Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ironman Melbourne Race Report

Well, I went sub-9, except it doesn't count because the race was shortened from the full Ironman distance...

The day started windy and really never let up. We were told Saturday the course was going to be changed to a two loop course because of high winds. Race morning it was shortened to one loop. Then the start time was moved back. We got in and warmed up, which really felt more like body surfing and diving under waves, then got out to be told we were getting pushed back another 1/2 hour.

Photo: Triathlete
Trying to understand the course here - the buoys were put out, and then it was changed again.

Photo: Triathlete
Finally we were off. The waves/swell were coming across the pier toward us, so the section along the pier wasn't bad. Once we turned right past the pier toward the far buoys I was swimming up the side of one wave and down the back of it. Unless I sighted on top of the wave, I had no idea where the buoy was. I actually liked the swim because it just seemed nutty and so chaotic to me - Ironman is kind of a crazy sport to begin with and the conditions on the day felt like mother nature was laughing at us. I finished the swim with a high 27 and managed to get out on the bike in 16th place.

BIKE (A battle of wind & a bee):

The bike course is two out and back loops. It went like this: headwind, tailwind, head/cross-wind, tailwind that shifted in the final lap to headwind once again. DOH!! The cross-winds had me riding my 80/disc combo in this position: \ and trying not to fly across the road. The tail wind section was incredibly fun.

I'd say for 70% of the ride I had a draft marshal next to me. Unfortunately with the changed race times the age group athletes started only 5 minutes behind the pro women. Add this to the fact that I am not the world's best swimmer and the first loop was awful with amateur guys flying past in packs and the draft marshal yelling at me to get ahead of the packs, which resulted in me having to put my head down and ride hard past 15+ guys so I wouldn't get a penalty, only to have them immediately repass me and the scenario start all over again. It was really hard to ride a steady pace and having to surge past the packs multiple times probably contributed to my run implosion.

The second loop of the bike these age group men had mostly disappeared and other than getting stung by a bee while fighting the headwinds at mile 100 (and having to leave him stuck on my leg for the better part of a mile because the cross winds were too strong to let go of the bars), it was fairly uneventful.

I came off the bike in 5:01, leaving my goal of riding sub-5 for another race...

RUN (From fast to shuffle):

I started the run and was told I was in 10th (later I learned I was probably in 12th, but some girls had lost timing chips and weren't showing up in tracking). Top 10 at this race had been a huge goal, so I was very happy. I ran the first 18k averaging just under 7 min/mile pace. I felt good, I was eating, I didn't in any way feel I was running too fast.

Melbourne is a point-to-point marathon and at 18k we made a sharp turn to head due north along the coast. Mostly this just means it is extremely exposed and we were now running the final half directly into a strong headwind. This section of the course is also much hillier.

At about 20k I attempted to take a gel and almost puked all over the boardwalk. I figured it was bad patch and would pass. Except it never passed - I continued to run what felt like a death march for the final rest of the race. I couldn't stomach any more gels, so every aid station I walked and tried to drink as much coke as possible.

I have never in my life felt as horrible and completely blown up as I did in the final half of the marathon yesterday. I was terrified of getting passed by multiple girls and that is probably the one thing that kept me going. Amazingly only one girl passed me on the run. Post-race when I looked at my splits - I actually didn't slow down much past an 8:30 pace, it just felt much worse.

At 35k I sharted, which made me laugh out loud. Seriously - the things that happen on race day in this sport are just comical! Thankfully my shorts are black.

Every single freaking kilometer is marked on the run course at Melbourne. It's awesome when you are running fast and clipping them off. It is horrific when you are at 20k and have to count all the way to 42.2k. At 40k I literally didn't know if I was going to make it to the finish. This probably sounds silly because I was still running, but I thought I might possibly just pass out in a patch of grass 1k from the finish.

I managed to make it in what was one of the more humbling runs of my life. I'm not sure how I ran a 3:24, because it felt closer to 4 hours during the race.

My final time was 8:56 and I finished 13th. I'm probably most proud of the fact that I raced the bike and was in the mix with some top-notch cyclist girls. The windy conditions and how hard I raced probably contributed to my slower run, but I'm still learning what it takes to race at the top and I have no regrets at all.

Zoot - Kiwawe shoes were perfect!
SKLZ - Awesome recovery products I am using all this week.
Microscope World - A great "other job."
Cannondale - I loved every minute of my 5 hours on the Slice.
Profile Design - Fast wheels, hydration and aero bars.
Extreme Endurance - No leg burning all day.
Powerbar - Fuel that keeps me going strong.
Bont - Comfortable, stiff shoes that I love.
Rudy Project - Helmet & sunglasses that look great and do their job.
Sable Water Optics - I can see when I swim. Yay!