||Saturday, August 4, 2007
||Santa Rosa, CA
||Triathlon - Ironman
||Male 35 - 39
||95 / 253
|Age Group Place:
||25 / 55
||Yea, what David Glover said!
VINEMAN – Full Ironman-distance
Race #3 of 4 – The quest for the David Glover medal
August 4, 2007 – Sunny after morning low clouds – Calm to SW winds 10mph – Temps 80sF air / 75F water
(As we parted ways on the day after the Vineman, I promised David that I would give him the honor of posting his Vineman race report before I posted mine.)
This race report is going to build on David Glover’s report, although I learned some additional lessons from this event that have application to all triathletes. If you would like to scroll down near the bottom, I definitively answer the following questions:
- CAN YOU FINISH AN IRONMAN WITHOUT TRAINING FOR IT?
- CAN YOU DO AN IRONMAN FOLLOWED BY ANOTHER RACE THE NEXT DAY?
- WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAVE FLATTED OUT OF ALL YOUR SPARE TIRES?
- WHAT SHOULD YOU SAY/DO IF YOU SEE A CYCLIST DISABLED ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD?
- HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR MECHANICAL/EMERGENCY HELP TO ARRIVE?
- WHAT IS DAVID GLOVER LIKE BEFORE A RACE?
- WHY DO AN IRONMAN JUST TO GET A FINISHER’S MEDAL?
David wrote, “In my mind, there are three components to a successful Ironman-distance race: (1) Fitness, (2) Execution, and (3) Mental Focus. All three are equally important.”
Truer words have never been said, or at the very least, my Vineman experience validates those words.
My Vineman experience was significantly different on the results sheet than David’s…I didn’t win, didn’t get a bottle of wine, and had my slowest Ironman time ever. Yet, it was “successful”. It was successful because (1), (2), and (3) were present and the environment (i.e. the race itself) was conducive to the synergistic interaction of those components.
In my specific case:
FITNESS: I was fit, although I did absolutely no specific Ironman training since last year’s Vineman. I had focused my 2007 training strictly for the Olympic distance. Yet, I had plenty of years of aerobic base, having finished at least one Ironman race annually since 2003. As Stv Smth discovered recently at the 5430 Long Course, fitness doesn’t fade away just because you don’t race or train directly towards it.
EXECUTION: I also cracked the Ironman nut, and executed everything WITHIN MY CONTROL according to MY race plan. This was my eighth Ironman, and my plan for this race relied heavily upon a strategy I tried for Ironman #4, but modified based on the lessons learned from Ironmans #1 through #7. If David’s race had “hiccups”, then I had full body spasms in comparison. I, too, addressed these impediments and resumed executing my plan. I emphasize "my" plan because such plans are individually unique...in contrast to David, my race plan did include using a heart rate monitor for feedback, and not as much sodium or painkillers. I ended up PRing the swim, ran faster than last year’s race, and had no gastrointestinal, hydration, or nutrition problems.
MENTAL FOCUS: I haven’t figured out the “flow” thing yet (David did show me the book he’s been espousing), but I was successful throughout the day in not only keeping my thoughts grounded in the present, but also remembering the next step in the execution plan…or perhaps I should say after a few hiccups, that I was always reserving some brain cells to consider what was needed to carry me from my present position to the next point on the course.
Also, some brain cells had to be reserved for whatever it was I was looking for. Face it, all of us in this sport are looking for something. That something is unique to you. I’m not sure that I can describe what that “something” was for me in this race, although David did mention that the emblematic representation of my “something” was a medallion embossed with his image.
CAN YOU FINISH AN IRONMAN WITHOUT TRAINING FOR IT?
Yes. If finishing an Ironman represents the successful accomplishment of your goal, you still need the three components that David described: Fitness, execution, and mental focus. Now, having said that, I have not figured out how you can have those three components if you haven’t previously trained for an Ironman at sometime in your past.
CAN YOU DO AN IRONMAN FOLLOWED BY ANOTHER RACE THE NEXT DAY?
Yes, but not without outside (chemical) assistance. David mentioned that I had signed up to do the half-distance Aquabike. That was because I had also signed up to do the Alcatraz Challenge, a swim-run biathlon, the following day in San Francisco. I had even convinced Blue Seventy to sponsor me this year, providing me with a complementary Helix full wetsuit, in part because I had this “double” scheduled. David’s Hall-of-Fame induction prompted me to move up to the Full Vineman, but I was still planning on going to San Francisco the following morning.
I completed the Vineman without trying to push myself, and I was surprised that I ran the marathon faster even though I was going easy through it. Yet, a marathon is a long way to drag a body and all of the massages weren’t going to quell the soreness in the legs the next morning. I also had a long day out on the course, so I didn’t get to bed until midnight and leaving me only 4.5 hours of sleep before it was time to drive down.
Had I swallowed some pain relievers, had a venti mocha, and a little more sleep, I think I could have slugged out at least the swim from Alcatraz. Instead, I decided at the dock of the ferry boat that would take me to Alcatraz that I was not comfortable with my condition given the environment (cold air, cold water and headwinds) and dropped out of the Alcatraz Challenge.
When I returned to Santa Rosa for the Vineman awards and Hall-of-Fame ceremonies, word had already reached there that there had been a fatality in the event that I had abandoned. Nonetheless, the Alcatraz Challenge is still a quality event that I would like to do in the future. (Gary Emich did give me a 25% discount to next year’s race)
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAVE FLATTED OUT OF ALL YOUR SPARE TIRES?
First, remember that your race is not done and your day is certainly not done. Both are far from over.
After that, you need to take steps with respect to those truths that your day and race are still in motion. You ought to take shade or shelter if it is available nearby, and continue to hydrate and take calories, albeit in lesser amounts. You also need to keep your muscles loose and stretched.
Of course, you need attention brought to your situation. Try to flag down one of the official support vans or any race official. If none come by, sit by the side of the road and tell competitors riding by to tell the next aid station that you are there. Aid stations are normally equipped with radios or cell phones that can dispatch assistance to you.
If that doesn’t seem to work, and we’re talking about nobody (racer, official, police) coming by for at least an hour, then I think it takes a desperation measure to save yourself from abandonment…riding on the rims to the next aid station, or getting to a phone, or hitchhiking.
WHAT SHOULD YOU SAY/DO IF YOU SEE A CYCLIST DISABLED ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD?
Most people who saw me sitting on the shoulder, clearly conscious, with a disabled bicycle, rode by me asked “Are you O.K.”, with the “O.K.” part coming as they zoomed past me and continued on downrange. That is NOT the thing to say or do.
Let me propose, as universal guidelines of conduct, the following for all triathletes:
- If the cyclist is clearly attending to his/her bicycle, trying to fix it, ride on by. That cyclist has his/her situation under his/her control.
- If the cyclist is clearly unconscious, appears in physical distress, or you just saw him/her take a tumble, stop to render assistance. Flag down help or tell others to let the next aid station know of the situation if required.
- If the cyclist is not attending to his/her bicycle, but is clearly conscious, ask “Do you need the support van?” and/or advise the next race official or aid station you see/reach that there is a race participant stuck on the course.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR MECHANICAL/EMERGENCY HELP TO ARRIVE?
I had two flat tires, and had carried one spare. The second flat tire occurred at 9:00am, 25 miles into a 112-mile bike ride. I was about five miles short of the next aid station, although there was a large hill to climb between my location and the aid station. I had flatted the rear tire, so riding on the rim of the rear tire, up and down a large hill, was undesirable.
One race official zoomed by me at 9:05am. After that, no other race official came by, even though the bulk of the race came by me during the ensuing hour. (I found this very ironic because at this same event in 2001, my relay team got a bicycling penalty that cost us the overall win.)
Many racers passed me during the ensuing hour. I told many of them to let the next aid station know that I was there.
At 9:45am, having seen no race official, support van, or police since 9:05, I was seriously considering the possibility that I had been abandoned by the race, even though this was the first of two loops on the Vineman course. I had decided that if nothing came by before 10:00am, I would attempt to resume forward progress on the bike.
At 9:55am, the first tech support van showed up. He had no tubular tires. He called his friend in the only other tech support van, who had one tubular tire left. The second van, I was told, would be here in 15 minutes.
Fifteen “Greek” minutes later, at 10:20, the second van arrived. As it was, Brandon Del Campo, last year’s third place finisher, was ahead of me on the course when he flatted out and had an hour wait for help. I was helped after the tech folks had fixed Brandon. At 10:30, I was back on my bike moving forward, riding on the last tubular tire that the tech support team had to give out.
Also of note, when I got to the bottom of the big hill before the next aid station, there was a police and fire presence as a racer had been involved in an accident.
So, is an hour wait “normal”? In a race of 700 participants, we had two tech vans. In an M-dot franchise Ironman, I believe there are around six…so the ratio of racers to tech vans is about the same. Of course, there are many variables as to where/when you need help, and what else is going on in the race. Hopefully, you won’t need tech assistance…but if you do, stand by to wait for a while.
WHAT IS DAVID GLOVER LIKE BEFORE A RACE?
David is still David. Yet, this year, the two of us seemed to approach this event much more businesslike. We knew the routine. We have done plenty of triathlons and Ironmans and Vinemans before, and we had did the same arrangement with the same homestay the previous year. We didn’t talk beforehand about race strategy or the intricacies of flow, or whether I would drag him through the swim, or anything about the fates of previous Hall-of-Fame inductees (DNFs). He and I were both cool customers come race morning.
WHY DO AN IRONMAN JUST TO GET A FINISHER’S MEDAL?
Needless to say, friends like David are rare to come across, especially for someone like me living the nomadic military life. So a couple of years ago, it was my hope that when David would be inducted into the Vineman’s Hall of Fame, something that I knew would be a matter of time, I wanted to be there for it. It’s not every day that someone, especially someone (in the case, a race director thousands of miles away from Reston) wants to say positive words and give accolades…even to a great guy like David. In our sport, a personal honor such as a Hall of Fame induction is rare, and when it happens, it should be celebrated like one celebrates a wedding or a graduation or something like that. That’s why all of David’s family (Parents, step-parents, brother and nephew), came from across America for the Vineman.
Part of the Vineman Hall of Fame honor is that the inductee has his name and image stamped on the reverse side of the Full Vineman’s finisher’s medals in the year of his or her induction. This year’s medal with David’s face on it is definitely a keepsake and will be worth many $$$$ for years to come! Actually, any Ironman finisher’s medal is a treasure, and long after these race reports get lost in the electronic ether and David’s (first) book goes out of print, “his” medal is a great thing to show other people, and communicate his story, for years to come.
Thus, I went into the only race in my life that I couldn’t “afford” to DNF. I say that because there would only be one shot at getting the David Glover medal…one can always DNF a triathlon…even an Ironman…even the Hawaii Ironman, and likely get another shot to make it to the finish line. But, there would be no second chance for this.