Browsing the blog archives for August, 2017.

Ironman Santa Rosa 2017 Race Report

Race

It’s been a while since I actually did a race report but felt doing another Ironman warranted one.  It’s been 5 years (the last one being Ironman Arizona in 2012) and I’ve been itching to do another Ironman race.  I felt I’m in better shape than I was 5 years ago and had high but reasonable expectations.  Will talk more about that later.

Pre-Race

One complaint I have is how they handled Special Need bags.  They changed it so that athletes were required to drop off both Special Need bags race morning next to the shuttle stops.  It seemed they were requiring athletes to take the shuttle.  For athletes that had accommodations closer to the race start and were going to drive, they were forced to either drive past the race start to go to the Courtyard or not have any Special Need bags.  I ended up talking to race director (I think) to see whether the Special Need bags can be dropped off by family members after the race started.  It seemed other people had the same questions and were fortunately given the green light to have family members drop off the Special Need bags.

Swim – 1:38:50

This is the first race I’ve done in which it was a rolling start.  I was debating on whether to place myself in the 1:20 to 1:30 group or the 1:30 to 1:40 group.  I ended up choosing the latter as I figured the swim isn’t where I was willing to exert myself.  The supposed benefit of swimming with others at the same pace is the likelihood of being able to draft off somebody a bit faster than you.  Maybe it’s a combination of me not knowing how to draft properly and never having done it before but no drafting happened for me.  What I did find was that it was a lot more crowded than I was used to.  With regular age group starts, I am usually swimming by myself as others are faster than me.  Since the rolling start grouped us all together, I found myself stopping several times due to overcrowdedness.  Got punched and kicked several times but I was able to dole some out too (unintentionally).

I had issues with sighting on the first lap due to glare from the sunrise and felt that contributed to me swimming all over the place.  Since it was a two loop race that required the athletes to get out of the water, cross the timing mat and then get back in, I was worried how my body was going to react with standing up after swimming for 45 minutes and then getting back in the water.  It didn’t affect me as much as I thought it would so it was all good.  I did see an athlete start going up T1 after the first loop, go up a bit and then run back down to the water.  Glad he remembered he had to swim 2 loops before it was too late.  Marilyn mentioned that they did see somebody else get all the way up the T1 hill, take off his wetsuit and then run back down to the water because he forgot to do 2 loops.

No real surprises in regards to the swim time.  1:38 is around my expected time.  One of these races, I’ll actually feel prepared for the swim 🙂

T1 –

I used to think that the Solana Beach T1 was the worst.  Now, I feel that this T1 was the worst.  It is about a quarter of a mile from the beach to the T1 tent…all uphill.  During the 70.3 race, there were a lot of complaints as people were hurting their feet walking that far on the road.  So for this race, they added “carpet” the whole distance.  It wasn’t carpet and a lot of people still left slippers/shoes on the side so they can wear them on their way to the T1 tent.

This is the first race I wore a one-piece tri-suit and I discovered that the pouches in the back were not big enough for me to carry enough items to skip Special Needs.  So, I decided to wear a cycling jersey so I can take advantage of the bigger pouches.  I added enough nutrition to last the whole ride, proceeded to down the nutrition concoction (UCAN, MCT oil, Perfect Amino) I planned for T1, put on my arm sleeves and then headed out.

Bike – 7:15:33

This is where I actually felt disappointed.  Felt I was in good bike enough shape to at least expect a 6 hour to 6 and a half hour bike split.  I started out around 77% of my FTP the first 20 miles and decided to rein it in as my goal was 71%.  It seems I reined back too far as I ended up doing 63% of my FTP for the whole ride.  I kept trying to turn it on but just had nothing.  Not sure if the 90-degree weather had anything to do with it as the breeze made it seem negligible.  The miles between 70-90 were the tough ones for me.  Felt like a slog just going through those miles.  I stopped at an aid station around mile 80 and felt that restocking with colder drinks helped immensely.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that a lot of people post race complained about the state of the roads.  While not freshly paved, I didn’t feel the roads were as bad as people made it out to be.

T2

Nothing noteworthy about T2.  Changed gear and skipped on my planned liquid nutrition because it was so warm from being out in the sun.

Run – 5:15:28

The run consisted of 3 loops and I panicked due to the weather.  It was still hot when I started running so I was worried about my salt intake.  I was running around a 1030ish pace and walked the aid stations.  However, I started doing things that I don’t normally do, such as eat pretzels, take salt tabs, and the best, eat Nuun straight up.  Not my finest moments and I paid for it by the multiple bathroom trips.  Around the end of the 1st loop, I decided to go back to what I was used to.  I decided to forego all nutrition and run from aid station to aid station.  At the aid stations, I would walk, grab cold water to drink and a handful of grapes to eat and then go.  That new strategy plus the weather dropping made me feel at ease and comfy with my environment.  I felt I was running high 9s and low 10s between the aid stations.  Even better was that I had no problems running at the pace and even fewer issues with the stopping and restarting.

While the first 2 Ironmans felt more like a death march, this 3rd race feels like the first race I was actually racing in.  Now I’m not saying racing for a podium or Kona spot, but racing as in I know I can finish, I feel good, let’s see how fast I can go.  Don’t get me wrong, I was in pain.  But that pain was a lot more tolerable than any of my other races.  This was with my longest run being around 14 miles.  Even then, that was 14 miles straight.  I had run 7 in the morning and 7 after work (running on tired legs).  So just running 6-8 miles at a time consistently does make a difference!

The last 2 laps for me felt like a blur as I was in a zone.  This was also the first race I was able to follow the little mantra of making sure I finish the race knowing I still had some left in the tank.  I kept that pace till mile 24, which is when I started to pick up the pace.  Even before I picked up the pace, I discovered I passed a lot of people just because they were walking.  I know I’ve heard this advice before but make sure you’re always moving and you will pass people.  Passed all those people who passed me on the bike -_-.

My only other complaint would be the turn-off on the run between the laps and the final chute.  Here I was sprinting (in my head) towards that finishing chute with the last turn when I realized that I didn’t hear or see the usual finisher line festivities.  They made it so that once we made the right turn, they made us go AROUND the block to get to the actual finisher chute, another few minutes away lol.  So reminded me of the Ragnar race when I thought the finish line was at the beach, when it was actually farther away…IN THE SAND lol.

14:34:05

Post Race

Now that some time has passed, I felt really good about that race.  Felt that 5 years between Ironman races were too long so hoping (with Marilyn’s blessing) that I could get one in every 2 or 3 years.  While my last race (and PR) was 15:12, my goal was to go sub 15.  It was around the middle of the 3rd loop that I knew sub 15 was in the bag and I was trying to be greedy and go sub 14:30 (or 9 PM).  Tried to make it happen but was 4 minutes short.  I felt there was a lot of places I could have trimmed some time to get that sub 14.

I felt there was a lot of places I could have trimmed some time to get that sub 14.

Swim: I’m actually going to commit to joining SCAQ.

T1: Not all T1s will be a quarter of a mile long and uphill.  Even with that, I could have actually jogged to T1 instead of taking my sweet time walking 🙂

Bike: My bike is going to keep improving (Thanks to Paul and Janet) Going to work on improving my FTP to be 200+.  I can hit sub 210s but want to shoot for 220.

T2: Same as T1…start jogging instead of walking.

Run: My run frequency during the week has been pretty consistent (Thanks to Greg and Kona).  I can only get faster and be more efficient if I keep up the consistency.

So yes, I feel sub 14 is definitely possible.  The IM itch is back with a force 🙂

That said, I can’t leave off this race report without thanking the best Ironwife and Ironkid sherpas.  The support and love I get from my family are inspiring and motivating.  My family got up at 3:30 AM on race morning with me and they were on their feet throughout the whole day as well.  They had to put up with traffic, road closures and the heat and still found the energy to cheer me every time I saw them.  Thank you and love you all!

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