Tuesday, September 1, 2009
2009 Ironman Louisville
August 30, 2009
10th Age Group
What I saw in Louisville, Kentucky before I even started the race let me know that this was going to be ugly. As the son of a hydrogeologist and serious fisherman, I know a thing about water quality. The Ohio River is barely suitable for swimming. Add in floating timbers and logs, swimming is hazardous. As for the bike roads, the road surface itself was nice but there was absolutely no shoulder. The road ended at the white line. I was little taken back by the whole venue.
Horrible, horrible! Imagine lining up at 5:15 am to sit on road pavement for a 7 am race start. And because I was about the 1,200th person in the 2,700 person line, I started around 7:25 am. This was a time-trial start and I certainly prefer the mass swim start.
After jumping in, we had to swim a narrow channel for a 1/2 mile or more. The congestion was terrible. I had to swim with my head up most of time until we rounded the turn buoy and headed out into the river. The long swim to the exit with the river's current was easy. I exited with a disappointing time.
The first 2:13 on the bike were uneventful. I kept the effort ridiculously easy to save it for the back half of the bike.
At 2:14 I got a flat tire. Luckly it was the front wheel. I never did take the time to look for a hole. It did not matter, I needed to change it. It was my first time changing a tubular and made a few mistakes. Using a razor blade to cut the tire, I thought I cut all the way through the base tape. Nope. When I pulled with all my might to get it off the rim, it would not budge. I tried the other side. No luck. I thought this might be game over. After a closer look, I saw that I failed to cut the base tape. After cutting it, the tire came off. When putting the spare on, I found out it was not pre-stretched enough. Luckily, an IM race photographer was right there to help. With his assistance, I managed to muscle it on. I inflated the tire and was on my way at 2:21. Poof! seven minutes gone.
I pushed a bit after the flat tire to minimize the time damage. I also had to start dealing with road traffic. I passed a number of cars plus a truck with a horse trailer on the left. Yes, I said the left. Without a road shoulder 2-3 feet wide, often times motorists were stuck behind slow cyclists and simply had to wait patiently to pass. Well, when the faster cyclists like myself are on our second loop of a two loop bike course, we were forced to pass both the cyclist and the vehicle on the left.
The final 50 miles were a little hard to pace, akin to the first 50 miles. The rolly-polly hills made for a pedal, then coast feeling... similar to when riding with a group of cyclists. A powermeter would have helped out a lot.
In the last 10-40 miles somewhere, I got another flat tire. It was a slow leak that I did not notice it until the last few miles.
I felt really good running out of T2. I walked the first 2 aids stations like planned. I plugged along comfortably while watching my fellow competitors put on a show.
Guy #1 in my age-group passed me in the first 200 yards coming out of T2 running sub 7. No problem I thought, he'll die later. He never did.
Guy #2 not in my age-group was insane. He ran past me just after the 1 mile mark running 6:00 pace. No problem, he'll die later. He (Evan MacFarlane) never did. For the first 3.38 miles he ran 20:17 at 6:00/mile ending with a 2:55 marathon.
Guy #3 Viktor Zyemtsev and winner of the race running sub 6:30's.
Guy #4 Luke McKenzie and second place overall running sub 6:30's.
Guy #5 running around 7:30 pace and I just could not respond.
So about 5 five guys me passed on run. Not too bad I thought. Except for one, I was not confident enough to run in anybody's shadow and try to hold on. Based on how I felt last year at IMWI, this was a positive run and I looked great while doing it (according to my family and friends watching). My form was good, light on the feet, relaxed arm-swing, no side-stitch, and no stomach distress.
I crossed the finish line in 9:53. I was happy to go sub 10. As for qualifying for Kona, I needed to go a 9:48. Doing the math, the flat tire did me in. Frankly, the whole experience left me sour. Ironman corp. did a fantastic job; it was the venue (swim and bike course) that really irritated me. Ironman Wisconsin was a five star experience. I'll likely stick to my home turf next time.
A month ago an acquintance asked me why I race. It's a question I have struggled with for a couple of years. This particular Ironman race gave me a two-fold answer. First, when life fails to demand my time, efforts, and talents either professionally or personally or both, I seek it out in the form of a hobby. Currently, triathlon quenches my desire for success and hard work. Second, I found out what makes me tick. I have a hard time racing against myself or the clock. To win races or beat rivals I mentally have to say, "I'm better than you and I'll turn myself purple to prove it." A lot of front-of-the-pack racers are like that. I am no different. But at an Ironman race far away from home, I had neither a chance of winning the race outright nor a rival--somebody that I could say to myself, "There is no way I'm going to let him beat me." So what happens to me under those conditions? I coast and that's exactly what I did. If you saw me racing last year at IMWI, you could see the agony and exhaustion. I was digging deep to try to catch my rivals up the road. I gave it everything I had.
My future in Ironman racing is uncertain. I feel that there is much work to be done both physically and mentally to hit the ceiling. But like most hobbies, it's just for fun and if something else comes along that fosters the same feelings as racing I might just hang up the swim cap and goggles, sell the bikes, and use the running shoes to mow the lawn.
THINGS TO REMEBER:
- Breakfast 3 Powerbars, 1 can Red Bull
- Bike: 13 Powergels; Chocolate is fine; Avoid Vanilla; Try Strawberry/Kiwi
- Spare Tubular plus trying bringing along Vittoria PitStop for flats
- Run: Loop 1 alternated coke/gatorade; Loop 2 just coke
- Salt tablets: 4 on bike, 2 on run (Salt stick); try more on bike and run
Heart Rate Data:
Swim 163 bpm
T1 144 bpm
Bike 135 but failed to work for last hour (likely was 145)
Run 143 ave
1 -7:54/pace 147 bpm
2 -7:19 141
3 -7:17 147 bpm
4 -7:41 146 bpm
5 -7:27 147 bpm
6 -7:40 147
7 -7:49 149
8 -7:25 146
9 -7:46 152
19-8:20 135 (started walking aid stations)