Friday, June 27, 2008

Impressions of Ironman

It's hard to know where to start, now that it's done. How many times can I reiterate the fact that Coeur d'Alene is drop-dead beautiful? I doubt, with the race day conditions, there is a better place to do the Ironman. I'm sure, however, I'll look for a place over the years to come.

So I swam the thing in 1:34 - what makes that incredible is that, folks, I really didn't do much swim training. I had an open water swim of 1:52, and then a pool swim of 1:41 at the distance - I really was hoping for a 1:45 or better - how it happened I have no idea. The draft? Probably. Not sighting, ever? Probably helped too. Oh, don't get me wrong, I had plenty of activity in the scrum - just because I was "the.bigun", I didn't get any respect. I even had my swim cap knocked off. That's NEVER happened before. It was rough out there, but really, in my pea brain I knew that as long as it was rough, I was catching a draft - even though my tendency was to swim out away from the scrum line, I fought that urge and stayed in the mix. Probably helped my split.

The last 1k meters I totally had to go. #2. That also may have helped my swim split. I didn't hear any announcement of my name as I exited. All I wanted was out of my suit and into a port-o-potty. I was dying thinking of the minutes wasting away but I finally emerged, victorious, and off to the changing tent I ran. Nekked Bigun. Oh, and there was some serious shrinkage - but other than Bolder, I really wasn't out to impress anyone. I seriously - read "very, very much" - over-chamois-creamed my bibs, and it really did not feel that great once the shorts were in position. The sacrifices we make....

My bike was LONELY on its rack, as usual after any triathlon swim that I participate in - which brings me to my first IMCDA gripe - a total lack of race clocks on the course. I would have been AMPED had I known I crushed my swim goal, but instead, my lonely self was just content to be done with it. A surprising 9:54 T1 (I really thought I took more time purging) on a goal of 5 min, and I was off on the bike.

Now I was certainly ready for the CdA bike course. I put in 5 Century Rides in the months leading up to the race - confidence was high. Perhaps a bit too high! It took my Garmin 1 mile to finally read the satellites, and after all the stats finally popped up, my HR was about 155. Way higher than I planned! It was flat, and usually after the swim my HR is elevated, so I worked to bring it down by calming myself, taking deep breaths and slowing a bit. Just in time for the first hill. Now I'm looking at HR's over 160 - and I had told myself that I just would not do that no matter what. Oops.

I really didn't do much hill riding - ok, lets call it what it is - mountain climbing - here in Florida. Even in the hillier parts of the area I live in, there is little that resembles the 5 or 6 major "climbs" of the CdA course. On one of those climbs, one of the crowd cheered, "great work, there, big guy!" - and it made me think... "hey, this is Ironman! I'm supposed to be WORKING at this, not sitting back and taking it easy!". By the end of the first 56 mile loop, I was feeling it. I probably went out way too hard. Coming back into town, I totally planned on taking it easier on the 2nd loop. Then, almost exactly 1 mile from the bike special needs turnaround spot, something interesting happened. I saw Taconite Boy. He was "merely" 2 miles ahead of me. I stopped real quick to pee (no, I just could not get myself to squeeze it out while riding....) and put myself into chase mode.

Now I know that's kinda uber competitive of me, 254lb Bigun, to pick on skinny little 180lb TacBoy like that. But truthfully, at that point, I needed a spark. I didn't pick up my pace, I just didn't fade. Well....fade much that is. Those climbs the second time around were done in the smallest rings possible, and I'm sure they were slower than the first go-around. I did not spike my HR this lap and kept myself under 160 for most of the ride, even on the big efforts. Up at the next turnaround, Tac was about the same distance from me, maybe a quarter-mile closer. "He has to fade sometime" was all I could think, and my strength, the flats that were also into the wind, were coming up.

I passed a bunch of folks in those last 12 miles heading into town, folks shaking their heads as the wind beat them after 6 or 7 hrs of riding. But I did not pass Taconite. He entered T2 4:46 ahead of me - I certainly gained ground, but couldn't catch my podcasting partner. Great ride, Tac, and thanks for that 2nd loop! I got'er done in 6:26:59 for an average speed of 17.37 mph. Goal was to be "better than 7 hrs", and a 6:30 was my ultimate best-ever, all great day. Wow.

Sitting down to change into my run gear, all I could wonder was, "where am I gonna find 26 miles in me?". Another truth: I'd never run off of my centuries - I was venturing into uncharted territories (as well as that 112 mile ride was my longest ever) and a little bit worried. I looked left and right and saw lots of dudes just sitting there, holding their heads in their hands, resting or thinking the same thoughts. That catalyzed me, and I just methodically put my run clothes on with the help of a volunteer (who put my shirt on backwards....way!) and got the hell out of that tent....into another port-o-pottie. Only #1 this time. T2: 6:51

The first 13 miles sucked royally. After 2 miles, my stomach went south, and stayed there no matter what I tried. I walked. Lots and lots of walking. Momo caught me right away at mile 3. Then Bolder and Spokane Al smacked me down at mile 10. Greyhound zoomed by at mile 11 or so. I tried bananas, pretzels, water, Gatorade - none worked. I stumbled into run special needs and grabbed my long sleeve shirt, knowing that it would get cold, especially if I was still walking. I remembered, all of a sudden, advise from Bolder - drink Coke at mile 13 and never go back - it will help. So I started drinking Coke and taking in a gel or two. Ta-da!!!! My tummy was all better! Strange how fast it took. Should I have started with it earlier? Don't know - but you can bet that next time I'll try it!

So shortly after mile 13 (pun intended), Greyhound runs by me again and he says, "You're reeling me in, Bigun!" - and he's about 2 miles ahead of me, and for the first time I feel great. I thought, "you know, you can turn this around. you can negative split this marathon. you may even catch Grey....". I vowed then and there to only walk the aid stations. Weird thing - I started to pass people. After 13 miles of getting passed by EVERYONE - the.bigun now has a wake. I certainly was not moving fast, just faster than before. There was pain, but I had energy. Energy is everything - you can overcome pain with energy.

I really wish I had a 13 mile split for you, but IMCdA did not post run splits. Gripe #2. Along with gripe #1, ie, not having any clocks on the course, my only timepiece was the sun - and sunset was around 8:30. The sun was getting low in the sky - I knew I wouldn't finish in daylight. But running I still was, and ticking off the miles better than in any back half of a marathon I'd ever run. The feeling of only 5, then 4, THEN 3 miles to go is almost indescribable. Elation is a good word for it. Relief. Psyched out of your mind. I started seeing folks heading out for their 2nd laps with glow-rings around their necks - for a second there I was wondering if I was going to get one....

At 2 miles I could hear Mike Reilly announcing finishers in the distance. Since the finish line was one of the coolest experiences ever in the history of "HARD THINGS THAT MARC aka BIGUN HAS DONE" - I'll save that for later.

22 comments:

Sarah said...

This is so awesome to read. I can't wait for the finale. Man, I was cheering all day long for all of the bloggers out on that course - but Bigun, I was cheering the loudest for you. Because now you guys have to change your podcast intro. Woohoo!!!!

TriSherpa Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

I still get all teary when I think about your finish!

ShirleyPerly said...

That's right, Iron Bigun from now on! Great to hear how well your swim & bike went and the run too, after mile 13. Look forward to the finale!!

Kevin said...

Great story about your even greater accomplishment. Cant wait to hear about the finish

left.right.repeat said...

Awesome post IronBigun...congratulations.

21stCenturyMom said...

WAy to go BigUn! I didn't see you out there much but I did see your finish. Fabulous!

Brittany M. said...

Just listened to your Ironman Cometh podcast on my way to Lubbock for the Buffalo Springs 70.3....it was great and I will be listening faithfully in the future. In the podcast I caught the USMA reference as your alma mater--so from one grad to another, major congrats on an awesome race--great job Ironman!

Spokane Al said...

Way to go big guy!

At 254 pounds you are definitely the triathlon answer to the eternal question, "With that body and those wings, how the heck can a bumblebee fly?"

Jumper 2.0 said...

Awesome post .bigun


I agree about the run splits. It also sucked for those of us watching you from home. Why not have run splits? Didn't make sense.

J-Wim said...

Yeah, we bitched about the run splits too- makes for a long marathon watching from home and sipping diet coke while lying on the sofa..... (feeling sorry for me? I thought so!)

Great RR, thank you for not describing #2 in more detail ;-)
Loved watching ya finish, that was awesome!

Taconite Boy said...

Well done Iron buddy! The new intro is ready to go....hehehehe

Duane said...

You are the man!

Dan Seifring said...

Dude your going to leave us hanging like that?

Great job Big. It was great tracking you all day.

Jenny Davidson said...

Awesome!

Cindy Jo said...

GREAT JOB BIGUN!!! I'm so happy for you! Time to enjoy the rest of the summer with your lady!

Oh, and they make these things called WATCHES...

CoachLiz said...

Great Race Report!

Keep it coming, I want the Finish Line experience. Oh, and did you get your glo-necklace???

TriBoomer said...

Hey IRON Bigun!

Check out yourself finsihing at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAgLiL4xz8g

Stay tuned...

TRI-ROB said...

It was the eggs.

Proud of you buddy. You fought hard all day... REALLY fun to watch!

Breathe...

TRI-ROB said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Supalinds said...

WOW! Great race report. Bigun, you did fantastic out there!! I was so happy when I saw you on th run (and the pic we have of you coming out of the shitter, explains your feelings and stomach pains for the first half).

You should be proud! Awesome race.

Can't wait to read the rest.

Lana said...

Oh wow!!! Bigun, that is so awesome. You came back after the first half of the run and found energy and finished like a rockstar! I am so inspired...and so thankful for the tip on Coke. ;)

IronTriTim said...

Sorry for the delay Bigun. Congratulations! Changing tents.. more nakedness than is explainable!
BTW how long did your garmin run before the battery died?