"I like you. I'll gladly sit down and have dinner with you after the race. But when the gun goes off, I pretty much hate you, and I want to stomp your guts out. That's racing." -J Rapp

"the best night of my life.....
...in the most beautiful place on earth"

"It's just one, long, tedious conversation with yourself" -Paula Newby Fraser

"Have faith- trust in the plan - the breakthrough will come. I promise. " Woo

"You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime.” -Mark Allen

“The only time you can be brave is when you’re afraid.”

Monday, November 28, 2011

2011---Looking Back...

It feels so nice (but very weird) to finally not have an agenda when it comes to my triathlon life...heading home after work versus to the pool, onto the trainer, or into my running shoes.  Jenny asked me last night: "what's your plan for tomorrow?"  And I replied: "go to work, come home and be with you guys!"  I think it is just as weird for her as it is for me!  8 days post IMAZ, and I am already finding it hard to sit still.  Friday I rode 50 miles (Rio Verde Loop clockwise), saturday I swam 3000 and did some core exercises, and sunday I rode 50 again (Rio Verde Loop counterclockwise)...it's that fear of losing all this endurance, but really, it's been so nice out that it is just too hard to stay indoors...70's and sunny...this is why we live in Arizona!  Bottom line though, I need LOTS of rest to relight the fire, and get my legs back.

With the season done, I have had some time to decipher my 2011 triathlon life...there are a few things that I would have definitely done differently, to say the least.  My year started with 2 big running events...PF Changs Marathon, and Ragnar Relay Del Sol Ultra Team.  This year, neither is on the race schedule.  I think hammering away at 2 long distance running events (Ragnar Relay: I ran 23 miles, then had to pull out at the final exchange---I thought I had torn my calf muscle---literally popped and I couldn't even step without 10+ pain...thanks again to Bill Jones for finishing it up, but not before he was led off course, thus putting his mileage at 40+ miles in a 24 hour period).  The biggest "lesson learned" this year was tied to this, and was all related to recovery and fatigue; I think these two events put a fair share of fatigue deep into my legs early in the season.  Fast forward to IMAZ, and my legs were overdone.

After those two events I think I recognized some warning signs...at Marquee 70.3 turned duathlon, I felt less than athletic, and survived on sheer willpower to complete the run.  I recovered a bit after that, but it was hard to tell as my next races were Olympic Distance.  The big test of the fall season was Mountain Man 70.3 in Flagstaff, and although the result (due to a poor run) was not indicative, I was feeling good and led the race from the gun until mile 30 on the bike...I actually ended up running with the leader half way through the run (Ryan McGuigan of Team Trisports.com), but my nutrition plan seemed to backfire on me, leading to a 5th place finish.   I left this race leaving no questions about where my swim was...I had the fastest swim split of the day (my crowning achievement of the year...kind of).  My bike was solid, but not anything to celebrate, and my run suffered---I'll reference that early season block of running races to blame.  Next up was Nathan's Olympic, and I was feeling very good there...2 weeks out from Kona, and all things were great, which is what we wanted of course with the two "A Races" of the year coming.

Andrew was born Sept 18th, I was off to Kona on Sept 28...I was feeling great going into Kona---how could I not?!  Taper for Kona was absolutely perfect--my legs felt perfect, my swim was feeling lightning fast.  Now that I know, I lined up wrong on the swim (NEVER line up on the inside, 2nd row regardless of how fast you are...you will get crushed all the way out), but was still loving every minute.  Bike went well, but then came the intercostal cramps on the run that just shut me down---it was the only issue in Kona, but it was enough, and brought me to a sudden walk/run pace that at least allowed me to squeak under 10 hours---again happy, but I trained  and felt like I had a much better day in me IF those cramps didn't come my way.  A huge IF to figure out though.  Salt?  Too much? Not enough?  PERFORM messing me up???  When that day comes again, so race simulation may be needed to see if it happens again.  When I started back into the sport a year and a half ago, and choosing to jump right into Ironman racing, I always knew that nutrition was considered the "fourth discipline" in IM...now with 3 of them under my belt, I have learned that it is the most important.  I think it is manageable when you think of calories in and hydration, but the salt issue is where the confusion is.  I know if I stick to just First Endurance products, there is never an issue (and hence my solution); I should leave it at that, use my special needs to keep those products flowing...it is that simple.  I wish I could say that PERFORM works for me, but it just doesn't.  I think I will dive into this in the off season---probably dedicate a post to finding out just what is the difference and why the problem arises for me and so many others...

So, do you think it's better to line up on the buoy line?  Or how about anywhere else other than the buoy line!  Next time ;-)

With Kona done, 6 weeks came and went, and IMAZ was here....the training in between was tough, but didn't faze me...I wonder if anything would have fazed me after the "year in training" that I had put in.  Taper for IMAZ did NOT go as my previous 2 Ironmans, and my result, while a 9:42 is nothing to shake a stick at, was pretty much the worse possibility for the day.   20/20 is always hindsight, and I really have come to an agreement that the consistent (meaning: NO BREAK) training of the past 18 months finally was catching up to me and affecting me in obvious ways.  Bryan Dunn told me a few times I should have called it a season after IMAZ, but I am not one to back down just because I not feeling on top of my game--it was a great lesson to go through IMAZ feeling the way I did, and to know not to take anything for granted.  Enjoying the races with my family in Kona (without Jenny, Sophia, and Andrew), and at IMAZ (with Jenny, Sophia, Andrew and my mom) was huge...and motivates me to conquer higher mountains.  6 minutes is what separates me from saying IMAZ was a good to great race...(the Q time for 35-39).

It's really hard to self-diagnose how your training is going---Chris has told me many times that you just get used to "what normal is"....normal can be a sluggish Heart Rate, tender to the touch muscles, suppressed diet, poor sleeping, elevated resting Heart Rate, etc.  Ironman training pushes the limit of all these signs, and having them on a short term basis is actually normal from what I have come to expect.    Right now it is easy to self diagnose though.  While I want to keep some sort of activity going, my legs are still trashed deep inside.  My goal is to keep it easy until I get that fire, that ability to just "let er rip" and truly have the legs firing on all cylinders.  Its that base training time of year anyways, so that should help.  Add in no early season races to get "up" for, and I am heading in the right direction.  Looking back again, maybe that camping trip to Payson in July should have been a break from training all together---a refresh, re-evaluate, relight the fire....I was just too focused on wanting to train as much as I could---I just love to train.  Even right now, 9 days after IMAZ, and my legs are still a bit trashed (of course they should be after an IM)---I'm erring on the side of rest until I feel fully recovered.  Workouts are a "go with what you feel like doing" approach through the end of the year.

 So for 2012, the year I hit 40, I am going to plan MUCH smarter.  If I do PF Changs, it will be the half marathon, and I am lined up for a 12-person Ragnar ONE Team---obvious changes from last year, and will be events to build through rather than recover from.  I have my eye on a 70.3 in the summer, and a "big maybe" of an Ironman in August/Septeber...not gonna say which ones yet, as the ultimate decision process will be made at home with Jenny.  Looking at the BIG picture, the big fault of the year was going strong from January to almost Thanksgiving...just way to long like I said above without any break.  I plan on starting the year much slower, and build into a solid effort at that 70.3 and/or Ironman.  I am not necessarily shooting for Kona 2012, but I see a way I can make it happen, and if not, I see a way to make 2013 happen instead...Jenny, no pressure, this is diarrhea of your husbands mind ;-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

IMAZ 2011 Race Report---Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

I am blessed---for the friends I have near and far, for my family, and most of all for my amazing wife and two kids.  The past year and a half has been, as Dickens wrote in the Tale of Two Cites...."the best of times."  (we'll skip the rest of the quotation...).  Ironman Arizona 2011 was always a means to an end for me...I think the best way to sum it up is to say it is the end of my introduction to Ironman racing.  Will there be more?  I hope so...it is now part of who I am.  Do I hope there will be more?  Absolutely, 100% yes.  Do I want to have a ridiculously fabulous family life as well?  1000% yes.  This sport has changed me for the better in so many ways, and I would not be who I am today without it.  It has taken a very ordinary middle aged man, kind of lost within himself, to a World Championship, to a place where life is grand and there is nothing that I feel I cannot achieve if I put my mind to it.
It's now time to enjoy family, rest, recover, refresh, and reorganize life a bit, but most importantly, discover how I can manage to be an awesome father, husband, and friend to those that are dear to me, and be able to continue my crazy hobby trying to be the fastest triathlete I can be.  Since I recovered from my broken/surgically repaired clavicle in April of 2010, my training has defined the word consistent.  I don't think I missed more than 4 workouts in 19 months...that covers ~570 days.  I need a break, time off, time to recover physically and mentally (a reboot), time to live a normal life, enjoy my new son Andrew, my amazing daughter Sophia, and the most amazing person, my wife.  I know, mushy, but what the last 19 months has taught me is that Jenny is an angel...she has given me so much more than I have ever come close to giving her.  It's now time for me to give back in bucket loads.  I love you babe...I hope you know how much I do.

So, on with the Race Report...

I'll start this one with my friday workouts...an hour spin and a 30 minute run.  I had just put on my Zipp Super 9 disc and front 808 Firecrest wheels (tubulars) and was expecting to fly effortlessly on this ride much like I did last year out to the Bee Line and back from transition with fellow AIMP'er Joel Garza.  My legs wanted nothing to do with it...they rebelled.  They just never 100% recovered from the massive Kona build, Kona itself, and the work we did in the last 6 weeks leading to IMAZ.  I skipped the run; yes, it was that bad.  I was concerned, which led to the "please deliver my legs" note on Facebook.  After at trip to PT for therapy, still no legs...they never arrived.  While they got a 'bit" better by the time race day came, this wasn't going to be anything like my previous 2 Ironmans.

Saturday morning after the pre-swim at Tempe Town Lake, I met up with Chris for a pre-race meeting.  The conclusion was this:  I am going to learn what it's like to just wake up and go do an Ironman, without having the benefit of fresh legs, mental sharpness, and almost any other thing I would associate with "being ready" to take on an Ironman.  I was excited though, to see what the day would bring and to see how long I could hold up---the challenge of not being 100% for some reason was very exciting...could I pull it off and have a good race on a sub par day?  I went through the rest of Saturday as planned----I had a big breakfast of low GI foods, same for lunch, same for my early dinner. All chased with tons of water, countless trips to the bathroom.  I have the pre-race nutrition planned nailed for sure now---chalk that off the list.  Spent the day with the feet up watching movies with my mom and Sophia....just a nice lazy day!

This is not a pitty party, this was an experience I would come to cherish.  What I didn't know is that I would learn more than could ever learn from a "primed" race;  and ultimately have it become one of those races I am most proud of.  Yes, I missed qualifying for Kona by 4 minutes and 53 seconds...that is not the end of the world...it is actually refreshing to not have this "event" to immediately start planning for after I was just there 6 weeks ago.  Anticipating another long build doesn't sound like fun for 2012...maybe for another year, but last summer took a lot out of me...refresh, recover, rebuild!  That 4:53 has started to haunt me...at the pace the guys in front of me were running, that's about 2.5 laps around a track that separated me from a spot.  UGH...I left time all over this course.  Some of it was absolutely necessary (family), other portions totally unnecessary...oh well, we move on.


Sunday I was up at 3:45...good sleep, no gitters, just ready to get to work.  Got down a huge breakfast of Oatmeal/Protein Powder/Almond Milk/Flax Seeds (my everyday breakfast)...added 2 whole wheat blueberry flax seed pancakes and a banana.  Topped it all off with sports drink on the way to Tempe, had a bar an hour before the gun, and nothing but water in that last hour.  I was confident I was topped off.  The morning was insignificant as I was in my own world...I wrote the following on my hands:  COMMIT     FIND A WAY     YES YOU CAN     WHO AM I! (watch this youtube video:  Who Am I Speech) I missed the ONE photo (brain fart!), and felt late to the party when I walked over the the swim entrance with 2000+ people already in there wetsuits...mine was in the bag still.  Before 5 minutes was up, it was on, I had nudged my way to the front of the swim entrance (no one ever wants to get in the water at Ironmans...weirdest thing!), was warming up, and was greeting nicely by Lisa Keller and Kenny Steil at the entrance...I said my hellos, then took the plunge.  Mistake number one was realized at this point although very minor...I forgot to take my Pre-Race Capsules and the Gel I wanted to put down right before jumping in...I don't think this made a difference at all as you will see later.  After jumping in, it was a nice little warmup to the start line, where the pros were just about to start their day.  They were off, and I took position with the same exact plan as last year...starting front row middle right.  As I swam to the line, luck would have it that I had 2 ONE members in a kayak waiting for me...Jayson Harris and Joey Gregan.  Definitely nice to have them there as after that point I was going to be loning it for the next 6 hours.  I was lined up with a group of fast swimmers...I was right where I wanted to be.  I sorely missed the playing of Black Sabbath's Ironman...that track should be a requirement at every IM start (WTC!).  Last year the water felt electric when they played it...oh well...WTC take note--play that song---it is an amazing way to start the IM journey!  True to IM fashion, the gun went off without warning...let the insanity begin.

SWIM:   57:14    1:22 per 100yd pace (still smiling about this)   13th in Age Group, 93rd overall including pros
             (2010 was 59:00---new PR!)

My plan was to let the pressure from behind dictate my pace over the first 200 yards.  I didn't go out crazy, but I went with a controlled hard effort.  Felt fingers for the first maybe 30 seconds, kept the strong strokes going until the fingers were gone on my feet, then focused on settling into my pace as I watched the fast swimmers lined up on the buoy line set their course.  I sat along the right side of that pack swimming my pace not concerned about catching a draft.  For me, it's just too hard to efficiently draft in water that you can't see the swimmer in front of you through...the opposite of Kona for sure.  I was going by my above water targets, and just cruising along steadily...just on the edge of comfortable/uncomfortable...all was good.  After about 300 yards, there wasn't anyone on my right, at all...I had room to the right should it be necessary I thought.  I got to the bridge, then got through the turnaround and started heading back, taking a line so far outside that I went under the bridge between the north wall and the first pylon while the pack went buoy line.  My line again felt right on...I aimed for the furthest buoy on the right that I could see, and just kept that line, all the while seeing the pack on the left that was starting to dismantle as the race went on.  Basically, I kept all the "action" to my left the entire swim...my favored breathing side, so I had a good view of what was going on.  I dunno if this line is right or not, but it feels right, and I'm only looking at one buoy for 10 minutes...less sighting required is a bonus in my mind.  About half way back, I had to pee...swimming while peeing without stopping is a skill I acquired in this race---zero kick, 50% effort, and let it go ;-)  Energy levels were great throughout the swim, the #1 told me I was WELL hydrated...pre race nutrition/hydration was a success!  Rounding the final buoy was a great feeling....as I sighted the exit stairs, I wasn't noticing a lot of action at all on the stairs....I was is great shape, the swim was perfectly comfortable, and it just felt like "no big deal."  A fast swim is very cool because it gets you out ahead of almost everyone, but it was even better feeling like it was just a stroll...Chris, you are an awesome coach to get me to this level of swimming. To do this with 3 days of swimming a week is incredible.  I never thought I would be saying any of that about the IM swim....SWIM....check!

T1:  3:24...T1 PR ;-)
        (2010:  4:30)

Seems pretty slow, but only one guy in my age group who finished ahead of me was faster, so I'll take it.  With all the running to get through transition, it adds up versus the short, fast T1's you get in local races with everything at your bike-side.  Of the top 4 guys in my age group, I took 30 seconds out of them at least, so I was two for two...T1...check!

Side note---a clock would be nice in the tent....my helper told me it was 8:04 (I immediately thought 1:02 swim?? can't be!), and I didn't know my swim time until after the race...I didn't go with a  "race timer" on my wrist as I already had a Sally band, a Quest for Kona band and my athlete band....too much clutter!  So I left thinking I was already behind, but I really wasn't---this played into my psyche a bit on the bike.

Another side note:  Dan Thomas, you are the man, and probably why I had a great T1...I ran through without breaking stride as my bike was ready and waiting for me...VIP service..you rock, and I'll hope to do the same for you in 2012!

BIKE:  5:05:57   NOT a PR...      9th in Age Group, 98th overall including pros
            (2010:  5:01:10)

Onto the bike course I go, and I'm actually feeling decent...I start thinking that maybe I'm gonna have a good day after all.  The course was barren (good!!).  On the first way out I was passing a couple female pros, but more important, I was being passed by some age groupers...2 in my AG specifically.  Last year I was "the passer" through this section, but I stayed calm and stuck to the plan, which was to  take the first lap very cautious.  Chris had told me that I wouldn't be able to race the entire 112 miles, so the plan was to race the last 75-80 miles while taking the early portion "just a bit lighter."  Well, Chris is a genius coach and was right on, we had built a massive engine inside of me, and I screwed it up a bit...pushing the wattage up too high too fast...it was only 10W above what we wanted, but I think I paid the price for this later...but back to Lap #1.  The first lap was otherwise insignificant other than I delayed my nutrition plan as I felt strong, nourished, hydrated, and really didn't feel like I needed to dive into my nutrition plan of taking something in every 20 minutes to average 300 cals/hr tops.  I had a half bottle of Coconut water on my aero bars that I started sipping once on the Bee Line, but then promptly dropped it...butterfingers.  My plan was to keep a bottle of water on the aeros fastened with one of those Profile industrial rubber band things---don't try this, it was a bit of a disaster...a hair tie or a bottle cage is the way to go (hair tie in Kona worked perfect---why tinker?).  Bryan, it was great to have you at the turn...I looked forward to your comments...but I had nothing to give ;-)   As I rounded the Tempe turnaround to finish Lap #1, according to the plan it was now time to push the pace...push the wattage up 30W compared to Lap #1.  I got into a good groove and had the number somewhat pegged.  I had what I felt was good control over my nutrition and hydration, rode until I couldn't handle the pee build up anymore, then slowed to relieve the situation that was getting in the way of power output.  As I did, the guy who I had been working with threw out a nice comment:  "your bike is leaking."  This was at mile 65...again a perfect time for the pee to happen as I knew I was well hydrated.  If dropping one water bottle wasn't enough, I lost one of the two bottles on my rear Xlab setup---my plan to stick with EFS only was out the window now, and I was gonna have to count on PERFORM...ugh.  I decided I wasn't going to use Special Needs, and I just went with it...I used PERFORM in Kona and it was alright....but not really as I re-learned on this day.  The cardiac drift never came, and I wasn't sure what to do about the lack of HR dropping...I just kept on the wattage regardless, finishing Lap #2 averaging the same wattage as Lap #1 (NOT according to plan!...) and it was about to get worse.   As I approached the Tempe turnaround to start Lap #3, I was still with my "pee buddy"...I went for the Jolly Ranchers (Kenny that's what I was fussing over ;-), and both of us were on a bit of a break through the turn.  We continued to head back out, and the effort was controlled and I was able to stay above the "floor" wattage we had set for lap 3.  I have to add here that I was already 7 capsules of Pre Race deep...that's a lot of caffeine, taurine, malate...!  Mile 90 came and went, and I could feel the wheels starting to fall off...I would have panicked a bit, but I was just too tired to start caring...I was cracking mentally all of the sudden.  Then, we hit the turnaround and bam, just like last years race, a nasty headwind to fight all the way back to town---the mental status took another hit.  I was well into a bottle of PERFORM, and just like Kona, the rib cage cramps were there almost immediately (I think the stuff is good when mixed, but the bottle form is just too concentrated for me).  A cramp that wouldn't go away, the nasty headwind...put them together, and you have me riding out of the aeros for the first time all day because it was just counterproductive---aero and LOW watts shifting all over the place, or on the bar at least able to put watts down but being blasted by the wind.  The one good note is I passed 2 guys in my age group somehow...the same two who had passed me early on---at least there was some sort of consolation to the way I was feeling.  T2 seemed to take forever to reach... I wanted off for the first time in an IM...I was done.  The third lap was 8 minutes slower than the first...I obviously raced the first 80 miles versus the latter 80 miles...BE PATIENT and follow the plan!   BIKE...no check

T2:  3:48...OUCH!
        (2010:   2:51)
I wanted to get out of my cycling shoes when I was passing ASU stadium...I was that done.  I hung on for another 60 seconds, slid out of the shoes, did the old flying dismount (but was polite in my handoff ;-).  First two steps into T2 had me immediately saying...how the hell am I gonna run (again, never felt this way off the bike before)!  They handed me my bag (volunteers rocked...all day long!) and then I hear "KEEP IT STEADY" from Chris who was waiting along the fence...I just about lost it with the humor I heard in that simple comment.  I think he chuckled...I know I did because I was anything but steady.  I grabbed a seat looked around, and noticed 2 guys in there looking worse than I felt...just blank stares on there faces---good, I wasn't alone, but this is not how I planned on feeling.  I did everything I could to just stay in T2...put CEP's on, socks on, shoes, visor, glasses, turned my number belt around---the last 3 items there I usually do as I head out, but I was standing still...still.  I was looking out the door to the run course, and it wasn't inviting me...I felt like I had already run the marathon.  But off I pushed...3:48 felt like 10 minutes---it should and would have been less than 2 on any other day....T2...no check as well

RUN:    3:32:30               10th in Age Group, 96th overall including pros
             (2010: 3:20:49)
Little did I know I was sitting in 9th at this point, almost equal to my IMAZ 2010 time...can we get scoreboards out there???  ;-)  A live tracking feed in the tent would be VERY cool.  The clock at the Bike dismount was not correct...ugh again and again.  Knowing my bike time was 5:05 and not knowing my swim time...I thought I was out of it.  I will never race without a race timer again ;-((
I was welcomed to the run course by my mom and Kenny...I was so happy to finally see familiar faces, and it raised my spirits where I needed them most.  100 yards later, you guessed it, time to pee again, and I hit the same port-o-let spot as last year...another break!  After the relief, I was now ready to go get it;-)  I was greeted now by Joel Garza!  Great, a running buddy...just what I needed.  We both settled in and I let a gap develop between us...we yo-yo'd a bit, and were eventually joined by another AIMP'er Caroline Gregory...a pro out of San Diego who was running solid.  I don't know Joel well enough and didn't want to run side by side thinking I would be holding him back.  If I could go back and do one thing different in this race, I would have tried to hang on, settle in next to him.  We could have done damage together and motivated each other to get Kona slots...20/20 hindsight of course, but it would have been a good idea.

The original plan Chris had for me was just like the bike...find my legs and settle into Lap #1 without pushing too much, then start increasing the pace on Lap #2, then trying to hold it on Lap #3...."find em, hold em, push em, survive em."

The first half lap was behind me, and the highlight of the race was next...seeing Jenny, Sophia, and Andrew for the first time together on an Ironman race course.  Sophia was too small to make it last year, and they missed Kona with the birth of Andrew 2 weeks before.  I could have stopped right there and not continued, and not because I was beat up, but because it was just a blast.  Sophia handed me a card with a drawing on it, and in return I gave her a lollypop I had been carrying with me...I was smiling and crying at the same time...there was no pain for that 30 seconds...there was not even a race going on.  The rest of the first lap was uneventful, and I managed to carry a 7:35/mi pace while stopping at every aid station for 2 cups of coke as my staple, and added in banana, orange slices, and water.  This was my routine every aid station...I totaled over 30 Dixie cups of coke, but in doing so probably wasted 5 minutes of time while I slowed to ingest them.  I felt like I was balancing the caloric intake pretty well, and a couple of times I overdid it---then backed off the pace till I felt the fullness dissipate (not longer than 30 seconds), then picked it back up and skipped the next aid station.  The intake was obsessive, but between the quick jolt of caffeine and sugar, it was exactly what was keeping me moving forward...from one aid station to the next.  My hunger was satisfied...to a definite fault (I have a fear of running out of calories; once that happens, you're done)...this isn't a picnic, geez.  Jumping back a bit to the end of Lap #1, Jenny was there with another card for me...this time I just stopped, walked with her for a minute as I read her very special note.  The course was empty, and for another awesome moment, I wasn't on the course, I was with her, just her, just loving the moment.  I was again, in no pain.  A kiss, some private words, and I was off, totally rejuvenated from her card and our time.  I passed the ONE tent, then Chris, then the start of Lap #2....and into the busy-ness that comes with a multi loop course.  I actually settled into a steady pace from there to mile 20, seeing friends and family everywhere, keeping on my nutrition "plan."  Chris and I were actually having a blast with this...he knew I was wasted, I knew he knew I was wasted...he kept me moving.  What I didn't know was that I was close (like I said above)...close to Kona-ville.  The 3 guys in front of me were crumbling at a pace very similar to mine....I know it didn't matter, and probably wasn't feasible with a fairly severe left knee pain when I landed just wrong, and it was almost debilitating on the downhills.  While the plan for Lap #2 was to push em and I was somewhat successful, the Lap #3 plan was to survive em, but I was also planning to push em some more, much like I did in Kona finishing with a 7:11/mi pace over the last 9 miles...I just didn't have that on this day---no extra gear, nothing in the tank.  But then again, maybe I did, I just didn't dig.  I kept saying COMMIT, but nothing came out of it...put me back to the start of Lap #3 and tell me I have 4 minutes to make up on guys running 8:20+/mi, and I would have quickly calculated all I needed was 7:40's to catch them all...yeah, you are saying woulda coulda shoulda....didn't.  It wasn't superhuman, it was just a solid effort that was needed.
I think the physical abuse got so bad that mentally I was just shelled...I had put up the white flag long before the final 6.2 miles due to the limited information I had onboard.  All the more reason to feel the need to recover, refresh, rebuild and come back stronger for a Kona bid, whenever that may be...that white flag should have never been in on the ship.  Insult added to injury, the 7:38 pace over the same section last year is a bit of a slap in the face...another ugh.

My overall reflection of this race is two sided:  I am disappointed slightly that I wasn't tougher---but it has made me tougher just the same.   I should have trusted the endurance I have built...I ran my "all day" pace on the run.  My overall time was 14 minutes slower than last year, and I was 13 minutes slower on the run this year---it was just the wear and tear of the year that started in January and never let up.  I should have taken a break mid season...I had tunnel vision towards Kona, but now I understand the need for this break if I am going to race in October and November with 281.2 inside of 6 weeks...maybe I shouldn't have raced in the spring at all---that's what I would have changed.  The other side of this is very gratifying...I was 13th, 9th, and 10th respectively in the SBR for IMAZ...I don't think that could be more well rounded.  I don't understand how I had the 9th fastest bike split in 35-39...I felt like I was flailing all over the place, and I don't consider myself the strongest biker.  To those of you trying to qualify:  last year I was 6th on the run and finished 6th, this year I was 10th on the run and finished 10th---do I need to say the obvious?  I know I will be working the run big time in 2012---70.3 is the perfect distance for that ;-)

On another note, part of me is saying that I was afraid to go deep into the well and fail. An ego-preservation mechanism I guess.   You just have to leave it all out there every time...do the race justice...treat it like it's the last Ironman you will ever compete in, because it just may be the case.   But then again, I did leave it all out there and then pushed for more...I ran somewhat steady the entire run and was proud that I pulled off a 3:32 feeling the way I did off the bike.  To miss Kona by 4:53 will probably eat at me a bit, but really, I think it is a blessing.  I need time off to be what I said in the opening paragraph...this is my hobby, not my job.   Another reality is I really got to enjoy this one with my wife, kids, and mom.  I like to cry while I race...I dunno why.  As I approached the finish, I was sniffling again, just like in Kona when I saw the personal notes coming out of the Energy Lab.  I knew Jenny was there waiting, and I knew this time I was going to stop, tell her I love her, give her a kiss, and let her know how much I truly appreciate the gift that she has given me to be able to train the way I do for something I love so much to compete in.  I managed to get the "I love you so much" part out, but the rest was too much for me to say, I was just overwhelmed with the moment after thinking about it the last few miles of the run. As I left her in the quiet of the final corner before the finish chute, I just looked at the ground as I ran to the line...missing the hands that were stretched out for high fives.  I was amazingly calm---not upset, not let down---just very calm knowing that life is grand from this day forward because I have a beautiful amazing, supportive family to spend the rest of my life with.  It wasn't just me running to that line, it was Jenny, my kids, and I running into the next chapter of our lives together.  This was every bit of a family wide sacrifice---and I wish we were still in the days of having our kids cross the line with us, maybe even having your loved ones right on the other side of the finish line would be a decent compromise.   But, Kleenex I'm sure would need to become a sponsor.  There will be more Ironmans, more Konas, but for now, I want to snuggle up on the couch and watch movies, eat popcorn, and play lava monster like my dad did with my sister and I when we were little squirts...but the goggles, bike, and Nikes won't get dusty just yet...I've never been more excited about the future as I am today.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Competitive Ironman Nutrition Plan--the best I've seen

I've been looking for this article for a long time, and happened across it today via a friend's Facebook...posted here just so I have it at my disposal for reference.....

Competitive Ironman Nutrition Planning

© 2003 by Ultrafit Associates
The following is a suggested guideline for reducing the likelihood of an in-race stomach “shutdown” while eating prior to, during, and immediately following an Ironman-distance race for experienced athletes who are focused on fast times or race placement. If your goal is to finish the race then the pacing instructions here will be too aggressive, but the refueling suggestions may still be effective.
You may need to modify this plan to fit your body size, previous race-nutrition experience, and personal food likes and dislikes. The plan you adopt should be refined starting weeks and months ahead of your Ironman race by experimenting in workouts, especially bricks and long sessions, in C-priority races, and, finally, in B-priority races. Don’t do anything on race day that you have not done successfully many times before.
Determine how many Calories you will take in during the race and the strategy for doing so. As points of reference, an 11- to 12-hour Ironman burns roughly 6,500 to 7,000 Calories and a 9-hour Ironman uses about 8,000 Calories. Approximately half of these Calories come from glycogen (storage form of carbohydrate) and most must be replaced during the race.
Gastric problems are a leading cause of poor performances and DNFs (did not finish) in Ironman-distance races. If your stomach “shuts down” during the race you either 1) went out too fast—poor pacing strategy/control, 2) ate too much solid food, 3) did not take in enough water, or 4) are becoming hyponatremic (low blood sodium level). The following is intended to prevent these occurrences.
Prior to Race Day
  • Reduce food intake as your training volume tapers down (late Peak and Race periods).
  • Eat “normal” foods during this period. Do not “experiment.”
Day Before Race
  • View the swim course at race time (from water, if possible).
  • Eat a large breakfast with an emphasis on moderate to low glycemic index carbohydrate (see list in Triathlete’s Training Bible, page 272).
  • Eat a large lunch when next hungry, again emphasizing moderate-low GI foods.
  • Have a moderately sized dinner that is “normal” food for you but with limited fiber intake. Moderate to low GI foods.
  • Stay well hydrated throughout the day.
  • Use extra salt on food.
Race Day Breakfast
  • Take in 1000-1500 Calories from moderate to low glycemic index foods 4 to 5 hours prior to the start. This should be rehearsed before bricks and long workouts and before C- and B-priority races.
  • For nervous stomach use liquid or semi-solid foods.
  • Options may include Ensure, Ultracal, or Boost (approx. 250 Cal/8-ounce can); 1 medium banana (100 Cal); bagel with 1 tablespoon nut butter (250 Cal); 1 cup unsweetened applesauce mixed with 1 ounce protein powder (200 Cal); 1 jar baby food (~100-200 Cal); 1 packet instant oatmeal (~100-200 Cal); 1 cup instant pudding (~100-300 Cal); 1 can tomato soup (200 Cal).
  • Example: 4 cans of Ensure, banana, bagel with nut butter (1350 Cal).
  • Either go back to bed after breakfast or relax with some light stretching (focus on hips, glutes, and low back).
  • Snack but eat no more than 200 Calories/hour in the last 3 hours. Stay with liquid or semi-solid foods.
  • Think calming thoughts or listen to calming music—do not stress yourself out. When apprehensions appear recall previous successes in training and racing.
  • 1-1.5 hours before—eat something such as a sports bar and sports drink.
  • Eat/drink nothing in the last hour except water (prevents exercise-induced hypoglycemia early in race).
  • 10 minutes before—take in as much sports drink as you feel comfortable with.
  • Carry a plastic bottle of the above sports drink into water.
  • Do not go anaerobic at the start of the swim—hold back.
  • Mentally divide the bike portion into fourths. The first quarter is about fueling for the day; the second quarter is focused on an even, steady pace; the third quarter is when you should gain time if you held back in the first quarter; and the final quarter is a time to ride strongly but steadily.
  • Aim for 300-750 Calories per hour on the bike based on your size, training and racing experience, and tolerance for food intake.
  • Carry most of your calories with you on the bike and get water and Gatorade at aid stations.
  • Rely more on drinks and less on solid food throughout the race.
  • If you have any special nutritional requirements then make sure that you have back-up sources in transition and special needs bags. Start the bike leg with your bike loaded with a little more nutrition than you need for the entire ride.
  • Depending on caloric needs and anticipated race duration, carry 2-3, 20oz bottles with about 750 Calories of fluid in each along with gels.
  • A 750-Calorie bottle may be made by mixing your favorite sports drink to a normal concentration and then adding Carbo-Pro. (If you mix this the day before, refrigerate it.)
  • Chase each mouthful from the 750-Cal bottle with 2 to 3 mouthfuls of water that you get from aid stations.
  • Take in as much as 1000mg of sodium for each hour on the bike from drinks, foods, and supplements. Let heat, humidity, body size, and your experience dictate the amount.
  • If using any solid foods (not recommended), drink only water with them.
  • If your experience in racing has been that your mind wanders and you forget to eat and drink, then set your watch to beep every 15 minutes as a reminder.
Bike Miles 1-30
  • Use your heart rate monitor to prevent excessive effort. Upper zone 1 or lower zone 2 should be right for this quarter depending on what your training experience has been. Avoid “racing” with others—pay attention to your own race. Going too hard now may have disastrous consequences later on.
  • This should feel like the slowest part of the bike leg, relative to terrain and wind. Do not hammer out of T1. Hold back. The heart rate zone readings should be the lowest of the four portions of the bike leg.
  • Pacing is key to nutritional success early in the race. Keep your heart rate down. Set your heart rate monitor to beep at the bottom of your 3 zone. You should not hear the beep for the first 30 miles on the bike. If you do, you are going too hard and the chances of digestive problems later on are rising.
  • Drink water before starting any calories. Begin sipping right away out of T1 and continue for 20 minutes. Start liquid feedings after 20 minutes.
Bike Miles 31-60
  • The goal of the second quarter is to maintain a steady effort at goal ironman-distance bike pace.
  • Ride steadily and predominantly in the 2 zone. Remember that only the fittest athletes, generally elites with very fast bike portions, will be able to tolerate sustained periods of 3 zone riding. You would be well advised to ride under the intensity of your toughest race simulation rides.
Bike Miles 61-90
  • If you are feeling good, consider increasing the speed/effort, but only slightly. This is where you can move up through the field.
  • You may be experiencing cardiac drift by now, so pay close attention to how you feel and less to your heart rate monitor. Stay focused.
  • You should have to pee during this portion. If not, you are not drinking enough.
  • Regardless of the cause, you should slow down immediately when faced with stomach issues regardless of your time or pacing goals. The time that you “lose” will be more that made up with an improved run split. Pushing through stomach issues doesn’t work.
Bike Miles 91-112
  • Continue to eat although you may not feel like it.
  • Effort should feel like zone 2—steady to moderately hard—regardless of what your heart rate monitor says.
  • Gauge your effort based on how you feel, not heart rate or pace. Use these as secondary markers of intensity, if used at all.
  • Divide the run into three parts. Part 1 has to do with finding a comfortable pace/effort. Part 2 is a time to run steadily and cautiously. Part 3 is the time to push your pacing limits if you feel like it.
Run Minutes 1-20
  • Run easily the first 20 minutes getting in as many liquid calories as possible—aim for at least 200 calories during this time based on your training and previous race experience.
Run 21 Minutes to Mile 18
  • Resist the temptation to pick up the pace. Save it for the last 8 miles.
  • Take in gel + water, or Gatorade, or Coke at every aid station (do not take gels with Gatorade).
  • When using gels, immediately take in at least 6oz water for each packet to avoid dehydration.
  • Get in at least 200 Calories per hour—more if possible and you’ve practiced eating at a higher rate in run training of up to 400-500 Calories per hour (200 Cal is 2 gels or 8oz Coke or 16oz Gatorade).
Run Mile 18 to Finish
  • If you’ve come to mile 18 feeling good and you can pick up the pace, you will gain a lot of time on your competition who went out too fast. Smart pacing and refueling prior to mile 18 will pay off now.
  • Continue to take in sports drinks or gels with water (6oz minimum per packet of gel).
Immediate Post-Race
  • Remove all heat stress as soon as possible.
  • Continue moving around for 5-10 minutes after crossing the finish line.
  • Begin drinking fluids, especially those with sodium, carbohydrate, and protein.
  • Eat any foods that appeal to you but avoid fiber and spicy foods.
  • Eat and drink as much as you feel like taking in.
  • Do not drink water only as this may exacerbate hyponatremia.
Parting ThoughtsFrom Scott Molina, legendary triathlete: "When you feel good, eat." (Translation: When you feel good during the race don’t hammer; rather, take advantage of this time to get more fuel onboard.)
Another thought from Ryan Bolton, winner of Ironman USA: “When your attitude about the race changes, take in some fuel.” (Translation: Feeling sorry for yourself or angry at the wind (or whatever) is potentially a sign of low blood sugar. Eat.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hay is in the Barn...Tank is Topped Off...

So here we sit...the Tuesday before an Ironman.  Thinking back to a year ago, I remember having no expectations going into IMAZ 2010...my goal was to finish respectably.  I was coming off of shoulder surgery in April 2010 to repair my shattered collarbone, which through a wammy into my prep for that race.  Chris wrote a genius plan, we pulled it off, and got to go to Kona.  Add the dam collapse last year, and these two seasons couldn't have been more different.  Last year I really didn't race at all...didn't even do a 70.3.  My year was focused around IMAZ, and I didn't have the fatigue a late season race usually has attached to it--I was FRESH.  This year, this is my 2nd Ironman in 6 weeks, multiple Olympic and 70.3s throughout the season, a season which started early with PF Changs Marathon in January.  It's been an "all in" type of year...and I can't wait for some rest.  Maybe it would have been more ideal to take a break or two in the middle, but that just wasn't on the plan with the prep for Kona taking center stage all summer.  Add Andrew's birth 11 days before I left for Kona...my sense of "normal" has been skewed for sure.  So, let's see how the 2 races compare...I have trained consistently for 18 months, so I know I am in the best shape of my life....my mental toughness is gonna be challenged.

Back to the task at hand...getting ready for IMAZ.  While the training has gone well, the "plan" has been relentless but at least carried out, and the 6 weeks between Kona and IMAZ have been some of the toughest...by design as I told Chris in our season plan that while Kona was an "A" Race, I wanted to really challenge myself at IMAZ and see what I could do.  Kona came and went, I noticed a nice gain post Kona in endurance and power, and we kept pushing until literally last night..a 2 hour trainer session with 2 x 30' in Z3/Z4 and a 90 minute run at IM pace or even a bit faster.  These runs are always a blast as I end up doing them late, tired from the day, much like I would be doing race day...it is a nice simulation and mentally boosts my belief that I am ready for an IM when they go well, as last nights run did.  I do notice a bit of fatigue still in my legs, but with a nice taper from here on out, I should be primed to fire off that start line next Sunday.  To compare yesterdays workout to last year...my taper started a bit earlier last year, so my run on the same monday before the race was 20 minutes tops---oh those were the good old days ;-)  With a decently light week, 100% trust in Chris getting me to the start line with a full tank and a massive engine, I should be in good shape to destroy everything we have built up for this thing...

I through my race goals out there in a previous post, and while they are "out there," it will take a perfect day to pull that off---but why not shoot for perfect?  From history, I have a feeling it will shape up just like Kona or even IMAZ 2010...the swim will be as expected, same with the bike barring any mishaps, and it will all be left to the run---how hard can I push...I want to push myself way beyond comfortable, I just wonder if I have that in me...I imagine a nice nap around mile 15 would be REALLY nice.  The Pre Race Capsules will keep the fire burning...hopefully all day.   I'm really not wondering though... I will have my hand on the throttle the entire run, teetering on exhaustion the entire time.  I was thinking about after the finish this morning while driving to work...I may collapse, I may loose it, I may cry, but I will give Jenny, Sophia, Andrew, and my mom the hugest of hugs knowing that this racing season is over.  If you catch the undertone that I am tired, worn out....I am just ready for some recovery...passive recovery!

With this being my third Ironman, I decided on a new approach...race as if this is my last.  It may just be, you never know.  No  one wants to go out with a poor performance--that lingering memory of less than your best...ugh, reminds me of high school baseball when we lost our final game in the league championships...why couldn't I have been a senior the year previous when we won state?  Still hung up on that one ;-)  Anyways, I'll be carrying this "last race" mentality with me on the run...let's go out with a bang!

Below are some family pics...it's been a bit somber around the house as our dog Tucker had to be put down last saturday night...he was 15 and was a big part of the Swinehart family for years...we miss you Tucker...obey Tata's orders and keep him company ;-)

Sophia and 2 of her cousins on a recent trip to Payson

Jenny and Sophia...cuties!

Sophia...er, Mulan on Halloween.  Nevermind Derrick in the background

Tucker's last photo, and the only one of Sophia, Andrew, and Tucker together

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

19 Days to IMAZ!

I just read over my Race Report from IMAZ 2010...it's funny to see how much has changed in one year.   I think I had the "tri-education" of a 3rd grader back then.  Hopefully I'm now in high school---there's plenty more for me to learn about IM racing for sure.

I just finished the biggest build week for IMAZ...and at 24 days post Kona and feeling this good, I can tell that I was too conservative,or rather, the cramping I experienced, kept me from the crush a marathon puts on the body.  The week started 16 days post Kona, and here are the stats:  23:35 total time...(bigger than ever because I moved my Halloween workout into my sunday rest day...had to be done).

Swim:  10,500 yds
Bike:  269 Miles
Run: 50.4 miles

Definitely the biggest run + bike week I have done.  5 runs, with back to back 2 hour runs on W, Th.  Then 4,5,3 hour rides on F, Sat, Sun.  The 4 hour ride on friday was by far the toughest workout in there...fatigued from running 32 miles within the previous 38 hours, plus the rigors of the work week...it was a slugfest with the concrete, at what felt like a slugs pace (only 72 miles in 4 hours).  My route was not the easiest as well...I am a glutton for punishment.  But by the end of the week, I was not feeling the almost 24 hours of training load on my body.  I have a feeling my body doesn't bother throwing the rebellion towel at me anymore...it's plain and simple just used to the pummeling.  Anyways, I passed the test.  Time to start cutting back the run and keep the aerobic system primed for the distance by keeping some long rides in there, and cruise into the Absorption Phase (aka the "uneasy" phase for most as you start to question whether you are "losing it" or not...).

Everything is where it needs to be...physically and mentally.  BUT I think I need some humor in here to break up the focus ;-)
The hardest part of this "absorption phase" is to control my hunger...I think if I ate to satisfaction, I could put some serious pounds on in no time.  The diet is gonna be full of Chia Seeds and Rice Cakes (joking, but not far off!)...they'll be my snack foods versus the cup of trail mix, tortilla with peanut butter, etc.  Ugh, holding back on the food is harder than the race itself!  I feel sorry for that Thanksgiving meal though...I may need my own bird ;-)  I already am eying that Large Pizza I couldn't eat last year right after the race.  Can I just get a pie uncut, fold it in half, and devour it in 5 minutes??  To much to ask?

Obviously I am getting ahead of myself...back to pre-race focus.  Okay, well then, not much more to say right now as the attempt at humor filled a bit of space, and my mind is somewhat blank otherwise right now...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ironman Arizona 2011 Prep...mojo in full effect

24 days to another installment of Ironman Racing for me...and I couldn't feel more ready.  With Kona behind us, I never lost sight of IMAZ 2011 in the run up to Kona...maybe because it is a hometown race, maybe because I had a good experience last year...who knows.  I think this race gives me the best chance at performing my best---sleep in my own bed, eat in my own kitchen, no planes, no bike logistics to deal with...the list goes on.  There is a bit of uncertainty in my mind (unwarranted I keep telling myself) that I will never have such a smooth day as I had at IMAZ 2010---if they were all that way, I would say I am one of the luckiest triathletes out there, but the sport would not be as rewarding.  Simply it's a lot like life can be: what do you do when your body/someone else tells you "NO,"  those are the moments/experiences where I think we tend to be the most alive.  Going in to this race, I know I am much fitter, faster, and more "veteran-ized" this time around, but that invites curve balls to be thrown my way for me to work through this time around.  The cramps in Kona on the run were the challenge there, and I have to say the cramps won--enough so to say if that was a qualifying race, I would not have qualified.  The mental junkie that I am, I think that was a good thing to have happen.   I think I would be too relaxed going into IMAZ if the day in Kona was uneventful...but I do have this "you're only as good as your last race" thing in my head...9:59 is good, but again, not for qualifying...yup, just looked, that would have put me 16th in 2010.  The concern is good to have...and I'm keeping the gas pedal floored.  Odd thing about being more fit...it tends to hurt more as you expect your body to go faster and further, for longer periods of time.  You simply don't have an easier time going faster...it tends to hurt more.  Prime example is in my goals for IMAZ this year:   59 minute swim last year?  This year, 56 is acceptable, and will hurt more.  5:02 bike last year?  4:55 I will accept as good progress (conditions permitting).  I'll stop before I bring up the run...0:56 + 4:55 = 5:51...add in transitions (4:31 + 2:52 = 0:07:23, then trim by 1:00 by putting some giddy up into T1 and T2), and I am sitting right at 5:57:23 to start the run.  If I run the same...finish time is 9:17:23ish.  IF, though, I go for it, what am I shooting for?  3:10 marathon = 9:07ish....so there's a good number, and now is my goal for IMAZ 2011 (I can't believe I am putting this out there).  Doable? Yes.  Hard? Extremely. Will it hurt?  A ton.  Chance in my mind of hitting it: 25%  Reason for not hitting it?  Pain yes, nutrition problems, also a likely thorn...other curveballs exist, but that's the game within the game.  I have a "pipe dream" of hitting 9:00...perfect conditions, perfect nutrition, a huge mental game to deal with the pain that comes with trying to go that fast.  And you know that if I am within reach of it, I'll be clawing.

Still can't believe that I am putting this out there...but I think it has to do with keeping myself accountable.  It's easy after the race to say "it was a good day" when you simply look at the numbers without putting out there what you think you can do--- I guess I am an open book when it comes to goals and IM racing.  In then end, racing for me is all about going to battle with myself...having a clock to record the outcome, a course to complete, rules to follow, aid to eliminate stopping, and an event on a certain day to allow for the "measuring" of "fitness."  Wow, I think I am turning into some sort of yogi ;-)  Joking aside, I am noticing that this sport is changing the way I look at a lot of things---results are great to work towards achieving, but why stop at qualifying in this case?  Why not go for finding what you can do...leave nothing, take everything, and just go for it.  The risk of failure I guess is why.  "Tin Cup"...why not lay up and take the EZ win versus going for the green on a almost impossible shot?  There are those who "lay up" and those who "go for the green," we know where I fall ;-)

So that's all a bit of hogwash ;-)  But it's how I am approaching IMAZ...the fire is lit, and I have the drive to go out there again and lay it on the line, and I don't think I am taking it for granted (which is a big worry of mine...this is "just" IMAZ...this is a huge race!).   If I could have just one goal this race, it will be to run well--so time to expand on that...  I feel like this entire year my run has oddly let me down a bit....every 70.3 and IM I have given in to the pain a bit more than I wanted to.  So my goal on the run is one of Chris' mantra's "Find It, Hold It, Push It, Survive It" (or something like that).   I think the fear of hitting the wall always creeps in there, but only on the run for some reason.  There's nothing like running the first half of a marathon in sub 1:30, then running the second half in 2:00 (which I have done).  The finishing time, 3:28 is a decent number (years ago), but looking at how I got there shows the failure.  I have that on my mind whenever I think about the IM run, and I've heard many more stories about this happening to people than hearing otherwise.  I guess the answer is stick to the physiology of Heart Rate Zones and stay on top of nutrition...that is your best bet!  Hitting the aid stations and fueling up on a Gel + Water at one, then alternating with Perform Drink at the next will be my nutrition plan again.  Throw in some No Doze (thanks Carlos for the tip!), and I just have to keep the Heart Rate steady at the top of zone 2, and be prepared to go for zone 3 as the marathon wears on---pain! The more I write, the more I end up looking at the swim and the bike as "they are what they are."  Bike: plug in the wattage and just keep in close contact to that number.  I'm curious if Chris will "up" this target a bit in response to me really wanting to push my limits.  I think if I it is up, and ends up being a bit too much, I can still fall back on a "decent" run and finish well...which brings up ANOTHER question.  If I am sitting in 4th place in my Age Group, and know I just need to trot in, will I dig in and still leave it all out there when that actual moment comes?  I am hoping I will dig, but every muscle in my body will be saying---coast it!  That is the battle...but such a good battle to have with yourself!

Anyways, more pyscho babble from me here..nothing new.  Oh, and Chris, if you waste any of your time reading this..yes, I think WAY to much...can't help it, but I can't ever rest.  Ants in the pants!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Diarrhea of the Mental Game---My Version

I came across this statement in a Lava Magazine article this morning, and while the article itself sparked my interest (I am a mental focus junkie come race time...), "conquering the mental" is just as important as swim, bike, run, nutrition...

"Competition in and of itself can be daunting. You avail yourself to comparisons with others in a confined set of rules. Your abilities, be they strong or weak, are put forth for judgment. This can be a tremendous undertaking for the human ego. How an athlete perceives the environment of the competition, and how it makes them feel is fundamental to mental fitness. Those with strong mental fitness can adapt to any setting, and either take full advantage of it or, at the very least, be completely unaffected."   (Lava Magazine, "Mental Fitness," 9/21/2011) (don't question my bibliography skills, they always sucked...).

The mental game is huge but I've never really looked at triathlon in this way, which is why I posted this.  For me it has always been a mental battle within myself--what I can do to succeed and reach that finish line as fast as I can, period.  Racing, especially over the past year, has not been about winning, trying to win, or all the same, losing.  Yeah, it is fun to go fast and faster than "almost" everyone else, and I'm sure there have been a few times this year when, if the situation arose, that I wouldn't have dug deep to keep a position in a race...but I think the comparison to others, and the "ego issues" just don't enter the mental side of racing for me.  I follow pro triathlete blogs, and the one thing I have noticed a lot, is that they are mental studs...using songs, quotes, experiences, even having "folders" (Macca) that they draw upon at every turn of the race course.  I tend to use family, songs, and am developing a bit of a folder system to keep it organized in my wacky head.  Family is definitely the focus for me though.  After watching SOMA 70.3 with Jenny, Sophia, and Andrew (well, he slept ;-), I found out that, while it can be very boring to watch a triathlon, that my family is more amazing than I thought. When we woke up and I asked Sophia if she wanted to go watch a race, the first thing out of this little 3 year old was "are you racing papa?"  When I told her I wasn't, she wouldn't take "I'm not" for an answer, which really told me how big of an effect "her papa" racing has on her at 3 years old.  All the more reason to want to get back to Kona (= most exciting race event to watch anywhere!) so she can "watch papa."  The same goes for Jenny...after I put her through the ringer on saturday with all sorts of things, she was chipper for going, and we made a day of it, and get to see our brother in law Scott beat himself silly at SOMA while we were there.  We had a great day, and it was nice to "spectate" while my ONE teammates clinched the Team Championships as well.  So, if you can't tell, racing for me is to hear their cheers, see their faces, make them proud, and make all those hours away mean something...so, find out why you really race, and I imagine your performance will improve just by having a purpose---it works amazingly well for me and it IS my mental game.

A little off topic, but this past weekend I rode with a AIMP'er who came down to check out the IMAZ course, Joel Garza...and oddly enough, I was thinking about the following while riding.  For as long as I can remember, I've never been a good athlete when it comes "practicing."  Back in the heyday playing soccer and baseball, I always remember not really excelling on the practice field, which ultimately ended my baseball "career" after a week of tryouts at UC Davis.  I remember it vividly...how was this 5 foot nothing, 170 nothing going to compete for a spot on the team when I am rotating in at first base with 7 guys who were all 6 foot something, 200 something...I mentally checked out of baseball inside of the first day. BUT, that end brought on the beginning of running for me, which led to Triathlon in 1995.

That is the great thing about triathlon (for me)...there is no set "advantage" that I feel someone else has over another athlete, unless you are at the extremes (well, maybe this is my way at getting back at those 6 foot something, 200 lb something guys standing on first base...)  But, let's face it, your body in this sport is your weapon---I am 5'11" 165  lbs...I'm 10 pounds lighter than I was when i was cranking along in triathlon in the late 90's.  So, in the same breath, I guess I could say I found a sport that fits my build.  So, mental victory number one...you may be faster and have more talent, but we are both driving sports cars ;-) 

When it comes to training for triathlon, I kind of feel that I don't have much to show when practicing/training.  I feel I'm super steady, but I'm not the guy attacking on the bike (at all), swimming sub 1:20 in the pool (except for anaerobic intervals), and killing the run.  Everyone else can have those victories in training...it's not important to me, and actually is working against you if that is how you approach every workout.  I have recognized that IM training/racing is all about building an aerobic diesel engine.  If the goal was to simply get faster, then intervals would be the choice, but they would serve relatively little improvement for someone like me for IM training.  I am always thinking "build a huge aerobic platform" that allows me to train long, recover, and stay healthy.  When the short races come, Chris throws in some nasty intervals to get the speed going, but mostly, we focus on that platform of what IM racing is all about.  I feel like I have so much to "fall back on," so many "layers of endurance."  Mentally, I use this "platform idea" to my advantage, and has become one of my biggest "You Got This" supporters.  I think that is why IM racing becomes a lifestyle for those that are really into it...it's not just getting ready for a race, it's living it.  While that heads off that mental topic, nutrition day to day, taking care of your engine optimally, resting/recovering, offseason training all play into the mental game.  to quote Chris again (even though i am competing with myself...mostly ;-)  "What is your competition doing in the offseason??"  When it comes to qualifying for IM, your competition for that coveted qualifying spot is NOT taking it easy from here until 12 weeks before your first race in the spring.  They are base training, working on their mechanics (stroke, pedaling efficiency, running gait) to be as efficient as possible when the season arrives.  I've said this a ton (directed at Joel Gerber ;-) "every saturday is not race day."  I guess my point is: stick to your plan...nobody gets an award for winning that climb on the Saturday morning ride. 

I also hear a lot of triathletes say they need "offseason" to re-ignite the fire.  I don't get it!  You mean lose that base, then pick up and "get back to even" when the season starts?  Then you enter a race and that guy that you owned is now beating you?  It wasn't anything more than the offseason "break" catching up to you and making you pay for it.  I'm not saying you have to do 4-5 hour rides; 3 hour rides are plenty, 1 to 1.5 hour runs are more than enough, and of course keeping the feel in the water and stroke mechanics are huge.  Offseason running, I know, is not fun when it's freezing out, but remember, especially if you live in AZ with me; most triathletes are snow shoeing this time of year!  I guess what I am saying is ...check with yourself why you do triathlon (of course I am talking to those on the bubble versus those of you that do triathlon for fun/social and those that are "so type-A" like me ;-)  

If you haven't read Macca's book "I'm Here to Win,"  read it.  He dives into himself, as well as his competition, and what he has noticed and how he has used that information to his advantage.  His term, "mental milkshake," is definitely overused in my vocabulary nowadays.  His is a master mental edge junkie---"kill or be killed!"

So...a little diarrhea of the mind in this diary entry...I've been wanting to post something like this for a while...focus on your mental game!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Post Kona...looking back...

What if the winds were like this on Race Day ;-)

After 9 days of reflection, recovery, down time thoroughly enjoyed with Jenny, Sophia, and Andrew, I'm happy to not be feeling the "Post Kona Blues" that I have heard about.  I'm sure I would have them if I didn't have IMAZ coming up, but all in all the experience was amazing and I will take that through the rest of my life as one of the most fulfilling events in my life.   As a Kona rookie, and with it being only my second Ironman, I can "accept" the result  9:59:43 "as a good time."  I can only imagine it if had been 18 seconds longer---I think those 18 seconds (for me, which I will explain in a second!) were the difference between some success and failure.  I'm not being an arse, but I put A LOT into this race---100% dedicated, found purpose in every workout, and felt perfect going in.  I had a few goals in mind for the day, and the "easiest goal" was under 10...other than finishing.  Hearing that it was a "near-perfect" day, it couldn't have been set up any better for reaching my "more challenging" goals of 9:40 or even lower.  Yeah, I learned a tremendous amount about racing not only in Kona, but racing IM distance at this race.  My resume is one result...IMAZ 9:28..that's it.  It was a near perfect day there as well (at least in my mind it was---rain, sleet, gusty wind and all), and I never had those "downs" that you hear of.  I was all smiles, and just cruised..all day.  I had no expectations going into IMAZ, but came out with a Kona spot and felt like I was on to something...that I had found my favorite triathlon distance in Ironman Racing.  So that is my very short resume of IM racing.

In Kona, they don't award you your "place" by the amount or quality of your training...so for me to say (in a dopey voice), uh I trained "X" so my result should be "X" is naive if not completely ridiculous.  Anyways, this follow up post was brought on by reading TONS of other race reports from Kona this year...all of which were written by athletes far superior to me, and also those I learn the most from...two in particular are Chris Hauth Race Report and Leanda Cave's Race Report.  Chris and I had very similar days, although I went in to the day feeling perfect versus he who felt overtrained a bit.  We both had the "intercostal" cramps big time, and while his goal was an Age Group podium or better, we both had loftier goals in terms of finishing time as it related to the conditions AND our issues.    His RR prompted this entry...and mainly this line " accept mediocre results and quickly your success in athletics becomes a boring string of average results." That sums up my life in sports---except the definition of mediocrity is a subjective term (Divine Discontent).  While Chris is percolating over a 9:26ish finish, I am somewhat doing the same over a 9:59.  I know, this is my first Kona, I did enjoy it, my swim was good and learned a lot to get faster there(simply by a different start strategy) but if you told me I would swim a 1:03 pre-race, I'd be happy; my bike was okay and I know what I can do there as well (get those watts up, focus on nutrition---both a bigger breakfast and more calories, especially after mile 75), and just like the swim, if you said I'd ride a 5:07 I'd be ecstatic.  BUT, it's this run that I am a bit hung up on...I stopped racing at mile 2 and started surviving.  It was not my lack of training, giving up, not necessarily my nutrition to blame, it was just a thing that happens when you put yourself into ultra-endurance events...it's what makes IM a game.  Who knows, what if I never cramped up, but continued to push the pace, blowing up when I hit the Queen K, THEN walking for 16 miles like I saw a few athletes do---at least I chalked up my losses and put them behind me as I left Ali'i...I guess.  This is what makes this all so addicting (yeah I said it...).   

Could I be a "One and Done" Konite?  I hope not...and that is what has me feeling the buzz for IMAZ 2011.  I'll have my NO-DOZE in hand, because I hear I am gonna need it just to stay awake in the late hours of the race ;-}

So I guess what I am saying is I am not unhappy with my finish or time, but wishing I just got to race the entire race with the fitness I had going in....race the entire race!  I could say I finished strong and passed a ton of people, but I could also say I passed a bunch of people who had passed me earlier in the run, and a 3:41 marathon was doable even if I would have left it all out on the bike course instead of riding correctly to be able to run the run I knew I could do, only to then lose that advantage with cramping issues.  Okay, done now...I am moving on from talking about "them."  Sorry for the rant and my need to post more on the subject, but I know I will read this post hopefully in 11 months in prep for Kona 2012...we can hope and dream, and it worked once, so why not again?  The definition of sanity is to do something the same way and get the same results...I think ;-)  

No matter the conditions on any given day, I just want to see what happens on a day where my fitness is truly tested...where my quads scream for me to stop, where there may be blood oozing from my shoes.  I think until I hit that kind of day, I will feel that I have not found that "inner core" of what I am made of, and what drives me to race the Ironman distance.

Here's my notes for the Kona's of the future:

Pre-Race:  get there Monday or Tuesday and stay after longer
Pre-Race Food: plan dinner the night before and pre-race breakfast A LOT better...being away from home affects you more than you think!  Ultragen---get lots of it!
Swim:  start in the front row unless my swim training has been less than adequate, and don't start on the inside unless I can beat the rush to the inside from the outside swimmers.  Some say start in front of the floating car, and go hard the first 200-400 yards, just gotta train for that.
T1: put your shoes on the pedals!  Flying mount!
Bike:  Nutrition/Hydration....construct a more solid plan and stick to it.  Always have calories on board, lots of them
Bike:  Don't be afraid to push the pain!  Keep the watts up, but of course you need the fuel on board to do that.
Ali'i Run:  take advantage of how I feel, but hold back plenty to make sure the body is in check off the bike, then start building into pace, knowing that you are going to push the pace on the Queen K and pass everyone you can coming back...as long as you haven't killed urself on the Ali'i section, this should be doable.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011 Kona Ironman Race Report...Got 'er Done!

Showing up late to the party, I've read quite a few race reports already from Kona...and I wish I could write one that was more nuts and bolts, without the "issues" I come across in almost every race.  Maybe I am just so Type-A that I discriminate every little detail, or maybe I just suck at decision making, race planning, and the likes.  Whatever it is, I try to tell a story that lets others learn from my discoveries...keep that in mind as you read this.   I am 100% happy with my result to start with--but that darn "Divine Discontent" always sneaks up on me---I think if I was 18 seconds slower I would not be saying I was 100% happy, and at the same time, I know my times are only important to me; but they are what drives me to keep pushing, keep training, and keep breaking through new levels of fitness in my training.   I learned so much about the race course once I was on there...I think I could write a much better plan for the next time, if there is one...I think just a smarter approach to all 3 legs would make a huge difference---but like I said, for the first time in Kona, I was ecstatic to go sub 10---I'm going for a IM resume without a 10 hour race on there---so to the IM Gods, please don't humble me any time soon ;-)  So with that out there, welcome to my diabolical diarrhea of a diary Kona Race Report:

Pre Race:  I arrived in Kona on Thursday, September 29...a mere 11 days after the birth of our first son Andrew.  To say leaving home was hard is the understatement of the year.  Jenny, Sophia, and Andrew dropped me off curbside, and I felt like we were in one of those movies where the "man" is leaving his girl to go off to war, not knowing if he is going to be coming home alive.  There were a lot of tears shed immediately by all of us (well, not Andrew..), and the race was the last thing on my mind.  I held it together, arrived in Kona to a warm welcome from my mom, and got organized in our huge house "Komohana" which was situated perfectly out of the way of the mayhem that was to arrive down on Ali'i over the next week.  The first few calls/Facetime's home were disastrous, and Jenny and I almost felt that communication was worse than no communication---it just reminded us of how long and how far away I was from them during this delicate time in our lives.  Thoughts of last minute ticket purchases were brought up, but we stuck it out, and things actually settled in and Sophia understood a little bit at least that papa would one day return home.  I don't know how our Armed Forces do it---leaving their families for months if not years at a time with no knowledge of when they will re-unite again...ugh, awful!!

Okay, so that paints the picture of what was on my mind early in the week, but I managed to settle in well...good foods from local markets, good training sessions, legs really started to wake up around wednesday before the race, and I was getting comfortable with the South Swell that was rumbling the swim course and the winds that we would face on the bike.  I did very little running by design, and as race day approached, I could not wait to race.  Doug Thralls did some amazing bodywork on me on two occasions, really freeing up my "always" tight hip rotation...I was zinging Thursday, and worked my best to save that energy for race morning.  Maybe I peaked a bit early, but some bike intervals on thursday kept me feeling "zingy" to race morning.  A quick swim friday morning felt awesome---I felt like I was flying through the water.  So going in to race day, again Chris had me feeling perfect...now it was up to me to execute the plan.  I managed to get a lot of rest going into the race, staying away from the commotion down on the race course and at the Expo.  Dinner friday night consisted of A LOT of brown rice, a Lentil Soup concoction, Ezekial bread, Nut Butter, Quinou.  All good carbs, some protein, and almost no gluten.  I also was on the water all day, and added in EFS after lunch as my "electrolyte loading beverage."   I was in bed early, as the 12 "other" occupants of the house avoided me knowing that I wanted to be alone (thank you all, I was in race mode!).  I ended up watching ""The Last Lecture"  by Randy Pausch on YouTube, and I carried the key points into my race---brick walls (they are there to separate those who really want something versus those that just "say" they want something), the reason behind his decision to do the lecture (his kids)...they all were invaluable tools for the race for me.  Randy died of pancreatic cancer shortly after this lecture...but you would never guess that he was terminally ill with cancer...he was more alive than 99% of the people on this planet...no "poor me," no "why me,"  he was an amazing person.  I didn't finish the video that night, but when I woke up at 3:30am race morning, I finished it...and I was full of Randy Puasch-isms---nothing was going to get in my way on this day.

Breakfast was surprising small, as I had a hard time getting my breakfast down probably due to the amount of food I ate the night before (I ate dinner at 4:30pm by design).  2 servings of oatmeal, half a bagel with nut butter was all I could muster, and I made a mental note there:  this is NOT enough.  It may have played into the race a few times, as I would have liked to get in twice as much as I did.  My family was up with me, and there was a good feeling in the kitchen having them all with me---it was not the norm for me to have so many people there to "sherpa" for me (thanks Jordan again for the use of the term---it's so fitting).
4:30 am Race Day..My Sherpas all in Orange!
The short drive down was uneventful, parking was easy, and I was off to get numbered up and fine tune my bike and nutrition for the day ahead.  iPod started, the first song was a GREAT sign Eminem's "'Till I Collapse"...my engine was revving.  The number guy was a guy I met at the awards banquet at IMAZ, Eric...another good sign.  Then I ran into Yi---always good to run into her!  Off to transition to attend to tires, bottles, and the likes---then it was time to chill.  I made my way to the King Kam Hotel Pool, and by luck, I found a lounge chair to rest one last time on.  After gathering myself, sending some texts and Facebook posts, I started to well up...I was here, I was ready, and I was going to make a dream come true.  Then things got "really real."  I sat up looked around, and realized I was surrounded by the Gods of Triathlon.  Crowie, Lieto, Wellington, Twelsik, Cave, Abel, Van Lierde, Mackenzie, Carfrae...you name it, they were poolside going through their routines.  I fed off of this...but I ended up not watching the Pro start at all--I had my own race to deal with.  Bathroom trips done ;-), final prep done, TYR Torque Pro suit on, TYR Nest Pro Goggles and race cap on, and before I new it, I was treading water on an inside line close to the pier wall....I was there early, but I had a spot in mind, and the treading was a nice warmup regardless.  The Hawaiian Drum lead in to the race was electric---I thought the IMAZ start was amazing...well, this one put that to shame.  The setup of the swim start in Kona is the coolest...you have the Pier on one side, the Finish "stage" behind you, and a long wall on the left side...loaded with 1,000's of cheering spectators...it has almost a "Super Bowl" feeling with the Pre-Race chants and anthems...and of course the best sports announcer around (Mike Reilly!).
Electric Swim Start
Swim:  1:03:38   415th overall but 77th in my Age Group
I decided to line up on the inside, but not right on the pier as I knew I would get pummeled not only by the swimmers, but by the kayaks and surfboards that "hold the line" along the buoys.

First Mistake that I would change for next time:  I decided to be in the "third/fourth row"---I'll spell out why in a second, but I should have gone for the front row---being a first timer, I was conservative, but now I know that I belong in the front row.  The canon was to my immediate right, and I watched the canonizer intently as I figured there would be no warning to the start.  BAM..let the mayhem begin...

The start was not as bad as I expected, but I expected the worst.  I learned to NEVER stop swimming freestyle, that the head up drill is invaluable, and to fight for it.   Immdeiately, I was pushed to the buoy line and the line of boards and kayaks but the 1700+ swimmers to the left of me, so I was not only fighting other swimmers (all of whom seemed so slow!), but also these things with sharp fins on them (luckily no interactions with them).  And the early "crawl" was so slow!  It seemed like a lot of slow swimmers mis-seeded themselves, I think the opening 500 yards must have been at 2:00 pace, ugh.  Had I started a bit more in the middle, and in the front row, I would have sailed with the faster swimmers.  Approaching buoys was the worst, as the line from buoy to buoy was not maintained by the kayaks and boards, so it created a "crunch" at the buoys, and they wouldn't let anyone swim inside of them.  I fought hard on the first two, but developed a new strategy that was brilliant (if I say so myself...).  As I approached the next buoy, I was 5 feet inside of the buoy, and I was gonna have to hammer someone to get around the buoy.  Instead, I went submarine style...swimming about 10 yards under 2 kayaks, the buoy, and coming out the other side in undisturbed water---AWESOME!  If you were near me, you would have heard my excitement underwater ;-) The rest of the way out opened up a bit, but I couldn't figure out how so many people got in front of me off the start position I had.  I swam though group after group, sighting open water lanes and "intervalling" into them to catch the next group.  I felt great, under control, but flustered as I knew I was wasting energy with all of the maneuvering.  At the first turn, I glanced at my watch---30:00 on the dot.  With all of the extra "work" to get there, I was happy that I hadn't lost too much time in the process, but now we were turning back into the swell, and thus, slower swimming.  I rounded the second buoy at the turn, and headed home.  It finally opened up, and I started to take in this beautiful swim course.  You could see everyone around you against a brilliant blue background.  I grabbed a set of feet here and there, but continued working my way through swimmers.  With 300 to go, I settled in on some feet again to rest a bit, watched the coral reef get shallower and shallower, felt my hand hit the sand, and popped up---thinking, what's my time!!  1:03...happy with the time, but with all the commotion, I knew I could do better...next time ;-) I say this because I never felt like I exerted myself on the swim, I never got to really stretch it out and swim until about 2500 yards into the swim...

T1:  3:50

Up the stairs you dream about running up, through the hoses you also dream about going through (I was craving a quick mouthful of fresh water), I grabbed my swim to bike bag, into the tent, packed with athletes..ugh---again thought about how the starting position decision did NOT pay off.  Changed methodically to make sure I had all the goods for the bike, and was off, running all the way around the dock to finally arrive at my bike (threw down a Gel in the process...).  Hit the mount line, jumped on, and spun away.

Bike:  5:07:20  376th overall but 8th in my age group--tough age group!!
I heeded the advice of Bryan Dunn, stud triathlete, for my bike setup and some course knowledge.  I established a plan to settle in on the "trip" through town which was crowded and a bit technical from time to time.  Threw down another gel, and kicked into my nutrition plan of 300+ cals/hr based on how I felt, plus as much water as I could handle.  I actually sighted my family in the Hot Corner, buzzed on up Palani to the Queen K, and started the crusade to Hawi...in a long single file line of cyclists that stretched on down the road into the distance.  So many people say there is rampant drafting in this race, but kudos to the race officials, who were everywhere.  Stop watches timing passes, watching for blocks, and breaking up the occasional "pile" of riders that happens when you stick that many high caliber racers on the same course.  There was an Official every 1/2 mile, buzzing up and down the line watching for obvious offenders and handing out red or yellow cards, and writing numbers of those who were "close" to heeding a penalty for future reference.  We quickly learned what a "safe" gap was.  The closest I came to any attention was when an Official took her hands and said with them "give it a "little" more room."  The conditions for the day seemed to be less than what I had prepared for...the climb to Hawi was of course straight into a headwind.  Hit the turnaround, grabbed my Special Needs Bag, and conveniently dropped the contents...no biggie, and young boy picked em up, and I was on my way.  On the way out I had put down 800 cals in the form of 1 EFS Liquid Shot, and 2 bottles of EFS (2 scoops each, 1 with a full scoop of Pre Race).  My needs bag had another EFS Liquid Shot, 2 more bottles of EFS set up the same way, a pack of Honey Stingers, and a Salty Sweet Bar.  I nixed the non-pre-race bottle and the Salty Sweet Bar---Mistake #2!  After the drop and the stop, I hammered the return from Hawi section, spinning out of my 53 x 11 at 95 rpms.  At this point, I was riding with a group of very respected triathletes, including Troy Jacobson.   I studied his moves as he backed off a bit coming down from Hawi, and was curious why.  I found out when we reached the Queen K, as he and the other 5 guys I was in contact with left me for the wolves ;-).  I settled into my wattage goal, and just put my head in an aero position (meaning: down!) and rode the never ending road back towards Kona.  The bike spacing had definitely opened up, and as I was approaching the Waikaloa area I saw a familiar face in the Penalty Tent..and said "THAT'S BULLSHIT" loud and clear---it was Rich Blanco who had passed me with the most authority on the bike course--how the hell was he drafting someone when he clearly was riding at a different level than anyone else?   I started looking at race numbers, and I noticed that more numbers had marks on them than didn't---the Officials were making a statement I think on this day.  I hit a bit of a lull, due to a lack of calories (stemming from that small breakie, and leaving that food in my Needs Bag of course!), so from mile 80 to about mile 87 I started to conserve energy (meaning: back off the pedal pressure).   I hit an aid station, hit the gels and Perform, and recovered, but I think I was in the hole now...shit.  As I approached Kona, I got to take in a bit of the Men's Pro race...Crowie had distanced himself on the Queen K on his way to the Energy Lab--it was in the bag.  I found myself sitting up and watching versus racing--oh well, this was a WC, and I was on the same course with the Elite of the Elite, and I was "taking the experience in" as Bryan told me to do ;-).  I pulled my feet out of the shoes, did the old flying dismount, and was off into T2, so happy with my bike split!  I was estimating 5:15, and all depended on the conditions of course, but with a 203W average, my coaches response after the race:  "also - 5:06 / 203??  THIS file I need to see!  great!!!"  So I guess I pulled something out of my arse ;-)

Gear wise, the Storck was amazing as it always is...I feel blessed to be riding such a nice, fast bike, with the Di2, the SRM...all was great there.  I would also highly recommend a helmet with a front shield---I used the ONE Elite LG Superleggara...I will never race without a shield again, and the visibility is twice that of wearing sunglasses (I can look out of the top of my eyes with a full view versus being limited by the frame of the glasses---FYI.  Di2---game changer.  DMT shoes were perfect again as well--no hot spots at all, no socks, just a very good pair of cycling shoes!

T2:  3:24
Again made the trek around the perimeter of the pier, grabbed my bike to run bag, into the tent, Castelli socks on, Orange Nike Lunarracers on, EFS Liquid Shot in hand, Visor and glasses on, and off to the run I go.
JD and Lisa working...looks like they were having fun!
Run:  3:41:36
So, let me show you the splits first, then I'll explain this disaster that came out okay in the end!  Something is "off" when I run 9 miles faster than 7 miles---ugh!  So hard to look at those splits, but "it is what it is" when cramps force you to stop racing. 

Split NameDistanceSplit TimeRace TimePaceDiv. RankOverall RankGender Rank
5 mi5 mi42:207:00:328:28/mi
10.2 middd5.2 mi47:497:48:219:11/mi
17.2 mi7 mi1:06:438:55:049:31/mi
26.2 mi9 mi1:04:449:59:487:11/mi
Total26.2 mi3:41:369:59:488:27/mi115459431

Well, I looked good here...
So the first thing I have to mention is I went against what I ALWAYS do...I went without an HRM all day.  I simply had a Timex watch that had my overall time on it versus the full Garmin setup giving me lots (meaning: too much!) information for me to play mind games with.  I immediately found my legs out of T2, as if I hadn't ridden at all---AWESOME.  I was running with 2 other guys, and we were picking people off right and left...I was a happy kid in summer camp and ready to crush this thing--swim and bike were both practically perfect, and had me right on my "best case" projections.  When you hit Ali'i Drive to start the 5 mile out and back, things get REAL, really REAL.  On the bike there was of course always a breeze/wind, but Ali'i was stale, hot, and felt like a swamp.  I was still feeling great though, saw my cheering squad in their awesome orange shirts in front of Humpys...they were right where I needed them!  I left them, and POW, ribcage (intercostal) muscle cramps..straight to a 10 out of 10 in pain.  We still hadn't hit the first aid station (am still curious why there isn't one at mile one??).  I was buckling---and digging for the first aid station..it seemed to never come!  I eventually got there, and immediately went into emergency mode...how do I get rid of this?  The answer was probably right there in my hand (the EFS Liquid Shot), but I couldn't muster a swig of that hot gel.  Instead I tried Coke--of course the wrong thing!  I was walking out of this aid station still buckled in pain as Chris approaches on his way back into town, shaking his head---my heart sank, as I knew he was disappointed to see me give in.  I kept my mind focused though, thinking this will pass, and when it does, you need to RUN! This section forced me to stop racing, and start surviving the race---I didn't train to have it go this way, but there was nothing I could do when I hobbled between aid stations as I tried to find a solution.  Finally, at about mile 7, things started to turn as I went to orange slices and Perform---lots of it.  Between aid stations I was getting better, but was still limited in speed fearing they would come back with a vengeance.  I made it back to my crew, and John gave me a much needed pep talk...
but not here on the Ali'i return...John's pep talk...
I walked a bit after, mumbling nonsense to myself and told myself to stop feeling sorry for myself and get back into this thing---but the damage had been done.  I went from my "perfect day" target to geez, I may finish in 11 hours....ugh, NOT a feeling I had imagined going into this race feeling as good as I did physically and mentally, but I didn't let it crack me.  Chris has told me many times that you can recover from a "bad patch" and to just work with it, trouble shoot it, and come out of it stronger than ever.  After making my way up to Palani, I was welcomed by this guy with his young daughter on his shoulders---RUSS BRANDT!  He was saying everything I needed to hear, and along with what John had said to me 5 minutes earlier, I hit the Queen K, felt the breeze, and joined the race again.  Welcome back Mr. Svans, you are now in hunting mode---Chris, you are always right!  I "hit the proverbial RESET button" as Russ was screaming at me to do as he ran up Palani as I walked.  I took the momentum of running out and down " Mark and Dave Hill" to regain entry into the race.  The cramps were still there but tolerable, but I just kept on the orange slices and Perform, and they were gone by the time I hit the top of the Energy Lab.  Chris played a trick on me by saying the turnaround was another half mile into the Lab, so when I turned, I was all smiles.  I picked up my little note of motivation (the only thing in my Run Special Needs Bag...), and cycled through the names and quotes I had written on it...including "It's go time" and "put the women and children to bed and go hunting for dinner."  I was breaking down those walls that Randy Pausch mentioned, and was doing this for my kids...to get this done and to get "home"...as fast as I could put this chapter behind me as I could so I could move on to packing to go home to them.  Quite frankly, I think a lot is made of the Energy Lab stent, and  I agree 100% with what Bryan told me going in...it's really not the big deal that everyone makes it out to be.  Yes, the air is stale running up and out, but nothing compared to the Ali'i stretch, and you are now running back to "home."  Then there is the Ford Inspiration Sign with the notes from your cheering section. In my case, I asked my family if they could ask Jenny for something to put on there---I don't think my feet were touching the ground as I approached, so I would say the Sign worked wonders for me.  I hit the mat that triggers the sign, and glued my eyes to the digital sign..waiting, waiting, and then there it was...."You Got This Papa!"  So, I had lost it a few times before the race, but I had tears rolling down my cheeks and was almost uncontrollable with the sniffles---I just couldn't hold it back, and didn't want to.  Luckily I was alone through there, and that little note meant so much, they were right there in the middle of the war with me, cheering me on, feeding my positive reinforcement that I did in fact "HAVE THIS!"   I re-composed myself and was back on the Queen K, knowing that this section was tough, boring, and rolling.  None of that mattered...I became a man on a mission, and after a few checks of the watch, I had sub 10 back as attainable, but it was gonna take a huge effort.  By the time I reached Mark and Dave Hill, I was flying---I guess walking all that way on Ali'i saved my legs for this effort I was putting in, and I felt no effects of the 20+ miles I had already covered on the run.  I picked a guy way up ahead---about 40 people were between the two of us...he was my "goal catch."  As I reached the top of the hill to head down Palani, I was greeted by Russ again, and I told him he was my new best friend (well, he is "one" of my best friends now...don't worry Ponch and JD ;-)   That reset button was a charm to hit, and I ended up catching my "goal catch as I made the turn onto Kuakini Hwy, but now my goal was bigger, very specific, and very close...getting to the line sub 10.  I must have been running 6:30's from the bottom of Mark and Dave Hill to the final turn on Ali'i...I was on Holy Ground now, and there was no way I was going 10+, but I still had work to do.
on Holy Ground
There was one thing that was going to keep me from celebrating the final section with my family, and here I am trying to go sub 10 with seconds to spare as I approach my family---sorry family, I said screw it, and put out another surge to get me down the shoot, as I wasn't quite sure how far the finish line was...Mike Reilly was right on cue saying "these guys are fighting for sub 10 hours---give em all you got!"  I was fist pumping while sprinting with no one but me and that line..and a clock reading 9:59:43 as I crossed the line into a dream I have had 1,00's of times, watched on TV hundreds of times, and into my personal catchers:  My mom and sister Inta who's shift ended at 5 pm, and I was finishing at 4:59:43pm...PERFECT!  My dream of 15 years DONE!  My Bucket List contained one item, and this was it...maybe time to add some new targets on there.

Carlos Sue and I at Dinner Sunday night...Champions!
I felt so fortunate to share the course with so many athlete-friends of mine...we all kept each other going out there.  Carlos and Sue, you define Ironman for what you overcame on this day---a huge congrats to you for the perseverance you showed us all by reaching that finish line.  Dad, I have to say that hug on the beach after the race was the best father son moment of my life....I knew you knew how big of a deal this race was to me, and I am so glad you were there to see me "finish what I started" over 15 years ago.  Remember watching the race every year?  Well, watching it this December will hopefully bring on a whole new meaning.  And Mom, you have always been right there cheering me on, and of course it was no different this time--sometimes I even think you are more excited about races than I am!  to my sis's and bro, thanks for making it over to Kona; I know it was a challenge, but every one of you made it and made the trip that much more special...it has been way too long since we were all in the "same room" together...let's try to make it a more frequent occurrence (well, I am probably the guilty one here...).  And to JD and Cyndi..thanks for showing my family around when I was too busy being selfish---well, racing ;-)  You two continue to prove that you are very special friends, thanks for everything you are!

I think I made them proud parents on this day ;-)
Me and the Deans Post Race..Love em!

Jenny, simply, you are amazing.  I missed you more than I ever want to miss you...you have been behind me on this journey, putting up with the long hours, the nights with "no Papa" at home.  The calls after my failures, a crash...and you have been there unconditionally for me every step of the way.  I don't know what's next (or after IMAZ...), but I know you have given me much more than you have received, and I can't compete with your heart and unselfishness that you have exuded over the past 18 months....I feel like the luckiest man alive to have you as my wife.  You are my rock.
Calling Home...