Post Mortem: Ironman Wisconsin 2009

It’s been a little over a week since Ironman Wisconsin.  First off, thanks to everyone for the postive thoughts and encouragement – it means a lot.  One of the things that I truly feel is beneficial in life is to look back on exceedingly positive events and exceedingly negative events and analyze them as objectively as possible to help reproduce the event or to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  Without a doubt IMWI falls into the exceedinly negative category.  This past week and particularly the weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about the race, the weeks before it and have a rough picture in my mind of what I believe resulted in my [lack of] performance.

So without further ado here is a post mortem of September 13th, 2009.

4 weeks before Madison I had a bad allergy attack after Pleasant Prairie.  The week proceeded to be one of the best training weeks of the season: 2×3 hour rides @ ~230 watts; 1×112 miles @ ~235 watts – backed up with some stiff running afterwards.  The following week was good (8/24-8/30), but not as good, the difference is arguable to be honest.  However, the Friday of that week (8/28) I did an open water swim with Lauren Jensen – paranoid of another attack, I took a claritin that morning (I may have started taking one daily a few days earlier, I don’t totally recall).  From than until 9/19, I took a claritin every day.

After that initial swim I took claritin daily with the mindset of fending off an allergy attack in the last couple of weeks prior to IMWI (it does very little for me once the attack sets in) and I felt on the verge of an attack several days and felt it was the smart choice.

Beginning around 9/2 (with 20/20 hindsight), I would say that my workout performance started to slide downwards, and I began to feel odd (all 3 sports).  At the time I attributed it starting to rest.  The best way to describe how I felt would be to quote Peter Griffin of Family Guy noterity

Ok, who’s drunk, but that special kind of drunk where you’re a better driver because you know you’re drunk, you know the kind of drunk where you probably shouldn’t drive, but you do anyways because, I mean come on, you got to get your car home, right? I mean what do they expect me do, take a bus? Is that what they want? For me to take a bus? Well screw that! You take a bus.

To the day of the race – The short story of it is that I made a poor race day decision to  ignore what my body, powermeter, hrm, and part of my brain was telling me on the bike.  “The swim messed you up, and you are riding to hard for today.”  The part of my brain that drove me onwards with a glimmer of hope and determination ignored those thinking “Look, the swim was tough, but I’m a swimmer and can bounce back.  We are biking WAY below our limits, our HR is just out of whack – sooner or later it will come into line.”  And so on.  Finally at mile 9-10 of the run my mind gave out.

The truth of it  is, had I been honest with myself on the bike, and biked an effort that felt right for me on the day, I probably would have been off the bike 10 minutes later, and would have likely at least been able to run the marathon.  It would have been a long distance from my best case day of 9:29, but it would have been a hell of a lot better than my 12:07.  In fact, looking at the results, I probably would have been in strong contention for a Kona slot right around 10 hours.

So after that stream of conciousness what am I saying?
1> After talking with a couple of folks,  doing some research (thank you google and slowtwitch) – I believe that taking Claritin daily for 3+ weeks contributed to me feeling totally off in the days leading up to and including race day.  I have since stopped taking it and will see what happens.
2> I made a mistake that I preach against: I ignored all the signs and pushed ahead thinking it would work out.  In the end I simply asked to much of my fitness and paid the price.


So where do I go from here?  There are two races left on my calendar J-hawk latebird this coming weekend, followed by Ironman Florida on November 7th.  The goal for Florida is pretty much the same as Wisconsin, no creep, no goal easing…

Otherwise I am staying far away from Claritin – even if my suspicions are unfounded, I’d rather not risk it – and fortunately with the weather beginning to turn to autumn hopefully my allergies will stay nice.  The only other thing in that department is to try and baby my foot a bit and beat back the tendinitis (or whatever) down a couple notches on the pain scale.

Training – 1 week off (last week), 5 weeks hard, 1 week less hard, race week.

2 Comments

  1. Scott-

    I had very similar issues last year at IMMOO with allergies (allergic to Ragweed and Cats). I have gone completely away from meds such as claritin and now use a nasal steroid and eye drops for eye symptoms when necessary. My allergy symptoms have cleared about 95% this year and it is the first year in maybe 30 where I can breath out of my nose. I would see an allergist to get this sorted out.

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