Ironman St. George Race Report
Sometimes our greatest success' can be born from a failure. -- Brett Skyllingstad
While finishing an Ironman triathlon in under 17 hours is by no means a failure, I certainly felt like a failure when I finished Ironman St. George in 14:10:23. It didn't take long after the race for me to realize that I hadn't failed but only let my mind tell me that I couldn't race like I should have. So back to my quote, this is how I feel about IM St. G so here is the rest of the story to explain why.
In late December I knew I had Plantar Fasciitis (PF) and went about trying to heal it. Part of this process was limiting my running. I eventually pretty much beat PF and after having taken some 3 months off from running I began to run again. I was cautious not to overload myself and cause the injury to come back, and slowly started running. I took the approach of running as often as possible but for shorter durations. The frequency of my running would help to build durability. With that being said, I had only worked my running up to an 8 mile run before New Orleans 70.3, then basically the 13.1 in N.O. 70.3 and that was my run training for IM St. G. So there was no doubt that I hadn't put in the time training for the run course on IM St. G. However, I let my mind get the better of me and started telling myself that I had lost all the running base that I had prior to stopping running. Like they always say hindsight is 20/20, well I had lost some base but not as much as I thought. Now I realize I have much more running base than I thought and I was just feeling sorry for myself during IM St. G and used the lack of training as an easy way to justify the fact that I should walk during the marathon as well as ride slow on my bike. Well, I am here to say that I am done feeling sorry for myself and never again will I let my mind get the better of me during my training and racing. No more failures on the race course.
Throughout the course of my training for IM St. G I had to do a balancing act. For the first time I was attempting to train for an Ironman while dating a very special person, Whom I am happily still dating. It was important to me to balance spending time with my girlfriend but also putting in the hours it takes to train for an IM. Some of the other difficult things I didn't expect in my training were, the lack of daylight in January, February, and March. The sun is down early in the day which meant my bike rides were going to be on a trainer which is not very fun. Second was the harsh weather we had in Dallas. This made my long Saturday rides not easy or fun either. We had a record snow fall in Dallas this year in March I think. We had some 12" of snow in 24 hours. Then I rode on Saturday the day afterward in 30 degree weather. It sucked. With that being said the two things I will correct in training for another early season race is to buy a compu-trainer -- http://www.racermateinc.com/computrainer.asp. This will allow me to get in quality rides after work at 5pm when it is dark out. I also think I have figured out how to balance time with the GF and train for an Ironman. At many times I felt bad spending so much time training and not with Morgan. Then I would be with her not training and felt bad because I wasn't training. Now we have it all figured out though. So on to the play by play of the race.
Race Lead Up:
Arrived in St. G on Tuesday night late. Brandon and I got to our Condo and we were quite impressed. Best way to stay is to rent a condo or house. Wednesday we went for a short swim and I put my bike together and we went to check in for the race. Thursday we went for another short swim and short ride. Thursday we went to pick up the GF's from the Las Vegas Airport. Friday night as usual I made some pasta with roasted veggies and had a salad and garlic bread. We had already dropped off T1 and T2 bags and the bike. So all we had to do race morning was drop off the special needs bags.
Woke up at 3:45am and did my usual routine, shower, eat breakfast and got ready. It was cold out that morning maybe in high 40's or low 50's. I knew the water would be warmer than the air too, just barely. We drove to T2 and dropped off the car and our special needs bags. Then we boarded a bus to the swim. When we got there all I did was pump up my tires put some other items in my T1 bag and got in the wetsuit. I forgot my body glide at the condo and didn't put any on my neck before I got into my wetsuit. The Xterra Vendetta suit has a Velcro patch that rubbed my neck till it was bleeding. The funny thing is that I didn't feel it during the swim just when I got out. So off to the swim, I got in the water and waited it didn't feel bad. I had 2 swim caps and ear plugs. Both of these really helped me with the cold water. The water was 58 degrees. The earplugs really helped with not getting dizzy. It is known that cold water can effect your equilibrium when it gets in your ear. I notice this after my first swim on Wednesday and promptly bought ear plugs. They really helped. The swim went fine as usual. The one thing I was confident about my training was my swimming. I did many more 3k swims than I did before IM WI. So here again, when you tell yourself you are confident about your training it pays off. I swam well. I am really surprised with my time because I sighted quite a bit and even did some breast stroke sighting too. I don't believe the course was accurate especially because my perceived exertion on the swim was very low compared to swims I do at the pool and I go slower in the pool and I don't sight in the pool.
Swim -- 2.4 miles -- 1:04:19 -- 1:39/100M
On to the bike, I ran thru transition and was able to see Morgan when I picked up my T1 bag. She got some great pics of me too. It was cold out so I really suited up to ride. I had arm warmers, wool socks, leg warmers, a bike jersey and a wind protective vest. So I started riding and was feeling pretty damn good. I knew I had just PR'd my swim by some 3 minutes, but had a slow transition. I had never been too concerned with transitions in an Ironman, until now. I can do better than 10 - 15 minutes. I should have just gotten dressed while on the bike that way I would be moving forward as opposed to sitting. Within 10 miles I got a flat. So I quickly changed it out. I would say it took me less than 5 minutes to change as well. I was on my way. Before I knew it I was at the start of the first of two loops. First mistake was not hitting the lap button on my powertap. Second mistake was not doing another power test on the bike before the race. I was using old power zones and this would prove to haunt me. I knew this course you have to pace yourself. I had ridden in November and did much better than I did during the actual race. So the whole time I was on the bike I kept saying you better ride slow because you don't have the running base you used to and you will need to save yourself on the run. All I have to say now is what the hell was I thinking. I kept my power in check and rode at roughly 75% of my FT. While this would have been good had I been racing in February when I did my original testing. This was not accurate to my current fitness. FYI I tested myself 2 weeks ago and had a 6% wattage gain in my FT. I am pretty sure I had this fitness before IM St. G too. So I was basically riding in the wrong zone the entire time or closer to 69% of my FT. At the start of the second loop we had some tough headwinds and this was a downer for me, I really wanted to quit but didn't. One of the main reasons I didn't quite was because I already had bought a IM St. G bike jersey and didn't want to have to return it since I didn't finish the race. That's funny too because I joked at Brandon for buying one before he finished the race and said he might jinx himself. Then I ended up getting one too, and it was part of the reason I didn't quit. As the bike came to an end I knew I screwed up, I felt way too good and didn't leave enough out on the course. Especially when I looked at my final time on bike.
Bike -- 112 miles -- 7:35:24 -- 14.77mph average
On to the run, at this point I was tired. 7.5 hours is a long time to be on the bike but I felt good and knew I would be able to make it to the finish. I started my walk run routine and felt pretty darn good. I got the first few miles in and then I started walking up the steep inclines. At this point my feet were really tired. I had ZERO muscle cramps or anything like that. So for whatever reason I felt like since my feet were tired I should walk to draw out the experience. What an idiot. Like Gordo Byrn says an easy bike can be made up for on a 42km run. What I should have done is said to myself, wow Brett you had a really slow bike. You should have been at least an hour faster, why don't you make up for that on this marathon. For the first time I didn't practice what I preach. I let my mind tell me I should walk and take it easy. I did that. I kept doing an overall inventory on my body and the only reason I didn't want to run was because my feet hurt, again no cramping, or GI issues, just tired feet. At mile 20 is when I met up with someone who was from Houston and originally from South Africa. We both began to push each other to run. At this point we were putting in 9 - 10 minute miles. Then with about 2 miles to go I just said the hell with it and started running faster. I was running 8 - 9 minute miles. My first thought was what the hell were you doing dicking around on this course for so long. I finished the race and was glad to be done, but was not very happy with myself because I felt too good.
Run -- 26.2 miles -- 5:08:23 --11:46/mile
The next day when I woke up I felt like a million dollars. That is when I knew two things, I had just raced the hardest IM course in the USA, and I went so incredibly slow that the event had almost no impact on me. I was sore but by Thursday of the next week I had no fatigue. So at first while racing and immediately after I told myself I would withdraw from IM Lake Placid, I soon found a new vigor and really looked at this race as a large training day. I exposed myself to a huge day of training at a very slow rate. This I believe was a positive way for my body to really absorb some great fitness, and the failure of the slow race has also made me want to kill the IM Lake Placid course. I decided the other day while swimming that I am done being afraid of the Ironman distance and it is time to start racing. There is no doubt that I can complete the distance but now it is a matter of how fast. So this next race, I will be pacing a little different. I even have a goal to beat my time from IM Wisconsin. I know if I beat my time at WI on the Lake Placid course I have really made some progress because IM LP is way harder of a course than IM WI. My pacing plan is to go around 80% -- 85% of my FTP on the bike. I also plan to do a field test about 10 days out from IM LP to get proper zones before the race. Then on the run, it is two fold. The first is to negative split the run. Run the second 13.1 faster than the first, no matter the pace, secondly to shoot for as close as possible to a 4hr marathon. So there it is, I have some new goals to reach.
So I am already visualizing success at IM LP and that is why I wrote the quote at the beginning of this post. I am so confident I will succeed at IM LP that I can attribute this success to my failure at IM St. G. Only time will tell. Until then and my Buffalo Springs Race Report.....