Monthly Archives: June 2011

My Personal Zapruder: CDA Race Photos

Here we go. If you ever wanted to know what a small, Thai triathlete looks like in hell without spending hours deciphering the side of a Buddhist temple, look no further than below:

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OW: The 2011 Ironman Coeur d’Alene Race Report

Finally, I’m back at home in Montana. I have a beer in hand, pizza next to me, and I’m ready to finally relive the 13 hours of pain that was yesterday. So let’s dissect and move ahead.

Race Morning:

I woke up at about 4:30. Surprisingly, I had a fairly good night of sleep thanks to not taking a much needed nap the afternoon prior and being able to sleep in a bed without three kids next to me (we got upgraded to a larger resort room) Breakfast was a tall coffee Americano, with two shots of espresso, and a handful of peanut butter pretzels. At about 5:00, I got dressed and headed down to transition with my special needs bags. Body marking took less than a minute, even with a smiley face getting put on my right calf(not requested).

Lean bodies and permanent markers. Alwasy a win win.

After that, I headed to the special needs bag drop.Here are my contents:

Bike Special Needs:

2 spare bike tires
1 CO2 cartridge
1 peanut butter sandwich
1 Can of Red Bull
1 sour apple Jolly Rancher (I have a thing for Jolly Ranchers)

Run Special Needs:

1 spare pair of running socks
1 Can of Red Bull
1 sour apple Jolly Rancher (did I mention I have a thing for Jolly Ranchers)

Next up, checked the bike in transition, especially my tires and computers. All systems go. As always, my bike pump made me more popular than Lindsay Lohan in a jewelry store. After helping out a few guys, I finally got into my wetsuit.

Swim: 1:17, 8 minute PR

Beautiful conditions

Unlike Friday morning, when the wind was white capping the waves rolling in, the water on race day morning was as smooth as a triathlete’s credit card magnetic strip. My gear consisted of a neoprene swim cap, my Timex watch, and a 2XU Elite wetsuit. I found a couple of my teammates and we seated ourselves right in the middle of the pack. One minute prior to the start, U2’s Beautiful Day started playing again, and one minute later, BOOM went the cannon.

Waded in with the crowd until about chest height and then it was swim time. Despite taking my time getting in and being in the middle, the initial part of the swim was like wetsuit roller derby. I just seemed to be always swimming on people, avoiding kicks to the face, or feeling hands on my back. There was just no chance to settle into form. By the time I reached the outer buoy, I was still doing the “swim and dodge” stroke. Things started to thin out a little more by the time I was halfway back to shore from the first loop and I settled into my rhythm. Of course, as soon as I got through the first lap, I was immediately back in the traffic jam. I had to stop for 20-30 seconds for a quick pee break at the start of the second lap. Probably can thank the coffee and my generous intake of lake water during the first lap for that. I was in a wetsuit…try not to think too hard about it. Again, all the way to the turnaround buoy, I was swimming on people. As I made the turn, things finally cleared up and I attempted to make up as much time as I could. I wanted to do a sub 1:15, so I wasn’t too happy with 1:17:06. Still, I was way faster than my 2009 swim of 1:25.

Transition 1: 9:00, 46 second PR

No brainer here. Took a little tumble trying to catch my falling swim cap as I went on to the beach. That must have looked superb. Into the wetsuit strippers I went and I’m happy to say everything that was supposed to come off did so easily. Still held onto my shorts as always. Into transition tent I went. I totally missed the 100 degree heating tent, but honestly, my hands and feet weren’t really numb at all. Quick change, and out I went to my bike.

Bike: 6:42:15, ~27 minute PR

Okay, so this is what everyone wants to hear about. At the start of the bike, I had no problems with the chill in my socks and arm warmers. I quickly got into aero after the first turn and I concentrated on pegging my watts on 136. No problems there and I was cruising 21 mph. My watts were averaging a little high at about 143w as I came back through downtown. The only thing I seemed to have difficulty with was getting comfortable on my aero bars because of my Garmin 310xt. Two days prior to the race, I had put the quick release mount right in front of my left elbow rest. Doing so caused me to have to slightly angle up my forearm over the watch and then back down with my wrist. I tried it out prior, and it didn’t seem to make much a difference. As I entered the first loop of the hills, things were still going okay. I crossed over the 32 mile timing mat at 1:53:45. As I headed back into town, I started getting a twinge in my low back. Nothing that I hadn’t seen prior. Usually, I would get some discomfort about mile 30 that would build, but then would quit as I my body adapted more.

As I came through the first lap, I could tell something was seriously wrong. My back pain had erupted into full on back spasms. Around mile 57 or so, every time I changed positions, I would get spams that nearly almost caused me to wreck multiple times. I started going through the usual stretches. At first, this seemed to help a bit, but eventually the pain was constant. I concentrated on making it to special needs where I could stop and stand for a little bit. I found my bag easily and I managed to stop this time without nearly getting impaled by some carbon aerobars like last time. I allowed myself a quick stretch and back on I went in about a minute. I mentally tried to regroup as I devoured my meal and poured in my Red Bull. It was time to make or break the day. I settled back into aero and decided to grit my teeth.

When I got back into town though, things were getting drastic. I had to stop for a good two minutes to stretch again just off Sherman avenue. Then I was back on and heading though town. Things were so bad at this point that I started to worry not about meeting my goals, but finishing the day. And let me tell you, that is a very, very hard place to be. At mile 70, the focus of my brain went from hydration and watts, to making it another five miles to my next stretch. I couldn’t bear aero position. I couldn’t crank any gears. I was basically either spinning, stretching, coasting, or climbing.

I actually was looking forward to the hills as I hoped more time up in the saddle would help. Sadly, it didn’t. As I said, I couldn’t crank on things, and the hills just compounded this in ability. Standing was not helping either. I came across the 90.2 timing mat with a horrendous average of 16:19 avg mph. I kept this spinning/coasting/climbing/not-in-aero pattern up for the rest of the bike portion. With my back in more of a shit storm than a Senator with a Twitter account, I completely lost control of my hydration and nutrition plan. As I was heading back into town, I looked down at my Hammer Perpetuem bottle and it was still half full when it should have been empty. I had enough sense know this was alarming, so I thought, “okay, I will just get this in before the bike ends.” I took a sip and put it back in the cage with plans to take some more after the next turn. Of course, wouldn’t you know it, I heard the familiar sound of plastic hitting asphalt. A quick glance at my empty bottle cage confirmed my fears: my bottle of nutrition had decided to jump ship on me. By this point, all I wanted to do was get off my bike as soon as possible and to my running shoes.

As I came intro transition, and my first steps off the bike were nerve wracking. I was having pain shooting up my back with my first few steps that kept up as I made my way into the changing tent. With my mind caput, I forgot to take my Garmin 310xt off my bike. Another brilliant mistake. Here are my numbers from WKO:

Entire workout (112 watts):
Duration:      6:49:01 (12:04:27)
Work:          2736 kJ
TSS:           284.1 (intensity factor 0.647)
Norm Power:    136
VI:            1.22
Pw:HR:          n/a
Pa:HR:          n/a
Distance:      112.587 mi
Elevation Gain:        4243 ft
Elevation Loss:       4201 ft
Grade:         0.0 %  (43 ft)
Min    Max    Avg
Power:           0    522    112     watts
Cadence:         31    218    88     rpm
Speed:           0    42.6    16.1     mph
Pace             1:25    0:00    3:44     min/mi
Altitude:        2068    2659    2330     ft
Crank Torque:    0    644    110     lb-in

T2: 4:00, 56 second PR

Quickly changed into my running socks and Newtons. Hit the head, which in triathlon is an oversized bath tub, and then out the tent I went. My first few steps out of T2 are always a nerve wracking point for me as I can tell how the rest of the run is going to go. Last time, I came out of transition with a huge grin and zero pain. This time, my back was twinging with each step and my energy was down. Not a good sign.

Marathon: 5:03:55, slower by 7:15

There are times when you just feel the running. When you live off the cheers. When feel your movement through space with each step. This was not one of those runs. During the first mile, I was oblivious to the crowds and cheers. Even worse was the fact that I was oblivious to my pace as I had no watch. Nothing to gauge my speed by. So I just ran where I felt comfortable. As I came into the first mile marker, I was huffing slightly.

My good side, especially at this point.

Luckily, I saw my coach at that point, and he knew I was dying. He slowed me down and I settled into whatever pace I could find. Normally, I would run the aid stations through the half, but with the way I was feeling I walked the first aid station. I quickly doused some water on my head, took in a gel, and followed that up with some Ironman perform. Back off I went. As I settled into the first couple of miles, things in my back loosened up tremendously. I was feeling okay as I headed out into the two huge hills. Last time, I ran up the hills, and this time, I was damn determined to run up the hills again, even though they were twice as long with the new course. As I came across the first timing mat at 6.6 miles, I was averaging 10:36/mi. Actually, not to shabby with my walking every aid station. My goal had been around 9:40 pace. I made the flip and headed back towards town, again running up the hills. Again, walked every aid station, and then running in between. As I came back into downtown, I was hurting, but not dying. My back pain had disappeared, but I had started getting some requisite foot and left knee pain. Coming through the half at 13.4, I was moving a little slower at 11:17/mile.

If there is anything worse than running 13.4 miles while tired, its running it AGAIN. To make matters even worse, as you head out for the second loop, you have run by the turn for the final stretch to the finishers chute. You get to watch people 13 miles ahead of you finish. Very demoralizing, but I gave it a good hard look and whispered “see you later.”

Clearly though, that wasn’t enough to keep me moving fast enough. Things were getting really tough as I headed out again. I still kept up the aid walk, run pattern. I am proud to say that I still ran up the entire hill section, even though it was barely faster than walking. I crossed over the 19.5 mile timing mat at a mind bending 13.02/mi. I’m not sure if I entirely believe that time, but it does summarize how I felt as I made the flip to home. Slowly but surely, I kept up the hike home. To make matters worse, seems like everyone was eating the good gels, leaving me with the just plain awful Powerbar Chocolate Flavor gel. Mmm, nothing says running like an effin candy bar.

For the last five miles, I was literally running with my eyes close at times, gritting my teeth, just concentrating on seeing that finisher chute and my family. Finally, oh God finally, I came into the last turn onto Sherman Avenue. Out stretched in front of me was a sun bathed downhill, filled with screaming supporters on each side, and the shining white arch of the finish line in the distance. A huge grin spread across my face as I zipped up my jersey and headed home.

There is literally no moment in my life like that .2 miles of running at the end of an Ironman. All of my pain and suffering disappeared as my hands reached out to high five open palms. Then it happens. You see the timing mat and cross that line amongst the crowd’s roar and the sound of the announcer saying you’re an Ironman. You are done.

Bringing it home.

I was greeted by the open arms of the medical volunteers. Immediately, I felt like I was going to DIE. And it looks like the volunteers knew it as I had several come to me and ask if I needed assistance. For a brief moment, I thought I should indeed head to medical, but I took a couple of swigs of water and I seemed to be doing okay. I got my medal, hat, t-shirt, and most importantly, a hot slice of pepperoni pizza. The best pizza comes within five minutes of finishing an Ironman.

Synopsis: 13:15:56, ~ 30 minute PR

So, in the end, I was short of many of my major goals. I did at least go faster than my last performance. I was hoping for a PR in all disciplines, and a near 12 total time. Probably the most disturbing fact about the race was that it was a complete suffer fest. The first time I did the Ironman, I was exuberant during the entire race. I was just so happy to finish it and I was back to running/riding two days after. I can actually say that I thought it felt easy.

On the contrary, yesterday was complete hell for me. I was in so much pain and I was so demoralized that I was oblivious to much of the scenery, crowds, and fun. I can now honestly say that yesterday was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I have never before wanted to quit in a triathlon, and there were many times yesterday when all I could do to keep going was to think all those days training, all that money spent, and all those YouTube videos I watched for inspiration. My main goal for the next Ironman is to just not have another day like yesterday.

I have a couple of theories at what made yesterday so difficult. One was the slight alteration of my bike position with the new computer placement. The other thing is that my allergies have been raging for the past week. They are so bad today that even with taking both Claritin and Benadryl, I have an irritated throat, itchy eyes, cough, and even a horribly inflamed oropharynx. I think both the allergies and the medicines took a serious toil on me.

Every race is another learning experience. So what have I learned from yesterday?

  1. I need to ride more outside. I put in good training hours, but I now realize there is nothing that really can simulate the hills and muscles used in real riding. Luckily, I have some good friends who are ready to ride, and I will have to make adjustments to get those outdoor rides in.
  2. I need to work on my runs. In every aspect. Form, speed, and distance. I have all the tools and resources available to become a good runner, and I just need to use them. Rather than repeat things, I will be looking at each of my workouts and schedule, and adjusting them as necessary.
  3. I need to upgrade into Carbon. Enough is enough.
  4. Swim is fast enough for the time being. I will continue to work it to keep it at least where I am, but I need to drastically focus on the other disciplines.
  5. I need to start working my nutrition on the run. I have had good success with my bike nutrition, when I actually take it in. For the next race, I plan on taking the Hammer stuff with me rather than going buffet style in the aid stations.
  6. This year, I did the intermediate IM training plan with Endurance Nation. I’m going to take a step back and use the beginner plan again in an effort for better quality training time than rather than more lower quality training time. I also will spend more time in the forums and learn from the success of my team mates and coaches.
  7. Never change ANYTHING before the race. I had new bottles and that new computer mount on my aero bars. I don’t know if my slight angulation with my left arm made a difference, but something seriously screwed up everything, and that probably had something to with it.

The Future

So now what? For the time being, I’m taking some time off in July, just doing what I feel like to keep my fitness up. I have not signed up for CDA in 2012; I just need a break from that course…..and resort. The real question everyone wants the answer to is what about this November. The answer, at least right now, is this: Beep beep, this road runner is headed to the desert.

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