Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Technical details, logistics and other random info about IMFL

There is so much to talk about when it comes to Ironman Florida that I just can't shut up. There are tons of details that a lot of you probably do not give a rat's ass about, but then you might be one of those people who signed up for IMFL '09, or any other IM in '09, and you might actually be interested in things like nutrition, strategy, special needs bags, relieving yourself on the bike, etc. So this is gonna be a great big post about all that stuff, plus any other random thing that sticks out in my memory about the whole experience.

Nutrition - You all know it's the 4th sport, right? It's huge. I nailed my nutrition at the Half Iron I did back in May...not so much at IMFL...but I didn't totally screw it up, either. My plan/results were as follows:
  • Pre-race Plan: Peanut Butter and Honey bagel and Gatorade Endurance/Water 2 hrs before start. 2 Immodium immediately after the prerace nervous poop.
  • Pre-race Results: Worked great.
  • Swim Plan: Upon the advice of Missy, I shoved a Gu down in my sports bra and reached in through my sleeveless wetsuit after the first swim loop and took the Gu with the water I got from the volunteers.
  • Swim Results: Worked like a charm; a most splendid idea! Do it!
  • BikePlan: On my bike, I had 2 bottles of Infinite in my cages and water in my aerobottle. In T-1 I shoved 2 packets of the Infinite powder into my jersey pockets so that I could mix more before I got to special needs. My Infinite formula has 220 calories per bottle and 426 grams of sodium. Note the high sodium because I sweat like a hog. If you don't believe me, go back and look at my pics and you will see salt stains all up and down my shorts. Anyways, after some trial and error during my long training rides, I determined that I needed around 240 calories per hour, and a small portion of it needed to be solid food because I just get plain hungry out there. I'm a big strappin' girl, ya know...I need some solid food every few hours. So my intentions were to drink 1 bottle of Infinite per hour (6 total) and somewhere along the way consume a peanut butter and honey sandwich to keep my stomach from feeling so empty. I carried along half of a PB&H as I left T-1, and I had another whole PB&H in my special needs bag, along with some Laffy Taffy, fig newtons and Clif Shot Bloks. I also had a package of Clif Shot Bloks in my bento box on my bike for back up.
  • Bike Results: Throughout the first 50 miles of the bike, this worked beautifully. I consumed 1 bottle of Infinite and a quarter of the PB&H by mile 23, where I had to pee really bad. I didn't stop, though, I just stood up, coasted, let'er go, and got back to business. By mile 36 I had to go again and did so with no problem. I knew that I was well hydrated at this point and slowed down a little on the Infinite, ate another quarter of the PB&H, and drank more water. By mile 49, I had consumed another bottle of Infinite, pee'd again and worked on mixing a new bottle. This is where I start failing miserably. I didn't want to stop, so I tried mixing on the go. The powder blew everywhere (in my face) and the resulting drink wasn't as strong as it should have been. I wasn't too worried, though, because I knew I had a whole PB&H in my special needs bag and I would just supplement with that. I got to special needs at mile 56 and took the PB&H, but that was all I took. By mile 60 when I started to eat the sandwich, I was sick of peanut butter. I should have taken the laffy taffy and the fig newtons. By mile 70 I was starting to not feel great. I realized I had just been mainly drinking water, and had ate only another quarter of the sandwich. By mile 80, I realized that I had only consumed 3 bottles of infinite and I needed to have gotten down 4 at this point. I tried to mix another one, did the best I could, but it was weak too (I still refused to stop...the only time I stopped was at special needs to get the sandwich). I ended up only drinking half of that bottle, and drinking water and taking a banana or two from volunteers out on the course to finish it up. By the time I got to mile 100 I was seriously bonking. By the time I got to the end of the bike, I could barely get my leg back over the bike to dismount. In retrospect, I should have had some comfort food on my bike in addition to the Clif Shot Bloks. A mini Snickers or 3 would have been nice. I needed some sugar and something that actually tasted good. The one Clif Shot Blok I put in my mouth had been soured or something, and I spit it out. My total intake on the bike was 3.5 bottles of infinite (Theoretically this would be 770 cal, but since much of the powder didn't make it into the bottle, I'm gonna say 660 cal), 3/4 of a PB&H (roughly 300 cal), and a couple pieces of a banana(40 cal?). That's a total of 1000 calories, and I needed to get 1500 during the 6 hr ride.
  • Run Plan: The orginal run plan was to pack 4 gels in my pockets and take one each hour, plus drink cola when I felt like I need more. Well, that all changed when I could barely stumble to the first aid station. I just wanted food, solid food, anything with calories. I even looked at one volunteer who was holding a plate of fruit and cookies and said "Oh dear, bless you, I am starving!"
  • Run Results: I peed in the porta-a-potty at mile one, then I took a gel when I got to the mile 1 aid station and got water, and then I raided the oranges, bananas and cookies, too. I stumbled onto mile 2, and did the same. I drank gatorade, ate another banana, and another cookie or two. And this is when it started coming back...I ran to mile 3 and took some gatorade, ran to mile 4 and took an orange with ice water (ice water is awesome out there, by the way, but you have to ask for it...otherwise you'll get either water or ice). I ran to mile 5 and took another gel. At this point, I just went with whatever I felt. I ran to each aid station, took what I felt like I needed, then ran to the next. I took the two other gels at miles 10 and 15. Once I started the second loop, I drank cola at almost every aid station, and it worked great. I never once felt like I needed to poop, and I never even had to pee after mile 1 during the run.
Pacing Strategy: Pacing is a really big deal in long events like this. I mean, it don't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you go all out on the bike for 112 miles you're not exactly going to be able to run a strong marathon afterwards. You may not be able to run at all. Maybe the pros can, but I'm not a pro. This was a hard thing for me to sort out, mentally, though, because I feel like I am stronger on the bike than either of the other two events. Respecting the Ironman distance, though, I decided to just go steady in the water, whatever felt comfortable. I really don't have many speeds in the water anyways, so this wasn't a challenge. I enjoyed the hell out of that swim, too, so that helped as well. When I finished up the 2.4 miles in the ocean, I think I probably had more energy then when I jumped in to begin with, although I finished it faster (1:14) than I have ever swum that distance before. So for the bike, I just went about 80% I'd say. I stayed under lactate threshold, but kept a steady cadence. Of course it all went to hell after mile 80, but never I panicked and tried to catch up, I just kept a high candence and knew that I would eventually make it back to T-2. As far as the run, like I told you I stumbled through the first two miles, and then I ran 1 mile at a time. When I was running, I ran at what felt about the same level of effort that I run my training runs with Tim, Lee, Tammie, and all the others. I focused on keeping a high turnover of my feet and relaxing my upper body. I kept wanting to stop and walk at certain times between the mile markers, but I knew that if I could run to each one, I could finish respectably. So I basically shuffled/walked for two miles, then ran 22 x 1 mile runs at about 85% - walking, eating, drinking, and recovering in the between each. When I reached mile 24, I decided I had walked my last step and that I was running all the way to the end...and I'd say I got up to about 95% by the end of that one.

Post Race Massage - I did mention previously that my sister bought me a massage for the next day, right? Just incase you didn't pick up on that, take note. Book one. If you are a sherpa, book one for your soon-to-be-Ironman. It is a must do. Worth every penny.

Special Needs and Transition Bags - I wish I would have put every possible kind of food that I might have wanted in every bag. You have 4 of them: T1, Special Needs Bike, T2, and Special Needs Run. It seemed like everytime I wanted something, I wanted what I had in a different bag. Like the fig newtons...I wanted those fig newtons when I got off the bike sooo bad, but they were in my Special Needs Bike and Run bags, not my transition bags. Bummer. I also thought that mile 56 was too soon for the bike special needs. I personally would have rather it been around mile 70, but ofcourse NA Sports didn't ask me how I felt about that. And I didn't even stop for my special needs run bag. I was feeling good and wasn't about to chance it on anything I had stashed in that bag...I just kept running.

CEP Compression Socks - Ok, I couldn't let this go without an explanation. Surely you noticed the white socks up to my knees, right? What I bet you didn't know was that I broke the #1 Race Day Rule to wear them. Yes, I must confess, I bought them at the expo, and I wore them for the first time ever on race day. I have been halfway wanting them for a while now, but I just wasn't convinced that any pair of socks could be worth $60. However, as I was perusing around the expo I saw them, and I walked up to the guy working the booth and skeptically said, "Do these things really work?" Of course he proceeded to tell me they did and why they did and that I would have a 25% less effort for the same result and all that. I wasn't really buying it all until some guy and his wife walked up and said, "I bought a pair of those the day before Ironman Louisville and I had the best Ironman of my life, and I know they made a difference." Now, here I am, my first Ironman, nervous as hell,standing here, debit card in I just freakin' closed my eyes and bought the things. I debated on whether I would wear them for both the bike and the run, but then I got to thinking that I wanted them on the run moreso than the bike, and after peeing on the bike I was very glad to change into them (or anything, really) for the run. Do I think they helped? Honestly, yes I do. Granted, it could be the placebo effect, and I'd never know the difference. But I did feel great during that run. Supposedly they get the blood back to your heart faster, thus more oxygen goes to the heart, resulting in more aerobic capacity. I don't think they "turned my race around" or anything, but they felt great, and I'll be wearing them again for sure! And yes, they were worth the $60.

Wetsuit Chafing: Dude. I never saw this one coming. I body glided every inch of myself before I got suited up...or atleast I thought I did. I never really thought about hitting the back of my neck, but during that second loop of the swim I could feel the rub. And when it was all said and done, I had very big patches of skin that were literally burned off by the wetsuit around my neck. Learn from me - lube up the back of the neck!!! Don't chance it. It hurts, especially when you sweat and the salt runs down in it.

The M-Dot Tattoo: No, I haven't done it. I go back and forth. One day I say "Yes, I'm gonna do it." The next day I say, "I don't know...I really don't want a tattoo showing when I'm all dressed up for a formal occassion." I mean, I want it when I'm out biking and running my ass off, but then I might not like it when I'm all dressed up in dress or skirt and heels. IronJenny says she likes hers even when she is dressed up. I'm not so sure. And it's just so dang permanent. It's so much easier for a man to pull off. So I'm still debating on this one. Maybe one day I'll do it. Or maybe not. While the Ironman is a very special thing to me, and something that will probably somewhat change me forever, I still don't know if it's worthy of a permanent spot on my skin. Did I just say that? Ok, that was stupid...I already have plenty of permanent marks, called scars, on my skin from bike wrecks and such....atleast an M-Dot would be one of purposeful intent, and not an accident. Maybe I'll do it...I don't know. I'll let you know if I do.

That's all I've got for now...I'll probably think of more later!


Missy said...

Yeah, gel in the boobs worked for you:) I saw people do it last year and thought it was genius!

Anonymous said...

Lana - congrats, again, on a fantastic race. Could you maybe comment sometime on your training plan - I think you ended up modifying the BT plan, but how exactly? Thanks!

- John.

Brad Braden said...

I'm so happy you had a good race.


Borsch said...

great post! I love it!

triguyjt said...

great post lana....

by all means....
get the m-dot tat....
what the heck...why not

Michele said...

I know where you can get that tattoo. :) I am very happy with mine and it didn't hurt anywhere as bad as I thought it would.
And how often do you dress up anyway???

Lisa said...

I want a pair of those compression socks! :)

jahowie said...

I need some of those socks!! I need all the help I can get!! :-)

I'm glad that you had a good race. You are an inspiration.

Jill said...

Oh, I'm learning to swim just for the Mdot. I plan on getting it on the inside of my left wrist. I can always cover it up by wearing a big bracelet or a watch. Beside...I am already so tainted from the CMM tattoo and all the "famousness" (yea, right) it has provided me....never thought I'd have to wear a bandaid to work to cover it up. So, yes, think it out good and long before you do it.

PS As for the chafing wetsuit, FYI - Joe sprayed down with PAM before the wetsuit putting on...and we peeled him right out w/o any chafing. You're greasy for several days but it totally works!

JP said...

Great tips Lana,I tried to talk you out of the sox for race day but I'm glad they worked for you, I want some now.
As for the INK I like mine, because it really means something to ME.Think your's through.

Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying all your posts about Ironman! All great stuff.

IronJenny said...

Lana - waiting on the Mdot is a good idea - if you are waffling back and forth, then definitely wait. You can buy temporary ones to try it out!

Mae said...

My theory on ink: I PERSONALLY have a little color, but it's strategically placed so that very few people know it exists. (In fact, when my step-mom was zipping up my wedding gown she gasped and said, "OH! That's pretty. We'll not tell your daddy, tho.") Go for it when you're ready to truly immortalize your ROCKIN' IMFL. The upside of getting it in a place few people know it exists is when it's no longer and mdot and has instead morphed into the planet of Mars noone will be the wiser. :)

greyhound said...

Cous, you of all people should know that a southern lady never sweats; she glistens. :P

And a woman who pees on the bike?! Many a multisport man's heart just went pitter pat. Iron Lana is the real deal.

Finally, the m-dot tat. Yes, it's permanent, just like your Ironman status. And there are all kinds of places to put such a mark that are not visible to casual observers . . . or even to sunshine. . . . I'll say no more.

Old Man and mid pack runner said...

lots of good stuff. great blog.

Benson said...

Wow, you otta submit this as an article to Tri mag., or something. Really good details here.

The tattoo. wait a couple months, if you still feel really strongly about it, then decide.
Personally, I tend to let my body and actions speak for themself. But that's just me talking here. I have scars, scars are cool.

Phil said...

Lana ... the pure joy of endurance sports always come through in your writing, but you out did yourself this time. Congrats on your fabulous finish.