Friday, October 5, 2012

ChesapeakeMan 2012 Race Report

I needed some redemption and was hoping that ChesapeakeMan would provide some.....over the past few months and to be honest the last couple of years, although feeling strong and doing well in shorter distance triathlons, my Ironman races had kinda sucked. I had been training well only for it to fall apart on race day, not since a sub-10 hr performance at IM Louisville in 2009 had I felt like I raced how I am capable.  Obviously there were some good ones during that time such as the Duathlon National Champs earlier this year, but I hadn't gone into a race (long-distance) confident that my run would be able to finish the race off.

ChesapeakeMan was going to be different, I changed my training program and made substantial changes in nutrition and overall race strategy, was I confident it would work?.....No is the simple answer, let's find out on race day!  Some of the training changes I'll go into in later blog posts but for now let's talk about race day.

SWIM: 01:08:48

Just before the off at 7:00am
As per usual for the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the day started out with a blowing wind that didn't let up at all.  The Choptank River was aptly named and after wishing luck to the Parvilla Crew we were off at 7:00am.  I purposely swam a steady and easy pace, too often it is easy to get caught up with the crowd and zoom off at way too faster pace.....if the strategy worked I would see everyone later in the day!  It's a two-loop swim and it was choppy! Although aiming for something in the 1:05 range I exited at 1:08:48 and was pleased based upon how easy it felt. With the race being pretty small and the swim field at only 300 people there wasn't a ton of feet to follow so the time was acceptable (Note - swim more! how often have I said that, but seriously winter 2012 is the season of the swim!)

T1: 02:57 - Took a little extra time putting armwarmers and socks on.
Lets get outta here...onto the bike

BIKE: 5:14:12
Once onto the bike I could settle down. The swim is never my favorite part of the race so it is when I get onto the bike that I feel happier.  I had my power numbers to keep to, my nutrition plan to keep to, and no matter what happened around me I was going to stick to that.  I have seen others, as well as myself, go way beyond their ability just to keep up with people around them or those passing.  The first 10 miles of the bike is an out and back so I calculated I was sitting around 25th (including the Aquavelo field) and I was gradually moving up the field.  The power numbers were a little high so I made a conscious effort to dial it back.  I knew my goal watts from the long training rides that would enable to me run well off the bike.  Kona Kev blew by me at mile 15 and I just let him go....he ended up with the 2nd fastest bike split of the day!

Beating the wind all day long
The wind was relentless and never backed off the whole day.  It seriously felt like a crosswind or headwind all day long, I'm sure it wasn't but by the end of the first loop (65miles) it would have been nice to have gotten off.  I picked up more nutrition at special needs and set about the final 47 miles, again just sticking to the power goals and remembering the nutrition.  With the course being pancake flat, it was important to change the cadence and stretch every so often to get the body into a slightly different position.

Coming into T2, I was perhaps a little disappointed with the time but I knew that the time was what the power had given me....I was spot on in terms of power (more detailed analysis to come in later blogs).

T2: 1:11  -  simple, grab salt sticks, race belt, watch and put shoes on!

RUN: 3:17:48 (Garmin file here)

Trying to reign it in coming out of T2
Leaving T2 and looking at the race clock, it told me I needed a 3:32 marathon or quicker to get sub-10....the goal for the day! The strategy was to run slow the first 2-3 miles, warm into the run and then let it loose if I could.  Warming into a run may sound odd after 114.4 miles already but my training runs hadn't lied, I run much better that way.  The first two miles were done at around 7:30min/miles but there was a distinct gurgling coming from downstairs, I needed to void and pretty ended up being time well spent in the porta-john at mile 3.  Coming out of there I felt awesome and the watch started showing descending mile that is a good feeling at an Ironman!  Miles 5 thru 13 were all sub 7min/miles and there were a few targets ahead of me.  I had seen 1st thru 3rd and they were too far ahead but 4th thu 6th were in catching distance.

The run is 3 laps at just under 9 miles a lap, coming round at lap 1, I shouted to Sarah that "this run will either be glorious or crash 'n' burn".  I was still at sub-7's and the legs were feeling great, it was an awesome feeling and I was on course for a 3:10 - 3:15 marathon.  I was keeping up on the saltsticks, water and gatorade at each aid issues with the right glute (thanks to Dr Michie).  I had passed into 6th place and was rapidly moving up on Kona Kev in 5th place and passed him just over half way in.  At that point it was just a case of seeing how I could actually finish this marathon as it seemed like I had the sub-10 locked in unless something drastic happened.

It was at around mile 16 that the pace finally begun to drop a bit and the day started to take it's toll.  Fortunately it wasn't a matter of all the wheels falling off but it was just a temporary dip in energy as the miles were still sub 8.  The gurgling downstairs did make a repeat appearance though around mile 20/21 which lead to some discomfort. Funnily enough it probably ended up being very fortunate.  The energy levels were definitely getting low and I felt a little "bonk-ish".  The stop at the porta-john during mile 21 was a god send, as what did I find, a complete unopened pack of shot blocks.....awesome, just what I needed to give me a sugar rush for the final 5 miles.  By that time the gels were not very appealing and I needed some sugar, whoever left them there...THANK YOU!

The final five miles were hard but a good hard, I had finally put together a run that I knew I was capable of (with a stand alone 2hr 40min marathon I should be low 3hrs for IM marathon's) and I had run into 5th and the prize money.

TOTAL FINISH TIME: 9:44:53 -  a little sprint down the chute to get in at 9:44 and a 12min PR.

A good way to end the season and get some redemption at the Ironman distance.  The best part?....getting amped for 2013 and looking for an Ironman to race :-)

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