Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ironman Wisconsin

Wow, it's really hard to believe it's been almost 3 months. The time away from triathlon and training has been very refreshing. I'm not quite ready to dive back in, but there are moments. Below in small italics are excerpts from a race report I wrote on beginner triathlete a couple of days after the race. My comments and thoughts from today are intersperced throughout with normal text type and size.

Up at 4:00. Quickly dressed, packed up remaining nutrition for the day and drove up to Madison. Ate a couple of muffins and drank a bottle of airborne. Emotions were all over the board, from nausea, to calm, to fighting off tears. Once at the terrace I dropped off special needs bags, stopped at the bike, dropped off nutrition, aired up the tires, and attempted to walk away. I think I turned back three times and just looked at Wilson trying to remember what I forgot. Finally left and walked through the transition bag rooms, didn't open the bags, just verified they were still there. This was one of my fears, coming into T1 or T2 and having my bags missing. After that I tried to find a quiet relaxing place. It was only 5:30. The terrace was a madhouse, so I headed down to the lakefront. Ran into a couple of friends, met up with the family, one last stop at the porta potty (I think my 5th of the morning, nerves are a wonderful thing) and it's time to go, finally.

I get a queasy stomach again just reading this. The energy and emotion of ironman race morning are really something to experience. I can't really put it into words.

Got in the water with about 15 minutes to go. After the pros went off I left the comfort of the standing depth water and headed out to the start area to tread water. Lined up about half way between the ski ramp and shore, maybe 10 people back, adjusted position a couple of times when it got to crowded for my comfort level. Without much warning the cannon went off, I was expecting a countdown or something, but it didn't happen, just boom, and we were off. Holy crap, I'm doing an ironman swim. This thought/emotion was going through me the entire swim. I was elated. The start was/is everything you'd expect. I didn't take any serious blows, but my right eye got kicked four or five times. I was regularly pushed, swam into, swam over, etc. Nothing excessive or violent, but it was rough. I don't remember a whole lot about the swim, it went by so fast, I was really enjoying it. Swam wide the entire time, cut in fairly close to the turn buoys, then went wide again. Every once in a while I'd catch a glimpse of the announcer or hear the crowd. Heard "sweet emotion" by Aerosmith as I was starting the second loop. Somewhere mid swim my stomach started to not be real happy. Perhaps it was my effort to drink the lake dry, I don't know. Being surrounded by swimmers, the previously calm lake had an odd irregular chop, I had some trouble getting clean breaths through much of the swim and drank a lot of water. Well hydrated I was.

Now reading this again, I'm starting to tear up. It was an incredible feeling to be out there doing an Ironman swim. It was easy almost. Just keep swimming, keep your emotions in check, don't overdue it. Such a good time.

T1

I continue to excel at changing clothes. T1 and T2 were my best events relative to the field, T1 - 123/339 age group, 644/2397 overall. When I saw the clock coming out of the water I was absolutely thrilled. Managed to get out of the water without issue and made my way to the wetsuit strippers. I think I passed Amy Jo here, but everything was such a blur. The wetsuit stripper knew me, but I had/have absolutely no idea who it was. I'm sorry, I just survived an Ironman swim, and did it faster than I thought was really realistic, nothing was fully registering with me at this point. Made my way up to the terrace, grabbed my bag, and headed into the changing room. The men's changing room is not a pretty sight. Got in, got out, and tried not to look around. Carried my shoes and made my way through the bike racks to a volunteer waiting with my bike. I promptly told him "That's not my bike." Did I mention I was having fun? I don't know that I've ever seen a grown man become so flustered so quickly, but he took it really well. Made my way to just shy of the dismount line before putting my shoes on. Let's go for a ride.

Maybe I'm an ass, but that dude with my bike was funny, and being a slow swimmer, there were not a whole lot of bikes left on the rack.

Bike

I'm doing a freaking Ironman. Couldn't have wiped the smile off my face. I was having so much fun. Ride out to Verona and the first loop absolutely flew by. Rode in the aerobars through the flats and downhills. Sat up and put my hands in the elbow cups and just spun easy up all the hills. Many commented that it looked like I was just out for an easy Sunday ride. I was. Second loop was much of the same. The three bitch hills took some effort to get up this time, but it was still easier than any training ride on the course. Stomach continued to be unhappy with me, but it was tolerable. The ride back to Madison was more difficult. A slight wind had picked up and we were now riding into it. It was also pretty warm by this point. It hadn't really bothered me, but in combination with the wind, and the 100 miles I'd already gone, I was now ready to get off the bike. Tina's hill was my low point on the course. That hill is never mentioned when discussing the course, but it's a real bear 100+ miles into a ride. Once up that the rest of the ride in was easy again. Riding up the helix was a great feeling.


I had so much fun on the bike, seriously. The 6-1/2 hours literally flew by.

T2

Like T1, T2 was one of my better events relative to the field, 105/356 and 843/2307. 35+ years of getting dressed myself is finally paying off. Swung a leg over my bike at the top of the helix and coasted to the bike catchers. Grabbed my garmin and ran into the terrace. My friend Wade was volunteering in the T2 bag room, he grabbed my transition bag and got a huge hug (I'm not a hugger), that's how happy I still was. The faces in T2 weren't nearly as fresh and happy as they were in T1. Got in, got out.

Yeah I was still on cloud nine, feeling great, ready to take on the world.

Run

And now Robert's race falls apart. As usual, any stomach issues I have get exponentially magnified by running. I headed out of T2 at an easy pace and it wasn't good. Made it to the first aid station and walked through that. Ran down State and Henry, made the turn onto Dayton and ran maybe another block. I wanted to puke, seriously needed to puke. The heat finally hit me full bore and the stomach wasn't having anything to do with this running bullshit. So I started walking, thinking it was a long race, if I can get my stomach to settle, I'll be able to start running again and hopefully salvage the run. So I walked, and I ate and I drank, nothing was helping. Oranges, grapes, coke, water, ice. GE has never settled with me, so I ignored that. I had been chewing tums on and off since starting the bike and had a bag with me so I tried those as well. Tried running again at Camp Randall, made it about half way around. Didn't try again until the downhill at Observatory, was easier than walking. By this point I was good and pissed off.

Right there is the understatement of the year. I was fuming, didn't want to keep walking, couldn't run, and knew in my mind if I stopped moving forward for even a minute my race was over.

I didn't train all year to walk my way through Ironman. I still wanted to puke, half wanted to quit, and definitely didn't feel good about the effort. I don't remember when but the stomach finally started to come around, but by the time it had, the walking had caused major blisters on both feet. Walking was tolerable, running was not. On the second lap I only ran the first downhill on state and observatory again.

When I made the turn on the second lap I did some mental math and figured I could break 14-hours with a little running and some luck. My short run down State ended any thought of more running this day. Disappointing.

Somewhere on the return leg of the second lap, my attitude came back around. I realized I can actually walk pretty darn fast and I wasn't looking at a 7 hour death march. Started talking more with the spectators and volunteers and I think the smile more or less returned. Dumped a cup of water over my sons head at one point, which earned a pretty good laugh from the crowd on Henry. Hardest part of the race for me was the last 2-3 miles, not because of how I felt, but because I was watching so many people heading out for there second loop. I knew how they felt, and I knew how difficult (if not impossible) it was going to be for many of them to make the cutoff. It was inspiring to see them head out and not give up, but it was really hard to watch.

This was really hard, I knew what it took to get myself to the starting line healthy. I was already disappointed in my effort, but I was going to finish. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to have come all this way and possibly dnf. It still chokes me up some. We sat at Ian's on State Street until midnight hoping/praying some last friends would make the corner and finish. It was hard.

At the last aid station I grabbed one last cup of water, needed to fix my hair for the finish :) There hadn't been anyone behind me, but just before I made the turn onto MLK I noticed a runner coming in from behind. So I ran. The crowd was great, I high fived a bunch, at one point (unknowingly) knocking my garmim off its wrist strap and into the street. Tossed my glow stick into the crowd and crossed the line. Awesome feeling.

I was told I came in pretty fast. I probably did. If there is one race day thing I would have changed I would have slowed down and take in the finish instead of rushing through. It was all such a blur.

I initially felt pretty bad about my run. After looking at some numbers I'm coming around. I had what I consider an awesome swim, finished 304/356 in my age group and 1968/2397 overall. My craptastic run yielded me a 251/356 age group rank and a 1601/2397 overall rank. That either says something about my swimming ability or the difficulty of an ironman run. You decide.

I still don't really know how I feel about the race. Time of my life, so much fun, so many emotions. I'm not thrilled about my time, but I'm not incredibly disappointed either. I said it days after the race and I still feel this way, I feel like I have a score to settle with the run course. Not saying I'm jumping back in anytime soon. But I could foresee another Ironman in my future.

Some claim that Ironman was/is a life changing experience. I don't really see it that way. Ironman was a challenge, a dream per se. It didn't end the way I would have liked, but I did do it. I'm the same person I was September 12, maybe a little softer, but still the same person.

What's next, I don't know. If it weren't for the many friends made and people met, I think I could walk away from triathlon and not look back. As it is, there are too many good people in the sport, too many inspirational stories, too many potential experiences out there to just walk away.

2010 will likely be an "off" year, I have yard work to catch up on, a dog to train, and a wife doing her first half. Madison Marathon is a likely foe, and maybe an olympic or even a half. Beyond that I just don't know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

IM by the Numbers

I've had no desire to read/write anything triathlon related since IM Wisconsin.  I still don't, but I'll post the numbers before I lose the sheet I wrote it all down on.

2397 Individuals started IM Wisconsin assuming everyone finished the swim.

Swim - Super thrilled with time.  Ten minutes better than I swam it four weeks prior at the Madison Open Water Swim, and my pace was better than any 1/2 iron swim I've done (Racine excluded for obvious reasons).

1:32:00 (2:10/100yards)
1968/2397 overall
304/356 age group

T1 - Still my best event relative to the field.  Dressing myself for all these years is really starting to pay off.
7:59
644/2397 overall
105/356 age group

Bike - Also thrilled with time.  On the fast side of where I thought I would be.
6:32:11 (17.1 mph)
1278/2397 overall
220/356 age group

90 didn't finish the bike

T2 - Second best event relative to the field.
5:59
843/2397 overall
123/356 age group

Run - Craptastic, wanted to puke for first 6-8 miles.  Walked.  By the time the stomach was better had huge blisters on both feet I'm still dealing with.  Fun.

5:46:41 (13:14/mile)
1601/2397 overall
251/356 age group

131 didn't finish run

Overall - I'm ok with it now, all things considered.  Only disappointing when I think of where I could have been with any reasonable run.

14:04:48
1480/2397 overall
239/356 age group

My one interesting overall fact about the race numbers.  Even if you take into account the 221 that didn't finish the bike or run.  My run ranking (where I walked almost all of it), was significantly better than my swim rank, which I'm still thrilled with.  This either says something about my swimming ability or the difficulty of an Ironman run.  Not sure which.

Pictures and report still to come.



Monday, September 14, 2009

Word of the Day

Ouch.

Huge blisters on both feet, two nasty sunburn stripes, and extremely sore quads and calves. Race didn't go down exactly as planned, but I had a great time, and in 14:04 and change got to here those wonderful words.

You are an Ironman.

Full report w/ pictures to come. Just don't hold your breath.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Race Morning

All that's left is the waiting. It's been a huge wave of emotions already this morning. From nausea to calm to fighting off tears. The next 90 minutes may be some of hardest of the day. The waiting, it's the hardest part. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My crew

My support crew will be sporting the above shirts at IMoo tomorrow. Say hi if you see them.

Race week has gone by in a flash.  This time tomorrow we'll be swimming. Gidde up.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Race Strategy

Since I can't seem to focus on anything but Ironman, I'm going to lay out my race strategy.  I've kept it simple, as it only has two parts.  For lack of better terms, they'll go by "One Bite at a Time" and "All Day Baby".

One Bite at a Time
Somebody, somewhere out there in blogland (I'm to lazy to try and find it), has a quote that goes something along the lines of "How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time."  This is how I intend to attack the course on Sunday.  One bite at a time.  The ironman elephant is much to big to consume in one bite.  I think that is why it's so daunting from the outside, once you break it down into it's components, or subcomponents, it becomes much more manageable.

For the swim, I'm only going to focus on the next turn buoy, nothing more.  I can't swim the next leg until I get through this one, no point thinking about it, or the bike, or the run.

I've dissected the bike course many times both physically and mentally.  Sunday my focus will be simply to get to the next point; Verona, Mt. Vernon, Mt Horeb, Cross Plains, back to Verona, repeat, then back to Madison.  One bite at a time.

And although the run is two loops, I simply can't take that big of a bite.  The run will be aid station to aid station and nothing more.

All Day Baby
This would be my pacing strategy.  Find a pace that is comfortable and I can hold, well, all day.  The difference between a dream swim and a bad one is maybe 15 minutes.  Absolutely no reason to push hard in the water.  Nice and easy, relax, settle in and swim, and swim, and swim.  And then swim some more.

Same theory applies on the bike.  Although with the terrain of the Wisconsin bike course, it's really not a pacing strategy, but more of a "level of effort" strategy.  Pace is going to vary greatly from moment to moment.  My level of effort needs to remain much more uniform.  So we settle in, find a comfortable effort level and just go.  That's the theory anyway.  I'll need to be extra vigilant and plan to focus on riding smart.

The run, for at least the first 20-miles, will be much the same.  Find a comfortable pace and go.  If by some miracle of nature I have anything left in the tank at the 20 mile mark I'll reevaluate and go from there.

And there it is.  Ironman race strategy 101.  I should get my coaching license and write a book.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Race Week Nerves

Today is Tuesday.  I think my nerves are all but shot.  I'm keeping food down but it doesn't feel like it wants to be there.  That's not good. 

I don't even know what it is.  I'm not obsessed with the weather, or gear, or race strategy, or nutrition, or anything.  But it's still there, the knot in my gut which seems to be growing exponentially as the days disappear and Ironman looms closer.  Yes I've committed close to 2 years getting ready for one day.  But in reality, regardless of the outcome life will go on, and it won't matter one bit whether I finish in 13 hours, 17 hours, or DNF.  Yet the nerves are still there.  It's stupid, and I hate the fact that I'm letting it get to me.

Four more days.  One more day of work.  Check-in on Thursday.  Prep-day Friday.  Bike check-in Saturday.  Race Sunday.  Piece of cake.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Signs

Ironman signs started popping up around town last week. Today I came into work and this was sitting in the lot. On top of that, race numbers were published today. Yours truly is 938. Starting to feel way to real.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Expectations

These aren't goals per se.  More of a guide to let friends/family know where I should be when.  It's quick and dirty, but with the unpredictability involved, I'm not putting any more thought into it. 

Swim
I'm not fast, 90% of the athletes will be out and gone before me, don't worry about it. 1:30 would be an absolute dream swim for me.  Anything over 1:45 and I think I'll be disappointed.  If I can swim straight and avoid any major issues I should be able to break 1:40.

So out of the water between 8:30 and 8:45, out of transition 10 minutes later, 8:40 - 8:55.

Bike
Assuming nothing harsh in the way of weather, no real mechanical issues, I'm guessing 6:30 - 7:15.  Any faster than 6:30 and I'll be absolute toast for the run.  Goal is to go out for a nice easy ride.  I'm just fine with an uneventful 7 hours.

So on the bike:

Into Verona - 9:28 - 9:49
Back to Verona - 11:54 - 12:32
Back to Verona again - 2:20 - 3:15
Back to Madison - 3:08 - 4:09

Run
Total crapshoot, but to try and narrow it down, best case scenario I think will be 5:00.  Worst case, well... who knows could be 7 hours+, but for arguments sake, let's say 6.  We won't talk about any other possible outcomes.

Out of transition - 3:18 - 4:19
Finish first loop - 5:48 - 7:19
Finish - 8:18 - 10:19

Total time - 13:18 - 15:19

If I was a gambling man, and I guess I am, I'd put the over/under at 13:51.  Two years ago when I started this journey I thought 14 hours was doable, now, less than two weeks out I'm still pretty much right there.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vague Rememberance

I vaguely remember this lifestyle. Today, on a Sunday, I did the following:

Ate a breakfast of solid, recognizable food.
Planted blueberry bushes.
Went to the hardware store.
Got the oil changed in the truck.
Went to three greenhouses.
Planted more blueberries.
Ate a normal lunch.
Took a nap.
Worked in the garden/yard.
Cut the grass.
Played catch with the kids.

I think that's about it. Taper isn't so bad.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bring It

I don't really feel ready, but I'm as ready as I'm going to get.  With the completion of my long run last night I'm officially in taper mode. 

Saturday was the Madison Open Water swim.  2.4 miles on roughly the same course as IM Wisconsin.  I think 288 finished, I beat maybe 35 of them.  Yes, I'm that fast.

Start was rough, one big mass start, and pure swimmers actually kick, hard.  Got beat up pretty good in the beginning, after 400 yards or so it thinned out and was smooth sailing.  Water was fairly calm.  Nothing spectacular to report.  Just slow steady swimming.  Came out of the water in about 102.  That would be 102 minutes, or 1:42, or 1 hour, 42 minutes.  Maybe in Racine I could have done 1:02, but I digress.

Felt good about the swim, little disappointed about the time, was hoping to get out in 1:3x. 

After a super long transition I headed out on the bike for the full course ride.  Lots of people out riding the course.  Spoke with a few on the first lap.  Second lap I was mostly alone.  Beautiful day but windy.  Allergies decided to kick in with a vengeance.  Spent the better part of 7 hours sneezing or blowing snot rockets every 3-4 minutes.  Fun.

By the middle of the second loop I was completely wiped out.  Actually stopped twice and just stood over my bike trying to compose myself.  Other than that stops were minimal.  Once on each loop to get water on Timber Lane (love that guy), and once on the first loop when a large group of motorcycles with a police escort rolled by.  I think that was it.

I forget the actual numbers, but it was around 111 miles and pretty much right on 7 hours.  Plan was to run off the bike.  The last several hours of the ride I did the mental debate on whether or not to actually do it.  Final verdict was yes, then it was a matter of how far.  Decided I had to run at least as far I swam that morning, but three miles seemed like overkill.  Ended up going 2.62 miles in 25 minutes.  It wasn't terrible, but the prospect of doing it 9 more times wasn't pleasant at all.

Walked to Ians (I blame you Mike), than back to the truck.  Drove home, showered, and went to bed.

I've actually held off posting this hoping that my perspective would change, it hasn't.  I didn't go to sleep that night feeling all that great about the days efforts and I still don't.  Hard really to explain.  I know I tackled 2/3+ of the IM solo, without taper, but I still have no confidence going into the race.  Barring accident, mechanical or health issues, I know I can finish.  Just not sure it will be the race I'm hoping for.

Last nights long run did help in bringing some of the confidence back.  I covered 18+ miles, running home from the office.  It was slow but effective.  I took short walk breaks every mile.  Ate and drank regularly, and felt like I could have easily kept running.  All good things.

And so it is.  Nothing more I can do about the training.  Time to rest and get all the nagging injuries healed up for race day.  As I said above, I'm as ready as I'm going to get.  Let's go.







Friday, August 21, 2009

Strong or Just Plain Stupid

Last night was round five of the Madison Aquathon series.  As luck would have it there were very strong winds blowing huge waves across our little lake.  I wouldn't normally make a big deal of swimming in such conditions, but another triathlete died this week after a swim in Lake Monona.  From what I can recall, this is the 4th in Wisconsin this year.

The first three occurred during races, and for whatever reason, didn't really bother me.  This one for some reason has.  She was on a training swim, not alone, but from experience I know that it's easy to get separated from those you are swimming with.  A couple guys in a boat noticed her struggling and went to help out.  Miraculously, rescue personnel were able to reestablish breathing and a heart rate and the story seemed to be heading for a better outcome.

For whatever reason she didn't make it, and the family made the decision to donate her organs.  Words really can't express how much this sucks.  I'm not even going to try.

Which brings us back to last night, our wonderful waves, and a race director who asked that only strong swimmers get in the water that night.  I've never considered myself a strong swimmer, but over the last year I've become much more comfortable in the water and I came to swim.  So I did.

The leg out was directly into the waves, this is where the serious doubts starting going through my head.  Why am I out here?  Why am I taking this risk?  I started thinking about my kids, wondering if it was all really worth it.

Just when I'd be ready to say fuck it and turn around that other voice would get into my head.  Quitting are you?  Time to give up?  Ultimately this voice won over and I pushed on.  Aside from a couple of coughing bouts from swallowing way to much water, I was never really uncomfortable out there.  It was just the doubts, and the situation I had voluntarily put myself in, and wondering if the risks were all really worth it.

I tend to look at things like this from a risk/reward perspective.  From a reward perspective, I'm now that much more comfortable in the water and should be able to handle anything the ironman swim throws at me.  But the risk, was it worth it, I don't know.  Logic tells me I'm probably better off in my wetsuit in the lake in those conditions than on my bike (or in a car) sharing a road with 20,000 commuters yakking on their cell phones, but big picture, I still don't know.

I also really don't know what the purpose of this post is, but I spent 23 minutes in the water last night with all this going through my head and needed to get it out.  For anyone keeping track, yes the swim did take me a good 4-5 minutes longer than typical.  Same story for my swimmer wife, and I'm guessing for the majority, it was rough out there.

Relatively speaking, the run portion was easy.  I broke my 5k PR by 20 seconds, although pace wise it was still a slower run than the 5-mile Point Bock Run back in March.  Other than Aquathon, I have not run any 5k's this year.  They hardly seem worth getting out of bed for.

Tomorrow is the annual Madison open water swim.  2.4 miles on the same course as Ironman, and in the same general location as the most recent drowning.  I'll be out there, not really sure what will be going through my head.  Ultimately I doubt it will impact me or keep me from racing, but it still makes you think. And I'll have plenty of time to do that tomorrow, as I'm following up the swim with a full course ride and a short run.  Last long training weekend. 





 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back on the Horse

Felt good to get back on the bike last week after my fall in Mt. Horeb.  Everything seems to be heeling up nicely.  My hip never really turned colors like I thought it would but it's still extremely tender, can't sleep on that side tender.  Thankfully it doesn't bother me on the bike and it's tolerable while running.  Palm of my hand looks better than it is, still some deep down soreness that really reared it's ugly head Saturday at Dairlyland Dare.

Ah yes, Dairyland Dare 100K+ of up, down, repeat.  On a hot, humid, windy day, with some crappy road conditions thrown in just to make it interesting.  On paper, this route is comparable to HHH.  I'm not buying it.  Maybe I'm just in better shape than I was at HHH, but this route, like Insane Terrain last month, just didn't bring me to my knees like HHH did in June.  There was one long steep climb where swearing would have been completely appropriate, but other than that, just a lot of moderately difficult efforts.  Was still a good ride.  Passed one guy wearing a Tour de France king of the mountain style jersey. He was walking up one of the hills.  Found it kind of humorous, no way I'm putting on that jersey unless I can climb like a mountain goat.

I'm contemplating heading back to the HHH course the last weekend in August.  I need to know if it was the course, or if I'm just in better shape.  I'm guessing it is a little of both.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Inevitable?

I guess it was bound to happen.  I fell off my bike yesterday morning.  I can't really justify saying that I crashed, although it certainly feels like it.

Not really sure how, was rolling through Mt. Horeb, some 30 miles into an 80+ ride. Preparing to turn left into the Kwik Trip for a break.  Actually signaled, and now with one hand on the bars my front wheel hit a big divot in the road (near as I can tell anyway) and down I went.  That's about all I know, happened pretty fast, although if I was going 10mph I'd be surprised.

My right hip and hand and took the brunt of it.  Lost a lot of skin on the palm of my hand and have a softball sized abrasion on my hip that I'm sure will change colors nicely over the next couple of days, I'll post pics when/if it happens.  Ankle, knee, and shoulder also have some minor scrapes.  Nothing too major, although I suspect my hip will be sore for quite some time and the use of my right hand will be somewhat limited until it heals.

After a suitable rest/bandaging, bike repair period we went for a short test ride. The rear derailleur was now bent at such an angle that it was hitting the spokes in the smallest gears, it's alignment was way off.  I felt good enough to limp through the rest of the ride, but not on that course without all the gears.  Ride over.

Today I'm tired, sore, and crabby.  I'd probably feel a whole lot better if I had my bike back or knew the status of it.  According to the bike shop, there is some semi-serious problem with the rear derailleur hanger.  This can't be happening now.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Three Weeks

Three more hellish weeks of training before the final taper into Ironman Wisconsin.  Part of me feels like taper can't get here fast enough.  The rest of me wants it all to be done with.  Those two statements were meant to be contradictory, I guess at least mentally I'm ready for race day.  Physically, not so much.

About two weeks prior to Racine I did something to irritate my hip.  Extremely painful to run on.  Drugs and adrenaline got me through race day, that was about it.  I basically took two weeks off from running, stretched more, and hoped it would resolve itself.  It's a little better now, but still painful, and I'm running much slower than usual.  I'm trying to get into the UW runners clinic, but time isn't exactly on my side with Ironman less than 6 weeks out.  Frustrating.

On a happier note, or at least a more sadistic one, I signed up for Dairyland Dare on 8/15 (and conned a friend into going with me).  This completes my summer trifecta of torturous organized group rides.  One last leg trashing ridiculously hilly ride in preparation for Ironman.

The following weekend is the last weekend prior to taper, and I plan on partaking in the 2.4 mile Madison open water swim, followed by a full course ride, and a very short run.  Still looking for company for the ride, I'll probably do 16mph at best.

That's it.  I'm hoping for three more uneventful training weeks going into taper.  No more nagging injuries, no accidents, nothing.  "Nothing Stupid" has been my mantra most of the summer.  Meaning don't do anything dumb and go and get yourself hurt.  Plan is to be extra vigilant in that regard until Ironman.  Then all bets are off.  I've been itching to go out and do some trail riding, and I also realized earlier this summer that Stoughton has a terrain park for bikes, fun.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Racine 70.0 Report

I'm just going to get my bitching out of the way first, then I'll get to the report.

Race Organizers, if you're going to hold a set distance race (olympic, half iron, iron) at least make an attempt to get the distances correct. The swim distance at Racine was ridiculously short.

My swim time was 31:29, including my stripping of a wetsuit and running 100+ yards up a loose sand beach. Despite this, still a 15+ minute swim PR for me at this distance. Sure. Based on said time, I'd guess that the course was 1500 yards max. I also used one of the route making tools and a satellite image to double check. Being that the course ran parallel to shore (and just off it, more on that in a bit) it was easy to get a pretty good handle on the distance, ~1600 yards. Off by 500+ yards, nice work.

Second thing, being that this is a half iron race, an event where people should be expected to know how to swim, can you, as race directors, please lay out a course that isn't so close to shore that I hit the bottom with my hands during a normal swim stroke. It's not like the lake isn't big enough or deep enough.

Ok I'm done bitching, and I'm not even a swimmer.

Swim
Holy shit it was cold, I think 62 was the official word. Warmed up for a bit after the long march down the beach, but not enough to really get used to it. Was in the 3rd or 4th wave. Beach start, lined up towards the back and waded in almost to the first buoy before anyone started swimming.

Cold took my breath away for the first couple of moments, but I quickly got used to it and fell into a good rhythm. Maybe 5 minutes in I kept brushing something with my fingers but nobody was immediately in front of me, couldn't figure it out. Took a solid hand hit to the bottom for me to figure out I was grazing the sand. A quick stop to look around and it seemed like half the field was walking. Sad. I actually considered it for a half a second but realized it wasn't going to do me any good, just keep swimming. The water depth dropped off a bit after a couple hundred yards, not sure if it ever got deep enough where you couldn't stand, but I never hit my hand on the bottom again.

Best thing I did the day before was walk down to the beach and count the buoys, seven red ones, plus the two yellow corner buoys. It was very helpful to know exactly where I was on the course. Definitely something to remember come Ironman time.

Contact was minimal until the ladies in the wave behind caught me. Got sandwiched between two for a short spell, was rough, but I got spit out the back pretty quickly.

Swim was largely uneventful, I actually liked swimming in Lake Michigan. Clean, clear, cool water (it wasn't bad at all once you got used to it). Just layout a reasonable %^*$^@( course. Ok, now I'm done.

One notable thing did happen during the swim. I lost my nose clip. Haven't swam without it in probably 18 months. Somewhere after the midway point I reached for my nose/goggles and it was gone. No idea when it came off. So I guess I don't "need" it anymore. Sadly, once I knew it was gone it did get into my head some, but I didn't have any real issues from an actual swimming standpoint. Definitely will do some OWS without one between now and IM, not sure if I'll start IM without one or not.

Swim time - 31:29
Overall place - 901/1206
Age group place - 123/139

Transition One - 2:38
Took the wetsuit off at the edge of the lake prior to the long run up to transition. Jumped into one of the water tubs to get the sand off the feet and headed over to the bike. Was a cool morning so I stripped my sleeveless UA top that I normally race in and put a long sleeve one on (that we bought the night before). Shoes went on, biggest hill of the course just out of transition, no point trying to put them on going up that hill. Glasses, helmet, and clop, clop, clop in my bike shoes out of transition.

Good to see the wife and kids, met me at water's edge and ran up to transition with me. This where I was first told I was out of the water in 30 minutes, gave me plenty to think about for the first several miles on the bike.

Bike
I thought at Kansas I pulled off an incredibly fast ride (for me). Little did I know I was about to crush even that effort.

Spun up the big hill out of T1, put it the big ring, and tried to find a groove and relax. Like Kansas, heartrate was way up, but the effort felt right, so I went with it. Got passed by everybody and there little sister too. Didn't let it bother me, much. Did what I could to do my own thing.

Had an extremely stiff neck from the get go, took some aspirin and it subsided fairly quickly. Course was extremely flat, I only took it out of the big ring twice. Both times I could have pounded up the hill, but I had a couple moments of rare intelligence.

Most of the roads were decent, but some, like the I94 frontage road, were absolutely terrible. On the last stretch of the frontage road I actually lifted my ass repeatedly out of the saddle to lessen the impact. Bottles, cages, tools, tubes, tires, were everywhere.

Saw quite a few course marshals, also saw a lot of blatant drafting. Several pelotons flew by during the course of the race. I read that roughly 10% of the field received at least one penalty, probably wasn't enough.

I did hold a very consistent pace throughout. First hour, according to my computer, was 19.8, second at 19.9, with the remainder at 19.7. The last 5-6 miles I took super easy, trying to settle down for the run.

Nothing really notable to report. Aside from the stiff neck, and a bit of saddle numbness, my only issue was what felt like a blister forming on the ball of my right foot. Was guessing it was from the sand, but it never materialized.

Lots of support along the course, rang my bell a plenty, generally had a good time and enjoyed the ride.

Bike Time - 2:47:50 (20.0 mph)
Overall Place - 688/1206
Age Group Place - 115/139

Transition Two - 3:19
Turned the last corner of the bike route and removed my shoes. Half way down the final hill I swung a leg over and coasted to the dismount line where I nearly rear ended a rider in front of me. Oops. Transition was largely uneventful, family was there again cheering me on. Took off the long sleeve and opted for the sleeveless loose fitting shirt I typically run in.

Run
This is where the race gets interesting. I actually knew quite a few people racing, and I hadn't had the chance to see any of them on the swim or bike. The run, basically being a double out and back, really gave you a chance to see everyone and get/give the support needed at this stage of a race. Racing against, errrrrrr with, friends was a lot of fun.

Came out of T2 feeling really good. First lap went by without much issue. It was tough, but with walking through all the aid stations and parts of the two bigger hills, it was manageable. Made the turn for the second loop at roughly 62 minutes.

The second lap was another story altogether. Walked most of the two bigger hills this time, but up until about mile 11, still managed to run everything between the aid stations. The pace was definitely falling off, the walk breaks were a bit longer, and it was getting harder to continue running. Tried coke on the run early in the second loop, didn't sit well it all, but it wasn't crippling either.

Then I did something really dumb, don't remember exactly where. But decided to try coke a second time. I've heard so many good things about it during IM runs, had to see if it would work for me. Still in an aid station, I took a couple of sips and immediately new it wasn't going to work and went to pitch it.

They have these things, they look like temporary event garbage cans. Maybe 2-feet square and 3-feet tall, lined with clear plastic bags. Being the nice guy that I am I tossed it into the can instead of on the ground like all the other slobs. As soon as it left my hand I realized what I had done. The can was the drinking water supply for the aid station. I watched the cup/coke fly through the air as if in slow motion. Somewhat embarrassed, I kept moving and never looked back. Makes me wonder though about drinking water at aid stations. I can't be the only one.

At about the 11-mile mark a side stitch made its presence known. It quickly turned into an almost unbearable pain. Took one break midway to the last aid station, where I stopped for a bathroom break. The last mile was bearable, if only because of the long downhill, the impending finish, and support from the crowd.

Run Time - 2:08:44 (9:50/mile)
Overall Place - 840/1206
Age Group Place - 117/139

Conclusion
Big PR, I guess, have a hard time taking it at face value due to the short swim course, but even adding 15 minutes to get me up to a more normal swim time, I still easily broke 6 hours and met my 2:11 run goal, even if that part of it wasn't pretty.

Total Time - 5:33:57
Overall Place - 119/139
Age Group Place - 769/1206

Contrary to Kansas, I was extremely sore post race and even now. I have some additional thoughts and will post some pictures once I get them organized.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Racine

Combine a ridiculously short swim course, an incredibly flat bike course, and a mostly overcast and cool run, and apparently I can put together a respectable half iron time

Swim - 31:29 (1:29/100yd) yeah right
Bike - 2:47:50 (20.0 mph)
Run - 2:08:44 (9:50/mile)
Total - 5:33:57

Full report to come in a couple days.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ITC / SoR


Insane Terrain Challenge
A friend of a friend of my wife had an entry for ITC that wasn't going to be used and it found its way to me.  And so I found myself at the starting line at 6:30 Saturday Morning, not quite ready to take on 75 miles of hilly hell.

ITC is put on by the same people that put on HHH.  ITC however, is not the same event as HHH.  For one, the field was much smaller.  When the ride started there were maybe 50 people at the start line. When I arrived and later left the first rest stop there were maybe 30 bikes there.  At the second, maybe 20 at the most.  Normally I wouldn't complain about a small field, but when you don't know the route, are riding alone, and don't have anyone on the course to follow, it kind of sucks.

Course markings were largely adequate, but were missing from at least a couple of turns.  Rest stop food was adequate, but the post race spread was disappointing to say the least.   I could have also used a mechanic at either of the rest stops, saw none.  Also disappointing.

Anyway, ride was good.  I don't think it was as difficult as HHH.  There were definitely some challenging climbs, but not the leg burning hell that I remember of HHH.  I did get off course for the last 15 or so miles after missing a turn.  Then, being annoyed that I had been lost and riding by myself, decided to cut out the last loop and then walk up the final hill into the park, ending my ride at just over 70 miles.  I quite likely missed some tough climbs coming back in.

As if my experience with the event wasn't enough, I found out this morning that a rider was killed during the same ride when a 16-year old turned left in front of him on a long downhill.  Obviously not the fault of the organizers, but it leaves a sour note for the event none the less.   Sigh.

Spirit of Racine
On a happier note, the Spirit of Racine triathlon is this weekend.  Many of the people I've trained with regularly over the last months are also partaking so it should be a good time.  The Lake Michigan swim is a little nerve racking, but I'm not concerned about anything else.

Once again, my only real goal is to run the half marathon in less that 2:11 (10 minute miles).  If I can manage this I'll have had a good race.  I'd like to break six hours, but everything will have to come together perfectly to do so, and if don't run sub 2:11, it'll never happen.  So 2:11 is the goal, won't hit 5:xx without hitting 2:11.  I hope to go out with the same relaxed, have fun attitude that I took into Kansas.  My bike bell will make its presence known Sunday.

Have fun, and be careful out there.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Devil's Lake

Anna had mentioned the need to do a longish open water swim this weekend. With the water quality of the Madison lakes always in question, I had the bright idea of heading up to Devil's Lake for a morning swim.


And so we did. Headed out of Madison Sunday about 6:00 am for the ride up. Nice morning, calm lake. Started at the south beach. After some discussion about directions, distances, etc., basically said the hell with it, lets just swim to the north beach and then back (pretty much the longest possible way across the lake). I had guessed it to be about a mile one way, turns out I was off a bit, probably closer to 1-1/4 miles one way.


Water was cold but tolerable, relatively clear, but visibility still wasn't as good as I had expected. Nothing too exciting to report, just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Took it at a nice easy pace. Nearing the north beach we came across one swimmer heading the other way. Turns out there were probably 10-20 others heading south that we had completely missed and only noticed once we stopped.


After a 10-minute break, and much discussion about alternate routes back, we headed south for the return leg. Again nothing too exciting. I don't know what changed coming back, but I was no longer keeping pace with Anna very well. Either she picked it up or I was slowing down. Still felt fine, little tired but not bad considering the amount of time in the water.


Eventually made it back to the south beach. Total swim time 1:43 and change, 51 minutes out, 52 minutes back in. Not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but 2.4 miles+ in the water. This makes me happy. Now I just need to do it on race day with 2000 of my closest friends trying to beat the hell out of me.


Regardless, I'd really like to do this swim 4-5 more times over the next 10 weeks. If anyone is interested please let me know.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Double Double

Posted my first career non race day double double yesterday. 44 miles on the bike followed by 10+ by foot. There will be no pursuing the elusive triathlon triple double, that would be crazy. The swim alone would take me all day.

The morning started out innocently enough. Met up with Anna and Deanna with the plan to do a long brick. Both are getting ready for Spirit of Racine, their first half, and wanted to get a long brick in before tapering for the race. I didn't ask specifics, was just happy to have company for the morning workout.

Ride was easy enough. Racine is supposed to be a flat course so Anna mapped out a relatively flat route out of Madison, through Cottage Grove and Stoughton, before heading back up to Madison. Felt like we rode at a pretty good clip the entire way and I managed to keep my heart rate in check for the entire ride. Nice morning, air was muggy and thick, but tolerable.

Back to Anna's house for transition to run and we're off. I actually felt pretty good at this point. Half way into the first mile I asked how far they were planning on running. 10 miles was the answer. Gulp. I hadn't mentally prepared for 10 miles.

I complained (a lot), but the first 5 miles were not bad. The girls were running at a pretty good pace (9:10's) and even though they kept promising to slow down, they never did. At one point I may have called a motorist an asshole because he stopped at a crosswalk allowing us to keep running, 3 seconds of walking would have been much appreciated.

It only got worse on the second half, and the last three miles were pretty much hell. I searched high and low for a valid reason to stop and walk but never found one. It was hard, but other than general soreness, nothing really hurt, so suck it up I did. Finished 10.34 miles at a 9:07/mile pace.

That run turned what likely would have been a one nap afternoon into a two nap afternoon. I was tired.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Whole Nine Yards

It was actually quite a bit more than that, but I don't have the mental capacity right now to do the math.

Got up at the crack of dawn Saturday morning to tackle the IM bike course with Kristen. The entire 112. Met up at Law Park at 5:30 and headed out. My running buddy Anna joined us for the leg out and the first loop before turning and heading back. Picked up Phil in Verona for both loops and much of the ride back up.

Kristen did a fine job of summarizing our ride here. I'm pretty tired, so I'm not going to elaborate on it much. I will say that good company makes 7-hours on a bike so much more tolerable.

It was hard, it was fun. Somewhere on the second loop I had that aha moment. I've felt tinges of it before, but Saturday it hit me full bore. That feeling that I could really do this. That ironman was in my grasp.

Made it back to Madison after about 7-hours in the saddle and headed out for a short run. Two miles in I called it a day and jumped in the lake, literally. The heat was really getting to me and the lake was calling. Could have been the best decision I made all day.

This morning I got up and joined the WIBA group for a partial run course preview. Put in about 9-miles. It was a little hillier than I would have thought. Finally met up with XT4, a fellow Stoughtonite, and ran and chatted with him for a couple of miles. Ran the last 5-6 miles with another girl from NYC (whose name I can't remember for the life of me). But that statement I made about good company on the bike, sames goes for the run. Was a good morning.

11 weeks to go, damn it's getting close, still much work to be done.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hell on a Bike

That's my take on HHH Saturday. Horrible is right, some of those hills were downright ridiculous. Picture putting it in the granny gear, turning the pedals over at 40-50 rpm, while simultaneously seeming to try and push your feet through the bottom of your shoes and rip your handlebars from the bike. At times for miles at a crack. Expletives were flowing freely from all fronts.

Oh, and it was hot and humid, with not much in the way of cloud cover. So full sun, high humidity, and ridiculous hills. Joy.

Did have the pleasure of riding with some good company. First 40 or so miles it was myself and Amy Jo. At the second rest stop we met up with some others, including lazy marathoner, who had flown in from New York for a week of IM training Wisconsin style.

The downhills were a blast, many times reaching the 4o mph mark while not really trying. But after about 30 miles even the downhills started to lose their appeal. If we were doing downhill it only meant another stupid climb was around the corner.

AJ was having major bike problems until the first rest stop where the REI mechanics did a hell of job on her bike. As a result we walked up portions of two hills. After that I made it up every hill without having to walk, including the final climb through the park. I did stop at the top of a lot of them to regain my composure, but I made it up, and for that I am happy.

Total distance covered, 66.82 miles. Total time actually riding (there was much rest), 4:48:35. Average pace, 13.9 mph. There were many times climbing hills I would look down and state "I can run faster than this". There were even a couple times I realized I could walk faster than I was currently riding.

Saturday I'm contemplating taking on the full IM course with many of the same crew I rode with yesterday. Should feel like a peace of cake by comparison.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Aquathon #2

Last night was Aquathon #2. Water was much warmer this time, upper 60's by one report. Didn't really warm-up, splashed around in the water briefly to get acclimated, swam maybe 50 yards.

Swim
The buoys looked like they were a lot closer than normal so I went out my way to swim an extra 1-200 yards, you know just to make it right. Actually my goggles half fogged up and I couldn't see shit for most of the swim and ended up all over the place, frustrating.

Put myself in the middle of pack and planned to try and draft as much as possible. I had a couple of brief moments of success, but they never lasted very long. With my goggles fogged it was good to be in the pack. Being surrounded by others I at least knew I was going somewhat in the right direction, still wasn't able to relax and just swim though. Not being able to see really screws with my mind.

Came into transition at 19:25. Slower than last time, but still well ahead of my Kansas pace. Not sure what is going on there. I kind of wish I would have taken splits on the Kansas swim to see if I slowed down at all on the second half. Oh well.

Transition
No issues. Was relieved to see that G was out on the run course. I thought I would spot her in transition while walking out of the lake, turns out she was already gone. Time of 1:32.

Run
Another sufferfest, not necessarily from a pace standpoint, but it was a tough run for me. Some heat, high humidity, a ton of little bugs providing protein I didn't really want or need, and a general desire to not be running. Not sure what it was, but I really didn't want to be running last night.

Had some slight hope of catching G when I made the last turn on the out portion prior to the turn around without seeing her. But she appeared way to soon and was probably close to a 1/2 mile ahead of me at that point, twas not to be.

Walked through the water station at the turn around for a drink, then again for about half the final hill. If I wouldn't have gotten passed by two men I probably would have walked the entire hill. Ended up repassing one of them and a couple of women prior to the finish. Run time was 26:24 (8:31/mile). Total time was 47:20.

Stopped for pizza downtown at Paissons (sp?). It was ok, nothing terribly special about it. Tonight is Relay for Life in Stoughton. So I get to potentially stay up all night and maybe even run a 5k at 3am. Tomorrow is HHH. Still thinking I'm going for 200k, little scared right now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kansas Recap

This could end up getting pretty long, my apologies in advance.

Headed out of Madison for Kansas Thursday morning about 6:30, arrived after a largely uneventful trip at roughly 3:30 in the afternoon and set up camp. One of the first things that struck me was this sign on the doors of the bathroom / shower buildings in the campground.

So how exactly am I supposed to get my bike clean in a pit toilet? And why on earth would I want to try?

Turns out there were spigots with drinking water at all the pit toilets. So now instead of washing my bike in a pit toilet, I'm getting my drinking water from a spigot adjacent to one, much better.

Friday morning I got up and went for a run along portions of the run course with Patrick in tow on his bike. Nothing to exciting. After breakfast we headed down to the lake for a practice swim. Other than a small water snake causing some excitement among some other swimmers and families, the swim was fine. Water was comfortably warm, visibility sucked, but I'm used to swimming in murky water, so no big deal.

Headed into town and ate a good portion of a pig at Arthur Bryant's for lunch. Yum. If you ever get into Kansas City it is well worth a trip into the inner city for their pig. There is a reason this restaurant is world famous. I'm sure there are other restaurants in KC with equally good barbecue, but I have a hard time not going back to AB's.

The rest of Friday was spent visiting friends in KC, generally relaxing and having a good time.

Saturday morning G was planning on going out for a run and I mentioned that a 5k/10k race was going right through the campground (starting in less than 45 minutes). So we marched down to registration and got her signed up for the 5k.

G had a great race, finishing I believe 2nd in her age group (losing by less than a minute), 9th among women, and maybe 35th overall out of 200+. I could be wrong on the numbers, but I think I'm pretty close, as I've heard the details repeatedly since, along with constant complaints about how sore her feet are. I've been largely unsympathetic on the latter.

Later Saturday morning I went and got registered and checked out expo. Went back to the campground and got Wilson prepped for the race, including one last ride through the campground and out and about enough to know that everything was working right. Bikes needed to be in transition Saturday afternoon so Patrick and I rode down and dropped it off.

A short run back up to the campsite from transition ended my prerace workouts. Half way back Patrick and I stopped to walk through a big ass military helicopter that landed near expo while I was out on the bike. Cool bird.

The rest of Saturday was pretty low key. I made a considerable effort to eat and drink more than normal. Including our last big meal mid-afternoon. We headed into Lawrence for some shopping and wandering before heading back to camp for a relatively early night to bed.

Sunday morning came damn early. I actually slept fairly well, but was still up prior to the alarm going off at 4:45. Woke, made myself a PB&J sandwich, and headed to transition 2. This race had two separate transition areas, one for swim to bike, and a second, totally separated, for bike to run. This was a bit of pain prerace, but I actually really liked it once race came.

So all the run stuff came with me to transition 2. Once there I organized it all in my race bag, made sure nothing I needed in transition 1 was left behind, then zipped up the bag and put it all in a garbage bag. I had been watching the radar rather closely, and was convinced at some point we were going to get hammered with rain. If that were the case, I at least wanted dry shoes and socks to put on for the run.

Headed back to camp for my swim bag and everything I needed for the bike and made my way to transition 1 to set all that up. Back to camp one last time (we were just up the hill from t1, really nice in that regard) for I don't remember what. Family was up and getting ready for the day.



The kids and I at the campsite prior to heading down to the start. Look at all that energy. And yes, my future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.




Me waiting for my swim wave to go off. I think this look is half asleep mixed with cautiously optimistic, a hint of excitement, and maybe a pinch of scared shitless. I'm not real sure, I don't recognize it.
Race time, I know, finally.
I was actually remarkably calm. I think not setting time goals really allowed me to just relax and not get all worked up about the race. I was in the second or third to the last wave of swimmers, so lots of time to wait, even got to see the pros come in from the swim and head out on the bike, kind of cool, but not much different than watching any other competent triathlete.
Swim
Lined up on the ramp behind the green caps ahead of us. Once they went off we were herded into the water like a bunch of cattle. Had enough time to acclimate to the water and get in a couple of strokes. Lined up on the outside maybe 10-yards back from the buoy line.
And we're off, that's me on the right side, middle of picture, black wetsuit, white cap.
Short version. I was really happy with my swim. Swam relatively straight, but stayed to the outside the entire time. Only stopped swimming twice, once about 5-minutes in just to get my bearings, and a second time on the way back in when I swallowed a couple gallons of lake water trying to get a breath.
I did catch an elbow in the nose right at the start, had a little more contact early, some at the turns, but other than that it was just a relaxed easy swim. Water was perfect, siting was good.
My only disappointment with the swim came when I finally looked at my watch coming out of the water. I had purposely avoided looking at it during the swim just because I didn't want it to impact my mindset and stroke. The swim was so smooth and easy that I was certain I had swam at least 3-4 minutes faster.
Swim time - 46:20 (2:11/100)
Overall place - 1245/1449
Men - 941/1079
Age Group - 199/231

Transition 1
Coming out of the water I stripped my wetsuit to my waist and headed straight to a porta potty. I really had to piss coming out of the water. I tried while swimming but I just couldn't relax enough while moving, and I wasn't willing to stop, so the porta potty it was.
Made my way down the racks and promptly forgot my number and therefore, bike location. After a brief moment it came back and I made my way over to the bike.


I believe I'm stepping out of my wetsuit (grey shirt, black shorts). This is where I really like the separate transition areas. I had a long walk from my rack location to the mount line so I put the shoes on the bike before hand. My helmet and sunglasses were on the aerobars. The only thing under the bike was an empty gatorade bag for my wetsuit, goggles, etc.

So stuff the wetsuit in the bag, helmet and glasses on and we're on our way. Despite my bathroom break and temporary memory loss, transition 1 was my best event relative to the field.

Transition time - 3:04 Overall place - 462/1449
Men - 338/1079
Age group - 76/231

Bike

I've mounted my bike plenty of times with the shoes already in the pedals, but this was the first time I've done it in a race. Fortunately it went off without issue.

Let me preface this portion of the report by saying I have no idea where this ride came from. In training this year I've had one 17 mph training ride (a one way ride with a tailwind) Everything else has hovered in the upper 15 range, maybe lower 16's if everything was perfect. So to pull off an 18.5 mph pace is amazing to me.

First, loved the course. I'd ride it any day of the week and twice on Sundays over the IM Wisconsin course under similar weather conditions. It wasn't flat by any stretch of the imagination, but none of the hills were terribly difficult, and the rode surface was as nice as anything I've ridden. Anyone that tells you it is as hard as Wisconsin is full of shit. End of story.

So I come out of transition with the plan to go easy, heartrate was high, pace was fast, but by pure feel I didn't feel like I was pushing hard at all. So I kept at it and didn't worry about it much. Kept an eye on heartrate trying to get it down, the other eye on cadence, trying to keep it in a reasonable range.

Nutrition was going to be the biggest obstacle from this point forward. I made the stupid mistake of running out of Infinit in the weeks prior to the race and my new supply didn't arrive before we left town. I had hoped to pick some up at race expo, but didn't have any luck. So now I have none of the only nutrition I've ever used for longer rides, great.

Found some other stuff at expo, Accelerade I think. Mixed up two bottles of it, and planned to use it plus whatever I could from the aid stations. At the first I grabbed a Gu, chocolate, kind of gross, at the second aid station vanilla Gu found it's way to my hand, better. By the last aid station I was through my Accelerade, so I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade and another Gu, tangerine I think, not bad. Love grabbing stuff on the go from volunteers, didn't miss a single hand off and didn't really slow down either.

Bike itself was going well, somewhere between the 10 and 20 mile marks we hit the first out and back portion of the course, it was great having the distraction of oncoming riders to watch while going out. I didn't pass a lot of people, but the majority of those I did I passed going up hills. Riding hills has paid off, felt like a mountain goat compared to some out there. I'm sure HHH next week will eliminate that feeling.

Around the 45-mile mark my stomach started to cramp. I'm guessing because of the Gatorade, never really gotten along with the Endurance formula, but I can't really say for sure. Leg's still felt good and I was having fun, talking to other riders along the way, ringing my bell at spectators and volunteers whenever I could remember. I didn't use it on any other competitors, just didn't have the heart to. But the kids along the route seemed to really get a kick out of it.

At the 50 or 51 mile mark we hit the last major climb of the ride, one that took us up to the damn for the reservoir we swam in. I've read about this hill for months now and had it in the back of mind for the entire ride. I was very relieved to find it wasn't that bad or that long.

Easy 5 miles back into the park and I'm ready to run. Bike had other ideas, just after the 55-mile mark was one last downhill followed immediately by a short climb. Three quarters of the way up my chain falls off. I may have let a few expletives fly, but it was my only trouble on the whole ride so I'll take it.

Chain back on, finish the climb, feet out of shoes, coast to the dismount line standing on one pedal and almost entirely ready to run.

Bike time - 3:02:03 (18.5 mph)
Overall place - 919/1449
Men - 775/1079
Age group - 167/231




Transition 2
What I failed to mention so far, the rain I expected never came. And maybe 20-minutes prior to getting off the bike the clouds parted and the sun made it's presence known. It was now hot, full sun, and I was looking at 13.1 miles with little if any shade. Joy.

Anyway, ran to my spot and racked my bike. Sat down an pulled my race bag out of the garbage bag, on go the socks, shoes, running shorts, and shirt. Pull the garmin off the bike, visor on, walked to transition exit.

Transition time - 2:46
Overall place - 869/1449
Men - 674/1079
Age group - 153/231






Run
Run turned into a suffer fest for me. Headed out of T2 at an easy pace and my stomach cramps
immediately amplified to a point that made running very uncomfortable. Walked all the aid stations and many points in between. Ran when I could. This is the only picture I actually like.

Must have been the first time past our campsite, as I actually still look like I'm doing ok. Between the stomach and the sun I went downhill fairly quickly. Lots of water went over my head. Drank some water, one cup of coke (the only time I found it), ate a couple of pretzels. But was scared to consume anything else for fear of it coming back out.

So I ran when I could, walked when I had to, talked to and encouraged others as I went. As much as I hurt, it was still relatively enjoyable. Amazing thing was the time went by relatively quickly. Sad thing is my legs and feet felt really good throughout, even through the last couple of miles. If it hadn't been for the stomach issues I feel I could have cranked out a really nice run. I'm starting to have a lot more respect for those of you who can put together a decent run at the end of these longer races.

Run time - 2:20:14 (10:42/mile)
Overall place - 1104/1449
Men - 839/1079
Age group - 183/231

Finish
Coming into the finish was a huge relief, I started 40 minutes after the pros, thus the discrepancy on the clock.



Done


How tired was I? Didn't even register that none other than Chrissie Wellington (IM champion, female winner of today's race, and seemingly all around good person) placed the medal over my head. I'm such a tool.


Total time - 6:14:27

Overall - 1061/1449

Men - 834/1079
Age group - 181/231

Closing Thoughts
I have absolutely no complaints about this race at all. Course was great, volunteers were awesome, etc, etc. To top it off, it's now two days later and I feel great. The stomach took a good 24-36 hours to really get back to normal. Legs were a bit stiff after periods of sitting in the car yesterday, but nothing bad at all.

I put almost 17 miles on the bike after work today and then another 2 running. There was a little soreness at the start of the run, but nothing unusual and it went away pretty quick. I'll take it as a good sign that I'm doing something right. Need to get the nutrition back on track.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Done, done, and done

Unofficial results

Swim - 0:46
Bike - 3:02
Run - 2:20

Total - 6:14ish

Tired, sore, but happy. Full report once we get home.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kansas or Bust

The van is packed beyond full and we're leaving for Kansas is less than 6-hours.

I'm feeling better about the race than I was two weeks ago. Not because I'm in any better shape than I was two weeks ago, I think I just got my head in the right place. I have no serious time goals, pretty much a first for me. I'm going to do whatever I can to go out and just enjoy it while still actually racing.

On that end, I finally tracked down the brass bike bell I purchased at Bike-O-Rama a couple of months ago. I think I searched the house three times this week looking for it. It's my reminder to have fun, and it's actually pretty loud. I installed it on the rear end of my aerobars right behind the cups. Out of the way but easy enough to get to. My wife thinks I've lost my mind, my daughter loves it.

So fair warning, if your race wheels cost more than my bike and I happen to pass you, I may just have to ring the bell.

I do have a run goal. I want to pull off the half marathon at the end in less than 2:11, 10-minute miles. Setting this goal, and only this goal, will hopefully force me to dial it back on the bike just a bit and have enough left to run at the end. I expect to finish somewhere between 6:15 and 6:30 (0:45, 3:15-3:30, 2:10 + transitions).

If you happen to be at the race stop by and look us up. Campsite #91. Gold van, two loud kids running around. I'll post a quick recap via Blackberry Sunday afternoon, but a full race report likely won't surface until Monday or Tuesday after we return.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May / June

Trend wise May took on a similar look as last year. I biked a whole lot more, ran a bit less, and really slacked in the pool

Swim
Even though I only swan about 22,000 yards, sometime during the month I did surpase the 50 mile mark for 2009. Maybe not a big deal for the swimmers out there, but for me it's a big number. Last year I put in just over 60 miles total, as of today I sit at 52 for 2009.

Did get in a couple of open water swims up at Lake Kegonsa. I've heard the blue-green algae is in full bloom already so I don't know how much I'll be able to swim there this year. It sucks, the nicer it is outside the less I want to spend time in the pool, and Kegonsa is by far my easiest option for open water swimming.

Bike
Big miles this month, close to 450, by far my largest month to date. Not getting any faster, but starting to get in some quality long rides as well as commuting to the office a couple of times per week. It's easy to rack up miles doing this, the nicer the weather gets, the more I'll be commuting, win-win situation. Love riding in in the morning when it's warm enough.

Went in for a fitting at Chronometro maybe two weeks ago. They didn't make a ton of adjustments, but so far it's been working out pretty well. Seat came up and forward a bit, one cleat adjustment, and some fairly major changes to the aerobars. It was a good experience.
Long rides are going ok, trying to spend as much time on the IMoo bike course as possible. Last weekend that meant 71 miles starting and ending near the terrace. I've had a couple other decent rides as well, but nothing else over 55 miles.

Run
Similar to the pool, I slacked a bunch on the run as well, not getting in nearly the volume the plan calls for. Ended up at ~89 miles for the month, down slightly from last month. The will to go out and run is becoming harder and harder to find. If anyone wants to join me for a mile or eight please let me know. I'd love to have company more frequently. Pace is negotiable.

June
Summer is arriving and the season is starting to get interesting. Not going to run the Blue Mounds Trail Run next weekend do to conflicts with kids schedules. The week following we head to Kansas for my first real test of the year, looking forward to it, even if I am a bit freaked out at times.

Aquathon #2 on 6/18, my wife has a team set up for Relay for Life on 6/19. then I'm signed up for the 200k at the Horribly Hilly Hundreds bike ride on 6/20. Not sure what I was thinking on that one. Then the last weekend in June WIBA comes to town.

Gidde up.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Date Night

Thursday night was the first Aquathon of the year. I convinced G to sign both of us up for the series. Seemed like a good excuse to get out of the house and get some open water swim practice in as well.

Let me preface this report by saying I've had no thought of ever being able to beat G in one of these races. With her swimming background she is simply too fast in the water, and I'm really not any faster by foot. Soooooooo......

Prerace
I arrived at the race site straight from work about two hours early. Had the bike in the truck so I went for an easy 1 hour ride along the lake. Nice ride, but I really don't like riding in Madison. Way to much traffic. Back to the race site I checked in and got body marked. Had no desire to get in the water, it was f'ng cold.

G arrived not particularly happy about the situation, cold water, not exactly warm day. Mentioned multiple times how crazy this was. To her credit, between the two of us, she was the first one in the water, actually swimming a couple hundred yards. I on the other hand got in with about ten minutes left, did just a couple of strokes, and pretty quickly got out. Cold water, somebody told G 58 degrees.

Swim
Beach start, waded in rather slowly while all the crazies ran in ahead of us. The first 3-4 minutes were the worst. The cold completely took my breath away, apparently my brief dip earlier did not acclimate me to the water. So it was swim a couple strokes, stop to breath, repeat.

Hands fairly quickly went numb (feet were numb before the start), but I was able to get the breathing under control and swim. Drank way to much lake water, as it was just choppy enough to be a problem. Sighting was actually not to bad, I swam wide for most of the race, but felt I at least was swimming in a straight line.

Coming into the beach I noticed a lot of people walking in so after a bit more swimming I joined them, stood up, and began the wetsuit peeling process. Was good to be out of the water. According to my watch I touched land at 18:12, my fastest swim at this race ever. I'm convinced the course was short, I never swim that fast, much less 1/2 frozen. I've been meaning to look at average swim times at last years races for comparison, but haven't got around to it yet.

Transition
Anyway, heading into transition is where it hit me. G's running stuff is still here. Oh shit, something is seriously wrong. No way I beat her out of the water. Look at the lake (without glasses), useless. Finish getting ready to run, still no G. Now I'm really starting to get worried.

Stand around and wait, finally after about 3 minutes she walks into transition. Panic attack is how she put it, the combination of congestion and cold (and lack of much open water experience in my opinion) was too much. She mentioned holding onto a kayak at several points and doing the backstroke for most of it. Tough swim, it reminded much of my first experience at this race last year.

Run
I left G in transition after a brief conversation and went out to run. Had bad side stitches for the entire thing. I'm guessing too much lake water. Stopped at the turn around to retie my shoes (read, excuse to stop) then ran it back in, passing G shortly after the turn. On the home stretch I looked down at my ankles and noticed I didn't have a timing chip. Shit, shit, shit. Not that I was going to win it or anything, but it's nice to have official results. Crossed the line at 49:30 after a 27:00 minute run. Not a stellar effort, but I'll take it.

Post Race
Headed downtown and ate at Restaurant Muramoto for what was easily the best meal we've had in a long time. Highly recommend it, if you're willing to try some things that may be a bit close to the edge.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Half Time

Madison Half Marathon this morning. Beautiful day, probably started in the low 50's, upper 60's by the time we finished. Few clouds, some sun, one very brief sprinkle, good day for a run.

Short version, went out with some friends and the 2-hour pace group. Two of us ditched the 2-hour group about 7-miles in. Although it wasn't hot, I was struggling to stay cool. I think it was the aid station at the 4-mile mark where I first dumped water on my head. I repeated that process three other times during the race. More water went over my head then into me.

I never really was thirsty, but I should have made more of an attempt to get some calories in. By the end I was dead, no gas left in the tank, and no kick for the finish line. Other than the first mile, where it was so congested it was hard to get up to speed, mile 13 was my slowest at 9:09. Mile 9 was my fastest at 8:27, followed by mile 11 at 8:31. I guess those two stretches may have had something to do with me dieing at the end.

The results, which I'm thrilled with by the way.

Overall - 1,108/3,685 (finishers)

Men - 715/1503

Age Group - 128/258


Total Time: 1:55:03 (8:47/mile)

After hanging around the finish line and the cool down area for a bit, I did what any normal triathlete would do after running a half marathon, I rode my bike home. Nothing serious, a fairly easy 16-mile "cool down" ride. Legs are definitely sore now, tomorrow should be interesting.

Friday, May 22, 2009

3 x 11 x 3 x 23 x 3

That would be by number for the Madison half marathon Sunday, 6831.  If you see me out there stop by and say hi.  Will be wearing blue shorts, orange sleeveless shirt, white visor.  Probably be half asleep prerace, half dead post race.

Looking to break two hours.  If I get through the first couple miles without issue I think I can do it.  The weather appears to be favorable. 

Good luck to all racing this weekend.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I can't take it!

I sent the following email (with the above subject line) to by boss's boss last night after coming home from the pool. His son swims on the club team which has invaded my pool.


Can you please remove your club team from my swimming pool. It's humbling, if not down right embarrassing to swim next to them. Are they really that fast, or am I really that slow?

How long before your pool is back up? I don't think I can get back in the pool with them.

Holy crap those kids are fast. Felt like I was going backwards. Four lanes with 4+ kids per lane, and every one of them absolutely dusting me lap after lap. Back, butterfly, breast, didn't matter what stroke they were doing. No way in hell I could even think of holding their pace.

I'm used to swimming in a nearly empty pool, quite often I'm the only one there, especially near the end. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to share a lane with anyone. Yes, I'm lucky in that respect. So to now swim in a crowded pool with a ton of fast kids, extremely humbling.

As cold as the lakes still are, open water swimming is looking that much more appealing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Meaningless Milestone #1

With last nights run, I've surpassed my total run mileage from last year.  In 2008, I ran a total of 309.2 miles in 55 hours, 37 minutes, and 4 seconds, for an average pace of 10:47.  So far this year I've run a total of 310.35 miles in 51 hours, 34 minutes, and 39 seconds, for an average pace of 9:58.  I'm guessing that by the time 2009 is through I'll have run close to 900 miles.  Ouch.

I suspect that I'll eclipse my 2008 swim and bike totals in either late May or early June if all goes well.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Have Fun

My wife tells me this every time I leave for the pool. I scoff, the pool is not fun. At least not this pool, under these circumstances.

But this training regiment, this journey towards Ironman. It should be fun, it should be enjoyable. With workout durations and intensities increasing, it's easy to forget this.

Yesterday on my ride home I encountered another rider on a side street in Madison. Nothing overly remarkable about him, middle aged man riding a 30 year old bike. But he had a huge grin on his face as he was doing big sweeping turns. Think of a skier coming down a groomed ski run, like that.

That should be me. Enjoying the moment. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely enjoying it big picture. I'm in better shape than I've ever been, doing things I never thought I'd do, I sleep better, and in general, I just feel better. But in the moment, while actually swimming, biking, or running, I definitely have difficulty remembering that this should be fun. That I should be enjoying this.

A couple of months ago I bought a little brass bell for my bike. I bought it just for this purpose. To remind myself to have fun and try not to take everything so seriously. I think it's time to install the bell.

Have fun out there. Smile. Laugh. If not at others, than at yourself. Life is to short.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bear Trax Photos

Couple of pictures from the Bear Trax 20k last week.


I beleive this is coming into the finish line. I look (and felt) like crap, but check out the muscle definition in those legs.



If I remember correctly this is right at the end of mile 7, near the top of a really long hill. I remember wanting to roll the photographer down the hill for picking this particular location to take pictures.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

It's a Love Hate Thing

As much as I like having a good tailwind. I absolutely hate riding into it. Saturday's ride was a prime example. Plan was to ride out to Verona and back. There was a pretty stiff head wind pretty much all the way out.

To illustrate, coming up on twenty minutes into the ride I was already calculating how much I had left. "Almost 1/9th of the way done" was what went through my head. For you math whizzes out there, I was planning on riding three hours.

I hate it, hate it, hate it. It saps the energy out of me like nothing else. And I don't buy any of that bullshit about the wind being your friend either, so don't even try.

Regardless, I made it out to my turn around point in Verona at the 1:32 mark. Made it back along the exact same route in 1:11. Almost exact same average heart rate both ways. Stupid wind.

From my driveway it is 13.6 hilly miles to the IM bike course at the corner of Syene and Irish on the stick. I'd prefer to drive out to Verona and just ride the loop every week, but when time is short, like it was on Saturday, this route will have to suffice. Either way it will be nice to have the "home field advantage" come race day.

If anyone cares to come out and ride the course with me I'd welcome the company. Drop me a line and I'm sure we can work something out, as long as your willing to slow down to my paltry 15-16mph average pace.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

April

April, well, it kind of sucked. That's what I had been thinking anyway. I've been composing this post in my head for a good week now. It's always started with that same opening thought. But now that it is over I look over everything, I'm thinking maybe it wasn't all that bad.

The bad, I didn't make any of my time/distance goals I set for myself at the beginning of the month. I missed way to many workouts, including a couple of the big ones. Can't keep doing that. Averaged roughly 10-hours a week, maybe a bit more.

Swimming is coming along, missed hitting the 30k mark in April by 600 yards. I did manage to break 10-minutes for a 500 twice, roughly two weeks apart. First time was 9:59:40. Sub-10 is sub-10, and yes I was wearing my watch. More recently I did it in 9:46. Yeah me! I also did a 11:40 earlier this week, so I'm not getting to excited about it.

The stroke clinic was well worth it. Picked up a couple of things to work on. Body position is ok, catch and pull are weak. Need to work on keeping the elbows up. Haven't swam enough since last Saturday to know what impact it will have long term.

Running is still going strong. Hoped to hit 100-miles for the month, missed it by less than 5. Average pace for the month, including the hellish 20k trail run from last week, 9:17. Double yeah me! There were a couple of individual 10-minute miles sprinkled in, but all my runs in total came in at sub-10. Last April my average pace was 10:35. Big improvement. Looking forward to running the Madison 1/2 marathon at the end of May.

I took the bike off the trainer early in the month and refused to put it back on when the weather turned shitty. As a result I actually rode about 60 miles less than last month, for a grand total of 240 miles. I did get a couple of good long rides in, one loop of the Ironman course earlier in the month, then last week I rode from Madison to Verona and up through Sauk to Devils Lake.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm going to have to pony up the dollars and get a proper bike fit. I'm still slower than dirt, actually quite a bit slower than last year at this time even though I have significantly more miles in. I monkeyed with the fit some this winter on the trainer, and now self doubt is really creeping in about everything fit related. I meant to call Chronometro today but totally forgot. If nothing else it will get rid of the mental games going on in my head, at least the fit related ones.

So May is upon us, I hope to start commuting to work by bike regularly. Looking forward to getting in the lakes and out of the pool. Can't forget to keep running. Last May I ran 11.7 miles, total, that can't happen again. Really getting the itch to race, but still nothing on the schedule in the immediate future. Madison 1/2 marathon and I think the first Aquathon of the year. That's it for May.