"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...