Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ironman Hawaii 2010 Race Report - Sponsored by...Coke.

me and the Greenfield support crew...more pictures will come soon.

The race is over! After popping 2 Phenocane, 8 Recoverease, and liberally smearing topical Magnesium all over my body, I actually don't feel the same searing pain I felt after crossing the finish line. So since I'm awake at 3am after consuming nearly 20 caffeinated sugar gels and a crapload of Coke, here's the ultimate scoop on Ironman Hawaii, with my notes interjected into my pre-race plan...

The Swim:

My final workout leading up to this race was 10x400 at a 1:20 pace, and that was in a pool. In the choppy water, there will likely be an extra 5-10 seconds per 100, putting me out of the water in around 55 minutes. So this was my goal.

However, at the swim start, I managed to find myself caught up inside a group of several dozen swimmers who seemed determined to take the entire alloted time of over 2 hours to do the swim (I'm always curious why these folks line up at the FRONT of the swim).

It took me several precious minutes to fight my way out of this group and settle into my desired pace. As a result, I reached the halfway "boat" in 32 minutes, just a bit off pace - but really pushed the envelope coming back into the pier (by pushing the envelope, I mean that I mercilessly drafted off a big-boned guy with large feet who was wearing a PZ3+ skinsuit just like me) and made it back in 29 minutes for a swim time of 1:01.

Pre-swim: Slammed my 2 delta-E's and Enerprime, mixed into NutraRev. Although I was planning to take 1 double-caffeine GU Roctane, I kinda forgot it. So before I got in the water, I grabbed a half bottle of Powerbar Perform out of a trash can and drank that instead, keeping my fingers crossed that it wasn't someone's pre-race piss bottle.

The Bike:

T1 was fairly seamless and I felt fresh. I wore TheRecoverySock (my Raggedy-Andy style calf high-compression socks that take an extra minute to put on), drank a couple glasses of water and headed out. Mentally I split the bike into several key portions:

1. Makala Blvd loop - replace swim energy with a bag of GU chomps and 2 Athlytes salt capsules. I did this, and as expected, with as much sea water as I swallowed, had a bit of stomach cramping, but that always happens here. You just push through it and it goes away after 15 minutes or so.

2. Out and back on the Kuakini highway - bike fueling "clock" starts at Hot Corner - take 1 gel and 2 more Athlytes (fueling early and often is key for Ironman). Done. I was flying by people at this point.

3. Queen K to airport - hold ego back. Watch folks fly by me and trust my plan and 22-22.5mph pacing (that's AVERAGE - there will of course be portions where I'll probably be going 5mph into a headwind). I should be hitting the aid stations (spaced every 10 miles) every 50-55 minutes. At the second aid station, refill water bottle, and continue this for every other station. On the aid stations in between, grab a bottle for rinsing and cooling.

YIPES! Just before the airport, there was a big boom and I knew I'd flatted. In my haste to change the flat, I twisted the tube and had to re-insert it, making my total flat time 6 minutes and change. The flat wasn't that big of a deal, but it really affected my mental focus and my tracking of the race clock. As a result, I underfueled by nearly 90 calories per hour on the bike. This came back to bite me pretty hard later on.

4. Airport to Waikaloa - Stay cool and continue to fuel with 1 GU Roctane every 20 minutes, 2 Athlytes every 30 minutes, and half a bag of Chomps at the end of each hour (total 390 calories/hr).

Due to the flat, I was now back with primarily female age groupers, and had to work my way back up through the crowd while trying to avoid any drafting penalties.

5. Waikoloa to turn at Hawi - Don't burn out legs, prepare for toughest portion of course.

It started to get a little windy here, but primarily, I noticed that it seemed hotter than usual. Turns out that race day climbed into the low 100's, with pavement temperatures of 120 degrees! Water dosing became crucial at every aid station.

6. Climb to Hawi - Maintain cadence, no gear mashing, stay aero.

Annoyingly windy as usual, but nothing out of the ordinary. By this time, I was back into a crowd of competitive male age groupers.

7. Hawi turnaround - Get special needs bag, which will have 8 gels and 2 bags of Chomps, and a canister of Athlytes. (when I head out of T1, I will have 9 gels, 3 bags of Chomps and a canister of Athlytes).

Got off my bike for 30 seconds and stretched the hip flexors. Magical.

8. Hawi to turn back onto Queen K - focus and be prepared for crosswinds. Fuel when crosswinds are down, be ready to adapt.

Legs feeling good. Continuing to pass people.

9. Queen K to Waikoloa - get through this portion, and then a mental high-five - done with toughest portion of course.

Damn. It's hot.

10. Waikoloa to airport - stay mentally focused and positive.

Still picking up speed. Wondering how fast I could have ridden without flat. Between the 6 minutes gained from the flat and the faster crowds I would have been in, 5 hours was reasonable.

11. Airport to town - prepare to run. Stand and stretch several times. No gear mashing, cadence slows. Take final gel at Makala Blvd.

At this point, a referee motorcycle pulled up alongside me (Uh-Oh!), slowed down, and the official on the back gave me a big smile and a thumbs up. Guess I was doing something right.

Goal bike time: 5:00. Actual time: 5:12. Not bad with the flat. I can go sub-5 on this course in an ideal race (but do those exist?).

Run Strategy:

I planned on using a run-walk pacing plan for the marathon. For 21 minutes, I was going to run 7:15 minute miles, which would have put me at the 3rd aid station in 21:45-ish, where I would then walk for 60 seconds at a 15:00/mile pace, and then begin to run again. This strategy would allow me to run the marathon in about 3 hours and 10 minutes without overheating (core cools down during each walk).

But something didn't feel right coming off the bike. T2 was pleasant enough, but as soon as I started running, I didn't have the oomph I wanted. I slogged through 4 miles, then my world started to go a bit fuzzy. I stumbled onto a lawn and stood there for a few minutes mentally adding up the calories I consumed on the bike. Turns out I was closer to 300 than to 400 calories per hour. Not good, but I knew what I needed to do, since I felt like I was about to fall asleep.

I then walked to the nearest aid station and grabbed Coke, the only thing that seemed palatable at the time. 20 ounces of Coke later, I could feel my mood getting better. For the next 5 aid stations, I drank 8 ounces of Coke on ice. That's about 100 calories a pop. Interestingly, once you begin drinking Coke, no other nutrition really works well on your stomach, so I was forced into drinking Coke the entire race, although I reduced my intake to 3-4 ounces at every aid station after that point.

I only drank water twice, at about 4 ounces. I calculated the fluid in Coke to be enough, and didn't want too much fluid in my stomach. Aside from Coke, I also dumped ice down the jersey at every chance.

I also continued to take my Athlytes every 30 minutes. No cramping at all in 100+ degrees, thanks to these little babies...

Several intermediate landmark goals on the run I planned to include were:

1) Aid Station #3, where I will be able to check pacing.

I knew pacing was off here.

2) turn-around at Alii Drive (approx 5 miles)

I was walking by this point, and really thinking about withdrawing from the race. Pre-Coke.

3) Aid Station #6, another walk break.

Still off pace, but starting to feel good.

4) Aid Station #9, another walk break.

This was on Palani hill. I was really feeling the energy come back at this point.

5) Top of Palani drive, just past 10 miles.

I began passing a lot of folks on the Queen K.

6) Aid Station #12, another walk break.

Toughest part of the marathon really, slogging out to the Energy Lab on a long, lonely strip of highway with no end in sight.

7) turn into Energy lab. run to Special Needs, where I get one more canister of Athlytes, cross the timing mat, and turn around to head home.

Mile 18. Started thinking about pulling the trigger, speeding up and going to the pain-cave.

8) Aid Station #18, another walk break, and a decision of whether or not to speed up by 5 seconds per mile.

Sped up. Feeling good. Thanks Coke. Glanced at my watch and knew I could beat 10 hours. Funny how 90 minutes earlier I was ready to quit, and now I was making time goals. Goes to show that Ironman is a long day.

9) Aid Station #21, another walk break, and another decision of whether to speed up again by 5 seconds per mile.

Didn't want to stop and walk, eat or anything. But I forced myself too. Last thing I wanted was a bonk before coming back down Palani.

10) Aid Station #23: final walk break, and time to speed up and go to a world of pain.

Once again, tempted to not stop, but I did, for one more hit of Coke. Glad I did because once I got into town, just after the 3:30 marathon mark, I was beginning to bonk again.

The Finish:

The finish line, was of course, magical, and at 9:53, a Hawaii Ironman PR. As soon as I made it, I broke down crying (after flashing the peace sign of course).

My breath was coming in heaving sobs, and my legs were on fire with sharp pins and needles - I could barely walk. For nearly an hour, I simply sat on the beach in tons of pain, surrounded by friends and family, before I hobbled off for a massage.

Put another Kona in the books. Will I ever race this again? Maybe. I can get to the podium here with a good race, and that's tempting. Without a flat and a bonk, I would have been able to shave nearly 25 minutes, giving me the 9:30 I wanted. That's always what keeps you coming back...

But in the meanwhile, time for some R&R. Next stop: Rosehall International Distance Triathlon in Jamaica in 2 weeks -!

Key Nutrition Used In Ironman Hawaii (leave comments below if you have "usage" questions):

Pre-Race: Ancient Minerals Topical Magnesium Oil, Scape Sunblock, Enerprime, delta-E, Millennium Sports Carnage, Millennium Sports Cordygen VO2, Sweet Potatoes, nuun hydration, Peter Gillham's NutraRev

During Race: GU Roctane and Millennium Sports Athlytes,
delta-E at all special needs

Post-Race: Wicked Fast Recoverease, Ancient Minerals Topical Magnesium Oil, Mt. Capra Solar Synergy, Mt. Capra Double Bonded Protein, Bioletics Amino Acids, nuun hydration

Key Gear Used In This Race (leave comment below if you have questions)

Skinsuit: Blue Seventy PZ3+
Goggles: Blue Seventy Hydravision
Sunglasses: Zeal Optics "Slingshots"
Bike: Gray Storm TT
Saddle: ISM Road Saddle
Wheels: Gray 9.0 Clinchers
Helmet: Gray Aerodome Helmet
Pedals: LOOK Ti
Cycling Shoes: Specialized TriVent
Running Shoes: Avia Avi-Bolts
Compression Socks: "TheRecoverySock".


Steve said...

Way to fight through all the struggles. I had no idea it was that bad when you passed me at Mile 4.5.

Congrats on another Kona!!!

Bill said...

Thanks for sharing a humble race report. Vineman 70.3 was my first Half IM ever and I had a similar run experience involving Coke and short walking intervals. Your sub 10:00 time validated my run management. I was probably running 8 min. miles with a torn left quad, but the walks killed my average. I still beat my buddy's time though, and he refused to stop. I appreciate the nutrition posts as well.

Alan Kipping-Ruane said...

I was following you all day and noticed the times were off that you had given, but fantastic finish to an amazing race! You earned it Ben

Have fun in Jamaica

Luke Powell said...

Way to fight through obstacles and keep your mental edge! Congrats on the sub 10 hour Kona!

Big Daddy Diesel said...


Spokane Al said...

I like it. It is great to read how a coach and pointy edged racer overcomes challenges and difficulties and experiences many of the same issues that those of us further back in the pack are going through.

Great job and a terrific report Ben. Congratulations. said...


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