This is my first blog. I’m going to give it a shot to gauge the interest out there. It seems like a great way to get your thoughts out there and share knowledge.
Woke up about 3:30 after not getting much sleep (pretty standard for Ironman mornings). I hopped in the shower to try to wake up, then headed up stairs to eat breakfast. My buddy John Gavin and I chatted at breakfast about the upcoming race. Had a banana, bagel with cream cheese, a boost and I had planned on eating another banana, but I felt so full I was a little nauseated. Made the 40 minute drive over to CDA from Spokane with John and my wife Morgan. We got to the site at about 5:15. Last year I felt overwhelmed and rushed to get everything done. It was much easier the second time around. Dropped some things I had forgotten to put into my bike and run bags off, pumped up my tires, filled my aero bottle and put my water bottle of 4x concentration accelerade on my bike. Found a somewhat hidden bathroom. Only had to wait in a line of about 10 guys to get into a stall and make sure that was last time I had to do that for the day. After that I went to put the wetsuit on. As I was putting it on the pros started and I knew I had about 35 min. Got the wetsuit on in plenty of time this year and headed down with about 25 min to spare.
John and I walked onto the beach and ran into fellow Matt Anderson (local triathlete/fish who I knew would come out of the water WAY ahead of me. We chatted for a little bit then I swam around and peed in the water for about 5 minutes (5 minutes swimming only about 20 seconds of peeing).
The cannon goes off and a mass of humanity surges into the lake. I started middle about 2 rows back. I let the people run in that wanted to and walked quickly behind them. I started with a good amount of clean water for about 300 yards and then the walls closed in around me. I think I drifted left and ended up right on the buoy line. There were a lot of people and things got incredibly physical. I tried to swim but I was mostly just moving with everyone else in a general direction. About 50 yards from the turn buoy I started to mentally prepare myself for the craziness. I came right up behind the buoy and instead of swinging out way around I basically just swam underwater around the outside edge. I popped back up and started swimming. I couldn't see the next turn buoy because of the sun, so I just started swimming straight. Before I knew it I saw a couple kayaks with bullhorns yelling at everyone to go right. I glanced up and could now see the turn buoy was out farther than the first. I was trying to make my way right, but there was a pro woman who got caught on her second loop that would not budge and kept swimming straight. We kept bumping eachother until She realized where she was started heading to the bouy. I made to the buoy, and did a quick 180 around it and headed back to the beach. I came in at 35 minutes and that was right where I wanted to be. I started the next loop and found more clean water. The second loop was uneventful and I ended up at 1:09:23. Right where I thought I would be.
What would you do differently?:
I put in a good amount of work swimming this winter and I was pretty happy with this time.
Out of the water and running up the beach. It was hard to run on the beach in the sand, but once I got clear of that I was able to get going okay. Couldn't find my bag at first. I thought it was closer to the swim exit. It's amazing how stupid you are coming out of the water.
What would you do differently?:
Know where my bag is.
This is where the race really begins. I came out of the transition and started riding somewhat hard. I was passing a lot of people, but I knew I wasn't going too hard and I would have some time to make up from my swim. I felt like I was taking it easy, but I just continued to pass people for the whole first loop. By the time I made it to the second loop I estimated I was at about 50th amongst amateurs, but I had no idea where I was age group wise and I was starting to go to a bad place. This being my second ironman here I pretty much expected it. I don't think I go out too hard I just need more solid food. At about mile 60 I started feeling tired! My stomach didn't feel great, but I knew from last year that I needed to eat. I forced down a snickers, which is much easier than forcing down a power bar and started drinking a lot more. At the aid stations I started dumping a bottle of water all of over me and drinking as much as I could of another before the end of the aid station. With about 30 miles left I was out of the 4x concentration accelerade, but I wasn't too worried. I started using diluted Gatorade and headed back to town. I think I probably drank too much because I peed about 4 times on the second loop. That partially explains my slower second loop and also the run starts to creep into your mind about that time. Finished up the bike and was very happy with my bike split.
What would you do differently?:
This is a point I know I could have made up some time. I knew coming into this that I would have to take a minute or two longer than I would have liked. I had some compression sleeves that I needed to put on. I also had a pain patch for my knee that I was planning on using until it fell off. It's pretty good size so my plan was to used athletic tape and the top of the compression sleeve to hold it on. It took a minute to get everything dumped out and in looking back I made it too complicated. For you new folks out there keep it simple. I had a change of sunglasses a visor, change of socks, Tylenol, gels, compression and the pain patch and tape. I went to put the pain patch on and apply tape. On the first pull of tape the roll was empty. This was worrisome. I was counting on this thing and I needed tape fast. I told the volunteer helping me and he ran to get some. He came back with duct tape which didn't work so well. I tried it anyway, and hurried to get my compression and socks and shoes on. A quick note. I used laces on my shoes. I just prefer to have the shoes tied to my desired tightness and not rely on quick laces for a 3:30 hour run. I was glad I did. Okay back to transition. I got everything on and ran over to the urinal. I started to go and a guy walked up next to me and started about the same time. He finished and headed out the tent. Another guys walked up next to me and started an finished as I was still going. It was starting to get extremely frustrating!! I finally finished after about a minute and ran out of the tent. (the tape was already coming off.
What would you do differently?:
Keep it simple!
I know I said the race began at the bike....but this is actually where it begins. I came out of transition with duct tape hanging off my leg and compression sleeves. I must have been looking like a real contender. I felt okay starting the run but I had 2 things on my mind 1) This tape is driving me crazy and 2) how far can I run before my IT band tightens up and I have to either walk or drop from the race completely. I had been dealing with this IT band problem for 3 weeks prior to the race. I did 2 physical therapy sessions, and about a million foam roller sessions. I ran maybe two time in those three weeks and they were slow easy 3 and 4 miles both of which ended in me stopping due to discomfort. The only thing that seemed to get my legs loose was acupuncture. I'm not a big believer in holistic healing but I saw the acupuncturist twice and both times left feeling 100 percent better. Anyway back to the race. I ran to the first aid station which is maybe 1/2 mile from T2. I went to the med tent and asked for some athletic tape. I was clearly the first person to stop and this tent as they had nothing out. They looked very surprised and scrambled to find the tape. After about 30 seconds of fumbling around they found the tape and started staring at my knee. At that point I decided it would be better to just take the tape myself. I wanted to get out of there!! I grabbed the tape and wrapped two full circles around my knee at the top of the patch. It seemed to work so off I went (only stayed on for about 4 miles). I knew I had passed a guy in my age group at the end of the bike, and he passed me back with my slow transition so I thought I needed to push the pace a little. My first mile was a 7:30 (my goal pace) with the first aid stop. It didn't feel too bad, but it didn't feel great either. I came to the first turn around and saw the guy in my AG was about 2 minutes ahead of me. I had also seen 2 other guys from my age group ahead of me and they all looked like they were running faster than me. I thought I was probably around 15th in my AG and figured my Kona dreams were over. I ran a 7:02, 7:32, 7:45, 7:25, 7:32, 7:43 then I kind of settled into about an 8-8:15 pace. I wanted to go faster but that was all I could do. I noticed in my training runs when I blow up I don't completely bonk. I just slow down quite a bit, but my HR also goes down quite a bit. Usually its a dehydration or overheating problem. At every aide station I dumped ice in my shorts and water all over me in addition to take two sponges for my shoulders. I continued to plug away at that pace and didn't pass too many people or get passed by two many people out to the turn around at the hill. I was able to see some of the guys on their way back into town and noticed most of the guys ahead of me were over 30. This was great!! I estimated I may have been top 10 in my AG at that point. I made my way back through town and fed off all the energy there. At the turn to start the second loop I noticed 2 guys in my AG walking. I knew at least one was ahead of me and the other I was pretty sure was as well. I also saw the same guy in black I had been chasing all day was still about 2 or 3 minutes ahead of me. I just kept running and ended up passing those two guys before we got back into town. At the same point I passed those 2 guys I noticed a woman in all pink running really well and passing me. I thought to myself "that looks like a great opportunity to pace off of someone. I started running next to her and told her about my intention to use her to pace. She was the nicest racer out on the course and was more than happy to help. I found out her name was Jamie from Golden Colorado. If anyone reads this and knows Jamie, tell her she helped me a ton! We ran together through town where I saw my wife and friends and they yelled to me that I was in 7th in AG! Talk about motivation!! I thinks its important to note that there are timing mats on the course and they update live on the internet. And if you remember I had passed 2 guys after that timing mat. So i was was pretty sure that put me in 5th. I knew last year there were 5 slots in the AG so I needed to pick it up. I turned and said to Jamie "I need you to pace me through to Kona" to which she said "Well then, lets go!" and took off. I looked down at my Garmin and we had brought it down to 7 min pace. I felt a little uncomfortable but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. She reminded to take on calories and drink at the aide stations. We ended running together for about 3 or 4 miles. At some point I lost her and kept plugging away with a new found energy. At about mile 16 or 17 I saw the guy I had been chasing all day walking. I couldn't be sure but I thought it was him. As I came up next to him I had to look at his number to see his name. Sure enough it was him and he was not too happy to have me passing him and looking at his number. He made some comment and tried to go with me but each time I passed someone I felt better and better. I hadn't noticed anyone else within striking distance so I was content with 4th. I have to admit I was running scared here. I didn't know what was coming up behind me and I knew there wasn't much margin for error. At mile 20 I started telling myself "okay 10k of suffering and all your hard work will pay off". Up the hill and back down I went. My tri club that I had recently joined had set up a PA system near the 22 mile mark. They would yell your name as you went by and tell you good job. As I approached I heard them say "here comes Derek Garcia". He's a local guy that I thought was probably ahead of me. I was shocked as I must have been right next to him. When I ran by I asked where Derek was to which they responded "you just passed him". I was ecstatic!! Whoever I had just passed I knew I passed with authority and they weren't coming with. I had just ran myself into third place and sealed the deal on KONA!!! I picked it up again and kept looking over my shoulder. Through the streets and back into town. I was feeling good! I rounded the corner onto Sherman and started to tear up. I had worked my ass off for the last year with this moment in mind. Running down the home stretch with a Kona slot in hand!
I went to massage and ate some food and talked to all the people I know. Everyone was so amazing congratulating me telling me how good I did. I physically didn't feel good, but I knew no one could take this moment away from me. In the end there were 4 slots in my age group, so its a good thing I passed those people.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Not being able to run for 3 weeks before.