I'm also ridiculously caffeinated. I don't and haven't drank cola or much caffeine for at least three years. I had a 5 Hour Energy for the first time (yes, that's generally a no-no) and had several colas throughout the run. You'll see why below.
Anyways, my caffeine rush prompted three pages of notes so I'm sharing them verbatim. I will write a race report incorporating these lessons into something a bit more prosaic, but figured this is a good start. I don't want to forget any of this stuff.
Thank you all for your support the past year. I feel like this blog has somehow made a difference for a few folks and that means so much. And I made a new friend tonight with a fellow competitor and FINISHER, Robyn. She ROCKS.
So, I need to eat dinner and then TRY to go to bed. I'm exhuasted but WIRED. Let's see how this goes haha.
More to come in the next couple days, but I hope this captures the spirit of the lessons learned while it doesn't come close to describing the emotions of the day. That's next.
I AM AN IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Remember all your bags. Pack with gear/special needs in mind so all you have to do is transfer bags. Literally put stuff in separate bags beforehand. Will save tons of time. Wish I had done that.
Get to event early. You’ll be surprised how hard it is to relax.
I found staying off-site better. The energy near the race site is too hectic and could be a distraction or could psyche you out.
Find a lane during the event, and keep switching if need-be. Be flexible. Keep sighting! Practice sighting in open water drills.
Practice exiting the water. It’s giant stairs. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. Stay compact, use your knees and elbows to crawl up the steps, don’t swing your leg to the side as someone could bump you or you could get a cramp. This did not happen to me, thanks to listening to Bob’s advice.
Don’t panic if the weather doesn’t go your way. Adjust accordingly. I tried to keep my goal time intact instead of going with the flow a little more – though I don ‘t believe I overexerted too much. My coach might disagree, and I wouldn’t argue too strongly about that.
If you have a Speedfill, do NOT do what I did. Don’t put powder in and then mix with water. It will clog your filter. Bad idea. Use water bottles the way you normally would and then squirt the mixture in the speedfill.
If you have to leave your bike out overnight, which you probably do, leave a little pressure out of the tires until the next morning. This will help you avoid a temperature pressure-driven flat.
If you can, I highly recommend practicing in inclement weather. The worse the weather, the better the idea to practice. Fillmore saved my ass in training due to the winds but it still didn’t prepare me totally adequately for today. And rain is a whole different story. Gotta just get through it, though I recommend lighter-tinted glasses since if you have water on the lens it’s harder to see. This didn’t bother me too much but I noticed it enough to mention.
Pace yourself. I knew I would feed off the crowd at the end of each loop so I pushed it a bit to “put on a show” and feed off the crowd. I think that’s fine, but chill out for a bit after you’re away from the main crowd so you can regain your energy and focus.
If you need to pee, pee. I pee’ed twice on the first loop. So glad I did. I was bummed to lose time, but I was a lot more comfortable.
Experiment with compression shorts a lot before wearing them in an IM. It helped me for sure, but I wonder if the pressure on my gut caused some of my GI issues today. Nutrition was a big problem for me on the bike. I couldn’t stand ingesting my normal foods (Clif Bars and gels) for some reason. This was highly unexpected but again DON’T PANIC. Listen to your body. I ate a lot of bananas today and it was a good substitute.
5 Hour Energy. Holy Shit. Blew my mind. Never used it before, which is a bad idea in general for any race as a rule of thumb. However, it saved my ass on the brutal bike ride. And I powered through some 35 mph gusts (by Bob’s estimation) while others struggled b/c the B12 kicked in at the right moment. This stuff rocked, but it may also have contributed to a nasty sidestitch on the first mile of the run. Yikes.
Speaking of run….
Don’t panic. I got a cramp the first mile. Thank goodness I found out there was a cramp/massage station in the first check point. I used it and it helped immensely. My cramp went away. And then, at mile 8, my IT bands locked up big time. Again, don’t panic. I used the med tent to get THE MOST PAINFUL MASSAGE in my life but it was worth it. Don’t worry about losing time in the short term. I could not have completed the marathon in the time I did without these necessary breaks in the race. Which leads me to:
Sometimes you need to go slow to go fast. I needed those breaks to continue the race. And while I lost 15 minutes at least on those massages, I think I raced faster throughout the day as a result. This is a hard concept to accept, I think, because you have to sacrifice your goal time potentially to get what your body needs. But your body will pay you back big-time. Which leads me to:
Don’t panic! Stuff WILL go wrong throughout the day. My nutrition, my Speedfill needed ER attention at the last second. I couldn’t eat the stuff I trained all year to eat. My body locked up. The weather turned into a storm. Keep your head down and FOCUS. Focus one mile at a time. That is all you can do. Don’t worry about your best-laid plans. They very well may fall through. What is your back-up? And what’s the back-up to that if the shit really hits the fan? You need to know, and accept these conditions BEFORE the race.
Carry Endurolytes. It saved me from really cramping. Keep spare pills in your special needs bag. I lost all my pills from the first container b/c I accidentally tipped them over while while drinking water.
On the run, eat what you want to eat. Don’t worry about it. Follow your body. Do what it tells you. Walk when you really need to walk. Try to run as much as you can. Shuffling is OK AND EFFECTIVE. Accept that you can move pretty fast with an alternate gait if you must. I did, and I’m happy with my time.
Enjoy that chute finish! You deserve it! Celebrate! Let loose! Shout, or do whatever comes naturally. You can plan all you want for how you think you’ll react, but you have no idea until you’re there. But don’t rush it. Embrace the moment. It only happens once.
n Swim! PR
n Bike: Seeing the pros whiz by and being on the same course as them at the same time even for a few seconds, right next to them. Wow!
n Bike: 5 Hour Energy! Holy shit!
n Run: Not panicking. Being smart in how I raced. Hugging Steph for a boost at mile 17. Running the last big hill without stopping. The finish!!!!
n Being recognized for my blog from a wonderful human being and now friend, Robyn. Such a touching moment at the finish where we hugged.
n Nutrition going haywire
n Swim like a water polo match meets rugby match. Brutal out there!
n Weather absolutely destroying my body on the bike and wind challenging me several times on the run, along with brief drizzles too.
n Cramps and lockup on the run. Most painful massage in my life.
n Lodging an Endurolyte in my throat at mile 22. Dry heaves ensue.
Final lessons learned:
n The race hurts real bad. That pain is temporary and harsh. But the life lessons last forever. Among those, sometimes you need to put yourself through extreme pain to get the most benefit from what you need -- even if it's not what you want. For me that’s don’t panic, dealing with real physical pain, dealing with disappointment and rallying, understanding slower can be faster, and having three plans for truly important goals. So valuable (thanks Gerardo!)