Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ironman Cairns race report

I asked myself the question: "Why are you racing, why do you continue, when you are unable to do it to your potential???"
And I had several answers for it:
- I bloody carbo-loaded, I'm not quitting before I use it alllll up
- DNFing is complicated, emotionally taxing... I find it easier to continue than to stop.
- I want to experience pain and deal with it
- You never ever know when it'll turn around for the better.

In short, the swim was challenging, and I knew before I started that my goal of sub-1hr (I did 1:02 in IMNZ 3 months ago) was out the window as he 70.3 running concurrently had the first pro female (Sam Warriner) out in 30' and change. Me doing sub-1hr then? Nope, I don't think so... I'm happy with my swim as it was quite brutal. I got knocked in the right eye so many times that the suction of my goggles on my right eye was so strong it gave me a headache. I nearly lost my tongue getting kicked in the jaw with my tongue in between my teeth, and my sprained ankle that hasn't fully healed was pulled aggressively causing me to bubble-gasp in the water. All these things, completely minor.
I got on the bike and started nice and easy. I didn't want to go that little bit too hard for 3 hrs only to slow down in the back end. Instead, I had to deal with massive nutritional issues. I've yet to figure out my nutrition, because what was working for me in the cold, winter of Wanaka was NOT working in this heat. I am attributing it to the super-concentrated Hammer Perpetuem. My stomach grew to the size of a balloon, and nothing was being digested while I was in aero position. If I sat up, I could puke it up, which I proceeded to do. But then tried to get more down, only to have to sit up and gurgle-puke it back up not long after. This left me with an intense desire to quit only 2.5 hrs into the race. So, I let myself puke little portions up for the next couple hours, and ate nothing at all for 3 hours other than sips of on-course electrolyte drink. I easy spinned, and I tried to control the bloating (rather unsuccessfully). I finally made it to T2. I remember thinking that I could pretty much go for another 180km, that's how little the bike ride impacted my muscles. I did get off the bike with a stomach so distended I thought I'd die. But I slapped on the run shoes and visor and decided to at least start the run, at least to the portaloo. I lightly fed myself on sips of water, then I tried to see if I could handle coke, and I could, and then I was brave enough to try a gel, which worked as well. So although I ate about half as much as I normally would, I could feel my tummy settling. I was cruising at an easy pace and just ticked off the km's. I had always been nervous in an IM when I felt the need to go poop -- I assumed it meant that once I got the shits, I had them for the rest of the race. Today, I tried a different tactic: I let myself feel the need to poop, and I let the feeling spread throughout my body, and I told myself "Yep, you can go poo, no worries!" At the next portaloo, a nice normal poop and off I went again. To be able to gingerly step around my nutritional woes, figure them out and perform a run very close to the IM goal run pace I had trained at (goal: 5:30/km), was incredibly incredibly satisfying. I hadn't eaten for much of the race, I puked for 5 hrs, and I still managed a 4:01 marathon run split. Onto the run, two people passed me. I passed hundreds. Very satisfying.

So, despite the nutritional meltdown, I was only 19 seconds slower than IMNZ 3 months ago (which had been a 45 minute PB). To me, quite unreal. I had gained back all the time I had "lost" on the slow swim and disastrous bike on the run (bar 19 seconds).

I am super super stoked about my ability to problem-solve the shit out of this race experience, and to not give up despite the pukefest. Now, I've got some serious work to do nutritionally!!

1:07:34 swim -- 6:29:35 bike -- 4:01:44 run, total time of 11:46:13, 10th AG

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