Why did I completely detonate on Saturday. Here’s a spoiler – some may say it’s my shoes, nutrition, heat, dehydration whatever BUT it’s lack of training… no doubt in my mind.
Now the long story. [Race Report]
Firstly I must comment about today and this trip in general. I have had a great time. Partly because of my attitude of really soaking it up but also because of the people I’ve hung out with. Kona for me is so much about the people. There’s time to hang out, make new friends, catch up with old friends and move acquaintances to proper friendships. This trip has had all in abundance and it ranks as one of the best. Today just capped it off nicely. I spent the day saying goodbye to friends and hanging out with friends in the Pacific, over breakfast, coffee, ice cream, retail therapy and off course food and booze. This evening proved more fun than last night – Mel Brett and I had cocktails (Lava Flows – my mum and sister would be proud) in the Canoe Club watching the perfect sunset. We then drank, ate and chatted for ages before heading to Huggos where we hoped to meet Rachel (the fact we didn’t may be my fault and mixing up bars). What a brilliant relaxing night. Thanks guys.
Now for my race analysis
Superb. Really pleased with this. Petro’s plan worked a treat. Had the most enjoyable swim and most comfortable swim I’ve had. I think taking account of speedskins for a couple of years this is really my fastest and easiest swim – a good sign. I reckon the only difference between me and close to 55 minutes now is having the guts to start in the thick of it. To achieve this I need to increase my sprint speed together with a general improvement in endurance. With my new swim coach I have real confidence that this will come – it’s very exciting. The reason for this is that since Austria my swimming has been low volume but high on skills and he’s picked out specifics that have not been spotted by other coaches and worked on them. In the 14 weeks since Austria I’ve done 80km total swimming which is less than 6km a week. Through this winter my swimming should really come on
Happy but not ecstatic with this. It’s interesting that you can plan but if it’s not based on a correct assessment on where you’re at what use is it. The reason I say this is I had a plan and I executed it well but it didn’t deliver the result. I couldn’t have been in a better frame of mind going in to the bike. Probably the most positive I’ve been in any Kona race. I decided that based on my IM Wales performance (248 watts for 5h50) I should be able to hold about 250 watts if I managed to evening pace it. I wanted to be conservative and be strong at the end so felt that low 240s to Hawi would work.
In town I managed to hold my enthusiasm and on the Queen K kept a lid on things. It felt easy and my average was 238. It crept up to the Hawi turn and on the way down. Right on plan and I was all ready to hit the Queen K with a little extra juice. It wasn’t my frame of mind that stopped it I just didn’t have the juice to give. I faded big time. So four weeks ago I average 248 watts for 5H50 and now I fade big time after about four hours. Now it could be the heat, nutrition etc… I could blame them and probably argue a good case but it doesn’t feel right. I ate my nutrition as usual, I was cooling myself, I felt good, I even pee’d in T2 which is very unusual for me and suggests I did hydration pretty well. For me the obvious answer here is I just wasn’t recovered from Ironman Wales. It’s also interesting to note that in the 365 days through to the race I’d raced 7 Ironman races and in two years since starting back after surgery I’ve raced 11 Ironman races and two Epic Camps. I think I may need a break and fully intend taking one.
Lets be clear – I completely imploded in a matter of minutes after 19 miles of the run. Lets nip in the bud straight away that it may be because I run in Vibrams – anyone that seriously believes merely changing my shoes will knock over 1h20 from my run split has far too great a belief in running shoes and running technology. It may have been the heat as I did feel hot getting on to the run but I did get this under control and my running was improving. I’ve had many comments of people that saw me running as far along the course as the energy lab that were stunned at what happened as I looked so good running. I felt I had got the heat under control and what others saw suggest I did. I was running well. I was fuelling well. I had not the slightest inkling of cramp. My feet had no soreness, I was drinking at each aid station.
So … it’s nice to have excuses and I could rustle up a few and probably provide an incredibly plausible reasoning. It’s not that though it’s plain and simple. It’s a lack of run training. I was not prepared to be able to run 26 miles and at 19 miles just when my mind was saying push for home I had absolutely nothing. I may not have been truly clear about this in my race report. I have never felt this before … I was running well and then without any discussion in my brain, without any particular internal dialogue or thought I was walking.
It was really quite bizarre because it really was less uncomfortable to run. In fact, it was least uncomfortable to run fast but when I did I lasted maybe 500m and then I would just stop again without any conscious thought. Now for all I know this may be the difference, it’s in my mind and the top AGers and Pros just someone override this. It could be the case but since I can’t truly get in their minds it’s not worth exploring. With 7 miles to go I was walking at 15 min/ km so we’re talking about 3 hours. It was hard to comprehend. It was made worse that I would occasionally stop. Until I got to 1 mile to go I thought there was a strong possibility I wouldn’t finish. It was not about cut offs it was about my ability to walk the distance in any time let alone by midnight. It didn’t feel like a bonk. I’d eaten like I have before possibly more. No digestive issues, eating at aid stations made be feel neither better nor worse. Plain and simple my legs were completely fatigued.
This graph is for the 40 weeks (approx since 1 jan) leading in to this race and 2005 showing how many runs of different lengths I did. The reason I chose 2005 is that that year I did UK IM pretty close to Kona and I still ran well in Kona (3:23) but at the time I felt I faded. ie 3:23 was a bad run. As an indication the two Ironman following it (in 2006) I ran 3:08 and 3:17. In 2005 I ran more than double the KMs ( 3,400km vs 1,650km) with an average run length of 17.4km in 2005 to 12.5km this year. Just look at the distribution – in 2005 I did 72 runs over 20km but this year only 20. If you ignore races it’s 67 vs 15. Look at over 30km (excl racea) and it’s 12 vs 2.
It’s good news that it’s simple since that makes it obvious what is required to fix it !
I thought I’d end with a final graph showing my run power. It nicely shows my run / walk through the first three hours including a longer walk up Palani and a longer walk in the Energy lab before at 200 minutes showing the complete detonation and my few vane attempts to run which luckily helped get me to the finish line at a half decent time of day. I so want to race well here at least once … I guess I’m going to have to try and qualify next year.