Ain't Done Yet

Leadman Race Report

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I have never been so apprehensive about a race than this one. What bothered me most was the swim. At Ironman Canada I took 1:47 to do 3.8K and the cut off when I registered was 2:00, that meant that I needed to cover 1.2K in 13 minutes. That was not going to happen in fact the extension of distance came out to 2:20 and change at the same pace. Way too close for comfort even when the cut off was moved out to 2:30. On top of that the altitude was above 4000’ and I live and train at sea level. I had dropped 20 pounds in the previous 6 weeks before the race. This weight loss simply is not recommended in any body’s book. But toeing the line at 255 pounds on an extreme endurance event is either stupid or brave- you pick. I choose to loose and after the race I will loose some more for Thailand.

I met my coach (Ben Greenfield who eventually won the 125 event) and a friend who is a pro entered in the 250. We drove the course and where confident. My plan was to fuel with UCAN super starch, VESPA and MAP amino acid supplement. I took a standard gel just before the swim and another at the halfway point on the swim. Everything was going according to our plan, me at 20 MPH for the first 2 hours of the bike. After that some climbing but the P-5 (Vanessa) was functioning flawlessly. The DI-2 was performing beyond expectations. I remained under 250W even on the climb. The plan was to be conservative on the first loop.

Shortly after the decent the course stayed pretty flat but a significant headwind was present. Just before special needs (90 miles) there is a 5-6% grade for a couple of miles. I hit a wall in regard to energy. I felt that if I pushed and maintained power I would empty the tank. That would leave me with 50 miles and a significant climb left to go.  

So I backed off the power and abandoned the nutritional plan. 11 hours was not going to happen. So do I back off and make sure I have a good time or do I push hard? Looking at my time it appears that I chose to have a good time, but It was not a conscious decision. I wished I had known that the race director modified the standard to 12 hours. I would have been at a higher level longer. Lesson learned don’t back off.

At special needs I started consuming gels. I went to a gel every 20 minutes plus UCAN.  At mile 100 my feet had swollen to the point of severe pain. At an aid station I stopped and fortunately they had dumped some ice on the pavement. I took off my shoes and stood on the ice for 2 minutes. When I got back to business no more pain . My nutritional recovery was not complete until I got to the top of the last climb and was licking my chops at the 16 mile 2000’ decent into T-2 (Run).

The decent at 50+ mph for more than 20 minutes is not as easy as you might first imagine. It takes concentration and upper body dexterity and strength. Everything is amplified at high speed. You need to get comfortable in getting pushed around. Several times I was pushed from one side of the lane to the other. It simply is not advisable to make quick corrections. Shorter hills are quite different while exhilarating just do not produce the stress a long one does. The long hills are none the less a total adrenalin rush big time.

By the time mile 138 got there I was more than ready to get off and run. Ironman distance will do that to the athlete and the extra 26 miles just reinforces that feeling. Be careful what you wish for.

When I got off the bike my legs felt fine, that was a real change from the past and taught me an important lesson: back off on the later part of the bike and DO NOT  come in as hot as you can. How long to back off is another question. I had a real hard time maintaining my motivation. Up to now my half marathon PR is 1:57, that time was in no danger because the cutoff for the belt buckle was soon to pass. I walked all the aid stations (every mile or so) and the steep hills. I finished with the help of my good friend and former colleague Mike Viles and his wife Carol. The run was plagued by excessive gas and eventually extended visits to the porta potty on 2 occasions.

I finished utilizing the run/walk protocol without incident. The race welcomed me to the finish line and there were still people who cared there as well. The recovery was managed with 2XU compression tights and 4 Phenocaine, 8 Recoverease and a gluten free burger at Red Robin. A good nights rest after a 1 hour ride to my bed. I was feeling hot all night in spite of the 50 degree sleeping area. This is due to my body repairing itself. Often one does not notice an area actually heating up due to inflammation/repair. Because I had worked almost all of my body long and hard I had inflammation everywhere. I believe that having the basic nutritional building blocks just put my whole body into hyper drive repair.

The supplements I take on a regular basis for recovery are: Mt Capra CAPRAFLEX, Tumeric extract, Vitamin C&D, COQ-10, MAP Amino Acids, Recoverease Amino Acids. A good diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids also go a long way.

 The awards ceremony was conducted the next day and was professionally conducted What became quickly evident was the fact that I was not among the usual IM crowd. My competitors were studs. Especially in the swim and bike. I have some more work to do. My soreness was there but insignificant thanks to the recovery protocol the night before.

I can not wait for the race that I am actually racing rather than “finishing”. I expect that transition will occur at Ironman Phucket or my first A race of 2013. Weight loss will be the key. By what was published in Lava magazine was that the run improves about 3 seconds per mile per pound. I believe that. 20 pounds being worth a minute per mile pace in an endurance event. Together with the free power on the bike will make me competitive with the old folks I can do that.

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