I will let the two Iron-newbies (Steve and Carolyn) give you a fuller account, but here are my highlights. BTW thanks for all the online encouragement!
Race conditions wear near perfect. The water was warm and calm and jam packed. It was wonderful floating there and watching the sun rise. Even as the gun went off people were still entering the water. WAYYYYYYYY too many people! DOT M greed?
It was a slugfest from the beginning. People commented on how rude and aggressive swimmers were. Pretty ugly really. We needed Judge KPOW to dish out some hockey justice! Despite wearing my favorite pair of goggles which had never ever leaked a teeny bit chose TODAY to leak just slowly enough not to know it, at first. So the right side fogged up quite a bit and couldn’t see well. Add that to the scrum, I was all over the place and my lines were highly inefficient. Still, I felt pretty strong, but was quite disappointed at my 1:09, which is by far my slowest IM time. However, it turned out to be my best (by far) percentile for an IM swim (top 11% age group). So, I guess other folks had a hard time too.
The T1 was an interesting and Looonnnngggg run up steep parking ramp helix and into the convention center for changing. When I took off my goggles I noticed right away that I was essentially blind in my right eye due to a full goggle x 1 hour! So, trying to open my tied bags with one far sighted eye turned out to be a real challenge and accounted much for my extremely long transition time. Plus, I just wasn’t sweating it that much and just stayed relaxed. My eye returned to normal in 20-30 minutes.
The bike took us back down the circular helix and out onto the course, which is my favorite bike course now. The temp was low 70’s with slight wind. The course was hilly and complicated which made the time go by very quickly. 112 miles? Really? Since this is MY LAST IRONMAN, I decided to hammer the bike and use RPE (relative perceived effort) and not fixate too much on HR. the course was definitely more challenging than CDA. The three big hill climbs were topped by throngs of energetic, costumed folks ala Tour de France. Fun.
I never really felt tired on the bike, but had some unfortunate nausea possibly secondary to too concentrated a drink mix or to the use of race caffeine (200 mg every 2 hours) plus I ejected one of my drink bottles and could not stomach solids, soooooooo my nutrition plan was in tatters. I was pleased with my bike time, which was faster than CDA (and not that much slower than pancake flat IM Australia) but had to dig deep and my av HR was 8-10 BPM over my lactate balance point (uh oh!). So, 16.9 MPH average. So far, not to bad.
By the run the temp had started to climb a bit (80 degrees max) and probably would not have been much of an issue except for near zero heat acclimatization this “summer” in Montana. My legs actually felt pretty darn good BUT my guts shut down just 3 miles into the run (just like IM western Australia) and so any ingestion of fluid or calories was rewarded with nasty debilitating gut cramps and, um, well gas. I fell pretty far behind the fluid curve and got dehydrated. Started waking and hoping for relief. Pretty much 18 miles of grinding misery, until…………the sun went down and it got cool and my guts began to accept things again. Gels, cola and water was like Popeye’s spinach and I began to run again and actually felt pretty darn good and started enjoying myself again. Cool! It was dark by then (never been an IM creature of the night before!) and one could see the extremely impressive Capitol (which marks the finish line) all lit up and reflecting in the lake at about mile 22. I was able to finish with a little bit of a kick the last 1/2 mile or so. Av pace 12:58/ time 5:40. One ugly marathon.
The biggest treat, of course, was watching Steve and Carolyn finish their first IM! Helena is getting pretty short of IronVirgins!
So, this is my last Ironman for sure. I will just have to be satisfied being a middle of the pack age grouper for this kinda thing.
My goal was to keep it under 15 hours and so 13:51 was just fine by me. Oddly, the debilitating IT band that had plagued me all season long and kept my run miles quite low ( and almost had me withdraw) did not show up at all! Probably a combo of so much walking and the use of a IT band, uh, band with a lidoderm patch next to the skin.
Thanks again everyone for your support and advice. Time to go chase some elk!!!!!!!!!!