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  • Writer's picturericdamico1

Ironman Alaska

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Juneau, AK - August 7, 2022

0:34:02 Swim (shortened to 1 loop) - 6th in AG

15:47 T1

6:10:11 (18.10 MPH) - 5th in AG

20:36 T2

6:51:08 (15:31 min/Mi)

Total 14:11:43

There was one goal for this race... to not re-injure myself again. And thankfully, I achieved that goal!

What a race! Hard but epic. We all say to never try something new at an Ironman. Well, I did so many things for the 1st time in this race... don't tell any beginners :) Also, just about everything that could go wrong, did. Still, I finished. And enjoyed it! Alaska. What a place. First time there. It was absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, a weather system called an "atmospheric river" came through a couple days before the race, and just rained constantly, and hard, for 3 days, including the race. The temperature was in the mid-50s for the high all week. Cold alone would be fine. Cold and rainy made it really rough...

The morning of the race was not raining, but due to all the rain the last few days, the lake was the coldest it had been. 56 degrees. Ironman made the decision to shorten the race to one loop. At first I was disappointed, but after getting out, it was definitely the right decision! The swim was cold! The coldest water I ever swam in. I had a thermal cap and neoprene booties. But my face burned as soon as it entered the water, and stayed like that for 2-3 minutes. The cap worked really well. The booties were fine for most of it, but I could feel my feet getting cold towards the end. I have been working hard on my swim, and even thought at first I was a bit disappointed with my time (I think the cold had something to do with it), it turned out that I had the 6th best swim in my AG, out of 77.

T1 was long. Over 1/2 mile to the tent, straight uphill (70 ft elevation). My feet, even with the booties, was freezing cold running in the concrete. I was happy to find out that the tent was heated !!! Well done Ironman !!! I took my time getting ready for the bike. For the first time ever, I actually changed my top. I removed the wet top and put on a base layer for the bike. Also put socks, gloves, beanie and a jacket. The bike started out well. I was feeling really good, strong. Also was feeling comfortable, not cold. The course had a couple steepers hills in the beginning and at the turn around, but everything in between wasn't too bad. The roads were wet but not bad. It was also beautiful!

Around mile 45, it started pouring again. Hard. And from then on, it was on and off the rest of the day. Funny enough, someone following me said that at mile check 43.5, I was up to 3rd place in the AG! Unfortunately that would last, as once the rain started getting through the jacket, I started freezing, and couldn't really do anything about it. Interesting to see my Power Output... it starts dropping at mile 44, and then again at 80 (around another downpour).

About halfway through, I started getting some lower back pain, especially in 2 particular spots... very odd. It was the first time this happened in a race. This back pain would also hinder me throughout the run. And if all of this wasn't enough, with around 15 miles to go, my eTap started shorting out, and changing gears on its own, always to the smallest cog (hardest gear). For a couple miles I would keep fighting it, changing it back and forth... until eventually it wouldn't allow me to change to the easier gears. If I would press then easier gear button, it would act as if I was pressing both buttons at the same time, i.e. it would change the front chain ring. What a nightmare! I don't need to mention how that affected my last 10 or so miles... what a huge pain in the ass. The last hard hill, it almost caused me to crash, as I just couldn't pedal uphill. I ended up having to get off the bike and walk up the hill. Even with all that, I ended up the bike 5th in my AG. Not too shabby! And to top it off, I saw a bear !!!!

T2 was even longer than T1. My legs were tired. I was wet and cold. Again, I took my time. I changed my socks, my jacket, gloves. I didnt have another jersey, so I went without one. I had packed two running jackets... one was my coldest winter jacket (one I raced the Houston Half Marathon a few years ago when it was in the 30's), and another one that was completely waterproof. My plan was to assess things at T2 and choose which one to wear. Believe it or not, I wore both !!! The winter one below, and the waterproof over it.

The run began slow, and would end up slower! Not being able to run for the last two months really hurt me, more than I thought it would. It was quite hilly. About the same elevation as Mt. Tremblant, but it seemed harder to me, because it has rollers throughout the course, plus a couple steeper hills. It rained off and on throughout the run. Even with the two jackets, I never felt warm! The first loop took me about 3 hours... already super slow. And it just got worse. Just about everything hurt. My lower back, as I mentioned before, my knees, my ankles. I guess due to the lack of running. It sucked! It got to a point, I couldn't run anymore. I kept trying but I couldn't muster anything. I finally came to the realization that it was what it was, and just walked the last 5-6 miles, enjoying the amazing scenery, and the incredible volunteers and cheering crowds, who stayed throughout the race, rain or shine. At the end, it was by far my worst IM run ever, leading to my worst IM finish, by far. But I am ok with it. I didn't get injured and that was the main goal. Racing in Alaska was incredible. The volunteers and the spectators are the very best. As hard as this race was (cold, rain, elevation, etc...), I’d do this race again !!! Alaska was that amazing !!!

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