Anatomy of a DNF Part II

The Bike
I headed out on the bike, I was feeling pretty good about things. There wasnt much of a wind and I was keeping my speed around where I thought it should be. I was surprised how well I was able to keep my heart rate down after about 20 minutes of taking it easy. Once we hit the turnoff for the full, it was a pretty lonely ride. I was pretty far in the back and only saw maybe 10 to 15 riders that day. The peanut butter filled pretzels I put in my special needs bags were a motivation to push from mile 50 to mile 65. They tasted amazing when I got to them. The bag would actually last into the first mile of the run.

I felt great up until about the 70 mile mark. Once I turned on to hwy 421, I was hit in the face by a nasty headwind that did not seem to let up at all. This slowed me down majorly and probably added at least 30 minutes to my bike time. I finished the bike in 7 hrs 53 min. My average for the first half was around 16mph, while my average for the second half was only 13 (This includes potty breaks at every rest stop, including bottle refills and an extended stop at special needs).

My nutrition on the bike was right on. After coming off the bike nauseous at Augusta, I was leery of using the perpeteum. I decided to use a similar plan to what worked for me last year at the South Carolina Half. I used all solid food with nuun for electrolytes. My plan had me at around 400 calories per hour, which my body seemed to have no problem with. Every hour I would eat a Lara bar and at 20/40 minutes I would consume either a bag of sport beans or half a package of cliff shot blocks. I went through about 2-3 bottles of water per aid station which kept me having to use the porto-john at every stop, but at least I wasnt risking dehydration. The only problem I had with my nutrition was that almost everything I was consuming was acidic/sour (nuun, cherry lara, cranberry shot bluk, sport beans) so after about 8 hours I was really tired of the acidic taste in my mouth. Luckily I didnt havee too much further to go at this point and I had one lara bar that was not cherry. Here is a pic of all the nutrition I used on the bike. I think I had one lara bar, one pack of shot blocks, and one pack of sport beans that I did not use.

As I rolled into the end of the bike, there were volunteers there to take my bike. I grabbed my bag and headed into the changing tent. I decided on taking my arm warmers with me, but left the wind breaker behind. The only issue I had was that as I was changing, I accidently hit the lap button on my garmin so it switched to run and my run splits were all off. I ran out of the tent and through T2 and out on the run course feeling amazingly well.

The Run
I ran out onto the run with the plan to immediately start a 4/1 run/walk plan. Unfortunately, my timer was off and after about a quarter to half a mile you hit the first of two bridges. This course is a two loop out and back course so you would have to run over each of these bridges 4 times during the run. I knew I was going to walk up the bridges and run back down them. I was feeling good, but I could never get into a specific run/walk pattern. I really wish I had my timex watch with me so I could have set up intervals to help me do this. I was afraid to change the garmin settings mid run. At some point in training I will have to test this out.

When I started the run, I was shocked that not only was my stomach ok, but I had no back pain and my legs felt decent. I couldnt run for more then maybe a quarter to half mile, but I felt good when I was running and was keeping a halfway decent walking pace. I have to wonder how much of this was mental, which is something I need to work on. My nutrition plan on the run was to use what was provided rather then having to carry anything. At each aid station, I took a half a hammer bar, a cup of heed, and a cup of water. This would work well for me until about mile nine. At this point I switched to alternating heed or broth and chasing it with water. Occasionally I could stand to eat a peanut butter cracker or a piece of bagel with peanut butter. My only complaint with the aid stations is that on the second loop, they ran out of broth and coke for awhile. At mile 4, we ran through a park over various paths and bridges. I found myself walking often in here, because it was really poorly lit. If I was to do this race again, I would absolutely wear a headlamp out on the run after dark. After the race I heard several reports of people either falling or hurting themselves in this park because you really could not see. The route also went past the hotel we were staying at. At about the nine mile marker, I ran into Cathy and told her I should still be able to finish sometime between 11 and midnight. Looking back, this may have been wishful thinking, or my math may have been off.

I made it back into the park at the turnaround point with around 3 hours left. I had put a change of socks and some gloves in my special needs bag, but I decided only to grab the gloves as I knew I would need them and I didnt have the time to change my socks. I knew I had to pick it up and I tried to run more often then I had during the first loop. This worked about until about the time I got into the park where I had no choice but to walk at times. I picked up my pace on the run as well, but when I saw my split at mile 19, I did the math and knew I couldnt run any faster then I was and at my current pace I would never make it to the finish before the midnight cutoff. I ran a little further and my legs just had nothing left. I hobbled to the aid station at mile 20 and told the volunteers I wanted to drop out.

I caught a van ride to the finish. I checked to see if Cathy was there and if she had gotten my bike. She had grabbed my bike and bags, but was back at the hotel by this point. I ran into Ryan who was picking up his helmet. I told Ryan I was heading to the medical tent because I felt I may be dehydrated and was nauseous and just slightly light headed. Ryan was awesome enough to hang out with me until we caught the boat back to our hotels. In the medical tent, they checked my pulse, temp, and BP. Apparently everything was ok. The made me stay there for about 45 minutes and drank three bottle of water before they cleared me to leave. I got back to the hotel and crashed after eating most of the burger Cathy ordered me from room service.

I look at my run splits and they averaged around 17 minutes. I really needed to be closer to 15 minutes in order to finish on time. The interesting thing is that now as I look at the graph of my splits, they were fairly close from start to finish. The first 10 miles averaged 16:46 and the last 10 averaged 17:52. The last five miles were only 30 seconds slower then the first five. This either means I paced myself well or I didnt give enough effort and tried to play catch up at the end.

Looking Back
I already knew before I started this race that there were two key factors that were going to hinder my performance on race day. After I sprained my ankle last year, I put on 30 extra pounds and could never seem to take it off. The other issue was that I got burned out about halfway through my training and the wheel just completely fell off and I missed way too much training. These two things combined made me almost decide not to even do the race. I really thought I could at least get through by midnight, but unfortunately that didnt even happen.

Before I attempt a full iron distance race again, I need to loose at least 50 pounds. This will help me on my second thing I need to do which is to get stronger on the bike. I also need to regain my running speed and endurance that I had a few years ago. It will probably be 2011 before I attempt another ironman. Will I do B2B again? Very possibly considering it is almost half the price of a Ironman branded race.

I havent really planned out specific races for 2010 yet. I know I want to focus much more on my running. I also would like to ride outside more, especially some of the local group rides with enough hills to help build strength. I would like to do at least one sprint and one oly during the first part of the season. Depending on how things go, I would really like to do another 70.3 race in the early fall. It would likely end up being Augusta as I could drive in on Saturday and race and drive home on Sunday.

In a couple weeks I will likely start running again and see where I am before I decide on the possibility of any spring full/half marathons. I have also picked up P90X and plan on integrating it in. I may initially do their 90 day weight loss plan and replacing the cardio days with running. Once I make it through 90 days, I may likely do 2-3 days of p90x along with running and biking. For now, I am just going to let my body recover.


Tea said…
The most important thing is time off from everything tri. Do things you really enjoy or have wanted to do but IM training got in the way.

I feel for you, but you made the right decision.
Stef0115 said…
Love your plans for next year! And your plans for recovery to let your body rest and your mind wander away from sport. Everyone needs that. I know I did.

Molly said…
Everyone is right, definitely take a good off-season break after all this training and racing.

Sounds like you did great through much of the day and made the best choice for your body at the end. There will be more to come!
Calyx Meredith said…
What a great analyzer you are! You will be armed with great information as well as motivation when you do decide to go long again. But for now - enjoy the off season! (Not that p90x sounds all that enjoyable - but you know what I mean.)
Anonymous said…
Sounds like you have a great plan and you know what you need to do. You are going to finish an Ironman strong, no doubt.
Jess said…
So sorry that you had to drop out of the race, especially when you were SO close! But, a DNF always teaches us valuable lessons, so your plan moving forward seems wise!
Karen said…
Truly heartbreaking, I am sure. You still made it MUCH further than 99.9% of the people out there could have. Sounds like you learned a lot that will help you get to the finish line in 2011, 2012, or whenever you feel the urge. Have a good vacation from training!
Isela said…
A little break will be good and then get back on with the experience you have and you will rock the next one.
teacherwoman said…
I am proud of you Kevin. I think you made the right decision in the end. Your plans for next year sound great!
Wes said…
You had quite the busy year! and you done well. Crossing the finish line at Ironman is worth every ounce you invest. You've learned a lot. Now, its time to "lose" fitness and get ready to keep moving forward!

Let's do some stuff together next year! :-)
Lindsay said…
sounds like you've pinpointed your "lesson's learned". burn out is easy to admit to after the fact, i know that for sure! sorry things didn't go as planned or hoped for, but i know you have it in you!
Gotta Run..... said…
I think taking some time to recover and re-group will only make next year more enjoyable.

I am proud of you and hope that you are proud of yourself as well!!!

For me, once I got my diet under control the other things started to fall more into place. Sugars are in everything!!! I was once a much heavier person (45 lbs.)and it took me a long time to get my head in the right place.

2010... will be an even BETTER year!!
ShirleyPerly said…
So hard to say what's going to happen between signing up for an iron tri and race day. And even if everything went right in training, things can still go wrong on race day. I guess that's what keeps us coming back ...

But the important thing is that you've learned a lot from the race. I'm so happy to have at least seen you briefly at B2B and hope our paths will cross again in the future.

Rest up, recover and good luck with your future plans!
Anonymous said…
Definitely hope you take some down time during this offseason and regroup. It was a solid effort...sometimes things just don't go our way. You'll be a better triathlete for your experiences during this race..and emerge much stronger next year.
sRod said…
Man, it sounds like you have the right mind set about everything. You realize it sucks that you missed your goal, but you also realzie that there were a lot of lessons baked into missing that goal. To me, it sounds like you're destined for some great things at your next races.
Rachel said…
I'm so sorry to hear about your DNF. If only there was no cut-off. You never gave up; you should give yourself a lot of credit.

Take a break, enjoy life, but I know you will conquer your demons when you're ready.
Unknown said…
Sounds comes from inside that I want rest and relax.Your schedule was busy you have to take proper rest.
Sherry said…
Hi Kevin- Yes I have been AWOL from blogland for well over a month now (getting REALLY close to two months), but life has just been insane. I am sitting down today to catch up on all of my blog friend's end of the season races. Wow, you definitely had quite an experience. I know that this race didn't work out quite as you planned, but dang... you have so much spirit... so much gutts! Next time around is SURE to be better. Maybe I'll join you for that 2011 iron distance!?!? :o)
triblog carol said…
Sorry to read about your DNF. I've put on 20 lbs since doing B2B and yes, I feel it on every mile I run. It's sooooo hard to get off, tho, so I hear ya. Good luck!