October 23, 2017

Archives for May 2010

Inaugural Ford St. George Ironman

First Ironman … Check

Almost a month ago to the day I travelled to St. George, Utah to compete in the first (and my first) Ford St. George Ironman.  What a fantastic venue, race, and personal experience.  In the days that followed the race I have often repeated the same answer to the frequently posed question of “How did it go?”  My simple answer: “I planned my race and raced my plan.”  That is the SIMPLE answer.  What follows is a bit more detail about my pre-race, race, and post-race experiences.

Although 10 days short of my 40th birthday, the IM body marking made it clear that the "big date" was inevitable!

Day 1: Expo & Venue

Unquestionably triathlon is a sport that attracts “fit” often egocentric individuals, but the Ironman expo provided an even more powerful display of the sport’s principal demographic!!!  From the moment that I arrived at the Dixie Center and walked through the Ford inflatable “gates” located at the facility’s front door, the scene was high energy and somewhat, well … “aggressive.”  It seemed to me that the race was “on” even before the gun went off at Sand Hollow reservoir.  After getting a quick taste of the scene, I left Hope to tend to Quinn and proceed into the “athletes only” section of the expo.  I signed the obligatory waivers, received the standard issues equipment: multiple race numbers, timing chip, and swim cap.  This time there was something new in addition to all the extra bags (i.e., morning clothes bag, T1/bike bag, bike special needs bag, T2/run bag, run special needs bag), pre-cut race number templates for body-marking.  1348, my race number, would not be left to be applied “freehand” by a volunteer (or, worse still, me) in the predawn hours, at Ironman, numbers would be airbrushed on using templates.  One small problem, the “1” was missing from my packet (as well missing from the packets of a few hundred other participants) and would be added (aka freehand) at the body-marking table.  First a line for chip activation, then another for body-marking of race numbers, another still for adding the year-end age!  Yes, at the end of this race season … actually, in less than two weeks I would be 40.  Start to finish the expo took about 1 1/2 hours.  Hope and I headed home to the Marriott to get things organized and rest.  I returned to the Dixie Center later that evening to attend the “mandatory” pre-race meeting that followed the optional welcome dinner.  I met up with my friends Paul Hardcastle and Jerry Gardner at the packed banquet room (1800+ competitors … really brought home the size of the event).  Jerry had attended the entire affair and was positioned deep in the mass of athletes.  Paul and I, on the other hand, stood in the back and strained to hear the race directors educate us about check-in procedures, race morning transportation, and altered bike cutoffs … altered bike cutoff?!?!  Neither Paul nor I caught any of the details!  I was relieved that they did not come into play on race day!

A bit about my two friends: Jerold “Jerry” Gardner traveled from Seattle/Kirkland, Washington to compete.  Jerry, a multiple Ironman finisher, battled a persistent knee injury and a Seattle winter to get ready for the event.  It was great to have someone with so much experience around.  Jerry handled his pre-race like the seasoned veteran that he is and consequently occupied his free time with more rewarding pursuits than obsessing over what was in which race bag (i.e. he headed off for a daytrip to Zion on Friday).  Paul Hardcastle, also a friend, was in a different place in his triathlon career.  Before St. George, Paul had never competed in a single triathlon … not even a sprint … nothing, a complete “newbie”!  Some 22 weeks prior to the even Paul asked me what I was up to in the spring.  I told him about St. George and the rest is history.  Paul bought a charity community spot, a road bike, a wetsuit (I think he swam in it once prior to the event … IN A POOL) and then proceeded to balance work, family life with a one-year-old, and other commitments to “train up” for the event.  Paul, 812, and Jerry, 2325, were each successful.  Congratulations!

Day 2: Bag-Check, Bike-Check, and Pre-Ride of Bike Course

I woke up a couple of hours before the girls got up in order to setup my various race day bags.  I planned for ALL possible scenarios and my special needs bags, well, let me just say they were “special.”  I formulated a race day/morning checklist so as not to forget my bottles and food as well as each of the essentials that I would have to carry with me, e.g., bike pump, wetsuit, swim cap, goggles, breakfast #2, etc.  Later in the morning I rehearsed my bag setup with Hope, allowing her to assist in making some of the calls that I was on the fence about, e.g., arm warmers or light top?  The morning was pleasantly interrupted by a call from Paul … we setup a time to review his preparation, drop off our T1/run bags and head out to the reservoir for the bike check-in and drive one loop of the bike course.

Race Day

My alarm went off and I woke to meet it (that means that I actually slept).  I proceeded down my checklist, consumed breakfast #1 (old fashioned rolled oats, a banana, rice protein, and almond butter), kissed Hope goodbye and then proceeded downstairs to join the other Marriott “residents” for the shuttle ride to the race venue.  The hotel had kindly provided a shuttle and it transported groups of 10-12 athletes every 30 minutes.  The short ride to the staging area included some chat about nerves and, of course, friendly banter about past Ironman events … more ego.  I had kept my mouth shut for the most part and slid of the shuttle into the dark to meet up with Paul.  We met at our assigned spot and proceeded to drop off our remaining bags before finding our place inthe quickly growing queue to board the yellow school buses that would take us to the swim start.  Once at the reservoir, Paul and I headed off into the mass of athletes swarming about their bikes in T1.  After setting up my area and loading my nutrition on my bike, I played “pass the pump” for a bit … you see, the word was that bicycle pumps would not be transported back to the finish area (the St. George venue is a point-to-point race … i.e., the START and FINISH are in different places).  Despite the warnings and the fact that I did not have anyone to drop my beloved Pista pump off with, I brought it with me.  As luck would have it, I managed to secure it to my gear bag and was later reunited with it at the end of the day.  The spent the remainder of the morning adding nutrition, “checking and double checking,” and making the obligatory, if not ritualistic, visit to the Porta-John.  Paul and I also managed to find Jerry … so the three of us shared the morning together.

Swim

56° swim venue (COLD)

Cold … and, we were late!  I had envisioned a mass dog paddling/floating start; however, as the starting gun went off, Paul, Jerry, and I—along with several hundred other participants—found ourselves scampering under the START banner and into the frigid waters of Sand Hallow reservoir.  That was the last that I would see of my friends until the two-loop run course.  I worked my way through the mass of swimmers and tried to shake the cold.  The morning light allowed me to sight on the horizon and I used the geographic reference points to swim to each of the major buoys.  In what seemed like a blink the shoreline was approaching.  As I prepared to exit I once again noticed the cold … I felt it.  I made my way to my feet, started stripping my wetsuit and headed toward T1 (volunteers quickly dispatched my wetsuit and the next thing I knew I was sitting on a metal chair staring at my bike gear).

T1

The cold lingered.  I spent an eternity in T1 (FOREVER, 21:14).  I was very cold and it affected my transition regimen.  Finally, I selected my initial bike gear (the morning was still overcast and a bit chilly … forcing some decisions) and headed to the Porta-John where, unbeknownst to me, an “incident” would take place that would serve as the basis for countless post-race stories: my left cycling glove fell into the Porta-John.  And, to make matters worse—I retrieved it.  Again, I just wasn’t thinking clearly … in hindsight, it was VERY disturbing.  Anyway, I got a hold of myself, used plenty of hand sanitizer and proceeded on out onto the bike course.  As a final note, my election to use gloves at all was a strange call … as a general rule they are not part of my race gear (but … I one-gloved it during my inaugural Ironman event).

Bike

I felt lousy during the first hour or so on the bike.  The wake from the cold swim lingered and made it extremely difficult for me to get comfortable or take in any nutrition during the opening miles. I kept at it and the mental clouds, as well as those that had occupied the sky over St. George, started to lift.  Things began to look up during the next few hours.  The race started to come together and, having shaken the initial blahs, I fell comfortably back onto my training.  I utilized a combination of multi-hour bottles of Perpetuem, “custom” brown rice tortillas and rice protein “bites,”  gels, electrolyte gel blocks, and Gatorade Endurance Formula (supplemented with water provided on the course) to fuel the bike portion and set me up for the run.  As with the swim, I tried to conserve energy on the bike in order to set myself up for a strong run.

T2

I regained my transition form in T2 (8:26).  Still long, but certainly much improved over T1!  Ironman is a different animal … and I used the transitions to do just that … transition!  T2 was orderly and I was anxious to get out on the run course.

Run

As I exited the T2 tent, I managed to see Hope and Paul’s wife, Terra.  I got a status update on Paul and new that he was ahead of me by a bit… I yelled something like “I feel great and added; tell Paul that I am coming to get him!”  I felt great on the run.  I alternated hydration and nutrition on every 1-mile interval (keeping up with the gel and “bites” ultimately switching to gels only for the final 8-10 miles).  On the second loop I once again managed to see Hope and Terra, and once again, set my sights on catching Paul.  I could sense that I was gaining; however, he had gone out much harder on the swim and bike (going up on me 15 minutes and 45 minutes, respectively) and only spent 7:58 in T1—it just didn’t happen … I didn’t catch Paul—he simply out swam, out transitioned, and out biked me (way to go Paul)!  I held my pace, felt great, and crossed the FINISH LINE with a huge smile on my face!  “Brian Beatte … YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” … then flash, flash, a couple of quick photographs as I exited the FINISH chute and it was over.  I finished at 14:29:44.  Paul finished some 15 minutes ahead of me at 14:04:32, while Jerry crossed the line a bit later with a total time of 15:50:50.

An emotional 1st Ironman finish

Post Race

Looking back, the final miles of the run were really special.  I can admit that I felt the pressure of tears in my eyes as I prepared to finish … the volunteers, the spectators, the training, the venue … well, it just all came together right there.  Paul and our families met up with me quickly after the finish and we exchanged the well-deserved congratulations.  We all, I think, shared in that special moment.  Again, congratulations Paul and Jerry.  Finally, thank you Hope for your love and support.

Racing/Endurance Notes

What a great experience!  I set myself up for a strong finish and, like I indicated in the introduction to this post, I planned my race and raced my plan. Race takeaway: Proper planning and execution is essential to a successful Ironman event. My inaugural Ironman was positioned on the front side of a family vacation, I purposely held back so as not to be a wreck for the days that followed the event.  This strategy worked and I felt great in the days immediately following the event.  I look am looking forward to the next Ironman challenge.  One last thing, the volunteers and spectators at St. George were incredible!

Jerry’s Post-Race Personal Comments

by Gerold “Jerry” Gardner

Swim:

Severe neck abrasion from wetsuit collar; used silicone ear plugs, no water in ear, no dizziness at finish; used neoprene cap and issued swim cap, head was not cold; tried to site buoys but not much success so just paced swimmers on each side and did not look up except at turns and finish; focused on steady pace, did not hurry, concentrated on fully extended strokes with full pull through, kicked only to maintain balance and push at the end.

T1:

Out of water feeling alert/good but could not feel hands, sat down (oops), difficult getting dressed for bike; did not push to get out of T1 due lack of feeling in hands; once on bike was able to build pace, felt good; feet stayed numb/cold for 40 miles at least.

Bike:

Needed to be mindful of time on course, made cutoff by 8+- minutes; needed more climbing practice especially steep hills; let her go downhill on 2nd half but was reserved on 1st half; realized cutoff time nearing, so last 20 miles hard push to the finish but trashed run legs/spirit.

T2:

Not winded, felt good but legs were only good for a fast walk to transition tent; sat in chair, did not push to get out of transition but looking back no reason to sit, just relaxed to much; wore running water bottle belt, wish I hadn’t as had plenty of water on route; also did not need jacket I carried.

Run:

Started the run out with shoes loose/untied (13.1 Miles); jogged till I came to first hill out of town, then walked, that set the stage mentally for walking most uphills there after, now feel like should have kept positive and ran more walked less; slow jog thereafter, per mile pace ranged for 9:30 to 14:30; second half walked with others when should have run more; ran best when was with someone who ran; did run the last few miles; felt good at the finish; food did not appeal to me; walk back to the hotel, went to bed.

Recovery: Next day temporary soreness/stiffness but hiked in Snow Canyon and Santa Clara to view pictographs (5 miles); short run Monday, resumed 4 day running routine, no intensity or speed work yet; will start some cycling and swimming week of 5-17.

Training:

Started marathon run training March 1, did several mountain runs, steep uphill (walk), run downhill, did most training on trails, 1-2 hours about 4 times a week; 25 mile road run 3 weeks before St. George; no taper until week of event, last run was hard 1 hour trail run on Wednesday; Started cycling March 1, mostly flat roads, 25-30 milers, 2-3 times a week, a few 50-60 milers with hills and 1, 2 weeks before event did a century ride, with a lot of stops at water stations; last ride was 30 miler on Monday; Swimming started April 1, just pool laps, 3-4 days a week, started with 30 minute sessions 1st week, 45 minute sessions 2nd week, 1 hour sessions 3rd week, then week before event did 1.5 hour sessions; all sessions focused on full extension and follow through, trying to focus on form not speed, just consistent pace (2-2:10 min 100); no open water or wetsuit practice, event was first time since last year.

Nutrition:

Ate usual foods days preceding event; event morning ate half of burrito, half of muffin, water, coffee; drank a usual amount of water on swim; on bike had bagel with peanut butter and honey and a bagel with cream cheese, ate 2 PowerBar halves and 3 Gu packs; last solid food was 30 miles before finish, then 1 Gu 5 miles before finish; took Gatorade at most water stops, always had water and Gatorade on bike; stop on bike 3 times, 1 fix dropped chain, 2 times to stretch and take Advil, caffeine tablet, electrolyte tablet, and salt tablet; on run carried water belt, Gu and Advil, caffeine, salt, and electrolyte, which I took about every 6.5 miles; stopped at most aide stations for a drink of water to start then switched to Gatorade; second half tried cola but did not like it, started taking the chicken broth but caused severe mouth dryness, switched to ice the last 5 stops; tried pizza at the finish but did not appeal to me; next day normal appetite.

General Comments:

Race location beautiful part of the country, would go back to visit; training is absolutely necessary if you intend to complete the course with a race pace time objective, anything less sets you up for disappointment, injury, slow recovery, and of course a long time on the course; that said my results reflect my time spent in training, the swim was better than I expected, bike about what I expected time wise, but was not prepared for the bike cut off realities, run suffered in part because of the difficulty of the bike course and the hard push at the last 20 miles; given my training, my cycling was my weakest and needed the most attention; race day focus was go for a swim, then for a ride, then run, done!  Great host city and great volunteers.