Tuesday, August 29, 2017

IM Florianopolis ~ The 2-8-7 Race Recap

A solid night's rest.  It's dark outside and raining.  It's time to get going for Ironman Florianopolis.  A quick bite to eat.  I grab my special needs bags, my nutrition and a few other last minute items and head out to the athletes village and transition area to drop these items off.
Saying Good Morning to my beautiful girl
A little reminder to myself while peddling
It's a beautiful morning for an Ironman
After dropping these items off, I then went back to the hotel.  Instead of staying out in the cold, rain for a few more hours, I decided I would go back to the hotel room, stretch, roll out my back, hydrate, get in a few more calories and just relax in a quite and warm atmosphere.  I figured I would expend less energy staying warm and dry inside rather than cold and wet out.  I would also be able to chill and relax.
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I got back to my room and gave my Ironbuddy Hal a call that I was back and getting ready to go.  My gear was all laid out, my hydration and my food was all set.  45 minutes to go time....what shall I do??  How about getting on social media to thank all those well wishes and supporters?  Sure why not.
It seemed so bizarre to me to be hanging out in my room on the computer with less than an hour to go before an ironman race .  Soon enough, I needed to go. Hal and I locked up and headed out the door for the beach.  
It's about time....Let's Do This!!
The weather was a bit overcast and cool but the rain had stopped.  Phew....who wants to swim when it's raining??  I lubed up, put my wetsuit on.  Yep, wetsuit legal in Brazil! I was able to splash around and loosen up for a bit.  I gave Hal a hug goodbye and headed for the starting line.
This was my 1st race in the 50 -54 age group and we were the last wave to take off.  This was the most interesting swim course I have every seen.  Most swim courses that I've done are rectangular or trapezoidal in shape.  This course was like writing a squared out capital letter M backwards.  The starting line was  the bottom right corner of the M and on the shore.  You ran down the beach and into the oncoming waves.
That's me in the white cap
You swam out approx 1050 yards or .6 miles to the top right corner of that M.  I stayed to my usual game plan and hugged the inside lane of the buoys.  During our practice swim there was a strong current coming into the shore and from left to right.  Today it was not as strong but it was in the same pattern.  My practice swim prepared me for my angle of swimming and approach to the water.  Growing up on the ocean helped me to attack the waves and take off into the surf.  I made a conscious effort not to go out too fast and settled into a real nice rhythm.  Yesterday I was concerned I was even going to make it to the starting line and right now in this moment, as several other moments in this race, I was soo incredibly happy doing what I was doing and appreciating where I was in the world.  Before I knew it, it was time to make my first left turn.  275 yards later another left turn and .6 miles back to shore.  The swim back to shore was great as you were able to ride the current in.  I found a fellow faster swimmer and tucked in behind him.  I was able to conserve some energy by drafting off of him and then body surfed my way back to the beach.  Running onto the beach high fiving Hal, around a fence and back into the crashing waves for the second half of the swim.
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I observed the waves take out a few more racers and again gave thanks to growing up on the shores and beaches of Long Island.  I hopped over a few breakers and dove right back into it.  I was having a blast and thus far, best part....no back issues.  I continued the second half of the swim with no issues.  I was able to maintain a decent distance between myself and other swimmers as not to ruck over one another.  I couldn't seem to find anyone that I could latch onto and draft so I just swam.  Before I knew it I was at that final turn and heading back to shore.  Current with me, I increased my stroke rate and relaxed my breathing allowing the water to do the work.  As I got closer to shore I noticed people standing and having there legs taken out from the waves.  I chuckled to myself and just enjoyed the ride as the surf took me to the sand.  I was able to see Hal again for another quick high five and then into the changing tent.   My back was feeling pretty good as I took my time to change out of my wet clothes and into bike kit.  I used this idea of maximum comfortably in Boulder IM '16.   Knowing I wasn't pushing it due to my back pains my plan is to be as comfortable as possible.  Bike shorts have greater padding in them then tri shorts so why not?  I took the extra time to outfit myself, checked and double check that I had all that I needed.  I was debating whether I wear my sunglasses or the shield that attaches to my helmet.  I never wore the shield before and my stomach turned a little on the thought of trying something new in a race.  But a voice inside said, go for it.  I believed the shield would be better protection for my eyes with all the rain.  I decided to go for it.  I then spent a few minutes stretching out my back and hips. It was cold and rainy and I didn't want to tighten up.  Out of the chair and on my way to get my girl for a 112 mile spin.  All in all I was happy with where I was at.....Physically & Mentally.  Very different from just 24 hour earlier when I though Hal and I might just stay in the hotel today and drink our faces off.  I didn't know it at the time but I was sitting at ...

Swim: 1:13:03
T1: 15:34

My 2-8-7 game plan had me at a combined 2 hours for swim and T1combined.  Currently I was at 1:28 combined.  32 minutes better than planned.  At the end of the day I did about 20 minutes better  in the swim and about 10 minutes better in transition than I had expected.  I'll take it!
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I caught Hal again before I took Bella out and we were off.  My plan on the bike was to be just like in Boulder.  Peddle until some stiffness or about 25~30 miles into the bike and then pull over and sit, lay down, do what ever I needed to stretch out.  Just take it easy and manage the bike section of the race. I felt great with my nutrition and my game plan.  I headed out of town on the cobblestone type of road.  Thank goodness this stretch wasn't much more than a mile or so.  We'd now be out of town for approx. 55miles before we turned around for our second lap.  The course was relatively flat with 4 decent climbs.  The rain continued to come down but I tried to stay aggressive.  At approx mile 20 there was an off ramp clover leaf that dampened my spirits of staying aggressive or put me in a reality check.  I was going a bit fast and trying to make the turn but I couldn't slow down fast enough and cut the turn tight enough due to the rain.  I thought I was going into the cement embankment or my wheels were going to slide out from underneath me.  I took a deep breath and attempted to gain control of the situation and I did just that.  Note to self....any downhill turns lay off the throttle for now on.  At about mile 25 I caught up to Sandi, she was looking great out there.  Something that wasn't looking so great was my Garmin Watch.  Go Figure!!  Two days earlier, I took Bella out for a ride and everything was in perfect sync with my power meter and my Garmin watch.  Of course, not now.  The readings had me off the charts over 1400 watts.  I actually couldn't fully comprehend this and thought it was working fine.  Do I normally peddle at 140 watts in an IM or 1400 watts??  Though when I slowed down some and rode easier it was registering as 0 watts.  How could this be?  I was still producing power.  It couldn't be ZERO.  Well then I also must not be producing 1400Watts.  DAMN!!!  I guess I can't count on reading and measuring my power output.  I'll just keep peddling with what feels good.  About 30 miles into the bike, I went to wipe my shield and of course the lenses popped out.  I don't know how but I managed to catch the lens preventing it from surely getting crushed under my wheel or from one of several bikes that were behind me.  I slowed down and pulled over.  I worked to put my lens back in and tried to figure out how I popped it out in the first place. I was getting a little amped about not riding and losing time on the clock.  Then I thought, dude, just relax. Use this as a break.  Enjoy it.  Work your back some and get back into the game.  5 miles later I saw the flashing lights of the lead vehicle escorting the 1st place racer.  I wondered who it was.  The guy looked familiar but I was 100% sure.  It felt like a long time before I started getting lapped by the other pros.  Damn that guy in the front must have a huge lead.  Little did I know at the time it was fellow Boulderite Tim Don.  Tim hails from the UK but also trains at Rally Sport and resides in Boulder.  The huge gap between him and 2nd place was because Tim was on his way to set the World Record for the fastest Ironman race.  Needless to say I never saw Tim on the course again.  He was probably finishing the race at or about when I was beginning my run.  Before I knew it I was at the turn around for the second lap and there was my Ironbuddy....
We're wet, cold and tired but having a blast!!
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I got off Bella for a few minutes to move around some out of the saddle and the chat with Hal.  I was having a fantastic day.  My back was so so but 1000 times better than in Cabo, my last attempt at an IM where I pulled myself from the course, right about where I was right now distance wise.  I felt like I was riding fast but also felt like I was starting to slow down.  A hug and a kiss and I was off again.  The second lap was much like my first, rainy at times, difficult heading up the few inclines, taking it easier on the downhill and turns.  I still to this day and amazed at Tim's feat and bike split, wondering how he handled the course so fast without losing control of his bike.  Every race, I seem to get a song stuck in my head, particularly on the bike and this race was no different......Volare was the song of the day.  I was belting it out loud and loud it was.....

Volare, oh, oh!
Cantare, oh, oh, oh, oh!
Nel blu, dipinto di blu
Felice di stare lassù
Nel biu, dipinto di blu
Felice di stare lass

I was passing fellow racers singing at the top of my lungs and I would hear them laugh as I rode by.  I rode into a long tunnel and it was VOLARE  OH, OH!  A few times during the remainder of the day, I would see people in the race and they would look at me smile and call out....Volare!!!!  For some strange reason, I felt it connected us.  Here I am singing Volare...Cantare at the top of my lungs during the middle of an Ironman race in the cold and wet when other people are fading and struggling mile at 100 into the bike, I am dancing and laughing and singing in the saddle.  I thought it was pretty f*cking funny that this English speaking American is singing an Italian song in Brazil where they speak Portuguese.  I felt light and very happy.  It is just now as I type these words that I think about the words from the song and how apropos it was to sing it at that time........

Flying, oh, oh!
Singing, oh, oh, oh, oh!
In the blue painted blue.
Happy to be up there.
In the blue painted blue.
Happy to be up there.

My maternal grandparents came to mind a few times during the bike portion of the race and again just now, I wonder if it was them that put this song in my head as they looked down at me from above in the painted blue sky.  Who knows??  I'd like to believe this is true.  Perhaps it was them who was also with me on that hairpin corner.  I got off my bike three times here in Brazil to stretch out my back.  Each time for about 10 minutes.  In Bouder I had done the same thing but Six times.  I didn't feel I needed it as much here which made me happy to think of the progress my back had made.  Although I was in great spirits, I was also ready to get off of Bella.  My back did have about enough of riding.  There was a definite decrease in my power.  This was probably more so due to the lack of conditioning than anything else.  Although looking at my Garmin my power numbers were still off the charts as I was peddling at about 1000 Watts.  One final turn, a short stretch and I was heading back towards transition #2 to call an end to biking for the day.  Bella and I had another great ride together.  Little did I know for myself on this day timewise how good it was.
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Bike: 6:31:52
T2: 15:56
My 2-8-7 game plan had me at a combined 8 hours for the bike and T2combined.  Currently I was at  about 6:48 combined.  1hr 12 minutes better than I expected.  Again, I had no real clue at to my time as I wasn't out there comparing it to the 2-8-7 game plan.  I was just racing.   I did about 1hr 10 minutes faster on the bike and again about 10 minutes better in transition.  I'll take it!

All that was left was walking the marathon.  I'm not too sure many people set out on their day saying, "Man, today I am going to walk a Marathon".  But that was all part of my plan.  Swim and ride and then coast the last 26.2 miles  It wasn't a coast by any means.  I did set off walking through town which was a little odd as everyone was cheering and yelling for athletes and here Hal and I are walking down the block talking.  A spectator ran out on the course and joined us as I had my Colorado shorts on and he wanted to chat about Colorado with us.  Pretty funny but all good.  In transition, I had changed out of my cold, wet 303 Bike Jersey and bike shorts and put on my dry Nuun Jersey and Colorado Running (Walking) shorts.  I continued to rock 303 with our ball cap.  I felt like I was fully representing and head out of town.  

Cheeeeeeze! 

Around mile 3 there was this hill.  I was quite surprised that such a hill would be in the marathon of an Ironman let alone in any marathon.  My knees were definitely achy after that 10k portion of the race, predominately due to the down hill sections.  It was during this section that Sandi had caught up to me.  Like before, she was moving well.  She had a nice jog on.  Little by little my feet started to pay the price of being wet all day.  I could tell that one toenail was off or hanging on and that blisters were starting to form on both feet.  Even though there were times during the marathon I wanted to run, perhaps out of shear boredom, I couldn't.  Save to play another day became my motto.  My knees hurt, my feet were blistering, I was wet, the evening started getting cooler and now my back was starting to say "Hello, remember me??"  It was a long marathon.  I was doing what I set out to do, in the fashion I laid out for myself.  I continued to hydrate, to intake calories and attempted to keep myself as warm and as dry as possible as the rain persisted on and off for all of the 26.2 miles.  This was the slowest marathon I have ever completed to date.
As we started the day cold, wet and smiling, so did we end it!
2+8+7 = 17 Two hours combined swim and T1, Eight hours combined bike and T2, Seven hours for a walking marathon equals the required time it takes to cross the finish line and be called and "Ironman"  17:01 and you DNF.  I completed the marathon in 7:06:47.  Six minutes and forty seven seconds slower than I had planned.  Combine my run walk with my bike and swim along with the transitions times and I was a 6 time Ironman finisher.  I took flight to the finish crossing the finish line to have my Ironbuddy Hal right there waiting for me.
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What a crazy whacky 3 years and 6 months of Ironman Triathlon racing it has been.  Although I had to drop out of IM Cabo at 2 different times in the last 1.7 years due to my back, I have been #TrulyBlessed to have been able to cross the finish line 6 times in those 3+ years.  To have the love and support and fortitude to keep going.  I love racing and everything about it.  The healthy lifestyle, the hard work, being pushed and seeing what my mind and body & spirit can do and endure, the countless friends and relationships I have formed, the love and support of my peers and family memebers, the feeling of being absolutely humbled by my fellow athletes all along while traveling to some pretty great places.  Oh did I mention that I sometimes manage to have some fun doing them too??
We've finished 3 of my 6 Ironman races together

Moving onto the second hand #6
Six time Ironman Finishers "Marty & Bella Nera"
"Fly me to the Moon let me play amongst the stars"
Post Race Bloody Mary's are for Finishers
Swim: 1:13:03
T1:      15:34
Bike:   6:31:52
T2:      15:56
Run:   7:06:47
Total: 15:23:12