This report is written with the strategies envoked by my triathlon coaches and our team (Endurance Nation).
Total Time: 15:32:17 (1848 OA, 350 AG)
IMCDA Race Report and the Four Keys
This race report will not only depict my experiences and performance, but also highlight the importance of the Four Keys and other Endurance Nation “secrets” during my race.
The team EN dinner was fantastic. Great location and it was super getting to meet the rest of the team. The connections made at this dinner would later become ever important during the event.
Coach Rich gave his Four Keys talk on the Grassy Knoll to well over 80 people. It served as a good refresher for me, but as I looked around the crowd at the non-EN members, I could see some looks of amazement. “Does this stuff really work?”
Side Note: During the Athlete Pre-Race Dinner I was recognized as having lost the 2nd most amount of weight while training for this event. I won a cool body composition scale. Also, people are curious what I looked like 2 years ago. Can you believe this guy is going to become an Ironman in 2 years???
During a podcast, Coach P listed the importance of having checklists. I typically use checklists for stuff I need to take or put into certain bags, but I have never made a checklist that included things I needed to do on race morning. It seems I’ve always had race morning under control. At the last minute, I decided to make a detailed checklist that covered everything I needed to do on race morning from the time I got up until the time I set foot on the beach for the swim start. I was so thankful to have this checklist because my brain was so distracted when I got to the race site. My nerves were going nuts, I was excited and I tend to get ADD when this happens. Having the checklist kept me focused and I got things done. Even had time for a 20 minute warm-up jog.
Swim: 1:16:39 (2:01/100m—879 OA, 165 AG)
Key: Execution—“Swim only as fast as ability to maintain form.”
I didn’t bother asking other swimmers on the beach what their swim split expected to be, but I did take a look at who was twitchy, who was relaxed and who was scared s*tless. I worked my way down to the water’s edge and lined up directly behind the twitchy fellas in the front row.
Boom! As I predicted, the twitchy fellas took off like a shot, I followed close behind so I wouldn’t be trampled by the masses and plunged into the cold water. The water didn’t feel that bad, thankfully. I wore a neoprene cap for the first time and it seemed to work great cause I didn’t experience any discomfort during the swim (due to the cold).
The first 100m was pretty intense. With quick strokes and jockeying for position I was starting to hyperventilate. I tried to smooth out my strokes, but the steep waves made this difficult. I was not executing like Coach told me so I said, “Mile 18, Mike!” Amazing the first reference to THE LINE came in the first 100m. But it helped remind me to swim easy and with proper form. After that, the swimming went very well. I was relatively relaxed, except for an occasional gulp of water from the waves, or swimming into someone. I even got in some good drafting by following swimmers on the second lap.
“Slow is Smooth—Smooth is Fast”
In race prep I did not plan on having fast transition times. This being my first Ironman, I was more concerned with not missing anything. But I did keep the slow is smooth/smooth is fast mantra going in my head as I changed out. At my next Ironman I will work on being more efficient.
Bike: 7:36:50 (14.7 mph—1830 OA, 351 AG)
Key: Execution—Just Ride Along first 90 mins.
Going through town and then out along the lake I could see why Coach R said to pay close attention to your HR/watts. Racers were just cruising. Mashing it all the way. I just kept it steady and kept reminding my self, “it is a long day—Mile 18—Mile 18.”
When we got to the hills, sure enough Coach was right, guys were crushing it, while I kept it steady and I actually laughed out loud as bikers went whizzing by—Look I’m going backwards!
The “down and through” Coach P emphasized on the podcast worked like magic. I would maintain my effort across the crest of the hill and then down the first third or when I reached about 30mph and it would carry me a good portion up the next hill as I was passing some of the dudes who had crushed it earlier.
As for nutrition on the bike, I am still having difficulty in what works for me. I was using a mixture of protein & carbs and then an electrolyte bottle with Nuun tabs and then water in my aero jug. After mile 60 I was getting really tired and felt depleted. I was craving solid food. I ate some bananas and powerbars at the next few aid stations and started feeling better, but I ratcheted it back significantly because of THE LINE. And my box was clearly aid station to aid station the 2nd loop.
“Take this bike away from me, I don’t ever want to see it again!” That is what I said, but I said it jokingly to the volunteer. He replied laughing, “Gee, I haven’t heard that yet today.”
Again, slow is smooth, smooth is fast. I changed out of my tri-shorts into my running shorts. I hadn’t planned on this, but I was getting some bad chafing from the bike and decided at last minute to make the change. What slowed me down was that I put my hydration bottles in a small cooler to keep them cold while sitting outside during the swim and bike. I had to manage the taking of the bottles out of the cooler and then putting them onto the run belt. Next time I will just freeze them overnight and not mess with the cooler.
Run: 6:24:40 (14:40/mi—1848 OA, 350 AG)
Execution—Easy Run place plus 30” first 5 miles.
Okay, scratch that one because I can’t run right now, my legs are going into revolt.
Box—My box was very small at the beginning of the run. I walked the first 2 miles. In the back of my mind I knew about Mile 18, but the box was too small. I had to dig out my One Thing at this point and that was I wasn’t going to quit, period!
So I plugged along to the aid station and got in some calories. Mmmm, potato chips. These would wind up being the secret to my success. I hadn’t trained with potato chips before, but I was craving these salty, ridged chips of goodness. Between that and copious amounts of water and my G2 Gatorade in my run belt, I started feeling much better at mile 2.
So my box could get a little bigger. Okay, time to count the steps. I started with running 40 steps and then walking 20. I did several cycles of these and then increased it to 60 steps running and 30 walking. Then it was 100 and 30. As the cycles went by I was then able to increase my box to the length of a block or distance. “I will run from here to the turn, or to the sign and then walk 30 steps.” This tactic carried me the entire marathon.
THE LINE—Mile 18. Right at mile 18 I saw my good friend from high school as he was headed back to town and the finish line. He cheered me on and this gave me an incredible boost. I also had seen Carly, Aaron, Jay, Wendy and Al out on the course and they all had helped me get through other rough patches along the way. I was feeling “great” and started to get that excited feeling knowing I was going to finish!
As the sunset over the mountains, it was a beautiful evening.
is one of my all time favorite places to be and this was certainly one of the most memorable. I kept the run/walking thing going and was surprised I felt better and better as the miles added up. Lake CDA
I hit the turnaround and caught up to Carly and Aaron on our way back to town. We chatted it up for a bit and did some run/walking. I told them that I was on a mission and was going to keep going. They said, “go get ‘em Mike!” and I was on my way.
The run down
Sherman Ave to the finish was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The crowds, the cheers, the elation, the culmination of a dream. I felt like a champion as I ran what felt like an 8:30/mile pace the last third mile into the finish. Wow! I am and IRONMAN!