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Ironman Hawaii: Having fun at the front

Posted By: MarkyV
Date: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, at 3:03 p.m.

It's long... :)

Read it here http://www.trimarkyv.blogspot.com

or here...

Why couldn’t the distance between Marathon and Athens have been only 10 miles?

The title alone should tell you where this is going. But really this report is more about the summation of one helluva great season then just simply the good race that I had Saturday.

After 5430 Long Course I set about increasing frequency as well as volume on the bike and run. My Olympic/Half training from the first part of the year is great at making one faster but leaves one a little short of the durability needed for an Ironman. I got three 57+ mile run weeks in and considering that I’ve run further than 50 miles only once in my life prior to this (and which set me back with a weeks worth of illness) this was quite the undertaking… all the while NOT decreasing the bike volume. So the prep was good and the racing throughout the season seemed promising for a good effort in the lava fields.

I got to the Big Island late_ on Monday night and crashed right away. I stayed with my friends Lori and Teresa, with whom I’d had a blast with on the Big Kahuna trip, for the first 2 days as my parents were not to arrive from Hilo till Thursday. Ran around quite a bit Tuesday and Wednesday with typical pre-race logistics as well as some delivery work for Xterra and the Speedsuits we were to debut here at the race. Each night I was pretty exhausted and knew that come Thursday/Friday I had_ to chill out and lay low.

Got a quick swim, bike, run in on Thursday morning then moved into the Royal Kona and just kicked back and relaxed for the remainder of the day. Had a nice dinner Thursday night with some friends then settled in for a good sleep. Friday morning was a 20/20/10 S, B, R then a good breakfast at Lava Java (of course!) and then resting at the room for the day. A light dinner with a sunset with the ‘rents at Rio’s across from the Royal Kona and I was all set for a great race.

Had set the alarm for 4:45 but was already awake by 4:15 and got a little bit of breaky down (bagels, yogurt and coffee) before hitching a ride to the start. Check in was fast and uneventful and by 5:45 I was at my rocket errrr bike getting it ready for launch. Hung out and chatted with many friends that I so rarely get to see in person and then moseyed on down to the start with 20 minutes to spare. Slipped into my XTERRA Speedsuit, chatted with Stanton for a bit and then hopped into the clear waters of Kailua Bay.

It’s Game Time.

Warmed up a bit as I made my way to the start line and, once there, asserted myself in the front center. I did not wishing to deal with the beatings that typically occur when one starts closer to the pier. Relaxed and did my best to float and ignore the nervous folks surrounding me and waited patiently, always looking for the surf boards to turn with us… at which point it would only be seconds before the cannon would sound. The boards turned, my senses went on high alert and my vision became very_ clear. BOOM!!! And we’re off_!

I set out at a strong pace but nothing that I would classify as “tough”. No need to become winded this early with a 9+ hour day ahead. I quickly became the front runner and could see that the pier group was not moving as fast as we were and that a lead was already forming. At this time I also was getting HAMMERED by a dude to my left. After juking a bit to lose him off my shoulder to no avail I had had enough and turned hard to the left and cut him off causing him to pause and giving me just_ enough time to start forming a gap. I hate it when people think that they’re back in their water polo daze when the gun goes off in a tri. I had not planned on being in front from the gun so was kind of in a different position than that of my original plan. I swam fairly comfortably to the half way point and did my customary roll over and wave to the sail boat there. Started laughing as the boat went nutz with my mid race antics. : )

As I started my way back to the pier I began picking off some of the pro wave and also noticed the strong_ current that was pulling me off the buoy line and against my effort back to the exit. I increased my effort a little bit as it felt at times that I was on a treadmill or swimming in a stream. Looking down, the sea floor only seemed to creep away underneath me at a snails pace. Finally I got back to the pier and once inside its leeward side could feel my pace in the water increase. I could hear the roar of the crowd as I came into the swim exit at Dig Me Beach and started going over T1 in my head. Out of the water I slipped thru T1, only stopping to drop my suit, cap and goggles in the tent and then onward to my bike. Number belt, salt and gels in the pocket, glasses, helmet, GO! Quick little leap up onto my rocket ship underneath the Banyan tree and I sped off toward hot corner.

I slipped into my shoes as I raced out of town on Kuakini but then hit some HARD bumps and lost two of my flasks. Not wanting to be looking for gel hand ups all day I went back and retrieved the one I could find and set off again. 20 seconds at most and a small price to pay. I settled in and proceeded to roll thru town doing my best to settle down from the swim and start to hover around my “in town watts”. Hot corner was AWESOME… so many people out there. Once out onto the Kueen-K ;-) I began to start looking and feeling for my race watts. It took a while before I eventually got down to this but I was feeling good and, knowing that my goal watts were on the waaay conservative side of my abilities, I felt I was in okay shape. About half way through the construction zone I looked up to see the Swiss Miss herself about 100m up the road. In the next instant she put her head down (tail fin on aero helmet goes up) and then BAM! Airborne! It was a nasty spill and the moto that was trailing her stopped immediately. As I flew by she was buried beneath her bike with the media farm truck, filled with photo journalists, snapping away madly. Not a really cool way for the 6 time lady champ to have to leave the race.

Onward down the highway…
The trip out was pretty uneventful. I chatted with a few of the WPROs that I passed and encouraged Des when I went by. The view of Mauna Kea is always special and even more so on race day. At Kawaihae we were greeted with a small group of spectators and amongst them a few friends. It was funny, anytime I rolled through a crowd at a slower pace it was inevitable that I would hear… “Hey, that’s the first age grouper.” : )

Through town and on to Hawi we rolled. I slowly began moving through the lead women’s field, handing out kudos as I went by. Having the helicopter overhead was really COOL! Can’t wait for the NBC coverage! The wind, as we approached Hawi, was ripping pretty nicely. I tucked down tight and low and kept it steady up the hill. Got to see Lieto flllly_ by then followed by the pack. TJ was kickin’ some A$$ sitting just off the back by about 20 seconds or so. Up to the turnaround and screeeeeeaming back down the hill. Started closing in on 50 mph on the descent. The wind was nearly straight at our backs with not much gusting cross so handling was not as bad as I had thought it might be. They actually have an aid station in the midst of this “hyperspace” run… why? I have no_ idea_. I did try_ to snag a bottle but pulled my hand back at the last moment fearing what might happen if I actually did latch on to it. Back down through the rollers I finally caught up with Leanda Cave and a few dudes that were rolling with her. As I set about passing this group the TV car pulled up and started doing a little bit of filming. We’re talking 5-7 seconds worth. I pulled back and free wheeled. Once done I motored off only to have one of the refs come up to me and lambaste me for drafting the car. Whatever dude. Why don’t you stop pinging people for “polite” infractions (mom told me not to walk in front of people taking pictures. ;-) and go after the multitudes of “Saturday morning group rides” going on 10-15 minutes behind me. It never ceases to amaze me here. Just like last year… I know more people that got blocking and “other” penalties then those that got dinged for drafting. The penalty tents went mostly unused on race day.

Once back on the QK I began to feel the heat and was happy to find that the bottles being handed up had some good chill to them. These I would pour through the hole in my aero helmet with quite a shock. DAMN that stuff was c-c-c-c-cold!!! Kept fueling and drinking and salting. The trip home can be pretty boring. The highlights were the huge crowds at the resort entrances and the aid stations. The volunteers were great and their energy was fantastic.

Cruising back to hot corner was a rush! As I rolled in I was announced as the first amateur and the crowd went firkin’ NUTZ!!!! I had a BIG grin on my face and reacted to their jubilations only to get an even bigger roar out them. The pier was rockin’ too as I hoped off and made my way to the changing tent. Once inside I made a bee line for the ice towel tub where I dove head first in half way down my chest. HOLY COW THAT WAS COLD!!!! I think my core temp dropped 3 degrees doing that. : ) Dumped my bag and set about getting ready for the run. The best part was my CEP socks. No, I did not get the idea to wear these just this week. I’ve been doing my long runs and track workouts in them since late June. After my first long run in them I was quite certain that I would race them in Hawaii. Thanks Chris!

Out of the tent and onto Palani. Going up the hill the crowds were just going nutz. I don’t think I’ve ever been subjected to such a roar in my life. At the same time as I was taking this all in I had the outward look of concentration upon my face. I was try_ing_ not to go too fast out of the gate, but it was as if the crowd would not have it to see my run slow through town. Turning onto Kuakini I kept my focused look going till, maybe 150m down, I saw Barry and Jodee Siff. I couldn’t fake it past them, no way. I bust out into a big smile as Barry jumped out to give a high 5. They are sooooo awesome!!! : ) Finally my GPS picked up and to my horror I was running 6:05’s… I do NOT_ want to know what I had been running leaving T2. Yeesh!!! I did everything I could to slow it down and by mile 1 had finally backed the pace off to 7:05-7:15. I was satisfied with this and knew that with walking the aid stations (to absolutely assure myself of proper hydration) that 7.30’s would be about the mile splits. HR settled in and aerobically and digestively I began to feel pretty good. My back in T2 had felt a bit tight and I was a little concerned but after the excitement of Kailua Town I couldn’t even feel it.

On down Alii I cruised. I was careful to make every aid station count and keep my pace in check on the little hills and make sure the HR wasn’t going anywhere erratic. It was during this time that I began to realize that my back was tightening up in a similar fashion to when I tore a disc 18 months ago and suddenly I had a new fear in the picture. Hit the turn around still feeling good but chatted with Glynn a bit about the back situation. He mentioned a shorter stride and this quickly alleviated some of the problems. On my return to town I actually began to feel even better (recall “better” is a VERY relative term in an IM… especially a HOT one). Keeping Matt’s words in mind I did not try to do anything during the good spells but rather just held it steady and kept motoring. Saw Mike, M.Given and Sergio at about mile 7.5 and felt a little lift. They were hanging out in the shade and I was doing my best to do the same. The heat on Alii did not feel all that bad and I thought that maybe this meant that the QK would be cooler than I recall it being in the past. Past the Royal Kona, and Dana and Dave and my parents and G, I kept moving. Looking at the video my Dad took at this point I look pretty good (recall my “good” form is most people’s crap form… uh… Bobby?). I received one more injection of craziness as I came through hot corner, but this was short lived as I hit the grade on Palani and would have my back go into total revolt. I walked to the top and by then it was fully locked up. I lost my OA amateur lead on the way up but that was the least of my concerns. I was close to tears. It was one of those choke back moments where your jaw does that wobble on its own. I didn’t know if I should pull out or keep going. Should I just drop now and be humiliated and do some back lifts and go do IMFL as a pro? I hit mile 10 at an even 7:30 pace average and really wanted to keep going (at the time aerobic and fuel was still good) but my back just hurt so much and I feared what my happen (possible torn disc) should I continue. I knew that these events were all my own doing. I stopped doing my core work in July and still did two great half IM’s with no issues. It never acted up on long rides but I should have known and just kept up my gym visits.

So there I am waddling down the QK. I spoke with Jaime and decided to keep going. He’s been in the low back problem cat in the past. I would start running whenever it loosened up enough but then walk when it got too tight. I stopped at an aid station and downed some ibu and stretched a bit. It was about this time (mile 12-14 or so that the fuel situation ended any hopes of coming back. I had raced well but it seems that in the future the limiter will be keeping the fuel tank in good shape. I started going to going coke and was thrilled at the boost it gave me. This on again, off again, walk, run, bonk, cola cycle continued for pretty much the remainder of the race. I got to see Denny fly by me on his way to an absolutely stellar race. Billy came by not too much later and we chatted for a bit as I was feeling a bit better at the time. My main training bud, BDC, caught me in the Energy Lab while I was in a really bad spot and I couldn’t stay with him for more than a few steps.

Finally made it back to town and took the plunge down Palani. Saw many of the people that had given me kudos throughout the day and nearly stopped to thank some of them. Around hot corner one last time and out to Hualalai. Pounded down to Alii and slowed a bit to force myself to take a mental picture of all that was going on around me. The crowd was great coming into the finish. Onto the carpet and up the ramp and it was over.

Needless to say it was quite anti-climactic to the way the day started but I was happy to be done. I learned a lot. How the race unfolds, how well I really can do in the heat, what fueling (or at least keeping the fuel system belt moving) feels like for all day and much more.

On the athletic side I look forward to putting in some serious time on the run over the winter months, working on my form, and increasing my volume and durability. We’ve got a great group in Boulder (and elsewhere) that’s going to be working towards the 3M half marathon in Austin. I’ll also be working on increasing the coaching business, making a swim technique DVD, getting the chance to work and help out with some Masters swim coaching, possibly dive into a completely new endeavor and plotting out my schedule for my first pro season next year.

Going to hang out in Kauai for a bit (it’s been raining for 6+ hours straight now) and then can’t wait to get back to Boulder for some fall hiking and getting the chance to do all those things that I didn’t do during the season because I was too busy training. The future looks exciting and I can’t wait to dive in. It’s been a great year and I am looking forward to the next.

Mahalo and Aloha.

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