Finishing Time: 12:55, not my best time but I’ll take it.
SWIM: The swim was a rolling start. We were corralled according to our projected swim time. I forgot my timing chip and was waiting for my wife to drive to the race start and get it to me so I wasn’t able to get to the 1:05-1:10 corral. I didn’t think it would make a difference but it did; I was hasty to find a set of feet to draft off of and I latched onto someone who was slower than I wanted. I was frequently jabbing my hand into his toes; his toenails were so long that they took some skin of my left index finger. I thought that the draft was so good that I had to slow down to take advantage of it, kind of like when you stop pedaling to freewheel when drafting behind someone on the bike. The reality of it was that I was following someone who was too slow and going at too comfortable of a pace. I checked my watch at the end of the first lap and saw 40 minutes,… 10 minutes slower than my target. I reentered the water only to be surrounded by others who swam just as fast as the guy with the long toenails. I ended up finishing most of the second lap on my own.
TAKEAWAY: Rather than getting so preoccupied about someone to draft off of, I should have settled into my own pace FIRST and then find someone at my speed or faster to follow. Bottom line is that I should have started in the appropriate corral.
Swim Finish: 1:22
THE BIKE: My plan was to go VERY easy the first 12 miles, build into my desired heart rate and hold it from mile 12 into 40, do occasional 20 minute intervals of what I considered ‘higher intensity’ riding from mile 40-80, and then finish the bike strong from mile 80-112, all while ingesting calories for the upcoming marathon.
This was probably the best executed bike split I’ve ever done, despite it not being my fastest. For the first time in 8 Ironman finishes, no cramping or muscles twitching on the bike. But it was too well executed; during the athlete’s meeting, they mentioned several sections that were really bumpy and that it was recommended that you stay off your aero bars when you get to them. The course was riddled with water bottle cages that had broken off because of the bumps. I kept telling myself that I did NOT spend all this money on my bike to ride upright and that the 80mm deep wheel in front and the disc in the back were meant to be ridden in aero. So I rode over the bumps in aero position and my crotch paid for it; I brutalized my prostate! By the end of the bike portion, it felt like I had been kicked in the groin several times. The last few occasions peeing on the fly, it felt like I was peeing needles.
TAKEAWAY: don’t ride over bumpy roads in aero. There’s nothing more awesome than the sound of my disc while going downhill at 35 mph……wump wump wump wump.
Bike Time: 6:02:54
THE RUN: My strategy on the run was similar to the bike; hold back for the first 6 miles, settle into a pace from mile 6-20, and then drop the hammer the last 10k. The moment I started the run course, something was off. My lower back hurt like hell to the point where I had to stop and attempt to stretch it out. The problem was, I couldn’t even bend forward to stretch it because it hurt too much. The first 2 miles was more like a walk/jog session with intervals of stopping to try and massage my back. At mile 3, I poured some ice cubes down the back of my race singlet. The ice settled over my lower back and made the pain tolerable. I was able to run somewhat comfortably but at slower pace. Much of the course was on hard packed dirt and rocks with several sections on a cemented bike trail. I wore racing flats…and felt every single rock I ran over. I was sooooo jealous of the people wearing the fat-soled Hoka shoes that I vowed to get myself a pair after this race.
I got into a groove, settled into a comfortable pace, and made it to mile 20. It wasn’t going to be the 4:20 marathon I wanted but it was going to be comfortable… maybe around 4:45 I thought. I was concerned because I hadn’t peed for the entire run (3 hours,…no peeing) so I tried to force one out in a portable. It felt like peeing needles again, the volume was VERY low, and it came out pink. I freaked out figuring that something was REALLY wrong. I thought I must be extremely dehydrated so I basically had Thanksgiving at the next aide station to get the salt, carbs, and fluid back into my body. I ate pretzels, drank Red Bull, had soda, water, and even a cup of Gatorade. Shortly after loading up, I had so much food sloshing in my stomach that it was hard to move my body. Miles 21-24 were a pathetic shuffling and I finally broke down and walked most of mile 25,…the walk of shame. I managed to jog the last mile and sprint to the finish but it was painful.
TAKEAWAY: I need to become a better runner…(period!!) I should have really loaded up on fluids the first few miles but was so pre-occupied with my back pain that I was only taking little sips and drenching myself with water at each aide station. Looking back, I really think the back pain and peeing blood were the result of riding aero on the bumpy roads. I had done at least 4 overdistance rides (up to 7 hours) to make sure my lower back was conditioned for the duration of the bike portion. My last overdistance ride was 116 miles and I felt FINE running afterwards. I should have ridden upright on the handlebars over those bumpy roads! It’s the morning after the race and it still feels like I’m peeing needles. Don’t wear racing flats when running on trails.
Run Time: 5:14
Final Thoughts: I wanted to beat my PR of 12:09 at IM Wisconsin 13 years ago but learned that it wasn’t going to happen yesterday. I feel that I’m a better endurance athlete now than I was back then but some poor choices didn’t allow that to show. I’ll swallow my 12:55 along with everything I learned and take it to my next race.
…I love my rear disc….wump wump wump wump.