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IMTX 2017 race report

9:38:22 – 97 overall, 18 in M40–44

IMTX 2017 was my 8th full distance race. I’ve never gone under 10h. Well, actually, I did twice last year, but in the first instance the swim was canceled and in the second the bike was too short. So I wanted this to be my first official sub 10. In fact, planning on  a 1h15, 5h10, and 3h25, I was hoping for a sub 9h50.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, that’s that there’s no such thing as a perfect build up: something will go wrong. This year, it was pretty minor, but still:

  • ~8 weeks out, I had my lower-back pain returned because I couldn’t be bothered stretching properly after running. That resulted in about 4 days off;
  • ~6 weeks out, I had a bike accident resulting in a concussion, a trip to the ER, and a few hours of my life that I don’t remember, including how I got to crash in the first place. Fun times!; and
  • ~4 weeks out, my right quad contracted resulting in intense right knee pain. A first. Luckily, for this as for back pain, Lance fixed me in a matter of days.

Even with these mishaps, this year was my highest volume:

  • Over 16h/week since January 1st, 2017
  • Over 14h/week in the last six months
  • Close to 13.5h/week in the last twelve months

Swim (1:16:23 Garmin distance: 4.27km – 1:47 min/100m):

Fred came to support, as usual. And he did a fantastic job, as usual! We got to the swim start late and the line to the porta-john moved really slowly. As a result, I was lined up with only a few minutes to spare. I walked into the start corral, asked a volunteer where I was (“these people are about 1h30”), moved up as much as possible, but I probably seeded with people in the 1h20+ area. As a result, I had significant contact, mostly bumping into slower swimmers.

Also, I could really feel the drag from my chip on my left leg. Not sure why as it was on tightly. Perhaps I should wrap it in cellophane?

Leave it to Fred to find the guy in a green cap in the middle of 2600 other guys with a green cap.

I had some good sensations on the pull, feeling that my catch was effective (for me).

My Garmin said I swam 4.27km when others’ read much closer to 3.8km (for instance, Emily’s read 4,050m; John’s read 3,857m). So I guess the course was about 3,800m but I didn’t do a great job at navigating. (I estimated I could swim in 1h15 or faster, so I wasn’t too far off.)

This was my first time wearing a swimskin. It went well. Next I should try to wear my jersey underneath it for the swim, instead of putting it on in T1. T1 was uneventful (4min06).

Bike (5:02:24 196W AP, 204W NP; 35km/h):

I went with RPE as François recommended. At the beginning, I didn’t feel comfortable at all. This is consistent with my face on the race pictures, where I look like crap. I knew I was developing too low power (I did peak at the powermeter every now and then), but I went with what I felt was sustainable. Somehow I found a rhythm and upped the power over the course. It was mostly uneventful except when I dropped my toolbox because of a bump. Luckily, recovering it was just a matter of a few seconds.

Food-wise, I had four bottles of malto/cyto mix (4 and 1 scoops, respectively), two of those in my Special Needs bag. This was a lot less concentrated than usual, and I drank through three of those. It was probably still too concentrated, and I should try 3+1 scoops. I also had three flasks of GU Roctane; I went through most of that, too. I picked up some water here and there, and that was that. I think I was able to ingest a lot more calories than during previous races and that helped tremendous on the run.

My position on the bike felt ok.

I was on course for a 4h50 for much of the ride until heading back north for the second time, which brought me against a serious head wind. My speed dropped below 30 km/h, even though I was working harder than earlier. Also, I kept on picking up people, so I knew it wasn’t me. I ended up with a 5h02 for 176.5km, which was close to what I thought I had (5h10 prediction).

T2 was uneventful at 2:37.

Run (3:12:22 for 42km; 4:34 min/km):

On the run, it was much easier to ignore the numbers than on the bike. I started without worrying about pace, going with what felt right. Stopped at the loo after two kilometers, at the swim start, to pee. That took at least one minute. Maybe I should have done that in transition to get a faster run split? 🙂 That was my one pit stop for the day. I still refuse to pee on the bike or while running. Nope.

So, it is possible to not feel and look like crap on an IM run? Good to know

I walked the first aid stations but then decided I didn’t need to do that after the second or third one. I just concentrated on getting water, coke, and ice at each and fueled with Energy Blasts. I had a flask of Roctane with me but couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Instead, I wanted to get my second bag of Energy Blasts from Special Needs but they weren’t ready when I got there so I did without. My splits ended up pretty even, so I guess I gauged the effort right. I never was in any doubt that I would have blow up. I saw Fred and Leslie three times plus one at the finish. It was great to have their support. Crowd was great as ever.

Apart from a bit of slacking in the middle, my run speed was pretty consistent.

Can’t wait to get home!

I had planned to run a 3h25, so it was very nice to finish in 3h12.

Take aways:

  • I need to come much earlier in the morning. The program announced that the transition opened at 5:30AM with the start at 6:40. That’s way too short considering how long a walk it is from T1 to the swim start. Anyway, transition was open earlier. I should be there no later than 5AM as there’s no need to be stressed before the race.

Kirby-sur-Seine is signing off.

  • For morning nutrition: 6 waffles with Nutella at 3AM worked nicely.
  • For nutrition on the bike, I should try 4 bottles of 3+1 Malto/Cyto and three flasks of gel. I should dilute the gel a bit to make it easier to get out of the flask.
  • For nutrition on the run, two pouches of Energy Blasts to start with and one or two more in Special Needs.
  • Switching from Newton Distance S to Adidas Takumi Sen was a good move; thanks, François!
  • Go with RPE, with an occasional look at the numbers.
  • It is possible to have decent IM run! I don’t need to be intimidated by it or walk the aid stations.
  • Swim is still too slow (2nd slowest split in top 100) but it’s getting better; I need to keep at it.

 

Thanks for being there, Leslie!

(For the full story, there were 10 slots available. I finished 18th. That’s right, a 9:38 gets you 18th—lots of fast dudes, out there! That’s 13 minutes away from qualifying.)

This is my fifth season working with François. He took me from a 11h22 in 2011 to this. Thanks, François! I couldn’t have done it without you.

Leslie, thanks for being there in the last few weeks and for you enthusiasm on race day.

Fred: you’re the best race day crew. Drinks are on me. And let’s get back to recording!