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Ironman Chattanooga - TriathlonFull Ironman

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Chattanooga, Tennessee
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
80F / 27C
Total Time = 14h 07m 9s
Overall Rank = 1165/2586
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 183/349
Pre-race routine:

On Wed 9/20 I went on a short, but hard hilly run over my lunch break. 4 miles. Afterward, my knee was a bit sore. It was a radiating pain and only got worse. It was throbbing very badly on Thursday and Friday. I had to take Ibuprofen to sleep. I wasn't sure what was wrong, but it was a different knee pain that I had. It felt like some sort of bone bruising, and I was concerned that my doctor's warnings right after surgery were finally coming to fruition, just days before the race. I tried to hide it from my crew that traveled with me, but I was really worried about it. I iced several times. Fortunately, the pain was only a "throbbing pain" and did not appear to get better or worse with activity. The pain dissipated by Saturday and I was nervous about it but feeling better. I chose to bypass the underpants run and also a little 20 minute run I had scheduled (for Saturday) because I didn't know what would happen. I opted to take my chances and let it play out on race day. A DNS due to the knee was not an options.

On race morning, I woke up at 3:15. The support crew had to be at the race site at 4:15am, and I decided to ride with them. I took a quick shower and then made my breakfast:
- 2/3 cup steel cut oats with 1/2 banana and some honey
- english muffin with peanut butter
- 1 cup of blended greek yogurt
- big cup of coffee

I did my morning "business" and scarfed down my food. The crew needed to leave so we were out the door by 4.

We parked and I sat in the car for a few minutes and finished the oatmeal. Then I headed to transition to pump my tires and put my Infinit on my bike. I also had my special needs and transition nutrition with me to set up. After I was done (I thought), I used the porta potty and then my dad and I boarded a bus to the swim start where I hoped to nap. When we arrived, there was almost no line for the swim start. However, as we walked to get a spot in the line, my wife called asking a ton of questions about my transition and special needs bags. Since she was a volunteer in the transition area, she was watching for me and never saw me. As it turns out, I somehow completely flaked out and didn't put my Skratch bottles in my run belt. I re-boarded the bus and headed back to fix it. When I got back to the swim start, the line was huge. We found a spot in line, and sat down and waited. After a while. I visited the porta potty again. My 3rd trip of the morning. My stomach was not feeling great, but I figured it was just some nerves. After sitting in line for a while, I was wishing I had brought some of my breakfast so I could have eaten it more slowly, and while in line, instead of inhaling it.

Eventually, the line began to move. Since the race was "wetsuit allowed, but not legal", I opted to go without it. I had decided ahead of time that I would wear it only if the water temp was wetsuit legal. I just didn't want the hassle of carrying it around and also didn't want to wait longer to start the race.

Event warmup:

When the first athletes entered the water, the line began to move very quickly. I was excited and did some jogging in place and arm stretches. Finally! The dock was in sight and I was ready to go. If I could have, I would have run and dove in. All I could think about was how happy I was to start, and all the months of training that were finally coming to a head.
  • 57m 25s
  • 4224 yards
  • 01m 22s / 100 yards

I hit the water and started swimming. Most of the time, my swim starts off frantic, with breathing every stroke and a fair bit of panic. Since I was committed to swimming "easy" and I had no self-imposed time targets or goals, I was relaxed and just swam. I enjoyed the views and loved seeing the fog on the river. Visibility was not great, but I managed to stay in front of the site buoys and tried to stay toward the center of the river where the current is supposed to be the strongest.

I was quite surprised at how many people I was passing. I didn't get passed by many but it seemed like I was overtaking 3-4 people every few strokes. I saw a LOT of yellow Roka speedsuits. I guess it's a result of the rolling start, and not swimming with my AG. I did notice my stomach seemed a bit squirrelly and not entirely relaxed. It didn't affect my swim, but I was not 100% settled.

Soon, I could see the bridges, but I wasn't entirely sure how far away I was. I snuck a peek at my watch as one point and saw I was at about 2800M, but didn't catch the time. I didn't really want to know, as I honestly had no idea what to expect. Before I knew it, I was could see the double red buoys that marked the swim exit. I picked up the pace for the final 400M and pushed it into the swim exit.

Transition 1
  • 11m 7s

I exited the water and stumbled a bit as I got out but soon found my footing and headed toward the changing tent. I wasn't sure what my time was, but a quick glance at my watch showed I was in under 1 hour. Pretty decent, I thought. I put on dry socks, shoes and helmet and got ready to head out. I stopped and got slathered up with sunscreen and was on my way.
  • 6h 57m 14s
  • 112 miles
  • 16.11 mile/hr

I've read way too many race reports of athletes who "overbiked" and have made the same mistake a few times before. Therefore, I was determined to simply ride "easy". Like super easy. I wanted to pedal easy and delay fatigue as much as possible. While I felt good, in the first 20-25 miles, I was disappointed to see how many people were passing me. I'm used to chasing people on the bike and it was a bit disappointing to see so many people going by, but I stayed with the plan.

My plan going in was to take one bottle of Infinit (1.5 scoops, ~180 calories/~300mg sodium) and 1 honey stinger waffle per hour (140 calories, 150mg sodium). I didn't give it much thought, but I packed a total of 6 bottles. That wasn't enough, but I didn't realize it until later.

Early on, my stomach/bowels began to rumble. I wasn't really very comfortable and began debating on when to take a pit stop. As I began to go through aid stations, I checked out the porta potty situation. Each one seemed to have quite a line, so I thought I would wait to see if I could find an open potty.

As I approached Chickamauga I kept tabs on my written notes of the course and made sure not to push too hard on any of the hills. None of the hills were too bad and I never felt that the rolling course was "hard". I'm used to bigger hills than this, even though it was far from flat. Heading into Chickamauga, I spotted my support crew and it gave me a big boost. I decided to make my pit stop at the next aid station regardless of the line, plus I know there would be no chance of bumping into my crew there nearby. I didn't want 100 photos of me standing by the porta potty!

After I did my business and got my special needs stuff, I felt much better. I started lap 2 and felt pretty good, although some of the cloud cover had burned away and it was heating up a bit. At this point I realized I had made a stupid mistake. I only packed 6 bottles total (3 in special needs). Since I was consuming 1 every hour, this left me one bottle short. This is NOT because my pace was slower (even though it was a little slower, when you factor in the bathroom stop), I was actively drinking to try to stay on top of my nutrition, as sometimes in training I forget to drink and find myself trying to "preserve" it. In any case, I figured I would run out about 90-95. I didn't want to go the last 20 miles without any nutrition so I decided to grab a bottle of Gatorade Endurance. I don't train with it, and consciously never do, because I am always so confident in using my own stuff. This is how I've done every race prior, including several 70.3s. By about mile 90, my stomach was rumbling again and I was also cutting a bottle of gatorade in my bottle with some water. It tasted terrible, but I can tolerate the taste. I wasn't sure what it would do to my body, especially since I was already experiencing an irritable bowel.

By about mile 90, I wasn't really comfortable, but kept telling myself that mile 100-116 is basically downhill. It is, but I still wasn't feeling great. I was ready to be off the bike. Since the run is my weakness, I wanted to take my time in T2 and make sure I had my stuff together.

Transition 2
  • 12m 38s

I hit T2 and felt good getting off my bike. But I knew I needed the porta potty again. I didn't want to start a run with my stomach gurgling the way it was, so I put on my shoes and made my 2nd stop. I tried to make it as quick as possible and then hit the road for my first ever marathon.
What would you do differently?:

Preferably, I would not stop to poop, here.
  • 5h 48m 45s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 19s  min/mile

I started the run, fully expecting my knee to really hurt, I felt a bit of discomfort, but by mile 2 it was all but gone. I went in with a plan of running 5 minutes and walking 1. I was going to take 1 bottle of Skratch sipping over the course of 4 miles, 1 Shot Block every 10-12 minutes and then a lick of salt every 10-12 minutes as weel. My garmin is set to chime to walk and this plan has worked well for me on my long runs. At mile 3, I started feeling a bit queasy. About mile 4-5 I started getting really nauseous. I felt like I needed to barf . I couldn't stomach my blocks or my Skratch Hydration mix. It was hot (low 90s) so I was doing ice and water. I used the water on my De Soto cooling sleeves and fabric and stuffed my hat with ice. This helped to keep me cool, but my stomach was wrecking me. I kept with the Run/walk plan and knew the fun would start about mile 8.

By mile 8-13, I was in the awful hills of the Choo run course and was feeling awful. I felt myself starting to lose consciousness a few times (like I was going to sleep on the run). Somehow, I made it through the hills and don't remember alot about it. I know I walked up the hills and attempted to run downhill as much as possible. At points, I looked at my walk pace and attempted to at least make sure my walk was "brisk".

I made it across the bridge and back to special needs. I grabbed some blocks I had stashed that had caffeine and left everything else behind. I wasn't short of Skratch because I wasn't drinking it. I was thinking "since I'm falling asleep, maybe I need caffeine". Ha!

I honestly didn't see how I would complete the second lap. The nausea was so bad that I didn't want to take another step. I pulled out a couple of small pictures of my kids and started looking at them. I thought of the hard conversation I was going to have: "kids, daddy wanted to do the Ironman, but it got really hard. I wasn't strong enough."

OH HELL NO. I decided at that point, I wasn't ready for that discussion. Maybe I would pass out and medical would make me DNF. But I wasn't going to quit.

I moved forward and started thinking strategically how I was going to make it. I came on a group of 3 that was walking/running. They were saying their plan was to complete the 2nd lap in 3 hours. I went with them for a few minutes, but my foggy brain soon realized they weren't even on that pace, so I moved ahead on my own.

Then, at mile 15-16, I saw a lady in a Team In Training kit, stumbling like a drunk. She was really struggling and I thought she was going to pass out any second. I stopped and walked with her, talking with her, gave her a block and tried to keep her coherent. If you're in a race, and you see someone between aid stations pass out unconscious, what do you do? I didn't feel like I could just pass by without helping her.

She was on her first loop and had realized she wasn't going to meet the cutoff. I gave her some blocks and some salt and helped her to get to the next aid station where (I presume) she accepted a DNF. I felt really bad for her, but walking with her really helped me. For a little while, I was slowed down, and I wasn't even thinking about myself and how bad I felt. It was sort of a reset. I honestly feel that even though she had a DNF, in an indirect way she helped me to be able to continue on.

I started taking chicken broth, ice and water. The chicken broth seemed to help sooth my stomach and I was able to walk/run on the 5:1 schedule until about mile 21 when I hit the hills again. My wife was waiting for me at the bottom of the first hill and talked to me a bit. I don't know WTH she was talking about, but it was nice to see her and it gave me a boost. I moved forward, walking up Barton and then running down. By miles 23, I realized I was going to make it. I started to pass or come alongside other near finishers and my spirits were raised. As long as I didn't pass out, I was going to make it. I also started to notice more bodies slumped against fences, sitting on curbs. The carnage was real. I saw an older couple gazing at their phone, with worried faces. I'm assuming they were looking at a tracker of their loved one who was having trouble. But I was going to make it.

I crossed the final bridge and was excited to make it to the finish line. I picked up the pace and dropped my water bottle. I turned around and got it. Dropped it again. Picked it up again and in a few steps, it was gone again. Shit. Tired of turning around bending over, I left it behind. In hindsight, I now realized I could have been DQ'd for leaving my bottle behind, at mile 26.0 of the run course! What an idiot!

But I carried forward, making the decision to put some space between the lady I was running with so we could both have our finisher photos. I ran the red carpet and was overjoyed to see the flashbulbs. At the final second, I felt a body next to me. Some jackass that I had passed (different AG) at the end of the bridge felt the need to sprint into the chute to try "beat me". Ha! So, all of my finisher photos have this guy in them. Weird.

My catcher was there to congratulate me, and my wife (who had snuck into the finisher area) was there to give me my medal. What a great moment.

I started taking the chicken broth at the aid stations. I committed myself to run/walk 5:1 from mile 13-21 since it was flattish.

I rallied a bit and then got to the Choo hills where I just survived.

I finished, and all in all, the day was a success. Knee was never a factor. My nutrition was off. One of my big fears with IM racing is that it requires you to be a chemist, and I'm terrible at science! Sure enough, I think that did me in.

I had no real expectations. I didn't have a goal time. I did expect to run a better marathon than 5hr 40 minutes! Ha! But, all in all, it was a good experience. It was awful. I hated it, but the experience was awesome. Chattanooga was awesome. Great city, wonderful support, etc.

At mile 13 of the run, I pulled out some pictures of my kids and wife. I looked at them and faced the conversation I would have to have with them: "kids, daddy wanted to do the Ironman, but it was really hard, and I just wasn't strong enough".

I knew that I was not willing to have that conversation. Caffeine, some chicken broth and those few thoughts sort of turned me around. I was ready to quit but didn't. I was honestly most afraid I would pass out and be taken off by medical. But I didn't. 40 hours later, I'm sore and have a few chafes and blisters, but I don't feel bad at all.
Post race
Warm down:

After getting me picture taken I went to get some pizza. I nibbled on a few bites but didn't have much appetite. I really just wanted to get out of there. We walked about .5 mile to the car and drove back to the house. After a shower, I took a protein shake and had a small dinner of chicken and potatoes. I felt much better.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The stomach issues were unexpected. I really thought my marathon time would be about 5 hours, but that was pure speculation. It's hard to say, since this is the first Ironman and I honestly had no race expectations.

Event comments:

I loved Ironman Chattanooga. The city was awesome. The course is cool. Yes, the swim is "easy" and the bike is "not hard", but the run is hell. There are no "easy" 140 mile races, and this is 144.6 miles. The volunteers were great, and everything was done really well. No complaints about the race at all.

Last updated: 2017-09-28 12:00 AM
00:57:25 | 4224 yards | 01m 22s / 100yards
Age Group: 112/349
Overall: 607/2586
Performance: Good
Suit: none
Start type: Dive Plus: Time Trial
Water temp: 77F / 25C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Time: 11:07
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? No Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike: No
Getting up to speed: Good
06:57:14 | 112 miles | 16.11 mile/hr
Age Group: 207/349
Overall: 1291/2586
Performance: Average
Wind: Little
Course: rolling course, no real big climbs
Road: Smooth Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Good
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Not enough
Time: 12:38
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes Average
Jumping off bike Average
Running with bike Average
Racking bike Average
Shoe and helmet removal Average
05:48:45 | 26.2 miles | 13m 19s  min/mile
Age Group: 176/349
Overall: 1142/2586
Performance: Below average
Course: First 8 miles, mostly flat and miles 8-13 with lots of hills. 2 laps.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2017-10-06 12:28 PM

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Subject: Ironman Chattanooga

2017-10-15 7:55 PM
in reply to: #5229316

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Atlanta, Georgia
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
Nice RR...

Congrats on your day, Ironman!
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