Los Angeles Triathlon Club
Race Report
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Club Member: Guy Avellon
Race: IMFL
Distance: Ironman
Race Date: 11/06/10
Submit Date: 11/15/10

This was about redemption after a DNF (tri-nightmare) at IM Switzerland. A few things I have learned from this club and their member is preparing to be prepared. Cherie has often mentioned about training the conditions your race is going to be closest to (hills train hills, flats train flats...); Konrad pointing out the obvious (so painfully truthful and funny), but we all make these mistakes...most likely more than once (swimming start placements, proper warm up, bike gearing specific to race terrain, transitions); and Ian for everything else in-between and otherwise. There's good information scattered in those e-mails that are posted from LATri Club! Most people try to choose IM Florida because it's fast and "pancake" flat, thus easy. Take a look at the profile...it's flat. In fact it's tough to train for that bike course where I now live because it's so flat. If you look at http://www.runtri.com/2010/07/runtri-benchmarks-easiest-ironman.html you’ll see that it’s not easy. In fact it’s 11/25 on the easy chart of MDot Ironman races…just between Arizona and Japan. This is based on finishing time averages. Based on this data Switzerland is the easiest. Ask Tina Geller if she thought Switzerland was easy (I’m betting she’ll agree it is NOT the easiest IM). Sure she qualified for Kona among an amazing group of athletes. Most the athletes at Switzerland were good, really good and the times proved it. There is data around (multiple race reports) that can help you decide which race is for you. Remember there is no EASY Ironman distance race. I have yet to see anything posted about really preparing for the weather on race day. I think most people take a general forecast and never think anything of it. Being a sailor too...the weather channel is very important tool (TV or internet), there are also other websites (www.wunderground.com) that can help you look at other data so you can get the full picture. If you’re swimming in a large body of water you need to look up a marine forecast that will yield information about water conditions. Also most will include history (average temp, precipitation, wind, current). The general forecast for IMFL has been 72F / Windy (12 mph)...again historical averages. The forecast the week before called for cooler temperatures, wind and sunny skies (66F / 13mph) The actual for this race: Temperature was a record low of 41F and reached 59F; Wind 9 mph average, max sustained 13mph and peak gust of 21 mph and wind direction NNW; water temp 74F, 1 foot less seas and starting to ebb tide at 0700. Most of us attending these events are not local...so whether you’re packing from California or Switzerland...the importance of packing correctly for weather is very important. Of course WTC has many fun options you can spend your American Pesos...to finalize your race day gear wear. Understand how the weather is going to affect your race segments. We often hear getting into the water is important...calms you down, warm up for the race...etc. Most important...what is the water doing, current, waves, temperature...all this information can help you set up for a better strategic race for the swim. I know I do not enjoy swimming an extra distance for any race (assuming you can sight correctly). Ask around for local knowledge. Swimming on the course a day or two before the race can help, however just like the weather, conditions change...so try to get in the water and swim further out than just enough water to cover your head to see if conditions differ from a few meters out. Understand the underwater topography (sand under the water). There were multiple sand bars on the IMFL course...you could see many athletes falling in...unplanned and not a good start to the day. There was a forecast of an ebb tide for that time which was happening, but also a west to east current closer to shore, but died out after 100 meters. You could actually feel the water temperature difference (cooler) in the side current. Most people went far right and ended swimming more distance. Swim courses are relatively easy to follow, but just take the time to look at the course and understand the turn buoys, entrance and of course the exit! This was the most aggressive start or should I say aggressive athletes I have ever been in the water with and most agreed. I was lucky for the majority of the course as I hung more to the left of the buoys than most. I'm not the best long distance swimmer as one day I will figure out I really can go faster and still have energy left for the other events. The second lap, first turn buoy I saw my first fight in the water...two guys slugging it out 3/4 of the way done and these guys had enough it. It was aggressive most of the way, but really...you have enough energy to do that? I finally get to T1 with 77% of the group ahead of me (the whole group) and 84% of my age group...gone... 1:26:44 somehow faster than I had predicted. I did beat the guy with the snorkel but that took an hour to pass him. Yes…you can use a snorkel, but fins are straight out not allowed! T1 was a cluster and the men had less of a changing area than the women all the way back to the convention center. Why? I can't figure that out since the number of women competitors were less...it was hectic and not fun. I thought I hustled through the change area, but my time practically states I had time for a sandwich, wth? Also I was bumped while putting my bike shorts on...the nice pure white sand (diameter 1/4 less than that of Pacific beach sand) of the gulf coast has now dumped into the padded area of my biking shorts...I though I was able to clean most of it out... 9:24 I had an issue with my speedometer on the bike…in which most the time the speed would read 0, 7, 2, 5, 21, 0 (more of a random number generator)….this was something new that reared it’s ugly head on the day before the race. I was too afraid to unglue the magnet from the disk wheel I was using and adding another magnet was not an option. So I used my spare watch and went off heart rate (because I trained with an hr monitor) and used my spare watch for timing and approximating the mph from the posted signs on the course. In addition I had air leaking from my tubular tire…this was from the valve extender getting moved somehow. To be safe that meant taking the tire off, fixing the issue and re glue the tire. Having lost a spare and knowing the road conditions (surfaces) where its tough in spots I opted for a Continental Gatorskin…I know people say it’s slower, but if I can be riding that serious to worry about an extra 50 grams of weight…I’ll eat one less power bar, plus it’s going on a disk and I can handle it. I took the insurance of the tire change and readied spare in case of something happening. Silly to prepare for months, travel a big distance, spend a sizable amount of money to let a $75.00 tire ruin your whole trip. I did have cadence available on the ride. The bike was every thing I had prepared for. Cooler weather, constant spinning (flat) and wind. Having looked at the forecast I knew I was to have a cross wind, then a head wind for much of the first part of the course. Also big buildings (hotels) can alter wind. Wind takes the easy path and can bend around building and blast you on the corners (this was only a small section of the course), however when it's flat and you have trees on either side of you...the funnel effect is the same, thus wind changes direction. I had opted for a long sleeve tight dry fit top under my LATri kit, no leg warmers (don't own them, plus they just don't look that flattering on most riders I saw)...but I did opt for the toe covers I had used in cooler training sessions. Being comfortable on the bike is important...well at least to me. I saw many riders in warm weather kits...not so comfortable. The wind was less in the beginning of the ride, but was building as the day went on peaking wind speeds from 1200-1300. There where packs of riders everywhere…it was frustrating at times when a pack would catch you for the 2nd or 3rd time…you just had to ignore it and try to race your own race. I did get sucked in a few times and voiced my opinion that this was not legal. Tough when you’re getting passed and some guys are out of their aero position, just spinning away…eating a Subway sandwich or something fun and resting when you’re at 20 mph. There where race Marshalls, but it was hard for them to break up the packs. The most egregious pack riding I have seen on a race course. I was happy to see some LATri people on the course (I think Tom Dull was the only other person with a visible kit), but I assumed the other “Go LA” cheers were from other members. I also had the luck of having many “GO GUY” signs on the course. The other side of the sign said vote for Guy…I think I won a local district seat?? Cool none the less. A quick note on “race wheels”…ride the wheels in conditions that you would expect to see on the course. I saw a bunch of “little” guys…well; in comparison to me at least get blown around the course with different wind speeds. It was interesting to note the crashes that involved multiple bikes on the course and just not a single bike down. There where many tire changes on the course than what I recall being normal. I always asked if people were ok. The aid stations where as close to Russian Rolette as I can remember in a long time. Not many people slowed down and you could see what looked like Gatorade explosions everywhere and the missed bottles on the ground. I saw many close calls, but no one down…luckily! I briefly stopped after two guys collided ahead of me to help them get back on the bikes. It was amazing to see riders really gear down for the very small hills on the course. The “hills” looked bigger since you could see for miles at time. The bridge helped break apart some packs and you could push through them. Interesting how many aero helmets I passed. I once had considered it, but knew I really needed to be disciplined to hold a position long enough for the benefit. Since the course was flat I felt it was important to get out of the saddle once in awhile. Mile 80 is where that sand finally started to be a discomfort. By mile 100 I thought everything in my bike shorts could not be any smoother…by mile 110 I took water, not because my hydration was down, but my shorts were on fire. Making sure it wasn’t Gatorade I then dumped ½ down my shorts…I knew the first wave was going to be bitter sweet as the electrolytes from my body and the fire below was going to be quite painful. It delivered and more…trying to focus on the ride I happened to look down and see my speedometer was kind of working…showing me 26 mph. I saved the other ½ when I was almost to T2…like a warm hug it’s over. I had a negative split by close to 15 minutes. Bike 5:31: 37 I caught some of the 1866 athletes ahead of me…1330 of them! Mission accomplished…off the bike safely and no cracked ribs. T2 was a bit nicer as you could just hand off your bike. Now being familiar with where I had to go I felt I could do a better job. I was lucky to find a spot that had some “ointment” available for my special issue…a Brazilian wax job gone badly. 4:55 much quicker The run is my limiter of the whole race. I trained specifically for this portion as it was an area of extreme slowness and pain for me. So now knowing I have a great shot at finishing and going sub 12…I did what everyone else does…bolt out of T2 like I was doing the 100 meter. The pictures don’t lie as my feet were off the ground in all pictures…perhaps it was because I had no flexibility yet from the transition. I finally calmed down ¾ of the1st mile into the first mile. I know I can do well on distances 13.1 miles or less, but I have yet to put down a good marathon. I trained at a slower pace so I could have energy stored for later. I even did long training runs and covered the time and just hit lap to see how I was actually running at the end of the long runs. Usually /- 10-15 seconds of where I thought my pace was with the last part picking up the pace slightly. I got to the park at :56:21 a bit faster than what I wanted and I was now trying to slow down for the rest of the race to a pace that would put me at 10:00 pace (my goal for me being a Clydesdale) …at the first turn around 13.1 miles 2:03:42 Still feeling pretty good. Around mile 16 I had significantly slowed down and was taking to full advantage of the aid stations to walk and recover. I did catch up to Kathy (LATri) just before the park turn around…where I was starting to struggle, closer to mile 19…she thankfully told me to move on…as I was starting to fall more into a fast walk mode. The sunset was definitely upon us around the park and the lights were not on yet, but the digital “encouragement” board that gave you your time was brighter than the first lap…so nightfall was near and so were the dropping temperatures. I found a group around mile 23...all in my age group. We all encouraged each other to pick up the pace…and I was the slow one of the group, but in my mind I had already figured out I can make the sub 12 if I walked the rest of the way. Something about competitors and male egos of the 40-45 age group. We were now running in a pack and picking “younger targets” to mow down. It made the time go by and was it was fun. As the last mile marker came up for the finish, you could hear the announcer and the crowd. We also had to say goodbye to some the more popular aid station workers… (those that were there will know what I ‘m talking about). The small talk stopped and we all said good luck to each other and the pace picked up…considerably. It’s amazing what the body can do towards the end of a 140.6 mile race. My last mile was just about as fast as my first. The emotions took over and the pain wasn’t quiet that bad. The group finished within a minute of each other…I was not the last for a change! 4:33:20 my fastest marathon, but missed my goal of 10:00/mile at 10:26. Total time 11:46:03 more than an hour faster than 2006 on the same course. I went for the massage, a slice of pizza and headed to take a shower to warm up and assess the damage from the bike ride. I came back out (wearing much warmer gear) to cheer on the others that have been out there for awhile and by now were much cooler on the course as the temperatures went down to 40F. Even though there was no formal LATri Club arranged meeting at IMFL I was able to meet: Audra, Lisa and Liza as they were hanging out with the woman’s winner Jessica Jacobs at the athlete’s party; Linda and Kathy during my bike check-in meltdown, Tom on the run “high five” on the course, and Heather on the day before pre-race swim. Great to meet them all since the “Thursday Socials” are a bit tough for me to make. LATri Club Finishers Congratulations! Tom Wood 10:19:46 Steven Pressman 10:59:54 Guy Avellon 11:46:03 Lisa Gillman 11:57:24 Darrin Kelley 12:16:39 Audra Lalley 12:26:28 Tom Dull 12:32:56 Gary Michelsen 12:39:21 Linda Campbell 12:43:42 Lisa Dordick 13:39:57 Joel Royston 14:07:07 Liza Velarde 14:42:02 Kathy White 15:20:25 Heather Carter 16:31:59

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