We had known for a week that it was going to be hot. Very hot. Forecast varied between 103 and 107. Lots of talk about shortening the race, but in the end, to the surprise of many, and to WTC’s credit, it was a full IM.
Hydrate hydrate hydrate. (Always before an IM, regardless of forecast!) Up many times overnight to pee.
Race start for amateurs was to be 5:45. Got up at 3am and started eating. Two hard-boiled eggs, yogurt w/ granola, banana, English muffin w/ butter. Got to the transition area at 4am just as they opened. Prep, then the usual fret, worry, pace while sipping on a bottle of sports drink.
• Good – everything
• Bad – nothing
Rolling start. Self-seeded. I was near the front, maybe 4 rows back. Start was crowded and slow and full of banging. The first 400 yds was as crowded as any of the 3 mass-start IM swims I’ve done. It finally opened up, and was a fine swim. Two laps, crossing a mat at the beach in the middle.
Midway…starting the 2nd lap
My three fresh water IM swims have all been 59 minutes and change. The surprise this time was that I did it with far less swim training. I rarely did more than 4000 yds a week, and did not have a swim partner to train with (miss you Pete!). Maybe my new long sleeve wetsuit (as opposed to the earlier short sleeve) made up for the minute I would have lost otherwise. But it does reinforce that shifting my training time/effort from swim to bike/run was smart. Time – 59:15. AG place – 4th.
Done. Headed to transition
• Good – everything
• Bad – nothing
I tripped in the sand after hitting the beach. Only a few secs time lost, but my hands got all sandy and getting them cleaned up took some time. Put on socks and rolled on my arm coolers. At the sunscreen station I was asked where I wanted it. Face and neck please. (wish they had asked about legs ‘cuz I woulda agreed to that.) Then off to the bike.
• Good – most everything
• Bad – A bit slow. And, forgot to get sunscreen on the legs.
I wore my new T1 Stealth jersey. White and sleeved. Designed to be worn over another top on the bike only, but I wore it over bare skin on both swim and bike. Added white arm coolers for the bike. Nutrition plan was:
• 1 Gu per hour (100 calories)
• 1 24 oz Gatorade bottle per hour (150 calories)
• 1 24 oz water bottle per hour
• 9 salt tabs over the duration
Aid stations were every 10-15 miles, so they didn’t line up perfectly with my hourly plan, but I think I stayed on track. I have two bottle holders on my bike…usually one for water and the other for Gatorade. At each aid station I would:
• Finish either the water or Gatorade bottle (alternating water/Gatorade at each station, though I exchanged both at one station)
• Toss the empty bottle
• Pick up a new bottle of whatever I just tossed
Officially, IM Wisconsin is hillier than IMCdA – with more total elevation climbed, but I’d say that IMCdA is tougher. Wisconsin’s hills are more frequent and shorter, and often you can take some momentum into them and get well up the slope before feeling the real effect of the hill. IMCdA has fewer, longer hills…you’re grinding up some of them for a looong time.
Heat started to take effect on the 2nd lap. Just constant hot…no shade anywhere. Made the hills even tougher. One oddity on this ride I’d never experienced: the soles of my feet started hurting/burning late in the ride…not from friction or pressure, but from the radiated heat from the asphalt heating the black carbon soles of my bike shoes. Ouch – but just gotta bear it. As mentioned, I forgot to have sunscreen applied to my legs…80 miles in I felt the burning. Stopped at an aid station to have sunscreen applied.
Total bike time was 5:44 for an avg speed of 19.48. Not bad considering the conditions. 6th in AG for bike alone…left me in 5th at this point getting off the bike.
• Good – Given the heat and hills, bike speed/effort was fine
• Bad – Didn’t pee on the bike. Surprising given that I hydrated well. Was I sweating it out instead? Also, had I saved enough for the run? (always a big question for me).
• Good – not much
• Bad – Pretty slow. Kept shoes on (not thinking) as I dismounted the bike and that made for slow running to the tent. Full garb change was also slow.
I had decided to outfit myself differently for this run in prep for the highest heat of the day.
• White sun hat – good decision
• Loose fitting, sleeved, white sun shirt – bad decision. Tight fitting would have been better. Heck, I was so often watered down that it was against my skin anyway.
• Gel “kool tie.” This gizmo is worn around the neck. It swells up when wet then the evaporation cools you – bad decision. Effect was minimal and I wore this heavy thing on my neck the whole way. Shoulda tossed it when I realized it was no help.
• Loose, short, running shorts – a wash. Perhaps better for running but did take time to put on in T2. Also, the shortness exposed my milky white thighs against my otherwise tanned skin.
• Arm coolers – great decision. In the past I’ve taken these off for the run, but left them on this time
Here started the real challenge. I don’t run well and the conditions (maxed at 105 degrees F) were not going to help. I started at a modest pace and planned to walk the aid stations and hills. At the aid station, I took in water, ice, cola, potato chips, some Gatorade. Also took in about 9 salt tabs over the duration. I put ice into my hat and under my arm coolers so that the ice was pressed against my forearms. Some GI issues on the last half of the run. Gas bubbles causing gut pain. Two porta potty stops. Ugh.
Nearing the finish line, I looked back and saw some dude gaining on me. I started pushing harder. Looked back again and he was still gaining. Rats! Pushed harder. Still gaining! Damn!! Why is he doing this to me? Pushed harder. I did stay ahead of him, but the near-sprint finish caused me some dry-heaving after crossing the finish line – as can be seen in the below pic.
And I found out the dude was only 28. @ssh0le.
Total run time was 4:42 for an avg min/mile pace of 10:47. Ugh. 7th for the AG in the run, leaving me with a total time of 11:39 and 5th place at the end. (The pic shows 11:54 – still on “pro time” for the pros that started 15 minutes before the amateurs.)
• Good – Well, in the end I ran more than I walked.
• Bad – Will I ever be a good runner?
Given the heat, my 11:39 finish is about what I would have expected, and I am pleased with it. But I gotta say I am surprised that four other dudes in my AG beat me. 5 years ago I won my AG at IM Wisconsin with a 10:39. I think I was equally prepared for IMCdA, and, with the tougher course, the heat, and losing a bit of speed/endurance that comes naturally with age, the 11:39 was probably an equivalent effort. But it resulted in “only” 5th place. This reinforces what I had always thought – I got lucky with the competition I faced at IMW10. And maybe I was a little unlucky with the competition in this race. But if that’s really the case, I’ll take it.
My admiration and gratitude to the volunteers, spectators, and people of Coeur d’Alene. They made the race doable. And especially friends Jeff, Mary and Paul and daughter Michelle for making the trip there to spectate and support. And especially especially to head cheerleader and sherpa Cindy.
They took two KQs from from my AG, so no Kona for me this year. Well, I got over that pretty quickly. I’ll focus on shorter races for the next year or two.