I think the look on my face in this picture says it all!
Nevertheless here we go. In January I set this race to be my A race; however, as the year went on and changes happened I selected a second A race (Cozumel), so this A race slowly became a B+/ A- race for me. About 6-8 weeks out I started really thinking about this race and what I wanted out of it (as if I hadn’t been thinking about it since I started training for it). I realized that looking back at all my other IM(1)/ HIM(2) races nutrition was something that hindered me in one way or another. This was odd, as I thought that my nutrition was on, with the exception of this and that, etc. etc. The more I analyzed the more I realized that nutrition was a big part of the what went wrong factor, even if it were due to things out of my control (ie concentrated Gatorade). So after looking at this I decided that I wanted to concentrate a great deal on nutrition for this race. I mapped out in excel what my nutrition plan was and even had my nutritionist review and comment on it.
The who family (“Team Q”) was making this venture as we usually do, so we packed up, to the kids out of school (why not) and headed to Oklahoma. My 4 year old’s favorite state! I’m not sure why it is, maybe it’s because it sounds funny or something, but every since I did my first race in OK about 2 years ago she has had a fascination with this state.
Anyways, got to the venue two days before the race to get checked in, relax and re-coop from the drive. Not sure about yall, but driving anywhere makes me tired, even if I’m not the one driving. Woke up early the day before the race to test the waters and my chest (injured it 3 weeks ago and did 0 swimming since then). Chest felt fine after a 10 minute swim (swoosh!) Got my race packet and checked the bike in. We spent the rest of the day at the lake riding bikes, flying kites and just have a great time. Most IM’s are held way outside city limits, but this particular race is held at a state park in the city with restraints along a 9 mile trail and sail boating. Really a nice venue for a IM. Ate dinner then off to the hotel. Got a solid night’s rest with very little interruption. I was shocked to say the least when I woke up and noticed it was 3am. Wow! No tossing and turning. That’s a good sign. Not even the kids or the Admiral woke me up this time. Ate my pre-race meal according to plan (eggo waffle, syrup, Gatorade, peanut butter sandwich, sample size Cliff bar, and water), with the exception of the Cliff Bar. It was supposed to be a banana, but I forgot to pack one (OOPS, adapt and improvise).
The Admiral and I headed out the door for the race at 4:30am (this is the part she hates). She honestly thinks I should rent a car for a day next time, or see if there are other athletes in the same predicament and just pool together so she can sleep in. Can’t say I blame her. Who wants to get up at the butt crack of dawn to sit around and wait for 2.5 hours until I get in the water and then not be able to figure out where I am till I come out of the water and then just see me for another 30 seconds until I ride off on my stead?
Anyways, long walk from the parking lot to Transition. Got set up rather quickly, felt calm, and not nauseous at all. I didn’t even have morning gut issues this time which keep me in the port-a-potties. OOOPS spoke to soon! Made one trip, just not the 3-4 trips I am usually accustomed to. Then I sat around for an hour meditating and stretching concentrating on the race plan (nutrition).
Time for the National Anthem. It never fails, there is always at least few bad eggs in the bunch that think what they are doing is way more important (setting gear up) than paying respect to our Country, Military, and, Flag. I had the right frame of mind to correct the few that I saw, but decided to just look at one of them intensely in hopes that they got the message (he got it, signed, sealed and delivered). With ball games, school concerts, etc, I have no problem correcting people (just ask the admiral). Anyways, enough ranting, time to get my swim on!
GEEZ! About half way through the 1st of 2 loops I felt spent! OH BOY! I said to myself, let’s just get through the swim and deal with the madness later. Loop 1- 39 minutes, Loop 2- 41 mintues. GEEZ! Prior to my injury I was pacing to do a 1:01-1:03 finish based on a 3,000 meter swim. Even last year’s 1:08 was better than this. WTH? Come to find out the course was a bit long this year. The girl that had the fastest swim leg last year did it in 52ish. This year the same girl was part of a relay (so she only did the swim portion) and had a 58ish time. So a 6 minute disparity for a college swimmer, plus add in the fact that she was probably going all out since she only had to swim and not bike and run. Obviously, I didn’t figure this out till Sunday though. Anyways, I told myself coming out of the water that I wasn’t going to let the swim time bother me. Everyone has to do the same course, long or short, rough or smooth. Flew through T-1 and out on the trail.
The bike leg consisted of a 4x out and back section. Not sure how I was going to feel about doing the same out and back 4 times (course changed from PY). At the start of the bike I got this one song in my head that I just couldn’t get rid of (Katy Perry- Hot n Cold). To make matters worse I only knew the 30-45 second chorus lyrics. When you think about it, the song has a solid beat for cycling so I didn’t mind too much, BUT IT LASTED THE ENTIRE RIDE (you’re up and your down, you’re in and you’re out)!
A short 14 miles out, 14 miles back. Just the right distance so it doesn’t seem too far. Nutrition was dialed in gel every 45 minutes, 1 aero bottle of Gatorade every hour (you’re wrong when its right, it’s black and its white). I hit the 56 mile split @ 2:40 (WOW beat my best HIM time by 8 minutes). For leg 3 I used the half snickers on the way out and half on the way back (we fight, we break up, we kiss, we make up). About 2 miles from the start of the 4th leg I felt I was getting “slow”, so I pulled into the special needs station on the way out going into leg 4. Got a redbull out of the bag (left the 2nd snickers) and headed out (it’s yes and it’s no). 4th leg went ok, but slowed down a bit more (It’s wrong and its right, it’s up and down, you’re in and you’re out). Finished the bike feeling fine and with fresh legs, but just a bit slower. Total time on the bike 5:36:30 (wohooo 20mph! actually 19.9998, but I’ll take the rounding). Not bad compared to last years 17.8 mph!
Glad to be off the bike and hopefully no more Katy Perry (I hope)! 4 minute transition and out on the run. Downed another red bull and out I went. Nutrition for the run was simple, switch between 8oz redbull and GU Roctane every 30 minutes and throw Gatorade/ water down my throat at each aid station.
The run would consist of a flat 3.25 mile out and back course (had to go out and back 4 times). Most painfull part is that I had to by-pass the finish chute each time and the turn-a-round was 20 yrds away from the finish (need I say more). At the start of the run I was getting concerned as I didn’t see Team Q on the entire bike. I usually see them at least once or twice. I passed the 2 mile mark where I usually see them sitting on the restraint patio eating pizza and wings, but no pit crew. I hope they are all right! Finally at mile 3 I see them. Whoo, glad they are ok! Time to get back to running.
1st loop was great, doing a sub 9 pace feeling fine. 2nd loop, I slipped a bit and had a 9:15ish pace but still darn good. At the 13.1 mark I was @ 2:01. One minute behind my best HIM time. Leg 3 is where I fell apart for a bit. Around mile 15 I started feeling bloated, and mentally hit a wall. Mentally miles 13-19 are the worst for me. It’s like being put in the middle of the Sahara with no water and no direction. Too far to see the finish and not quite there to think you can make it the rest of the way. I ended up walking about ½ mile by my calculations before I started shuffling.
Finally I hit the last turn around. 6.6 miles to go! Shuffled a bit more, but still was mentally drained. With 6 miles left I came across the Admiral (for the 7th time on the run as she now moved towards the finish line). I’ll paraphrase what she said to me but it went something like “Get up off your butt, and stop feeling sorry for yourself and get going. What the heck are you some kind of Wuss”. I wanted to reply with “You freakin do it then”. I knew way better then that though. About 10 seconds later it lit the fire under me and my pace picked up. I dropped the fuel belt and started moving again at a descent 9:00 pace.
The Admiral always knows just what I need! Hit the turn-around at the out-n-back, 3.25 to go! Three aid stations to go! No stopping me now. Ran through each aid station grabbed a sponge and a cup of water and kept pushing. For the last three miles I thought about how I would feel crossing the finish line for a 2nd time in my life. Would it feel the same as the 1st? I kept thinking about how surreal the 1st time was and how emotional it got me. Final turn into finish chute 100 yards to go! I See Team Q and out come the tears! Cross the line! Run time 4:30, total time 11:34.
Looking back at the whole nutrition plan and doing some analyzing I see where I need some tweaking. Although I did experiment with Redbull and Snickers in training, I never ate a Snickers and then ran a marathon 40 minutes later either. While the Redbull worked on the bike, I either drank too much of it at once on the run (8oz at a time) or was a combination of Redbull and Snickers. For Cozumel, I think I’m gonna tweek it a bit and do a 8oz Redbull on the bike (if I feel I need it), and just 1 or two 2.5 oz ones on the run and consume more gels/ pretzels. The pretzels really helped settle my stomach on the run. I also think I’m gonna stop doing Gatorade on the run and try some Infinite. I was so sick and tired of lime Gatorade by the time I got half way done with run I couldn’t stand it no more.
Best thing I walked away with this year besides a 1 hr PR over last year, was knowing that I had it in my physically to keep pushing through at a solid pace. I just needed to punch through that mental hurdle of doing it at a solid pace. Next time there will be no stopping me in getting a 4 hr run time.
Next- IM Cozumel
Goals- 10-12 lbs lost. Set up a weekly nutrionist visit to crank these last few pounds out.
Tweak nutrition one more time, and have a blast!