July 7 2004

July 7, 2004

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2004 Race Report

This time, I started the swim near the front, thinking I could perhaps avoid the thrashing if I was with a thinner grouping. Didn't exactly work as planned. I say this after every Ironman swim, but I really mean it this time - it was the worst mass start I've ever experienced. My pounding included goggles being kicked off, being swam over, swimming over, ankles grabbed, etc. The problem with Coeur d'Alene swim start is the narrow and shallow beach area. 2000 triathletes are so closely crammed together on the beach before the start that you are literally shoulder to shoulder and front to back.

My goal was to swim near the inside this time and find someone slightly faster than me to draft behind. As it happened, I got so beat up, that I headed directly to the support boats on the outside to get away from the crowd. It was better swimming out there, but I ended up making two really wide loops and probably added a hundred meters to my distance.

I came out of the water after my second loop at a VERY disappointing 1:14:29 - slower than my last Ironman swim! This was especially discouraging in light of how much work I put into improving my swimming over the last 8 months. After I compared my age group % placing with previous years swims, I discovered that I actually improved from top 63% last year to top 50% this year - certainly not stellar, but at least an improvement. The course must have been slightly long - either that or everyone experienced a slow down due to the crowding. After looking back at my previous Ironman swim finishes, I was surprised to find that my swim in Canada back in 2002 was as good as my swim this year - I have NO idea why..... It seems that I am getting faster each Ironman, but for some reason, I was VERY fast for one IM swim two years ago. I wonder what I was doing different then? Perhaps it's time to start seriously working on my kick!!!

My biggest concern for the day was the possibility of a continuation of the 95 degree temperatures that were cooking Coeur d'Alene the previous week. As it turned out, and as I have learned from previous experience, that what you expect or fear might happen never does. It's always something you aren't prepared for. The weather was a perfect 26 degrees C on the bike and a bit warmer on the run.

My bike ride was really great! Better than I hoped for by five minutes with a top 8% age group finish in 5:24. I tried to maintain 220 watts average and found it more difficult as the day wore on. Actual watts average was 187 and my speed average was 33.42 kph. The first half split watts average was 201 (34 kph) and the second half was 174 (32.8 kph).

Perhaps 220 watts is too much. I think one way to tell if it's too much is if you can't match your first half split watts with the second half (can't even split), then you probably went out too fast. The other way you know you went out too fast is if your stomach shuts down on the run - and that's exactly what happened. Again!

I believe that I need to do my IM bike race at my TRUE Aerobic Threshold. There are different ways of determining approximately where that is - one way is an age based formula that predicts mine at somewhere around 140 heart rate. The other is a Lactate blood test - and there are a couple different methods of determining AeT from the blood test results. One method is to use the power output at 2.0 mMols of lactate. For me, that method confirms 140 HR and 230 watts as my AeT. The other method is to use the power output at the end of the first step. That is, as soon as there is an increase in Lactate production over a steady base-line. For me, that puts my AeT at about 134 heart rate and about 205 watts - not nearly as high as the other methods, but I think that is the true and correct method - at least for me and may allow me to put in a decent marathon effort.

Here is my current Lactate chart if you are interested

I ran the whole run, but felt crappy with stomach cramps and a bloated feeling. I could hear the water and Hammer gel gurgling around in my tummy as I ran. I think my digestive system shut down due to a lack of blood flow in the stomach which was due to over-doing the bike in 90 degree heat. As a result, for a couple of hours on the run, I carried around a couple of pounds of undigested hammer gel, water and salt tabs. Also adding to the unpleasantness of the run was a sharp pain on the outside of the bottom of my right foot due to my bike shoes. It's sort of a reoccurring pain that I get in my foot after long, hard bike rides. I need to address that!

I crossed the finish line in 10:55 breaking the eleven hour mark by 5 minutes and removing about 10 minutes off my previous personal best. Not what I had hoped for, but not bad putting me at 38th out of 263 in my age group for a top 14% finish. The last Hawaii qualifier in my age group finished in 10:15 - which leaves about 40 minutes that I must somehow remove off my time if I want a chance to qualify. He was 12/263 - or top 5%. I have a ways to go still, but I will continue to plug away at it.

I think that's what I love about this sport so much - the races make you honest. You cannot get away with self grandeur like you can with so many other sports because on race day, your result will tell you exactly where you are with regard to your fitness - not where you *think* you are! What we think about ourselves and what is really the truth is seldomly the same! Most guys tend to think they are better than they actually are, and some tend to think they are worse. I don't want to think anything - I want to KNOW! All I want to know is the truth so I can plan appropriately. I mean how can you plan to get to where you want to be if you don't know where you currently are? An Ironman triathlon is a life lesson - the brutal truth smacks you in the face whether you like it or not.

Helen crossed the finish line in 14:14 which ended up about half way in her age group - which is great considering this is only her second Ironman. And my buddy Greg Bradley crossed the finish line a mere 6 minutes after me - he's catching up!!!

This is Pam Reed. I met her two days before Ironman. I was sitting on a bench waiting for Helen to finish her swim workout and I overheard Pam talking to someone else about an Ultra marathon called Badwater. I knew immediately who she was, as I had just finished reading an article about her in Runner's World magazine! The Badwater Ultramarathon—a 135-mile run from Badwater, the lowest point in the country, to the slopes of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48. Heat is a large part of what gives Badwater the reputation of the world’s toughest footrace, as temperatures can reach upwards of 130 degrees!

Pam Reed is a 42-year-old mother of five who shocked the running world last year when she became the first woman to win the prestigious event outright—by a margin of nearly five hours. This year she is doing Ironman Cda, then running the Badwater ultra two weeks later.

Also spotted at Ironman Cda were Trista and Ryan from The Bachelor TV show. Allthough impressive, not nearly as impressive as meeting Pam!

Training strategy for Ironman Canada:

I am calling this idea the "Specificity Plan". Once per week, I will do a bike/run training day as close to the Ironman distances as possible. I know it sounds extreme, but I really believe that the specificity training principal is the most important principal of them all. And what better way to specify, that to actually reproduce race distances and conditions as close as possible. To reduce the chance of overtraining or injury, I will allow more rest days between the big days. My intensity on these long days will be VERY easy - not over 200 watts on the bike and not over 130 HR on the run. Long and slow. In between these long days, I will add 2 more days of cycling - perhaps a 4 hour ride where my focus will be on maintaining the AeT pace for as long as possible and a 3 hour ride with some intensity at higher than AeT. For running, I will add ONE more intervals track day of 90 minutes and swim nearly every day if possible. My swim focus will be on kick conditioning. I will start by working my way up to 60 minute kick sessions, then incorporate the kick into my swim. I will also incorporate some heat conditioning into my workouts by wearing a coat - even during hot temps.

Race strategy for Ironman Canada:

Watts Target: Target my first step up lactate level power which may be around 210 by then. Also Jason Yanota suggests doing some critical power tests to determine that threshold - he says that test should be more accurate, so I am going to give it a shot. A more 'reasonable' effort level should still get me a 5:30 bike split and perhaps I will be able to really run for once!!

Foot Pain: Order a pair of running shoe foot clips (Power Clip) and give them a try - also watts test to make sure there is no loss of power due to the running shoe. That should also speed up my bike to run Transition! I'll be able to run directly from the bike, right out the run start gate without stopping at all for my transition bag - that should be worth a couple of minutes I would think.

Inside Swim: Stay on the tight inside this time - no matter what!

Run Target: Adjust run pace to 8:30 min/miles. 8 min/mile pace is just too fast for me to hold during an Ironman

Overall Time Goal: Swim = 1:10, Bike = 5:30, Run = 3:40, T1 = 3 minutes, T2 = 1 minute. TOTAL = 10:24



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