Congratulations to F4 Athlete Dave Kellermanns for completing Ironman California 70.3 on Saturday.
Ironman 70.3 in 38,111 miles
When you think of living and training in Boulder an Ironman 70.3 in March is not the first thing on your mind. Even less, when you travel a lot for work, like I do. Nevertheless I signed up for the Ironman 70.3 California in August of 2009. I also worked with Scott on training plan, which included travel adjusted plans from December till race day (March 27th 2010). And trust me – he had his work cut out, as I travelled 38,111 miles in those sixteen weeks.
I arrived in Oceanside on Wednesday before the race and went grocery shopping that night – nothing beats familiar foods you can control and you know how you react to.
Thursday I visited the expo, picked up my bike from Tribike Transport and completed the Athlete check-in. Good thing I stayed and watched the pre race briefing DVD, as we were told that they will only serve Gatorade Thirst Quencher – not Endurance. I had Salt Tablets in my bags, so I immediately adjusted my bike and run nutrition plans accordingly. Trying to take it easy, I sat down and wrote up my race plan – what to do and how I want the race to go. I think it is a great mental exercise (thanks Simon) and helped me do a mental race rehearsal, as I had done a physical rehearsal three weeks before.I also did a quick gear check and ride in the afternoon and discovered that my shifting is somehow off – an evening with the rear derailleur did not help (by the way – a table makes for a nice repair stand).
On Friday morning I returned to the expo and had the Ironman Bike Store look at it – Taz checked out the bike and found out that my cables were dry – little waterproof lube and I was back to shifting quickly and quietly. Lesson learned – lube your cables and do a quick ride two days before the race, so you have time to fix it.In the evening I picked up Esra (my wife) from the airport and we had a nice pasta dinner.
Saturday – race day – got up at 3:30 am and prepared my food (Bagel), drinks (Water and Gatorade / Carbo Pro mix) and nutrition (Powerbar) – cool, calm and collected. Thanks to the race plan it was F4’s motto – just press play. I did not account however for forgetting my run bottle in the freezer though . Got to the race site at 4:50am and was pleasantly surprised to get a spot right at the end of the bike racks by a carpet seam – which made the bike very easy to find. Setup transition and relaxed a bit. My race start was at 7:03am, so I warmed up a little after 6:00 with a short run – the Oceanside race is a wave water start and you cannot go in the water before – I think they want to keep the temperature a surprise (at 59 degrees). The swim was great – easy relaxed strokes and not congested the whole 1.2 miles.The only difference is the salt water – which is very different from the Boulder Reservoir – definitely something you need to get used to. Got out of the water – did the long run along Transition and back to my bike and was out on the bike course.
The 56 mile bike ride is stunning – a closed course mostly within the Camp Pendleton Marine Base. There are a few rollers on the first 30 miles, but nothing major, expect for a “No Passing Zone” on an uphill – I felt really bad – I am slow uphill and I was slowing down a lot of racers on that 0.5 of a mile. Think “Oversize Transport” on I-25 in rush hour traffic. I also saw a lot of people fixing flats – not sure if it was some of the road condition – but I was glad I had CMS put on new tires before they shipped the bike. The backside of the course has three fairly steep hills, probably around the “Old Stage” level and I did what I thought was best – got of the bike and pushed. No sense going 3 mph (vs. 2.2 mph), but killing yourself. The way back to San Diego was great – the extra weight was no match for the headwind and I cruised the final 10 miles to town. Got into Transition again and got ready for the run (which, as most of you know, is my least favorite discipline).
The run course is a 2 x 6.3 loop, which is generally flat - it does have some rollers as you approach the turnaround furthest away from the harbor. The first loop was good, but I started to slow down – I had a hard time running and walking became more and more attractive. So I alternated running and walking for the second loop. Also I started rationalizing, just a 10K left, just a 5K left and the last mile does not count, because now you are heading for the finish line. At no point though did I have cramps and GI issues – so the adjusted run plan with Salt Tablets and Gatorade Thirst Quencher worked out great.
Crossing a Finish line is more than that last step – it is an end of a journey. In this case a journey that started 16 weeks ago (or 38,111 miles) and in my case, it was everything I hoped for on the first day. All bumps, issues and post race aches and pain included was worth it and I would gladly do it again (not in the next few weeks though).
Thanks to F4 and a lot of people along the way, I felt prepared and like I had to just press play on race day.
Swim0:47:18 T10:07:02 Bike 4:01:04 T20:04:45 Run3:37:43
(Just in case you are wondering – the IM 70.3 California race officially ends 8 hours and 30 minutes after the final wave start, which is probably different than other IM 70.3 races)
F4 Head Coach Scott shares his pre-race goals and post race report from last weekend's Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon
Thank you to those who posted their pre-race goals and thereby helped many others to visualize and achieve success in Moab this past weekend.
I wanted to post a quick race report in order to show how this "before" exercise helps play off on race day, in hopes that more may take the opportunity next time.
As my goals above alluded, I was not nearly as specifically prepared for this race as most of you were, and therefore did not have the pacing data/ feedback from the many Zone 2 workouts that you did. For example, I was not able to do the 3 x 3 mile at "Race Pace" workout, which surely would've provided me some good (up to date) info from which to base a pacing strategy.
As such, I'd illustrated my goals based on my extensive knowledge of how an ideal half marathon should "feel", gleaned from having raced the distance over twenty times. Of course, as the past dozen or so have been run at a pace somewhere between 6:15/ mi. and 6:45/ mi., I was also able to "guess" that my current fitness was somewhere right in the middle and would therefore use 6:30/ mi. as an additional piece of objective feedback.
The race played out in thirds pretty much exactly as I expected it would. I had Denver Head Coach Garry Roseman along for company through about halfway, and then "let" him go on to finish about a minute ahead of me. We ran the first mile at about the right effort, and given the prominent elevation loss there, I was comfortable seeing ?6:10? on my watch at the first mile marker. We then clicked off 6:25, 6:24,6:30, and 6:23 miles while enjoying being right in the midst of the women's leaders and feeling 'pretty comfortable' as I'd planned.
The next third, I ran almost the exact same pace, but the cumulative effort started to feel ?pretty hard? and I really needed to focus a lot more on keeping good form, relaxed breathing, and staying well hydrated. Speaking of aid stations, Garry and I had decided in advance to use a modified run/ walk strategy in order to give the running muscles a short break and bring down the heart rate a bit every now and then. As such we grabbed a cup at each aid station, and walked briskly for 15 seconds while consuming the contents vs. spilling it all on our new F4 shirts. We were willing to let the pack we?d been running with get away temporarily, but it was really cool to reel them back with out really lifting the effort noticeably. The middle five miles were 6:30, 6:25, 6:27, 6:34, and 6:34 (avg. 6:30 exactly). I?ll definitely be exploring the benefits of run/walk in future training and racing events this season!
The final 3.1 miles were supposed to be ?darned hard?, and they didn?t disappoint. At about mile 10.5 I left the comforts of the canyon to run about a mile and a half along the highway with cars, trucks, and tons of orange cones. As I'd planned, I resisted the temptation to be annoyed at these potential distractions and instead turned a perfect 6:30 for mile 12, and then set about catching two guys that were only about 50 yards in front of me with a mile to go. The last mile my legs were VERY heavy and my peripheral vision started to go 'plaid' kinda like the scene in SpaceBalls (or Star Wars or Star Trek for that matter) when they go into hyper-space mode and everything gets kinda fuzzy around the edges. Again, thanks to my experience with such sensations near the end of 100+ races, I knew this was actually a good thing, that I was indeed applying maximum effort, and that soon enough the finish line would appear and all would be OK once again. I did in fact catch the two guys, and muster a 6:21 from mile 12 to 13, and hold them off through the finish chute despite my badly deteriorating form. The last 3 mile splits were 6:47, 6:30, 6:21, and then however long it took to go .1 mile as I never actually stopped my watch. The average for those miles was 6:33, but the average level of perceived exertion was quite a bit higher; as I knew it would be. Official finish time: 1:24:48. About three minutes off my PR, but certainly the very best I could do on the day, given the low/ moderate level of training I'd done this season.
One final note, and one I plan to expand upon in a future post or article, is the value of one or two key 'over exertion' or 'relative discomfort' workouts in the taper week or two leading up to the big race. For me, this came in the form of a simple looking 2 x 15 minute Zone 2 workout on a treadmill about 10 days before the race. The pace I set on the machine equaled 6:40/ mile, which one would think would be rather easy to do given the 6:28/ mi. pace I would sustain for 84 consecutive minutes only a short time later. However, as most of us know by now, the 'perceived effort' of a given pace on a lonely treadmill with little external motivation such as a race, fellow racers or a cheering crowd, can be much, much higher.
The crux of the workout came about halfway through the second set when it got REALLY hard. There were some physiological markers that the effort was taking its tool, such as raised heart rate and respiration rate, but primarily it was just becoming SO hard mentally. I came very, very close to stopping about a dozen times, but for reasons that would not reveal themselves for another 10 days; I pushed on to finish the set, making a bit of a spectacle of myself in the gym with assorted grunting and seemingly over-dramatic ?dismount?.
'FastForward' to mile 11 in Moab, as I ran alongside semi-trucks and my 6:30 pace was creeping in the wrong direction. I suddenly flashed back to that dreaded treadmill session and realized that my current state of discomfort was far less than what I'd pushed through that afternoon by myself. Sure, I was hurting pretty good at this point and my form was breaking down, but compared with the 9.9 'pain' score I'd assigned the final set of that treadmill workout, I could honestly say I was only feeling about a 7 or 8 at that moment, and the finish line was only two miles away.
That revelation washed over me like a splash of Aqua Velva (yes, I was raised on 70?s TV sports), and I knew that I had the toughness to overcome this relatively mild period of discomfort for another mile or two. My cadence picked up, and my pace dropped back down to 6:30/ mi. for mile 12, then 6:21 for the final mile, and then I was done and felt really proud of my multi-faceted effort, including a winning combo of physical preparation and execution, tactics, and toughness.
Alan Culpepper once said to a group of F4 coaches, when asked how he deals with the 'pain' on race day, that he simply visualizes a recent workout when the relative discomfort was much higher, and that helps him get through those rough patches. So, whether you intentionally go into such prep workouts expecting to recall them on race day, or they just end up serving that role retrospectively, it is good to keep such experiences 'on file' and up to date so that you can put them to good use when you really need them on race day.
F4 Denver Coach Patti Thurman offers some great tips as we get ready to race in Moab in less than three weeks!
We have one more big week, our longest and hardest run to come on Saturday, but we are ready! These next 2 1/2 weeks it is really important to take good care of yourselves. Extra sleep whenever possible, eat really healthy meals, extra Vitamin C and lots of fluids.
We are "sharpening" our fitness these next 2 weeks, then we will "taper" before the race. Tuesday has some Z3 running, to get those fast twitch muscle fibers working. Short but sweet and spicy intervals. Be sure to be really warmed up before this workout. Thursday is more race pace practice. Saturday we will do 3 miles at our race pace after we have already run 9 miles - this will be a good simulation of the real event, so treat it as a dress rehearsal. Same breakfast, clothes (you will need a few extra layers, but if you have anything new and cute, be sure to wear it prior to race day), shoes, nutrition, hydration ( they are serving Gatorade Endurance at the race, if you can find some to practice with, great), hat, sunglasses, watch, etc etc. Nothing new on race day! So if you need any adjustment of your nutrition/hydration, this is the day to do it!
We have done a lot of Z1 running to build our endurance base, and for the last few weeks we have done some sharpening. This has been done through our hills, speedwork and pacing. Now, we are peaking the last few weeks before the race. Here are some good tips to remember as you get closer to the big day.
Know Yourself - practice eating and drinking on the run. What motivates you? Journal your runs to see which were your best ones and if you can associate them with how you ate/slept/focused.
Listen to Your Body - monitor your body signals while you are running. Do a check up: How do my feet feel? Is my breathing regular? Are my arms/jaw relaxed?
Talk to Your Body - pick some key words that work for you, such as relax, smooth, float, and practice saying them, like a mantra. "I run with confidence, intelligence and joy" is one that I especially like.
Listen to Your Mind - learn to detect negative thoughts during your runs and to deal with them. In your hard workouts, focus thoughs and energy into being in control of your runs - not too fast, not too slow, but smooth and perfectly paced. If you learn to control your workouts, you will be able to control your race.
Relax - use relaxation techniques to get a good night's sleep, remain calm, run smoothly and conserve energy during your runs.
Visualization - before and during your workouts, see yourself overcoming challenges and feel yourself running comfortably. Recall positive experiences from previous training runs or races. Have verbal reminders to drink fluids, maintain pace and focus on form.
Learn to Deal with Discomfort - an adequate training program combined with proper race pacing should prevent intense pain during your race. However, pain does sometimes occur! Note the normal sensations of fatigue during your long training runs so that you will know what to expect during the race. There WILL be rough patches, but know that they will pass. Most of the discomfort is due to fatigue or simply the sane body talking to the insane master: "What are you doing to me, I'm tired!" The master can answer, "I'm the master here and I want to finish! It's not that much farther, WE CAN DO IT!"
Simulate Your Race - practice on similar terrain (ie, hills!). Divide the race into manageable increments, say, a 5 mile race, then another 5 mile race, then a 5k. Practice body scans, self-talk, use your imagination to see yourself running as a graceful animal, imagine a giant hand pushing you up the hill. Run when tired and practice dealing with discomfort. Think of any problems that may arise and figure out how to simulate them and cope with them. Practice running at YOUR OWN PACE. Practice passing others("Go Fishing! Reel 'em in!) The best way to convince yourself that you can do something is to actually do it.
I have seen your hard work and motivation, and you will be ready! Have a healthy, restful and energized week, and be ready for the Dress Rehearsal on Saturday!