Friday, October 4, 2013

Afterthoughts from 2013 Ironman Lake Tahoe

It's almost been 2 weeks since my last Ironman...

I'm slowly taking the 12 steps to get back to life and "normality", whatever that is these days.

In all seriousness, it does take some adjustment mentally and physically to move on from an Ironman race.  Less training volume.  You have to allow your body to recover before you work out like you normally would.  You could feel great, but your muscles are still in a fragile state.  Luckily, I've been checking out the Marc Pro for a product review and hopefully speeding up the process.

All and all, I was only sore maybe two days and swimming, biking and running 3 days after.  Granted, they were just workouts more for fun than a specific purpose.  Ride for an hour.  Swim for 2000 yards.  Run the kids to and from school in their running stroller.  Nothing super intense.

I am trying to get back into my pattern, but work picked up a little and adjusted my plans for me.

So what would I say to those wanting to race IMLT 2014?

Pack clothes for every occasion.  Could be cold, hot, windy, sunny, cloudy, snow, raining.... anything can blow in within a couple hours.

Pick a good place to stay.  We hit up Lake Tahoe Accommodations on the North Shore and the condo was within 10 minutes walking to the swim start.  It was great for practice swims and race morning.  I heard plenty of horror stories about how long it took some people to get to the start line from Squaw Valley using the shuttles WTC provided.

On the topic of clothing, start stocking up on cold weather throw-away gear.  I was finding all sorts of good deals for $5 vests and $10 jackets.  Moral of the story is that I would have not been sad to ditch clothes if I got too hot on the bike.

Be ready for cold.  Once that sun goes down, the temperature drops.  If you are going longer than 10 hours, you will be in the dark and cold.  Pack gloves and warm weather stash for the run special needs.

Ride a lot of hills.  If you do not live around the area, find hills and ride them, a lot.  Plan your training around having something left after the bike.  If you are focusing on killing the run and don't have the legs to get you through a brutal 112 miles, you're run training won't mean squat as you walk 26.2 miles.

Seriously check into compact cranks and climbing cassettes.  If you have mechanical issues like I did, it may not work out like you planned, but the climbs are the limiting factor.  You are not going to have miles of open road to hammer in high gear to make up time.

Bring neoprene caps and swim booties for the swim.  Don't leave skin exposed if you have problems being cold to begin with in the swim.

Get to the start early, in case you find your bike wet, covered in snow, ice or some other random issue.

Bring a "finish" mentality to the race.  Trying to hit a time goal is next to impossible.  There are so many factors with this location, if you are going to get worked up about things not going your way or your bike time taking longer than you planned, you might lose your grip and just hang it up at T2.

Break it up into small chunks.  Break each climb up and focus on getting to the next mile or aid station.  There's no shame in taking a bike break.  They have racks at aid stations to hang your bike, use the port-a-potty, grab some food, grab some drinks and stretch out.

What are my thoughts about my race and experience...?

Glad you asked.

This race was in a beautiful area.  The views distracted me from the shear awe inspiring concept I would be spending more than 14 hours going 140.6 miles in one day.

But, for a first time IM competitor, it was a doosy of a first choice.  All other races seem pedestrian now in comparison without altitude and 7500+ feet of elevation gain.  Now, there are some that heat plays a factor, wind and other elements, but you can count on multiple combinations at Tahoe.

It didn't burn me out and I'm looking forward to racing more Ironman distances.  My first marathon, I swore I would never race another one.  Now here I am slapping one on after 2.4 miles of swimming and 112 miles of biking.

I wish we would have schedule more time before and after.  There was enough interesting sites to bring kids, and find some fun family stuff to get in to.  Leaving the morning after, having to get up at 3am to pack and drive to Reno to fly out was brutal.  3 hour nap and them sprinting around at the speed of sound.  We were wiped out.  Plus, we missed any post-race activities on Monday like awards and other fun stuff.

Condos were the way to go.  We had ample space, full kitchen and easy access.  There's no dealing with hotel parking, elevators and a cramped hotel room.

Buying food in Reno worked out well.  We loaded up to eat in as much as possible and not live off going out to eat and spending a fortune, especially in a tourist area.

Even with pre-purchasing lodging, flights, rental car, bike transport and everything I could think of, we ended more than we wanted.  Nothing is free, and Ironman brand supports that concept.  We cheaped out on what we could with gear and I'm crossing my fingers that the finisher gear goes on sale at the end of the year since only 1700 people finished of 2700 registered.

In the end, I did the best I could with what I had.

Situations change and I've been through some job changes as well and family changes and as kids get older, they require more... of everything.  I was content that I found a solution to get the long workouts in being self employed during the week as not to impact family weekend plans, but I'm not sure of the longevity of that plan.

Things will change and I'm a little anxious and nervous about how Ironman Chattanooga is going to play out with training and being able to afford the adventure.  I pretty much made every long workout for IMLT, and only skipped or moved a few smaller workouts when schedules went wonky at times.  That's one reason I felt I completed Tahoe and didn't DNF or DNS.  Hopefully I can keep a good base into the winter and not have too much issue adding for IM Chattanooga.  Time will tell.
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