Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ironman Florida Run

I could just write: 'I didn't get it done on the run.'

Yeah, that would do it. It's true. I was unable to run the entire run- I stopped once to take a dump (which didn't happen). I walked mile 20-21 and maybe another half-mile to mile of the course.

I fought the wind too hard on the bike. It's clear and obvious to me now, looking back. It's the one unforgivable mistake of the Ironman athlete. I came out of the swim energized. I came off the bike frustrated. And yet, I think that there was nothing inevitable about my run being bad. I think I could have overcome the way I fought on the bike, but I fell into a trap on the run that I will not fall into again.

It started out well. I put a garmin on and my first mile on the run was in the 7s. So was the second. And this is where I made the mistake that ultimately cost me a good race. I started backing off. I told myself it was too fast, I can't run 7s. If I run 7s I'll blow up.

I passed on of the chronic drafters (my next blog post will be an email exchange, edited to protect the guilty, I had with this athlete). As I went by I looked at their number, with the slash in it, and said 'Oh, you took a penalty. That's a surprise.' Yes, I can be kind of a dick sometimes, because I am competitive.

So after two miles I started to back off, pushing myself to run 8s, then 8:15s. This probably seems like a smart idea, like the right thing to do, but here's the question: was I really beat and unable to run 7:45s, or did I talk myself into thinking that would be suicidal.

Well, I have no question that it's the later. I firmly believe that I talked myself out of having a good run by panicking at how fast I started. Logic told me I should runs 8s or slower. But here's the thing, the slower I ran, the worse I felt, and once I got out of my rhythm, I felt like, well, I felt like shit. Felt like I was blowing up. And I did, in fact blow up.

It's taken me about two weeks to understand what really happened. Since the Ironman, there are only two days I didn't run- the next day, and today, because in the morning I have two races.

I was out in the park, coming back on the loop, and ran with a pro for a while. Ran with him. Not got crushed by him, not saw him briefly, we ran and talked for maybe half a mile. And yet, within a mile of that I was struggling, ducking into a port-let to crap when I didn't need to crap. Once I forced myself to slow down, I was never right again. I made the first loop in OK time.

I headed back out and when I got to Margit and Ian I didn't panic, I didn't get upset, but I stopped to talk to them. I never stop to talk to people, but I had a 'coach, take me out for a play, moment, which I can't stand. Then I went back to running. I'm not going to blow-by-blow that second loop. Why should I ? It was a bad loop.

I will say this. I struggled, but I ran the last four miles solidly, and I caught five people in the last mile. I finished hard to the line and I never lost track of the 11 hour mark and what I needed to avoid having an unacceptably slow Ironman.

I wasted a chance in Florida to have a really good race, but at least now I understand exactly what went wrong. All this time I've been thinking slow it down, go easier. That's wrong.

What I have to do in Louisville next August is let myself go. Let my natural rhythm control the run. I was strong enough, I was focused. If my body says 7:40, then I'm going to let it have 7:40. I'm going to shut my brain off and let my body do the talking, and that way, there'll be no walking...

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