I think all endurance athletes, cross country runners, cyclists, swimmers, think about doing an ironman at some point in their life. I've certainly thought about it for 10 years. I always felt that I needed be ready when I do one, and do one well. When I did 4:00:51 at Victoria 70.3 this year, and also 4:03:04 at Vineman 70.3 last year, I knew I was pretty ready to tackle the full ironman distance. It wasn't quite the sub 4 hour half ironman milestone I set for myself, but I was ready for a new challenge. I also thought doing the ironman training will benefit my 70.3 racing as well.
Things got complicated when I got a flat before the race, setting up my transition. My friend Colin Laughery was kind enough to give me a spare tube so I can keep my spare on my bike. The mechanic at Ironman Arizona, I don't know your name, but you are the man!!
Unfortunately that threw me off and I forgot to put my sunglasses in my bike gear bag. I also forgot to put any body glide on me, which really made the race that much harder for me in my crotch area. But thanks to my dad for dropping off my special needs bag. If you didn't, i would have bonked like a motherf***er.
I rushed to the swim start like usual, because a swim warm up never seem to do me any good anyways. I got in about maybe 200 yards of swimming, and decided to chill because i have to swim 2.4 miles. It was still dark and none of my goggles were clear lense, which is something I need to have in the future. It was still dark when the gun went off so just had to follow bubbles and feet right?
After racing in the pro field for 3 years, I'm kinda used to the hectic starts. A lot of fighting for feet and position, and just trying to also find a rhythm while going as hard as possible for the first 400m. Llike usual there were a lot of surges in the group, and I also lost contact a few times. Per usual, the guy in front of me lost contact, and I was stuck with a group about 4-5 swimmers for the rest of the swim after 1500m of swimming. I was happy with my feel for the water. I've changed my stroke since summer, and really focus on long, smooth, powerful stroke while keeping the turn over high. And everytime I needed to close a gap, I seem to be able to. I stayed with the group all the way back to swim exit, and was very surprised with my sub 1 hour swim.
mentally stoked and ready to ride....wait what? 112 miles?
BIKE: 4:38:02, 24.17mph
As I started the bike, and checked my average speed, 21mph, I was puzzled. I realized it was false flat up hill out, with a stiff headwind all the way to the turn around of each of the 3 laps.
The long hill just didnt let up til mile 19. Which seemed to go on and on, aannnnd it's only the first lap. My heart rate was 5-8 beats higher than my target heart rate but I was feeling good perceived effort wise, so I decided to go with it. The way back down was sick! average speed was 30mph lol. At the turn around for the start of second lap My average speed was 24.2 mph, and decided to hold that average speed for the rest of the ride. Fellow pro Anthony Toth came around and did some work for 10-20 min while I had a bit of a break and got some nutrition in. We rode together for the 2nd lap. I had a bit of a bonk coming back the downhill of second lap, and got my special needs and chow down a clifbar. If I didn't, I would have bonked like a squirrel running into a wall. Anthony dropped off at the beginning of third lap and I was on my own first the third lap. I kept the same pace throughout, holding 143-148 BPM. The rest of the bike ride was a lot of "On your left!" when passing fellow athletes and "WATER WATER WATER WATER". By 100 miles, I was pretty tired just mentally, but physically felt pretty good. I almost wanted to take a nap. What's coming up is the hardest of them all, 26 miles on my feet.
Things and Calories Consumed:
3x 24 oz bottle with 270 calories in each, 810 calories
6x Boom Nutrition gels 100 calories each, 600 calories
2x Clifbars,250 calories each, 250 calories total
1x Clif Builder Bar, protein bar, 270 calories
1x Pickbar, 200 calories,
2x Gatorade ~300 calories
1 serving of Base Electrolyte Salt.
~6-8 bottles of 20z water
Total Calories: ~2400-2600 calories
Total Fluid: ~210+ oz of fluid
Total times peed: 3 times, duration: 90 seconds...
Total Protein consumed: 2x10 from Clifbar, 1x20 from Builder bar, 1x7 from Pickbar, 47g total
Number of times urinated: 3 times
Number of times my charfing burnt by me piss: excruciatingly twice.
*Note my calorie intake is on the higher side. I can take in 600 calories per hour with no problem. For 70.3, half ironman races I take in 1100-1200 on the bike. For the Ironman I can take in a little more because my heart rate is lower. For anyone trying to figure out their nutrition, it is important to always remember you have to find what's right for yourself. For me, I've tried lowering my calorie intake, all liquid route and it doesn't work for me. It has worked for other pros/age groupers but for me, I need solids and a protein bar to keep my stomach full and not hungry. The hunger usually causes me to bonk.
I'm not going to lie. For the first 6-8 miles I thought I was going to run a 2:55-2:59 marathon easy. But when I got to mile 7, it felt like half my muscle went and took a PTO. Why Paid time off instead of just a vacation for a metaphor. Because I was still paying them in good calories, coke, water, and gel, and I'm sure they were getting it, but they (my muscles) did not want to move. I clipped 6:40s even for the first 12-13 miles and the wheels started falling off. And the thought of, "I still have like, 13 miles more to go" hit me like a brick and mentally I could not handle it. Mentally I almost surrendered. Under all the pain and doubt, I didn't know if I was going to even finish.
Did I think of something inspiring like "omg, i put in all this hard work, I gotta leave it all out there!". ? No hahaha. Did I try to pump myself up by saying "pain is temporary, quitting is forever!?" No.
What I did tell myself was "My dad's flight is at 8:55pm, so I HAVE TO FINISH ASAP SO I CAN GET HIM TO THE AIRPORT IN TIME". And that's what kept me going. Eventually a slow run became the ironman shuffle. Every step hurt, and every aid station was a chance to rejoice the opportunity to walk and relax for a bit before another 1260 steps of agony til the next aid station. My left IT Band acted up and it was painful bending my knees. My plantar on my left side also flared up. And my hamstring was almost locking up everytime I try to extend my stride. It was the hardest 13 miles I've ever run in my whole life.
Doug McLean caught me with about 1.5 miles to go and sprinted pass me. Surprisingly I had enough to go with him. I was running 6:40s again for just a short period of time. As I came across the finish line, I wanted to cry, but I think I either peed it all out or I was too tired to even shed a tear.
I AM AN IRONMAN! 8:49:00
Calories and things consumed:
lots of coke in copious amounts, maybe 200-300calories of coke?
lots of water in copious amounts
8 gels? , 800 calories
a pickbar, 200 calories
a few sip of redbull, 50 calories
caffeine -> off the charts
total calories : 1200-1500 calories consumed on the run
number of times urinated: twice
number of times my urine burnt my crotch chafings: twice
number of times I took walk breaks: 15-20, each 15-20 second duration
number of times I wanted to quit: 10^3
number of times I heard people shout my name Yu! : 30-40
number of times I realize my name is written on my bib so in reality no one really knows me: 25.
So after week of reflecting, I'd have to say I'm extremely happy with how the race turned out. I was pretty depressed for 3-4 days because the marathon was so long, and 75% of it awful and made me feel like my whole race was awful. In reality, only the last 13 miles did my wheels come off. Though to be 65 min behind the winner Lionel Sanders, and 30 second behind women's winner MBK is slightly embarrassing, I had to remind myself how far I've come. My first 70.3 half ironman as a pro, my placing was in the 30s. I got beaten by 5+ age gruopers, and 2 pro women(including Meredith Kesseler), and was 31 minutes behind the winner. So for my first ironman race as a pro, I didn't do too bad, 28th overall. And to put things in perspective,8:49 is two 4:24:30 halves back to back. That's insane to think about.
My coach Nick also reminded me that we didn't train specifically for this race. We rode 200 miles max for the bike, vs the required 300-400 to be competitive. And we were definitely more focused on Austin 70.3 than Ironman Arizona. To have a sub 9 and sub 8:50 finish on my first attempt was a cherry on top for this long but great season.
I think I'll for sure do more ironmans in the future, as it will probably my best distance eventually. It will benefit my half ironman endurance and speed and let's face it, ironmans are kinda fun1 (except the last 13 miles). I believe I have potential to do better, as my mileage across all distances were basically half ironman training mileage, maxing out at 22 hours a week. As I've gotten better with the rhythm of my job, I believe I can squeeze in slightly more training to be better prepared for the muscular endurance required to fight off fatigue for the last 13 miles of the run. And more training is just more cycling. To be able to ride 112 miles like it's not that big of a deal. Which to me right now, it still kinda is a decently sized deal. I just gotta ride a lot to make it a smaller, Starbucks tall, deal. At least it's good to know that i have a 3:10 marathon in me even when it's going really bad.
Special Shout out to my friend Josh Terwoord, for all his pointers throughout the year and the weekend, and also asking me how I was doing when he passed me like I was standing still at mile 15. I will never forget when you came by and you said "how are you doing?" and I replied "not good at all" and you chuckled a bit evilly and moved on. And I thought what a dick. Just kidding I knew you probably didnt know whats the best thing to say when you're that far into the race. it was a really funny moment. But you had a phenomenal race man, 8:37, massive PR, and a 2:48 marathon, you're the man. Hope you race you again soon.
Special shout out to my homestay host from Austin, Elizabeth Johnston for finishing her first ironman. Listening to all the adversity you have to fight through, and your mental toughness/ determination, it's extremely inspiring. Keep it on Elizabeth!
Special shout out to Bryan Lam, who also had a PR day and awesome performance after coming back from quite a few months from hiatus. Thanks for the company last weekend and always appreciate your support!
I'd like to thank all my supports and sponsors
Team Zoot, Shane, Duncan, and Jim, you guys have been super supportive and I cannot thank you enough. Thanks for the shout out on facebook!
Boom Nutrition, your gel is the best, can't go back to any other
Zealios, for keeping my skin not sunburnt for 8+ hours
P-Fits: Pedro for working my position to today. I have the most aero position and most comfortable one for me. Hopefully we can get better
Tim Sheeper, Jess Smith, and Menlo Master friends, especially Nicole for all the company during these long swim sessions, from 100x100s, to 6000 yard sessions, you guys have helped me with sub 1 hour ironman swim!
Tridot, and Nicholas my coach for the guidance, and dealing with my sh*T. I know I can be hard to deal with so I appreciate your patience. I've learned a ton from you this year and hope we have continued success.
my mom for having my dinner ready every night, and making the most nutritious meals ever while keeping my weight down :D
my dad for massaging me, and helping me out whenever I need it
all my friends, who reached out and supported me throughout this year and this whole journey. Hope better things are to come!
For now, I'm not going to do any swimming, biking, or running for 2 weeks. And going to focus on work, and enjoy the holidays for once!
happy holidays everyone, see you in 2017