Tuesday, June 24, 2008

IMCdA Race Report

I want to start by thanking everyone who supported me in this race and took the time to track me as the race progressed. The support is much appreciated.

As you know I had two goals for IMCdA, I wanted to get a time in the rage of 12:45 and I hoped that would be sufficient to place me in the top 10 of Clydesdales over 40.

I beat my expectations by posting an iron distance PR of 12:31:21! I have always figured I should be able to produce a time like that but then again I have never come close. My previous PR was 14:27:15 at the Oklahoma City Redman in 2006. I have been doggedly pursuing the iron distance trying to figure it out, trying to achieve the performance I thought I could and apparently I have learned some things but I will say this, one thing I know better than anything else is that it doesn’t matter who you are on any given day you can face the Ironman and come out on top or be stopped cold. The race must always be approached with respect.

According to the scales at packet pickup my official race weight for IMCdA was 215.
I think everyone I spoke with agreed that the swim at IMCdA this year was the most violent thrashfest they had ever experienced. I know that for maybe the first 400 meters of the swim I never put my face in the water I just swam as hard as I could while looking up for fear of taking a serious shot to the face. The swim was a two loop rectangle and for the first leg of the first loop we were like a bag of rats crawling all over each other trying to fight for space. I did take one pretty good shot to the face and had my goggles knocked off and ended up doing the whole swim with one lens partially filled with water. It wasn’t until the second look that I was pretty much able to consistently get some of my own water to swim in. My swim of 1:12 and change matched my previous swim PR at Kentucky, which was an easier swim by far.

The bike course was pretty tough. While the hills were not as frequent as those in Kentucky they were steeper so I think it is pretty much a toss up as to which is more difficult but I think I would lean more toward Kentucky as being the harder bike course because CdA has a fantastic long section coming back into town that is generally flat or downhill and it lasts for about 12 miles whereas Kentucky’s flat heading back into town is only 10 miles and is just flat and not really downhill.

I have stripped the computer from my bike and don’t use my Garmin or anything to track my speed and I just ride by heart rate. I figure that your performance is strictly based on how well you have trained and no matter how much you might wish it to be otherwise you will only go as fast as you are trained to go. I realized last season that knowing my current speed and average speed on the bike just messes with my head.

The bike was two loops and I had a HR plan that was pretty much laid out in 30 mile increments with the first 30 miles being ridden at the lowest HR. For probably the first 80 miles of the bike I was flying past people on the downhill sections and flats and people were passing me in droves on the uphill sections. By mile 90 I started passing some people, albeit slowly, on the uphill sections. I’ve gotten used to the fact that the further up front I am the fewer people I pass and stay passed because I am racing with a stronger group of athletes.

After the first loop I also decided to ride the second loop a bit more conservatively, more in line with my first 30 mile HR plan. I did this because I was riding very well and I wanted to make certain that I had my running legs when the time came. The whole time I was on the bike I kept reminding myself not to get greedy and just ride within my plan. I am pretty sure that if I did know my average speed I would have tried to keep it higher and would not have backed off at all. As it turns out I was picking up speed through mile 56 and backed off just a bit for the second half of the bike. I also drank like crazy and probably downed 8 bottles of Gatorade and 3 or 4 bottles of water as well as Nuun and some gels and powerbars.

When I came off the bike it took me a mile or so to get my running legs but they eventually came around. Once again I was in the position of having many people pass me but I just kept looking at my HR and stuck to my plan. I also ran the marathon like an ultra-runner in that I mostly walked the up hill sections and I walked every aid station unless it was on a downhill section, then I grabbed what I needed and ran out the downhill and walked an equal distance once I was on a flat again.

The run course at CdA is much harder that Kentucky because there is a fair amount of climbing but at least the heat and humidity wasn’t there which was nice. I was running well until somewhere around mile 17 when my stomach went a little bad but the worst thing was that I was overcome by dizziness and became a little confused. The sensation was a lot like what happened to me at IMAZ but instead of trying to push through it I took immediate action and switched to a one minute run and one minute walk. That was not working so I just started walking until I felt better. I also tried to eat and drink everything they had to offer but it was no good, everything made me sick. I probably walked just over two miles and it was at about a 20 minute per mile pace. It was killing me to see what had been a great race falling to pieces right before my eyes but I knew that it was likely that I would feel better if I just kept walking.

There is a saying among ultrarunners, “No matter how good you feel or how bad you feel it will soon change.” I just kept that in mind and before I knew it I was running hard again and able to make up some of my lost time.

I honestly had no idea how well I was doing because I had my watch set to only show me my HR. It wasn’t until I was at about mile 24.5 on the marathon that I overheard one guy ask another what time it was and the answer was “7:15.” I immediately knew that a time of about 12:30 was a real possibility if I just maintained discipline and kept doing exactly what I had been doing the whole race.

It was a pretty emotional experience when I was headed for the finish line and the time had just rolled over to 12:30! I knew this was my Ironman ability and I have finally found it and made it a reality. Much to my chagrin it turns out that this year’s batch of Clydesdales over 40 are basically equal to the fastest gathering of Clydesdales the race has ever seen, in 2004 when the course was different.

So, here are the unofficial results as obsessively compiled by me:

7. GRANT, CRAIG MISSION, BC, Canada 11:53:58
10. MERRITT, JAY L BOISE, ID 12:11:45
11. RADER, JOHN ORLANDO, FL 12:19:38

12th place out of a field of 64 at a national level race; I can’t complain at all! I guess I’ll just have to do better at Ironman Arizona later this year. I know that I still have room to improve my training, plenty of room if I really want to compete for a top slot and I do.


  1. Well done! Extraordinary PR, and I particularly admire your abandonment of the Garmin for the heartrate monitor. Clearly a very wise choice.

  2. Congratulations on a great, great race. It was terrific to meet you. I saw you on the run but I was a bit dazed and confused at that point.

  3. Very cool Brian!!! I watched you cross the finish line and you looked great! Congratulations on another IM! :)

  4. Great race! Out of curiousity: does Terry Nugent weigh about 215 lbs too or is he more of a borderline Clyde?

  5. A round of applause for the PR! It was great to see you smiling across the finish line.

  6. Anonymous11:02 AM

    Congrats on the PR and a well-run race...especially being patient and just going by HR. That sounds pretty wise! Glad the stomach issues got better for you in the end :)

  7. Awesome!

    Really happy to see the PR, tracked you the whole time, and you were stellar the whole way.

  8. Great race, that's a heck of a PR.

    You know, with all you've written about troubles with your stomach on these ultra-distance endeavors, have you considered that maybe you're taking in too many calories, and that's what's causing the problem? I've stumbled on a few articles suggesting this, but I can't produce any links at the moment.

    Regardless, great job, I look forward to reading about more of your adventures.

  9. Very smart choice stripping the computer--congratulations on a great race!

  10. How fabulous this is! Thanks for sharing all the details. The HR plan was especially interesting. You did a fabulous job!

  11. I was so excited for you when I saw your time on the Athlete tracker. Truly Awesome!

    Congratulations on your PR! You are a textbook example of hard work and smart training paying off.

  12. Oh, awesome job! Your HR-only theory totally makes sense. Maybe I should adopt that method myselt (you know, for my little baby races! :) ) And it sounds like your ultramarathon training and experience paid off as well!

  13. Very well done...quite an impressive PR!

  14. Congrats Brian! You should have seen your face when you crossed the finish line! Priceless.

  15. Although it sucks you didn't make the top ten, you still had a very brag-worthy race. Great job!

  16. WOW completly different swim than I had but I Was way whimpy right of the main line, ha!

    I agree with the HR method, as this is exactly what I did as well.

    Congrats IRON BABOO!!


  17. Great race at IMCDA, huge PR for you..

    Yeah I think knowing your speed and time during the race does mess with your head.. Like the idea and just going with HR.

    1 down and like 2 more IM"s to go..

  18. Now that is a great time man!
    with that momentum, You'll just keep getting better.

  19. dude...you were awesome out there - it was great to see you soooo far ahead of me - you worked for it and deserved your 12th place and massive PR. Great JOB!

  20. Congrats man. You crushed it!