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I Tri, Therefore I Am...
My bumbling yet willful endevours in triathlon, and life.
Race Report: IMFL 2008, my first Ironman 
12th-Nov-2008 09:06 pm
Well, I think I'm still in shock.  I was/am thrilled.  But mostly surprised at how well the day went, I worked hard, start to finish, but was not foolish and was, I thought, very careful to stay steady and not over excert.  And that just compounded my surprise and reinforces important rules I have been tought by folks I have always known were very smart people!!!!: 1) never underestimate the power and capability of a positive and determined mind; 2) start easy, finish strong; 3) its not who's fastest, but who slows down the least .  I was afraid that Austin Tri back in Sept would end up being my best race of the year, but I am most pleased with this result, a fantastic way to end a great year of firsts.  And I am very grateful for all the help I've gotten from friends and fellow athletes here and out and about!  Here are the photos from the trip:



Here's a brief recap I've written up:

Overall a great race experience, enough can't be said about how fantastic the volunteer support is at Ironman events, there was always a lot of energy around the race site, but also lots of standing in line before and after the race.  The beach at PCB is gorgeous, beautiful sand and water...but there isn't, however, very much else going on there except, apparently, a healthy market for the waffle house franchise.  Here's how it unfolded for me...

Swim: water conditions were pretty good, much better than earlier this summer at Gulf Coast.  Just a little bit of roll and current, but not bad at all, temp was reportedly right around 68-70.  We had a two loop course, we waded in for the first 1.2 mile loop, exit the water, cross a timing mat, run down the beach back towards the start, and then back out for a second loop.  I found the swim to be far less rough and tumble than I expected.  Certainly plenty of contact, but I found it did not induce a panic in me to worry most about staying above water.  About a quarter of the time I found open water, but soon realized that correlated closely with the moments I realized I had been tossed off course.  I found that swimming just beside and back from a fellow swimmer was a good place to be - in a draft but out of their reach and at least on flank protected.  Everytime I was on feet, they were too fast, too slow, I'd veer or others would veer into me.  I also enjoyed the fully co-ed start, many of the numerous punches to the face I received seemed much more apologetic when coming from the vicinity of a pink swim cap than from my fellow testosterone stoked blue cap wearing competitors.  Goggles thankfully stayed in place.  One big gulp of ocean water per lap and I had my electrolytes for the day.   

Bike: this was a one loop course - not 360 but definitely not flat - very much like Parmer.  The first 75 miles were mostly uphill in a curly q to a NE corner into a slight headwind, then we turned around and headed back with a slight tailwind, until we started getting closer to the beach where the mid afternoon onshore breeze canceled that out.  We got lucky in terms of wind, it could have been much, much worse.  First 20 miles were some of the most uncomfortable for me but only in the awkward sense, cold from the waist down, anxious, no rhythm, just working to get situated.  Hordes of hammerheads steamed by in the early miles, shamelessly in drafting trains, but I resisted and did not take the bait.  At about 35 miles in, I was visited by the business end of some sort of stinging insect to my right temple, did not go down but somehow ejected my sunglasses while swatting the offending critter off my face.  A minute or two passed before I realized how much I would be wanting them over the next 80 miles, but I decided they were now too far behind me to go back for.  I will now stash spare shades in bike special needs in the future.  The middle 40 miles were tough in two ways - 1) maintaining focus, keeping a steady effort up; and 2) bone jarring cracks in the road.  In hind sight, I think we had only 10 or so miles of bad road, but it felt like 75.  I plan to come up with some sort of mind trick to employ when I next encounter a stretch of bad road in a long race.  The last 30 or so miles for me were great, by this time all the little noises my bike had been making that had been driving me crazy for 4+ hours were now helping me hold cadence like a little machine down there underneath my feet (my bike computer and leads were beat up on the tribike trip out and so I had no cadence from the start and had speed for about 3/4 of the time).  I was able to follow my nutrition plan down to the last drop - I did loose my appetite towards the end but because most of my calories were in liquid form I was able to stay on track.  I think this helped me a GREAT deal throughout the race.  I was also able to forego making any stops during the bike, and on this I shall say no more. 

Run: in the days and weeks leading up to the race, I spent a lot of time thinking about this run which was 2x out-n-back half-marathons.  it was the hardest for me to settle on a strategy for and the most elusive in terms of finding and keeping a positive frame of mind about.  In the end, I settled on approaching it like 4x7mile loops on the town lake trail, because we all love doing the same loop over and over and over, don't we!  I planned to run with confidence but be measured and steady and take it as it came, one stretch at a time, but to knock it out with as little dilly-dally as possible just like a Sunday long run.  I carried a fuel belt with water and Gatorade endurance and most of the gels I would need for the run so that my fueling and hydration would be totally independent of the support stations.  I tried to start easy and just kept running by stations like I stole something.  The first half marathon ticked by pretty smoothly, I stopped after the first half marathon at run special needs to dump my empty bottles and pick up full ones.  during the run I got to see several austinites out on the course which was great.  I was thrilled throughout the day at how well things seemed to be going, but at this point I began to do some math and added up the ballpark on where I was in terms of finish time.  I told myself to put it out of my mind and to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  at this point it was growing difficult to quiet the chatter in my mind about whether X amount of energy and pain was worth so and so, and how much a little rest was worth more effort or perhaps comfort at some other point or even after the race.  It got harder and harder to turn these off, I used a trick I learned from Suzanne's race last year on the same course - I started counting foot strikes.  Whichever leg hurt the most, I'd start counting the opposite foot up to 100.  If I wasn't able to focus simply on running by the time I got to 100, I'd start again switching to the other foot.  with 3 of 4 lengths done, all I had to do was run back to the finish.  this stretch got rough in patches, and I went ahead and bought some rest at around mile 20 and 21.  Its in this stretch that I also started sampling coke and chicken broth.  I think the roof of my mouth is still burned.  but it tasted ohhhh so good.  the last portion of the course ran along not far from the beach, and in between breaks in the condos you could look out at the sun setting over the water.  This was really, really cool.  at about 1/3 of a mile out, I was on the final stretch on the road that ended with our finish line, and I had been hearing mike riley's voice for a few minutes, I heard him count down from 5 to what I presumed was the top of the hour.  some guy on the side of the road repeated the count down for me and said something like "bummer dude" but I didn't care a bit, I had already exceeded all of my own wildest expectations (there were numbeous roadside parties taking place along the course, some more entertaining than others).  I cruised in to the finish line chute totally elated. 

Post-race: again the volunteers, AWESOME.  I was ushered passed the finish area, got my finishers gear, took my finishers photo and met up with my family.  the next 30 or so minutes I was still feeling pretty stoked but I wanted to cut my legs off.  after a short time things got better, I got up, slowly started moving around again.  went and gathered up my bike and gear bags.  had a few more cups of coke and oranges and headed back to our condo where after awhile I inhaled a bacon cheeseburger, mozzarella sticks, and fried shrimp. 

What a wild ride.  Whats next?!?!
13th-Nov-2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
Congratulations!! I felt so proud, watching ironmanlive, going "See how much ass that guy is kicking? I know him." :)

A well-planned and well-executed race, and it paid off.

What was your opinion on doing another when you were out there? What about after you crossed the finish line? And now?
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