Friday, September 12, 2008

2008 Ironman Wisconsin


Ironman Wisconsin


53:18 5:32:58 3:30:06 10:04:07 68 18

TOTAL SWIM 2.4 mi. (53:18) 1:24/100m 19 2

TOTAL BIKE 112 mi. (5:32:58) 20.18 mph 94 25

FIRST RUN SEGMENT 13.1 mi. (1:40:58) 7:42/mile
RUN FINISH 13.1 mi. (1:49:08) 8:19/mile
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (3:30:06) 8:01/mile 68 18

T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 2:08

What is possible at your first IM? What do you want to accomplish?

The first question provided me with excitement but the second question kept me grounded. I wanted my first IM race to be a positive experience, to avoid mechanical issues and nutritional problems, or end up physically hurting myself. To that end, I was willing to sacrifice a “Rockstar” first time IM time.

As a result, my race strategy was conservative. My overall “A” goal time was broad on purpose. I wanted to race anywhere between 9:45-10:45. Experience has a lot to do with racing well; I knew that I would make some rookie mistakes on my first try. Therefore, I wanted to keep things light and not put too much pressure on myself. Qualifying for Kona is not a dream of mine rather I seek to reach my potential at any given race. I compete to compete against myself and my enjoyment of racing is from having others helping to push me. Without them, many times I would give up.

I started the swim in the second row behind my training partner Scott Bowe near the starting buoy. The swim out was quick for the first 300 meters and I quickly learned that slowing down would only get you hurt because you have hundreds of people behind you willing to crawl over you. No troubles, I just forged ahead.

Both loops were pretty much the same. I drafted the entire time with the lead pack. I did take a look at my watch at the half-way point and saw 26:xx. Before the final turn, the lead pack started drifting wide so I decided to solo it to the final left turn. It was good move and I cruised nicely into the swim finish for a good time with minimal effort. [HR 165]

I ran slowly up the helix and my plan/trick to watch out for friends and try to acknowledge them worked. I never hit 170 bpm. [HR 164]

I started the bike right behind Craig Lanza, a fellow local triathlete. I rode the first few miles easy and let the heart settle to about 140 bpm. From there things went as expected: I got passed, I got passed some more, and I just continued to get passed. I was not worried about it until Mike Meteyer went flying by me before we hit Verona within the first 15 miles. I expected him to catch me on the second loop after mile 70 somewhere. Well, so be it. I was there to do my own race.

As the race progress, my heart rate was stuck at 145 bpm at the top end of my zone 2. It was a gray place for me. Usually what happens is that after I warm-up, my heart rate settles down and I feel strong at 135-140 bpm range. It never happened. Part of it might be from feeling chilly during the bike. Bike riding in a wet jersey at 8 in the morning would make most people cold, I felt chilly and never broke a sweat until a couple hours in.

I ended up riding the whole ride at 145 bpm and managed to keep it comfortable on the hills, never spiking over 156.

The gels plus water plan worked great. I took a few salt tablets for insurance purposes. The only hiccup was during the second loop, CP to Verona stretch, where I had some stomach trouble. To alleviate the problem, I skipped the next two gel intakes and sipped very little water. Upon reaching Verona, I felt better and was able to catch up on nutrition by the finish. [HR 145]

@40 miles 1:56:45 20.55mph
@83 miles 4:01:34 20.4 mph
83-112 miles 1:29:01 19.54 mph

It went easy. [HR 141]

I left the Monona Terrace Convention Center with plenty of traffic which led to a rookie mistake that I dearly wanted to avoid. For the first two miles, I was running with five other guys, with a few in my age group. Running felt sluggish, but I knew that after 15 minutes I would feel fresh. I kept looking at my watch to make sure I ran that first mile just a hare under 8 minutes, but when I never saw the first mile marker I started getting nervous. The small group that formed around me was not slowing down either. About 20 yards short of the 2-mile marker, my watch read 13:40 (6:50 pace). Not good, so I hit the brakes and trickled across for a time of 14:19. From there I tried my best to run steady in the 7:30 range and my legs finally came around at 18 minutes, two minutes later than I thought. Because I was very concerned about how the first two miles went, I decided to grab a coke at mile 3 and continued to do so at every other aid station. It was fun running through the aid stations and drinking water/coke. It gave me the feeling that I was out there actually doing an IM.

While running those first few miles I was trying to assess the situation. I figured I was in about 150th place starting the run. Mike Meteyer was running really fast way ahead of me, Scott Bowe was next and by the look on their faces and the feeling in my body I knew I was not going to catch them. Furthermore, I knew that I would have to keep the ship together to get a Kona slot. In years past, anything under 10 hours was a guarantee. Last year with perfect conditions, it was the fastest ever qualifying time at 10:04:08. So I forged ahead focused on never stopping and holding an even effort.

In the end, my pace slowed as expected although my effort did not. When I saw that my heart rate was in the mid 130s on loop 2, I conceded mentally and physically to just finishing. I crossed in 10:04:07 happy to finish this epic event.

The truth of my race was handed to me 15 yards after the finish line in the form of a small sticker. It listed my swim, bike, run splits, total time, overall place and finally, age group place. What did not surprise me because I was out there racing, but surely a surprise to my friends and family, was that I took 18th in my age group M30-34. Before the race I knew that I was playing it banker safe much like Ryan Hall and his Olympic Marathon this summer. His game plan was to race safely with consideration for the race field and weather conditions. In the end, he never had a chance. I ended up in the same situation. By playing it safe I met my personal goal of completing the race, but the bonus of receiving a Kona slot would slip through my fingers. I am not bummed in the least. I can find another thirty minutes.

I have never done anything that gave me an enormous sense of personal accomplishment regardless of the outcome. My parents might say otherwise, but I never felt that way when doing well in school or participating in athletics. I suspect that the main reason is that even if I faced insurmountable odds, the process was always fun. Ironman is not fun. After four hours of racing coupled with being passed a lot on the bike, I wanted to quit. I said to myself, “This is not fun. I am not having fun.” I felt that way until I crossed the finish line at 5:04 in the evening. In life I have experienced brief moments of darkness, but with the support of friends and family, my spirits were always lifted. In Ironman I felt hours of grayness and for the first time in my athletic life I had to dig to the bottom of the well to find the fortitude to carry on and finish. The sense of accomplishment I felt a few days after the race made me understand the "meaning" of athletics:

"The most important thing is not to win but to take part!" (the informal Olympic motto)

-- De Coubertin

• Aquaman Kaiman swim goggles; Aquaman Full wetsuit
• PX bike with 50-50 PX wheelset (123 psi); cut water bottle filled with 11 Powergels (sodium added type and caffeine 1x) on seat-tube; short water bottle on downtube; spare tubular with 2 C02 canister taped plus razor blade behind seat; Sunglasses
• Oomph Lava Compression shorts, 2008 TriWi top, Red TriWi visor
• Adidas Supernova 6 (2007 model); Drymax socks (Large)
• Breathe-Right Nasal Strip

• Breakfast: 3 Chocolate Powerbars 3 ¼ hrs before race; 1 Red Bull 8 oz 2 ½ hrs before race
• Bike: 17 PowerGels, Water, Salt Tablets (worked great); Gels every 15; 30; 45 minutes; 2 salt tablets every hr; Water after each gel.
• Run: Alternating water & Gatorade // water & coke; one gel first half marathon and another gel second half marathon; took a few salt tablets for insurance; everything worked great

• Don’t worry about the swim.
• If it’s chilly, bike harder the first hour to break a sweat. Base keep the same, Build change to German style rides (alternating 5 hr hard rides; 3.5 hr hard rides for 6 weeks)
• Remember to not drink anything for the first three miles; however, stop at first two aid stations and dump water over the head to prevent running too fast.

Special Thanks to:
• Adrienne
• Scott Bowe, Michelle Lanoutte
• Planet X & TriWisconsin Triathlon Team
• My family and friends

Matthew Amman 9-12-2008