Monday, October 14, 2013

Ironman World Championship 2013

Hello all,
I figured I would dust off the old blog and post my race report while it's all fresh in my mind and I can process my immediate thoughts.  Overall, I hit some rough patches on the bike & run during the race but was able to limit the damage and finish.  I also didn't have to hit the medical tent for my typical wave of post-race nausea - definitely a victory in itself.

With the time change in our favor, waking up at 3:15 wasn't too painful.  My breakfast consisted of an English muffin with peanut butter and a malto cocktail to get in some extra calories.  A final check of my gear completed and then just settled in with some coffee to wait for our pending 4:40 am departure.  I connected with Jay and Kevin and, luckily, a race shuttle pulled up to our condo just as we were leaving to cart us off to the pier.

Everything was handled very smoothly at the race- I blinked and I was body-marked and ready to roll. I completed a final check of the gear bags, checked the bike, and pumped up the tires...all went smoothly.  We then looked for a quiet spot to wait out the final minutes before race start and I had a quick phone call to Deb...she always knows what to say to calm me down and talk me off the ledge.  The time seemed to fly by here and before i knew it, it was time for some final hugs for Jay and Kevin.  We wished each other well as we all went our separate ways to get ready for the swim.

Everything I've read, as well as what I heard from the Kona vets, was to line-up to the left if the goal is an easier, contact-free swim.  My goal was to take it easy here - no stress, no excessive contact, glide, focus on form, and get on some feet!
I jumped into the water at 6:48 and did a couple warm -up efforts to get the blood flowing as I made my way to the far left of the swim start.  I lined up near the front (a couple rows back) and just tried to stay calm.  Treading water at the start line of Kona.....truly blessed to be here.
The cannon went off to signal the race start and IT WAS ON!
Here's an aerial shot of the race start for reference.  I would be one of the swimmers off to the right in the pic.  I lined up right next to the yellow and white canoes in the picture.

Everyone was playing nice here...a bit crowded but no excessive force or contact from my 2000 friends flailing alongside me.  I pushed the effort slightly to get into some open water before I started looking for some feet.  Some guy in a blue / green kit was coming up fast about 10-15 yards to my right so I bridged the gap and settled in right behind him and just put it into cruise control.  It was funny but as we navigated through separate packs of swimmers and lose contact, as we hit open water again, I'd look around for some feet and see his familiar shorts in front of me so I'd bridge the gap to jump on his feet again.  The water is so clear in Kona....makes for a great swim for sure!
I had some contact at the turn buoys at the far end of the swim course but nothing too major.  After heading around the final turn buoy, I just made it a point to focus and try to find some feet when possible or just focus on good technique as I made it back to shore.  I knew i was getting close to the swim finish when I hit the cooler water right by the Kailua pier...a good sign.
Swim Goal: 1:15
Swim Finish: 1:11:09
I was definitely happy with the swim- swam easy / conservatively and finished right in the zone.

As you exit the swim, they make all the athletes run the outside perimeter of the transition area which makes some of the posted transition times pretty impressive.

In typical fashion, I wasn't winning any speed records here.  I took the time to hit the hoses right outta the water to rinse off all the salt water before grabbing my bag and hitting the tent.  I ran into teammate and Ironstud Tim Winestorfer in transition.  He was looking good as he exited transition.  It took some time to get on my Desoto Cool Wings (arm / shoulder protection) while wet but, in hind sight, this was time well spent....they definitely get my 2 thumbs up.  Quick lather of sunscreen by the awesome volunteers before I was off on the bike.
Time: 7:01....insert record scratch here....hey, never said I had fast transitions! ;-)

I *think* the bike course has over 4K of climbing.  My garmin spit out 4.5K but not sure how accurate that is.  In any case, the bike course is no joke.  It seems like you are always going either up or down.
Initially, as we rolled out of town and did the small climb up Kuakini, I repeated my mantra *calm and controlled*...remembered the cues from the PP team and Matt D.....get the HR down and get your breathing settled....don't go too hard.   check!
I remember thinking my legs felt pretty dead here but tried not to get overly concerned as it was a long day and I knew i had time to get it sorted.

As we got out on the Queen K, I just focused on settling in and finding my rhythm.  I was planning to use everything at my disposal to make sure i didn't do anything stupid on the bike.   I was using Power (goal wattage ~ 170w on the flats) as my primary benchmark along with perceived effort & heart rate.  If anything started going south...i would re-assess and manage.
On the outbound to Hawi, there were sections where we were absolutely flying.  It seemed like the wind was either a tailwind or crosswind here....not too much headwind.  Outside of the multiple rollers, I was able to manage my wattage well under goal wattage and took all the rollers very easy.  In hindsight, knowing what was coming...I would've probably pushed the effort slightly here.
Everything was going well here.....stayed focused on the process and tried not to think too far ahead.  I got a bottle of water at every aid station to douse my Desoto Cool Wings *damn that feels good!*, grab another water bottle upon aid station exit to fill my aero bottle before tucking into the aeros and moving forward.

As we made the turn off the Queen K to head toward Hawi, I got ready to hit the rollers.  As I made progress, I began to see the pointy end of the AG'ers heading back.  I was very surprised to see the amount of drafting going on here....I know it can get crowded up front but i saw 3 significant packs of AG men.  The first peloton was huge....maybe 25-30 guys riding in a pack, definitely not legal.   This was followed by 2 other packs of around 15 guys each.  I was happy to see a Draft Marshall roll up to the last pack to break it up but was surprised he only flashed the red card to the last rider in the!?  Oh well...not like any of that was going to affect my race.
I hit the turn around at Hawi and grabbed a few things out of special needs before starting the ride back.  I was feeling good up to this point.   I was hydrating well and already had 3-4 pees off the bike so definitely keeping the dehydration at bay.  Made the climb back up to the Queen K (easy effort) and tried to settle in for the last section of the bike.
We hit some SOLID headwind in the remaining 30 miles of the bike.  Mentally, it was very tough to watch your ave speed just plummet.   I tried to take advantage of the downhill rollers to coast and use the bathroom but i would almost come to a complete stop as the wind just was relentless here.  I still tried to ride smart though and meter my effort as it was very easy to lose focus and start grinding 200+ watts in this section.  I was really happy to see the marina on the way back into Kona and started to mentally prepare myself for the run.  Stretched my legs and back and shut it down.
Bike Goal: 5:45 - 6 hours
Bike Time: 5:59:31
Happy with my bike split although if i had a crystal ball, I would've managed my effort better on the way out to Hawi and pushed it slightly harder.  I would have stayed within my goal wattage but there were sections where I rode too conservatively.

Definitely feeling a bit stiff getting off the bike.  We had to do the perimeter dance around transition again before grabbing our bag and heading into the change tent.  I also took the time to use the bathroom here.
Typical slow transition for me
Time: 6:28

I remember thinking i felt really warm heading out on the run even though the temps seemed pretty manageable.  I just focused on getting prepared for the spectators  and excitement and making sure i didn't push it too hard as we rolled down and back Alii Drive.  It was great seeing Gary and Angela from Athletes Lounge throwing out some words of encouragement here!  As i headed down Alii Dr. I kept my eyes peeled for Deb as i knew we'd be running right by our condo....she was out there giving her support and encouragement.

I also saw Eric who was out supporting Jay on the course...familiar faces are always nice.
In the interest of keeping this on the shorter side, my legs never came around on the run.  I felt really warm and I did not want to take the chance of pushing it too hard and ending up in a worse way so i just focused on damage control for most of the run.  Forward progress was my priority and I made a deal with myself to run to each aid station where i allowed myself to walk through.
I followed the same protocol at every aid station:
Cup of ice in hat / in singlet / down shorts
Cup of water on head
Drink of water...maybe some banana
Exiting the energy lab, they made me take a glow stick *ouch*  ;-)
Miles 21-25, I took in some soup broth at the aid stations and it definitely helped me.  I wish i would've taken it sooner.
Mile 25 and the descent down Palani was such a welcome sight!  In similar fashion to Penticton though, they cruelly make you run quite a bit away from the finish before you hit Alii Drive for the last push to the finish.
Run Goal: 3:50 - 4hrs
Run Time: 4:21:27
My slowest run time in 15 Ironman races but I'll take the small victories in that i stayed focus on moving forward and sticking to my plan.

Alii Drive.....beautiful
I remember the crowds and Mikey Reilly getting louder as i got closer to the finish.
My initial reaction when i saw my finish time as i headed down the shoot....look away, oh the horror!
Ok, that was joke people!! light of how i felt for the majority of my run, I'll take it!  Kona was definitely a great experience and one that I'll keep with me for a long time.  It was very inspiring to be out on the race course with the best in the world (Pros and AG'rs) and it definitely got me motivated for next year.
After 15 Ironman races, including 8 sub-11 races, you'd think I'd have this little dance figured out but i think that's one of the beauties of long course racing in that you truly don't know what the day will hold when you toe the line.  It keeps you coming back for more....that elusive perfect race is out there for sure right?!

Insert goof finish pic here! ;-)

Hot races
You definitely need to manage your hydration and, also, toe the line without any extra lbs.  I was carrying around 10 extra pounds *stupid* and managing core temps in hot races with extra weight is not a good thing.  Also, just being in Kona and seeing the body composition of most of the racers hit it home....lean and mean people!  This will be a priority for me in the off season for aware of what I'm stuffing down my pie hole.  Yes, hard I know with the number of great restaurants in PDX.

Random Product reviews
Zipp Firecrest
I try not to buy into some of the marketing you get from manufacturers but the firecrest wheels from Zipp are pretty incredible.  We got hit with some pretty solid head / cross winds out there and i was able to keep pushing in the aerobars without any issues.  You'd definitely feel the pulse from the wind but it was not the surprising quick jerks you'd get in the wind from some aero wheels i've used in the past.

Desoto Cool Wings
Again, impressed with the cool wings to keep you protected from the sun and also, very cool, as advertised.  I'd hit the bike aid stations and use one water bottle to douse the coolwings and it definitely helped until i rolled into the next aid station

Ironheads Multisport Racing Team
It is great being involved with such a solid team - the encouraging words, support, etc is AWESOME!
Orange Crush!!
Special shout out to the Westside crew....looking forward to keeping it rolling into 2014!

Purple Patch Fitness
While my finish time didn't totally reflect it, I absolutely had the race preparation to tackle Kona thanks to Michael and Matt at PPF.   Their guidance and support has been great in the last 3 month build into Kona and I'm definitely looking forward to 2014.  PPF VTS!
Matt definitely had some major priorities on the island with his pro racers but took the time to make sure I was ready, answered my questions, and got some last minute bike issues I had sorted with his team.  Huge Thanks!

Friends & Family
BIG thanks to all my friends and family who reached out to provide their kind words and was very much appreciated.  Love makes the world go around for sure!
Last, but not least, huge props to my wife Deb.  You have always been my biggest cheerleader and none of this silly racing could take place without your undying support and love.
I love you honey..always.  ((hugs))

Whew...if you're still reading, it must feel like you just completed an Ironman! ;-)
Thanks for following along!