Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ironman World Championship 2010

What a fun day! I had a goal of racing sub 10 hours regardless of conditions. I was so close last year finishing in 10:03+ so I thought this was quite doable with the experience I gained from 2009. Read below to see how the day went.


I woke up my usual 3 hrs early to get some food in the system. I took a shower. I know it seems strange that I'd take one knowing I'm going to sweat all day but it refreshes me and helps me get going. Not being a coffee drinker, this gets me going. I went down to the race area and got marked. I went into the hotels internet cafe and just relaxed in there for a while. I was trying to stay off my feet as much as possible. Around 6:30, I went down to the transition area and sat there until 6:50 before heading to the beach. I went in, looked around to truly appreciate the crowds and competitors and then swam out to the race start.

             The Swim

This years rules changed so that we couldn't wear a speedsuit. I had no idea how this would affect me but guessed it should be the same for everyone. I just wore my tri-shorts with no top and was ready to roll! Unlike last year, I started well to the left of the pier. I had been bruised and battered during the early part of the swim in 2009 and was looking to avoid that this time around. The gun went off and I was surprised by how much clean water I had in front of me. I was drafting others and not getting beat up. I was feeling great! About 10 minutes into the swim, a huge group all got together. We beat the heck out of each other for about 20 minutes plus. It was slow going but I stayed focused and just took the beating while moving forward. At the turnaround, things started to spread out. I tried my best to draft but wasn't doing so well with it. I swam solo most the way back and unfortunately, there was a current we were swimming directly into. While it's the same for everyone, it's still hard. Unlike last year, I came out of the water feeling GREAT and I was about 2 minutes faster than last year in 1:13:12. I was in 1017th place after the swim. I am a TERRIBLE swimmer!!

I had practiced this a little because I knew I'd have to put a dry jersey on a wet body. I'd never done this before because I've always worn my full triathlon kit under my wetsuit or speedsuit. Everything went as planned and I got out of transition in 3:07.

                            The Bike

I jumped on the bike and felt pretty good right away. Rather than hammer away right out of the gate, I went into an easy ring. I did this for the first few minutes to make sure I was settled before the short climb up Kuakini Hwy. Once on Kuakini, I put it in a gear that was not giving away any speed but not beating my legs. After the turnaround on Kuakini, I was flying. I was also incredibly relaxed. I was more relaxed for this race than I have been at any of the 6 previous Ironman distance races I've been in. It felt kind of weird not being all worked up. There was a slight tailwind with the downhill from Kuakini.. Everyone was motoring so my concern was to not get caught up in someones poor bike handling skills that could take me out early. The bike was really uneventful for the first 30 miles. I was taking in my nutrition at regular intervals with no issues. About that time, I was coming up on a small group of riders. There were 6-8 of them riding legally and I figured I would pass them over the course of the next mile. Right as I came up on the guy in the back, a group of 10-15 guys who were not riding very legal boxed me in. At this point, I was full on drafting the three guys riding three abreast at the front of the group so I immediately hit the brakes. Doing so had all those other guys spring past me. I was trying to stay legal and doing a good job of it but was now going pretty slow. The group ahead were jockeying back and forth, out of the saddle....just hammering. I knew I needed to get past them but these guys weren't the type to let someone pass easily. I saw an opening that was created when the original group of 6-8 guys got passed by the group of 10-15. I hammered past them and tucked in to a legal position between the two groups. I gave myself a couple of minutes to get my heart rate where it needed to be then hit the gas to get past them. I got past all but 3 of them. Those last 3 were not going to let me go. 2 of those 3 guys got penalties over the next 3 miles. I have to say, one of them was a tough call because he was trying to pass someone then got blocked. The guy blocking got no penalty but the guy who didn't (couldn't) pass got nailed. I was now past this big group and only focused on passing individual riders and small groups ahead. As I made the turn to climb to Hawi around mile 41, I was feeling good. There was no wind and no whitecaps on the water so I was thinking this could be an easy climb. I made sure I was up on nutrition after riding harder than I wanted to get past that earlier group. Everything changed 2 miles later. There weren't whitecaps in the water. It was more like waves. I had my bike completely leaning toward the water to stay upright. The wind was relentless. I was in the small ring on the front and needing all of my gears on the back to keep moving forward. There wasn't a whole lot of passing now. I was just trying to keep my HR at a reasonable level until the turnaround. About 2 miles before the turnaround at Hawi, the wind eased. It did pick right back up on the descent but I did much better with it than on the trip up. I ended up getting past a lot of people who were upright and nervous. Once at the bottom of the climb, I was feeling really fresh. I didn't go hard but went at a pace to keep my speed up but not pushing hard enough to damage the legs for the run. There was a head wind the final 30 miles but nothing too bad. Living in Colorado has made that type of wind the norm so I just focused on getting calories in for the upcoming run. There were no issues the rest of the ride and I made it back to T2 with a bike time of 5:12:39. The ride was pretty drama free except for that short section where I was trying to avoid drafting. My time was slightly faster than last year and I passed 437 people during those 112 miles. I was now in 580th place..


I came into transition and just let my bike fly off to a volunteer as I was trying to save every second possible.  I had a little issue with the tongue of my shoe but got through that and headed out to the run feeling AMAZING. My T2 time was 2:49.

                  The Run

The run was where I hoped to pull back the majority of those 3+ minutes from last year to break 10 hours. I had never felt so good starting an Ironman run as I did on this day. While not 100% fresh, my legs were completely underneath me. No Ironman shuffle or anything like that. I was able to immediately start running like I would on any other day. I was running most of my miles in the low 7 minute range (don't pay attention to those run splits or Ironmanlive...they were quite inaccurate). I was really focused on a solid first 10 miles. This is by far the fastest section of the run. It is completely flat and there is a good breeze off the ocean before you head out to the Queen K Highway. It really helps keep the core temperature down.  I hit the 10 mile mark feeling pretty good. I was determined to run out of town better than I did in 2009. This happens just after the 10 mile mark. I took me over 11 minutes for that particular mile last year. Not only did I run it that slow, I was beat down and it took a couple of miles to get back into a good rhythm. Not this year. I ran up the hills well focusing on my cadence. While climbing Palani was tough, I managed to run that same tough mile in 8:24 this time. It was way slower than any mile I had run so far, but a lot faster than 2009 and I still felt pretty good. This was very encouraging. I continued to keep checking my internal systems to make sure I wasn't losing cadence and keeping fueled. I would count my cadence at least once per mile for a minute and I was holding the same turnover. The conditions were pretty good. While still hot, there was this cloud cover that would come and go throughout the run. I tend to do well in the heat so when we'd have longer stretches of direct sun, I'd end up passing a lot of people. When the clouds would come out, I'd just kind of hold my position. I started to feel the effects of the day around the 13 mile mark. Nothing drastic. Just some fatigue in my hamstrings. It was a reminder that this was not easy! My cadence was still the same but the push off wasn't quite as strong. I had no issues for the remaining miles into the Natural Energy Lab. It was pretty hot down there and I passed a lot of people even though I was slowing down. After the climb out of there, I was feeling good but ready to be done. The legs were achy and wanting to stop but I never did. I'm proud to say I never stopped the entire marathon...not even to walk an aid station. I was taking in all the volunteers energy and hopefully giving back some of my own with high fives and hang loose signs. They were fantastic the entire day. I hit mile 24 and all of a sudden, things weren't feeling so good. The left hamstring was really tight. This went on for the next 15 minutes or so but eased up to the point where I was loose and running well. That was the only excitement of the entire run. Here are my run splits. Miles 1 and 2 are combined because I forgot to hit the lap button out of transition.
1.14:40          8.   7:13         15.  7:50       22.  7:59         
2.                   9.   7:22         16.  6:35       23.  7:53

3. 7:11          10.  7:28         17.  7:43       24.  8:39

4. 6:59          11.  8:24         18.  7:32       25.  8:38

5. 7:00          12.  6:51         19.  7:48       26.  6:59

6. 7:11          13.  7:20         20.  7:59       .2    1.22

7. 7:11          14.  7:39         21.  7:45

Signaling to my family watching me back home

I ended up running the marathon in 3:17:55 passing another 256 people in the process. This had me finish in 9:49:42, 13:44 faster than 2009! Overall, I had a good but not great day. I do consider my run to be great for my standards. This was a run PR in an Ironman by almost 8 minutes. I'm feeling pretty good about it.

               Wrap Up

I look at this race as real boring as far as things happening out of the ordinary during the race. There was no spot where I was in a real bad place that I had to pull myself from. That doesn't mean it wasn't very hard. It was and I had to dig deep at various parts of the race. That's expected and had been planned for so it was very normal in that sense. I enjoyed race day much more than last year. Having done it before, I knew a lot of what to expect. I was able to enjoy the crazy groups of spectators, the energetic volunteers, men hammering so a woman wouldn't pass them, and most importantly the amazing group of athletes that I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to race against. This is a race I would love to be able to do every year. I had to go without my family so I had an empty feeling the entire week as well as post race. They are such a big part of this journey and to not have them there took a lot away from it. For that reason, I am done racing Ironman as far as I can tell. Unless we come into a bunch of money to bring the entire family over, I'm going to go for some different things here in Colorado. It's been a great ride. I raced my first Ironman at Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2005 in 11:52+. Since then, I've been able to take over 2 hours off that time at the World Championship. With the help of a great group of friends and an incredibly supportive family, I've been able to race in the pinnacle event of our sport in Hawaii twice. Hopefully I'll be back some day but if not, I have no regrets.