Big Day Out. It’s Fiona and my 11th time doing this day of training which means that we are in our 6th Ironman Season together. It started with Ironman Busselton 2013, Challenge Atlantic City USA 2014, Ironman Australia 2015, Ironman Western Australia (FC, KQ) , Ironman Cairns (KC, KQ), and now we are training for the 2016 Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 6th.
The day usually includes a 1hr swim, 90min rest, 5hr ride, 90min rest, and 2hr run; all at race pace.
Today was the ABC Half Marathon in Alice Springs, Australia. Since this would be Fiona and my 3rd time running the event, we decided to do this as part of BDO and instead go run/swim/bike. We’d run the half at race pace and then extend to the 2 hours.
We carbo-loaded the last two days eating a lot of shit and sugar filled foods like Starburst Snakes, Sprite, pizza, and white bread. The night before I made homemade basil pesto and white pasta with garlic bread. We were in bed by 9:30PM.
5AM Wake up. 2 pieces of white bread with vegan butter and jam, regular red bull, and banana. I turned on the music, looked at my training log, and Fiona gave me a buzz-cut. We left the house at 6:20AM for the 10min drive to the start. I was wearing Brooks Pure Flow shoes, tech-wick USA socks, Compressports calf sleeves, shorts, Under Armour Singlet, Brooks Gloves, and sunnies. Hit the loo, say hello to our friends, and toe the line.
ABC Half Marathon – 2hr total run – 1:35:09 half marathon, 25.6km total.
I started at the front with Fiona and knew the likes of Matt White, Jamie Lines, and Mark Russell would be my competition. Go was called and we were off. The initial steps felt awful. My legs felt like they had just got off the bike from an Ironman, but then again I had ridden 2,046km (1,272miles) over the last 5 weeks which included the best bike training I’ve ever done. So I suppose that made sense. The pace was normal at the start (faster than expected).
Very quickly my stomach started to feel awful. It felt like cramping but just aching. Mentally, this sucked because I was feeling quite negative coming into the run already. I had my normal race day breakfast as well as a package of Shot-Bloks 15 minutes before so this feeling was new. But, this season I have hit my lowest weight in 14 years because of the next phase of our dieting. In 2014 it started with Vegetarian, progressed to mostly vegan, and now this season we’ve tried to cut most sugar (except for training) and liquor. The results have been obvious; 179 pounds & 8% body fat. But with two days of eating all that crap again including a full package of LCMs (rice krispy treats) within an hour, well, it was just too much. So I’ll have to work on this again. Ultimately, there wasn’t anything I could do except to run, drink water, and hope that it improved over time, which it tended to do ever so slightly.
Jamie had a boo boo and cut the course short with an incorrect placed cone but easily was in 1st or 2nd place regardless. He wasn’t the only one I noticed at another point, Oops again. Matt seemed to be pacing with partner Emma so they were way off. Fiona would kick my butt on the day but ultimately be 3min+ slower than last year. That left Mark Russell and me watching his back from start to finish. I tried to be competitive and gain something from the event.
Lap 3 of the 4 loop 21.1km course was the best for me. I was working up the Ross River highway into the headwind and saw my HR climb to 142. I knew that if I could work here into the wind and stay strong, that I could bridge the gap and then finish Mark off on the 4th lap. I did pull within 2 meters of him and I could sense him thinking that he couldn’t let me pass; that if I did he would be done. At the same time, I was just so negative thinking how crappy I felt. My legs were heavy, I felt my form was crap, my stomach felt like crap, and my HR was ridiculously low because of the 113 hours of training over the last 5 weeks, caused fatigue, and my inability to push hard. In fact, my HR was 137 whereas in the Alice Springs Marathon of the prior year, my HR was 139!
On the 4th lap, the wind picked up and I lost 20seconds on the 12th mile. Mark continued to push on and even though I knew no one was close to me, I looked back. I had water 2x per lap and with a lap to go, had to go #2. I crossed the line in 1:35:09 according to my garmin which is nearly 7 minutes slower than last year! Just awful! But, I know why this is: the injury I sustained to my knee, lack of consistent running, and focusing on the bike with a lot of serious workouts.
Fiona took 2nd for the 2nd or 3rd time in the race. After the loo, we ran in reverse for another lap to extend the run to 2 hours. I didn’t care about the pace on this, just finish the two hours.
In the end, I covered 15.9m/25.6km in the 2hrs which is my 6th fastest BDO but 4 of those were on a treadmill and all after 6 hours of training. This is the fastest run I’ve done since BDO Cairns a month and a half ago and the fastest outside since the Aug’15 Alice Springs Marathon (3:02).
I had some pancakes, bananas, and in the car had a VEGA recovery drink with almond milk and Veggie Protein powder. At home a bit more food.
Thanks to ABC Radio, ASRWC, and the great volunteers. It was awesome to see some of our closest friends out there and we even gave IRONMAN Deb Page an impromptu run arch on her last lap! Go Deb!
1 hour Swim – 25m pool w/ swimskin – 3,525 meters 1:42/100m
I used my USA Scody Sleeved Tri-suit and my brand new ROKA VIPER Swim Skin. I’ve never used a swim skin and for the first 20min it felt tight and constricted. Fiona said she could see the water bubbles along my legs since the fabric is made to repel water; pretty cool stuff. It felt faster than just swimming with a bathing suit and eventually it felt better.
Fiona went with a pull buoy instead and took it easier since she had multiple cramps from the run and said she’ll never do them in this order again. (Seems like the guys who invented IRONMAN were smart to order it swim-bike-run!
I looked at my watch multiple times and saw 25:22 for the 1.5KM, 32:06 for the 1.9KM and was holding consistent throughout on the 1:42’s. My estimated time for the 3.8KM is approximately 1:04:30… Fiona kindly pointed out that swimming in a 25m pool is faster than a 50m pool and faster than swimming outside. 😛
Although this is the slowest BDO I’ve ever done on the swim, much of those 179 pounds are in my legs. In fact I have 25pounds of muscle in each leg according to the InBody 320 scale at work. My heavy legs while good for the bike, cause me to be 9s-10s slower than when using a wetsuit. But, with Kona a non-wetsuit swim, I need to know what I’m capable of! Train the way you race.
Ultimately I’m happy with the swim because I managed this swim with only 4 weeks of consistent swimming; I had to wait for 2 weeks after Cairns since I got a new MDOT Tattoo. Thanks to Robbo for the quality work you’ve been providing. I believe it is working!
Back at home, a SIS bar, Coke, and maybe some bread. Then we got ready for the bike.
5 hour Ride – 113.3m/182.2km – 241NP – 255.8TSS, 1% VI
My intention was to go out below race pace for the first 30minutes, bring it up to tempo, and back it off for the last 30min. I was hoping to have a great bike. Instead, it was painful yet shocking.
Instead of the N. Stuart to the Tropic of Capricorn, we headed down to Stuarts Well. The last time we did this it was for Busso’15 with our crew on a scorcher of a day. The total climb is less than half of Kona, but I just wanted to get a fast, consistent bike, knowing that holding power would be difficult after the 5 week build.
We loaded up the bikes with our nutrition and I wore race day suit and helmet. No rear disc since those aren’t allowed in Kona due to the cross-winds.
At 1:10PM we took off to Larapinta and hit the Stuart Highway. I immediately was cruising at 45+kph and I was thinking “Well I am going to be flying down to Stuarts Well”. In fact, I had the 2nd fastest time on a Strava section on lower power. But then I saw a Qantas airplane taking off to the North and I thought “Oh shit, well I guess I’m not going to be flying.” Past work turnoff, past the prison, and then down the hills and the speed was slower than in the past; I was already looking forward to the tailwind on the way back.
At 1:40 into the ride I stopped at the one and only rest stop filled with campervans and I grabbed water from the large rain-tank with a sign reading “Water may not be suitable for drinking”. Whatever. Fiona was no where in sight. I took a leak and was hydrated. I had already gone through 2 ½ bottles of water and the heat was rising to 95F. Even though it was still winter, we were hitting the temperatures of Kona, although there is no humidity, I realized that in another 6 weeks, the temps will be getting nice and warm during the day; perfect for the ride.
I continued on and hit the 90km in 2:27:57 which is nearly the exact same time I hit on my 4×10 @ FTP only 2 days ago. However, the power was already plummeting. Although I was holding the 260’s for the first hour 20minutes, the power just continued falling so hitting this time, with a head wind (although a net downhill for the first 90km was surprising to me. I did lower the armrests by 20mm yesterday to get lower on my Argon 18 E119 Tri + so think that may have helped. I certainly felt more aero. I did manage 6.5% decoupling over the ride, which I’ll take for now.
I hit Stuarts Well and made the turn past the Camel Farm and past Jims Place which is the only establishment to buy anything on the 90km between Alice and Stuarts Well. I continued on back to Alice happy that I chose the out and back for the course. Mentally it works. After all, you’re 90km out of town without cell phone range, and minimal nutrition. So, there’s really only one thing to do; Ride back to town! Along the way I saw a bunch of campervans and road-trains. One was a wide load carrying 3 massive water tanks and past me at 100-130kph. The only interesting thing I saw was a guy on a tourist on a bike with loads of baggage.
I was back at the water tank another hour and fifty minutes later. I was now 5 ½ bottles in and the temperature was already starting to fall. The tail wind was helping me go faster on plummeting power but I just realized my legs were DONE. I continued on with salt tablets every 30 minutes and 3 shot bloks every 20 minutes but at 3hr30min in I had enough of them. I didn’t want any more of these bloks!!! But, I had nothing else so had to continue pushing them down. I also finished my ARO with 200mg of caffeine between 2hr30m and 3hr.
So the speed continued to improve and with 1 hour to go I hit the final crest and then was cruising at 40kph+ for the next 30min. Still no Fiona and the sun was setting. I was running the numbers and even with my power now in the 240’s I was surprised to be expecting around 4:56 as my HR was only 123, 10beats lower than race pace. Coming up to the Gap I hit the 180km in 4:56:20 which was a positive since I’m always looking to go sub 5 hours and climbing back to town managed a near even split.
I cycled back home putting along and I caught Fiona in the car heading out from our street heading to look for me. I got off the bike exhausted.
Inside we had some processed pizza, fresh broccoli, and some ciders after some more sprite and a VEGA Recovery Drink with Almond milk and veggie protein.
I’d rank this BDO a 6 out 10. Lots of negatives but some positives. The biggest positive would actually be the bike. Of the 16 rides to Stuarts Well, this is the 2nd fastest. It also ties a BDO I did for Challenge USA in June 2014. I had the same exact Avg power, NP, VI but the HR was 8 beats lower and I went 1.3km faster today. I attribute this to reduced weight and the new bike Sami. But the lower HR makes sense because 2 years ago my FTP was 296 and my last test was 334; I expect its actually around 340+.
You think about a lot of things on the bike, especially when you are feeling awful. Today I thought about Karen McPherson who is our 61 year old Kona bound athlete and the last time we did this ride which helped enable her to qualify in her first ever IRONMAN. I also thought about our sponsors who are supporting Karen, Fiona, and myself in purchasing shirts for Kona and new tri suits to represent Australia with. So thank you Jo-Anne Pulsford from Elders Real Estate, Duncan Rogers from All Electrical, Jack Page from Exact Carpentry,
Brendan Heenan from BIG4 MacDonnell Range Caravan Park, Kevin Prior and Jock from Territory Rural McPherson, Pete Treis from TMS, and Megan Pickering with Triathlon Northern Territory, and the Northern Territory Government. Also a shout out to my new tri club this season, the Darwin Triathlon Club.
The last thing I was thinking at a low point on the bike with 90 minutes to go was when I was telling myself that “I don’t give up. I keep going. I am an IRONMAN.” It led me to think about the Boston Marathon Jacket that I wore to the race in the morning and to those out there through many sports and disciplines that choose to wear gear relating to something they haven’t earned and have no rite wearing. We see this all the time, especially when shirts are given out before an event like a marathon. Runners wearing the marathon shirt without even completing the distance. Or in IRONMAN where athletes race in gear bought at the expo. In my opinion, it absolutely belittles the event and shows a complete lack of respect for the event, distance, and brand. I appreciate my sport for what it teaches me about myself. And, I respect the sport for what it allows all to achieve. But achievement is earned. It can not and should not be bought. So come 3 weeks when I run the Alice Springs Marathon one of the things I’ll be looking forward to is crossing that finish line and earning the rite to wear the awesome new singlet design this year and if by some chance I don’t finish, it won’t be going home with me. I say this to you to help you realize the significance of achievement and truly appreciate what you’ve done to earn the rite to become a finisher.