Let's get the quick hits out of the way: I had my first race DNF ever. I wish I could say that it was because I simply wasn't tough enough to gut through the day; I wish I could say that it was an injury that I could point my finger at. Instead, I'm left with a whole lot of questions, and my security blanket of "what the hell is wrong with me?" (Well, more than normal.)
At any rate, here's the long version of the report:
Leading Up: Project All-In.
The goal with this race was to go under five hours. Let there be no mistake here; I was either going under five hours or I was going to fly very close to the sun and my wings would melt off.
Of course, the best laid plans can be derailed, which with my back/piriformis thing that went on, I missed some workouts in the lead up. But I felt like I was still firing on all cylinders when I needed to dig in. I thought that, with some willingness to suffer, we'd still be right on track.
As it was, we figured that off of my training numbers, a solid race breakdown would look like this:
This lead to this exchange on Twitter the day before the race:
@rrheisler @tdarling1 that's what's we want to hear!!This Tweet proves a bit humorous in retrospect. Seriously...who says that? (referring to myself).
— KPerham (@KPerham) June 1, 2013
Of course, as we all know: it proved insanely hot during the weekend of the race. I was working with the Rev3 crew in retail, and we were busy trying to keep people hydrated and make sure to get some electrolytes in, too. I probably overdid it a bit by pulling a couple 12-hour days before the race, but in the back of my head I also knew: I've finished this race before messing up everything, so I'll be fine.
Yep. You can see where this is going.
We put some sweet Reynolds 72 Aeros on the bike, took it out for a test spin where everything felt good. My SRM decided it wasn't going to work. (Editor's Note: As it turns out, the sensor cable was being pinched by the Shiv bladder. Sigh...) Fine, I know what too hard feels like. Did a quick one mile run, and then racked everything up. Went to dinner with the Rev3 Retail crew, and then headed to bed. It's go time.
Race Morning: Relaxation
I woke up on Sunday pretty calm. Finished packing up my bags, headed over to the race site, wrapped up transition pretty easily, and got myself some breakfast. Made fun of Charlie, gave Eric my thanks for the primo spot in transition, and just had some fun.
The thing I noticed the most was how relaxed I felt. There was no pressure. I felt like I had done so much work, now it's time to just show off a little bit. I was so relaxed, in fact, I missed the pro starts. I didn't get down onto the beach until about 30 minutes before my swim wave start.
New this year is a great swim warm-up at the start, which was much appreciated. Put in two simulated starts, just to get the heart rate up for a minute. And got myself ready to go.
Adam joined me at the start line, and soon it was time for Sean English to give the counts:
One minute to go.
30 seconds to go.
10 seconds. Relax. Have fun.
5 seconds. Get ready.
Air horn. Go time.
I had joined a masters swimming program here in Maine, and it has proven incredibly beneficial. I felt very confident in the water, and knew that I could really push the swim if I so chose, but a comfortable pace would give me a 32:00 swim.
The initial rush into the water was pretty controlled. I had lined up to the left of the start, plotting a direct line toward the turn buoy. The swim at Quassy is a triangle. Directly behind the buoy this year was a large pile of rocks, so there was something to pretty easily sight off of.
Adam immediately was gone. I tried to stay with him for the first 200 meters, and then just let him go. I found some feet and tried to stay on them. This proved effective until the second sight buoy, when we started running into the previous swim wave. After flopping around a little bit, I worked my way to the left edge, a route that some of the pro men had taken. I knew this was a little bit longer, but figured I'd be making up the time rather than getting kicked and fighting with people for space.
I had set my Garmin to alarm every five minutes so I knew where I was time-wise. Made it to the first turn buoy just after the watch had alerted for the second time. You make the turn, and you're just staring into the sun. One of the lucky parts of being a later swim wave, though, is that you get to see what direction the masses are heading in, so just follow in.
I sighted about every 8th stroke. This was a good compromise for me between speed and staying on track. I'd already gone far left once, and didn't want to do much more extra swimming than I had to.
I made the second turn buoy just after the Garmin alarmed for the fourth time, so I knew I was right where I wanted to be. I also knew from experience that the sighting buoys for this last stretch pointed you a little more in the direction of the beach where you started, rather than the swim exit itself. That had a different red buoy on it, to make sure people didn't run into the dock that sits there. So I set my sights on that deck and swam right for it.
The watch alarmed again just as I got near the deck, so I knew I was right where I wanted to be. Swam until my hand hit the bottom, started to get up, looked at the watch, and saw 31:55. BOOM. Takes a couple seconds to reach the timing mat, but I knew I was right where I wanted to be.
I struggled a second with the right leg of my wetsuit, which cost me a few seconds. It was really crowded at the mount line, so it took a second to find some clear space to get up and get going. And away we went.
I got up and got going on the bike. Gave myself a little while to let my stomach settle, and then started sucking down some nutrition. I went with about 600 calories of my drink mix in about 66 oz. of fluid. I also had 400 calories of gels in a nutrition flask, mixed with a little water.
Once again, I was preaching patience to myself. Get down to Thomaston with a full tank of gas, and then get up and get going.
My back started to act up a little bit almost immediately in the ride. I slid a little bit on the saddle, found what felt like a very comfortable position, and got back on the pedals.
I felt like the bike was sluggish. As in, is something rubbing? I can't push any gear! I checked, found the wheels were where they were supposed to be. I didn't find anything that I could fix...so away we went again. Guess I'd need to be doing my work on the downhills, etc.
My plan was to snag a bottle of water at every aid station. So I needed to make sure I was getting my nutrition in. I got through the first bottle pretty quickly and was able to grab my bottle at mile 15. Half over the head, half into the tank.
Unfortunately, I gaffed the bottle exchange at mile 30. Went to snag the new bottle, got it, got some over my head and some in the mouth, and simply missed the bottle cage on my bike. It rolled directly into the "last chance to throw trash" location...so I lucked out there. I also knew that the next aid stations was in 12 miles, so I had enough on board to keep working with what I had.
I knew Adam would be ahead of me getting out of the water. I was hoping to catch up with him around the out and back on the bike. At mile 35 I saw the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. kit and Kuota. I yelled up to him. He turned around, and it was on.
We kept legal distance and traded position a fair bit. Still felt like something was rubbing on the bike. I just couldn't push anything out. Alright, go with what you brought to the table...
Hit the last little bit of the bike course, and got ready for transition. Got the last bit of nutrition in that I could, and was ready to go.
Got into transition, racked the bike, sat down, threw my shoes on, and got myself ready to head on out. Ran into Eric, got a high five, saw that Adam had beat me out of transition by two seconds. Dammit.
Run: 18:40 (or so my Garmin says).
I ran out of transition, and felt a little crampy in the legs, but otherwise OK. I knew that it was going to take 1:40 to come in right at the five hour mark.
Told Adam when I caught with him that I wanted to puke. This is pretty common when I get to the run. My stomach and I simply aren't friends when it comes to the run for these things. I have to wonder what, nutritionally, might make up for that. I still haven't gotten that right.
Flew through mile 1, as it is screaming downhill. I took ice, water, and cola. Everything I could to cool off, get some calories in, and hopefully settle the stomach a little.
I remember it feeling really, really hot out on the road, but nothing moreso than normal. I was getting ready to find that mental zone of being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Made the right turn to head towards the hills. Still feeling pretty warm, but otherwise OK.
The aid station for mile 2.5 comes at the top of the hill. I remember seeing it from the bottom of the hill, and starting to grind up the hill.
Then I thought, "I don't remember these sunglasses being this dark."
I still feel queasy, but OK. Get something at the aid station.
From what I've been told, this is where I went down. Like someone shot me. Down. Done. Nothing.
The next thing I remember is Adam trying to pull on my arm to get me out of the road.
I couldn't see.
Adam yelled out to the aid station volunteers. Somebody brought over a ton of ice. I started getting it everywhere I could. I didn't know what the hell just happened, but if it was body temperature related I was getting it down right now.
I then asked for the grocery store: cola. Salt. Pretzels. Ice. Water. Everything, please. I felt a little bit better.
Naturally, trying to be a hero, I decided "well shit, I'm going to finish this thing!" I tried to stand up. Everything started spinning again.
I'll take my blanket of hatred and self-loathing now, please.
Got a ride back to transition, where I made the call to get into the ice bath. Even though my core temp reading was overall pretty normal, I figured it'd be worth it regardless.
So, what the hell happened?
Well, it's my thought currently that there were three things wrong: heat, overexertion/system overload (I'm now working on a little bit of a sore throat/cold thing, so I wonder if my system had that in it and was trying to do that while I was asking it to race near redline for five hours...), and nutrition failure.
I simply don't think I've got the nutrition right. When your stomach continually is revolting against you when you get to the run, regardless of racing or training, something can't be right. I haven't found something yet where my stomach is happy, and my body feels right. It's always been a compromise.
On Sunday, I wound up getting in about 230 calories/hour in on the bike. I've raced on more, and I've raced on less...but I don't know if it's the right thing yet. I've experimented a lot, and it looks like its time to experiment more.
Found a couple of things wrong with the bike, which may or may not have had an impact on things. But I also think that, next time, I'll need to be a little smarter with how much I do before a race.
Well, overall I feel OK now. It's time to figure out how to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Rev3 Old Orchard Beach is a mere 82 days away; Rev3 Cedar Point, 96 days out. Do I wait that long before going racing again? Not quite sure yet. I want to just go hammer out another race. Perhaps Williamsburg. I'll be consulting with Doug to figure it all out. I was planning on using OOB as my last hard training day for Cedar Point...do I want to be trying to hammer out a big sub 5 two weeks before a FullRev? Or do I go out there in a couple of weeks to dial it in? Still need to work it out with Doug.
There's a lot to learn and sift through. And now it's time to make sure those lessons stick.
Many thanks to Rev3, blueseventy, Quintana Roo, Pearl Izumi, Reynolds Cycling, PowerBar, Biotta Naturals, Compex, and NormaTec for the support. Wish I could've given you better, guys.