April 15, 2007

Race Report

Some say that to be prepared for Ironman you need to be prepared to face ANY obstacle on raceday, because anything that can go wrong very likely will go wrong over the course of 140.6 miles.

With that in mind, today was a great Ironman training day.

This morning I competed in the 8k/53k/8k Powerman Alabama race. I treated it as a long reverse/regular brick and didn't taper any. Well, my only training yesterday was a mile swim so I guess I rested my legs yesterday. But I had run 10 miles Friday, which, after today's 10 miles gave me 30 miles running for the week (longest running week ever!)

Anyway, the race. Forecast weather was low this morning of about 44 and then mid-to-high 50's by midday with overcast skies, maybe rain this afternoon. Uhm, no. That didn't happen. Try low 40's at the start of the race and low 40's (with a feel like of 35) at the end of the race with wind swirling and gusting at 20 mph and rain. Yes rain - a mist for the first hour and then a constant light rain for a couple of hours and then back to a mist.

Now in case you don't know me, I don't like training in the cold. I'm all about snow runs, as long as I'm reading about them and not participating in them. I've never ever ever ever ridden my bike outside when it was in the 40s. Or when it was in the 40's and raining.

When I got to the race venue this morning, I was surprised to see my friend Mark already there and marked. Mark is the fool that talked me into my first tri last year, but Mark is almost always late for every race. In fact, for southeast xterra championship last year, Mark showed up so late the entire field had already finished their swim (lucky for him, the understanding organizers let him start anyway and he got the course to himself...)

Anyway, so I got marked and put on my tights that (thank God) I had stuck in the car just in case and then went to the start line to freeze while waiting for our signal.

The first run of the duathlon went as well as I could ask for. Mark and I ran together for the first couple of miles before he dropped back. I finished out strong and felt good, with a time (official results not posted yet) of about 35:30.

And then the misery started. The 2 loop Powerman bike course is hilly (not the steepest grades, but long mile plus 3 or 4% grades), and tends to be windy even in calm weather. And with temps in the low 40s and windy and rainy, I suffered.

The first loop I could still feel my feet, but by the second loop I realized that I couldn't. Ditto my ungloved hands. There was so much snot coming from my nose that I found it easiest to just collect it in my mouth and then spit. Yea, gross. Like I said, I suffered.

I noticed there was much less traffic on the course for the 2nd lap. Initially I thought I must be bringing up the rear. Then it dawned on me that people smarter than I were calling it a day after 1 lap. But I wasn't going to let that happen to me. I was out there for fun, and fun is what I was having. At least that's what I kept telling myself.

Actually what made the bike bearable was thinking about IM Wisconsin last year, with low temps and rain, and realizing that this race was preparing me, at least mentally if not physically, to be able to handle it if this year's IM brings similar ugliness. And after today, I have even greater respect for last year's IM WI racers. Dude, cold and rain on a bike suck.

When I dismounted the bike after (I lost count, but I think it was ) just under 2 hours, I stumbled when my feet hit the ground. I honestly could not feel them. I felt like a long-time diabetic with neuropathy. I gingerly jogged through transition. I never before have had so much trouble getting my running shoes back on and getting my helmet unsnapped. Couldn't do it. Couldn't feel what I was doing. My laces weren't the issue, they're the easy kind, but it felt like I was putting the shoes on someone else's feet. Weird. Then it probably took me a full 30 seconds to get my hands to find the right button to push to release my helmet.

After a mile and a half of the second run, I still couldn't feel my feet. It felt like I had bricks strapped to my legs. My knees were stiff. I was slow.

When I first started getting feeling back, it was painful. I felt like there was a rock under my arch in each shoe. At 2 miles I sat down and took off my shoes to inspect, but everything was normal. I trudged on, but it was probably the slowest I've ran in a long time. I even walked a couple of hills. I was spent.

I came across the finish line unofficially in about 3:20. This was much slower than I would have predicted pre-race, but that's ok. This race was huge for me in learning to overcome piss-poor weather, dealing with hands and feet that I can't feel, and taking in nutrition.

Oh yea, nutrition. It sucked. I am a chronic under-drinker on the bike, and today was even worse. With cold weather and rain, I just didn't want to drink anything. I drank nothing on the first run, and I took in a total of 6 ounces on the bike. The 2nd run I took a couple of powerades.

And I didn't eat enough either. 2 1/2 hours before the race I had 2 pieces of toast and an orange. Then I had 1 gel on the bike. I naively expected there would be some gels handed out somewhere along the racecourse so I brought only 1 with me. Rookie mistake that won't happen again.

Between the frozen feet and the lack of fuel and hydration, I knew the 2nd run was going to be tough. Yea, I bonked. Oh well. It was still fun (I mean, how often have you been able to spit your snot??) and a huge learning experience, and a deposit to the IM bank.

After eating the post-race meal with Mark, I was shivering uncontrollably. I had put some fleece pants on over my tights, but I was still wearing my wet top. There were no finish-line blankets or anything like that at this race. A couple of strangers said I didn't look well and asked if I was ok. Yea, I'm fine I lied. I realized then that I must look as hypothermic as I felt and headed home.

Once home, I changed into dry socks and the warmest fleece I own, turned my thermostat to 75, put an extra comforter on my bed and slept for 2 hours. Didn't change position once. I woke and felt great, with minimal aches (left IT feels a little tight) and no pains.

All in all, a great training day! Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.


TriShannon said...

Been there with the uncontrollable runny nose on the bike. Never once thought about collecting it in my mouth, but well... I'll just stop there. :-)

Great job overcoming far less than ideal conditions!

Triteacher said...

Holy balls - that was TUFF! Mucho respect to you from this quarter. Don't you just love that triathlon learning curve? (Why does it seem to have to happen all at once though?)

Well done on sticking it out!

Megan said...

Way to hang in there!

Bike Chick said...

Good job sticking with it! You got some great lessons out of it. Congrats!

Matt said...

Dude, it was miserable. I really can't express, how bad that weather sucked today. I forgot my gloves as well, but I bought some there. I can't imagine what it was like going without them. So glad it's over. Sorry we didn't get to catch up. Maybe on a sunnier day.

RunBubbaRun said...

Great job on the race. Yes, bike racing in the cold and rain does tottaly suck.

Great way to push through and have a little fun in the process.

TJ said...

that sounds brutal. way to stick it out. nutrition is hard to get in when you're freezing your butt off and aren't thirsty...but it's just as important. i found that out on a training ride a couple months back. better to learn it now than at IM.

ironjenny said...

Great race report, but my favorite line from your post was:

Well, my only training yesterday was a mile swim

Ha! Would you have ever dreamed you'd ever say that? You are rocking the swim, buddy.

Michele said...

Brrrr! Makes me cold just reading this.

I don't do cold weather either and have had enough. Bring on summer!!!

Awesome job hanging tough and finishing. Money in the bank

Lana said...

Wow...way to hang in there and overcome inspite of the bad conditions! That will most definitely pay off for IM. Great job.

Mallie said...

It can be very hard to drink on the bike, even in the best of conditions, but you gotta do it. I'm impressed with your perseverence through incredibly rough weather. Set that same grit and drive to ensuring you get the nutrients and hydration you need.

zbsports said...

Great race report...very clear and lovely...keep posting good sport reports...I will visit you blog always...^_^