Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The 2011 Ironman World Championships is in the books and I am happy to say my name appears in that book.

After every race this season I have come to post on this blog and express my discontent with my performance at each race. It is a rare day indeed in our sport when all three disciplines come off without a hitch, and everything just "falls into place." That kind of day is not something you can go looking for. It may happen a few times in a career, or never at all. I haven't been looking for one of those days, just a day where I am content with each aspect of my race. For every race this season, that is all I wanted. To have a race where I could sit back at the end of the day and say, "I can live with that." Kona finally provided that satisfaction. The following is my race report.

Race Morning came and I found myself feeling rather relaxed. All was going smooth until I started to set up my bike. I put my fuel for the bike in one bottle and as I was putting that bottle on my bike, I dropped it. The top popped off and out spilled my fuel. I told myself to just stay calm, find a volunteer, see if I could get a towel to clean it up as it was all under my bike and Matt Reed's and find some gels. I got a towel and got it cleaned up and Matt was very mellow about the mess I created. The replacement gels however, were a bit harder to come by. Thankfully, one of the awesome volunteers came up HUGE for me. He took my bottle and said "you've got a race to prepare for. Go swim, don't worry about this shit. It will be on your bike when you go out." I cannot thank this guy enough. He is a HUGE part of my day. Luis is the man!

I got in the water 15mins before the start, got in a nice solid warm up, and felt good. I lined up a little to the left, next to Rasmus knowing he would go out strong. At the gun I jumped right on his feet and was amazed at how calm and nice the start was. About 100m in that changed. We merged with another group and it got pretty rough. I was able to hang in the first group however and was pretty comfortable with the pace. Coming to the first turn buoy, I knew the pace would pick up, and I was ready for it. I felt the surge starting, put my head down and went for it. Unfortunately, while doing so, I swam off the feet in front of me and off to the left. I have seen first hand on previous occasions just how fast a gap can open if you let it, but this was a new level. I got just a few feet off to the left of the group and was popped off. The gap opened with astonishing speed despite my all out effort to close it back up. I was off the back and there was nothing I could do. Some others met a similar fate and we formed what became the second pack. From there on in I swam very comfortably, and saw 53:45 on the clock. I was actually surprised as it felt longer and was content.
Photo Courtesy: Shawn Henry

I managed to stay with the guys I exited the water with through transition and was out on the bike with Michael Lovato, Jan Raphel and Cam Brown. Immediately we all began to push hard to try and bridge up.
Courtesy Kerry Yndestad

I had no idea how far back I was, but knew I wanted to go with the group. Onto the Queen K for the little stint before Palani, and I got a split, 2:20 up to the main group. I knew the guys I was with were gunning to try and catch that group. The power was way too high though, and I knew closing a gap of 2:20, even if I could, would come at way too high a price, so I had to stick to my plan. Doing so meant that I rode probably 85% of the ride, totally on my own. 

One of the main goals for me in this race was to "learn about the pro race" and that meant riding with the group. I was bummed to realize ten minutes into the ride that I would miss that lesson. Back onto the Queen K I just tried to get into a zone and ride it. I hoped maybe the front group would split and I could catch the back half of it, but that was not to be. Then I narrowly avoided yet another nutrition disaster. I went to take a pull off my fuel bottle and the top popped off. Gel went all over me and my bike but I stayed upright and ust had to slow down and screw the cap back on. I was a sticky mess however, and at nearly every aid station from then on I was taking a literal shower.

For some portion of the climb to Hawi I had company, but after Special Needs I was back on my own. The final 15mi of the ride proved to be the toughest for me, with energy and power tumbling. I was again content to stop the clock at 4:45.

The last time I raced here in 2009 I went out way too fast. So my goal was to be conservative and just try and hold 6:50s for the run. Once I got rolling I checked my Garmin and it told me I was running 8:50s. I knew this was off and this is why I find it so hard to run according to the "current pace" function on the Garmin. So I held the same tempo until the first mile split came up a 6:25. I knew I needed to slow down.

All the way out to the turn my mile splits kept climbing but stayed under the 6:55 mark. I was on track. Shortly after the turn around on Alli'i I began to feel very bloated and got some "slosh-belly."  I decided to take in pretty much only water from mile 6 back to the base of Palani in the hopes of clearing it out. This was a very rough section of the course for me.

Once I hit the top of Palani and got the breeze in my face my stomach was feeling better, but the 5-6 miles of running without any calories began to take its toll. My energy was waning and I knew I had to start taking on fuel again. I chose not to make use of the pro fluids tables this year as it was totally foreign to me. I did run with a Fuel Belt however and was happy I did as it allowed me to slowly take in calories rather than trying to down as much as I could at each aid station. Right around Kona Mountain Coffee I caught my second wind and I began to feel better but the splits weren't falling all that much. Into the Energy Lab I saw that there were several guys within my reach and I knew if I held it together I could pick up a few spots. The heat on the course was getting to me, and staying as cool as possible became a big objective. Once out of the lab I tried to simply let my legs go and concentrated on keeping the cadence high. I slowed to a walk at several aid stations in order to get ice and fluids. I knew this would cost me the sub 3 hour run split I was shooting for, but thought not doing so might leave me in dire straights.

 I had been chasing Matt Reed since coming out of the Energy Lab but it was at the bottom of "Mark & Dave Hill" that I really began to push to catch him. I ran the hill hard, flirting with blowing up and rounded the corner onto Palani with Matt only a few meters up. Letting my legs roll down the hill hurt, but I didn't know if Matt would come with me or not and I didn't want to find myself in a duel. Once I made the turn I saw the gap had formed and was slightly relieved but that was short lived. Jan Rafel was in sight and a friend yelled to me that the gap to him was 8 seconds.

I didn't know what place I was in, I knew there was no money in it, but I just didn't want to get beat by 8 seconds. So again I pushed hard, with "pins n needles" I passed Jan at the turn just before Alli'i Drive and kept running hard, again fearing he would come with me. It wasn't until I hit the carpet that I allowed myself to look back and see where Jan was. To my great relief, there was a gap, and I allowed myself to relax a bit. I hadn't worn a watch with total time for the race and really had no idea what it was. I looked up as I approached the line and saw 8:48 n change on the clock. I was happy. Not so much with the time, but just to be done and to be crossing the most hallowed finish line in our sport. Not much compares to crossing the line here in Kona. The feeling is electric to say the least.

I stayed away from putting a time goal on this race. I wanted to simply put together 3 solid efforts, and learn from the day. I wanted to swim with the 1st group, I wanted to ride in the mix, and I wanted to run sub 3. I fell short of each of these goals, however, I wasn't far off and for the first time this season, I feel I finally put together 3 "decent" performances and thus, I am again content with the day on the whole. There is work to be done, and much progress to be made, but at least I am seeing the signs.

I need to send out a big "Mahalo" to all those who supported me leading up to, and on race day. The crowd support at this race is like no other, but to have so many people shouting my name was simply incredible. And to all those who offered words of encouragement or congratulations through text, e-mail, twitter and facebook, Thank You all very much. If I didn't get back to you individually, please know that I did get your message and it was appreciated greatly. Time and again I am humbled by the support that people have offered, and this race was no exception. It means a great deal to me and I thank you for it.

I also need to thank my incredible sponsors and supporters, some of whom went above and beyond for this race.

Zoot : Being a part of the Zoot family is truly incredible. The gear is incredible, but the family and support is second to none. Having you guys out on the course going nuts was awesome and I can't thank you enough.

Specialized: My Shiv TT was great. Darth Vader ran without flaw all day.  An incredible bike aside, I had a few issues when my poor tubular gluing skills came to light and I am confident my day would have gone much differently if it wasn't for the amazing help I got pre race from the Specialized mechanics. Thanks Jeff, I still owe you big time. This kind of support is priceless.

Reynolds: The 81s performed flawlessly and were a stellar choice. Having the freedom to pick a wheel and run with it is a great confidence builder going into the race and I thank you for making a great product and standing behind the performance capabilities of every wheel you produce.

PowerBar: Of the nearly roughly 3,500 calories that I consumed on race day, I would say 2500 of those came from PowerBar products. Gels, gel blasts, Perform, and bars, they all went down easy and fueled the fire allowing me to keep at it into the late stages of the day.

TriSports.com: Getting to Kona prepared and healthy is half the battle. The service and expediency thereof that you provide is a valuable asset in training for the day. I don't think it could get any easier, and that is a HUGE bonus.

Palos Verdes Bicycle Center: Knowing you guys have my equipment dialed in and ready to roll takes a heap of a headache off my plate and is a great help that I appreciate to no end. Its great to work with such great people.

I also need to thank Brian from PBN Nutrition for spending a good deal of time helping me dial in my nutrition plan. Knowing that I wasn't just "winging it" and that my calories and electrolyte plan had been expertly designed gave me confidence and let me not worry about it on race day.


  1. Ian,
    Looking back on the days when you and I were racing amatures together it is amazing to see first hand, race by race, the growth in your career. You are truly an inspiration to everyone in the sport. With your dedication and passion for triathlon it is only a matter of time until you turn that growth into podium finishes. Keep the fire burning and congrats on an impressive day!!!
    C. Jarvis

    P.S. Running down Matty Reed is BAD ASS!!!!!!!!!!

  2. BIGGUPS dude! so stoked for you. big step forward and there's no doubt more to come. we'll be out in AZ rooting for you.

  3. Nicely done, Uncle Ian... nicely done...

  4. I freaking love that 2nd to last photo. Beyond awesome.

  5. LOVE the last picture Ian!! What an awesome race. Congrats on the progress that you so deserve with all your hard work!

  6. Wow great post. I love that what you said about your goals. It is refreshing to hear that although you missed them a bit you were still happy and proud of your day, excellent. Sometimes we miss the very reason we love this sport and that is doing it the best we can, goals or no. Well Done!!

  7. Just like I yelled at you in the race F*!@#K You are doing Great!

  8. Congrats on a tremendous race! Well done!

  9. Ian, you are an inspiration bro!! Fantastic race!!!! I hope you are putting in a surf or two between your training!!! YOU EPITOMIZE THE SAYING "GO BIG OR GO HOME"!!!!

    Matt Stoker

  10. congrats on a great race ian! way to put it together!!!

  11. Way to go Ian. Hope to be in your league someday. -TG

  12. Very nice race report, Ian. Just got your name and blog address from your Dad, who works in the same building as me and my wife. He knows we have done a decent amount of marathon races and are starting the tri stuff. He seems justifiably proud of your exemplary performance, and who would not be? Kudos - glad to know a PV/Torrance fellow has done a great job at Kona.