Sunday, June 24, 2012

Friends in the news and congratulations:

Anil Rao and Vishal Sahni both completed the Western States 100 mile run! Wow! Congratulations!

Ironman Coeur d'Alene, 2012..DNF!

Well a good long 10 months of training and we were ready for Ironman CdA. Chandrika (CS), who was attempting her fist Ironman race, had trained hard and had done some epic bike rides and bricks with Stan Ho. She was stoked, excited and nervous about her first Ironman race. A bit about her...she has been a runner with Team Asha for four years and after having done a few marathons, half Ironman and 100 mile bike rides, the next logical step for her was an Ironman race. I suggested IM CdA and both of us signed up. She is also an Assistant Coach for the Asha running program. While a good runner and a strong biker she was pretty apprehensive about making the swim cut off. But with a solid showing at Wildflower Triathlon and the Splash & Dash 2 mile swim she was ready to be the first Team Asha woman to make the start line. Apart from the two of us, Rajeev Shankar and Harpal Kochar had also signed up for the race. Rajeev Shankar had done the Full Vineman last year and Harpal had some unfinished business to take care of at IM CdA (He DNF'ed in 2011 after cramping at mile 80+ on the bike).

My race:
As I mentioned in a prior post I had started a gluten free diet in February to see if it eased some of my race day GI issues. By the time June came around I had lost 15 pounds! I did check in with the doctor and the conclusion was, the combination of heavy training and the diet was the reason for this sudden drop, but since the weight loss had stabilized over the last month I should be long as it does not drop again. But early June I had a strange feeling that I was loosing power on the bike rides and my hill climbing was suffering...a LOT! A couple of weeks before Ironman Coeur d'Alene (IM CdA) I went in for a final sport massage at SMI. Super massage therapist Greg Finney, who I have been going to for about 10 years now...made a startling statement...'Where are your quads!?' That was telling indeed. The loss of power on the bike suddenly made a lot of sense. I had probably lost some muscle mass along the way. Mind you, the weight loss was great for my running as I had a super time running the AR 50 miler and my longer runs were at a slightly faster pace. I did not seem to make a difference in my swim time as it has been pretty consistent for years. But the loss of power on the bike was very noticeable. In any case we all were ready for IM CdA.

Stan dropped in at Oakland Airport to say bye to all of us and CS, Muneer, Renuka, Rajeev Shankar and I got to CdA on Thursday, June 21st. Harpal picked us up from the airport and we had the most hilarious ride back to the place we had rented. Harpal was so starved of conversation (He had come a week early) that he was answering questions that were not asked. Example:
CS: How far is the house from the start?
HK: 4000 sq feet and it has a huge back yard!
HK: The washer does not work.
There were many such random comments (and the washer did work, he claimed he never said that even though all of us heard him!).

On Friday we all went for a short swim. The water was cold but calm and clean. We swam around for 20 mins and then had a short ride to the house. Saturday we had another swim, checked in our bikes and went for a short run in the evening. Sorted out our bags and race items and settled in to a nice meal cooked by Muneer and Renuka.

During the athletes meeting on Saturday the skies opened up and it started pouring. This was a drenching down pour. The weather report said there would thunderstorms in the morning and we were not really looking forward to that coming true. While we were soaking up all this tension,two of my good friends Anil Rao and Vishal Sahni, were running the Western States 100 miler. A grueling 100 mile race with some amazing elevation, terrain and climate changes. These two are amazing runners and wonderfully humbling people. We followed their progress via facebook updates. I remember being up at 4:30am and checking to see where these guys were.

120+ miles and still DNF :)

We got into the transition early, body marking done and proceeded to find pumps to top off our tires. CS and I stood at the back of the mass of people on the beach. I told her to relax, and we would start slow and let the crowd go. I told her not to bother looking at her watch (a bad decision) but to just swim. Given her previous swims she had a good 20 to 25 minute buffer. We took a few minutes as we warmed up in the shallow - once she was comfortable we took off. I swam along for a bit and once she gave me a thumbs up I carried on. The wind had picked up and it was pretty choppy. I had one last look back and lost her in the sea of green caps and waves. I looped around for the second lap and it was pretty rough by then. The wind had picked up and it was difficult to get into a rhythm. There were people holding on to the buoys and some holding on to the surf boards. As I got out and the wetsuit strippers pulled off and handed me by wetsuit I dropped it as I was shivering...shaking really badly. They sent me to the warming hut, after a minute of standing there and seeing 20+ dazed people huddled around the fire I decided to get out and continue on with the race. As I picked up my transition bag I saw Muneer and asked if CS was doing ok. He said she was done with the first lap in 1:07 and looked fine...I thought that was too close, she was cutting it too fine but if she held the same time she would be within the 2:20 cutoff.

The changing room was a mess, they had a 'horse water trough' in the tent for us to pee into!! Hilarious! Ever seen a man shaking from hypothermia trying to aim into a trough! Here you go! Ugh! Well after the wee wee everywhere bit I managed to get into my bike stuff. I was still shaking visibly and the volunteer asked if I was ok to ride...I mumbled something to the effect 'we will know shortly' and took off. On the first out and back I hoped to see CS on the bike. Did not see her so I assumed I'll see her on the larger loop. Every time I saw long hair I'd hope it was her...but I did not see her. From hoping she made the cut off my thoughts were slowly moving to a more worried 'I hope she is ok'...The thought that something bad had happened now all but took over my race. At mile 72 I stopped and borrowed a cell phone from a bunch of folks cheering and called Renuka. She said that CS missed the cut off by 20 seconds! BUT SHE WAS ABSOLUTELY SAFE! Phew..what a relief!

By this time I was feeling pretty tired too...the climbs were sapping my energy and I was stuck in granny gear. The course had 3-4 mile long low grade climbs that were very irritating. I had a hard time finding a good gear or any rhythm. Further, my GI issues were making a comeback! So much for the gluten free diet! I had to stop at every water stop as my stomach had decided the enough was enough. As I neared the end of the ride and the bike cut off, a part of me was hoping I'd miss the cut off and hence could put me out of this misery...I plugged on and mile 90 a lense from my sunglasses fell off! Just like that I was down to half a sunglass and a loose stomach! Anyway I made the bike cutoff with about 8 minutes to spare. Changed into run gear. I had half a mind to stop there as my stomach was now totally out of it and I needed a porta potty almost ever 10-15 minutes. But I knew that if I did not get out and try I'd kick myself the next morning. So I staggered out of the transition. I walked past CS and Renuka. About 5 minutes into the run I had to go! No portas in sight and the roads were cordoned off and people cheering on all sides!! Good lord, I finally met some folks who let me use their college facilities! That was close! Like clock work I was hitting the portas - and finally around mile 6.5 I decided this was just not worth it. I called the volunteer and told them that i wanted to drop out. After a brief bit of confusion.."ok wait go that that aid station...or that person in blue"...I just sat on a chair and cheered on the other runners till they figured out who was going to take my chip. I got a ride back to the transition and waited there for Renuka to get back (They were out on the course looking for me!). My first DNF in 10 years of Ironman and 20+ years triathlon racing.

Race Post-mortem:
I had not changed anything during the race. Diet was the same. 1 bottle of Sustained Energy (300 Cals) and one eGel (150 Cals) every hour and a half. I think the the hypothermia was a combination of a slow swim and a wetsuit that had gotten a bit loose for me (I had bought it pre gluten diet). Hypothermia can sap your energy and cause GI distress. Refer Study. My GI meltdown was probably triggered by hypothermia during the swim. In any case I have given up my Gluten free diet since IM CdA.

Rajeev Shankar and Harpal both finished the race pretty strong. Harpal did a bhangra finish and closed the chapter on the unfinished CdA attempt from 2011. Also want to thank Muneer and Renuka for all the help and support before, during and after the race..simply amazing!

Moving on...quickly!
Two hours after missing her cutoff in the swim, Chandrika gathered herself, dusted off the disappointment and signed up for the Full Vineman Triathlon on July 25th...That takes come courage and shows the tenacity of this girl! One tough person!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beware of watching your sports watch...

As summer rolls in and folks dust off their bikes – just a quick warning to all the gadget geeks out there...eyes on the road ahead! Have a super and safe summer of training.