Santa Rosa Ironman Race Report

Ironman Santa Rosa race report 2017

Friday: pretty hot today.  Drank fluids very well.  Traffic was bad everywhere so it slowed everything down.  I got my workouts done very early up at the lake which was ideal but then still had to wait around until 10 for T1 to open.  I was able to get all the chores done and back to the house before 2.  And did some organizing of the gear and made my sandwiches and prepared my breakfast.  Started dinner around 430. Bland dinner: Sweet potatoes, butter lettuce, avocado salad with a few drops of balsamic vinegar, almond butter on bread with small amount jam, a few sips of the morning smoothie. Definitely nervous about my sore spots: left hamstring tendon and left It band.  Ice the spots x 15 min each area.    In bed by 8:00 and was able to fell asleep pretty good sometime around 9.  Up at 1:30 with some constipation/gas pain.   Did I eat too much bread and not enough water?  Certainly urinated a lot so I don’t think I was low on hydration.  Didn’t get back to sleep so I only slept around 4 hours.
Up since 1:30.  Hungry at 3:30 so I was up and made my steel cut oats, blueberries, banana breakfast.  A few sips of smoothie (hemp seed, pineapple, chia seed, goji berry, etc)  took a Pepcid with breakfast.  The bags were packed, got a ride from father in law to the bus.  Done with the oatmeal by 4:20.  Arrived at bus and T2 by 4:20.  Dropped off special needs.
Here is an interesting last minute move: I put a second pair of shoes into my run bag so I kept the option open to wearing the minimus in case my IT band was hurting.  The IT band was actually a little sore the last few days.  But I was still 99% sure I was going to wear the cushy asics DS 22.  I guess I felt so uncomfortable wearing a pair of shoes so different than what I was used to.  It was just really bad planning on my part.
A few bites of a wheat muffin with Organic Pb and jelly up to 4:45.  Rest of bus ride, sips of coconut water.  Reviewed the raceplan on the bus.  Bus caught in traffic  near the lake so we arrived pretty late (I was good and didn’t wait until the final bus and even still was late to transition).  A bit of nerves now as it was chaos.  Took a moment to find the body markers.  Was a little chilly so kept my hat and two hoodies and full pants on.  Quick check of the bike, pumped tires.  Ate my tums to prevent reflux.  Duct taped a few gels to the bike.  Packed up the bike bag and dropped it off.
A little nervous now as the gun went off for the 6:10 start and I wanted to be in an early wave.  Just getting wetsuit on but taking the time I needed since it was a rolling start.
Ok, everything I wanted to get done was done and I was ready and relaxed (as could be).  A few more sips of water.  Walked (not rushed) down the boat ramp and walked through all the waves to the very front.  It looked like the very first coral was 1:10-1:20 so I missed seeding myself correctly.  Oh well.  I took my moment during this walk to be grateful for my health and being able to do this.  None of my other friends would ever consider this…maybe one 1-2 people but most people I know think it’s crazy.  Definitely grateful to my wife for all her help.  I will be thinking of her when it gets hard today.  The final moment before I put my goggles on, I took a look at the lake and I was blown away by the awesome beauty of it.  The sun just about to come up and tgere was this 1 foot layer of fog over the lake.  It was amazing.
Start.  I can’t believe 14 hours to go!  Started fast and was immediately swimming around bodies.  Sun not up yet so sighting the first buoys was easy although a bit of fog made it harder on the straightaway when my goggles fogged up but still sighting was not the problem, the main issue was all the other people.  People cannot swim a straight line.  I had to swim around groups occasionally.  Settled into a slower pace after the first few minutes and it felt controlled.  Maybe a touch uncomfortable but felt right on and I planned to up the effort on loop two.  Now back at the start of loop 2.  Very weird here as we got out of water and walked around the obstacle and right back in.  Now slower swimmers and worse groups in the way.  I think i did best when I was away from people and just really felt a nice rhythm.  Upped the intensity now gradually.  I questioned this approach of going stronger now but I trusted the plan and pushed a bit more but still very much controlled.  In hindsight I for sure could have pushed way harder but it’s tricky for me wondering what my stomach would do.  I had a few small swallows of lake water and a few burps here and there but no reflux.  I was pretty happy.  Pushed a bit more.  The swim now was flying by.  Not a struggle at all, just a nice rhythm with the exception of my moments of people in the way.
Swim: 1:18:45
By my watch: 1:18:35 and i swam 4501 yards
Loop 1: roughly 38
Loop 2: roughly 40
T1: 15:42 pretty nasty run up the ramp as predicted.  I just walked for the first 30 seconds.  My body did not want to run and I could not comprehend the thought of running up that steep hill.  But after a few seconds i talked myself into a very slow shuffle and then I was moving better.  T1 Took a long time.  Almost 16 min.  But that included the run up the ramp.  Sat in the tent, shoes on, sunblock, etc.  jogged out to bike.
Bike: 7:09:25
Beautiful first part of the bike course.  Not really feeling great on the beginning…not anything really bad, just not fresh.  But hamstring was not snapping so it was still ok.  Just uncomfortable on the seat.  Felt like I couldn’t get the material to sit right in the crotch but this has never worked well for me so nothing new here.  HR just seemed to be jumping high on every little hill.  Worked very hard to keep it under 130.  Drank smoothie and some water during first hour.  Regarding the smoothie….I doubt this is the right thing to be drinking…it’s just that this is what I have been doing for a year.  I’m interested in trying something new.  Not sure how well some of the stuff I put into it is digested.    I recall thinking at 30 minutes into the ride that I just could not fathom another 6.5 hours.  Lots of little hills but nothing crazy.  Pretty easy course actually.  Lots of yo-yo’ ing with riders who sped by me up the hill, cut in front and then only to coast down where I would pass again.  Then of course got passed by tons and tons of riders who were very fast.  I was also thinking how much I would like to be a better cyclist as this is the biggest chunk of the race.  But the ride was beautiful.  Absolute amazing scenery through wine country.  I think I passed 25+ vineyards
So I was definitely over hydrating as I had many pee breaks.  I couldn’t bring myself to pee while rolling.  I thought about it and didn’t see anybody else doing it.  And there was never a good place to do it and never a good place to just pull over except the aid stations so I just went at almost every aid station.  Getting off the bike for those 2 minutes really made me feel better although maybe it was just the relief of the full bladder.  But it happened every time I stopped.  Had a PB and j sandwich during hour 2.  During hour two I felt my IT band and muscle around it start to twitch a little as if to start cramping and I recall thinking that I was screwed and the race was over for me.  I had not been able to recover from bad IT band cramps on previous training rides.  I chugged my electrolytes, ate more and drank more.  And I really focused on correct form and made sure I was pulling up with my hamstrings.  I felt better after that.  No IT band issues after that little scare.
For bottle 3 and 5 I drank my own electrolyte drink and then every other bottle thereafter was Gatorade.  On hour 3 I had a half banana and a gel or two.  At 55 miles or so I saw my family cheering for me and it was truly wonderful.  I slowed down just a tad for a hello.  By this time I felt like I was actually getting stronger.  another Sandwich: this time almond butter jelly I think.  These sandwiches are very messy to deal with and I definitely need to find a new method or different food to eat.  The pbj is good and seems well tolerated but just very messy.
Now into the loops and was passed by very fast riders on their second loop which was humbling and frustrating although now I was passing a few people that were closer to my own speed.  I was feeling better now.  Still stopping to pee at every aid station which was a huge chunk of time lost but I made it as fast as possible: maybe slightly over a minute each time.  Some longer than others depending on how much I had to go.  I never waited for a toilet either.  Usually found a hidden spot if the toilet was occupied.  And my legs always felt better after getting off the bike.
On the back half of loop 1 I really felt crappy again. There was one road in particular that was such a bad choice for a bike course: horrible bumps.  Not sure what they were thinking given how great most of it was.  The bumps with a full bladder was a bad combo. Again, probably drank too much during the first part of the bike but i really had no idea what I needed to do with regard to how far off the mark I was on food and fluids.  I just tried to listen to what the body told me.  Usually the answer was to keep eating and drinking despite having to pee a lot.
End of loop 2 back into town and I was feeling great again and really passing people and riding faster and stronger.  Not just because the course allowed it but I could truly feel that I was just feeling better.  I dropped my cadence at some point and had the perception that I got more speed at a lower heart rate with the lower cadence and it felt very comfortable so I just went with that.  Of course I’ve been prone to riding too high of a cadence all year so maybe I’m just finally finding the right spot.
Mid loop 2 and feeling solid.  I had backed way off on the fluids hours ago and now started to think about what I needed to do to set myself up for a good run.  I kept thinking of that 88 mile marker and knowing that it would mean a huge part of the race done.  It finally came and felt great.  90, 95.  It was all great because it was more than I had ever done before but really just seemed quite natural at this point and ironically easier than miles 1-50.  I was able to push pretty good as long as I didn’t have a full bladder.  Very hard to deal with the urination issue in town but was fortunate to have the aid stations.
It may seem like I’m talking like I was peeing every 30 minutes or many times during this ride.  Well the ride was 7 hours so yes there are quite a few pee breaks on a 7 hour ride.  It was not more frequently than every hour I don’t think.  Still unsure of what the optimal amount is.
The final 10 miles were still good and around this time I had the very solid realization that I had an excellent chance of finishing this thing and that felt very very good.  So I came into T2 feeling decent and well fed and hydrated.  And surprisingly I felt like I could have kept rising if I had to.  Total bike time 7:09 and my computer said it was short by almost 2 miles.  Average speed just over 15 mph.  No suprise there I guess as that’s my pace for long rides once I factor in all the rest stops.  I would love to get that speed up a few mph.  Seems very very slow.  But I kept right on the money with my HR limits.  Kept it at my upper z2 low z3.  Never over Hr of 130 for more than a few seconds. Had to take the hills slow.
T2: a bit faster here.  8 min.  Shoes on.  Hat, sunblock.  Didn’t mess around.  Not sure why 8 full minutes but I really didn’t feel like I messed around.  There was a fair bit of distance to cover between the line, then grab bag, then into tent, then find a seat.  But in and out as best I could.  Grabbed all my gels and chews and headed out.  I chose the cushy asics DS trainers and trusted my coaches advice.  At this point it really did seem obvious to me that this was the right shoe for the day.
Run: 4:55:17
My watch says only 25.93 miles
Shoes feel good!  Nice and bouncy, im liking this!  My pace was surprisingly a little fast at first.  9:30.  The goal was to try and feel this loop.  For the most part I did that and I settled in right at my low limit of my all day pace: 10 min miles.  And this was feeling good.  Started off with two pieces of shot blocks.  I alternated water and Gatorade at every aid station, and water over my head at every aid station.  I shuffled the aid stations.  I few times I had to stop for a brief moment to take a solid gulp of water.  Also by the end the volunteers were just not handing things anymore.  You had to go grab it yourself.  But for 26.2 miles the only time I really stopped moving for more than a split second was to urinate.  So I would say that the mission was accomplished.  I ran the entire thing.  Even the uphills and I am silly to even call them hills but there were a few little spots where you went up the sidewalk under the bridges.
So loop 1 (miles 1-8) was well done.  I found the legs and felt good and felt the right pace.  HR at this pace was about 132 no matter what I did although I was pretty consistent.  But even when I felt a little crappy the Hr was still 130-132.  I didn’t really use HR to guide me, I used the feeling and the pace clock.  I was just curious a few times to see what the Hr was doing.  Food was pretty much gels and shot blocks and I think was getting in a minimum of 200 calories per hour.  Hard to recall exactly but I believe that was the minimum I got.  I enjoyed seeing my family around mile 8 and I was happy, comfortable, conversational.  Not breathing hard.
Loop 2: mile 9-17.  much harder now.  Now it seemed like the muscles didn’t really want to lengthen.  My HR was fine and stomach fine and energy solid but the muscles were just fighting me which is so drastically different than all those years of high school and college sports where it felt so different.  Here I was not out of breathe, just felt like the body was tightening up.  So on this loop I pushed myself to maintain the 10-11 min mile pace which for the most part I was right on.  And I noticed that I was much worse off immediately after a bathroom break or slowing down at the aid stations and I really felt the value of continuing to move because it seemed as though if I were to start walking I was going to have an extremely hard time starting up again.  But I never really felt the need to walk.  It was just that It was hard to stretch the legs out and keep the speed up.  I used to the little downhills to get me moving a bit faster which was helpful.
Loop 3.
Now getting very very hard.  I was doing a good job though trying to maintain the pace. I slowed only a fraction.  But now each mile was a struggle and I felt like I had a very long way to go.  I just kept thinking I needed to get to 20 and then I can overcome it.  By mile 18 or 19 I tried some coke.  I really couldn’t understand why people would drink this crap in an endurance race.  I’m not sure what I thought of it but it didn’t seem to hurt me.  Tried a bit more at mile 22.  By mile 20 I was trying different things.  I was so sick of the gels.  I would eat 1 pretzel and a half banana.  I still continued my regimen of alternating water and Gatorade the whole time.  And still had the gels in between the aid stations. But I started hitting those half bananas near the end.  By 24 I knew it was getting close but it was so hard.  My body felt like a contorted mess but also was still fairly good form.  So I wasn’t falling apart but it just felt very hard and the muscles were getting tighter and tighter particularly my gluts.  I never really had anything horrible.  My left calf was Mildly sore but nothing crazy.  And no stomach aches or bloating either.  I feel like I had worse moments in training workouts.  But it was just the never ending slog with tight muscles that made it hard.  The final mile was the longest.  I feel like their mile markers were deliberately off to keep people motivated but it took forever to finish.  The winding through to the finish was very long but then finally, there it was: the finish with the carpet.  It was an awesome feeling and I took my time and high five’d every hand.
My watch says 25.93 miles
HR average 131, max HR 143
Pace:  11:26
First 8 miles: 127:07 (10:53 pace)
Second 8 miles: 1:30 (11:15 pace)
Third 8 miles: 134:34 (11:49 pace)
Final 1.93: 23:32 (12:11 pace)
Final thoughts:
Final time: 13:48:02 (not bad.  I know I had potential for a lot faster but it’s good considering my first time, a bad work schedule in the final months leading up to the race.  I’m pleased with being able to run the whole time and not have any severe malfunction not injury.
What a great day.  I really did not know If I could do this and I was having some serious doubt in the first 30 miles of the bike ride when my It band started acting up.  But that was pretty much the only point of doubt and fear.  The rest of the time was smooth.  Difficult yes but basically as smooth as could possibly be.  I was never really sure if that moment of cramping up and falling apart and walking would ever come but it never did and I was able to run the whole way to the end.  And no injury either.   I had a lot of joy at that moment of finishing.   It was so cool to see how the race unfolded as predicted by my coaches raceplan and I was able to execute the plan. I really enjoyed knowing that I had a plan and executing the plan for many of the pivotal moments.  I liked how it paid off to be patient.  It was also hard to comprehend that I had to work extremely hard and yet still was almost 5 hours behind the leaders.  That is crazy.  I was thinking should the rest of us not even be doing this?  No, it’s just an extremely long distance and they are just insanely fit.
Great job by the volunteers and a nicely organized race for the most part.  Traffic control pretty good.  Bad quality roads in a few places but I have not much else to compare to.
After finishing it was pretty cold and I think I should have planned to quickly get into my warm clothes asap.  I talked to father in law for a few minutes and then got some food in the athlete tent, ate a few bites outside.  The blanket they provided helped but i was starting to get really cold.  Went and quickly got my morning clothes bag and bundled up.  I am very glad I wore a hat and pants and two hoodies.  That’s a great move on both ends of the day.  Grabbed my bike and we took off back to the house.  Appetite a little weird.  Had some smoothie and a few bits of my food from race tent.  Enjoyed a few bites of ice cream which I had not had for many months.
Could not sleep for hours.  Just awake and in a lot of pain over both my greater trochanters.  And the gluts were pretty tight and made it hard to walk normal.  Was up a lot to the toilet.  And could not get comfortable for hours.  Drove my wife crazy. Also had sweats and chills as if I had the flu.  It was crazy.  I think being awake was easily from the caffeine in the gels during the run.  Not sure about the sweats and chills.  I think I finally slept a little bit not much.
Feeling ok today considering the big day.  Worst soreness is the hips.  Left Calf a touch sore and a few other sore spots but nothing really crazy.  The main intense soreness is a type I don’t ever remember having which is in the hips where my gluts attach.  Spent most of the day walking funny with a sideways wobble.  I think I started walking normal again by the end of the evening.  And slept fantastic this night.
Santa Rosa ironman 2017: Mission accomplished!  

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