Summary: This blog entry is about BDO. This is my 8th BDO during my Ironman career in preparation for my 7th ironman, IMWA in Busselton, Western Australia on December 6, 2015. There are tips, suggestions, insights, and plenty of analysis. It’s long and I don’t apologize because it is very difficult to find this level of detail anywhere, from anyone. Please share and enjoy.
Opening: While on a passenger plane, have you ever sat in one of the further back rows and heard that sound? The hum of the engines that sort of just carries over everything and is a constant? During the first 90K of my BDO ride, that’s what my Zipp 808’s sounded like. They were humming. It was a sound of beauty. And for very real reason. This $2,500 wheelset with a Cycleops Power Meter were designed and wind tunnel tested to perform at high speeds, like the 45KPH-50KPH I was holding for the first 2 hours. It was here, when I thought about that famous quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “Life is a journey, not a destination.” While the videos, pictures, and stories emerge from that one day event where athletes swim 3.8KM, bike 180KM, and run 42.2KM, many should realize that just to even attempt this distance known as the greatest single day endurance event, that athletes do actually train for this, over weeks, months, and years. And this leads me to the journey.
The Journey: For 23 weeks now our FREEL-TT squad (FB), composed of my wife Fiona, and Matt, Karen, Deb P, and Lynn have all been following Joe Friels book, Your Best Triathlon. This is our bible and our coach. We use no other plan or pay for a coach. The past 23 weeks brought us through a periodization phase of Prep, Base 1, Base 2, Base 3, Build 1, and Build 2. For myself, I have averaged 23 hours per week, totaling 527.9 hours split over 19% Swimming, 55% Cycling, 26% running, and an additional 11% of core & lifting, this represents a 32% increase over my prior IMWA’2013, with 4 weeks to go. Additionally, the gains above other seasons are 34% more cycling than IMWA’13, 9% more running than Challenge USA, and 43% more swimming than Challenge USA which were all my biggest seasons. I’ve already swam 427KM in 2015 which is a 38% increase over 2014 and an 83% increase over 2013. Cycling totals 8,611 miles which is a 32% increase over last year, while running will probably be in-line with last year at 1,480 miles and counting. Training wise, I’m at 858 hours which is a 19% increase over last year which now brings me into the level of World Class Pro of 800-1200 hours per year according to the book SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes by Rob Sleamaker and Ray Browning. Please note, that I have been a triathlete since 2010 and have been consistently increasing my training volume on average 16% a year since.
BDO is a race simulation. Wake up at the time you plan on on race day, eat what you’ll eat then do a 1 hour swim, wait 90 minutes, 5 hour bike, wait 90 minutes, 2 hour run, party. All in race day gear, race day nutrition, race day effort.
For this BDO I wanted to carbo-load, something I have only done for my ironmans since 2013 since Fiona introduced it to me. For 2 days prior to the even eat 8-12g/carbs per KG. This really insures glycogen stores are fully stocked. I did some research on this over the last 2 weeks as well since it’s so important and all I found said the same. High carbs, low fat, low protein, low fiber, refined carbs lollies, and soft drinks.
Thursday: 6AM 46minute swim including 3x250m at 4:02, 4:03, 4:02 inside 25m pool. Then, ride to work 55min 29KM Recovery 179NP. Ride home 63minutes 34KM recover 211NP including a Strava section of 436 Watts for 1 minute. I cancelled the 60minute recovery run. While I ate nearly 1 full 500g package of Starburst Snakes and a few cokes, the carbo loading not was not full blown today.
Friday: 5:30AM wake up. Early bus to work. Home by 2:30. 20min 1K swim in 50m pool with a few 25meter swims to race pace. Then, over to Anytime Fitness for a 40min bike including a few 20 second bursts to race pace using the Power Output. Then, to the treadmill for a 15min run including a few striders to race pace. As mentioned, carbo-loading was big for the day. At 82KG, I needed to consume 12g/kg or 984g of carbs. How did I do it? Non-stop eating of just shit: Coles Muffin 55, Red Bull 27, 2 Liters of Sprite 200g (800 Calories), 2 pancakes ¼ syrup 148, Apple & PB 31, Starburst Snakes (26) = 195, Medium container of roasted sweet potatoes and ketchup 110g (16g of fiber), Coke 40, 4 slices of white bread 154.4, Mt Dew 46, cookies 25, Medium Pasta w/ carrots = 100. Totals over 1KG of Carbs. Throughout the day I felt like I had a ton of energy, could feel the sugar running through my body, was very mentally awake, and could feel my body mass increasing. The next morning I weighed in at 187 Pounds vs the 180 Pounds I typically weigh. Note: for 1 g of carbs, you retain 2 g of water. So this is water weight, not fat. So not only were my Glycogen stores fully stocked, but I was very hydrated as well with hardly drinking much other fluid than listed above. Bed around 9:30PM.
SWIM 1 HOUR: Up at 4PM for 6AM swim. Ate 4 pieces of white toast w/ butter & Rasberry Chia Jam, Red Bull, and Banana. 20min before, I had my first ever VEGA-SPORT Energizer that had only arrived the day before. This is from Vegan Professional Triathlete Brendan Brazier, author of Thrive, and is obviously all from plants. Then 15min before I had a package of Clif Shot Bloks w/ some water. We put our gear together and headed to the pool. Lifeguard Vivian had the pool opened up especially for the FREEL-TT Squad and we lined up at 6AM. I took off with the plan to work hard, stay consistent, improve, not fall off, and stay focused. I tumble turned using my Xterra wetsuit and lapped every 500m to track effort over the 1 hour: 3.9KM Total = 7:27, 7:40, 7:40, 7:41, 7:41, 7:44, 7:44, 6:19. 1.9K = 28:57, 3.8K = 58:15. This beats 4 weeks ago by 25meters which was in a very warm 25meter pool in Horsham, VIC w/ wetsuit. Its 250m more than IMWA’13. I did go 30 meters more for Ironman Australia but this result was far less consistent w/ a 31 sec gap between fastest/slowest vs 17 seconds yesterday. My watch did stop at 55min in but I am fairly certain of my distance as I restarted it maybe 50m later.
T1: At home I had a coke and 2 pieces of toast. We got the bikes together and loaded up. Rudy Project Wing 57 Helmet no visor, Scott Plasma Premium III from 2011, Zipp 808’s, Continental 4000s to 120PSI, 1 Bottle of EFS w/ 2,000 calories, 1 bottle of EFS electorlytes, 1 Bottle water, 3 Clif Shot Bloks for emergency, 2-200g Caffiene pills, 8-200g Salt Tablets, Scody USA Sleeved Tri Suit, no socks, no gloves.
First Half: The group met at Tom Brown Roundabout. I gave some advice & suggestions to the squad. We started about 15min late. We headed down the S. Stuart Highway with my goal of going 260 watts NP. Immediately I felt the speed but wasn’t looking at that setting; just lap time, and power. Over the new bridge, and a further 10min down the road I saw a dog on the Stuart Highway. I thought “What the hell is a dog doing in the middle of the road?”, then when I came up to it I realized it was a Dingo! He looked like he was going to run after me but made the smart decision not to! My plan was to get to Stuarts Well and then hit the 90K mark and turn there as I had expected to cover more than 180K. I continued to drink my nutrition every 15min, salt tablet every 30min, caffeine at 1hr and 3hr, electrolytes when I felt like it, every 15min or so. The tri suit felt amazing, those wheels were purring, and it was starting to get warm. But I was Flying!!! At the 45K I looked at the average speed of 44KPH and I was thinking that I could break 2 hours for 90K! Wow! HR was quite high at 142 for 45min where it should be around 133. Now I know what happened here. My 15min segments were: 254NP at 26.2MPH, 266NP at 30.7MPH, and 261NP at 29.1MPH. This first 45min is what would screw me over for the rest of the ride. Looking back, I think to Hawi, Hawaii. Some analysis on the great riders show massive power outputs coming down the hill at very high speeds and high power, this is very taxing on the body. Well, that is at the ½, for me I did it in the first 45min. Looking back, I could have backed off the power and still been flying. By the time I hit the 90KPH in 2:02:37, I knew what was coming… a 90KM long headwind. The temperature had now climbed from 88.5F hour 1, 92.5F hour 2, to 100F-102F Hours 3-5, this with the Garmin 500 covered by my wrist.
2nd Half. I hadn’t yet seen the support vehicles of Kirrily and Lynn so I headed into the Roadhouse at Stuarts Well to refill my 2 bottles with cold water. Note: for 90KM from Alice Springs to Stuarts Well, there is nothing but cattle and open outback. No gas stations, no stores; nothing. I headed back out, into the headwind and quickly found Fiona who was doing really well on her new Zipp 404 and 808. I told her to go get some cold water. I then found the support vehicle, Deb P, Matt, Lynn, Kirrily, 5KM up the road. I slammed a delicious Coke but didn’t feel the impact yet. I continued on after a photo and saw Karen on her brand new Cervelo P5 from Melbourne. Nice digs for a 60 year old first time Ironman Athlete!!! Knowing everyone was now in back of me, I realized then, they had made a bad decision and should have turned around long ago! I came to the water stop which is a large cement tank on the side of the road that says to treat the water. Screw that. I dumped 3 bottles over my body removing the crusty white salt, slammed half a bottle and loaded up. Kirrily arrived just then, down with another coke. 8 minutes later I felt the coke hit. When you’re an athlete, you can feel this. It is like a light switch. My power went back up, and I felt great! There were 5 times over this piece where it was so hot that I felt like I had put my head into a 200C degree oven! It also then made me feel like this is what Kona, the Ironman World Championship must feel like. At 4hr15min I saw Kirrily again and I felt really bad/guilty taking the 3rd and final coke!!! The power was falling, the speed was falling but I wanted to hit the 180K. I got back into town, had an emergency blok and hit 180K with 35 seconds to spare, phew. This was my lowest power BDO of 226NP. I went 255NP only 4 weeks ago at only .13mph faster. Decoupling was a bad 7.8%. While the power was awful, the HR was 132 which is race pace. So while the first 45min clearly wiped out the power out of my legs and the heat kept my HR up, I was mentally focused the entire time thanks to my carbo-loading and the well needed cokes. I learned plenty to carry me into race day.
T2. It was now nearly 102-105F. I was not going to leave my squad out there. I ran in, put Endurox R4 in a bottle, grabbed a 2 liter bottle of sprite, cokes, and redbulls, jumped in the car and headed straight out. I found Fiona about 15minutes ride time from home, gave her a coke. She told me Karen was brought back already but Matt and Deb were out there. While Driving I realized it took me 2hr57min to go 90KM, they would be far behind. I finally found them about 1hr30min riding time away. I grabbed their bikes, gave them drinks and drove them home. They knew the plan for the run. We talked about everything and they were in very high spirits. My 8th BDO and the first joined by more than Fiona. This was awesome.
2hour Run: Fiona was saying the day before she would run outside. When I got home, I said “there is no way you are running outside”. We headed to Anytime Fitness with a bag of nutrition. We set up the treadmills. I had 3 bottles of coke and Endurox R4 recovery ready to go. I started off at 7:47/mile for the first 20min and was immediately cramping in my core on the right side and on my lower left side of the back. I knew it would go away, I just had to get to the next aid station and drink coke at every 10minutes. No music today, just me, the mill, and a dirty spot on the wall. At 20min in, I dropped the pace to 7:24/mile and kept it there drinking every 10min finishing 1 bottle of coke by the hour. I felt really strong and had lots of positive thoughts going on in my head. I was telling myself, “You are a runner”, “I believe in myself”, “It is possible”, “Represent your country”, “Do not stop”, “Dave (Scott) never screwed up at Ironman – he had never walked a single step of the marathon in seven races”. At the end of this hour my HR was still too low at 126BPM. Race pace is around 132, I needed to pickup the pace. I told Fiona to increase .1mph every 5min to hit the HR. I did this with drinking every 10min still. It was around this time the smelly guy came next to me. Within 3 minutes he was farting. WTF. 10min later, that toxic fumes continued. I was screaming and yelling. I was thinking, “Dude, if you knew what I did today you might have a little bit more consideration.” Then he started singing. Seriously? I was waving my hand in front of my face to clear the fumes. WTF!!! I was saying “Go take a shit!” When he finally finished the fumes remained. It was around that time I thought of my first, Ironman Cairns, all the bars lined along the esplanade with spectators smoking. “Really? I have to smell your shit after racing for 8 ½ hours?” It did get in my head but thankfully the speed continued; like I had a choice. With 35min to go my pace was now 6:58/mile and I was starting to fear the speed. My HR finally approached 130-132 but I know I won’t be running this pace for the full marathon. However, I figured it would be good for me so I stuck with it saying I wouldn’t do my final 10minute push and mentally sucked it up. At 10:22 to go, I heard Fiona increase her pace for the final kick. I said “I hate you”, and increased my pace to 6:44/mile smiling. I started to cramp with 5 min to go and dug deep enduring the pain. The HR was still low at 135 but I finished. 2 hours covering 16.5Miles at 7:17/mile. This was my best BDO and 7th fastest run of 2 hours or longer. The only 2 others that were faster in training were this year for Ironman Australia, Build 1 & 2 testing at 7:14/mile and 7:16/mile and then the marathons: Wineglass in 2009 at 3:08, 114th Boston Marathon in 2010 at 3:12, Green Mountain Marathon in 2010 at 3:06, and Alice Springs Marathon in August 2015 at 3:02.
Simulating race day is such a smart decision and technique. I learned plenty as I know all of the squad did. There will be other things that I now take coming into the final 4 weeks to work on and remained focused about. I really did enjoy the day. To do this with my best mates, after having done it with my best friend multiple times over the last 2 years, they are all going to be truly ready come race day. They will know what to expect and have little fear and doubts. As they say, Ironman Race Day is not the day where you turn out some miraculous performance; it is a reflection of the work you put in over 6 months of training. One of the best parts of the day was later on that night. We all came together as a group and family, friends, supporters, and athletes eating pizza and drinking some beers at Monte’s, celebrating our achievement of the day, the ups and downs, with total focus and excitement about the destination in just less than 1 month.