Bohlman - On Orbit - Bohlman (4.1 miles, 1950 ft, 9%) Brutal, oppressive, brutal, painful, savage, arduous, killer, murderous, blood-and-guts, formidable, backbreaking, grinding, fatiguing, unsparing, harsh, merciless, intense, exhausting, austere and even slavish! This is a really crank-twisting climb and will put your uphill determination to a severe test. It is no coincidence that the climb starts at the Saratoga’s Madrona cemetery where many an exhausted cycling souls may have found a rest! The listed stats show a considerable average grade of 9%, but it is much worse than that because there’s considerable flat section and even mild descent at the top. On Orbit is an alternate route that bypasses a portion of Bohlman and is should be taken to realize full pain benefits of the climb, straight Bohlman is only 1780 ft in 4.2 miles (7.9% average). 0.5 mile long section on On Orbit averages out nearly 20% and you’ll find it extremely hard to ride straight line. Once you give in to temptation to weave a lower grade lane across the road, the next difficulty becomes to make sharp turns at the edges of the road as one weaves across. Low gear of 39/28 or even a triple really helps on this climb! The maximum grade is 22% (24% inside the right turn) The last mile or so is nearly flat but features a treacherous off camber turn dusted with sand and gravel. Even so, this is a welcome sign, really. Steepest section compensates with best views of the valley. (at Bohlman-On Orbit)
In the midst of an interview with Runner’s World a few weeks ago, we got on the topic of empowerment, and the writer asked, “Do you really think women still need to be told they can do anything? I mean, women have won!”
Cue the Beyoncé riff: “Girls…we run this…Strong enough to bear the…
Update on Garmin 910XT quality issues - part 3
I’ve written about my constant struggles with Garmin 910XT before - in
summary though: the unit’s altimeter just does not seem to work. I don’t do
anything outside of what an ordinary triathlete would do so it fails me why
such a basic function would fail.
I got watch #4 from Garmin a couple of days after 3rd one went bad. It was
only a matter of time that the 4th one went bad too, this time in about a
month and a half - and with the exact same issue. Since I’ve gone through
this drill many times now, I tried the normal steps to rule out the basics,
reset the watch, set to known altitude, rinse and wash in warm soapy water
- the whole nine yards. No luck.
I got back in touch with Garmin customer support (they rock) again on 3rd
July. Customer support tells me that Garmin still does not have a handle on
the root cause, or of course, a fix. I’m about to start the replacement
process to see if replacement unit #5 will be it.
Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2014 Race Report
Per my race plan, the goals going in to my first Ironman were:
- Have fun throughout the day.
- Swim real easy, draft as much as possible, and finish between 1:30 and 1:40
- Hold back on the bike per pre-defined power caps.
- Focus on nutrition, stay on top of the mental game.
- Finish strong
We got to Coeur d’Alene Thursday before the race giving us plenty of time to settle in, pick up bike from TBT, and do the athlete check-in the same day. I skipped scheduled workouts given it was a long travel day.
Saturday (day before the race) was mostly about getting ready with the run and bike bags, preparing special needs bags, and a quick sharpening session - 10 minutes cords, 5 miles on the bike and 1 mile run, before dropping off the bike at T1.
(Bike racked at T1)
Late lunch with mostly carbs and some protein, and early dinner (grilled cheese!), and I was in bed by 9:30 PM.
Race day - Prior to swim start:
Woke up at 3 AM, made some coffee, had yogurt and granola, showered and was out the door by 4:15 AM to get to city beach early enough to find a spot close to swim start. Plenty of street parking north of Independence Ave; parking was a breeze. Dropped off the special needs bags on the way to body marking, and then over to check on the bike. One last pump at the mechanical tent and the bike was back on the rack.
For some reason, the stomach wasn’t too happy with the breakfast. Great, start the day throwing up! I waited a while for it to settle down and ate two bananas before getting into the wetsuit and that felt good but (in the back of my mind (I was worried about the good old GI issues showing up again. I had the HRM, bib-shorts (+Chamois cream) and TF tri-top on under the wetsuit.
Not much to do at this point, so I went through the checklist and made sure I had everything else lined up according to the plan. Dropped off the morning clothes bag, and walked to the beach with the goggles, 2x swim caps (latex underneath and race cap on top), and a gel in hand.
(Picture from Ironman Triathlon)
There was a roped warm-up area, and that was perfect (toasty 60F!) so I used that opportunity to get acclimated to the water for about 5 minutes. As planned, lined up at the end of the 1:15-1:30 group. The winds had picked up drastically and we’d battle them throughout the day. This made for some decent chop and waves you’d usually not see in a lake. With all the ocean swimming in the past, this wasn’t a huge deal but I did start to feel anxious (nerves?) and was ready to get started. Before you know it, I was crossing the timing mat and on to the biggest day of my life. The water seemed much more angry as the swim progressed - I really never found anyone to draft off of - folks were either too quick for me to hang on, too slow, or just all over the place with their sighting. Plenty of washing machine going on the entire swim and regular contact all the way through finish. The second lap seemed a little easier when it came to navigation - I was ready to be done and get on the bike!
Swim Distance: 4622 yards (2.6 miles). This is 3 mins over my estimated time window, but perhaps that extra distance has something to do with that. Lots of room for improvement here.
Out the lake, and to the wetsuit peelers - my first experience with them so they had to guide me a little bit. I got on the floor on my back and they peeled the wetsuit off in seconds and put it on my shoulder. I left my caps and goggles in the sleeve, walked over to the changing tent after grabbing my bag and found a place to dump my stuff out; a nice volunteer folded my wetsuit and put everything I discarded back in the bag. Wiped my feet off, put on a jersey (stuffed w/ 18 gels) + light jacket, arm warmers, socks, shoes, helmet, and I was out the door - but first, a quick stop to pee, and that’d be the theme for the rest of the day!
(picture from triathlete magazine)
I knew this was going to be the longest part of the day, but fun. This is what I had trained for, and where most of my hours went in the 8 months leading up to the race. My plan was to use HR as a rough guide as I am still new to using power, but also to pay attention to the power numbers and be SUPER conservative. I did feel like this was the first time ever riding the bike at times (huh) - I’d attribute that to race-day nerves!
I stuck to the plan when it came to pacing, but the brutally windy conditions (sustained 20mph and gusts up to 30mph) were making this hard. Gel every 20 mins, and 3 salt tabs / hr, sipping on water + Nuun based on thirst - and I stuck to that for the first lap, but quickly started noticing that I wasn’t feeling too great with the gels. Great, time to throw up again at the start of lap 2, but I knew that I had adapt and I had to adapt quickly before going in to a calorie deficit and ruining the rest of my day. I switched to perform for the rest of the bike and upped my intake to about 2-2.5 bottles every aid station. I could’ve used half a bottle more per aid station, but I was just happy that this was working out so well and no further stomach issues. I did have to pee about 5 times during the bike, so that cost me some time - a couple of mins each time - for sure. I’m going to learn to pee on the bike.
Quick clothing note: I dumped the jacket as it warmed up but left the arm warmers on. Had it been less windy, I’d probably dump them too.
Quick special needs note: I picked up extra gels there, but didn’t end up using those. I should have left extra salt tabs there since the bike was longer than I expected, and I was only stocked for 7 hours of salt instead of close to 8.
Handed my bike to the volunteer, grabbed my bag and went straight to the changing tent. I had a couple of options for change of clothes and quickly decided on wearing the TF tri-shorts for the run, left the TF tri-top on, and put another Tee on top. I used some wet towels to wipe off my face, arms and legs and that felt so good! Put on my vaseline-lined socks, shoes, handheld bottle, hat and sunglass and I was out the door - - but first, a quick stop to pee.
I was mentally prepared for this to be the toughest part of the day. As they say, the Ironman starts here. My plan was simple - don’t give up, and keep taking calories. And I stuck to it.
As planned, I was going to take this one aid station at a time, and keep the pace relaxed and consistent. I was sipping on my handheld bottle filled with coke and was refilling this about every 3rd aid station (my bottle holds one bottle of coke - roughly 220 cals), and taking 3 salt tabs every hour. I did try some chips at the 2nd or 3rd aid station just to change the taste in my mouth from all the sweet earlier in the day. Other than that, I stuck to coke and started to add chicken broth every other aid station in the 2nd half of the marathon - perfect sweet and salty blend.
There were a couple of small hills (mile 6, 8, 18, 20) and I chose to walk them and that ended up being a good idea. The last 5K was where the temptation was at its peak to walk - and I walked a little, but reminding myself to run when I’d catch myself doing that.
I was surprised how good I felt after the marathon - no bonking, or cramping, and the nutrition just worked. This is a big deal for me having struggled with nutrition in my last 2 open marathons.
- The training plan worked well, made me stronger and got me to the start feeling healthy, fresh and strong. I am glad to have all the guidance from Coach to get me here, and through this! I felt great throughout the day, and never thought about quitting. I even thought that I might just do one more of these :)
- I need to keep improving my swim technique - 3x week so far has produced major improvements so I’ll keep swimming 2-3 x week.
- I need to learn to pee on the bike.
- I need to figure out my bike nutrition. Gels seemed to have worked extremely well during rides and rehearsals leading up to the race so I am not sure why they failed me during the race.
- Keep working on my run pace. I think the bike is helping with my run.
- There’s a lot more to learn, and I am just getting started.