Thanks @Coach_Ian, @cullenac, @Coach_Flo, and @MitchD for the shout out on today’s podcast! Overall I had a really great time during the race. The event was really well organized and a fun experience. I’m not sure how much detail anyone is interested in so here’s more than you bargained for
For nutrition, the few days leading up to the race I supplemented my diet with some extra greek yogurt with homemade granola and/or nuts (almonds/pecans), or a homemade granola bar (which was really good, I’ll post the recipe once I get it from my wife). So I felt pretty well fueled and energetic going into the race.
The night before the race, I was so anxious and excited that I slept like crap. I think I got about 5 hours of restless sleep in, so at 4 am I gave up trying and got up to eat my breakfast - steel cut oatmeal w/ sardines and a coffee. We left for the event around 5:15 AM to get there with enough time to park and set up all my gear in transition (they recommended I not leave my shoes/helmet/etc overnight due to the rain).
Luckily at athlete check-in the swag bag was a waterproof swim safety buoy, so since the forecast was calling for more rain during the morning I used it to keep my shoes, socks, towel, and run belt dry. I dropped the bag off at my bike and prepped the on-bike nutrition - 4 choclate Gu gel packs that I taped to the top tube and 2 bottles of regular water. I pumped up my tires and then headed out to put stuff back in my car and walk with my wife over to the swim start. I had brought a banana in the car to eat before the swim but I completely forgot about it.
For the swim - it was a wetsuit legal race (~72 deg water) but I don’t have one so I just went w/ my sleeveless tri-suit. Just about everyone else was wearing a wetsuit. My local rec center pool, despite claiming to have the competition pool at around 78 degrees, is actually somewhere in the low 70s so the river’s water temperature felt just like my usual training temperature.
This was my first open water competition so I was a bit anxious about the low visibility, the need to sight the buoys, and being surrounded by all of the other swimmers! Luckily, the anxiety just vanished once I jumped in and I was able to get into a groove with my breathing. I did get knocked around a bit by other swimmers on occasion but nothing too bad - only a few times did they hit my legs or lower back with enough force to drive my lower body down and kind of disrupt my flow. Sighting the buoys went OK for me, though a few times I ended up a bit far off and had to angle back towards them. I found out that I also don’t want to be too close to the buoys since that’s where the biggest traffic jams were!
I wore ear plugs on the swim which solved an issue I’d been having with feeling a bit dizzy after my pool swims - I’m really glad I did because I got out of the water feeling fresh and balanced! I noticed a fair number of athletes at the end of the swim were pretty dizzy and were struggling to stand, I helped one guy to his feet because there weren’t enough volunteers to handle that many dizzy/tired athletes!
My swim time of 40 minutes is basically exactly where I thought I’d be so no complaints there!
The run up to transition was pretty cool with all of the crowd cheering and I was able to spot my wife pretty quickly as she snapped pics and cheered me on.
I took Ian’s advice on transition and tried to get through it as quickly as I could - T1 still took me 6 minutes as I struggled to get the river gunk off my feet, get my socks/shoes on, and then I really had to pee. And yes, I did try to pee on the swim but it turns out I’m not coordinated enough to pull it off.
Since I don’t have a wet suit, my wife and I never discussed how people get out of their wet suits after the swim. The first time she saw athletes run up to the wet suit strippers and drop to the ground she had no idea what was going on and was wondering why these people were all leaping onto the ground to roll around in the mud
The bike ride went to plan - I don’t have a power meter on my bike so I used Best Bike Split to create a speed based plan that I could load onto my Elemnt. It predicted I’d finish in 2:40:04 - and I finished in 2:44:36 so it was pretty spot on. The only thing it couldn’t really foresee was one particularly steep and curvy section of the course where the race director enforced a slow, no-passing zone - my plan was instructing me to pick up the speed to ~32mph but I was only doing like ~13mph. I also was monitoring my heart rate and I was trying to keep it in the low 140s.
I had my first Gu right after I got settled on the bike, and then I took another one about an hour in, my 3rd around 1h55min in and the final one in the last 3 miles to get ready for the run. I honestly wasn’t really hungry for that 4th one but my stomach felt fine and it was there so I figured I’d stick to the plan of eating every ~45/50 min. Since it was cold and rainy, I only drank most of one of my water bottles. I just wasn’t sweating much and wasn’t particularly thirsty. I didn’t use any of the bike aid stations.
The bike was a lot of fun - my legs felt good throughout and the whole 6 bike length draft zone passing rules thing was easy to manage. I didn’t run into any super aggressive racers trying to speed up when I passed them - the atmosphere amongst the athletes was very friendly. I only saw 2 athletes serving penalties in the penalty tent when I went by, and I didn’t observe any blatant/intentional drafting by anyone along my route.
As for cars and navigation - the IM team did a great job marking the route with tape, signs, volunteers, and cops at intersections. It would have been really hard to F up and take a wrong turn. One long section called for us to ride on US-60 but they coned off an entire lane for us so we had a great stretch of road to ride on. I felt completely safe the entire ride despite the wet conditions and having some car traffic near by.
I got back to the dismount line and managed to unclip and dismount without falling over My legs were a little wobbly but not too bad - I started off running but pretty quickly decided I needed to take a few seconds to just walk and let my nerves/legs settle a bit. This part of transition was also pretty muddy and steep so walking was probably a better move. My wife said she saw a bunch of people slip and falling on that section. Once I got through the steep section I started to run back to rack my bike and get my running gear on. T2 was a bit faster at 4 minutes - and I was really glad my shoes and extra socks were dry - but I had to pee again! I did try to go on the bike, and I was able to get enough out to not be in pain but it was way harder to accomplish than I thought it’d be
The run started off well enough, I was using my Stryd footpod to pace myself using power. Ian had me targeting 230-250w which for me is about a 5:00/km pace on a flat road. The first section of the run was an uphill climb over the bridge so it was neat to use power to try and stay on track w/o overdoing it. Once things flattened out a bit I was pretty steady in the 240w range. Unfortunately my right foot started to hurt and go numb on me around mile 3 - I think my shoe was too tight. That’s when I started to fade a bit and saw my numbers fall into the 210-220w range and my legs were just starting to feel heavy overall. I got through the first loop, but at the start of the 2nd loop I stepped into a big puddle and soaked my feet even more. The Stryd from that point on was telling me I was running at 400w and doing 3:00/km pace - which was obviously wrong - so from that point forward I just ran on feel and heart rate. Once I got to the end of the 2nd loop and turned around for the final ~3.5 miles back to finish I got really excited and managed to pick up my pace a bit. The big crowd leading up to the finish chute was really energizing so I really picked up the pace for the final bit down the road and over the finish line. My final run time was 1:57:47 - my target was around 1:45 so I didn’t hit that particular target but I’m still really happy with it.
My nutrition on the run were those delicious energy balls I posted the recipe for earlier. I didn’t carry any of my own water, and instead relied on the water from the aid stations. A few times I took some gatorade but I think most of it ended up on my suit vs in my mouth! A lot of times I took a few sips of the water and then splashed the rest on my face to cool off a bit. The run was mostly in the shade and the weather was pretty nice and cool - the rain had stopped right before I finished the bike. The sun was starting to shine a bit towards the last half of my run and it was getting hotter but still quite comfortable.
I was only a little hungry immediately after the race, so I had a small sandwich, some chips, and a nice salad with strawberries and pecans. The event was HQ’d at a campground, and my wife had managed to find a bathroom that also had showers and luckily not too many people knew about it so I was able to get a nice hot shower and clean up w/o waiting in any lines.
We hung out for a few hours while we waited for them to start letting cars out. We tooled around the Ironman Village and chatted with some folks. Once cars were being allowed out, we started on the 3 hour drive home.
For dinner, we ordered sushi - and by that point I was pretty hungry so I crushed a fair amount!
I was worried my wife was going to be bored out of her mind. Luckily, she really enjoyed the whole event! I did get her the VIP package they offered - which she really liked having the dedicated tents to stay out of the rain, as well as being in prime locations to view me and other athletes at the swim finish and race finish. They also provided food, water, and seats so she was able to hang out with other athlete families, chat, eat, and cheer athletes in a comfortable setting. She had packed her kindle but never touched it because she always had something to do or people to chat with. She had such a fun time over the entire weekend that she’s excited for me to sign up for another one!
The IM Tracker app also did a really great job with alerting her to my expected arrival times - we had already mapped out the estimated times and stuff of when I expected to be at various spots for her to see me, but the app let her know I was still on track and stuff which was pretty cool.
Big thanks to @Coach_Ian for the multi-sport add-ons to the labs, and his advice and coaching over the past year. Thanks to @cullenac for all of the great nutrition advice on the podcast and forum posts. It looks like I’m hooked on triathlons Now that I’ve got the confidence to actually finish the event feeling pretty good, I can try to push myself harder in the next one!