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, November 6, 2016

Ironman Florida Race Report- A mixed bag

Ironman Florida Race Report
9:49:55
14th Place Men 35-39
40th Place Overall


It's early morning on the day after the race and I can't sleep.  I have a lot of thoughts about this race bouncing in my head and I figured I would put my sleeplessness to good use and get my race report done early.  My overall result was not what I hoped for, but I poured every ounce of effort into yesterday.  Although there were some mental cracks and dark spots along the way, I never quit and I kept fighting all the way to the finish.  I left it all on the course and as a result I was more physically crushed at the end of this Ironman than any of the previous eight.  I had to get checked out by medical which was a first.  In short, I am disappointed in the result, but not disappointed in my effort.

The build leading up to this race was phenomenal and I arrived in Panama City Beach the fittest and most well prepared I have ever been.  By every data metric I was in prime position to throw down a spectacular race.  I was confident that a sub 9:30 was in the cards and thought a sub 9:20 was possible.  I owe a big thank you to Eric Limkemann for having me so well prepared and especially to Trey McFerren.  He trained with me virtually every day from August until race day and having him along for the ride made me tougher, faster, and he helped me re-find my love for training and the rigors of Ironman in general.  Training alone for the last few years had ground me up more than I realized and for the first time in a few years, I was having fun training with Trey every day.  Thanks for being my inspiration big dog!

I arrived in Panama City Beach on Wednesday and it was nice to have several days to settle in, relax,
 and spend time with friends and family.  The weather was spectacular all week and it was nice to spend time near the ocean leading up to the big day.  The whole SpeakUp crew was here racing, and a highlight of the week was our team dinner on Friday at Gallagher's rental on the beach.  It was amazing to have everyone together and spend time enjoying each other's company.  It was the perfect way to spend race-eve and focus on something other than the monumental task ahead.  I felt more relaxed leading into this race than I have in quite some time.  In fact, I was able to go right to bed and didn't spend hours staring at the ceiling like I usually do.

Race Morning
Sher-pa and I woke up at 4:00 and I had an 800 calorie breakfast of oatmeal, cashew milk, a PBJ English Muffin and a banana.  At 4:30 we headed out of for the short walk to transition.  We immediately noticed that the wind was quite substantial in contrast to the days leading up to the race. I knew I was going to be in for some tough stretches on the bike heading into the wind.  I got to transition about 4:50 and got body marked, checked my transition bags and got my bike set up.  The SpeakUp crew all met in the host hotel lobby and we sat inside to stay warm and out of the wind.  The atmosphere was loose and everyone was jovial as we passed the time and made our last minute preparations.  About 30 minutes before the start I had a 200 calorie Picky Bar.  Soon it was time to head down to the beach and thus would begin a host of errors that I made on the day.

Swim- 59:12
As we walked down to the beach Moose said something that stuck with me all day.  He told me, "you earned this every single day, go get it" it was the perfect thing to hear right before the start and gave me a last second jolt of confidence.  As we walked through the hotel it was really congested and we began to realize that it was going to be difficult to make it down to the first corral of the swim start by the time the gun went off.  Suddenly, things became really urgent and next thing I knew we were hopping fences and trying to squeeze through every tiny opening to get down to the start.  We ran down to the beach and ended up running to the wrong side of the corral.  We had to run all the way back to the other side, and by the time we got there it was so packed that we couldn't make it through the crowd to get to the first wave.  The clock was ticking down and we were less than two minutes from the gun.  I hopped two barriers and pressed toward the front and got to the line less with less than a minute until the start.  It was a hectic way to start the morning and got the heart rate jacked before even hitting the water.

The gun went off and I got a good start through the breakers.  I was dolphin diving and felt like I
made my way to the front without having to do much jostling.  I felt really good in the water but I struggled with sighting.  The start time of 6:45 a.m. was dark (sun up at 7:00 am) and I opted for dark goggles because of the rising sun (in hindsight this was a mistake as the sun was off to the side).  My swim out to the turn was good and I held good lines but as we made the turn there was deceptively large swells you couldn't see from the beach.  I would guess they were three to four feet.  As I made my turn back to the beach I got totally lost.  For some reason I kept looking for yellow buoys knowing full well that they are always yellow on the way out and orange on the way back.  The combination of the orange dawn sky and looking for the wrong color buoys had me way off course and my swim lines were comically bad.  I was all over the map, particularly on the first loop.  I actually stopped three or four times because I completely lost my bearings.  I did much better on the second loop, but the lines were not as clean as they should have been.  The file reflects that I swam 250 yards too far and realistically cost myself somewhere around three minutes.  On a positive note, I felt great in the water and leaving my SpeakUp speed suit on underneath my wetsuit was a good choice.  Shoulder restriction was minimal and I will continue to do that in the future.  As I finished the swim I got a great jolt from the crowd and saw most of my family as I ran through transition.  The transitions were quite long and I feel like I was fairly efficient based upon my transition time.  I ran through transition holding my bike shoes which was a good choice based on the long run.

Bike- 4:53:41
22.8 mph, Avg Power- 230, Norm Power- 232
Avg HR- 144, Avg Cadence- 84

My plan on the bike was to ride conservatively so I could run well.  My mantra for the day was "ride ez, run fast".  As I got out on the bike we had a brief tail wind before we headed away from the beach and it turned into a stiff crosswind (winds were steady around 15 mph).  I anticipated I would be alone on the bike course, but the benefit to my slow swim was that I was able to get with a group of strong riders early which included my buddy Rob Green.  By mile 20 we were about six strong and we were were riding fast and getting the benefit of a legal draft.  Everyone was doing a bit of work and each person was making a good effort not to cheat.  It was really nice to see a line a fast riders working together and keeping honest.  There was also a draft marshall that rode right next to us on his motorcycle for about 2 hours.  I actually thanked the marshall for being there and keeping us honest.  I told him it was nice to have a marshall as Florida is notorious for drafting cheats.

In hindsight, I made a deliberate choice early which probably negatively impacted my run.  The goal was to ride 225 watts which is quite conservative for me.  However, the race required about 240 watts in the early stages to stay with the pack.  240 watts is also well within my wheelhouse but it was harder than I wanted to ride.  Ultimately, I made the choice to stay engaged with the group and that required 235-240.  I don't regret it, but I think it may have hurt me a bit on the last 10 miles of the run.  Sometimes you need to go where the race takes you and thats where I went.  At about mile 20ish we turned east and right into the teeth of the wind.  I went to the front of the group and actually led the pack for the majority of the first section into the wind.  This may have been a tactical error and I probably would have been better served to sit in, but I am relatively strong into wind and I took advantage of that fact.  After a long section into the wind we turned back towards the beach and then once again made a turn east into the wind.  It was in this section that I got my first ever drafting penalty.  I was riding in 5th position when we hit one of the few hills on the course, and the guy in front of me slowed down dramatically on the uphill.  I immediately sat up and hit the brakes and tried to avoid his draft zone.  Unfortunately, I got too close and the marshall immediately carded me.  By the letter of the law he was right and I technically deserved the card.  However, I also felt that by virtue of him having ridden next to us for two hours, he knew that I was not trying to cheat.  I guess it was a letter v. spirit of the law situation.  It was a frustrating penalty and it gave me some consolation that the guy behind me came around and told me that it was a bullshit call.  His view was that the marshall was just waiting to card someone  in our group and unfortunately it was me.  From my perspective it felt similar to when you are in a pack of cars on the highway and a cop pulls over one of the cars from the line at random.  I guess it was just my day.  After getting the card I kept my head in the game.  I vowed to stay with the group until I hit the penalty tent.  The penalty tent was about 10 miles away and it was frustrating to watch the group ride away.

I stayed positive and used the time in the tent to stretch and get nutrition in.  The folks in the tent
were quite nice and we chatted a bit.  Fortunately there was only about 8 people that came by during the 5 minutes on the sidelines.  The biggest downside of the penalty was that I went from riding with a strong group to having to solo the remainder of the ride.  This is always tougher from a mental standpoint.  The good news is that I had good bike legs and I quickly caught most of the riders that had passed me.  I was heartened to see at the last turn around that I was still only about 5 minutes behind the group that I was originally with and in fact it looked like I was catching back up to some of them.  Now that I was alone I stayed as aero as I could and dialed back the wattage.  There were a few sections where the wind was at my back and I was able to fly at 28 mph with minimal effort.  The back half of the ride was in the low 220's which brought my average power down to 230.  I was very proud of the back half of my ride and my bike leg was one of the high points of the day.  I had great legs and my equipment and set up are second to none.  I think I have squeezed maximum aeroness out of my very un-aero body.  The Wattie speed suit is also a phenomenal piece of kit.  It is really well made and I was comfortable all day.

As we headed back toward town I focused on stretching out my back and staying loose.  I felt good but I was ready to get off the bike and attack the marathon.  I felt confident and knew that I was in around 20th place (give or take a few spots) coming into T2.  From a nutrition standpoint I opted to go back to some solids and increased my overall intake.  I had 5 honey stinger waffles (750 calories), and 1000 calorie bottle of Infinit and Carbo Pro.   I planned to consume 1/5 of the concentrate bottle every hour but I ended up drinking it much faster.  I ended up killing most of that bottle by the 3 hour marker.  I ate 1/2 of a waffle every 10 miles along with 2 salt stick caps.  I felt good from an energy standpoint but also felt like I was on the razor's edge of queasiness all day.  I think it may have stemmed from getting tossed around in the salt water and drinking the concentrate too fast but it stayed with me all day.  I had one bottle of water at every aid station and felt good from a hydration standpoint.  I peed three times on the bike which was perfect.  As I pulled into T2 I was excited to see a split well under 5 hours even with a five minute penalty.  I thought I could ride under 4:50 and without my penalty that is exactly what I did.

Run- 3:48:03, 8:42/mile
As always, my biggest relative weakness is the run.  I have spent countless hours focusing on form
and working hard to run fast at a low heart rate.  I also incorporated significantly more strength work during this build.  Although, my result was not what I wanted, I do believe the strength work paid dividends and I am going to continue it into the future.  I think a long term focus on strength incorporation will continue to help me as I quest for a 3:25 marathon. I know I have it in me, I just have to put all the pieces together on the big day.  As I expected, it took 9:15-9:20 to even have a chance at sniffing a Kona slot and even at my best this would have been a stretch.

The plan was to run the first loop at 150 HR at 7:50/pace and increase my pace and HR on lap two up to a cap of 160 HR.  Coming off the bike I felt good but not great.  The legs were a little heavy but I was running well and my HR was totally under control.  At about mile 3 I started to settle in and I was walking the aid stations to keep the HR right where I needed it.  I got to the halfway point at 1:46 with an average HR of 149.  It was a little slower than I would have liked but still on pace for a 3:32.  As I made the turn onto loop 2 I had a brief period where I started to feel really good.  For a couple of miles I increased my HR to 155 and my pace dropped to 7:40-7:50.  For a few minutes I began to think that this was finally my day and I was going to negative split the run.  Unfortunately it was not to be and I started
to fall apart around mile 18-20.  The good news is that I didn't completely blow up and I was able to keep my head in the game even when I started to feel terrible.  I focused on keeping a positive attitude and tried to be grateful for the opportunity.  My buddy Justin gave me a great phrase to focus on during the run.  "I chose to do this and I'm doing it because I want to" it really helped keep things in perspective when I started to hurt.  I didn't go to the bottom of the negative mental vortex like I had in my last two Ironman Texas races.  The last 10K was really tough but I was able to deal with the suffering much better.  I attribute a lot of this to the fun that I have been able to re-find in this sport.  It was missing for a long time and I am glad to have found it again.  It was also amazing to have so many friends out on course.  The SpeakUp crew came correct and there were great performances across the board from David Gallagher, Jason Angel, Trey McFerren, Jeff Tunstall, Moose Herring, Rob Green, Doug Farley, Chris Ratchford, and PJ Gallagher.  We were all over the course and the day was made much more special with so many friendly faces.  Racing with a purpose is always more rewarding and running with the SpeakUp logo across your chest gives a little extra juice in those dark moments.

Post Mortem
I am obviously not pleased with the result but I was pleased with my attitude and my effort.  That being said, I am not really sure where to go from here.  I am growing fatigued of torturing myself for months on end chasing a goal that feels increasingly impossible to attain.  Every year there are additional races, deeper international fields, and less slots to go around.  It is basically to the point where you need to be top 2 in the AG to even have a shot.  The flip side is that I am having more fun and there are always things to improve upon.  I think I am going to let this marinate for a few weeks before I make any decisions on a future race schedule.  Its time to focus on Sloanie and Britt for a little while and enjoy the holidays.  Overall, Ironman Florida represented overall forward progress for me and I won't be hanging my head.  I can sleep comfortably knowing that my best case scenario yesterday would have been a 9:25 and even that wouldn't have punched my ticket.

Many thanks to my family and friends who continue to make this possible.  I love you Britt, Sloanie-Bear, Mom, Dad, Jackie, Lummy, Ricky, and Bobby.  None of this is possible without you and thanks for chasing me all over the country.  Im not very good at expressing it in person but I can do it in writing for all the world to see.  Thank you and I love you.  As always, thanks for reading and I welcome any feedback and questions.  Happy Training and Racing.

Cheers,
Danny







4 comments:

  1. True grit and determination. As always enjoyed reading your race report.
    Juanita

    ReplyDelete
  2. True grit and determination. As always, enjoyed reading your race report.

    ReplyDelete