IM Boulder – great success. Great day in the process, in the journey, as part of the dream. I’m living my dream everyday. Sometimes I forget this, and sometimes this realization comes back to me with staggering force.
I can remember the first time I read about Ironman Hawaii, the ‘super-hero’ athletes that raced there, the run through the black lava fields, the wild cross-winds, the overwhelming heat, the sunrise start and the midnight finish.
I’ve always been enamored with endurance sport – the people, the gear, the training, the incredible race-day effort, the time on the road and under the sun. Looking back, I can see that it has always been a part of me and that I was made to love it. But I did not participate, really at all, for the first 2 decades of my life.
This is year 3 of being heavy into endurance sport, actually living the dream that was a vague part of me for the first 20ish years of my life. And everyday is a dream lived, a great success. This day, June 11, Ironman Boulder, was just another day in the process. It was not the final culmination, if there ever will be a such a ‘final’ pinnacle. Still, it was a momentous moment in time - so much physical work, mental effort, time, preparation – all of these came together to bring into reality a day of celebration, pain, suffering, joy, tears, work, testing and success.
I don’t have any other wild story or great lesson that I can communicate right now. The results speak for themselves. Everyday of focused effort and process is a day of success, and this was a special day that all of Team Luke got to put on the cape and bring to reality, to make visible, this success.
Here are my race notes. Initially, I wrote these for myself – the notes are the details I consider important to learn from and to reference for future races. After writing them, I realized they actually tell a lot of the story, just in a different format than my usual narrative. Peruse at your leisure and interest, this is the story of IM Boulder told through my race notes - the details of my thoughts and my experience during preparation, in-game, and post-game.
100% immunity, GI, etc. Structurally, great. Some left patella knee pain in 1-3 weeks out, no pain anywhere race week.
Best ever. Not perfect – interrupted for about 4 weeks by right outer, then right patella, knee pain. Would have been nice to have those long runs and long rides. Longest run was 17 miles, a handful of 13 mile ish. Lots of moderately long rides, only a couple 5+ hour.
Efforts felt not easy over the weekend, but the strength and fitness was obvious, it just didn’t feel easy. Later in the week, by Wed and Thurs, legs felt less and then no fatigue and efforts came easy. Seemed like a just right taper.
-white rice, chicken breast, sweet potato, lots of all of it. 1 beer.
-breakfast - protein shake, grapefruit, banana, cereals (miniwheats, cheerios, corn flakes), pb
-lunch – French toast – killer daves, eggs, almond milk
-dinner – half box of white noodles, sweet potato, 5 eggs. Was very full.
-hydrated throughout day with lots of water, a few nuun tablets, plenty of salt
-cereals, pb, almond milk. A good chunk. Not until I was uncomfortable, but ate as much as I wanted.
-water with nuun
-very hydrated all the way into swim start. 1/3 of a espresso clif gel right before swim start.
-first 65 miles – bottle with 8 clif gels, appx 200 mg caffeine. 1 clif bar towards mile 50-65, 25 mg caffeine. A bit of salt in the bottle (1/4tsp).
-final 50 miles – could feel the stomach maybe a bit queasy. So slowed down on the gel intake. The bottle had 10 gels, 200mg caffeine, 1/4tsp salt. Drank 2/3 of it by the end.
-so that’s 1700 kcal, 375mg caffeine over about 5 hours, so 340/hour. Maybe 360/hour for the first half, 320/hour for the second half.
-drank a water bottle every aid station, and peed 4-5 times, a lot each time, during the bike.
-also took a water bottle every aid station to quickly pour over head, groin, back, arms
-off the bike guts felt fine, no sloshing, no cramping, no bathroom urge – all good.
-around mile 7 bathroom urge started
-every aid station, drank Gatorade or coke, plus a water cup. Also water over the head, on the forearms. Had redbull at a handful of aid stations during the second half of the marathon.
-mile 9 I think I used the portajohn the first time. I think each visit was about 1 minute. I had 5 total visits, between mile 9 and mile 22.
-walked through the aid stations mile 15-24. Ran through all the rest.
-post race, I felt fine for about 5 minutes.
-my legs hurt more than ever that afternoon and night. Glutes, hamstrings ached like mad. Feet hurt a bit, esp left outer arch. Skin was fine. Knees just sore, both of them on the front.
-stomach was f-ed the rest of the night. Bathroom visit very 15 minutes for the rest of the day. Was cold after the race (pretty normal), warmed up after a long hot shower, but never regained great control of my body temperature that night. Was just ruined feeling, stomach/bowels, legs ache, kind of feverish feeling. I’d be surprised if I didn’t have a fever. I should have taken my temp in bed, but was to smashed/feverish feeling to get/ask for the thermometer. It was hard to even enjoy/be pleased with how great the day was.
-in the morning, GI was fine and fever feeling was gone . Totally better. Jut had to lay down for 8 hours, sleep for some of them, and boom – legs still ached obviously, but felt waayyy better. Then I felt quite happy and pleased again.
0:59, 32nd overall out of the water
and for comparison Rachel swam 0:55, Patrick M 0:57, Tim O’donnell 0:49
-rolling start, got in the water maybe 20 or 30th person in. They were letting us in through a gate that only allowed 1 to fit through at a time.
-felt good pacing the whole way, never felt like I overdid it or that I should be going harder.
-skill did not feel great. It’s really hard to say if I was swimming well or not, but it felt just okay, not super skillful.
-sighting I know was piss poor. I kept finding myself 10-15 yards to the right (outside) of where I wanted to be, so kind of zig-zaged a bit down the course. Swam with a group/a person for maybe 1/3 of the time, otherwise was not behind anyone. Was all alone for the last 1/3, and I felt like I finally found a skillful stroke and straight swimming/sighting.
-got out of the water in 32nd and about 59 minutes, which seems like a decent time relative to other people we know.
4:52 (114.0 miles), 32nd overall out of the water and 7th amateur off the bike
-bike felt great the whole way. Started to feel some fatigue around mile 80, but could have rode this pace/effort/power for sure for 150 miles before dropping power.
-settled in to appx 135 hr quite naturally. I didn’t look at it too often or let it guide me too much, but whenever I did look, it was around 135. Around 130 for the last 40 minutes, as we went mostly downhill and into town. I don’t think it was ever over 150.
-as noted above, stomach started to feel a little less keen around mile 70, but never bad.
-back was pretty tight after mile 80. Felt like I had a huge rubber band around my hips and low back. The whole way I took opportunity to stand and pedal, but especially the final 30 miles I took advantage of every opportunity to stand and pedal or sit and stretch.
-was very aero the whole way. Focused on it quite a bit. Chin down, head down, shoulder blades down. And shoulders in when I was going really fast.
3:25, 7th amateur and 2nd 25-29 off the bike, 5th amateur and 1st 25-29 across the finish line
-1 hour close to 150 hr, 1 hr 150 down to 140hr, 1 hour at 136hr, 25 minutes at 147hr.
-felt good off the bike. Guts felt good, muscles all felt functioning, low back had a couple tight spots but nothing that was noticeably affecting me.
-first few miles it felt really jarring after a long morning of swimming and smooth cycling. The hard pavement, running downhill – it was just shockingly jarring. I wondered how the hell I would do it for a marathon. This feeling went away after a few miles and the running started to feel normal, like that’s what I had been doing all day.
-wore the saucony kinvaras size 10.
-I think I ran the first 10 miles in about 70 minutes, and was through the half in 1:35.
-the remainder of the run was much more effort and slower. The focus I kept coming back to was hip extension, stride length, letting the body (esp feet and hips and shoulders) move and do work automatically.
-mile 23 I started to work it hard, ’all-in’. There was a dude I really wanted to catch, and it seemed like I would not totally break down regardless of how hard I tried/fast I ran for the last 5k.
**-What was slowing me after mile 13? Could have run 1 more mile at 7 min pace? Sure. Maybe I should have, and then figured out what to do after that mile. Maybe I could have gotten closer to 7/mi pace if I would have done that. I was in extreme discomfort, trying hard, but I was not ‘all-in’ until mile 23. If I had gone ‘all-in’ at mile 13, who knows, maybe I could have figured out a way to hang on and run a 3:10. I played it more conservative than that – it seemed like, as long as I didn’t f- it up and walk for 5+ minutes, I was going to win the 25-29 and at least hold my overall position. So I did the pace I knew I could sustain with very little chance of completely falling apart. And it worked. Even with bathroom breaks, I held on to 8-9 minute miles from mile 13-23. And I ran a great final 5k. If I could stretch that ending ‘all-in’ portion from 5k to 10k or 15k, and get the beginning ‘good steady running’ portion from 12 miles to maybe more like 15 miles, then that would be the whole race – 15 miles of good steady running, a few uncomfortable miles, then 15k of ‘all-in’ extreme discomfort running.
What would I change for sure?
-faster bike frame, faster short-sleeve top.
-for this course, 26.2 miles on the concrete, run in hookas or something with more cushion and maybe a little more stiffness
-put my wetsuit on such that it doesn’t crush male-specific areas
-coffee in the morning, then no caffeine until the run or the very end of the ride
What would I consider changing?
-I really liked eating the clif bar at mile 50-60. So I like eating something solid, but would be open to not doing it or open to ideas other than a clif bar.
-Something nutritionally was obviously off. I shouldn’t be in the portajohn 5 times and then every 15 minutes for the remainder of the night. I had plenty of energy, that’s for sure – I tested my urine with a ketone strip after the race, and I had absolutely zero ketones going on, so I was nowhere near running out of glycogen. I’ve seen more ketones in my urine after long rides. So I would consider a lot of nutritional ideas:
-less calories on the bike
-a different source of calories (instead of clif gels)
-a different race day breakfast (cereal, pb, almond milk, coffee)
-a different pre race dinner (noodles, eggs, sweet potato)
-a different pre race lunch (killer daves multigrain bread, eggs, almond milk, pb, jelly)
-fluids were not an issue – I took in plenty of h2o, salt was fine, it was not hot on the bike
-less/no/different caffeine timing
-a different sequence of calorie days – I would say I ate more and more throughout the week, starting Thursday eve as a slightly larger than appetite dinner and ending Saturday 6pm with a significantly larger than appetite dinner. Like maybe Thursday and Friday need to be huge eating days, and Saturday less so. Or maybe I just need to eat normal everyday. Or maybe I ate so much more carbohydrate, way more than I’m used to, and that did it.
-the best GI days I’ve had (granted I was racing slower) were at IMWI ’14 and IMCDA ’15. And I think I only had a few gels and had mostly clif bars (maybe 5 or 6 of them). Also, I may have bonked at previous races, so can’t go to extreme on cutting calories.
-maybe try to force myself to run a hot mile starting at mile 20, and see what happens, if I can do it again, and again
-maybe ride a bit faster than comfortable
What am I really pleased about?
-All the equipment worked great all day
-stayed cool with water on the body during the bike, water on the arms and head during the run
-kept calm and carried on when the guts and the pace were falling apart on the run
-body was really smashed on Sunday night, muscles still really smashed Monday and Tuesday, and started to feel very recovered on Thursday and Friday. Sunday, 1 week post race, I feel perfect.
-smart riding – aero, stayed on calories and fluids
-was pretty nice to put shorts on in t2
-smiled a lot. A lot.
-didn’t race anyone until the last 5k.
-had a lot of fun with friends and family at the race
-had a lot of fun with friends in the race
-walked the aid stations when I knew I had enough time
-thanked a lot of volunteers
-healthy, happy, relaxed race week right up to race start
-ran a mile warmup before putting my wetsuit on
-structurally sound and healthy post race
-got to hang out with and share joy with teammates, coaches, friends and fam post race