Recent Club News & Ramblings

October 20, 2015

Jay Hamvas IMMD Race Report

Ironman Maryland 2015 Race Report

So why did I choose IMMD 2015? I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do a full distance this year. I was planning on waiting until 2016. But after my successful first 70.3 distance at B2B, it felt right to ride the wave and step up to the big show. Maryland was on my radar as a possible first 140.6 for several reasons. 1) I’ve always heard you should train how you want to race….. well we live in the “low country”, so a race without a lot of elevation change is a plus. 2) I wanted a race I can drive to in order to save money and cut logistics down. I can drive to Maryland. 3) I grew up sailing on the Eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I’m familiar with the shallow waters and winds. 4) I have family that live in Easton, MD and could stay with them instead of a Hotel (which is really hard to find). 5) The race didn’t sell out super-fast and gave me time to decide. So after a lot of thought and permission from the wife, I signed up in January.

I started running in 2009 and have raced many 5k’s, 6 half marathons, and 2 marathons. So I consider running my strongest discipline. I started mountain biking in 2012 and cycling in 2013. I’m getting stronger on the bike but still have room for improvement. I started swimming in 2013. Literally. I never swam freestyle until I decided I wanted to get into Triathlons. I watched videos online and taught myself how to swim. So I knew that the swim is where I could make the biggest improvement. I decided to use Don Finks “Be Iron Fit” Intermediate Training Plan. I purchased and read the book, then set the training start date of March 9th. It’s a 30 week plan split into 3 ten week sections. The first 10 weeks is a base phase. I already had a great base and could have skipped this, but I took this opportunity to get used to training by time and not mileage. Before I knew it I was into the next 10 week build phase. 3 swims, 3+ runs, and 3 rides a week. By now the scope and magnitude of the amount of time it takes to train for an Ironman is starting to come to light. Then on July 4th I

had my first bike wreck. I knew it would happen sooner or later. Sliding down the road on my side while still clipped into the pedals at 18 mph was not fun. No swimming for over a week and no run/bike for 4 days. But on the bright side, the 4 days of healing was a nice break from training. Next was the 10 week peak/taper phase. Finding the balance between doing all of my workouts and staying injury free was a challenge. Before I knew it I was in taper mode. I was counting down each work out. I was looking forward to not having to train. Finally it was race week and time to pack up and drive to Maryland.

Wednesday the 30th we were just crossing the state line driving into Maryland when we got the text that the race was cancelled. I kept driving hoping it wasn’t true. But a check of the Ironman website confirmed that due to the expected rain, high winds, and high tides from a stalled weather pattern the race was cancelled/postponed. Wait, postponed? They were going to wait to see what damage if any, Joquaine (a Hurricane off the coast) and the weather front would cause. We would know something by Tuesday the 6th. So we kept driving to my cousin’s house, ate dinner with them, and spent the night. I was numb. All of the training. All of that time. Would it be for nothing? The drive back home on Thursday was rough. So were the next several days.Somehow I had to keep training. The weather at the beach that weekend of the 3rd was horrible. 20 inches of rain and flooded roads. Any training would have to be done inside. So Saturday I rode the indoor trainer for 4 hours and ran 30 minutes through the flooded streets of our neighborhood. Sunday I braved the flooded streets and drove to the gym where I ran 2 hours on the treadmill. On Monday the 5th they announced that the race would be held on October 17th. I’m not sure if I was excited or not. I think I just wanted to get done. The next 2 weeks were the hardest training weeks. Not because of the physical demands but the mental exhaustion. I couldn’t find the drive and motivation I had going into the training. But I got through it, all 32 weeks of training.

As the race day grew closer I finally started getting back the excitement of becoming an “Ironman”. I also started obsessing about the weather for Cambridge, MD. Cold and windy. I like cold for the run. I think 48 degrees is a perfect temperature for running. But not so much for biking 112 miles. Then there are the 10-15 mph winds they were calling for. The cold weather also dropped the Choptank River temperature to the mid 60’s. I had a lot of trouble deciding what to wear for the race. I finally decided that a complete change in each transition was the only way I could make sure I had options to stay warm or peel off layers. I knew this would add time to my race, but I had already decided that with the added 2 week taper this would not be my “perfect” race. I finally convinced myself that I just wanted to finish happy and healthy. I had decided that at some point (in a few years) I will race a full again.

Teresa and I drove up on Thursday the 15th and got into Cambridge in time so I could go to Athlete Check-in. The long line gave the indication that a lot of athletes were able to come back for the rescheduled race. The Ironman store was packed because all of the IMMD merchandise was 40% off. We shopped then headed to my cousins house. I spent Thursday

night preparing all of my transition bags. Friday morning I went to the bike/bag check in. I got there fairly early and my bike was probably the 20th racked. She looked lonely when I left her there. T1 and T2 bags got dropped off next. I spent Friday night relaxing.

I got up at 4:15am race morning, ate a bowl of Oatmeal and a banana, packed up, and left around 5:00am to drive the 30 minutes from Easton to Cambridge. Thanks to a tip from John Malloy, I had secured parking at a house 2 blocks from the Start/Transition area. We got parked around 5:30. Air temp was 45 and there wasn’t much wind. I actually thought to myself, “It feels nice out”. I went into transition and aired up my bike tires, added hydration and food to thebike, placed hand warmers into my bike shoes in my T1 bag, and dropped off my special needs bags. Next was a bathroom stop and body marking. I went back to the car to relax but realized it was time to get my wetsuit on. Off came the warm clothes and on went the wetsuit. I kept socks on, flip-flops, and a hoodie. Teresa and I headed to the swim start. This time heading into the transition area was different. The wind was now blowing hard. Probably 15 to 20 mph. The area around the swim start was pretty big so Teresa was able to stay with me while the national anthem played. We were just a few minutes from the expected start time of 6:50 when they made the announcement.

A small craft advisory had been issued by the Coast Guard. The swim start would be delayed and the swim would be shortened to 1.2 miles. I felt numb. Not from the 20 mph wind and 35 degree windchill. Numb because once again my journey to become an Ironman was being derailed. It only took a few minutes for me to snap out of my pity party. While still disappointed that the swim was shortened, I was happy we were at least able to swim some of it. They could have cancelled the swim like IMFL 2014. I also reminded myself that I had already decided this wasn’t going to be my “only” full ironman. Another announcement. The swim would now be a 3000 meter 2 loop triangle and start at 7:30.

The water was cold. Probably the coldest I’ve swam in (63 I believe). IMMD is a rolling start. Similar to a typical Marathon start where your time starts when you cross the timing mat. I got in line about mid pack and we got herded through the Swim Start arch. As soon as I got waist deep in the water I moved over to the side, took a few seconds to get my face wet, and get acclimated to the cold. I swam a lot in training. Not so I could be faster (although I did knock about 10 seconds off my average 100), but so I would be more comfortable in the water. Even with the cold water and bodies bumping into me I was still able to get into a decent rhythm. The triangle course had 2 longer sides. The side swimming away from the start was a pretty easy swim. The side coming back towards the start was choppy. I found it hard to spot the buoys far ahead. I had to rely on the buoys closer to me. Half way through the swim I realized my feet were numb, as were my pinky and ring finger of each hand. On the last leg of the swim I kicked a little harder hoping to force some blood into my feet to warm them up before having to run into transition. 3000 meter swim – 53:44

Out of the water and up the bank. Grab my T1 bag and run into the changing tent. It’s full. I mean like packed with wet shivering men everywhere. I chose to skip the wetsuit strippers because I didn’t want to lie on the cold ground and wanted to stay in my warm wetsuit longer. In hindsight that wasn’t a wise choice. Taking off the wetsuit while my hands were cold was tough. My change into my bike gear was painfully slow. Strip down, leg warmers, bike shorts, compression shirt, arm sleeves, bike jersey, socks, bike shoes(which were toasty warm thanks to the hand warmers I put in there), hat, gloves. Swim stuff into bag, give bag to volunteer,

and run to bike. Helmet onto head and run with bike out of transition. Long run out of transition. T1 – 12:41

I wasn’t a mile into the bike and I was already reminding myself to SLOW DOWN it’s a long race. I eased off and settled into a nice speed and got my heart rate under control. It didn’t take long to realize that I was not cold. I had dressed correctly for the weather. My feet got a little cold on and off according to how hard the wind blew, but over-all comfortable. I expected to have to pee at some point during the race. Peeing on the bike would have been an option if it was warmer. But not in that cold and wind. I ended up having to stop twice to pee and once for my special needs. IMMD bike course is flat. My trainer rides and long rides in Conway paid off. Being able to stay in the aero position for long periods of time is a big advantage when riding in the wind. Boy did we have wind. The wind on the first loop was probably 15-20. By the second loop it was 20-25. I knew that the last 10 miles of the loop and 10 miles back into town would be right into the wind so I “saved” a little in the tank. I probably passed 20 riders in the last 20 miles. It was fun riding back into town. The closer I got, the more people were lining the street cheering me on. I was glad to be off the bike and I had no idea what my bike split was. I was still hoping for under 6 hours on the bike. Later, on the run Teresa told me. 112 mile bike – 5:37:11

Running in bike shoes isn’t fun or easy after biking 112 miles. Racked the bike and ran (sort of) to pick up my T2 bag. Into the changing tent again. This time there was plenty of room. Strip down, run shorts, tri top, calf sleeves, arm sleeves (thinner), socks, shoes, visor, race belt, gloves. And another pee break. T2-9:28

Brick training works good. I started out running sub 9:00 miIe. Again I had to remind myself to SLOW DOWN it’s a long race. I eventually settled into a 9:30 pace. I had a perfected nutrition plan for the bike but never locked down my run nutrition. My longest brick was 30 minutes and I just didn’t know how my stomach would feel late in the race. I got a little worried around an hour in because I didn’t feel like eating anything. I stuck with my plan to walk

through every water stop and drink a little water. Eventually my stomach felt much better. Throughout the run I changed up what I ate at each water stop. It was a Gel, banana, a few pretzels, oranges, or salt tablet. By mile 10 my legs were hurting. I started having doubts about how long I could keep running between water stops. I would just tell myself to run to the next station. Somehow I just kept running. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like a 2.5 loop course. It works great for an Ironman. After the first full loop I knew I only had to go back to turn #1 once more and that helped keep me going. Then after reaching turn #3 the second time I knew that the next time I came back I would be on the home stretch. Being that close and hearing the finishers being called actually motivated me to keep digging deep and to push the last half lap. The last 2 miles were a blur. Somewhere I found another gear. Running down the finisher’s shoot of my first Ironman is something I will never forget. The energy is amazing. Then to hear those words, “Joseph Hamvas (yes my first name is Joseph), you are an Ironman!” 26.2 mile run – 4:18:51

The race being postponed sucked. The swim being delayed and shortened sucked. The cold and the wind sucked. Ironman Maryland 2015 was AWESOME! The event was professional and organized. The race director went through hell and back to get the event rescheduled. The volunteers were amazing. The entire town supported the race. Locals were out on their front porch cheering us on. Take away the wind and it would have been near perfect conditions. Weather is unpredictable. But this race venue is great. I think IMMD will turn into one of Ironman’s premier races. I got lots of swag too; backpack, flag, poster, finisher’s shirt, finisher’s hat, finisher’s metal, timing chip strap, and a seat cover. I went into this race just wanting to get the experience and to finish. I ended up crushing my expectations and became an Ironman! Total time – 11:11:53. I realize that the swim was not the official 2.4 miles. I estimate my finish (if it had been 2.4) would have been around 11:30:00.

When I first started doing Triathlons I remember talking to people who completed an Ironman. They talked about it as a “journey”. Like a life lesson about yourself. I never understood exactly what they meant until now. Training and completing an Ironman will change you. It will help you learn about yourself. It will teach you that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. I also hope my experience will help other athletes realize that a whole food plant based diet is a powerful tool in reaching your athletic goals. With all of that being said, I could not have made this journey without my wife Teresa. She has been my rock through this entire year. Her encouragement, strength, wisdom, patience, and love were unrelenting. I also want to thank the Myrtle Beach Triathlon Club. What an amazing group of athletes. Each new member gets inspired by the member before them. The sharing of knowledge and experience is priceless. Just remember, you never know what you can accomplish until you TRI.

Jay Hamvas

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