About IMRoycer81

Richmond, Virginia, United States
Thanks for visiting! I'm a civil litigator at KPMLaw. I attended Cornell where I swam IM and Breastroke. In 2007 I filled the void of swimming retirement with triathlon. In my first tri I thought, "holy sh*t this is painful" and "when can I do it again?" Things escalated quickly and my first half was Augusta 2009 and my first full was Louisville 2011. Since 2007 I've been chasing my dream of qualifying for Kona. Prior to September 2017 this blog focused on attempts (and failures) to achieve an elusive KQ. I got the monkey off my back in my 10th Ironman at Chattanooga. There is still much room to improve and I look forward to putting in the work to become a consistent podium finisher. In 2018 I have the privilege of racing for Team Every Man Jack and look forward to learning from a great group of guys while giving back to the triathlon community. I couldn't do any of this without my amazing family. They lift me up. I am lucky to train in a fantastic triathlon town with inspirational athletes. My job, training, and daughter keep me busy, but I update as often as I can. I'm always willing to share the knowledge I've picked up along the way. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ironman Louisville Race Report

9th Place Men 30-34
28th Place Overall
18th Place Amateur
Now that I have had a few days to let Ironman Louisville sink in I wanted to put my thoughts down before they start to slip away.  IMKY was nothing short of a success for me despite brutal weather conditions.  Raymond Britt at RunTri.com performed an analysis of the weather/race which is pretty awesome and worth a look... (http://www.runtri.com/2012/08/ironman-louisville-2012-results-analysis.html).  For everyone that knows me or has been following this blog knows that I have had my fair share of "issues" this summer. The last two months have included two bike crashes, a broken wrist/massive elbow wound, surgery to fix my wrist and elbow, and a 24 hour stay in the emergency room two weeks before race day with "unspecified gastritis".  Needless to say I was on a bit of a bad luck streak leading up to the race which made me overly paranoid about having some type of mechanical/flat tire/etc. out on the race course.

Despite the setbacks, I am proud to say that I never let it affect my training in any significant way. I kept my focus on qualifying for Kona and gave my best on a daily basis.  I can honestly say that I did not cut any corners, take any shortcuts or give less than my best with any of my training.  Because of the confidence in my training, I was at peace that no matter what my result was, I could live with it.  I trained to the best of my ability and gave myself the best chance to succeed. If I didn't achieve my goals it wasn't going to be because I didn't bust my ass every single day.  The hay was in the barn.

Dad snapped this picture in transition.  
I can't help but notice how much more 
relaxed I looked year.
The night before the race I ate my traditional pre-race dinner of pizza and salad.  I was able to have a fairly relaxed evening and was in bed by 9:30.  Historically I have not been able to sleep the night before a race but this time I was able to fall asleep by about 10:30.  The alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. and I got to work eating my pre-race meal which consisted of two packages of raisin/date/walnut instant oatmeal with honey (350 calories), cinnamon raisin bagel thin with Nutella (200 calories), banana with two tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter (290 calories) and a bottle of Gatorade G2 (40 calories).  My total caloric intake for breakfast was 880 calories and was digesting by 4:30 a.m.  At 5:00 a.m. Hause and I began the walk down to transition with our special needs bags.  When I got to transition I pumped my tires, loaded my fuel and water bottles on the bike, double checked my bike and run gear bags and handed my pump and bag off to my dad who came to meet us at transition.  In the days leading up to the race I was pretty tense, but on race morning I was calm.  I had put in the work and now I was ready to see what my body was capable of.  Hause and I made a quick pit stop at the port-a-johns and started walking to the swim start.  We were pretty casual about getting down there and ended up about 200 people from the back of the line (Louisville has a first come/first served time-trial start).  In hindsight we should have gotten there a bit earlier to get further up in the line but I tried not to let our position at the very back bother me.  While we waited in line I adjusted my tri kit, applied chamois cream, and put on my speedsuit.  I ate half of a PBJ bonk breaker (125 calories), another bottle of Gatorade G2 (40 calories) and two salt stick tabs about 15 minutes before I hit the water.

SWIM- 55:48
Division Rank after Swim- 3rd
Overall Rank after Swim- 16th

My strategy for the swim was to keep long and strong and draft off Hause as long as possible.  The swim was far more hectic this year and it was way harder to keep clean lines.  I had to run over a lot more people than 2011.  I also had to be careful to protect my right hand and wrist as it is still not fully healed and painful while swimming.  I lost contact with Hause pretty early on and was on my own for the rest of the swim.  I felt pretty good in the water and thought I was going to have a great swim split.  My only issues in the swim were that I got a bit disoriented directionally near the turn around buoy and I had some unexpected leg cramping during the last ten minutes of the swim.  Much to my chagrin I was four minutes slower than 2011 when I exited the water .  Despite the disappointing split, I didn't let it shake me.  I knew it was going to be a long day and 4 minutes wasn't going to make or break my attitude.  After the race I found out that nearly everyone was substantially slower on the swim leg.  I'm not sure the reason, but I suspect it was because we had less of a downstream current.  I felt a bit better knowing that I wasn't the only one who was slower in the water.  I saw my wife and parents as I ran up toward the transition area.  Seeing them gave me a huge boost of energy.

T1- 4:08

In 2011 I was slow and deliberate in transition.  My primary focus was comfort.  This year my goal was quickness.  I didn't want to waste any unnecessary time dicking around.  I felt good about my first transition.  I ran out of the water, grabbed my bike gear bag, put on my shoes, helmet and sunglasses put two bonk breakers in my back pocket and ran to my bike.  The speedsuit made my transition much quicker as I didn't have to make any uniform changes except to strip off the speed suit.  As usual the volunteers in the change tent were awesome.

BIKE- 5:13:51
Avg Speed- 21.41 mph
Avg Power- 223 Watts
Norm Power- 234 Watts
Division Rank after Bike- 3rd
Overall Rank after Bike- 16th

In the days leading up to the race, Coach Flanigan and I discussed strategy for the bike.  We decided that my target was to ride at an average power of 215-225 Watts.  On the uphill sections of rollers my goal wattage was 250-270 Watts, and on really steep hills the goal was to limit damage and soft pedal.  My nutrition plan consisted of two bottles that each contained 6 scoops of carbo pro (600 calories), one scoop of lemon lime gatorade (80 calories) and one Gu brew tab for extra electrolytes (680 total calories/bottle).  I also had two bonk breaker bars broken into 4 halves (125 calories each).  I drank one third of each bottle at the :45, 1:30, 2:15, 3:00, 3:45, and 4:30 marks.  My plan was to eat half a bonk breaker on the hour beginning one hour into the ride.  The idea was that to be done with solid foods with about an hour left in the ride so my stomach wouldn't be heavy when I started to run.  I was also drinking water to thirst at 15 minute intervals.  I also planned to take two s-caps every hour.  From a nutrition standpoint I stayed pretty true to plan.  I ended up drinking the whole first nutrition bottle and ate the first three bonk breakers bars.  I got about 3/4 of the second nutrition bottle down (which I picked up at the special needs at Mile 60).  I decided to forego the last piece of bonk breaker because I started to have a little bit of stomach distress at the tail end of the ride.  I ended up consuming about 1500 calories, 12 S-caps and 3 or 4 bottles of water during the ride.  I felt good from an energy and hydration standpoint.  I never felt my energy wane and I peed three times (mile 40, 80 and about 10 miles outside of town).  I managed to avoid over hydrating like I did in 2011.

Early on I felt amazing.  I was flying through the course and had to actively concentrate on keeping wattage low.  I was passing people left and right and felt relaxed and fast.  My training in the hills of Goochland (and fat camp in Boone) really paid off because every time I hit a climb I was chewing people up like they were standing still.  About 15 miles into the ride I got linked up with a group of fast dudes.  We were working together legally and I was pacing off the back of the group.  The draft marshalls were out in force and I was paranoid I would get nailed for a draft penalty.  As a result, I was sure to be careful about the draft zones.  I could tell the guys I was riding with were legit, and I knew if I could stay near them I would have a great bike split.  I also thought a couple of them might be over cooking their efforts so I elected to let them push the pace.  I caught up with Hause somewhere between mile 10-20.  He looked good when I passed him and I told him to link on with our group and he would have a killer split.  I think he stuck with us for a while but I lost track of him sometime around the first loop in LaGrange.  Our group stayed together through LaGrange and it splintered sometime around the start of the second loop.  On the back stretch of the first loop an official pulled up next to me on a motorcycle and told me I was being penalized with a yellow card.  I knew that I hadn't been drafting so I asked what I had done wrong but she just sped off.  The penalty tent was about 10 miles away in LaGrange.  I have never been penalized in a race so I didn't really know how it worked.  I pulled into the tent and a volunteer marked my bike number and made me sign a penalty form.  Apparently it was a "stop and go" penalty and I was allowed to leave after filling out the paper work.  The stop cost me about 60-90 seconds and was aggravating because I had no idea what I did wrong.  I tried to keep a positive attitude and assumed I was going to get 4 minutes added to my time at the end of the race.  Interestingly, my parents and wife could tell I looked pissed off as I passed through LaGrange the second time (I guess I wasn't doing a very good job about hiding my frustration about the penalty).  After the race I found out that a yellow card is a minor infraction and usually entails either blocking or littering the course.  It is simply a stop and go penalty with no time penalty associated (other than the time it takes to report to the penalty tent).  I assume I got nailed for a blocking penalty but I still have no idea what I did.

The back stretch of the first loop overlaps with the long stretch back into Louisville and it is also the first opportunity to feel whether you will have a headwind or tailwind heading into town.  Unfortunately, there was a strong headwind and I knew the last 35 miles back into Louisville would be far tougher than 2011.  In 2011 we were blessed with a tailwind, but this year it was going to be a battle heading home.  Coincidentally this is where some of the riders I was hanging with started to blow up.  Some of the guys pushed hard early and were starting to come apart into the wind.  The second loop through LaGrange was more hectic because we started to overlap the masses that were on their first loop.  There was a ton of maneuvering and I was able to keep my pace up despite having to duck and weave.  I continued to focus on my wattage and I was able to stay dialed in to my goal numbers.

So fast through LaGrange dad
could only photograph my ass!

It really started to get hot on the second loop and when I made the turn onto the final stretch of 42, the headwind felt like a hot hairdryer blowing in my face.  I started dumping way more water on my head and shoulders to try and regulate my core temperature.  Once I was clear of the second loop, the course really opened up and there was no one around.  The conditions were starting to get pretty brutal.  Even though the last 30-40 miles is net downhill, the wind was negating the benefit of the terrain.  Fortunately there was a group of three riders who came around me on this stretch and clearly had no problem hammering into the wind.  They were not drafting but they were working together to regulate their pacing.  I was more than happy to latch onto the back of their group to help pace my effort.  I was especially careful to watch my wattage on the home stretch as I didn't want to overextend myself such that I would pay dearly on the marathon.  I successfully controlled my wattage and kept it within the goal range.  My average speed dropped fairly dramatically during the last segment because of the wind but I successfully rode within my limits.  In fact, I probably rode too easily during my last few 5 mile segments but I wanted to err on the side of caution with the increasing temperatures.  It is always an amazing feeling to see the city skyline and know that it the ride is coming to an end.  Overall I was extremely pleased with my effort and self control.  I stuck to plan and kept my wattage reigned in despite how smooth I felt.  My bike split was strong, but I was happy to get off the bike and attack the run.  I've always heard that your ironman bike ride should be your easiest century of the year.  I can definitely say that it was.  I was well trained and coach Flanigan had me well prepared to nail the bike.  As I pulled into T2, I saw my family cheering along the barrier and it gave me a great jolt of energy as I jumped off the bike and ran toward the change tent.

T2- 4:15

T2 was also seamless.  I was out of my bike shoes as I rolled into transition.  I was off the bike quickly, handed my bike off to the bike catchers and I hustled into the change tent.  Again the volunteers were awesome.  I sat down and got a few twinges of cramps which I was able to keep at bay by keeping my legs extended.  I put on a pair of socks (lesson learned from 2011) and my neon green K-Swiss.  I put my visor on and grabbed my pouch of salt stick capsules.  I ran out of the change tent to the sunblock volunteers and then ducked into the port-a-john to pee.  Then it was out onto the run course to begin a very hot and painful marathon.  My wife and mom were right at the barrier as I crossed over the run start timing mat.  It was the perfect place to see them and I got to steal a quick kiss from the wifey.

RUN- 3:42:33
Division Rank after Run- 9th
Overall Rank after Run- 28th

As I ran out onto the run course my dad yelled that he had been talking to coach and my instructions were to be patient on the front half of the marathon.  This was no problem as I was experiencing some pretty uncomfortable quad and hamstring cramping as I transitioned off the bike.  This is pretty typical for me and I have found that if I just keep pressing they usually subside within a mile or so.  I stayed relaxed, and true to form the cramps stopped about a mile into the run.  Once the initial cramping stopped I felt pretty darn good.  I was rolling along and actively holding back my effort.  I felt like I could have run 7:00 flat on those first couple of miles, but I knew that the feeling would be short lived because of the heat.  It was immediately apparent that it was significantly hotter than 2011.  I remarked to a guy I was running alongside that we were in for a long/hot run and we would be sure to see some carnage on the second loop.  The first mile of the run is an out and back over one of the bridges toward Indiana.  My family was waiting for me off the bridge really gave me some positive vibes as I headed out onto the two loop course.

Coming off the bridge and
feeling the love from the

Throughout the run I utilized the same game plan at each of the aid stations.  I took three ice sponges (two on the shoulders and one on the chest).  Then I drank a cup of water followed by a cup of cola, dumped a cup of ice down my shorts and then a water on my head.  Every mile the same pattern.  This really helped me manage the heat.  It was hot as hell but I never felt like the heat was causing me significant distress.  I initially planned to take one salt stick every 30 minutes but I modified this plan as soon as I started to experience more cramping later in the run.  I felt pretty awesome for about the first 7-8 miles but that feeling was short lived.  At mile 9-10 I was starting to feel very uncomfortable.  I could feel that my quads and hamstrings were starting to cramp again.  I also started to experience some GI distress and was feeling some gas and bloating (TMI).  I made a judgment call at the mile 10 aid station to duck into a bathroom to see if I could at least relieve the GI discomfort.  I am glad I did because it only cost me a minute and helped to significantly relieve my stomach pain.

I felt some relief after the bathroom stop, and was able to temporarily lower my pace back under 8:00/mile.  By the time I hit the half marathon I was right on pace for my goal 3:30 marathon, but I was in serious pain.  At mile 14 I made the turn to start the second loop and ran past my family.  I was very uncomfortable and felt like I needed to walk, but there was no way I was going to walk in front of them.  I know its stupid but I didn't want my family to see me in a dark/weak moment.  The cramping was starting to become problematic and it was taking every bit of my my mental focus to keep running.  In 2011 I felt amazing on the run through mile 15.  This year was totally different.  I was deep inside the hurt locker by mile 11-12.  Around this time I started having a serious dialogue with myself.  For some reason I adopted the mantra "my well is deep, no one can suffer like you".  Every time I wanted to stop or I felt my legs seizing up I repeated this phrase.  I must have said it 500 times.  After I made the turn and headed away from my family I had to walk.  My efforts to hide my misery from my family were futile.  They could tell I was hurting bad.  In fact my dad ended up running behind me around the corner and saw me walk for a bit after I made the turn. This moment of weakness gave way to a new plan.
HURT LOCKER at mile 14

I started cutting deals with myself, 5 minutes of running 30 seconds of walking, run to the aid station and then walk through the aid station.  I continued this pattern for about 5 miles and my pace dropped significantly.  Miles 14-20 was the darkest period of the race for me.  I was in pain, and my mind was cracking. I was in desperation mode to keep the cramps at bay.  I started taking a salt stick capsule at every aid station and I even started eating pretzels and cookies.  I was throwing everything in my mouth in the hopes it would keep my legs moving forward.  After last years cramping issues, I was so happy that I took the extra salt sticks out on the run.  I took 20 capsules out on the course with me and I ended up taking every single one of them.

Wobbly legs
Somewhere around Mile 18-19 I looked at the running time on my Garmin for the first time in the entire race.  I saw that my running time was at 9:04 and I was nearly at the 20 mile turn around.  I decided right then and there that I wasn't going out like a chump.  I told myself you can run a 55 minute 10K, suck it up, the pain is temporary.  For the next five miles I went deep into my "suitcase of courage".  I was deeper into the well then any other athletic event I have ever participated in and I willed myself back down to 8:30/mile pace.  Those 5 miles were sheer determination. My legs were moving on will and will alone as every step teetered on the edge of full on debilitating cramps.  With 5K to go I had exactly 25 minutes to get under 10 hours.  I put my head down and kept driving forward.  My goal time of sub 10 was within my grasp.  At the mile 25 aid station I elected to keep running and not stop.  I didn't want to take any chances.  As I ran toward the finish line the crowds were building but my legs were failing fast.  I was watching my Garmin like a hawk and seeing the time tick closer to 10 hours.  At 25.5 miles my legs finally gave out.  I had nothing left, full on quad and hamstring cramps and I had to stop dead in my tracks.  I was yelling at my legs "don't do this to me now, you are so close!".  I started hobbling toward the finish line and got back up to a slow jog.  As I rounded the corner, the finish line was in sight and my watch read 9:59:xx.  I knew I wasn't going to make it.  It was excruciating watching 9:59 click over to 10:00 while the finish line was a mere 200 yards away.  I mustered up one last charge and ran across the finish line.  10:00:35 and and my legs were jello.


After the race my legs hurt worse than I have ever felt, but everything else felt pretty good.  In 2011 I got really sick after the race and ended up in the bathroom for the rest of the night.  I didn't have any of those problems this time around.  I found out afterwards that I finished 9th in my AG and likely wouldn't get a slot to Kona.  I also fell just short of my goal to crack 10 hours.  Despite falling short of both goals I was not disappointed (although a bit annoyed that the bike penalty cost me my sub 10!).  I left every bit of myself out on the course and I could not have done any more on that particular day.  During the race I stayed willfully ignorant of my place within the AG and I'm glad I raced that way.  I wanted to run my own race and didn't want to change my strategy or plan based on real time placing within the age group.  After finishing, it was a huge confidence booster just to know that I was within the top 5 of the AG for the majority of the day and that with some more improvement I have the ability to hopefully one day qualify for Kona.  Moving forward I plan to work with a nutritionist who specializes in race dace nutrition for endurance athletes.  I feel that my biggest limiter was that I was on the precipice of major cramping for half of the run.  Absent the cramping, I think I had the fitness and ability to run 3:35.  3:35 would have gotten me a 9:53 and punched my ticket to Kona.  I am super stoked about how far I've come in the last year.  I now have the confidence to know that if I work even harder I have a realistic chance to KQ. Thanks for reading and I am already looking forward to my next Ironman adventure.