Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reality Check: The Tough Days at Work

The past 3 races had went really well.  I had received my first 3 pay checks in the sport, I was happy with where my fitness was and how the training had been going.  I had dropped down to 160lbs, which was 6 lbs lighter than IMUK and 4lbs lighter than both 70.3 Koreas.  I felt good, I felt fit, and I felt ready to go into this tough race and see where I stacked up with a solid field.

I had picked out IM Malaysia because it was a tough, hot and humid course.  The field had been smaller in the past, but for some reason everyone else had the same thought process and 30 men were on the start line.  There were a few guys coming off of big races at Kona and a few others that were fresh off of some other IM wins this year.  Needless to say it was a big field for a small $30K prize purse.

I flew out of the UK with everything that I would need through March, which will include 3 IM's (Malaysia, Wanaka and Taupo) and one 70.3 (Dubai).  Bike Bag, Backpack, Suitcase, and laptop bag, that is it, for 4 months on the road.  So off I headed to Malaysia via Abu Dhabi and 28 hours of travel.  I showed up on Wednesday evening for a Saturday race.  I had a normal race week prep, was feeling good and excited to race IM #2 of the year.

Swim- 57:42

It was a 2 loop swim course that started from the beach.  It was a shallow and narrow area that they had us running in for about 30 meters before actually swimming.  I got out fairly well and was sitting in a group comfortably.  They started to pull away towards the end of the first lap, but I was able to bridge back up to them.  This happened a few times and then with about 1K to go I was off the back of the group in no mans land.  I ended up losing a minute to this group of 5, and was 8.5 minutes off the leaders, which I was actually pretty happy with.  What I was not happy with is that I lost the group again, just like IMUK.

Bike- 5:03:46

Out onto the bike I wanted to push to try and catch the group that had 1 minute on me.  The course started out flat but fairly early we had a ~20 minute climb that was an out and back section.  This is where I was able to get the first time splits and part way up the climb I was able to bridge up to a few of the riders from the pack in front.  I kept pushing though wanting to catch the second pack.  I believe the time split at the turn around was 4 minutes, so I was making up ground, but was riding solo at this point.  I felt good and just stayed controlled, and then around 60K I was passed by a guy.  This was the first time this has happened "later" in the race, as not in the first few K, where I end up passing those guys back.  But this guy came by me at 60K moving along really well.

I thought this was a great opportunity to work with someone one and hopefully make up ground on the second pack.  I sat back at 12 meters and was still feeling good.  Looking back on it, I lost concentration and got behind on liquids, not calories but just liquids.  It was 85* with 80% humidity, which was said to be a "feel like" of 100-105 throughout the day.  This caught up with me around 130K and I just felt dead, couldn't keep the power numbers up and just felt drained.  The distance between each aid station felt longer and longer and I just felt hotter and hotter.  I soft pedaled my way into T2 and pulled in back in 18th place.

Run- 4:36:49

Knowing that I was back in 18th place and that it only paid 6 deep, pretty much took me out of the race mentally.  By 1.5 miles in I was already walking a bit.  One guy went by me at I tried to run with him, but he was running a bit too fast for my comfort. He ended up running a 3:09 and ended up 10th place.  So with a great run the best I would have ended up around there.  So mentally I gave up, and I kick myself for that.  I however do not consider this race as a complete failure as I stuck it out and made my way to the finish line, in what most would consider a good day.  But everything is relative, and too my standards it was not a good day.

After the half way point I was tired of being out on the course and stopped feeling sorry for myself.  I started trying to run with people as they went by, but finding someone that was running a speed that I was comfortable with took a bit to find.  Around 15K to go a female age grouper came by and I started running next to her.  I just wanted to get to the line and be done.  I told her right away if I was bothering her to just say so and I would stop running with her.  She laughed and said it was fine.  We talked a bit and fond out she was leading her age group and looking to go to Kona.  She knew exactly where her competition was and had a comfortable gap.  We talked here and there along the way, but if it wasn't for Claire I don't know how long I would have been out there.  So having her to run with got me off the course a lot sooner than I probably otherwise would have.  So big thanks to Claire for getting me to the line, and huge congrats to her on punching her Kona ticket!

Swim- 57:42 / Strava:
Bike- 5:03:46 / Strava:
Run- 4:36:49 / Strava:
Total-10:44:46 / 21st Pro

When I sit back and reflect on this race it looks bad on paper.  But in reality I learned from this race, and I think any race that you learn something from is still a success, maybe not as great of a success, but still a success.  In Malaysia I earned a whole new respect for this sport and just how hard this sport is as a professional.  I earned a new respect for those people that gut it out on tough days, and are out on the course for hours on end.  Some people say it is better to just DNF on a bad day as a professional, so you can pick right back up and get to training for the next race.  I think once you make an excuse to DNF once, it makes it easier and easier down the road.  I never want to DNF, I have on since I have been in this sport, and it was because I had bronchitis, so my only "excuses" to DNF are injury or sickness, other than that, tough it out to the line and learn something new about yourself and this sport.



Unknown said...


Calendula said...

Good to have support from other runners like that.