Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Paradise Lost (Part1 of 2: the race report)

And so Ironman Augusta has came and went, and my showing there was nothing to write home about. No special performance, and no horror story blow up... just a quiet appearance and disappointing, mediocre finish. However, we can learn more from a bad day than we can from a good day (as it requires much more self examination...and in the end growth) so let's get right into it.

It didn't start on a good note. About a week before the race they released swim waves. Wave 20?!? Seriously? M25-29 were starting as the last male wave, over an hour after the pro's went off. Jeez. Last year we weren't first or anything, but last?? Oh well, just more people to pass (cue ominous music for the first time)

My taper was uneventful, and the trip down to Augusta (Aiken actually) was also not worth much mention. My mother and I (how's that for English lessons) drove down in a little under 6 hours and got checked in pretty early. After sign in they exit you out into the Ironman Shop. Ok... well, my mom wanted a shirt and I wanted a poster so what's the harm. As we're walking out a shirt catches my eye so I go to check out whats on the other side of it. Splayed in giant letters is "FINISHER." Holy SH#*(@, I drop it immediately (unceremoniously on the floor) but the damage was done.

- Rule #1 of a race. NEVER, EVER touch, pick up, or even look at anything that says finisher on it until you've already finished it. Even if you've finished it before.

Keep it away!

On Saturday my Grandparents and Dad were driving down. About halfway my dad's car broke down (leave it to him... 30 cars on our car lot and he drives the one with 300k miles on it) and my grandparents had went a different route. After waiting on a wrecker for a few hours he decides he's had enough tom foolery and just packs it in and heads home as opposed to trying to make the drive back on no sleep. It sucks, but he let me know at least he got all the mechanical trouble out of the way for me. Then it's a quick drive of the course and checking the bike in.
UT didn't have a good weekend

I get a short run in, meet up with the grandparents, and we all go out to dinner. Then I turn into bed fairly early... despite being forced to miss "Tombstone" on TV (the sacrifices we make!)

Evidently Mr. Morelock's an educated man. Now I really hate him.

 Race Day arrives as you'd expect... with a blaring alarm.Nothing to shock the nervous system into working like 6 different devices going off like it's Defcon 4. I'm up and start taking in my breakfast. I'd go over it here, but nutrition is so personal that it's somewhat pointless.

The Following is pretty much a copy pasta from my race report on (link here, it's a tiny bit different I guess)

When I got to Transition that morning there was quite a bit of dew on the bike. I noticed the tape I had stuck to my trispoke to cover the valve hole was a bit loose, but figured it would stick or just fall off at the worst. All ready to rock and roll. I ended up in my wetsuit pretty early in the morning as it was noticeably cold (I had chills) standing there. We do some joking in the wave, and then it's go time.

The Swim - 27:26 (27:48 last year)

 Well, it's difficult to predict what I "wanted" to do. Last year my swim was pretty close to the same time, but with a stronger current. I had hoped that with similar current I would be closer to 24 minutes with the increase in swim speed I've had. That said, looking at the move in overall placing (almost 200 spots better) I assume that I was quicker, but the current was slower.

The swim itself was fairly uneventful. The beginning was pretty physical, moreso than usual. I never really found a good pair of feet to draft off of, and on a few occasions trying to find some nearly got me hurt... there were lots of different colored caps still floundering around ahead of us, so I would see a kick ahead of me and assume it was somebody in my wave, then have to get out of the way when I realized it was a slower swimmer from the waves before us kicking around. Finally I settled out by myself and the rest of the swim was uneventful. As I came up I saw my watch was at 28 minutes and I kind of had that sinking feeling that it was going to be a hard day at the office.

The Bike - 2:28:24 (2:27:54 last year)

One of the few times I was down in aero for any stretch

 Oh boy. Here is where my day takes a decided turn for the negative.
I come out onto the main highway in Augusta feeling good. There's plenty of people out here, but I expected that coming out of the water... just like last year. About half a mile in I hear an odd noise... kind of like a baseball card stuck in the spokes. I start to panic, thinking I've flatted, or that my derailleur is messed up. Despite the sound, the bike is working fine. Finally I notice that every time my front wheel is spinning around, something is slapping the fork. It takes me a minute until it dawns on me... that friggin tape! How it was not sticky enough to hold onto the side of the wheel, yet sticky enough to get stuck on the tire and slap the fork I will never know. It sounded BAD. Not just bad, but loud as well. I tried to pick it off, but couldn't get it off the tire (even after the race it took me some muscle to peel it off the tire) without risking digits in the spokes. Finally I just accepted the noise and tried to move on.

A few more miles in (about 10) I started to notice something... the crowds weren't thinning out. I would pass 5 or 6 people and another hundred foot there would be another "pack." Even worse, there was rampant "blocking" going on, so I was often having to attempt a pass 2 or 3 people wide. This was killing my time in Aero... as every time someone would pull out in front of me I'd have to brake and sit up and let them complete their pass before I could finish mine. My voice is cracked today from all the "on your left"s I had to repeat.

Here is where I lost it. My goal was Avg watts around 205, with np close to 215, not going above around 270 on hills. Well, as I would look down at my Joule I noticed I was running low (about 183w avg) and so I thought to myself "I'm fine." Well, yeah... if AV and NP were all that mattered I would have been. Unfortunately, I was spending a lot of time passing on hills, but at 300+ watts. I mean, when you are passing a line of 15 people, all you can really do is get past... but I was not cycling smart.

From mile 1 to mile 56 I was never out of a group, and never spent more than a couple of minutes at a time in aero... it was just too dangerous (for me) especially after seeing ambulances go flying by and a cyclist on the side of the road. I rode in the last few miles knowing that 4:30 wasn't happening.

The Run - 1:56:12 (1:44:33 last year)
Two DeSoto suits in a row. My craptastic form

Just putting down the time it took me was embarrassing. I ran the same course nearly 13 minutes faster last year with a bum hamstring and in the blazing heat. My garmin did a great job of letting me know I was going to slowly every couple of minutes, and I very strongly considered throwing it in the trash... although I restrained myself. I saw my mom on the first loop and she had that "putting on my best face because I know you are getting crushed" look that just made me feel worse. I will say, this was probably the toughest run I've ever gutted out. It's really hard to dig deep when you know your race is already over.

I cruised into the finish line at 4:57:52... over 10 minutes slower than last year in much hotter conditions. To say I felt disappointed would be understatement of the century.

- end of the copy / paste.

So, what went wrong and what went right?

As the swim goes, I don't think anything went wrong. I was faster than last year and the current was considerably less powerful. I'm still not where I want to be in the water, but it was a fine swim for my current abilities.

On the bike... it was just a bad day. Maybe I was too timid, but going down because somebody pulled out in front of me and I couldn't get to the brakes didn't seem like the way to end my season. I'm as happy as I can be with the day... 10 less watts than last year and within a minute of the same time. I did likely blow myself up passing people, but once you start a line long pass, you are somewhat committed.

The run wasn't good. On a good day, a 1:40 would have been possible, but it wasn't a good day. Most of my running weeks have been on 20-30mpw mileage, so I guess there isn't much way to expect a blazing time.

 So that takes us to the end of part 1. In the next update, It'll be less report and more how I'm dealing. I don't have much to report on that now, since basically all I've done is sit on my butt and read / work.

Until Then

- Christopher Morelock

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