nerve than anything else. Mostly in my calves and arches of my feet. I kept drinking water through the night. Monday morning I woke up and really felt about 80% of normal. I was at work by 7:30 and had a pretty good day. I wasn't quite spot on but was pretty close I thought given what I had done the day before. Today I would say I was 97-98% and tonight feel I am back at 100%.

Several people have asked if I will do another...first response -- "not today" but I learned so much and in both my first efforts in earlier distances I have felt about the same. The second efforts have been better so I am sure I will do it again. I think it is really beginning to sink in that I just covered 70.3 miles under my own power. Good gosh that is a long way...