Well here I go I am starting a Blog.
I'm getting ready to do Ironman Florida again. Ironman racing to me is very.... interesting. I have traditionally always had a lot of trouble with this distance. It has really frustrated the heck out of me as all my athletes I coach for this hit and exceed their goals at this distance. I have been able to help athletes doing their first race to people going sub 9:30, but my stomach despite all my efforts has always failed me. I believe I have the situation worked out this time around, but I guess we will see.
It all started for me back in 1999 when I did my first Ironman race, which happened to be Florida. Within the first 5 miles of the event, my handlebars snapped in half! I figured out after much thought that if I centered the crack in the stem, I could probably finish the race if I didn’t put too much pressure on the bars. Of course they were very off centered, but hey, this is Ironman finish at all costs right? I also had developed tendonitis in the foot that week so I knew when I had trouble running to the bike from the swim that I would be in for a fun marathon. So I finished the bike and hobbled myself to an 11:59:59 finish. Chip time of course was 12:00:00 but I have the finisher pic to prove I got there under 12. :)
From that point forward I decided that I would try to do this race again. I had to walk most of that marathon so nutrition really was not an issue at all. I would soon learn it would be.
For my next couple attempts, I suffered SEVERE nausea on the run. One race I even lost 12 pounds! I finished Lake Placid in 11:50 something, but DNF'd a couple as well. No matter what I tried to eat or not eat I couldn’t seem to fix the issue.
I finally learned about salt intake. I was tested at the Gatorade labs and they informed me I was losing about 1400 mg of sodium an hour. I was only taking in like 300. This helped me start to understand why I was having so many issues.
The next race I was supposed to do was Lake Placid 02. 12 days before the event I picked up severe food poisoning to the point I had to go the emergency room twice. down 13 pounds in 10 days, not being able to hold anything in until 2 days before the race I was determined to try to finish. After all the entire family was making a vacation out of it, how could I not at least try? That of course, was another DNF.
Now it was to the point my friends were really starting to come down on me about the outcomes. This frustrated me even more, and only added to the pressures Ironman already presents. Thanks guys.
The following year I decided to do Wisconsin. But soon after I signed up for that, I received a sponsor allotment spot from a friend to do Hawaii. So I decided to go watch my athletes at Wisconsin then go do Hawaii. The day before Wisconsin I did the swim curse and a rather long tempo run. My then wife convinced me to do the race the next day as she was convinced the lack of pressure with nobody knowing I was racing would help. With a 97-degree day at Wisconsin and my stomach issues, I had another bad day and DNF'd.
Oddly enough when I went on to Hawaii, I took in more salt then I ever had and went 10:57, an hour PR at the race that is supposed to be the hardest. 10:57 was great, and I was very happy to have some success, but I knew I could go so much faster. At this point I had my Olympic distance times down to 1:54, and my half Ironman time down to 4:20 or better. If 10:57 was something I was going to do at Ironman, I figured I could come do that later in life.
So I decided to give Ironman Florida 04 a try. Bottom line here, I went WAY TO HARD. Poor nutrition, no HR monitor or SRM and feeling very confident with coming into the race having had a great season with several short course wins and top finishes in addition to another 4:17 Half I was just over confident. I had to sit up and spin the last 20 miles of the bike, and still went close to 5:00. But then again, was not able to finish the run.
Now I am armed with more knowledge. I have become very good at training my athlete's as well as myself with power, and have learned a lot about nutrition with the help of Mike Folan of Infinit and am ready to go. I think Ill try to average 240 watts this go around which should put me around 4:55-5:05 depending on weather, and have ran several times off the bike at sub 7:00 pace even up to 14 miles. I do not think that pace will be realistic on race day, but sub 7:30 will be if everything goes right. Ialso have figured out I not only need 1300 mg of sodium, but in addition to that more pure water to go with it. Before i was so worried about hyponutremia that I stopped taking in just water. This proved to be a huge mistake.
People have told me to concentrate on the shorter stuff as Im "good" at that. But I want to figure this out. If you look at the archived Memphis In May Results you will see some of my history. I used to be close to 3:00 on my Olympic distance races. Now Im sub 2:00. People told me all the time I couldn’t be faster then 2:30, then 2:20, 2:10. And so on. It just takes me longer to figure things out for myself sometimes. But I think it helps me relate to my athletes. A lot of great coaches have always been good. They do nto understand what it is like to not e a top finisher, or to be still climbing the ladder. This does not mean they are bad coaches at all, but they definitely do not know what it was liek to just want to run an entire 10K off the bike. I have been there. Someday I will have an athlete that is right in the middle of everything I have figured out, and Ill be able to help them too. I will be a better coach if for nothing else, trying.