Ironman Santa Rosa 2018 recap

I signed up for IMSR 2018 after receiving an assurance from the wife that she'd be able to go there with me. Of course, then the circumstances changed and it became a solo trip. I had a place to stay in Santa Rosa with my friends Cynthia and Shawn, so I was all set.

The training spanned January through early May with a break for Oceanside 70.3 and a business trip that followed it. I changed up a couple of things this time around. I put a heavy emphasis on structured training 2x a week via Zwift's 12 week FTP builder program. I also bought a Vasa ERG system on the cheap over the winter break and started utilizing it for 3 sessions a week + 1 longer session in the pool. I really felt strong in the pool towards the beginning on May - I was able to do 10x100 yards at 1:30 and so on. The bike did not progress as well as hoped - I felt that I just did not push it hard enough. Still with a few peak weeks at 15 hours plus I was hopeful that this might get me closer to KQ.

Pre-race

I had to travel for work right after Oceanside, and so I trained very little that week. I got back into town, put a few 15 hour weeks, and after predictably got a head cold. I could not shake it off, so the week before the race was my downtime, save for a few minor workouts. As of Wednesday, my snottiness started to go away, but I still felt that my airwaves were not 100% clear even the morning of the race.

Got into town on Thursday afternoon. Stopped by the race venue, got my athlete bag and headed over to my friend's house. Got some "athlete's" food en-route - bread, peanut butter, bananas, cheese, turkey, mini-starbucks espresso cans, Gatorade, etc. Got my race bags sorted out, hung out with the hosts, went to bed early, slept some solid 9 hours...

Woke up and did my usual pre-check routine. Went for a short ride around Fulton Rd... not without some wild stuff happening. I picked Wood Rd as a rougher part of the course, and coming out of it - hit a gravel patch and almost skidded into the busy traffic on Fulton. Got home safe, but the wind and the roughness of the road was no joke. Made me worried enough about Saturday. The run was fine although it was getting pretty warm by the time I got back.



The nutrition plan for the bike was 2x bottles each with 3x servings of Infinit custom mix with 276 kcals per servings, 4x Clif shot gels on the frame, water at the aid stations, and a frozen mini-Coke can in the special needs bag. The run as always was going to Cola + water taken as needed. The rest of the day was spent shuttling the bike, dropping the run gear, hydrating, sweating the windy sunset... went to bed at 9:30pm, slept again like a baby.

Race day

Got up at 2:45am, had 2 slices of bread with peanut butter and syrup, a banana and a real cup of Cuban coffee (major crack if you ask me!). Grabbed my frozen drinks and headed out. Parked by 4am at the Macy's parking lot, and was on the shuttle by 4:10am.

I was at the T1 by 5am. It was still dark, but there was plenty of lights. Set up my bottles and my gels on the bike frame, proceeded to pump the tires... the rear tube exploded when I pushed the pump head down on it too hard. Replaced it with a spare latex tube I had with me, and was all set.



Headed down to the swim start at 6:15am and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make my way to the right self seeding corral - unlike the last year's 70.3 where I was stuck with no hope of moving up. I lined up in the middle of the 1:10 swim group and waited for the start. Had another Clif shot gel with caffeine, sipped some Gatorade, onward into the battle!  The volunteers were letting 5 folks into the water at a time, so it took about 12 mins for me to start swimming.

Swim

The course consisted of 2 laps, with an exit and re-entry at the end of the 1st lap. Seemed like each lap was exactly the same as the the lap of the 70.3 last year. The water was quite warm this time around - to the point where I thought that I could have swam in a sleeveless suit.The first lap was totally unremarkable, although with lots of contact for some reason around the turn markers - the sighting was easy with the exception of the first few hundred yards that were directly into the sun. I was riding the feet the entire way so the effort was pretty minimal. We got back into the water and I continued to draft about half way into the 2nd lap until someone whacked me on the left foot and somehow dislodged the timing chip. I could feel the velcro strap dangling, so I had to stop, roll up the ankle sleeve, close the velcro the best I could in the water (it is awkward!) and continue the swim. It was a bit harder without anyone to draft off of and I had to do my own sighting. Came out of the water a bit winded probably due to the water being warm - swim time 01:20:02. GPX here.

T1

The organizers have laid a long rubberized carpet up the ramp this time around, so I ran up the hill with no problem - although it was as steep as it was last year. Took the wetsuit down to the waist and had the strippers pull it off under the bridge. The velcro strap was loose still, so I retightened it and proceeded to the changing tent. A quick change - helmet on, throwaway socks on, shoes on, wetsuit and goggles into the bag... I had a disposable riding vest I brought with me just in case it was going to be cold - I put it on initially but dropped it before the exit from T1 - it was already WARM. T1 time was 07:19

Bike

The course started with a fairly long descent into the Dry Creek area and generally followed the 70.3 course from last year for a while. Then it switched to the old Vineman course which took us to the Chalk Hill area. The road quality was ranging from ok to poor. The 128 stretch was very jarring, and the supposedly resurfaced Chalk Hill part had some truly dangerous potholes in the shaded areas. The first climb went ok, although the road was partially blocked by a truck that somehow got stuck there at the most inopportune time. I had to descend carefully with all the holes in the road surface. It just got worse after we passed Shiloh Road - the Mark West Station area was unbelievably bad and there I had the bottle holding my spare kit pop out. Luckily the rubber band area held up and only had to fish it out from the ditch. Later I have discovered that the plastic part of the bottle cage that holds the bottle secure came loose and got lost somewhere along the way. About 5 miles down the road on Eastside or Wohler I ran across the section that had a huge lip in it - which forced me into the opposite lane... had to do some Sagan level shit to avoid getting hit by an oncoming car.



Then it got hot and dry all a sudden and it was 10 miles to go to the next aid station... and I was running out of water. The stretch of Westside road had all the rollers in the world and I was just getting hotter and hotter... and so I think that that's where I cracked. Really made me regret using Giro Aerohead on that day - it is a hot helmet in conditions like this. I made it to the aid station on Kinley but I think that the race was over by then. It was the mile 56 or so and all I wanted and I dreamt of was the frozen Coke in my special needs bag. I made it there after climbing what would have been normally a piss ant sized hill... took in half of he can contents and suddenly my nose and my throat and my eyes were on fire and just blowing snot. Crazy stuff. The 2nd pass over the 128 was painful and I stopped looking at the power readings - in my mind I was no longer racing, I just wanted to get home. I made it over Chalk Hill again, it was a relief to climb out of the saddle for a bit, I knew it was going to make my run slower, but I could not care less at that point. I passed the lap marker on Shiloh and we turned towards Santa Rosa... and the wind suddenly picked up. I was getting blown all over the road, Laughlin Road which I have ridden a bunch in the past was suddenly this obstacle course of the blown up riders, Woolsey Road was even worse - I saw riders swerving all over the road... and the road quality was just abysmal in some spots.

Eventually I made it back into town, with the last 10 miles being a total blur. I was focused enough to get my feet out of the shoes before the finish line and do a decent sprint along the bike racks. Bike time was 6:01:08. GPX here.

T2

I got to the changing tent, all I had to do was get the helmet off, drop the bike socks and put the running socks/shoes on.  For a minute, I sat there thinking - what's the point? I am not racing anymore, why suffer? Then I talked myself into running 1 lap, to see how it feels... maybe the inspiration will come. I put on my running belt and a hat and headed out.  The T2 time was 04:50

Run

Basically - jogged the whole thing. Stopped by the porta potties twice. Walked most of the water stations after mile 14. Had Cola and water judiciously, even sampled the red Bull (yikes) every  now and then. My friend Cynthia saw me at mile 17, I hugged her and her kid, she told me to to push through this, that gave me a good moral boost, so I snapped out of it and did not just walk the last 5 miles.Ran the final 2 miles fairly hard to wrap this up - run time 3:52:23, for the total time of 11:25:42.  As an aside, the course looked a little short, perhaps about 0.5 miles off.  GPX here.

Post race

Got my medal, my hat, a space blanket... tried eating some grub but had no appetite whatsoever. Not
even for free beer or spicy Spanish food. Just nothing, total self negation, everything running on empty,
maybe that's just the way it was meant to be - the cleansing of the soul, of the mind.

Collected my gear, walked to the car, loaded everything in, the brain was not working, to the point of
not knowing how to pay for parking. Drove back to my hosts' place, showered, was treated to sushi,
beer and a fantastic conversation on the future of the human race... somewhere along the way I crashed
and did not wake up til the mid morning the next day. Still, dreams crushed once again. Til the
next time - of course.


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