So the journey that started about 365 days ago has come to its conclusion and a new journey begins. Before I get caught up in the new things here is a summary of the race experience.
Pre-race worries and Body Marking
Wow. I feel really blessed as I woke up with a very sore throat and was really apprehensive, I even debated whether or not I should be racing but I figured at the very least I could enjoy a really good swim - plus a nice salt water rinse might help the throat feel better, and it did.
In transition this morning I had the body markers do me a favor and put two extra markings on me - P on my left arm and N on my right - which stood for patience and nutrition. It was my mental mantra of the day. Whenever I started to have the HR rise or want to race someone and not let them go I reminded myself of patience and I also used the N to stick to my nutrition game plan. I knew that I needed that to work if I wanted a solid IM time.
Melanie bid me farewell after I finished in transition and I went and got myself into position after dropping off my glasses at the station. The gun went and by halfway through the first lap I was feeling much better in the throat and was really happy with my chosen position. I started very far to the right of the field, almost 150 m away from the line of markers out to the first turn and was cutting clear water or drafting off another stronger swimmer doing the same thing. Later I found out that the current was moving right to left and the angle I took was the fastest line to the first turn. After the first turn I stayed on the seaward side and mostly out of traffic and then coming back stayed as tight to the markers as I could and noticed many swimmers drifting further away. When it came time to exit the water I could hear the announcer talking about this group being the last ones on track to go under an hour and I saw my split at 30:30. The best part was I was extremely relaxed and rested. I decided to ease off even more and didn't have much traffic as I went around the second time. The second loop was slower because of the beach run portion plus I didn't have the current working for me due to the angle we went. Result was a 33:30 second loop and I exited the water well ahead of plan.
I decided to take advantage of the extra time and took a good shower rinse to get as much salt water off me as possible, retrieved my glasses and found my way through transition. It was the usual busy tent and seemed slow but with all things consider I was through T1 in 5:30.
Swim to Bike Transition
Swim to Bike Transition
Once out on the bike I really relaxed and rode at 130 or under heart rate for the first 30 km and watched a lot of people go by me (overall on the bike about 216 passed me) but I knew it was going to be a long day. I also was pleasantly surprised that I was averaging over my targeted 31.5 km/hr and under 132 HR. I had a brief moment where I started doing some mental math to determine how fast I needed to go to beat Bernie's time of 5:27 a few years ago and decided I should exercise caution and held back.
By mid way through the bike my neck was pretty sore and I wished that I had done a better job preparing for hours in profile position. I got in the bike time on the trainer but I sat up for far too much in training and I suffered a bit as a result today. I rode the handlebars whenever we were not in head wind and stayed in disciplined profile when I was cutting the wind. The cheaters were out there in force drafting like Tour de France pelotons but I got satisfaction later by running them down. Like me, another contestant, Mary Eggers watched the peloton trains go by frequently. We avoided the drafting and for the most part passed many of the pelotons back. She and I exchanged places a few times and one of the last times she said "we will just need to run them down". I wasn't so sure how many we could run down after working harder in the wind on the bike. I finished the bike in 5:40. Average HR of 132 to 134 as I wanted.
Bike to Run Transition
T2 was a little slow as I knew that I needed to regroup. I was uncomfortable and I changed both shorts and shirt (I almost never do the shirt) and took a salt tab. I kicked myself later for not taking more and I also kicked myself for not getting all of the sand off my feet - that proved to be a distraction for sure. Out of transition two in 4:00 and I saw the clock at 6:54. Some quick math and I knew that a 4:06 marathon would get me sub 11, a 4:02 would net me a one hour PR and a 3:58 beating Bernie's best time. Based on the way I felt I thought there is no way I will get 10:44.
Off on the run and my heart rate immediately was over my 143 max target - I kept slowing more and more to near plod and could barely keep it under. I passed Melanie a mile into the run and she asked how I was - the answer - a grunt and comment about it being a long run. Time to do some damage control, I new I needed nutrition and fast so I promised myself that at aid station three I would not only get ice to keep me cool but as per my plan of 1 gel and 1 Gatorade every three miles I would pick back up. I passed my friend Mary in the run again and we said hi and she commented on how were still needed to run the peloton people down. I walked through that third mile aid station and took my time downing the gel and drinking and what a difference that made. I decided that I was sick of hearing the beeps of the alarm and shut them off and at that point ran by feel and kept telling myself to be patient. The result - first 5K 27:32 and second 25:51 - I was feeling better and running better. Every third aid station refueling and walking and then back on track.
Video of my run at about mile 9
The return trip from lap 1 was mostly headwind so I was working harder now up to 150's in heart rate and ran 26:25 for 10 to 15 and then 25:35 from 15 to 20. My left calf started to spasm and I new I needed more salt tabs - I stopped sweating again and had to get myself back on track so at the turn I begged some salt tabs and downed them dry - Yuck - until I could wash them down at the first aid station. That fifth 5k segment was nice with the tailwind though but with the extra delays I was 26:20 and now it was getting really tough. I started refueling every second station and by 16 miles my heart rate was over 160 and I k new I needed a walk break to bring it down. I did an Alex Wenzel power walk at 8 km/hr pace and was passing people jogging their first lap. By mile 17 I had recouped enough that I promised myself to run to the turnaround area. I was doing the math and at that point realized that I could almost walk to a sub 11 hour day but I knew to beat Bernie I needed to run at least 6 of the last nine miles.
My next walk break was from 19.1 to 19.8 miles and then I ran to 21 before we came out to the streets and were exposed to the headwind that was getting stiffer. I was still moving up through the masses but I was working really hard. I walked mile 21 to 22 and decided that I needed to run at least 3 of the last 4 miles. It was at this point Jennifer Cooper and I introduced ourselves as we had exchanged spots about 5 times over the last 7 miles when I was walking she would pass me and when I was running I would pass her. She was on her first lap but was willing to help me pace through the last miles. So miles 22 to 24.5 went by not too bad, only stopping to refuel at aid stations and then back running. But at 24.5 I was back over 160 heart rate and I needed a real walk break which I took to mile 25. I then gritted through the last mile with two more brief 250m walks and persevered in for a marathon split of 3:54 and a final time of 10:48. In the end I ran down 254 people and finished 404.
Final NotesInterestingly enough my two friends I made on the course Mary and Jennifer both had excellent runs 4:03 and 4:13 and finished just under 11 and 13 hours by a minute or so. Not only were they good people but they got good karma back and finished great.
It was an hour and 8 minute best time and while Bernie's 10:52 at Ironman Canada is more impressive due to course difficulty at least I have given Bernie a new goal to go after.