Nov 4, 2017
9:38:22 - 97 overall, 18 in M40–44IMTX 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
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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?
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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.
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.
I had planned to run a 3h25, so it was very nice to finish in 3h12.
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.
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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.
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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!