Monday, December 23, 2013

Post-Booger and Food Poisoning Running Extravaganza

The gang is skiing up in Flagstaff, so I'm doing the flexible bachelor schedule thing for 48 hours, meaning, when it's still fun.  I had a nice run: home to top of Sabino Cyn and back after work, 14.6 mi with 2,000-ish feet of elevation gain, in just a little over 2hr.  Like many first runs/rides back from idleness, it felt like a bit of an exorcism.

I started out feeling truly crappy, like I was covered in a thick layer of fat and boogers, which makes sense given the last few days.  Didn't get much better, form didn't really click, and I finished feeling like I was covered in a layer of fat, boogers, sweat, and sports drink.  But I finshed pretty strong.  And the views were nice:

Coming down Sabino Canyon:

Almost home.  Ventana Cyn at sunset.  There's a nice hotel there.

Time for dinner in front of the TV.

Friday, December 6, 2013

IMAZ 2013 RR: Sub-10 and Tenth in M45-49!!

10/292 in M45-49, 144/2700-ish overall.  Yep, that's the punch line, and a happy one!

But first things first.  The race itself: If you're reading this not because you have an abiding interest in relatively benign endurance sports-based midlife crises, but because you're considering doing an Ironman, then let me get right to the point: This race is the best, period.  It's a pain in the neck to get into the race, but it's worth it.  IMAZ has moderate temperatures, great race support, a flat course, and a hub airport right nearby.  And if you're local, an M-dot branded IM within driving distance is money in the bank.  Unfortunately, so many people agree with this sentiment.  Many sign up almost two years ahead of time to volunteer a year beforehand instead of paying the $1400-ish dollars for a foundation spot one year in advance.  Try to register 51 weeks ahead of time, and you just may be out of luck.    

There are a few seasoned endurance athletes who grumble that IMAZ is too easy, but that's a hollow argument for just about everybody, and a false dichotomy for most of those who remain.  Doing IMAZ doesn't preclude you from doing Norseman, IM Lake Tahoe, or their ilk.  Soak up IMAZ's flatness, its pleasantness, its SPEED!  

Now to the race itself.


The steed on Triathlete Magazine
 The steed got a little press from:
Unlike last year, I got my gear and life together several days ahead of time.  I didn't go to work on the morning of the final day of check-in.  This saved much anguish.  The only smarter thing I did was not doing the race at the same time as my wife and fellow parent of three children.  Some things seem so obvious in hindsight.  But not flailing around like a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest clearly left me more rested and energized for the race.  A good night's sleep, a bunch of caffeine, and a big bowl of oatmeal also helped.


View of the swim from Karen's Kayak
The swim remains a mass start from the water, preceded by several minutes of bobbing and shivering.  The goal was to get away from the crowds as quickly as possible, but this didn’t really happen.  Prerace visualizations involved majestically soaring to the front of the swim pack with long, smooth strokes.  Reality more closely resembled a mosh pit, more so than the previous year.  The first twenty minutes were bumpy, and I had to deliberately reel myself in, calm down, and slow down.  

Things spread out more, and I got a good amount of open water on the second half.  I finished in 59:46, not as fast as last year, but under an hour. 

T1 was faster than last year, which made up for the slower swim.  I didn’t fool around with compression socks or any other gimmicky nonsense.  Helmet, shoes, stow the wetsuit, go.

Just a little ride. . .
The first of three laps of the bike was about getting loose and settled.  HR was about 6-10 BPM higher than what I’d seen on long rides.  I stayed right at goal wattage, and by the turnaround, I was starting to settle in and feel comfortable.  I’d hoped to crack 5 hours, and the first lap wound up at 1:40.  Right on target.  Nutrition (Infinit Custom) was going down faster than expected, and I worried a little that my elevated HR indicated higher energy consumption and glycogen depletion.  During the second lap, I picked up the extra nutrition bottle from special needs.  

I also noticed that I, and some of my competitors, were picking up “friends,” some of whom kept the required 4 bike length distance, some of whom didn’t.  The shamelessness of some of the drafting I saw amazed me: one woman who wound up winning her age group and punching a Kona ticket, stayed less than a bike length behind the rider in front of her for more than a whole lap.   Another pro did the same.  At any rate, lap #2 went down in 1:38.  Even though I’d been keeping a legal distance, my average power dropped 10 watts for the same speed.  I mused at the energy savings the true wheelsuckers were getting. 

At the turnaround, I spotted the fam and we exchanged cheers, which was heartening.

The sense of impending marathon on lap #3 got me worried.  This led to a couple of decisions—one good, one bad.  I eased off on my pace just a little, which was good, and I sucked down a bunch of nutrition in the last 10 miles, which turned out not to be so good.  I finished in 5:00:38, almost exactly as planned, and 39 tantalizing seconds away from sub-5 hours.

T2: Where you realize that wanting to be done with a 112 mile bike ride and
wanting to run a marathon are not necessarily the same thing. . .
T2 involved a little more fumbling than expected.  The waistpack/hat bundle that had netted me a laser-quick transition at the Soma 70.3 triathlon last month seemed somehow less intuitive, and I got out in 2:28.

Only 4 miles into it, and still running strong.
My previous two Ironman marathons were basically solid three mile transition runs followed by 23 mile sufferfests.  More consistency on long rides and runs this year led me to hope that I could avoid this fate, and run well all the way through.  But I  felt full, sloshy, and heartburn pretty much right away.  Keeping the focus on form, I drank what I could: mostly water.  Infinit was hard to stomach.  This was worrisome  and a little perplexing, as I’d done the same runs and rides with my current fuel in training, without the symptoms I was experiencing.  In hindsight, I’d probably taken in more calories on the bike than I had in training.  .  .  But the first 13.1 went relatively well.  Curry Hill flew by under me, barely noticed.  With a slightly higher than expected HR, I was holding right around 8 minute miles.  Right on target.   It seemed like my goal of going sub-10 hours was in the bag, and I wondered how close I could get to the 9:30 range.

But then I began to slow.  Inability to hydrate or get down calories was catching up with me.  By mile 17, I decided to walk the aid stations so I could drink two waters and cokes at each, in the hope of catching up and getting re-energized.  It helped a little.  The temptation to give up and do serious walking loomed large.  Again, I hadn’t imagined this much of a struggle this soon.  My goals were in peril if not lost.   But it there’s one thing medical residency training has taught me, it’s to carry on as well as possible in less than perfect circumstances no matter how grim things looked.  I set aside my nascent whininess, brought my mind back to technique, and started a gratitude list in my mind.  Still healthy, still married, still employed, still alive.  How bad could any self-inflicted discomfort really be, relative to the pain and misfortune I get to see patients and families experience every day at work?  Soon I was a little happier/weepier/punchier, if not faster. 
The rooting section!

I decided to run through the aid stations at miles 23-25 with minimal hydration.  Not enough fluid might be a problem, but fluid was making me cramp, so I figured it would be a wash.  At mile 25, I finally glanced at the overall time on my watch, which I’d been avoiding for the whole run.  9:48.  1.2 miles in 12 minutes to get to the finish line under 10 hours! I knew if I pushed it, I’d make it. I also knew it would really hurt: I’d kept my pace just below the cramping/nauseous threshold, and this was a deliberate venture into that realm.  Hopefully it wouldn’t backfire.  

But I told myself, Temporary suffering’s got nothing on knowing I could’ve gone sub-10 and didn’t give it my all. . .

I cranked it in pretty hard.  At mile 26, a spectator said that I had three minutes to finish under 10 hours.  I didn’t look at the watch, as I was going as hard as I could, and feeling it.  Coming up towards the chute, my buddy Vince greeted me with a fusillade of shutter clicks and a smile.  I did my best impression of a smile in return.  Turning into the chute, I saw the clock at the finish, mere yards away: 9:58:34.  I was going to make it under 10! As much as it hurt, I ran hard through the finish.  9:58:59!!  I was elated.

Warming up in Medical
The volunteer who helped me sit down afterwards wound up leading me to the medical tent when I began shivering uncontrollably.  I got wrapped up in a blanket and fed chicken soup while he got my morning clothes.  Vince, coach Bill Daniell, and the family visited with me while I warmed up.   Later was an unhinged sushi fest, followed by a well-earned lazy evening.  Mission accomplished!

To take stock briefly: PR by 40 minutes, 30 minutes faster on the run, right on pace for the bike, a hair slower on the swim.  Nutrition was better, but still in need of significant improvement.  Antacids, more nutrition on the bike, less nutrition on the bike. . .it’s not clear to me what’s best.  But the good news is that there’s some chance that I may not have to wait to turn 50 to contemplate a serious run at a Kona slot. . .tune in next year.

Battle scars, or something like that:

Beat up feet
Wetsuit abrasion
Probably got banged during the
swim.  And not a very manly
looking bruise at that.
In closing, I want to thank my wife and our kids for putting up with this nuttiness.  It’s easy to see in retrospect what I asked everyone to give up for a few months, but harder in the moment.  Thanks also to those who helped me get back from a hip fracture 357 days before this race to where I am today: My Orthopedic colleague Dr. Jordan Smith, who fixed it, Dr. Pat Boyle, who too care of me, John Woolf at ProActiv Physical Therapy for getting me going, Melissa Hollmann at Peak Action Physical Therapy for getting the hip loose enough to really perform, Charlie Roach Chinese Medicine for getting the energy flowing again, Brian Grasky for extensive help with running form, Vince and the gang for the online support and numerous laughs, and coach Bill Daniell for designing a plan that did an excellent job of making the most of limited time.