Swim: 1:03.21 (Nineteen Rogue SS)
Bike: 4:58.42 (4min penalty incl.) (Scott Plasma 3 Premium, ZIPP 404/808 clinchers, latex tubes, Zipp Tangente 21(f)/23(r) tires)
Run: 3:09.28 (Newton Distance S)
Nutrition: ~1200cals of UCAN (bike only) & 400-500 cals of GU Roctane (run only) & roughly 8-9oz Coke after the Energy Lab.
5th in M35-39AG
|I now have a collection!|
There are still lots of thoughts bouncing their way through my head at this point, but I’d like to get some notes of the race down on paper before they vanish into thin air. Last year’s performance in Kona goes down as one of my best race performances. I remember feeling like the race was easy on my way to a 3rd place finish in the M35-39AG. This year brought some interesting changes and challenges which I’ve mentioned here plenty of times over the last 12 months:
*Our son born last fall.
*Several months of questions about my health as it relates to melanoma.
*As a result of the uncertainty of what the three things above presented, I decided it would be best to take the reigns of my coaching & training plan after having worked with MarkyV over the prior two seasons.
The season went really well with PRs in the 5K (sub-16 at Carlsbad 5000), 10K (sub-34 at Bolder Boulder), AG wins at Eagleman 70.3 (KQ), Boulder Sprint and Boulder 70.3. I wanted to prove that last year’s race in Kona wasn’t a fluke and that I could remain competitive at the Ironman distance. I knew that with the two top guys from the age group returning, fast guys who aged up this year and returning athletes who had raced fast here in the past, it would be a very competitive race.
I spent the week prior to the race pretty much holed up in the condo, not doing much with my longest workouts of the week being a 50-minute ride on Monday and a 40-minute run through the Energy Lab on Tuesday. Everything else was 30 minutes or less. Tuesday brought an unexpected wrinkle when my lower back really tightened up. An emergency bodywork session with Todd (along with some aspirin) and I was starting to feel back to normal by Thursday afternoon and by Friday I was feeling pretty damn awesome.
So there’s your preface to the race.
Race morning came after a very, very sound sleep. I woke up at 3a and laid there for a half hour or so before whipping up some pancakes and oatmeal and my first cup of coffee in a week. I would have to say I felt fabulous.
Per usual, I lined up way far left. I’m not such a fan of contact while swimming, so lining up out here gives me the best opportunity to get through the swim unscathed and able to find and maintain a rhythm. I felt strong the whole way through the swim – no fatigue, no contact, some feet here and there to pull me along and my lower back felt great…no tightness, no nothing. I came out of the water feeling strong and less fatigued than I ever have. The water was a bit more choppy than last year, so coming out 40 seconds slower than in ’11 wasn’t anything to get all concerned about. After looking at the rankings, I actually finished higher in the AG in the swim than a year ago although with a slower time…in the end, quite happy with the effort.
A touch slower than last year due to the fact I took a little extra time to lather on some (a lot) Planet Sun sunscreen on my neck, arms and shoulders. As a result, I don’t have any burns anywhere.
I had been riding stronger than last year, so I was interested to see what the day would bring while in the saddle. The first several miles saw its share of madness with a crowded course and some aggressive riding by the boys, especially on the climbs. Once onto the Queen K, I was moving my way up the field without trying to push too hard.
About an hour into the ride, I felt like I had cleared my way through most of the mess of riders only to get swallowed up by a pack of about 50 riders. Once this happened, a lot of us were looking around and talking at each other like “this is nuts.” I spent the next 10-15 minutes trying to figure out what to do…get spit out the back, work my way to the front, hide in the middle… I made a couple of efforts to get to the front but realized that this was probably going to destroy my race with the power surges so I would move my way back into the pack and drop back while getting pulled along. It was a mess. Add to this that people were both down in their aero bars and sitting up, it was a recipe for a huge crash. I made one more effort to try to get to the front in the hopes that one of the upcoming climbs would break things up a bit. I ended up getting stuck behind someone on the far left of the lane. No room to the right for either of us…and if I move left, I’m crossing the yellow line. So I’m trapped in drafting hell at the exact moment that an official comes up and offers me a red card. Fan freaking tastic.
|A rare moment in the first 25 miles when I didn't have anyone within 5 feet of me.|
I spent the next couple of minutes cursing WTC and thinking my race is over. Stupid world championship races being affected by pack riding is what I was thinking. “Screw this…I’m never coming here again.” That thought was soon replaced with “well, maybe I should just spend the next season on getting my swim to 58 minutes or better…or better yet, turn pro and be guaranteed an empty course.”
So many thoughts were racing through my head. I let that pack go while I simmered a bit heading into the penalty tent, which was a ZOO. It seemed like there were only 3 volunteers at this tent and everyone was yelling in every language imaginable. It was taking forever to get numbers and names taken down and at one point, the rider next to me was holding three stopwatches all reading different elapsed times for his penalty. It was madness. At least I pressed the lap button on my Garmin when I rolled in so I could get an accurate count of my time spent there. Otherwise, it might have been 5-6 minutes before being set free.
Once I was back riding again, I let out a nice scream just to get rid of some frustration and let the next pack that came through go by. I needed to start riding MY race. I never saw another pack after that and was able to concentrate on what I was doing.
The ride from the start to the turnaround in Hawi yielded virtually the same power numbers and elapsed riding time (ie: not including 4 minutes in the penalty tent) as last year. I put in a solid effort for the last 10K up to Hawi at about 15 watts higher than I had been riding up to that point.
I grabbed my special needs bag and picked up two bottles of fresh UCAN with 360 cals each.
Once on the descend back to the Queen K, I was feeling as good as I ever have from a physical and mental perspective at this point in the race. My legs felt fresh and my stomach felt great. I knew that the most crucial part of the ride was coming up: the section from Kawaihae to the airport on the Queen K. I’ve usually had the power fall off a bit here in the past. Plus, this is where the unrelenting headwind and heat start to really become a factor.
The field was starting to thin out a bit and I was no longer getting passed…I was the one doing all of the passing now. I rode the section from Hawi to Kawaihae about 90 seconds faster than last year on about 20 more watts.
Once onto the Queen K, I started rolling…and I mean rolling. I was working my way through what I thought was the front of the AG field. I passed Adam Zucco and Tim Hola out here – two guys I have never passed while on the bike at this race…and I was still feeling great. I even passed a couple of strong local guys from Colorado who were also swept up from the earlier pack, so that just increased my confidence. As an indication of how much harder this section of course was in relation to last year, I rode the section from Kawaihae to the airport in the exact same time (1:10) on 13 more watts (231 in ’11 vs. 246 in ’12) on an arguably faster bike (Trek TTX in ’11 vs. Scott Plasma 3 Premium in ’12).
Coming off the bike, I was still under 5 hours including the penalty. Not too bad I thought…a quick comparison showed that ’11 riding time was 90 seconds faster than ’12 riding time with a wattage comparison of 236NP in ’11 to 244NP in ’12. Tough day out there!
Two seconds faster than last year. BAM!
This is where my races are usually made where most others go to die. It took a mile or two for my legs to feel normal and was still able to put down sub-7minute pacing, which was the realistic goal for the race. I figured 3:00-3:03 would be expected for the day.
The first 10 miles were on point, coming through in 1:09.45 with all of them coming in at 6:55-7:02. It was also during this section where I got an update that I came off the bike in 8th in the AG. EIGHTH! Last year, I was 25th off the bike. With this knowledge, I knew all I had to do was be smart and execute and things would fall into place.
Once out onto the Queen K, the pacing really dropped. But it wasn’t to the point where I was in panic mode as I was still passing and not being passed. So although the pace was slowing, I was still moving up through the field. It wasn’t until through the Energy Lab where I started to move backwards. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had moved my way into 3rd in the AG. I thought that at best, I had made my way to fifth. But with the drop of Sami, I was higher than I thought. On the Queen K, I was passed pretty quickly by Sam Hume and Chuck Sloan and was in serious damage control mode. I thought that I might have been 6th or 7th at this point but my mind was in a fog so numbers were just swirling in my head.
It wasn’t until I was passed again at about mile 23 or 24 by another guy in my AG that I just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The good news is that this most recent pass, although quick and decisive, didn’t yield much more than that. He never put more than 20-30 feet on me through the top of Mark and Dave Hill, and it was obvious we were both struggling. I got gapped pretty good coming down Palani and might have been 150-200 feet down. But I tried to be cautious on the decent so that my quads wouldn’t seize up. Back on to Kuakini, I needed to commit to letting this guy beat me or go deep and see what I had left for the last mile. I thought to myself that if this guy beats me for a podium spot, I wouldn’t be able to live with it if I didn’t try to do anything about it. I started to push a little and could sense that I was getting closer. He looked real bad and I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I could catch him by the finish. It wasn’t until the turn to the decent of Hualalai when I was really able to turn up the gas and make the decisive re-pass as we turned on to Ali’t Drive with about 1/3 mile left in the race. In the end, I put 27 more seconds on him in that last stretch on Ali’i. I didn’t know it until I was getting a post-race massage, but that final pass WAS for fifth place and a second straight Umeke Bowl.
My 5th IM World Champs is in the books. It certainly goes down as the most satisfying.
If there’s one thing that I learned out there on Saturday, that it’s that you CAN let huge packs go by and still have a good race if you execute your plan.