Monday, August 10, 2009

The day after

I only slept 7 hours last night, as I continue to have dreams, perhaps nightmares, of our television production. A full day of work (my regular job), and I really only began to feel pretty tired at about 3 pm. Not bad for the day after a half ironman and especially after the last week. Somehow, I think that my fitness level has allowed me to survive the last week.

I realized today that I have completed 3 half ironman's in a span of 18 weeks. And, all of them have been done within a range of 19 minutes (from fastest to slowest). Not bad for consistency. I look back at yesterday and know that I could have broken 5 hours if I'd been well rested, but it reminds me yet again that the time matters less than the effort. If I gave it everything I had, than I can be proud and happy with the result. I was more sore today than I'd been after a race in a long time. It was total body soreness, which is a good sign. I was fatigued, but manageably, especially as I survived a full day of work followed by a dinner meeting for Little Blossom.

My coach ( has told me that I must rest the next few days, and he is right. Even if I feel like exercising, it must be easy. I don't want to get sick at this point in time.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Little Blossom Ironman, or, how not to taper for a half ironman.

In December, my wife and I came back from a weekend out of town and our daughters, Raishel and Justine, showed us a script for the pilot of a television series. We were so impressed with it that we suggested that we ought to produce the show. Little did we realize the path that we were about to embark upon.

For the past seven months, my wife and daughters have been working very hard to get the production organized. My daughter, Justine, put together a website ( and then organized auditions for over 250 actors! Before we knew it, we had forty actors under contract and a shooting schedule organized.

In the meantime, I’ve continued my training uninterrupted. California 70.3 went fine, albeit I entered it a little overtrained and was slower than I’d hoped. However, I recovered almost completely in a couple of days and realized that I was ready for the next level. I signed up for Ironman St. George next May. My training continued to go well and I had my best half ironman result at Eagleman 70.3 in June. I was really excited and looking forward to the 5430 Long Course today. Although it was just a “C” race, my training has been going quite well.

I had saved some of my vacation days, which were sorely needed, in order to take a week off to participate in the production of Little Blossom. I often tell people that my training has made me quite sensitive to recognizing the physical impact of stress. It’s a fine line to balance the training and work and life, but at the same time, I’ve become more aware of the impact of stressors.

Last Saturday, I finished my last long run and it felt great. Later that morning, we began shooting Little Blossom. Thus began my journey over the last week and the “Little Blossom Ironman”. We had no previous experience in the production business. Our first day of shooting went fairly well, but we were unable to complete the last scene, ultimately necessitating another day of shooting at the location. This day would turn out to be the shortest day of the week, lasting only 13 ½ hours! And, I started the day by running 10 miles. I was able to ride my bike on Sunday and then the fun began on Monday!

Monday morning started with getting up at 4:30 a.m., in order to be at our make-up location at 5:00 a.m. We were supposed to start shooting at 8:00 a.m., but the delays started and kept happening. While I don’t remember everything about the day at this point, I realized that I was now a television producer. While my wife had been doing this job for several months, I had no clue as to what this entailed. The learning curve was steep and in the end, I’m not sure if I really handled it. My stress level began increasing at a geometric rate.

The rest of the week continued at a similar pace. Waking up early, getting home late, sleeping very little. Dealing with the stress of new issues that I have no experience dealing with. All in all, I ended up averaging 18 hour work days and 4 hours sleep. I might have been better off spending the week at Guantanamo!

Obviously, there was no time for training, but it was a pre-race week anyway, so I wasn’t worried. I realized that I was also spending most of the days on my feet, although I probably handled this well due to my fitness level. That said, not the best preparation for a half ironman. So, the day before the race came and my stress level hit an all time high. I was able to get some rest the night before and actually got 7 hours sleep. Ironically, I always say that my body needs 8 hours of sleep a night. I obviously hadn’t come close in the previous week and didn’t even hit that number the two nights before my race.

Race morning came and I felt ok, although not my usual rested state prior to a race. Mentally, I felt pretty good, although I was still carrying some of the stress in the back of my head. I even had given some thought to not even doing the race.

The swim start went fine and I really tried not to swim too hard (one of my typical challenges). In fact, my swim time was similar to previous races, although that should have been the first sign that something was amiss, as my swim has improved significantly this year. The bike started ok, but I realized that I was having trouble hitting wattages that a week earlier were easy for me. I went through the first loop about 7 minutes slower than my goal and decided to push harder the second loop, which actually led to a negative split of about 4 minutes. That said, my legs didn’t feel too good as I got off the bike, an unusual feeling for me. Usually, I actually feel great initially during the run. Today’s run was a challenge from the first steps I took. Again, it would have been easy to either stop or just slow down, but that’s not why I do these races. I pushed as hard as I could and actually kept a pretty even pace for the first half of the run. The second half was definitely harder, but only 4 minutes slower than the first half. When I got to the finish I felt more crushed by a race than I have felt in some time, but was also quite happy with my effort. In fact, I was only 14 minutes off my best time on this course. Most of that time was actually on the bike.

First of all, it was not lost on me that the Little Blossom filming days were 18 hours long, an hour over the cut off time for doing an ironman. The days were long and brutal and doing five successive days was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. In some respects, I was looking forward to the half ironman, however, I entered it with far more fatigue than I’ve ever had, even from a 17 hour training week (there’s that number again).

The end result is all that much remarkable. I think that St. George will be “easy” compared to this week. OK, not really, but at least it will be comparable!