Bike: 90k @ 2h58min51 (29/48)
Run: 21.1k @ 2h35min06 (42/48 - ick)
Rankings: 35/48 overall; 27/34 men; 5/7 Men 35-39
You know how you have "one of those days" every so often? Well, for me, this was one of those races. It was still fun, and I still finished, but I still need to nail down nutrition.
The Swim - Chaff-fest
This was pretty uneventful. The water felt quite cold thanks to the rains the night before, but it was even colder when you got out of the water thanks to the wind. I was off to a good start in the pack, managed to sight well, and hold proper form through and through. But the way I had looped the zipper strap (to keep it from getting pulled during the swim) I had buggered up the neck part somehow and chaffed the right side of my neck the entire way. Coming out of the water, it felt like I had a really bad sunburn on my right side. Ouch.
The Bike - If things can go wrong...
Even though I had a very solid bike, lots of things went wrong here that affected me later on. Not even one block in the ride I jettisoned my first bottle (300 calories gone, and one swear fired off). The roads out to the highway were rough, and I kept on reaching back to check the other bottle behind the saddle. During one of these checks I didn't see a pothole in front of me - bam! Miraculously, I didn't eject the other bottle, but the armrests on the aerobars took the brunt of the impact and rotated down about 3/4" making my arms want to roll off them (another swear fired off). I debated fixing them, but it didn't seem too bad, so I stuck with it (turns out I rode the entire way like that).
I had finally made it to the highway where things got much much smoother and settled in, no longer worrying about my one bottle (that was nearly empty) would eject. Well, wouldn't you know it - the damned thing popped out (down about 100 calories as I had 1/3 left in the bottle). At this point, I blasted a few swears out for good measure, checked my one remaining bottle on the downtube, and continued on.
About an hour in, I started to eat a Hammer Bar. I opened the package and left it in the Bento Box and just broke pieces off. After eating a bit more than half the bar, I went to grab another piece off. A sudden gust of wind caught the wrapper in the Bento Box and blew the rest of the bar onto the road (another 100 calories gone). Good thing I had another bar on me. After cursing a bit more, I grabbed my remaining bottle - a GelBot which has an integrated gel flask inside it - and sipped away. It was at this point that I realized that my incident with the pothole had dislodged the gel flask in the bottle, so now I had a horrid concoction of Espresso-flavored gel in lukewarm water. It really was horrid, but I forced myself to drink at it since my calorie count on the bike had dropped significantly.
The entire ride was done well given the problems I faced. I managed to get out of the saddle regularly, which really helped my back and legs, and my hill climbs were solid. My HR through the entire ride was quite low - about 80% of max. All that bike training was paying off, but I was feeling a lot more tired coming into T2. But I did make it sub-3hr!
The Run - Walk This Way
I had a backup flask in T2 that contained about 4 shots of gel. I readily consumed them before the run because I knew I was running a deep calorie deficit. The legs were feeling very stiff and heavy, but I trudged along waiting for the legs to come back. After 3k, I knew this wasn't normal and that I was in some trouble. My legs never came back, and I took Gatorade and Coke at the water stations I hit. I took a few short walk breaks to try and loosen up, but to no avail - I was way too low on energy.
At about 12k, I bonked. It wasn't the bonk that took me out, but I couldn't run no matter how hard I tried. I could walk (fairly straight, actually) and did so for some time, hitting the water stations like a buffet. I took anything that had sugar in it - Gatorade, Coke, gels. Finally, at about 15k I could run/walk, and things felt like they were turning around. But until then it was so bad - I've never felt that bad, that low, that down. I felt like throwing in the towel, sitting under a tree and bawling like a baby. I hurt really bad, I was a bit dizzy, and I felt like I could have puked. But I knew I could walk, and I was going to finish that race even if I had to walk it.
The last 5k was getting better. The run portion of the run/walk was getting longer, and the walk portion was getting shorter. I wasn't tipsy, and the legs were feeling better. I started to run more normal, rather than shuffling as if I was on ice. I knew that I wasn't going to get my goal of being at 6hrs for the race, but I knew I could get a PR even if only by a few minutes.
And get it I did - by about 3min or so. I was glad to be done, and glad to be feeling much, MUCH better by the end of the race, and I knew that the training I had done this year was actually effective. I had a good swim, a solid bike, and without the bonk I truly believe I would have been about 2hr10 in the run. I never gave up, and I never quit. And in the end, that's what counts.
For now, I'm resting and recovering but I know that I've still got a fair bit of work to do before even considering an Ironman. First, I need to get better at storing stuff on the bike, not losing it, and eating far better. Looking back, I see a lot of instances where I was depleted before even hitting the run. Second, more power work for the run. Even without nutrition issues, my run is still quite weak. Third, continuing the theme of nutrition, eating and drinking in a planned, structured way during the run to keep up the energy and alertness.
For all of you out there watching me and supporting me - big thanks once again. I knew you'd all keep me honest while I was doing this race!