Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ironman Lake Tahoe - September 20, 2015 (DNF)

With the DNF (Did Not Finish) at Ironman Lake Tahoe my ironman record goes to 10 – 2.

The two DNFs coming in 2012 (Ironman CDA) and 2015 (Ironman Lake Tahoe). While CDA was a DNF due to major GI issues the Tahoe one was more of a mixed bag. Not too hard to pinpoint the underlying reason – lack of motivation.
I had signed up for Ironman Tahoe back in early 2014 - but swithched to the half in July as I had not been training too well. 2014 IMLT was cancelled due to smoke from forest fires. I, assuming that I would train better, upgraded to the full IMLT in 2015.

Actual training kicked off in June and the months of June and July were fine. August had big holes due to visits and trips – I was under-trained for sure – but given that I was only looking for a 17 hour finish I assumed I could wing it...and there was the problem. As with a subprime CDO scheme where you make some brave assumptions of steady cashflow (while knowing the underlying assets are dodgy…you still hope the risk is spread wide enough to survive) – I too made assumptions on my performance when the underlying asset (me) was, well, dodgy!

The day began well enough – morning temp was about 2C (~36F) at 4:15AM – and it was about 5C (~41F) by swim start. The water was a nice warm 61F. Still and clear. With the new swim start (as opposed to the mass start) Stan and I placed ourselves in the 1hr 20 – 1hr 30min group and had an uneventful start and a rather pleasant swim. Was out of the water in 1hr 20 mins. Lake Tahoe is by far my favourite place to swim – having swum in seas off Bombay, Muscat, Maui, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in lakes all over the world – Lake Tahoe and the clarity of its water is just out of this world. Some day, when I grow up, I'll do the 11 mile swim across the breath of Tahoe.

Took some time in transition for layering up, leg warmers, arm warmers, jacket and made my way to the 2 loop 112 mile ride on my trusted Rocinante. The day was cold with no wind (47F) – perfect for riding. Team Asha volunteers, captained by Shashidhar Dakuri, were manning the Route 28 section and it was great to see them. Nizam Dakuri was seen driving his chariot along his dominion marshaling the troops and cheering us on. I stopped at mile 13 to drop off my warm gear with Venkat who was volunteering there (he said ‘looks like you are wearing your ski gear today’ :)). Lap one was fine and I was feeling pretty good – sticking with the 1 bottle of e-Fuel and one eGel every hour/hour and a half. Stopped and refilled the bottles at all aid stations and I had plenty of time to make the cut offs. Lap two was a bit different – the sun came out and there was a bit of a cross wind and as it started warming up (81F). I started to feel the fatigue. As I was spinning up Brockway summit I decided to stop and walk once I hit the 7,000 feet mark – that was a clear indication that my energy levels were low and my legs were pretty much done. That walk prompted me to walk up dollar point as well (I don’t ever remember walking my bike up hills before – this was probably fatigue and just lack of motivation to ride on) – by then my head was hanging low and the focus was on making it to the run with something in the tank. I felt terrible and I probably looked even worse. But somehow push it to T2. Amit was there (apparently they were expecting me there much earlier – I have that subprime glow). It was awesome to see Deepa, her dad, Sumit, Prasad, Venkat, Amit, Shashi along the course.

T2 was a bit quicker – had a layer of sunblock plastered on by one of the volunteers and I started off – all I needed was a 15min/mile and I would be home in time. I kept the pace for the first 3 miles – then I slowed – my stomach wanted to play a bigger part as well – so I placated it with a Pepto-Bismol tablet. I saw Chakri coming in from his ride and shouted out – he made the cut off and went on to finish really strong. Amazing guy and a strong athlete. I found a walking buddy and we kept the pace up for a few miles – I lost a her during one of the Porta Potty breaks and as the sun set the temp dropped pretty quickly. This was about where the mind was writing cheques that the body could not cash. At mile six I considered stopping as I was really slowing down and had a throbbing headache but decided to push on to the turn around to see if I get a physical turnaround. I met Doug and Stan they were on their way back and doing really well. Made it to the 9.7 mile turnaround and on the way back I decided to dropout at the next water-stop. Met Chakri and he was looking good – as we passed I mumbled something about stopping. Mile 11 or 12 I got to the aid-station and informed them that I wanted to stop. No government bailout for this subprime mess...more like Lehman Brothers it was time to pull the plug. Gave them my timing chip and they wrapped me in an bunch of blankets and I sipped on some chicken broth. As there was another runner who was not doing too well, I got a ride back to the Olympic Village at Squaw Valley in an ambulance with her.The aid station and EMT folks were fantastic.

I sat in the medical tent for about 20 mins – more chicken broth, blankets and questions. Again the volunteers there were absolutely great. Then I made my way out – Shashi, Sumit and Prasad were there – everyone was wondering where I was. Called Renuka to let her know all was well. The wonderful Asha folks got me more broth and helped me pick my bike and gear and dropped me to the hotel room. Later Prasad came by with burger and fries! Amazing! Laukik, who finished his grueling 70.3 (half Ironman) was there to help drive me back – awesome folks!

Laukik, Rajeev Shankar and Tandy finished the 70.3 and Doug, Stan and Chakri finished the full Ironman. Perfect day for a race – the weather was great and the fact that we had almost 20 Asha volunteers there made the race that much more special.

Not enough training and a late start to the season.
Lack of motivation for the full distance. The bike training rides were a chore.
Altitude does cause problems for me.

e-Gels – one every hour (150 cals)
e-Fuel – one bottle every hour and a half (300 cals)
Bananas later in the ride.
Both worked well - bit of GI issues towards the end of the bike and during the run but nothing out of the ordinary.
Crank's eFuel works well for me.
Post race recovery was quick and complete. 
No post race DNF blues. Actually I'm pretty much done with the ironman distance races (for now).