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Race Result

Racer: Reid Kiser
Race: Quelle Challenge Roth
Date: Sunday, July 13, 2008
Location: Roth, --
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 11:16:47
Overall Place: 1071 / 2290
Age Group Place: 249 / 474
Comment: World’s largest and best Ironman.

Race Report:

I’ve yet to consider Kona, but outside of the qualification hurdles and being at the “world championship” Quelle Challenge Roth may be the best event for many reasons. The first being the support of the communities, especially the families who support the race by opening their home and culture to participants. I cannot express my gratitude to my hosts, Familie Korzer: Dieter (dad), Heidi (mom), Florian (son), Camilla (Flo’s girlfriend) Melanie (daughter), Tobias (Melanie’s boyfriend, and Oma Korzer. From Flo and Camilla taking us on a tour of the Audi plant and Ingolstadt, the wonderful meals of Heidi, the training run, great bier and shots with Dieter, and wonderful company of Melanie and Toby introducing us the most incredible stainless steel swimming pool including waterslides and 5m diving platform. There are many memories and experiences we will bring back from Roth and the Korzers are deeply ingrained in all of them. I could write a whole report just based on the daily activities leading up to this race, but I will save that for another journal.

The diet leading up to the race for the week consisted of great carb loading based on wonderful Bavarian breads and beer. Shawn and I did a few easy workouts to make sure everything was in order for the race but nothing more than an hour long easy bike ride being lost in the countryside. This was a vacation as much as it was a race week. I wasn’t sure how all the activities of the week would affect race day, but it didn’t seem to matter all that much until the 48 hour bubble when the beer taper began.

Saturday morning was the return from Munich and the Jack Johnson/G. Love concert. We arrived back at the Korzer’s shortly after noon and had lunch before going to rack the bike and deliver the running gear bag. Bike check-in was uneventful and quick. We were given nice bike bags to cover our bikes given the dreadful forecast for the night and the race day. This really helped reduce the anxiety of leaving the bike out in the elements overnight eventhough they would be soaked by the time I exited T1. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to really get a nap or get the feet elevated for more than 15 minutes. I wasn’t too concerned eventhough my plan would have been a more restful and lazy day with additional recon of the far sections of the bike course. I basically worked to keep the mind focusing on what to do next and visualizing race day. I worked on the final gathering of nutrition and gear packing. I did have a short chance to lay in bed for a few minutes with my feet elevated and shortly it was time to shower for dinner.

We scheduled an early dinner to beat the rush and for plenty of time for digestion. Mary Beth and I took the familie out for dinner in honor of their awesome hospitality and patience with are hectic and improvised schedules of the week (the time change was a hard adjustment, plus the lazy vacation factor). It was a great dinner and wish I could have had a few more beers with the gang but I was ready to race. I over tipped the waiter a few Euro, but it’s hard to feel confortable leaving a 10% tip when we are so generous with poorer service at home. As we were waiting to get the car out of the garage, someone ran inside and grabbed a couple of limoncellos for MB and I on the sidewalk. We did a final toast and pictures with the family. After dinner the familie took us for a tour of the aldstadt of Roth and some ice cream. This was very relaxing and comforting way to end the evening. We were in bed by 10:30 with the alarm set for a 4 a.m. wake-up and breakfast.

I woke up feeling rested and relaxed for the six hour time zone difference and it being race morning. Surprisingly, I was not very anxious the entire week. Most likely because the I’s had been “dotted” and the T’s “crossed”, I knew it was just a matter of going out to execute and hang on to the day. However, on my way to gather my gear in the dark bedroom, I stepped on the plug of a blowdryer. OUCH!!! I now had a small gash in my left foot. I did not panic and tried to act like it really didn’t happen. To turn it into a positive, I convinced myself that I could use this pain to ignore the pain I’ve been having in my right plantar fascia over the last few weeks and that this would get me through the run as long as it didn’t get infected. I knew there would be plenty of pain for the day, so what’s one more little gash on my foot going to do?

Upstairs I went and Dieter (host) gave me the bad news that it was pouring rain and cold. Fortunately I brought arm warmers and gloves, but no cycling rain jacket. “Oh well, it’s going to be a long day regardless,” I said. There’s nothing you can do to change the weather and 2008 has been the year of racing in weather extremes, I was ready to lock and load. I had two bottles of Ensure, a cup of coffee and banana for breakfast and headed to the bus. After a 20 minute ride to the start, the realization of what was to come settled in, but I have learned to stay relaxed and calm. The work has been done, just execute and stay inside the box (A BIG THANKS to all my training partners that made sure I got out the door each day and didn’t slack off – Shawn, Scott, Dave, Dan, Kevin, the Mikes and all the others who pushed and pulled me along especially Mary Beth).

Shawn found me at my bike setting up and trying to figure out the logistics. It was a little different trying to do things in another language, I was a little shy to ask in poor German on what was allowed at the bike versus the bag grab/changing zone). We ended up finding our coach and Roth veteran (David Glover) and sorted out all the details. It was time to put on the wetsuit and get to the toilet one last time while finishing off 200 calories of Perpetum pre-race.

I found my support crew which was a miracle given the number of spectators at this raced despite poor weather. It was really cool to have an entourage at the race start. It helped to keep my mind off the anxiety and was extremely encouraging giving me the confidence I could do this thing. It would be almost an hour before the Pro wave start and my wave, so we went to the canal and watched until 7:00 a.m. I gave everyone a hug and headed to the Orange cap wave corral for the 7:15 start

Swim (Goal - <1:10) Time - 1:05:43:
WOW!!! I think back to that first 250m pool swim 3 years ago at Virginia Run where I panicked after 75m and had to breath stroke the remainder of the short swim, not to mention all the other great swims I’ve ruined in the first 200 meters. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I could line up in the front of a wave of 400 starters aiming to go under 11 hours in an ironman. I placed myself on the left side (center of the canal – buoys and the turn side) behind two others. I wore my new Helix sleeveless given it is more confortable and I tend to heat up after 30 minutes in a wetsuit. I had a great swim at Eagleman and felt confident it would be better to go with the suit that gives confidence. I took the pummeling and gave some back for the first 100 meters going at about a Z3 effort staying to the side. My heartrate got up a bit and I missed a few breaths choking on water, but was able to continue to stroke through it. The fast swimmers were starting to split from the group, but I was holding my own in the trailing school of swimmers.

The first mile of the swim was very easy given the vacuum affect of swimming in the group. I just stayed relaxed and hit my strokes until the group thinned some more. Before the first turn I was picking off the wave in front of me which brought even more positive reinforcement to go aggressive but stay easy in Zn2. I came to the first U-turn and decided I was going take the turn on my terms. I had a couple of guys around me and we bumped gently and sorted things out. I checked my watch in the middle of a stroke/sighting and had 24 minutes. This really didn’t mean anything to me since it was the halfway point of the swim, but I was curious.

Back into the rhythm and finding the furthest sighting point I could find in a straight line to the next turn (white tent at the transition). I am starting to catch what I call the “Rainbow Wave.” This is when all the swim caps around you are different colors meaning you are doing well especially with 5 minutes between each wave start. I am feeling good and relaxed and know it’s going to be a great day. However, when swimming in water that is warmer than the air and that you don’t really notice rain I would rudely be awakened at bike start of what was to come.

I make the final turn to the swim exit and see Mary Beth and my familie and wave to them mid-stroke (I had to laugh at how silly I must have looked). It was 200 meters to exit and I was ready to ride after realizing I was about to have 60’something swim. It was a great swim and now I want to break an hour next time.

T1 (Swim to Bike) Time - 6:45:
Oh man, it’s cold and pouring raining. I take my time putting on the arm warmers, shoes, socks, bike jersey, gloves and Chamois Butt’r wishing I had a rain jacket. I was not in a rush to get out to make sure I would be warm. I head out to the bike and grab some water and stuff a banana in my jersey. Helmet and yellow tinted glasses on I head out to the cheers of my support team and am looking forward to the bike.

Bike (Goal - 5:30’s with average power under 200 watts) Time - 5:47:54 with 199 watts:
Within 15 minutes, I am getting cold since I am now soaked. I don’t remember too much of the first loop of the bike other than shivering with my teeth chattering the entire time. I let lots of people pass me early on as I held my watts low per the plan and stuck to nutrition. On the back stretch of the course there is lots of opportunities to get some speed and time back, but I couldn’t do it given I could barely control the bike given my shaking condition. I was really disappointed but looked at the grand scheme of the goal of just finishing and having a four hour run. As I approached Hipolstein and the Solar Berg I really just wanted to quit and not risk my health. I recalled I gave Mary Beth a pancho in her backpack. I was thinking I could get her to hand it off to me in the special needs zone when I saw them at the most amazing experience in triathlon, the Solar Berg climb. Imagine the Tour de France Tour Malet or Alpe d’Huez climbs with people crowding the road. It completely lifted my spirits not to mention the ambient temperature of 20 degrees given all the body heat. Mary Beth and the Korzers were cheering loudly and I hollered to MB, “GET ME THE PANCHO!!!” She heard this as “you need to put on the pancho.” (LOL in retrospect). I was hoping she understood my “request” amongst the chaos and I would see her at the Biermiele (Beer Mile) special needs zone. Thinking I would get the pancho helped me hang in there through what was a painful experience of being cold. I tried to not obsess over the question of what is the shivering going to do to the rest of my day as my shoulders were severely cramping and burning. I also used the TdS experience to reinforce that I would survive and the weather would have to let up at some time. I made it to the Biermiele and never saw anyone so I was bummed. However, I did say a prayer after Hipolstein to give me the strength to suffer through the cold or stop the rain. The rain would let up after Torborne Sinballe and the pace cars ran me off the road on the way to my second loop (as Shawn predicted the leaders would do). Sinballe wasn’t wearing his white ghost costume but it was still very symbolic as he passed me in his black setup. I was feeling better from the adrenaline rush of seeing Thunder Bear fly by me and me beginning to dry out but had a good feeling that there may still be a shot of going under 11 hours if I have a solid negative split and 4 hour marathon.

Lap two was more of my bike plan for the day. I was able to get my power numbers and speed in order. I was able to bomb the rollers and downhill sections. I negative split the bike by 20 minutes and it was an “easy” effort in doing so. I really hoped and feel a 5:30 bike would have been capable for me to have a decent run. We’ll see next time I come to Roth. I was able to start to enjoy the day as I warmed up. I reminisced about the solid swim I had and how great everything leading up to the day went including the incredible support and interest of my host family.

Interestingly in looking at the power numbers post race, the numbers were very consistent only differing by a couple of watts between laps. The normalized power and variability index (consistency of pedaling cadence) showed the story as described. The first loop was a lot of short bursts to get warm only to back off when getting cold. I constantly debated on the first loop to just hammer and get the heart rate high to try to stay warm but guessed this would most likely lead to me blowing up in the middle of the run. Oh, I forgot to mention, the heart rate strap wasn’t communicating with my Polar watch or Ergomo. Outside of power numbers it would be an RPE ride and run later.

Unfortunately there will always be drafting (intentional/unintential) in this sport given the number of riders on the course and pacing. I felt the marshals did a pretty good job of nailing a few people for drafting and blocking. There was a large amount of people riding on the left side of the lane and this was a little frustrating as it meant tight passes. Regardless, I don’t let these violations get into my head and I kept it outside of my box and just executed my plan.

For the bike, I consumed ~1000 calories of perpetuum, 300 calories of Hammer Espresso w/caffeine, 2 bananas, 300 calories of Clif Electrolyte drink w/caffeine and three bottles of water with 6 endurolytes in the last hour of the bike (roughly 250-300 cal/hour as in training). I also grabbed a couple of bars at the aid stations on the bike. I peed 6-8 times on the bike most likely because my body was trying to stay warm and I wasn’t sweating out the fluids. This wasn’t a concern as it gave me some confidence I was hydrated with the occasional warming.

T2 (Bike to Run) Time – 3:39:
I came into transition stretching out the legs and relieving the bladder one more time. It was a bike handoff which is nice to have so you do not worry about racking the bike and running through the gauntlet. I grabbed my bag and went to the changing tent to take off my jersey and went with the tri-top I had worn since the start. I body glided my feet (cut on left foot looked okay) and put on my shoes, socks and grab a cap and fresh sunglasses (that would never be used outside the first 5k of the run). I loaded up my short pockets with my electrolyte drink, endurolytes and fresh gel flask and headed out quickly and felt really good in front of the cheering crowds.

Run (Goal – about 4:00) Time - 4:12:48:

Leading up to the race, all I really wanted to do was hit 4 hours on the marathon. The swim and the bike did not really matter; the goal is to have a solid run at all costs and be ready for mile 18-20.

As usual, I came out of transition at a fast pace and held back waiting for the first 1km split. The goal was to hold 5:45min/k to the 30k mark and go from there. Unfortunately I would not have HR to give feedback, but I pace based on RPE and use the numbers as a reference for different strategies and adjustments. I was fine with no HR and moved the strap to my waist and moved along.

The first kilometer was in the low 5’s, so I dialed back over the next 3k and finally had an easy rhythm by the 5km point. For the first few days after the race, I only could remember details of the first and last 5k of the race. As I write this the details are coming back. My mental goals and plan were to not watch each km split but to go by chunks of distance that made sense for goal times (e.g., 10k split of 57:30, 21k split of 2 hours, 30 k of 2:57:30, etc). Outside of the rain this may be the other reason for not soaking in too much of the details of my surroundings and the race details. It was shut down the mind until the next mark and just keep the feet moving at a sustainable pace while walking the aid stations. I feel like my pace was metronomic as I beat or hit most of these time goals in first half with only the time spent in the aid stations taking longer after about 25km.

I met MB and Julie at 22 km mark for fresh electrolyte drinks in the special needs zone as they chased me down with mugs full of beer in the street. I wish I had one of those beers. I said good bye to my wife and gave her a big sweaty kiss and couldn’t wait to see her and my beer at the finish. It felt good to see them and get a mental lift, but this faded after 3k. It was time to suck things up and just chip away at the km’s to the finish. This worked pretty well until the rain really picked up again around the 29km lollipop turnaround (2nd of 2 out and backs). I kept telling myself just get to the 30k mark and it would only be a 10k until the real crowds that would carry me home.

Things really got tough in the 30-35km range so I just kept reminding myself that 3 years ago I decided I would do an ironman by the time I was 35, what a great support group I have around me and the pain would be over in one small hour. I also had developed a headache somewhere in the second half of the run and it would get worse until about 38km and the let up as I mentally knew I should be home in 30 minutes. I made my way off the canal path and back onto the roads and saw Dieter with 3km to the finish. He rode with me for a minute and asked how I was feeling, I couldn’t really do anything more than mumble that I was hanging in there eventhough it hurt. He rode on to gather with the group at the Triathlon Stadium (finish line). I would try to feed off the other runners around me. Occasionally passing someone and then trying to grab someone passing me. By this point I was developing bad pain in my left IT band, shoulders were burning from the bike and both feet were in severe pain. I learned to dig really deep in my long training sessions and especially at Triple-T and Eagleman this year. To ignore the pain, I thought back to this new found strength and how I will apply this to life after this is all over. By the 40km mark I was picking it up and the spectators were really encouraging. I would really start to pass people. I passed approxiamately 20 people in the last 2k with some trying to hang on but not able to react. I was able to enter the stadium all alone for 100 meters and soak up the crowd with really felt like what I have seen on TV watch the pros win the race. It’s kind of silly thinking back on this, but hey it’s about the experience and doing something most people will never try to attempt. It was an incredible finish and accomplishment like none other to this point in my life. It’s been well worth all the personal and financial sacrifices that have been made in the last year and half. No one can take it away when you’ve done it!

For the run I consumed 600 calories from Hammer espresso gel w/ caffeine, 3 endurolytes each hour, lots of water and 400 calories from Clif electrolyte drink w/ caffein and a coca-cola at many of the aid stations after the 30km mark. There were a couple of times I had some watermelon for a change in taste. I also peed three times so I should have been pretty well hydrated.

Overall, I did an exceptional job of managing my training, the week leading up to the race and executing my race plan. I feel like my run went very well and was consistent event though I didn’t brake 11 hours on this attempt. There was fuel in the tank at the end which felt good to drop the hammer on the way home. Could I have gone faster or walked less in transition? Sure, but it all worked out and to come in around 11:15 with a 4:12 marathon is more than anyone can expect the first time experiencing the unknown of ironman.

I really wanted to do everything to have a 4:00 marathon and feel that coming within 5% of that goal fits most confidence intervals. If I was to say there was one thing that kept me from going under 11 hours and a 4 hour run, it was the first loop of the bike taking a lot out of me from being extremely cold. I feel there was a lot of wasted metabolic, mental and physical energy. To not blow up on the run was a surprise given how much that first lap of the bike took out my day. Not quiting after the first loop of the bike was probably the biggest character and confidence builder of the race. It is interesting to see how extreme things are mentally and physically in ironman. With that, I look forward to doing another one in the future. I just don’t know if it will be 2009, I need to catch back up on life and all the household chores that have piled up over the last year.

Once again, this was a great event with awesome spectators, participants, volunteers and race coordinators. How often does want get to venture around Bavaria for the day owning the streets and trying to speak the language. Aine Weisbier bite. Danke!