Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ironman Couer d'Alene Race Report

Another notch in the belt.

That is sort of the way I am looking at my race in Couer d'Alene. I say "sort of" in that a finish, concluding a day of constant "effort," was something I wasn't exactly confident was within my current ability.

After crashing out of Ironman Cozumel last November, separating my shoulder, then going through the rehab and corresponding lack of training, my confidence at the iron distance was definitely shaken.

Thus, my goal for CdA was simply to make it to the finish line, being able to "push" all day. My training since January, and my resulting fitness, meant I just couldn't afford to take any risks and try to "go" with anyone. My day, was very much, "my day." Stick to "my numbers." Run "my pace."

Here's how it went:

Swim: 53:High

The water was cold but relatively calm on race morning. I opted for the single cap as in the days prior it hadn't been that bad. Once I got in to "warm up" I realized this was probably a bad choice. The rain and wind of the previous days had brought with it a noticeable drop in water temp. Oh well.

In their great wisdom (and I REALLY do mean that) the race director and organizers saw fit to start the pro wave 35mins before the age groupers. On a two loop course, this is MUCH better as it allows the pros to get in a full loop before the age group masses launch into the course. This is much better for the pros, the pro race, and for the age groupers, especially the unlucky ones who get swum over when pros come tearing though when the starts are only spaced 10mins apart. I digress. But bravo on that decision.

The gun went off, I found some good feet out towards the front and then lost them.  After a rather protracted battle for them, I found some others, but eventually conceded those toes to an over-aggressive/eager swimmer who promptly fell off the pace and let a gap open. I swam around her and tried to close it back up but it was not to be. Each time I sighted I noticed the gap was growing, and so too were the waves.  The wind had picked up and the chop was strong.

The aforementioned over-aggressive swimmer faded and I soon found myself swimming alone. No bueno. I finished the first loop and started the second that way and it was to remain until my exit.

Bike: 5:09
If you have been reading this blog with any frequency, you are likely aware of my struggles on the bike this year. I have been putting in some solid bonding time with my BH, but was certainly aware my fitness would not afford getting caught up in a "race" on the bike. So I rode my numbers, and tried to stay as steady as possible. As is typical at this distance, I felt great for the first few hours and was confident coming back through town the first time.

Unfortunately, the above-referenced winds during the swim remained and their might was growing. The new course, like the "old course" has a substantial amount of elevation gain. The delivery thereof however, is much different. Gone are the short punchy climbs of the old, and in are the long grinding climbs of the new. The vast majority of the elevation gain is found in the "top" of the course, heading out from transition. Our nemesis of the day, proved to be the wind, blowing straight at us for these climbs. Nothing to do but grind on through it. To my great delight, I still felt quite good passing my family and heading out for my second serving of climbing with a topping of headwind.

It was after the first long climb, that I blissfully rode into my first "rough patch" of the day. Knowing what I know about Iron distance racing, I wasn't surprised to be mired in such a circumstance. Figuring calories to be at the root of my problem, I rolled though a few aid stations helping myself to a fair quantity of their offerings. Soon, but not soon enough, things came around and I rolled into T2 ascending from the valley of my troubles. 

Run: 3:05

Given my state, the marathon was looming large on my mind. Give it a go. 

Stick to my pace. This was my mantra. My eyes frequently scanned my Timex GPS and I let its reading dictate my effort. As is typical with my iron distance runs, it felt easy in the beginning, yet I knew it would grow more and more laborious. True to form, it did. I hit my second "rough patch" of the day coming back into town. 

Heading out for my second loop was tough. 
My GPS was no longer giving me numbers I wanted to see, and my energy was waining. Fortunately, once out of town and through my 2nd FuelBelt flask of PowerBar gels, I came relatively good again, and was able to get back on top of my turnover. Which was good, because it was in this second lap that I made two more passes. 

In the end, after 9hours and 12mins of racing, I was happy to slap some hands. 

All in all, I will say I am happy with my day in Couer d'Alene, but not satisfied.  I am happy to have put up another finish at the distance. I am happy that I was able to keep the effort relatively constant throughout the day, and push hard in the concluding miles of the marathon. I am happy that I CAN really still do this. But again, nowhere near satisfied. So its back to the grind. Happily so. 

A HUGE "THANK YOU" to my sponsors: 
ZOOT - Without the Prophet wetsuit, I am sure the cold would have had a much more vicious bite. I ran in a pair of (until then) top secret shoes, which have since hit the public eye. Keep a lookout. the new "Race" is another shining example of Zoot's ingenuity and dedication to triathlon.

BH - The GC Aero did its job yet again, without a hitch. Strong, steady and comfortable. A great platform for 112mi! 

Reynolds - I opted for the RZR 92 front and Element Disc. Reliable, Aero & Fast. I don't regret my choice. 

SPY+ - I spent 9hrs looking through the "Screw" and couldn't have been happier. Great shades, great company. Congrats to Scott who had the nerve to yell out the key phrase and scored himself a sweet pair along with a 2nd in his AG!

PowerBar - Had it not been for my own error in simply not bringing enough, my entire day would have been fueled by PowerBar. Next time, I'll bring more :-)

TRIBE - Racing is one thing, getting there with proper training is another. Having a shop that stocks all my training and racing needs is key! One that does it with a knowledgeable and friendly staff is just a bonus!

I'm back in San Diego and back at it.