"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.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Off Season and Reflecting on IMAZ...

Off season for most triathletes usually means its snowing/raining/dark/cloudy outside, which makes it easy to sit on the couch and let your body heal from the punishment you have put it through over the past 10 months or longer season.  They bundle up, go see SkyFall, put up Christmas lights, hit up the coffee shops; some even participate in their "other" hobbies like building replicas of Star Trek ships.  For me, this is my first "off" season in 3 years...and at least I can say that Christmas lights are up.  For those living in AZ though, off season means 80 degrees, sunny skies---perfect SBR weather.  We finally get to breath fresh air after being pummeled by the heat all summer long.  It makes me think back to my days in the Bay Area when I could ride all day in the middle of the summer and not have to think about where my next water stop would be just after leaving the last water stop.  Climbing Tam and actually feeling cool, up into the fog, then down to Stinson, back over to Mill Valley, then back across the Bridge to the Marina---ahhhhhhh!!!!  I can dream, can't I?!  But in all that, we finally have "riding weather" here, and we are supposed to back off...it is bass ackwards.  So, off season this year has already included two 60 mile rides.  One goal I am succeeding at is keeping to one swim, one bike, one run workout a week...but I don't know how long that will be able to hold me.
One of the reasons why I love IMAZ so much is simply the weather pattern here that you get through the training.  If you are starting ~16 weeks out, you are starting in 105+ heat.  But as race day approaches and you are getting extremely fit while dealing with the heat, all of the sudden the temps let up, and your body starts absorbing rather than surviving.  I went from riding in a Tri Top one weekend  and getting told "its too hot out here, how do you ride in this?" to arm/knee warmers, full gloves the next weekend.  When the crappy weather is starting to hit everywhere else, our situation becomes ideal...finally.  The final 3-4 weeks of prep for IMAZ, and just as the weather is settling down and the training load lessens, your body is ready to crush every shorter but faster workout.  You head into the race having suffered, recovered, and full of energy finally able to pee clear ;-) (<<<my fascination with not being dehydrated ALL THE TIME).
We will see what the rest of "off season" will become in my camp---the shorter daylight hours are a bugger for sure.  I'm looking for all sorts of fun stuff to break up this transition from full-fledged IM training to short, fast, and fun training and racing, that's for sure.

So with the "down time" (but in reality filled with all sorts of issues that needs resolution), I have thought a bit about IMAZ 2012.  Ironman races tend to stay with me for a lot longer than the soreness and wasted feeling in my body subsides.  They give you a chance to see what you are made of, and sometimes (or 4 out of 5 times in my case), you walk away feeling somewhat like you underperformed, didn't dig deep enough, or just stopped fighting the good fight.  But at the same time you have to give the race the credit it deserves---you can't just say, "oh I planned on a much better day than I had" blindly.  Well, last night while sitting on the couch, I decided to look at my IMAZ training log, and had an "ah ha" moment.....here's the numbers I saw:


Those represent the time per week over the 8 weeks before race day...the 12:33 was the week I got my slot into IMAZ and went from "this season is over" to "I'm going to give it one more go" to put the IM Texas crash behind me.  8 weeks to prep for an IM seemed right with the understanding I had a large base to count on, and (to review from previous posts) we decided that a "let's see how little I can do to get me to the start line" approach was the only way I could pull this off.  Looking at the above...yeah, I accomplished the "how little" part.  The 17:26 week is the anomoly...12,700 yards in the pool, 202 miles on the bike, 26 miles running.  Three days in that week were "swim only." Two runs just over 1:30:00 each.  Three rides:  90 minutes of intervals, 110+ miles steady aerobic, and 60 miles EZish.  Jumping to what that translated into on race day, and my impression of my result has completely changed.  I was irritated a bit by the 9:50...but REALLY irritated at the 3:45 marathon.  Now, and noting that those two ~1:30:00 runs were the longest two of my training for IMAZ, I am stoked---REALLY stoked.  I felt completely in control the entire swim/bike at IMAZ, other than not trusting my fitness on the bike and turning in the lowest wattage split of any IM to date (even though my testing 5 days prior to raceday told me to not wimp out like I did).  Take out the idiocy of the penalty as well, and I cannot be any happier . I sat home almost every sunday while others racing IMAZ posted their long sunday runs on Facebook (yes, it was tough to sit home, but I was loving the family time).  All of my weekday training was done after work, which was probably the biggest mistake---no matter how much I cut back, the afternoon only training ate heavily into home time.  If I could get it out of the way before work....hmm.
I'm always looking for a takeaway, and for this one,  the base I have is carrying me through less then great training loads---and it also points to less being more when you have a foundation with which to build from.  I think I said it in my Race Report, that there is the big "IF" I had done a few LSD runs...I now know those were needed and probably made a huge impact on that 3:45.  I am not the type that wants the perfect situation for every race...I like the variety my training over the past 3 years has taken.  I was just as excited about IMAZ 2012 as I was for 2010, but for some many different reasons.  Rookie to veteran...the unknown to completely aware.  The 16 week build does prepare you the best, but what fun is it doing the same thing the same way, especially when the "other" ways offer new challenges personally rather than just a time on a clock.  BUT, it would be nice to accomplish both...
Until then, I'm gonna stay healthy, eat right (need to stop the Peanut M&M habit though), and enjoy life!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

IMAZ 2012 Race Report...Fade to Black

Sophia...papa's home!
The Swim Workouts, the Trainer Sessions...

First off, for those of you that are new to reading my "stuff," I tend to write too much---Race Reports, instead of getting shorter and to the point, are becoming in depth reviews of my race....those that have read other posts (a fair amount of you do...thanks!), I can't apologize because it's your choice to come back after previous ramblings.  This post is much more than a Race Report:  I consider it my chance to close out this chapter of racing, what I have learned from it, and if I come back to race IM's again, that I can use these references to get me back up to speed with what worked and made me tick at this moment in time.  My racing strategy is in there, and I truly believe in it...it works for me, maybe not for you, but if I desire to get back to what I have built with Chris, this post will be an invaluable piece of that puzzle...

Five Ironmans in 2 years.  One kid born.  2 moves.  10 words is all it takes to review the past 2+ years. I wish I could have the numbers of yards in the pool and miles on the bike and in running shoes.  Consider that I have trained consistently since January of 2010 (34 months), and looking at 732 miles a month as a decent number, I would estimate I traveled 24,901 miles; OR, I travelled around the world on my own power in that span.  With the 2 moves, and with Andrews birth.  And don't forget Sophia, who was 20 months old when I started this journey...now she's almost 5.

Every Ironman I have competed in has taken on its own meaning, and I have treasured every leg of this adventure...whether successful or a complete failure, each one has been an amazing experience I will carry with my till I'm sitting in my rocking chair with my great grandkids teasing me because I can't move faster than Andrew can at 14 months old.  Crazy, but that would be Andrew's grandkids...

So here's a brief recap of The Five IMs...

#1:  IMAZ 2010 was all about "can I do this?"  with a 9:28, a trip to Kona, and my standing PR, it stands as one of the most exhilarating days of my life.  I'm still unsure it happened...
#2: Kona 2011 (9:59) a dream come true.  For years I thought I'd never do an IM, and here I was in Kona...Amazing experience, and only wished Jenny and the kids were there with us...Andrew was born 2 weeks prior to race day, making that impossible.  This could be the one regret that sticks...it's not every day Papa gets to play in the Super Bowl.
#3: IMAZ 2011 (9:42), six weeks after Kona...still toasted, it became a true test with a burnt-out engine.  As Chris and I discussed pre-race: this was all about just waking up and doing an Ironman; not at your best, just going out and committing to it.  No, it wasn't ideal, but yes, it tested my heart, and I won.
#4: IMTexas (11:08) was supposed to be all about Kona Trip #2.  A crash and grinding my elbow to the bone at mile 10 of the bike curtailed those plans...but I finished, and that was the most adversity I have ever faced...ask Dana Jones ;-)

To shorten it even further: Most Exhilarating, Most Amazing Experience, Biggest Test, Most Adversity...that is why there is nothing like racing this distance for me.  I simply feel the most "alive" when I am on a race course.  

And here we are, #5 in the books, IMAZ 2012.  This one followed suit.  I luckily got a spot in the race on September 24th...7 weeks prior to race day (thanks to the Endurance Sports Travel Wait List!).  After a summer of lackluster training due to zero "A" races planned for the fall, it was either "get a spot for IMAZ, or I am done with IM."  So with 7 weeks to race day, and Chris fresh off his overall amateur win at IM Kentucky on less than huge numbers, we devised a plan that was simple and had it's scapegoat:  Chris told me "It's perfect!  If you have a great race on this volume, we can say A-HA!  And if you don't we can blame the training!"  After a few chuckles, this became the plan.  Not to bore you with details, but there were ZERO long slow runs...nothing over 1h45m.  Could we have added them?  Yes, but the plan was to train for this one with minimal strain on my time away from home.  The biggest week was 18 hours...that would be considered a recovery week in the prep for the other 4.  Add in that this was only weeks, and we basically only had room for 2 build cycles.  The amazing thing?  I never felt stronger than I do now in the swim and on the bike...my run, I thought, was in very good shape going in...based on a 90/9 brick session where I averaged 7:12 off the bike on a hot day in mid October.  With that key workout, I felt I was ready even under the lack of a 16 week build...but let's not forget the huge base I have built!

So, here's November 18th, 2012....
My mom, dad and Jeanette flew in from back home (SF Bay Area), which was a special treat, and we spent friday and saturday just catching up and playing with the kids.  I got in and out of Registration on thursday in 11 minutes...and outside of that, I was not in Tempe until the Bike/Bag drop off, which was maybe another 15 minutes.  Zero wasted energy, which kept me at ease and relaxed leading into Sunday.  I had to keep reminding myself that I had an IM to race on Sunday, and just kept hydrating and eating whenever I could.  I was up at 3:45 am Sunday morning after a solid 6h45m sleep, and I bet if I had turned the snooze off, I would have just kept sleeping--RELAXED!  Had my Oatmeal, Ultragen, Flax Seed, Agave Nectar, Almond Milk concoction until I was fully loaded along with a 1/2 dose of OSMO Pre-Load (1/2 dose the night before as well).  I ate 2 clif bars during the night, so I was full!  I knew I was hydrated by the number of times I was in the bathroom throughout the weekend.  My mom arrived and we drove down at 4:15...way too easy to get situated, as we had to wait for transition to open because we were so early and somehow grabbed a spot in the vendor lot which was not patrolled for some odd reason---a bit of good fortune right away.  I had my checklist on my phone so I didn't have to think, and just went through the itinerary until I was standing at the ONE tent for our Pre Race Group Photo.

I met up with Cam Loos while we were putting the finishing touches on our swim prep....Cam and I had chatted on Facebook a lot leading into this race.  Cam's goal was a 9:08, and guess what, he did a 9:08 and won the 40-44...almost nailing his predictions to the minute.  I knew he was out of my reach from the get go, but nonetheless someone to spot in the field as I knew with his strong swim/bike that he would lead the AG.

Swim:  56:34....
  • 8th in 40-44
  • 24th Amateur (nerding out with some result hunting: 37 Pros swam faster than me, so 61st Overall)
I lined up where I have for the past 3 years...directly in line with the first pilon of the bridge from the south side of the TTL.  I jumped in a bit late and had to swim over a few unsuspecting people on my crash course to the front, otherwise the water was perfect.  I went with clear goggles for the first time (Thanks Brooke!), and wow, I'll never race with tinted goggles again.  I had some good speed around me as I spotted Erica McClurg and Cam next to me.  Canon goes boom, and for the 3rd time, I am untouched off the line.  I settled in almost immediately and watched as Cam sailed off the front as well as Max Beissmann (swim prime...nice job Max!) to his left...I had no chance of going with those two, but found myself in a nice "4 pack" right away, and we stayed together to the first turn.  Again like in Texas...solid group, great line, courteous, and really working well to make the swim easy.  Once around the return buoy, I had a decision...stay with them or swing wide right like I planned.  Luckily, they swung a bit wider than the buoy line and made my decision easy, so I hung in with them, and now we were 3.  I just sat in third position as there was no reason to jump up as the lead guy was straight as an arrow and didn't mind doing most the work...I couldn't have written a better swim plan than this!  We hit the steps, Mike Reilly shouting my name, only to hear him say..."all 3 of these guys are Erik's getting out!"  Kind of crazy if the 3 of us were together the entire swim.  The Ironman swims have all been "no big deal" other than Kona, but this one was my best, and not necessarily because it was my fastest...I wasn't breathing hard at all heading into T1, my perceived HR was low, and I was as fresh as I was jumping in the water.
Cam on the Right, Max probably Top Left, and I was the splash below him, I think!

My takeaway from the swim:  more in Ironman than in any other distance of triathlon, your pace is dictated by your training.  The last 2 weeks of swim workouts were some of the toughest I have put myself through.  Not because of the workout, but how I approached them.  I got my 100 time down to 1:10 on 4 or 5 x 100 with 10 seconds rest.  When I started with Chris, I was swimming 1:30's.  No matter what anyone says, not only is a fast swim a huge advantage, but getting out of the water not even winded and being able to make smart decisions on the bike when you are ahead of everyone else makes racing tactics a blast.  Being up front THROUGH the swim saves a ton of energy, along with zero frustration that I hear about from those behind me...mostly, the slugfest at the start line (in Kona I experienced that "hell" ...while it was crazy and even "fun," I would rather swim by myself).

My swim strategy:  use a fast swim to set the tone for the day.  Get off the line fast, but not anaerobic...just enough to stay clear.  If I can get out before my AG competition, I can control my race intensity much more than if I am playing catch up on the bike, which I am not strong enough to do, and its much easier to be up front on the swim with proper training than become a fast biker with the extra hours it takes weekly.  Granted, I fast bike is sexy, but I am realistic with my expectations and the time I have for training...at this point.  Plus you can fake a fast bike with a fast swim, decent bike ;-)

T1:  4:01
I normally wouldn't be happy with this, but I went the sock route, and I am now a firm believer in socks for the IM bike.  I take everything Chris says as if it was written in the Bible, and this was the first time for socks.  Zero issues, zero hot spots that always creep in, so try it if you have IM bike foot issues.  Otherwise, I carried my Espresso Quick Fill in my back pocket which makes perfect sense.  Why tape it to the frame when ideally you want your nutrition in front of you?


Bike:  5:02:31...
  • 6th off the bike in 40-44* (or "would" have been 3rd without the non-drafting but getting blocked into a drafting penalty)
  • ~23rd Amateur off the bike (73rd Overall)
  • First EVER penalty in over 50 Triathlons
    • "would" have been 3rd without the non-drafting but getting blocked into a drafting penalty while sitting up and not pedaling for things to clear out
After nearly crashing into a sign coming out of T1 with a version of an erratic flying squirrel mount (Dan M, did you notice that???), I managed to survive the chicane heading out to Rio...and there was no one ;-)  I could see one guy about a 1/4 mile ahead...target #1!  Three targets later I was turning onto the Bee Line, but it wouldn't be right if I didn't mention that I was shark bait once...maybe twice ;-)  Different than the past 2 years, there was a head wind as I traveled up the Bee Line (reverse and worse in 2011 and horrendous in 2010).  I simply "plugged in" my watts, and rode 210-215 all the way to the turn...felt like an easy spin, but this was what my Blood Lactate Testing on Tuesday told us. So below is the SRM file for the first lap.  I think that Green Power Line looks pretty good ;-)  The blue cadence line is bad as well...

Lap 1 Power File

Bryan Dunn has become a fixture at the Turnaround, and seeing his mug up there is welcoming with some news----"you're 8th" he tells me, while trying to count his fingers and hold up the correct number, and the "Kona Bound" sign with your huge smile on had me laughing  ;-).  With that bit of headwind now turning into a tailwind for the trip back to Tempe, I had the race course to myself, and my bike was humming---really, the Firecrest 808 and Disc on the Storck were flying!  Post race, I figure I had made my way into 3rd or 4th in 40-44 by this point with the early catches on the bike--I did notice some 40-44 calf numbers on my way up, and realizing now that Bryan was going off of the Swim placing and looking at the results, I was sitting PERFECT!!!!
The Final Setup...and the best one to date.  2 cages, clean, tidy, FAST!

My cockpit...bottle for water up front (bottle behind the seat for Sports Drink), PC 7 keeping me on track, calories in the Stealth.  Not cumbersome...absolutely perfect finally!!!
Having the Bike Course practically to myself was crazy fun...everyone coming up the Bee Line is staring at you (I can't go without mentioning the Drafting Parties going on though---ridiculous!  Zero separation in at least 10 packs of 10 or more athletes---but who am I to comment ;-).  How fast was the return trip, all alone, on fresh pavement with a slight tailwind?  27.5 mph average---that is HAULING!  My average power for lap one was 212W...with a goal of 210, maybe I was a bit heavy on the throttle, but I felt perfect carrying into Lap 2, and the "feel" was that I was holding back.  The tailwind definitely kept things easy, and my mind was busy making decisions as I made the turn.
Lap 2 Power File

During the final 10 miles of Lap 1 I had peaked back and noticed a foursome catching me slowly.  Once I saw them, my goal was to hold steady and keep them away until the start of Lap 2...luckily this came naturally at my goal pacing, but I was "on alert."

Finishing Lap 1...feeling perfect!

So much to say here...start of Lap 2...Patrick Wheeler (white helmet) blew by me (finished with an 8:55...um, pretty damn fast) and he had carried these other two guys to the Turnaround.  I thought about trying to stay with him, until my watts went out of range---PULL BACK SVANS!!!  Is that you JD watching every move in the ONE jacket???  Also, what was that guy thinking with the Purple and Pink combo?  I was near him all day long....kind of made me feel wimpy.  Actually not kind of, it DID!!!
I was very happy now to have some company after all the fun on the First Lap, and my Lap 2 plan quickly changed and took shape: hold onto the back of whatever formed out of this "pack" legally, saving the effort I would have used here to hold the 220W goal pace for later.  A Zoot Ultra teammate of Bryan's got into the mix, and he tagged onto Patrick, and they were pretty much gone.  I am sitting here writing this wondering if I should have pushed a little out of my "box" to try and work with them.  I knew Patrick from IM Texas, and know how good of a rider he is, so I decided that his pace would ruin me for the run.  I think it was the right call, especially post race knowing that at this point I was sitting 3rd or 4th.  BUT, there is that side of me, especially with how the rest of the day unfolded, that if I had given it a go, that the rest of the day could have turned out better...woulda coulda didn't!

Anyways, back to my weak-minded self sitting on the back of a foursome...it was great as the guy up front was behaving just like my swimming buddy who lead the way to T1.  I was more than happy to take "pulls," but I continually checked my pace/wattage an decided that, heck, if they're gonna just let me sit here, this is perfect...AGAIN!  We kept it legal, and the Marshals were now out on full patrol.  As the caboose, it was easy to stay legal, take advantage and re-fuel and hydrate.  (I was using the reflector spacing as my guide for legal positioning, which was plenty of space).  I kept saying to myself CONSERVE ENERGY.  I simply waited for them to tire out fighting the head wind.  We hit the turnaround, saw Bryan again, mumbled a bit, and a memory from that same point last year popped into my head---a memory about how wrecked I was at that point (the halfway point) last year as I had no business being out there.  Totally different feeling this time...smiling, fresh, and fast.

The group was breaking apart as we approached the turnaround (half way point of the bike), were I had caught what seemed to be a pack of the Womens Pro field...lots of Zoot Kits in there!  On the way back, I worked through them, but one of them (no names...but I know who you are ;-) passed me back right away.  I waited, passed back, only to then have a group of 3 pass me back again.  We approached two lapped athletes who were riding side by side (blocking!), and after passing narrowly and sitting in third of the now foursome, all of us were sitting up as we reassembled (this happened, gosh, 20 times in Kona last year...you just sit up, stop pedaling, and let it sort out).  Next thing I know "Number 1859, penalty for drafting."  I look over and " hold back with everything I can from saying "you gotta be _____ kidding me!"  We had also just passed the slight rise at the Special Needs Zone which was full of congestion and riders not paying attention to a straight line...I still don't understand the penalty if he was watching the situation, but so be it.  I knew he was back there from a previous glance...I also let him know I disagreed as I was not making any agressive move, not taking any advantage, waiting for it to clear...oh well.  The guy in front of me was not helping, as he was sitting right on a wheel now like he had been since I joined him--maybe I too close for too long, but maybe it was guilty by association.  Hot, I just bolted, doing what I should have done in the first place.  I was almost to the Gas Station on the Bee Line by now, and I just laid it out there riding 220W+ to the Penalty Box stationed just before the Turn for Lap 3.  I got it out of my head as fast as I could, used the 4 minute stop to eat, drink what I had left on board, and watched the Zoot Ladies sail on by.  At least it took them 2:30+ before they caught up to me while I sat....but I had wimped out and got a penalty for being safe.  The "mistake of the day" had been made.  I shoulda chased Patrick and the Zoot guy maybe, I shoulda taken off after the turn definitely...I felt GREAT.  Instead, I was in no mans land now behind the women pros I wanted to pace with as I have learned that they typically pace the bike very consistently...

The Turn for Lap #3...Post Penalty Box :-(
Lap 3 Power File...
I was not in the mood for the crowd coming into the turn around (sorry family and friends...).  Lap 2 was perfect and a failure all in one.  My Lap 1 split was 1:38ish, Lap 2 was 1:37ish (excluding penalty time), and by working with what was around me on Lap 2, I had conserved energy so I could really lay into the first half of Lap 3 to the turnaround to make a move where others tend to crumble a bit. Pre race the goal was to try and hold 210W for the 3rd loop, and I nailed it to the turn.  Still though, I never caught the lady Zooters, and worse, all of this lap I was totally alone working through lapped victims.  The wattage dropped off slightly on the way back here and there, as I sacrificed wattage in order to stay aero. Without the penalty, I would have had a perfect bike leg and gotten to T2 5+ minutes faster than I did, fresher than I did, and without the stomach knots that came on the way back to Tempe.  It didn't destroy my race, but thinking about it and putting it down in this entry, well, if I had a mood ring on, it would be BLACK.  I cleared Lap 3 in 1:41, which I felt was a great pyramid of bike split as Chris had talked about pre-race...

Here's the fallout from my mistake with the penalty---
  • I wanted a sub 5 bike split...nope!  
  • I wanted to hit T2 under 6 hours...nope!  
  • I would have been in 3rd-4th place in 40-44...nope!  
  • I would have been A LOT fresher having someone to ride with for Lap 3 (AG'ers fall off, women pros = solid pace!)...nope!
  • I could have paced off the Lady Zooters on the run with this fresher me...nope!
  • I would have been AT LEAST 4 minutes faster on the day with the penalty time and losing that "place" in the field...NOPE!

Somewhere...who knows when, during the bike...
They got the tracking set up really well for this year...basically, there are 4 sections to each Lap...so Splits 1-4 are 4 even quarters of Lap1, 5-8 for Lap 2, and 9-12 for Lap 3
Lap #1:               27:21       30:40       19:20      21:34
Lap #2:               25:34       28:27       21:13      27:22
Lap #3:               24:42       26:52       23:48      25:38

It's pretty obvious to see that the wind changed directions...blowing down the Bee Line for Lap 1, neutral for Lap 2, then blowing up the Bee Line for Lap3...a typical day on the Bee Line!   Spectators in Tempe thought there was no wind, but I'd say it was about 4 mph all day long.

Nutrition/Hydration on the bike:
As I finished the bike, Chris asked how I was--I said "good" but that stomach issue was lingering, and I spent the last 10 miles of the bike focused on trying to resolve the issue, even stopping at Special Needs on the 3rd Loop to get another bottle of OSMO (I didn't stop prior).  Perform, I have decided after 3 races using it, is awful. I've had the same exact stomach tightness each time versus EFS which has given me zero problems.  I do use Perform mixed from powder in training to accommodate to it, but the bottled version I think is just too concentrated for my gut to handle.  My plan was to sip water every time I took a chug, but I guess I didn't do that enough.  So, no more on-the-bike Perform for me.  My total calorie intake was low...in the 900-1000 calorie range (EFS Liquid Shot, Clif Bar, Gu), but I felt well fueled all bike long.  I simply took in some food when I felt the slightest hunger come on.  1.25 bottles of OSMO, 2 bottles of Perform, and 6 bottles of water sounds about right for liquids on the day.   This seems low for me, but I had a consistent sweat on, and pee'd right out of T2.  Maybe next time add another bottle or 2 in the same 80 degree conditions? Peeing on the bike past the half way point would be an ideal marker.

Takeaway and tactics from the bike:  well, if the above wasn't long enough, I'm still gonna add more thoughts here.  My word for the day was PATIENCE.  I think I was a bit too patient, but really, I think it is impossible to be too patient on the bike all the same...you still have a marathon to run.  I hit the 100 mile mark at 4:24ish feeling fresh, and I gained ground on the bike on this day...this was a first for me, even with the penalty.  I really couldn't be happier about it.  I trained for 7 weeks for this race after all, and my bike fitness 7 weeks ago was suspect.  But I also think IM racing is my "niche" in triathlon...its where I can excel the most and my pacing seems controlled, maintainable, and consistent.  70.3 are the death of me, and the Olympic distance is just plain fun.  I must have the "aerobic gene" versus the "threshold gene."  This would have been my fastest bike split (it was a fast day though), but it was my lowest average power IM bike at 201W average (207W for both Kona 2011 IMAZ 2011).  For a sub 5 bike split at that wattage, I have to be extremely aero...I wasn't out of the aero bars at all until mile 100. Another tactic I used was changing cadence periodically on an pancake flat bike course.  Sometimes I was at 85 cadence, other times as low as 70 cadence.  The variety kept my legs from getting stale, and gave me something to stay focused on.

Bike Power File
T2:  1:56
Ok, its nothing to win a medal for, but the speed of my T2 tells a lot about how I was feeling...decently fast means I was alert and ready to run (last year, I didn't want to leave the tent).  A quick change of socks, shoes on, have my helper put my 5 Hour Energy and Saltstick dispenser in my back pocket, and off I go with visor and glasses in hand.

The only problem?  The Saltstick Dispenser stayed in T2.  If the penalty was the biggest mistake of the day, this was the even bigger biggest mistake of the day.  We talked pre-race about 300 mg of salt per hour starting in T2.  Frickity frack, I didn't realize how screwed I was as I needed it BAD...

Run: 3:45:26...my slowest run split :-(
(no need to figure out where this split was overall...I'll wait for Slowtwitch Enhanced Results to see the damage...

Out of T2 my family was RIGHT THERE to greet me...smiling, but not long after this, the smiles would be no more...

With that bit of GI issue, I headed out onto the run course stressed.  I felt decent, but all of the sudden the smooth race I was having into T2 was no longer with me.  Pace was 7:10-7:20ish, comfortable, relaxed, but at the same time I was feeling a lot of tightness in my rib cage---a Salt Tab would have done wonders.  I reached around after crossing the Priest Dr bridge...and panicked when I couldn't feel my Saltstick Dispenser.  My damage control instantly went into overdrive as my rib cage tightened to the point that I could only take shallow breaths (zero diaphragmatic breathing).  This defined the success or failure of the day at least from a goal time perspective.  I crossed the bridge back to the south side of TTL eager to see my family there, but I was becoming seriously worried that I would have to run the marathon feeling this way, and I was not even half way through the first lap.

Crossing the bridge on Lap 1 in panic mode...

I mumbled a bit to my family as I really couldn't come up with anything to say...I may have even faked that I was ok here.  It didn't help that as I passed the guy in bright Orange shoes my right foot clipped one of the railing bases heading through the uneven path behind transition while heading down to TTL.  I kept the rubber side down on the bike, but now I can't even run without falling?  It knocked the wind out of me and dislocated my right ring finger.  I know...I am accident prone.
LOTS of 8's....when I shooting for all 7's;  that was the difference between my goal and my actual.... 

From here, I went from racing to consistent attention to damage control all the way to the finish.  The support on the course was incredible--home field advantage carried me through 23 miles with a completely seized up rib cage.  ONE-mates, you are spectacular!  Neal and Dani Gelb: we already talked about our funny moment....one word: delirious!  Ponch: thanks for the hugs!  JD, Carlos, Sue and Rika:  you know how to yell!  Russ, you gave me everything you had to get me going...I just couldn't move any faster!  Thanks a ton bud, that was incredibly cool of you to be out there in the way that you were.
I stopped a few times and took a huge breath while letting my upper body completely go limp and got a little relief, but otherwise, I wanted someone to jump on my back or take what felt like an ice pick in my spine out.  The 5 Hour Energy had to be used at the end of Lap 1, but had zero effect, and I ended up walking every aid station trying to stretch it out, drink some Perform. Chris came to my rescue with some salt at the end of Lap 2.  It seemed to help and I was able to settle into some semi-decent rhythm finally, but at this point my legs were trashed from fighting my upper body for ~20 miles of the run.  I  maintained my position in the race for the last loop, and had just enough juice to keep two 40-44 guys from beating me to the line for 10th by seconds.
9:50 sounds like a good time, and when people tell me "great race" I simply smile and say thanks, but I had my battles out there and created a lot of adversity for myself with some really stupid mistakes---the penalty, not taking stock of the Salt Stick Dispenser, and my little crash on the run.

There were many dark times on the run, but I just kept fighting---but there was no way I was going supra-10.  I made sure I would remember the pain by having conversations with myself about how much it hurt and to remember the mistakes I made that put me there in the first place.  My run splits over the past three years here really make it obvious again as to how bad this run was...

2010:    3:21  (felt perfect---with a perfect 16 week build)
2011:    3:31  (didn't even want to run---6 weeks post Kona)
2012:    3:45  (thought I was going to PR the run pre-race...WOW...24 minutes slower than that)

It's hard to really even call that a run...more like a jog.  Still, it could have been a lot worse, and looking at the training and the issues I had, there is an immediate solution even if I went with a 7 week build down the road; simply add 3-4 long runs in there of 16-20 miles (2-2:30 runs) and change nothing else as long as I had a good base going into it.

What else could I have done?  I could have taken GREAT care of my body versus basically no massage or PT care.  Life this time around didn't allow for those luxuries, and I had been experiencing some rub cage tightness throughout the 7 week build.  It came out 5 fold on race day, and I should know this would happen and should have taken care of it...I almost predicted it as a major concern going in.  Would Salt Tabs have taken care of it better?  Probably, and I almost picked some off the ground while running...THAT would have been stupid!
Fuzzy...how I felt!

I think this is Lap 2...ONE support was amazing all day!  Rika, Carlos, Sue, Dan, Mom, Dad, Jeantte, Jenny and Sophia...you kept me going!  Among others!
So, what's next?  Lots of time with the family; fun rides, runs and swims; relaxing and recovering from the past 2 years.  But I will come back a new athlete, in a new chapter, with an updated engine, and as a member of Team BSR (Big Sexy Racing) and always ONE!
Team BSR is being kicked off this year by New Zealand Pro Triathlete Chris McDonald who lives here in Tucson some of the year.  The team is an Elite group of 45 triathletes from the US and Australia looking to make their mark in the Tri Community in 2012.  My teammate Max Biessmann won the Swim Prime at IMAZ with a 52:37, went 9:15, and was 11th Amateur, punching his second ticket to Kona with a 2nd place in 25-29.  That's some good company and just what I need moving forward to challenge me to get faster...but it won't be in an IM any time soon ;-)  Train hard, race hard, play hard!

Sponsors of the team include...

Fuel Belt
Brooks Airbrush Studio

Lastly, thanks to everyone for all of your support...Jenny, Sophia, and Andrew: Papa is super excited to just come home every day...you simply light up my life (a little John Denver can't hurt).  To my family, thank you so much for all of your support over the years...near or far, I hear your cheers!  And to my ONE family..you all rock!  John and Cyndi---you are gems, thanks for being who you are ;-)

Onwards and upwards!

Random, but I'm proud of my pumpkin grill---next year I'm taking it to a new level!
Just recording my seat post position here!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Almost Liftoff...again...IMAZ 2012 Part 1

Sub 20 days to IMAZ...time to start getting serious again!  This will be Ironman #5 for me, 5 Ironmans inside of 2 years.  As these races approach, they have a tendency to overtake your life for the final few weeks (which has started already in my case...).  Here's my prep so far:
 Swim: new goggles specific to the course---in the case of IMAZ, I'll go with clear lenses because the start is somewhat dark.  For IMAZ 2010 and 2011, I used tinted goggles, which made it seem much darker out than it was.  They didn't inhibit sighting, but I think clear is the way to go to sight the best.  Checked the wetsuit, all is good...and that's about it for the swim.

Vr Bottle
Bike:  Lots of tinkering here always.  Wheels:  Zipps...going with an 808 Firecrest up front and a 900 disc in the back.  With my frame being uber stiff, I felt that the Super 9 disc was just too stiff (used one for IMAZ 2011), bouncing me all over the place.  These are tubulars, and I will carry a Espresso from Effetto Mariposa in case of any flat issues along with a CO2. Tire condition is good. I put a new chain on 2 weeks ago---ultra light gold colored chain by KMC (yes, it's gold colored...sa-weet!).  I think I'll be riding my ISM Time Trial Seat (I fidget with seats...Fizik sometimes wins out last minute).  Bottles:  I will use a Delta Sonic Setup by X Lab to hold one bottle behind my seat (this part is made for the Cervelo P5, but I have the same type of seat post setup...), the Vr bottle by Torhans on the frame (which I won in their Kona Prediction Contest!!!  Pete Jacobs was my man!), and I haven't decided on the front aero bottle setup yet...either a Torhans Aero 20 or a vertical bottle held in with a hair tie (yes, a hair tie...works brilliantly).  I am also going to do some sewing!  I will sew velcro onto the bottom of a Stealth Pocket by X Lab so I won't have to deal with the straps to hold it in place on my top tube, but this probably won't be necessary if the Vr Bottle sets up like I think it will.  The Vr bottle won't hold liquid, but instead will house the Espresso (tire sealant), Co2 and any food stuffs (CLIF bars + EFS Liquid Shot).  Recap:  2 bottles...one with OSMO Active Hydration (behind seat), the other always water (aero bar location).  Check out the OSMO products by the way...Dr Sims has some VERY cool videos on how their products work, and after testing them out over the past month, they  create a perfect environment in my stomach for absorbing water---just as the vids show.   I will use OSMO PreLoad the night before and the morning of (Coach Chris turned me onto this product...next gen from Scratch Labs stuff ;-)   I'll be shooting for 300-350 cals/hr on the bike and will only use Special Needs in case something "special" happens...like dropping those cals on the road ;-)  I will refresh with water of course at the Aid Stations, and use a bit of Perform as well once the OSMO runs out (spare bottle in Special Needs if the Perform isn't sitting...which has been an issue sometimes in the past).  One thing I may try once the OSMO runs out is to put some dilute Perform in the Torhans 20 (which is what I want to use if it sets up well), and put the water to the rear cage (reversing the starting setup..).  Jay at Airpark Bikes has my bike tuned and ready for Nov 18th...the Storck is a fantastic bike, but it's a lot like a fancy car or a high maintenance girlfriend (had to add, couldn't resist!)...unreasonable TLC is needed!

With all that, I think we can say I have a game plan for the bike!

Run:  well, 90% of that is deciding on a pair of shoes and sticking with it...and I have it narrowed down to two pair, both are Saucony.  Over the summer I decided it was time to change running shoes (forever a Nike fan)...I've tried:
Zoot Ultra TT5.0 (a tweener for me...not enough for long runs, and love the Kiawe's for fast stuff)
Zoot Kiawe (my favorites for Olympic Distance)
On Running Cloudrunners:  good for long distance runs, but not race day shoes for me
Saucony Ride: ditto the Cloudrunner comment
Brook PureFlow: ditto Cloudrunners again
Saucony Kinvara 3: love em
Saucony Fasttwitch: love em

Zoot Kiawe
Saucony Kinvara 3

The winner is....Kinvara 3 (I think!).  There's just a bit more posting in this shoe over the Fasttwitch.  Both are fast shoes, but I think I need a little more in my shoe now that I am 40 ;-)

Other Run sorties are nutrition of course...now that Gu is the on course nutrition, I am one happy dude. Gu, Perform, then Coke, orange slices, potato chips, and tons of water.  200 cals and hour of those fine products ;-)  Some people comment about how those foods are horrible...unless you have put yourself through an Ironman, then you simply don't understand.  When you can't handle anything but almost straight forms of suger, Coke is the saviour.  Need salt and some calories?  Nothing tastes better than chips.  The Orange slices...a craving I have in every IM...must be the citrus.  I'll carry a bottle of cold water out of T2, but otherwise nothing (well, maybe a 5 Hour Energy for that time when the $%it gets real...)

So that's it for this episode of Ironman 5.0 prep...I'm sure I will post pics of my bike once it is set up.  I'll probably add my plans for race strategy in there as well.  Up next is a Blood Lactate Test to determine the right wattage on the bike, which prompts me to post an Article Carlos Mendoza posted about racing with power... a must read!!!  Cheating with a Power Meter Article  Joe Friel is one of the leading guys when it comes to knowledge on training with power so read it!!!!

20, 19, 18, 17,........

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Fence...

It's been a while (again)...while My Tri Life has been full of adventures this year, I haven't found anything really worth wasting your time to read about, or maybe I just haven't been inspired enough to write some "stuff"about the 2012 season as the excitements of 2010 and 2011 are pretty tough to beat   ;-)

After racing Mountain Man 70.3 mid summer, I took some time "off."  Coaches orders, and I was not going to disagree at all.  A complete week off, then a week of just swimming: 25,000 yards in one week.  By the end of it, I had a new appreciation for swimming.  I started to slip/slide through the water---less effort, fast pace, comfortable breathing...for the first time ever I felt like I belonged in the water versus entering this foreign environment for about an hour at a time to get a workout in.  The coolest feeling came during the warmup: that feeling of losing your breath while warming up was gone, completely...I had become a swimmer!   200's felt like 100's, and 400's felt like 200's.  So I think it is fair to say my swim fitness is doing pretty well.

Chris has always been my sports psychologist when I've needed it, and I've needed it a lot this year.  The one belief that has carried me through this year:  If you are not failing in "some" workouts, you are not getting the desired effect of the training load.  Another way to put it:  those feelings of wanting to quit the sport mid ride or run are normal and part of the "brick walls" you have to overcome to move ahead of your competition, improve a PR, or for those trying to get to Kona, get YOU to Kona.  Another Chris classic (luckily never referring to me...) "you can train today, or you can 'workout' tomorrow."  To state the obvious:  you train to excel in a sport, you workout to stay in shape.  I have come to thrive on the training versus the racing...the dedication, the hard work; for me, the challenge makes the difficult times in life seem petty no matter how big of a lemon you are dealt.

After the week off, and then the "swim week," the hunger to train came back, and was probably driven more by the 5 pounds I added.  You can take the IM'er from his training, but you can't take him from his appetite ;-)  I put in a couple of decent weeks while the training load was light---maybe 11-14 hours a week, and I started asking myself why I was training without a race in mind.  Yeah, Nathan's Olympic was coming up, but I don't consider an Olympic-length race a goal race.  I had a tentative, unlikely plan though....I had contacted Endurance Sports Travel (who took great care of me for IM Texas) back in June regarding a slot for IMAZ, and I've trained all summer with IMAZ 2012 in the back of my mind.  They were sold out of slots for the race, but I put myself on the wait list anyways (people takes slots, but then back out later...).  Who knows what would develop, but I wanted to have the option of a "next" race.

I've known all along that my window of opportunity for IM racing would close; Sophia is already half way to 5, Andrew's walking and now trying to talk, and Jenny has just been an Angel putting up with my selfish hobby that consumes A LOT of family time that could be spent exploring with the kids versus papa SBR'ing all over town.  I knew that IMAZ was going to be a stretch and push the envelope that I have already stuffed full of reasons/excuses to race another IM.  It's one thing to race an IM once in a while, but this thing of doing 5 inside of 2 years is a different, huge beast.  But I wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way.   Being the "all-in" type, as Chris has stated, "either the switch is on, or the switch is off." Chris' IM Louisville RR here. 

So as Nathan's approached, this end-of-season-defining crossroads was in front of me; I use races like Nathan's to test where I am at, and without a need for a test, I doubted my desire to race at all.  Emails that week started to sound promising for the IMAZ slot, so I registered for Nathan's saturday at 3:00pm, which was about an hour after I decided to race.  The test race was on, and more importantly, the idea of IMAZ was becoming a possibility.   I was actually a bit nervous pre-race for the first time in a while---I had to convince myself I was ready for this race without any speed work heading into it...none!  It was a surreal day as raceday was my 40th, Jenny and the kids were there, along with my mom who completely surprised me by flying in for my birthday.  We are our own worst critics, and having raced this course ~5 times, it is a litmus test for sure...and my last time out I went 2:05...PR, and 3rd overall.  I knew I wouldn't hit that (non-wetsuit, and considering my fitness/training), but how far would I fall?

So, here's the quick RR:

She hated every second of this, but I loved it and love racing with the family there, no matter how boring it is for them ;-)  BTW, I cut my knee open in the same place every time I get out of the water at TTL!!!  Knee pad is in order.  Mom is in the white capris watching..I wish Jenny and Andrew made the crop ;-(

Nathans:  2:11:14  14th Overall,  2nd out of 84 in 40-44 AG...lots of young speed out there!

Top 4 in the 40-44...dunno why it lists me as the 3rd fastest swim in the AG...I was first ;-)  Those swim courses have to be long.   Bike:  nice ride Coffen!  Must be that Kona prep paying a dividend.  Run:  RUSS!!  
Normal race workup (well, except for the wonderful Surpirse Birthday dinner the night before at Vito's that included a Fat Tire---first-time surprise for me, and I hate being the one in the spotlight).  Took in a 5 Hour Energy 20 minutes prior to start, completed a triple-deuce, and a Gu right before jumping in.  Being a test, I wanted to get an accurate baseline for my fitness versus ruining the day (that ended up being decently hot) by blowing up---just wanted steady pace all the way through but pushing the limit enough to get a good indication on where my limits are.  At the same time, I know that the swim is where I can leave my mark and make almost everyone else play catchup, and with Russ and Jonathan in the 40-44 today, I needed every advantage I could get.  I took the swim start out with a very steady pace---no sprint, just steady.  After the first ~300 I was surprised to be alone in front after some guys who sprinted off the line on the buoy line fell off.  I kept waiting for Chris McClurg to pull up on me on the outside (we started next to each other), and luckily Russ didn't get a hold of my TYR speedsuit zipper pull, so I was free...until the weave started as I came in contact with the prior wave.  I think they all got the memo that it was my birthday, as I cut through without being touched, hit both turns grazing the buoy without a touch again, and just continued to push steady.  Passing under the bridge, I didn't see any caps for 50+ yards in front of me.  I felt like I had the perfect swim, comfortable still, and that Russ and Jonathan had their work cut out for them.  Out of the water, I stopped quickly to give my cap to Sophia (I scared her I think!), then it was off onto the bike.  The bike was what I figured it would be without the speed work, and I kept with the "this is a test" mentality while pushing to my limit.  Chris McClurg is a damn strong biker, and I knew he would put time into me, but he usually can beat me out of the water, so I took his pass as a tolerable situation coming out of T1.  I promptly dropped my only water bottle at mile 3, stopped to pick it up on the second loop as I was completely dry mouthed by then.  I also dropped my only Gu---ugh!   Into T2, I could see Chris about 1 minute ahead after a super quick transition that was "shoes on, grab hat, glasses and belt and go!"  Again with no speed work, I pushed, yet played it somewhat safe by settling in to a pace that was very slowly closing that gap.  I knew Russ was about 60-90 seconds behind with Jonathan another ~20 seconds behind him, so I had to keep the pace high if I was going to also hold them off (they are super-runners ;-).  It took a lot out of me to finally catch Chris at mile 5, but I knew holding Russ off was going to take an effort I didn't have with me on the day after he hunted me down.  Sure enough, he blew by me on the bridge with 1/4 mile to go...damn you Russ!  I had no "gear," ended up grabbing Sophia much to her dissatisfaction for the finish line, and finished 2nd in 40-44.  6 minutes slower than Rio Salado Olympic in May, but that was 2 weeks prior to IM Texas...this result was great considering, and even Chris sent me a "good job," so I know it was a good effort (a typical Chris comment: post IMAZ 2010 with a 9:28 and a Kona slot, Chris says "we can get your swim better") ;-)

My 40th passed, Nathan's gave me some encouragement, I heard back from Endurance Sports Travel the next day and I was in!!!  I've been fired up ever since...which included a serious begging of Jenny to agree with 7 weeks of IM training.  In that begging, we both decided that IMAZ 2012 would be my last IM "for a while" at the very least.  Since the decision, "The Fence" has existed...friends and family have fallen into 2 specific categories:  those that are saying "about time" and those that are saying "seriously, your last???"  What's important, is that myself, Jenny, Sophia if she understood, and Andrew if he could talk, are on the "about time" side of this Fence....my body and mind are there and I think they have been there since Texas, but I just want a good effort, a good result, to go out on.  10 years down the road, if IM Texas 2012 was my last race, I would still have the feeling that I left IM racing unfinished.  There isn't anything I need to prove to myself or anyone else, I just want to go out "on top" rather than the memory that is permanently marked on my left elbow, hip, knee, and ankle because of a stupid bike crash at the mile 10 aid station there.

Moving forward, I'm excited to see what I can pull off in less than adequate preparation time, surrounded by friends and family, on a course that I have become attached to because of my 2010 race and the challenge it gave me in 2011 six weeks after Kona.  I've learned a lot about myself over those 19 hours 10 minutes of racing...and I have a feeling IMAZ 2012 will be right up there with those experiences.  While Kona is a definite NO for 2013, it will be fun to race without regard for "the slot" for the first time--no fear of missing the mark or protecting a position, but just finding more about myself that will carry me though the rest of my life.  This past 2 years has been a life changing event for me; I went into it a bit lost and misguided, but come out a stronger, appreciative, dedicated, and hopefully inspiring person.  To steal a quote from Chris:

Become fully engaged In whatever it is you’re doing, whenever you’re doing it. You will find value in this experience…CH

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Fake-Racer: Mountain Man 70.3 Race Report

Wow, I haven't posted since May 27...since a week after IM Texas.  That seems like an eternity--2.5 months and no blabbering about my triathlon life.  I'm sure some of you welcomed the break from it ;-)  Wouldn't it be great to hear that I have rekindled the fire, am ready to go to battle at another IM, broke through previously unreachable levels of fitness???  Well, it's opposite day!  I have successfully broken myself (success in failure---love it).  Before this past weekend, I was about 90% sure I was not in a good place with this triathlon hobby.  Workouts were dragging, the temps have been consistently over 110 degrees, the pool has been 90+ degrees, and my general excitement towards triathlon has wavered. I guess that is what you get when you train for 4, almost 5 Ironmans over 2.5 years straight with almost no breaks.  Everyone says that this type of stupidity is, well, stupid...I guess I just needed to experience failure for myself while I tried to prove them wrong.

Mountain Man 70.3 Race Results Here

Mountain Man 70.3 this past weekend was the confirming race for all of the above...under the circumstances, I was actually happy with the result.  The only reason why:  I didn't want to race, was completely flat, and was thinking "DNF" on the bike and run for no other reason than a genuine lack of desire.  Just as I did for IM Texas, I headed to this race without my loved ones.  The thought of waking them at 4 am to drive to Transition sounded God-awful, so Jenny and I decided I'd head up solo for this one.  The Swetonics graciously took me in for friday/saturday night---an amazing family, and as they did last year, put on a fabulous pre-race ONE dinner that is a highlight of being a ONE member.  The Apples to Apples Game on friday night---a good laugh!    Catching up with "the usuals" is always a great time at Saturday's dinner...some fun pre-race banter, and I knew I had no business talking the talk...

I went through all the pre-race formalities like usual, and felt....blah.  I put on my trusty dusty Sailfish ONE wetsuit, went for a warm up swim, and STILL no butterflies, nervousness, excitement.  I've always told myself that when the time comes that I feel like this, it is time to reconsider what I am doing and why.  I think if I had Jenny and the kids at the race with me, I would have been fired up... but they weren't, and I felt like I had no reason to race, no spark, and the people who matter the most and have put up with my training aren't here to share the excitement of raceday.   This issue has to stop...no more racing without them there, period.  Their faces and cheers get me through the "suck" parts of racing---it makes it tolerable to suffer knowing that they are cheering away hopefully loving that their papa is staying in good health.

So, countdown from 10, horn/gun/whatever triggered the start on this day, and we are off.  The hardest part about this race, for those that don't know, is the 7,000' elevation..."it's like breathing through a straw."  My warmup was comfortable, so I just went with a steady pace strategy, and thought I would go hard if I had company off the line.  After 15 strokes I was clear (well, someone was on my feet 10 strokes in---I imagine it was Brian???), and I settled in conservatively so I wouldn't be gasping for air and dead in the water at the first buoy (that would be embarrassing...).  Rounding the first buoy at about 250 yards in, I rolled onto my back as I approached to get a good look at the competition, and to my delight I was clear by about 10 yards while swimming comfortable, smooth, and in control. My stroke felt perfect, dialed in, clean, fluid, and easy---automatic ;-)  Chris (coach Chris) has been an amazing swim/bike/run coach---he has gotten me to the front with a mediocre background in swimming at best (I vividly remember being DQ'ed in the 100 IM swimming for the Marinwood Waterdevils when I was 8, then decided I liked baseball and soccer more ;-)  So for those that think "the swim is the swim" and just "get through it," I am living proof that attention to good stroke mechanics and 3 swims a week (consistently and swimming with a purpose) is all it takes to be efficient in the water ;-)...so back to the race:  about half way to the second and final turn buoy, I flipped again, and was happy to see about a 100 yard gap, and no pack formation.  All in all, I give my swim an "A-"....yeah, I could have pushed the pedal down a bit more, but I swam straight as an arrow, and carried the pace until my hand hit the sand.  I took my second straight swim prime at Mountain Man 70.3; too bad its a triathlon and not just an open water swim.  I was happy to see a 28:xx on the clock, but then came a bit of a disaster.  I felt like I was walking on glass on the decently long run to my bike.  At my bike, getting my wetsuit off felt like I had never taken one off---it seemed to take me 90 seconds to strip down and off.  Finally off, helmet on, shoes on, nutrition into pocket, grab the bike, and I was out onto the bike course....which was prompted by Mr Stupid Mcstupidpants losing the top of my TorHans Aero Bottle because I never secured it after filling it in the morning. And as Napolean Dynamite would say "IDIOT!"

So here I am just like last year....the hunted.  Being first out of the water, while it's a great feeling, its also a horrible one all the same.  Last year, I took it out a bit too hard (averaging ~245W) on the uphill all the way to the Lake Mary turnaround only to average 225W for the entire ride, so I decided to hopefully learn from that.  I targeted 225W for this same stretch, and hit it right on the button...and you would think that I would be in great shape to keep the 225W average going, right?  Well, this is where I got confirmation that I was dead flat.  I went from feeling "well, this is good, you are at the front..." to "geez, I think I am going to DNF and not even try to run." I was conservative, and even that was too much to ask of myself.   I watched Brian Folts pass me like I was standing still, then had 2 more guys slip by, all while I watched the average watts plummet without any reaction in my mind to what was going on.  Going off the hunting metaphor, I stood broadside for whoever wanted to take a shot at me.  I "felt" good, but my mind was not into it...it was checked out and didn't want anything to do with what it takes to successfully race a 70.3---there would be no "embracing the suck" on this day.  I ended up passing a guy on the way back in, so it wasn't all bad (he would hammer the uphills and I would pass him on the flats and downhills---he needs to flatten the course out with his efforts).  A 5 Hour Energy bailed me out a bit at the half way point with a bit of a boost, and my nutrition/hydration plan worked perfectly as well, so at least I had that going for me (one good takeaway point...).  I made my way into transition and felt much the way I did at IM Texas, almost identical actually, yet I was sitting in 4th.   So the grade here: C- at best....I hung in there and rode a 2:31, but I averaged 202W, which is less than I have ridden for any of my Ironmans.  I'll take a 2:31 while riding at that low of an effort, but I am going backwards, especially compared to last year.  I know it's mental, which negates any fitness gains I was attempting to test.  I also know I need a new bike fit---I was moving all over and my position felt unpowerful.  I almost felt like someone had lowered my seat...no one did, but it needs a-raisin'.

It was a victory at this point just to make it out of T2...but again I "felt" great (duh, riding 202W is a nice aerobic training day...) and my primary goal for doing this race was to see where I'm at, especially on the run.  It seems like every run this summer has either been on the edge of heat stroke or been cut short to avoid it.  I was having a lot of questions about it's effect, fearing the worst, hoping for the best, but on this day with my mental status, I didn't even put up a good fight.  I did manage to make it to mile 5 in one piece (although a pit stop was needed) and I never broke pace.  But then came a rough patch and I just gave up, and the walkathon began.  Last year the race went very similar, and I tanked it a bit on the run there, but this time I lost interest.  The only person I even tried to hold off was Dan Beaver in the final half mile, but he had flatted on the bike, and here I am just fake-racing my way across the finish line 5.8 seconds ahead of him.  The results don't show it to many of you, but I know this was my worst race since I started racing again by a longshot...insert your favorite quotation about failure here :-)  "It's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get up."

I was embarrassed to pick up my 2nd place plaque in the 40-44 AG....I didn't deserve it, and only placed that high because Dan Beaver had a flat and another good buddy Jonathan Coffen rode off course for an extra 6 miles.  At least I can say I stayed on course (another win!  sorry JC, had to say it)  It was great to share the course with Ponch, and even more great to see him in such great fitness heading into Vegas 70.3 WC...he's gotta be one of the most fit 49 year olds on the planet!

On the way home I told Jenny I was taking a break, and I will finally listen to myself.  I've told Jenny this many times, and she is at the point where she doesn't believe me anymore, but for the rest of the year I am taking it easy, light, and fun.  Chris and I believe this all stems from the heat, but also from not having a goal...100% hit the tail on the donkey.  This sport has become an integral part of my life, my happiness, and my ability to stay in shape, but we (the fam) need a break from IM training, and even 70.3 training.  As JD says "Go Fast, have a Blast," that's my plan---I have never focused solely on Olympic Distance racing, and it will be a break compared to the past 3 years.  I'm looking for a FUN goal for the winter, so if you have any ideas, I have an ear that will listen...Ultraman, RAAM, the English Channel are not good examples ;-)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The B Side of IM Texas...Notes, Fueling, Pics, Thoughts

Lots of tidbits from IM Texas....since writing my IM Texas Race Report, I've had a chance to recover a bit more---mainly mentally (lets just say I received a few concerned calls, emails, texts about it...thanks for caring for me...I'm good with it, I just wanted to capture the moment in its rawest form...I think I succeeded....).
Thanks Grant for this pic...while I was running through here, it really captures how I felt in the final 100 yards.  From the high fives with my road washed hand to the stress I see in my face and upper body...great ad for Cinemark too ;-)
My card from the family that I opened race day morning...love them so much!
....first time Sophia has written I love you to me...a treasure!
Jenny sent me this pic before the race...another treasure!
Here he is, Coach Hauth...right out of the pool with a mop on his head....

I'm over it, I think, but here are some odds and ends about Texas, mostly just notes and pics from the trip.  These are basically for reference...they seem to work very well for me leading into an IM, so I thought I'd post them while it is fresh in my mind and for the future.  I also put some off the cuff stuff in there from Texas just so I have an organized place for this stuff.

Hydration/Nutriton leading into Race Day:
I start cutting coffee out of my routine about 2 weeks prior to an IM.  I find that coffee does exactly what they say it does---dehydrate you.  I want my cells stuffed with water, so I start my hydration focus about 2 weeks out.  I don't overdo it, but I just make sure I am giving my body all it needs to recover and prepare for race day.  When I get that craving for coffee (I'm a 2+ cups of coffee/day kind of guy), I go for some frooffy tea...like pomegranate or lemon ginger...I find that its the hot beverage that is appealing moreso than the coffee...and maybe I am just tricking myself into believing that .

Day prior to race day nutrition plan:
BLAND, BIG, and EARLY...(of course learned from Chris...)
The dinner 2 nights before an IM is where I really start my food plan.  I go big on that night with "good" carbs with some fish or chicken as well as a decent salad.. In Texas I had a house salad, focaccia, salmon, asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes, a beer, and plenty of water. 

Breakfast 24 hours out:  More of the same, bland big early---oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, all of the healthy variety versus packets or store bought frozen foods.   In Texas I ended up going with scrambled eggs, english muffin, plenty of oatmeal, OJ, water.  

My goal the day before the race is, well, to pee clear by noon.  So lots of water again, and then I head into lunch, which is massive, especially if the race is going to be hot, in which case I count this lunch as my last big meal, with a small(er) dinner coming at 5-6 pm THE LATEST.

Here is my day before lunch from IM Texas,courtesy of Hubbell and Hudson (one of the best markets I have ever entered...)
Hubbell and Hudson...perfect race fueling stop! And right at the finish line.
turkey sandwich: on wheat, skipped the mayo, cheese as I don't do dairy at all these days
Sweet potato fries:  I go for salt any way I can, even if its fried...this for some reason is becoming a pre-race tradition..dunno why, but they are tasty.
Orzo: some veggies in there--straight out of the kitchen there...good stuff, and i took home the same size serving for part of my early dinner...trying to reduce the amount of gluten...not always successful, but rice is the way to go to reduce it.
Coconut water:  yes, I follow the fad.  This may not be the best choice in brands, but it was better than just plain old water in my mind at the time.
Synergy kombucha tea:   Ok, now I a full on fad follower, but I love this stuff (they say its loaded with probiotics--good belly they say...I'm a follower).  Honestly though, it's hard to not feel great drinking the stuff.
And yes, I did eat all this, and was searching the store for more goodies...add a banana in there, plus a liter of EFS, then I headed back to my room for solitary confinement (hint: this is when you just simply don't want to be near me...it's full on warfare tactics 100% of the time while watching some television---annoyingly focused on the next day).

So after lunch, I keep sipping on EFS...I don't want to "wash out" the electrolytes, and now want to top them off---I never don't have a bottle with me through the afternoon, and i am typically on a bed with my feet up, watching sports, a movie, on the computer...CHILLAXING for sure, but the mind is in full tilt...BUT, it looks like and feel like I am in full couch potato mode for sure.  I watched "The Last Lecture" at this point in Kona...it still is sticking with me now, so I highly recommend it, especially if one of your inspirations is your kids.

Before my 5-6pm light, bland dinner, I go for an easy walk...In Texas, it was to Walmart ;-)  I just needed to get some fresh air, move the legs, and distract myself before prepping for bed.  I look around and notice that life is still moving for the rest of the world versus what is going on in my life...for some reason it is really relaxing to see that life is just the way it has always been ;-)
So, dinner in Texas was that serving of Orzo, some sliced turkey (bland!), and a bowl of oatmeal---it may seem like a lot, but it is at 5-6pm, and compared to both lunch and what i typically eat in an evening, this is an appetizer.  I stay away from the high veggie driven diet I am typically on because A) it has fiber, and B) its not what my body needs for the following day---I am repaired from the heavy IM builds, I just need fuel.  I will graze a bit after this meal, but I make sure it is only to curb the little bit of hunger I feel.  I am fully tapped at this point, and if I was to step on a scale (which I don't) I am sure I am 3-4 pounds heavier than I have been over the past week...I don't care of course, I need the fuel, and all these foods have given me a layered dosage of energy....and I feel like a topped off diesel engine.  The snacks tend to be granola bars, bananas, Ezekiel tortilla with nut butter.

Race Day breakfast:
There are so many options here, but I have always stuck to the same thing, and it works perfect for me, and i try to get this in by 4 am (3 hours before start time)....big glass of water first, Oatmeal, scoop of Ultragen (First Endurance), nut butter, banana (typically), more EFS...somewhere in the range of 800 calories.  I also take my daily dose of Optygen HP, MultiV (First Endurance again), and a decently massive does of CoQ10 for my heart, which I have been taking all week leading up to the race.  I will have the television going, and will eat slowly, and still relaxing in bed if possible---I want this food in my belly as fast I can get it there, but not eating it fast.  I will relax in bed for ~20 minutes post meal going through my morning regime.
If I can, I take a hot shower to loosen up the muscles, stretch a bit (especially the hips), then find my way to the race HQ.  I will sip on EFS the entire time---1bottle through transition tidying, with some water following as well as adding a Clif Bar in small bites throughout the morning, and more if I feel hungry, but that is never the case.  Once I am an hour out, no more solid food at all, and I should be taking my Pre-Race about 30 minutes to GO time.  Before jumping in the water, I put a GU into the stomach with some swigs of water. Peeing while waiting for the gun is always a good sign---everyone does it...kind of sick to think about when you are treading water feeling "warm spots" in the water---oh well, so is the life of an IM athlete.  At IMAZ 2011 I actually had to pee half way through the swim, and again at mile 60 on the bike (a perfect place to need to pee on the bike as you are reassured that you are hydrating properly)...why all this talk about pee!!!  IM Texas, no such issue on the mid swim and on the bike---a bit of shock therapy on the bike probably kept everything in, an i had lost my appetite and thirst to boot.

This plan leaves me feeling perfect, and there is no way I am not topped off with hydration and nutrition....the gun goes off, and away I go!

It's a simple down and back, keeping the buoys always on your left...hint:  as you approach the canal, hug the right side shore line and sight off of the kayaks lining the approach...that line was the perfect line...

...what the canal looks like from T1 exit. This canal swim is ~1000+ yards...FUN!!!  Specatators line the shore...if you have people there watching you, make sure they are on your dominant breathing side, as you are sure to see them like they are standing right next to you...

Another look at the canal...
Once onto the bike, my first goal is to drink some water only as the swim dehydrates you no matter what, and you never realize this.  After the water (maybe 45 minutes in...) I start the calorie counting, but go mostly by feel and hunger.  As Chris says, its good to ride that edge of hunger and satisfied.  I find that if I do that, I will not get enough calories in and will pay for it later (find that out on my training rides all the time when I eat minimally at the beginning---I've made that error too many times to know that I need those calories to start flowing.  I go for around 250 calls/hr.  If I push that, I tend to get a "full" feeling that makes me feel sluggish----hence I like the ever so slightly hungry feeling that Chris talks about.  If I hit a bad patch on the bike, I tend to eat my way into feeling better, but also dialing back the intensity because of the patch.  I come out of it quickly, and am ready with a new purpose  (note: the bad patch comes typically because I simply waited too long to take in calories----I just want to avoid taking too many in and ending up with GI issues, which I have never had).  If it's hot, I add one SaltStick Tablet an hour.  I now use one bottle as a super bottle (1000 calls of EFS liquid shot + Gu to create a tasty menu for the day----IM Texas it was 800 calls of Kona Mocha EFS Gel, one Espresso Love GU (has caffeine), and one Peanut Butter GU...talk about the tastiest Mocha Peanut Butter Latte (wait, no one makes that.....hmmm)....it was irresistible!
I also carried a Clif Bar (270 cals) in my back pocket, and wished I carried 2 for IM Texas.  But again, my nutrition plan went by the wayside as I lost my appetite because of the crash.  I take in plenty of on course PERFORM as well.  With aid stations 10 miles apart, I am guaranteed fresh bottles at least every 30 minutes.  I will take water at one (one into the cage on the aeros, grab another, drink half of it, and pour the remainder over me, and grab another if I can, if it is hot like Texas), and then grab a PERFORM at the next (and grab a water again, but dump the entire bottle over myself).  I alternate like this throughout, and change it up if I feel I really want  more Perform.  If I am ahead on calories due to being more hungry than normal, I then ditch the super bottle and start taking a water and a PERFORM at each aid station, and maybe even a GU now that they serve it on course ;-)

bike cockpit that worked out well
Bike Setup...best yet, but another bottle would have taken some concern off my mind in the later miles when I needed maybe just a bit more fluids 
Racked and ready to go...
sideways view of the Bike Gear Bag...didn't use the arm coolers, so just helmet and shoes, and a bar or two for the pockets...
I leave Special Needs for "just in case" issues.  One flask of EFS gel, an extra bar, and MAYBE some tasty snack, but I haven't done that since IMAZ 2010.

Oh, and Pre-Race:  I take another 3 caps (I use the larger SaltStick dispenser to hold pills...) when I feel the mid bike lethargy set in...works like a charm every single time!!!!  The dispenser typically is loaded to have 2 Saltstick tabs come out first (taken at 1 and 2 hours in), then 3 Pre-Race tabs somewhere around the 3rd hour, and a final Saltstick tab for prep before the the run.  That is all it holds, and I just work with that, and count on the EFS liquid shot as well as the PERFORM to supplement the electrolytes, and that seems to work!

Onto the run...
you are on your own here...grab whatever sounds good, but don't overdo it...you can get a real dinner after the race that will be much more rewarding than the extra 20 minutes of stoppage that occurs when you treat them like buffet tables.  For me, I go with an alternating plan here as well if all is going well.....PERFORM at one aid station, then water with a Gu at the next.  I can and will skip stations depending on how well I am fueled from the bike, and how i am feeling about taking in calories on the run.  Again I ride that edge of satisfied, slightly hungry line and it works well for me in training and racing.   At some point Coke always comes front and center for me, and then it is Coke all the way, with some water here and there to dilute it a bit, as well as  Orange slices.  Once i go with Coke, I am done with Gu/gels....the sequence goes solid calories (bars), semi-solid calories (gels), then full on liquid calories...and when I switch totally depends on what I feel like. And I try to hold off on switching to the next category until I just can tolerate where I'm at anymore.

my hand the day after the race...not too bad, and wasn't really an issue other than it was a bloody mess the entire ride
and healing well 8 days post race.  Thanks to Pinky for the Tegaderm recommendation, which allowed me to work with gloves without affecting healing...in comparison to....
it doesn't look terrible here, but it was how deep it went versus how large the rash looks...of course my smile doesn't help sell it....on my 3rd loop walkathon....
the elbow at 8 days out...ways to go, and still sore...this was a "stage 4 rash" if there is such a classification ;-) I tried the Tegaderm, but because it is a decent "divot" into my elbow, that void filled with all sorts of "fluids"---greenish and oozing, so I went with Betadine

Im not sure if I will buy the photos from FinisherPix, so I'm just posting the proofs here so I have them in one spot ;-)

I never thought I'd be proud to see an 11:08 on the finishing picture, but DNF was front and center from mile 10 on the bike to the finish...yes, it was a defining moment for me, but the disappointment that came with the crash has been PTSD for me for sure...I will get over it, and will redeem this for my own selfish fulfillment someday.  But until that happens, I know that I endured something I never thought i was tough enough to endure...9+ hours of pretty severe pain, bleeding all over the place, all while completed an Ironman.  I guess this is what defines Ironman racing in a sense; you can't always have a great day out there...shit happens.