Thursday, August 22, 2019

2019 Update & Race Report: Ironman Muncie 70.3

Programming Note: I wrote this about mid-July after Ironman Muncie 70.3 race but published in August.... because lazy.

I still keep deciding if I should keep this blog going or just end it entirely.  I do truly enjoy posting as it provides a good journal of my triathlon journey.  My journey has had some hiccups in the last few years and it's amazing how different I approach triathlons now.  For one, I rarely post on social media about my racing/training anymore nor scour all other triathlete blogs.  I used spend hours reading race reports of upcoming races, devouring all the race communications, meticulously planning every aspects of the weekend.  Today?  I would still consider myself serious about triathlons in the training aspect and hoping for good outcomes but some of the planning/prep seems to be lacking.  My coach gives me the direction on if I am stupid about my race schedule and I'm totally happy with that.

Case in point.  My standard race crew (Kristen, Kevin, and me) signed up for Ultramax Halfmax in Innsbrook, MO last June.  It's almost a 70.3 distance triathlon (bike is 2 miles short).  I can do a 70.3, I mean, I'm in the middle of training for an iron-distance triathlon.  This should be a piece of cake.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

This turned into a massive reality check.  For one, I did not fully appreciate the elevation map of this race until the day before when TKB and I drove the bike course.  Had we driven the run course, I probably would have just kept driving back to KC.  This course was hilly.  That's fine, right?  On the bike you just zoom down the descents and then fly up the inclines?  Nope.  Speed bumps were waiting for you at the bottom.  Unless you want to break your carbon fiber framed bike, you better be cautious.  The run wasn't just rolling hills.  It felt straight down and then up.  The decision was should I "run" or simply fast walk.  I usually chose the walk.

Had I done my normal pre-race recon, I might have been ready for this or set my expectations better.  That's not all, unfortunately.  Let's throw in a big thunderstorm race morning too that ultimately cancels the swim and turns it into a duathlon (1 mile run, 54 mile bike, 13.1 mile run).

To sum it all up, I was miserable from the sound of the starting horn to crossing the finish line.  It was wet, hilly, humid, mechanical issue on the bike, hilly, "saddle issues", gut problems, hilly, and miserable.   Did I mention hilly and miserable?

If this was truly my dress rehearsal for IM Wisconsin in September, I did a massive disservice to myself.  I was frustrated, cranky, and stressed out now.  A couple take aways,

  1. The nutrition plan I have been using since 2011 is not sufficient. 
  2. I have to appreciate the bike more to have a better run (Coach Ken has been preaching this since the first day we talked, time to listen)
  3. Stretching/Strength Training for stronger core.
I use the same recipe today that I used for my first 70.3.  Bike: combination of Clif Bars and GU Chomps and a mixture of gatorade and water.  Run: GU gel every 4 miles.  The bike plan has caught up with me.  My Keep It Simple Stupid approach is no longer sufficient.  Be that I now need special fuel for my "machine" or my age can't survive on that alone for 5+ hours.  So I made a pledge to improve.

I have turned to Tailwind.  I was also considering Infinit as well because many of my friends use that.  I wasn't quite ready to go that route because they offer the ability to tweak your formula and I didn't want to be a chemist quite yet.  So I ordered a sample pack and used that on my next big training day.  I felt it was a success on the bike so I've dumped the Gatorade and Clif Bars.  I'm about to dump the Chomps as well but I like having something solid to eat.  I'll figure out the solids in the next couple months.

Key to a good Ironman is a good run.  The key to a good run is a good bike.  That's what Coach Ken told me day 1.  I know it's almost eye-roll worthy that I posted that I PRd the bike at Ironman Boulder 70.3 last year.  I also personal worst the run too.  Coincidence?  Not likely.

So I pledged to pull back on the bike.  Not push it simply because my power output dropped below what I want to do.

I probably unfairly compare everything I do in triathlon to Beach2Battleship 140.6.  That is one of the top 5 days of my entire life.  I'm sure I've pushed out some of the bad parts of that day but it was truly great.  I do attribute to some of the success to my consistent weight room visit (because I hired a personal strength trainer).  My pledge was to get into the weight room more or at least better focus on the days Coach Ken puts strength training on my calendar.

The problem with my pledges was that I didn't have another race in my calendar until Ironman Wisconsin.  If I'm going to change things up, I need to test it out in a race situation.  Because of this, I added Ironman Muncie 70.3 to the calendar.  Truth be told, we originally elected not to do IM Muncie 70.3 this year because we wanted to cheaper/closer 70.3 to participate in.  Ironically, we ended up doing it anyway.

So with that, let's chat IM Muncie 70.3!

Race Report
This year's participant crew was Kevin, Kristen, John, myself, and Kevin's coach Josh.  Kevin, Josh, and I carpooled out on Thursday and Friday.  We stayed in Vandalia, IL where I proceeded to puncture 3 tubes trying to fix a flat tire on my rear wheel.  Better Thursday than Saturday.

We finally got to Muncie around 1pm on Friday where we met up with Kristen and sherpa-extraodinaire, John (Kristen's hubby) at the race site.  Packet pickup and then a shake out bike ride and run.  At the athlete meeting they already mentioned that it was wetsuit optional, which means no wetsuit for me.  

We did a quick pass through the merch tent where I picked up my obligatory pint glass and then back to our hotel.  I got my bike all setup (except for my nutrition) and then met up with Kristen and John for dinner at Olive Garden.  Kevin and Josh had pre-made their pre-race dinner, so it was just us three.

I was pretty exhaust Friday evening but didn't turn off the last light until about 9:30pm.  I mean, it is July so I had a stage of the Tour de France to catch up on.

Alarm went off at 3:45am.  Shower, suit up, get everything packed up in the car (we weren't staying at the hotel that night) and then off to the race site.  One of the houses next to the race site offers parking for a decent price and we took them up.  Bike checked in and ready to race.  It seriously is amazing how quickly 1.5 hours goes when you consider the transition setup, multiple port-a-john stops, paranoid inspection of your transition.  All during this time I drank a full bottle with two scoops of Tailwind (pledge #1)  We all met up by the beach and I did a quick practice swim.  

Around 7am, Kevin and I went over to the swim start.  Earlier I had looked at my IM Boulder 70.3 time and I finished around 33 minutes.  I was just going to line up there when Kevin reminded me that I would not have a wetsuit, so we lined up between 37-40 expected swim time group.  It took 25 minutes for us to reach the actual swim start, where they were allowing 2 participants to start every 5 seconds.

I seem to never set expectations for myself on the swim.  Probably because I don't want to let myself down.  I'm a middle of the pack swimmer and just got it out and try not to grope too many people along the way.  9 buoys out, turn right to the next buoy, then 9 buoys in.  They changed the swim course so you weren't swimming into the sun for the second half. Cool.

Some traffic here and there and I could tell my legs dropped without the aid of a wetsuit, so I just tried to focus on that.  The big toe on one of my feet was trying to cramp up on me but never fully locked up. Needed to pee but just can't seem to do that in the swim.

Time 39:37
Age Group: 39 out of 128 
Overall: 320 out of 1,500

Again, middle of the packer (or front of middle of the packer) swimmer. 

It's about a quarter mile run to the transition area (per my Garmin).  Put on socks and shoes, helmet, sunglasses, and off to the bike.  Some day I will get back to doing flying mounts with my shoes on my bike.

Pledge #2 coming right up.  Don't push it.  I wanted to keep my power in a specific zone.  This is a fast bike course and I knew it.  Keeping my power consistent should be easy.  Very little elevation gain.  No big climbs. No medium climbs.  Just heads down and ride.  Ok, maybe not. Eventually there are around 1,500 triathletes in a 27 mile stretch of road. It's crowded and full of people deserving of a stop in the penalty box.

I had two bottles of Tailwind (3 scoops per bottle) in my Speedfil hydration system with a third bottle in my bike cage.  My plan was to consume the Speedfil in two hours.  I managed to do that in 1.5 hours.  I loaded up the final bottle in the Speedfil and tried to complete that before I got back.  Pledge #1 on track.

I was focusing on drinking anytime I saw an even number on my bike computer.  If I couldn't remember if I had a drink, drink anyway.  This became problematic when things got busy on the road because it took my attention away from my data.  I still had GU Chews on my bike to supplement my calorie intake.  I only took 4 pieces instead of the 16 I had ready.

I did pretty well managing my power.  In the past when my power dropped low I would push it to get it back up.  This time I just kept spinning and it would return.

Time: 2:38.39 (20.9 mph)
Age Group: 44 out of 128
Overall: 310 out of 1,500

I felt like I hit my goals/pledges on this bike.  I had no gut issues on the bike.  I've started to hate eating Clif bars on the bike and just simply making sure I eat every 15 minutes.  I don't miss the Gatorade mixture either because it was just too sweet and eventually hated the taste once it got warm.  So check and check!


I still do flying dismounts but I didn't judge the dismount line correctly and it was just simply too crowded, so I couldn't get my leg over in time and didn't want to chance doing something bad.

Got my bike on the rack with no incidents.  Grabbed my visor and hydration belt (with bib) and off on the run.

So I had to pee during the swim and now I needed to pee even more.  So I noticed an open port-a-john in the transition area and used it.  50 seconds.... seriously. So much hydration... so much wasted time.

Time to see how well I've done.  Did I burn my legs out?  Will my gut start gurgling?  Will the heat kill my run?  Time to find out!

Flashback: So on the drive up Josh played a podcast in which the host talked about racing in the heat.  Part was how to acclimate yourself to heat.  The other part was how to race in the heat.  One thing the host discussed was keeping the core cool and the best way was chewing ice during the run.

Nothing new on race day?  Sure but this was ultimately a dress rehearsal to IM Wisconsin.   So for each of the 13 aid station, I took in 2-3 cups of water and grabbed an entire cup of ice. I put the ice in each hand and then ran chewing the ice.  By the time I finished off the ice or it melted in my hand, I was about .25 miles to the next aid station.  So not only did it help keep the core cool, it also helped move the run along.

This strategy was great!  Not only was I running but I had to convince myself to slow down the entire run.  I was shooting for 8:30 pace and then walk the aid stations to make sure I got plenty of fluids/ice in me.   I also took in GU gels every 4 miles.

I had considered Pledge #1 here and try Tailwind but I'm not going to run with two bottles in my hand.  My strategy was to super concentrate one of my two hydration belt bottles with Tailwind.  I would sip that and then take in enough fluids at the aid stations to equate to two bottles over two hours.  I did super concentrate three scoops of tailwind in one of my bottles but ended up sticking with my tried and true GU Gels.  I did, however, decide I need to take in some fluids between aid stations so I grabbed one of my bottles and take a big swig of water... but it was the super concentrated Tailwind and just spit it out.  Oops.  I will plan to work on trying Tailwind while running over the coming weeks.

After mile 10-11 I decided to stop convincing myself to slow down and just let go.  My legs were feeling great.  Normally about this time my hips would be super tight and my run would be more of a "Scotty Shuffle".  They might have been somewhat tight but not enough to be a nuisance.

At some point I started having some minor GI concerns.  Nothing horrible but I definitely needed port-a-john soon.  I figured I could keep things "tight" until the finish line and then make a bee-line to the bathroom.

Soon enough, the last hill was upon me and I did something that annoyed me.  About halfway up I started walking.  WTF, Scott!?! It wasn't a conscious decision.  I just walked.  Two steps later I was running again.  I guess I could only mentally keep it going for 70.25 miles?!

Time: 1:51:06 (8:30 pace)
Age group: 24 out of 128
Overall: 198 out of 1,500

Success!!!  My goal was to run 8:30 pace and walk the aid stations.  I ended up averaging 8:30 pace which included walking the aid stations!!!  Boom!  While this course was not as near as hilly as Halfmax, it was hot out with minimal shade on the course.  The ice helped out immensely and I will definitely consider that in future races when available.

Time: 5:15:15
Age group: 24 out of 128
Overall: 205 out of 1,500

My plan on this was to pull myself back.  It was a dress rehearsal and not a race.  Easy on the bike and run the run.  I did not plan to get a personal record on the run for a half ironman.  Nor did I plan a PR for the half ironman itself but I did.  That's what happens when you finally pace yourself properly.

Just a few this time...

Sherpa Crew at Half-Max!! TKB, John, and Ann

Finishing... finally... at Halfmax

Dork, Kevin, and Kristen... getting ready for the swim at Halfmax... that was cancelled due to lightning.  Ugh.

Kevin, Blind Dork, Kristen, Josh.. getting ready for the swim at IM Muncie 70.3... that was NOT cancelled.

Blind again... which is why I'm still wearing my "prescription" goggles so I can find my bike!

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