Race registration at the tenth addition of IMSA was slick and the expo has doubled in size. In spite of adding 500 entries the racking procedure and pre-race formalities were all conducted professionally and with minimal drama. I decided to be a scavenger. I would take advantage of all of the sponsored food and drink on the IM route. I racked without gels, water bottles etc. Cleats without socks to be put on the bike in the morning, a long-sleeved top to put on after the swim, my helmet and race number, shoes with socks rolled into them and a cap.
In preparation for the race I swam occasionally on Friday mornings. I didn’t go out on the road on my bike, all biking was indoors on my trainer and never for longer than an hour. I ran 10 km a few times. After I put my kit into transition I reflected on this. I have wrestled with writing this down a few times since the race. I don’t want to disrespect the athletes that trained like daemons and had bad luck on the weekend. I can’t explain my race without writing it though. Things that I thought while walking through transition were that I had to show urgency in transition, I want a total transition time less than 8 minutes. Stay down in aero position on the bike, particularly on the gradual inclines. Do not walk on the run. And most of all do not disrespect the race or the distance.
The 3,8 km swim has in the past been two laps of 1,9 km with a run around the beach. This year it was one lap. The water was calm. I made my way across to the beach in time to see the professional race start at 06h30. The Sensei and I watched the pro’s smash through the surf just as the sun started coming up. It was going to be a great day. I crossed the mat in 01:10:53. I don’t draft and there is a sense of getting the job done when I swim out in the open for an hour. I thought about Del (my wife). She taught me to swim in 2009. I am not saying that I would have drowned before but by comparison my first 1000 m open water swim took me an hour to complete. I also reminded myself, more than once, how lucky I was to be able to compete in an event like Iron Man. It is easy to get distracted by nerves and the hype of the weekend but to have the health and physical ability to compete is a gift. 3:45 through T1 and handily there was an aid station at the start of the bike to get water to wash away the salt.
My bike strategy was to make maximum use of the downhill parts of the added coarse. The volunteers on this race are champions. They stand out in the sun for hours holding out bottles, packets and cups and for the most part are barely acknowledged. I tried to shout thank you to all of them. My first lap was just on 3 hours and I saw Del and Caleb as I went past the Humewood Hotel. It was worth an extra 10km per hour. The wind steadily picked up and with 40km to go it was a stiff headwind. The second lap 3h41 equaled a bike split of 06:41:19.
Transition 2 was 2:57 making my total transition time 6:42. My first kilometer went perfectly at 5:48. My plan was to run 6m/km for a 4h30 marathon. That was the last time I would see a sub 6min km until the 42nd km over 5 hours later. The highlight of my run was getting to the first turnaround and seeing Del with Caleb in her arms, him looking like a meerkat at all of the action. My slowest kilometer was an 8:44 for number 21 at the left turn to the entrance to the University. It shows what a mind game this run is. I averaged 7:18 for the 42.2km for a 05:12:52 marathon. Total time 13:11:46.
Looking at the data from my HR monitor my average heart rate was 140 bpm and didn’t go higher than 158. Thinking about the race from the comfort of my swivel chair I could have run sub 5 hours if I had run with more purpose on the first lap. I know that the difference between running a 4h00 and a 5h00 marathon is 70 places in my age group. I finished 125th in the 30-34 category and with a 4hr marathon (11:56:00) that would be 55th. For reference 1st placed was 9:23:16 and 8th place was 10:02:23. In the next category (35-39) 8th place was 10:28:31 by my friend Joaquin Valverde. In the next category (40-44) 8th place was 10:40:03 the Sensei narrowly missing out on a Kona slot coming in 11th.
I have a persistent feeling that I cheated somehow because I didn’t put in the hours of training. It feels like I have been picked for the team because I look like the guy that scored the winning goal in the last game. Redemption? 27 July 2014. We are going to Canada for a wedding and I have entered Iron Man Canada in Whistler. I have 3 months to become a running machine. (I’ll be back….)