Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ironman Coeur d'Alene - tough one, even for Murphy!

First off - how great is the people of America!  Never have I met such good people everywhere! From just people on the streets, our hotel staff, the volunteers and the crowds cheering us on the race. Everybody has been so great hosts and representing this nation and region in the best possible way, everywhere! Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.- thanks! A lot!!! 

So after a long lonely flight to Seattle, I met up with my good friends Karen & Ulrik - sweet company!  Just though my bike was lost again (3rd time this year??) but apparently just issues with US customs. Eventually the little fellowship was on the road, heading to little Coeur d'Alene - a 5 hour drive west into deep Idaho.

Five good (but wet), relaxed days just to focus and prepare - just ideal preps for this race, my 10th Ironman.

On race day the forecast was fair, the water was coldish, but the swim course looked amazing. I was right in the front line of this rolling start, where your own timing only starts when you enter the water - smart way to get people more relaxed and ease the fight in the water. Still though, had a rough start and came around in 1h02m a bit slower than expected, but I can see that quite few age groupers were below 60m, so the swim may have been a wee long. 

Good feelings on the bike over rolling highway hills, a few harder, short climbs - in the end around 1600m of climbing, so just a bit less than e.g. Ironman France. Felt really good all the way through and kept well to my goal strategy watt-wise. 
Mechanically the bike leg was a nightmare. Unbelievable that I have such bad luck, as I really feel I prepare the bike really well. First, problems with the front shifter had me climbing the fist hills on the big ring (would have made Sr. Llad├│ proud here, eh?). Second, the Di2 shifter on the aerobar got loose. Fiddling with that I went over the groves in the side of the road. Result: EVERYTHING ejected from the bike, bottles, gels and ... yes, again my SRM power meter computer. So had to stop and go back after that. During the last 20 miles or so, I even realized that I had been riding semi-flat on the rear wheel - not sure for how long... I peed 4-5 times on the bike - I was leaking like a river! 
Murphy was really in that mood on Sunday!   

Anyway - eventually riding happy, fueling well in the sun, no wind and with good feelings in 5h08m slightly better than expected!  Spot on 222 watts in Normalized power and pushing 288 TSS, which again is a good number, to run well off an IM bike.

Filled up my De Soto race suit with the needed gels and started the run with really good feelings. Here is why racing with a power meter, riding a bit more conservatively on the hills had a good effect. Easily kept my goal pace at 4:30 but 3 km into the run, something happened that I haven't experienced for 3-4 years now.  A massive cramp hit my left rear thigh. I was like getting a BIG nail hammered in and my first thought was indeed "Game Over". A few salt tablets, started walking and slowly came back into running. Felt OK so pushed back to around 4:40 then to 4:30 ... all fine... then OUCH:  Right rear thigh now had the second nail - came back running again, but from thereon it was just pure agony. For something like 33 km I was running with constant (though bearable) cramps everywhere in my legs, thighs, quads, calves and eventually even my arms.

Never experienced anything like this! Even now, two days post-race, my jaws are aching from gritting my teeth so hard - not cool at all. The last 5 miles was run/walk and finally made it to the last 1000m stretch of downhill, which were amazing. The roar of the crowd made me give in to a few tears (mostly from pain I guess) and made it through in 3h26m - my best IM run ever on a hilly run course.

Again - thanks to all who wished us good luck and cheered. To the great folks we have met on this trip, to Karen & Ulrik for amazing company. And then to my collaborators & sponsors:   De Soto Sports & Triatech.es - the race suit really worked wonders, to Argon 18, I AM ID and to OOB Coaching!

Next race will be Challenge Copenhagen the 18th August - stay tuned!  

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