Ironman St. George — The Run

Time: 4:55:20
Pace: 11:17/mile
M 35-39: 128/297
Overall: 690/1,634 

Oh my the run. My plan for the run was to go sub 5:00. My PR for a marathon is 3:58, which isn’t really fast. If I would have had just a little more in me I could have used the run to get my sub 13:00 for the whole race. I did give what I had for the run, and I feel like I did the best that I could. There are huge rollers on this course. There is a total of 2,747 ft. of climbing for the entire course, which isn’t the worst, but it is a real challenge for a run at the end of the Ironman. You can tell in my mile splits that the uphills really would take their toll.

I started out really strong. I kept a close eye on my Garmin to make sure my pace stayed right around 10:00/mile. My long runs in training were at a 9:00/mile pace and my tempo runs were at a 8:00/mile pace, so I thought I was capable of that speed, especially with the smart pacing on my bike. My goal was to hold the 10:00/mile pace for as long as I could and then walk the uphills and walk the downs. The course is a two loop our and back.

I carried two bottles of Infinit with 400 calories each on a Fuel Belt. When I run, I only like to down 200 calories per hour, so I had four hours of nutrition with me. I also had 20 Enduralyte tablets with me. I felt good about my nutrition strategy for the run.

The course is timed in four sections. The first ends at 6.9 miles, which I completed in 1:08, a 9:58/mile pace. I was right on schedule at the turn around. The best part was my family was waiting at the turn around and I got to stop and talk with my son for a couple of minutes. That was a lift for sure. It was great to be able to interact with him.

During this section I walked every aid station and took in two glasses of water during this section. I started to get that twinge in both hamstrings like they wanted to cramp up, so I bit into two Enduralytes at the first aid station and that stopped the cramps in their tracks. I started to alternate between a swallow of Infinit and two Enduralytes and I was keeping it together. My quads started to really start to burn because of the downhills. The pain was manageable. The cramps stayed at bay, but there isn’t much you can do about tired quads during an Ironman.

The trip back was hard and I started to have to really focus.. This section is 6.22 miles and I completed it in 1:08. That made my 13.1 mile time at about 2:16. At that point I started to compute that I could finish the marathon in 4:45 if I added 10 minutes or so to my half split. That would bring me in under 13:00. At this point I knew I would have to put together a serious effort to get in on time.

During this section, I followed the same nutritional strategy. I passed my special needs bag because I wanted to get more Enduralytes out as I was almost out of the ones that I was carrying. I opened my bag and couldn’t find there anywhere. I was really concerned at this point that I was going to have some problems with cramping, so I had to switch my nutritional strategy a little at this point.

I started on my last loop. My quads were burning, but my stomach felt solid and I was processing food really well. Because of the super hydration strategy that I was using, I had to stop every other aid station to pee. That cost me some time, but I don’t like to run with that kind of pressure. All I wanted to do was to get to the turnaround, because I knew at that point I could really start to enjoy the rest of my run. I started to take in two cups of chicken broth and water at every aid station. I was taking my Infinit in at every other aid station until I finished all of it. I reached the turnaround in 1:18, which was a full 10 minutes slower that the first loop. I had to walk every uphill and was running the downhills a little slower. But at this point, I was headed home.

Looking into the eyes of the people coming the other way, you could almost tell who was on their first lap. I saw a couple of my friends and people that I knew. It was such a lift to see them and get their encouragement. But I could tell my body was getting really tired. I didn’t want to walk the rest of the way, so I started on the Coke.

It was heaven. I was out of Infinit and had to do something else. At every aid station I was now drinking two cups of water, two cups of chicken broth, and two cups of Coke. It was unreal how quickly that high fructose corn syrup hits your blood. I was still walking the uphills and running as fast as I could on the downhills. This new nutrition strategy almost required me to stop at all of the aid stations. I was tired and my quads were burning like they were on fire, but there were no cramps and my stomach felt good. I really pushed it as much as I could and I finished that final loop in 1:19, again 10 minutes slower than the first. In total, the second loop took 20 minutes longer than the first. That is too much, but oh well. Perhaps next time.

Man the last .2 miles were unbelievable. Somehow I got my pace down to about 9:00/mile for this section. I could hear the cheers calling me home and just pushed it hard. I didn’t think of anything – I just took everything in. I listen and looked at the crowd. I tried to just enjoy where I was at instead of losing myself somewhere else. I started down the finisher’s chute and could feel the energy of that place. I missed my family, but they were there. I looked up at the clock and saw 13:06, which was fantastic. I missed that 12:55 I thought I could get with the perfect day, but man I was close.

Right at the start of the run — I look like I am in pain.

One of the few port-a-potties I did not stop at.

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...