Saturday, October 16, 2010

KONA OR BUST and mile repeats

I’ve completed by post season rest break and have already started thinking about next year. So, what’s new? After following this years Ironman World Championship, I was reenergized in terms of the thought of trying to qualify for Kona. For someone who was humbled at his one trip to Olympic distance Nationals (55th out of 64), I needed to do a gut check on my potential to actually qualify. So, I looked at the 6 guys in my age group at St. George who went to Kona this year. The slowest time was around 11:10. Of interest, all six went faster at Kona than they did at St. George. So much for those who question the challenge of St. George:) What was remarkable was that four of these guys ended up in the top 20 at Kona. It seems like the competition at St. George was pretty stiff as well. I can’t control that, so I could only look at the 11:10 time and ask myself and my coach if I could do better than that time. It certainly gives me something to shoot at.

I should preface my analysis with the recognition that St. George was my first ironman. While I had achieved pretty good fitness the prior year (four half ironman distance races and an average of 10-12 hours of training per week), I did break my hip socket and shoulder just 6 months before St. George and really only had 3 ½ months of solid training in the range of 14-16 hours a week. As I have reviewed before, my 13:18 time included almost 20 minutes in transition and a marathon that I literally walked half the distance and still managed to run in 4:58.

I e-mailed my coach for my gut check and here’s what we decided. It’s possible! Of course, I need to do the necessary training. I assume that this means getting closer to 20 hours a week. It also means even more time on the bike, as I never did a training ride last year greater than 5 hours. Finally, I just need to get stronger. So, I have to be more dedicated to the weight room and my core.

So, I’ve got my goals set. Here they are:

Swim-I really think that I’m capable of swimming faster. My confidence has improved considerably as I’ve discovered that I just need to be more aggressive in my approach to the swim. Last year I really took it easy, which is fine, but I can swim faster and still not push myself too hard. I think that a swim time in the range of 1:04 to 1:06 is quite reasonable.

T1: Last years T1 felt like the beach landing scene in Saving Private Ryan! Now that I know what it’s like, I will dispense with the extra time and do what I normally do in T1, get in and out! I think that a goal of 4 minutes is reasonable.

Bike: In some ways this is the toughest. I can’t stop to pee 4 times like I did this year, and I have to stay adequately nourished so I don’t bonk in the last 30 miles of the bike. I also just need to get stronger on the hills and put in the time and work to be strong. My goal here will be between 6:00 and 6:10. Considering that I typically have done various half ironman courses in 2:30-2:45, I really think that this is reasonable.

T2: Again, another 10 minutes transition would be truly disappointing. There is also no reason that I can’t get through this transition in 4 minutes.

Run: Ironically, this is where I’m most confident in my improvement! At the Multisport camp last year I did one loop of the course in 1:54 just a day after riding 5 hours. I have felt good running hills and will continue to prepare with that in mind. I also need to stay adequately nourished. I think that a marathon in the range of 3:50 to 4:00 is quite reasonable.

So, what does that add up to:
Swim- 1:04-1:06
Bike- 6:00-6:10
Run- 3:50-4:00
T1/T2 0:08-0:08

This is realistic and gets me close. Obviously the closer I get to 11 hours or even less, the greater my chances of qualifying for Kona.

All I can do is try!

So, as I start my preparation, last Saturday I did 5 mile repeats up a hill with an average grade of 5-6% w/ average pace of ~10:30; Today I did 5 mile repeats on level ground w/ an average pace of 7:29. I have to say that I'm on my way!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What's Important in Life

So, last night my daughter is driving my wife's car (my wife was a passenger) and someone literally turns into them at an intersection. My wife has a cold and is already coughing, so her bruised/strained sternum is certainly no fun; and, my daughter is just hurting everywhere. Fortunately, they just hurt. No major injuries, although I'm sure it will take them a while to feel better.

First of all, I'm really proud of my daughter. She still is driving with her learner's permit, so this certainly freaked her out, but not until after the accident. Her quick reflexes and good reaction to the situation was to be commended.

So, I had been planning to do the Deer Creek Century tomorrow. That doesn't really mean anything right now. I enjoy training, I enjoy working out. I love my family. Nothing else really matters without them. So, tomorrow I'll spend the day at home helping out some more. That's what is important in life!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

One Week Later: Who Would Believe?

One week ago, I would never have thought that I’d be racing today. I kept hoping that I’d feel well enough to do the Rattlesnake sprint, one of my favorite races, but realistically didn’t think I’d be ready. And, I didn’t want to do anything stupid and set myself back with an injury or something. In fact, I could hardly walk without pain on Monday, but every day my legs kept getting gradually better, so that yesterday I was only minimally sore, but I had a feeling that I’d wake up today feeling fine. I didn’t set my alarm, but went to bed a little early. I woke up at 5:15am and decided that I wanted to race. My legs felt fine. My right hamstring was just a tad sore, but it was a tad sore prior to the 70.3 last week. Got to the race site, went for a 10 minute warm up on my bike, and then warmed up in the water for another 10 minutes. I felt pretty good, but really was just looking forward to having fun. In fact, I kept the idea in the back of my head that if I ever felt bad, or something hurt, I would shut it down and just enjoy being out there. Fortunately, that never happened.

The Rattlesnake has a unique individual start, and they start the women first and then the men, beginning with the oldest first. Interestingly, there were about 30 men who raced the Olympic yesterday and then the sprint today, they started in the first group, probably more than 10 minutes ahead of me. I actually caught a number of them. That meant about 300 people started ahead of me on the rectangular 750 meter course. The tough part was that most of them were slower than me, so I had to weave through and around a bunch of people. I ended up taking a more outside line to try to keep from having to swim over everybody, but this also meant I swam a little farther. I felt great from the beginning, was smooth, form was good and I was going fast. As I neared the first turn buoy, I breathed in a mouthful of water. Not swallowed, but breathed in. I literally was unable to breathe for about 20-30 seconds. Initially I kept swimming, trying to avoid panicking, and then I did a few breast strokes until I was actually able to breathe again. As soon as I could breathe I got back to swimming fast. I figure that this little episode cost me about 30 seconds (at least). Then, I stubbed my big toe on a rock getting out of the water, but was able to jog up the hill to the transition area. I got into T1 in 9:35, 29th overall (out of 455). Of note, if I’d been around 9:00, I’d have been close to top 10 on the swim (fastest time was 8:00). I continue to be incredibly happy with my swim results, because I wasn’t winded coming out of the water and felt good getting on the bike.

Had a fast transition and headed out on the bike, there was a tailwind and I was flying. Unfortunately, I had a bunch of women ahead of me, many of them doing their first triathlon, which meant they were all over the road, and I had to put on my brakes several times to avoid running into or over them. I pushed pretty hard to the turnaround, in fact, averaging 202 watts. I continued to push hard the whole way back, hitting some very strong headwinds, but staying aero and averaging about 195 watts on the return trip. Of note, my best 30 minute wattage was 202 watts, which interestingly was the last 30 minutes of the bike. This was my best 30 minute wattage ever, training or racing. I averaged 20mph (ok, 19.7) on a hilly, windy course. My bike split was 24th overall, only about a minute and a half from the top 10 as well.

Good transition to the run and headed out trying to run fast. My breathing was probably every 2-3 steps, and I just kept pushing. My legs were not hurting, although they didn’t have much “snap” to them. I kept pushing as hard as I thought I could and maintained a very solid effort for the run. I don’t know if I could have gone too much faster. I will admit that I didn’t finish with the feeling that I was about to throw up, so perhaps I could have pushed harder for the last mile or so. I might have left 30-40 seconds out on the course. On the other hand, I’m sure I’m not completely recovered from last weeks race, although my results would suggest otherwiseJ. My run time was 24:15 (78th overall), for an average pace of 7:50. This has been my standard 5K run pace this season, though I know I’m capable of going faster.

In the end, I finished 30th overall, second in my age group to my usual nemesis, Guy Sigley. Guy beat me by 4 minutes on the bike and about 4 minutes overall (our swim and run times were almost the same). Guy was 9th overall. I’ve got to be quite happy with my results!

I’m really looking forward to just enjoying the next 6 weeks of training and doing a couple more sprint races. I’m trying not to put any pressure on myself, this is my hobby and I’m supposed to have fun doing it! I think that this is a good omen.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Moral Victory

I’ll start at the beginning of the run to explain why today was a moral victory. During the latter part of the bike, I felt some muscle spasms in my quadriceps, so I let up a little. Immediately upon starting the run my right quad was cramping and my IT bands were both sore. I even considered stopping and not doing the run, but that consideration lasted only a few seconds. At the end of the day, every race is about perseverance in one way or another. I’d hoped that today’s run would be about pushing hard on the run and seeing how fast I could go. Instead, it was about being in pain for the entire run and pushing through the pain and continuing to run the entire 13.1 miles. The only times that I stopped to walk were the aid stations, a few of the short uphill sections, and for about 3-4 minutes after the first lap when I was fighting a side stitch (which I think was caused by taking in too much fluid/gels). I ran the rest of the way. Interestingly, my pace was probably almost the same for the entire run, as the second half was almost 3 minutes slower, but I had walked after the end of the first lap.

I was truly hurting most of the run, and especially the last few miles, I kept visualizing getting in the reservoir afterwards to cool down and let my legs recover. I’m not sure what kept me going, I kept a number of songs in my head and just stayed focus on the task at hand. While it ended up being one of my slowest runs for a half ironman in a long time (by about 4 minutes from last year and 9 minutes from 2007), it was one of my best run efforts ever. I could hardly walk afterwards or later in the day. This was painful! Of note, I entered the run 15th in my Division and ended up 18th.

So, now I’ll start with the swim. I was honestly a little nervous knowing that I was going to really give the swim my best effort. I went out at the front and caught a good draft, it actually felt like I was flying! I got in a group, and probably let up a little, as we got about half way to the first turn buoy, I realized that there was a lead group ahead and then I was in the second pack. In retrospect, perhaps I could have pushed harder and stayed with the lead group. I was able to draft to the first turn buoy and from then on really wasn’t able to draft off anyone, as I caught the two groups ahead of us (they started 5 and 12 minutes ahead, respectively) and had to navigate through them. That said, I kept a really solid effort and came out of the water with a swim time of 33:06 (I think the time I hit T1). I once again came out of the water with Adam (who finished 5th in the age group), and was actually 10th in my division out of the water. Slightly slower T1 than usual, but not bad (2:39, actually similar to all the top guys in my age group).

Got on the bike and had my power meter covered up (tape on top of it said, “Smooth, Relax, Breathe). Kept a very solid effort for the first lap of the bike, might have pushed a little hard, but I felt good. Stayed well hydrated and took in a few gels. Around mile 40 I began to feel a little flat, so I let up a little and focused on taking in more calories. I ended up taking in about 250 calories of Gatorade and about 500 calories of gels during the bike over the first 2 hours and 10 minutes; I tend to let up a little on the fluids at that point in order not to start the run with too much in my stomach. Started to push a little harder on the bike and realized that I was having some right quadriceps spasm, so I really focused on a smooth pedal stroke and not overdoing it the last 5-6 miles of the bike. Still, felt pretty good, and actually managed to catch up with a few people who had passed me. In fact, when I looked at the data from my bike ride, I essentially even split the bike, although my average power was higher for the first half (168 watts, Normalized Power=181 watts), than the second half (142 watts, NP=157 watts), but average speed was almost the same (21.9 mph vs. 21.7 mph). Of note, I really focused on not pedaling the downhill sections (probably more so the second half of the ride), when I realized that I wasn’t really going any slower by not pedaling! My overall bike time was 2:35:54, 15th in my age group, about 5 minutes slower than my best bike split ever on this course, but still about my second fastest half ironman bike split ever.

Then, off the bike to a quick 1:20 T2. And, on to the run, where the pain started.

Of note, my massage therapist has been concerned that my bike fit may be off, as I’ve had some asymmetric issues with my quads and hamstrings over the past month or two. I haven’t had a fit done in the last couple of years and think that it’s time for me to get checked.

So, at the end of the day, a very good swim, a very solid bike and a painful run. I’m really happy with my progress, as I keep trying to improve my competitive stance after the swim and then the bike. Now, I just need to work on the run!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I've often said that doing triathlons can often be a metaphor for life. I've recently found this to be true in a very simple, yet important, way. In the last 6 weeks, I've realized the importance of confidence when it comes to my swim. To the extent that one morning I was pretty stressed out from work and I had a tough swim workout I was supposed to do, I decided not to do the swim workout! This wasn't giving up, it was recognizing my limitations on that day and the importance of feeling confident during my swims. I know that next Sunday at Boulder 70.3, I will have confidence going into the swim. I will be rested and relaxed and I will know that I can give it everything I have. In the past, the siwm has been more or less about surviving. What's crazy is that I'm a pretty good swimmer, and this mentality was more or less a waste of that capability.

I now know that I can swim fast, and pretty hard at that, and still come out of the water capable of having a strong bike ride. It can also be fun, trying to keep up with the faster swimmers. At the end of the day, however, it will still be about me. I'll swim as hard and as fast as I am capable on that day. So, what has changed? Well, I'm now aware that I wasn't exhaling adequately, and that was making me feel like I couldn't breath. Now, I focus on exhaling hard every time. And, swimming fast in the process. I know what my form needs to be. I'm more than capable of getting my form into the zone, so to speak. Good extension, good rotation, solid effort. I know how to swim fast. It's only a half an hour (next race), and I know that I can do that.

It is remarkable how confidence can make a difference in our performance. And that isn't just triathlon. It's how we go to work everyday. It's how we deal with other people. It's how we deal with our lives!

The other exciting part of all of this is that now that I'm confident in my swim, I'm hoping to bring that same confidence to my bike and run. I almost always have a pretty good bike ride, but I'm probably capable of just a little bit more. My training has been going incredibly well, and I know that I can have one of my best bike rides next week. There will be a confidence level there that will help me stay in the zone. I'm also really happy because the Boulder course doesn't have any major hills, so I'll be fast!

Finally, the run. I've done the training. I know what I'm capable of. I can focus on my breathing here as well. Perhaps, that's been a problem in the past. I wonder if my side stitches have been related to improper exhaling Well, I'll find out, it's one of the things I will focus on. The other is just going fast. I know that I can run fast (for me), and I just need to do it!

There is also now something special about having done a full ironman. When I look at the distances in next weeks race, they don't seem that long. Running 13.1 miles seems like it will go by so quickly. I have to hold that thought!

I'm also trying hard not to have a specific time goal. That's difficult, because, of course I do! I will not wear a watch, however, and I will swim hard, bike hard and run hard. And, I'll have fun doing it!

Again, it's all about confidence.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Boulder Peak Race Report

Race Report

I think that this was my best consistent effort ever at Boulder Peak. My focus on the swim was exhaling under water. I think that I’ve often not done this as well as I can, so started off in the front and went out hard for the first 200-300 meters. In fact, I felt like I could actually see the lead group ahead of me for a while. When I started feeling uncomfortable, I backed off slightly, but really kept a solid effort throughout. I got to the first yellow turn buoy and thought it was a 90 degree turn, but it was more like 45 degrees, so turned a little too sharply and had to get myself reoriented. Tried to draft when I could, but at this point, was not doing much drafting. When I hit the next yellow buoy, turning back towards the beach I found someone who I was able to draft off of for the majority of the swim in to shore. Kept up a very solid effort the whole way. Swim time was 27:29 (my best ever by about a minute), 10th in my age group (within 30 seconds of 5th), 258th overall on the swim. Jogged up the hill to transition and had a very good T1 (actually waited to take off my wetsuit until I got to my bike and took it off successfully while standing—new for me), 1:09, 3rd fastest in the age group. Started off very smoothly on the bike and kept a very solid pace. Adam Prococki passed me about 3 miles into the bike (we actually came out of the water together, and he finished 4th in the age group), and had a few people in my age group pass me on the way towards Old Stage. Tried to maintain a solid effort, but also tried to keep something for Old Stage itself. I know that I did this pretty well, as I actually passed a few people going up Old Stage who had passed me on the way there. I have to admit, about half way up old stage I was definitely feeling the challenge, but never felt like I was blowing up or getting a side stitch. That said, it was hard! When I hit the top of Old Stage, I was able to get a solid effort going on the false flat on the way to the long downhill. I really feel like my effort on the bike was spot on. The rest of my bike was good, kept a very solid and “smooth” effort. I was focusing on a smooth pedal stroke today and really did well. Also, stayed aero almost the whole way (another goal of mine). As I got to the Diagonal, I was passed by a couple of the guys who I passed going up Old Stage. Tried to push fairly hard, but also was careful not to do anything stupid, wanted to enter T2 with some breathing ability left. Bike time was 1:18:27, which is my typical Boulder Peak bike time, 17th in the age group and 368th overall. T2 was excellent, 0:56 (4th fastest in age group) and I started the run comfortably for the first ¼ mile, actually right behind Marty Stanton, just as I was at 5430 Sprint. I caught and passed him about 1/3 mile into the run. Was breathing every 3rd step for the first 3 miles and at the turnaround turned up the effort to breathing every 2nd step, which I maintained for the whole way back in. This was not an easy run effort by any means. No one in my age group passed me after the turnaround and I managed to pass a couple of guys. Tried to push hard the last ½ mile and sprint at the end, not the fastest sprint, but I can say that I hit the finish line with out much left in the tank. Run time was 51:13, 20th in age group and 484th overall. I am quite happy with my effort today. I gave it everything and left it all on the course. My final time of 2:39:13 was 15th in my age group and 331st overall. One interesting note is how my final overall placing was actually better than both my bike and run placing, I guess a good hard swim is okJ. While not quite my best Boulder Peak time, I was just off by about 2 minutes, my placing and my effort were my best!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Art Linkletter died

Two days ago, Art Linkletter died at the age of 97. Over 10 years ago, I spent a good part of a day getting to know this great man. He was an inspiration to many people of all ages. He engaged children and made the phrase "out of the mouths of babes" mean something even more. He stood up for seniors and let people know that getting old did not mean slowing down. Up until he died, he led a vigorous and active life, inspiring people of all ages.

I will never forget the day I was able to spend with Art Linkletter.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm back!

Friday I did a solid swim, Saturday I rode 3 1/2 hours in very windy conditions and Sunday I ran almost 14 miles, mostly at about 8:40 pace. And I just did an ironman 3 weeks ago! This really feels good. I wish I had a little more time to train and to sleep, but I'll have to make do with what I've got. I'm really getting excited about this summer's triathlons and will get started with my first sprint in 10 days (on a friday evening).

I also signed up for two of my favorite races, Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach in February, and the California 70.3 in April. My legs feel good, my body feels good, no hot spots and I'm raring to go!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


So, it’s 11 days since Ironman St. George. As I slogged through the marathon and went through the finish line, I promised myself that I wouldn’t say anything to my wife or anybody else about future ironman plans. I wasn’t going to say, “I’m never doing this again,” nor was I going to say, “I can’t wait to get another chance.” In reality, I really had no idea whether I ever wanted to do another ironman again. At least, I didn’t want to think about it. So, I promised myself that I’d wait awhile to even consider it.

So, here’s my secret. After just 11 days, the thought of another ironman is already seeping into my consciousness! It’s probably happening for a few reasons. First, I really tolerated the race quite well. Here I am, less than two weeks out, and not only don’t have any soreness, but I’m already back to my pre-ironman swim and bike fitness levels. I’m sure the run will follow along shortly. This puts me in great position for my summer race season. I also have had time to digest what I have accomplished, finishing one of the hardest ironman courses in a respectable time. So, of course, I’m starting to think, what would an “easier” ironman be like? Since I know you have to sign up a year in advance for most of these races, I know that I have to start thinking about it soon if I’m interested in doing another ironman next year.

A few thoughts to help me work on this. First, this was one of the toughest courses. Granted, the bike wasn’t the hardest, but coming off a hypothermia inducing, calorie draining swim, it was all that much tougher. Most people have said that this course added up to an hour to their typical ironman bike time (except for the top pros, of course). Second, nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. I had read that any decline in power, energy, etc., should lead to slowing down and eating…and I didn’t do that. I’d like another chance to hone my ironman racing skills in this regard. I wouldn’t have zoomed past the special needs station halfway through the bike flush in the feeling of how good I felt and how I didn’t need to stop and get anything. Maybe some extra carbopro or having those ginger cookies would have been useful, especially during the less treacherous portions of the downhill. What if I’d been able to go into the run with a little more fuel in the tank? I’d like to find out. My transitions were very “un-me”. Almost 10 minutes for each transition is so unlike anything I ever do. Of course, I really didn’t have a choice, but in a “normal” ironman, I won’t have to change tops, dry off, get the feeling back in my hands and feet. I’d love to go through my usual well rehearsed routine and get quickly through transitions, perhaps taking some extra time to nourish in the early stage of the bike and run instead, while I’m moving.

I’m already feeling the excitement of another challenge. How much time can I take off my ironman “PR”? Can I ever compete for a Kona slot? Can I keep improving so that I’ll be competitive when I turn 55? Will I continue to enjoy the lower intensity, higher volume training? What would be a good course?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sleep is more important than workout-9 days since St. George

Swam 2100 yards today, and it felt normal. Rode easy on my bike for 45 minutes when I got home and it felt normal. Had a massage after work and my muscles are fine. I really am recovering well. I still am carrying some fatigue and need to remember to choose sleep over workouts at this point. In fact, that should always be my choice. I have realized that unless I get a good nights sleep, I don't really feel my best.

Worked a full day today and wasn't tired at the end of the day. Tomorrow I get to meet with the local Chief of Staff for our U.S. Senator. Not sure why I still bother to try to make a difference telling people about our Geriatric practice, but maybe my ironman experience will give me the continued energy and endurance to keep trying!

Friday, May 7, 2010

I AM an ironman

Two days ago, my wife said, "you don't really seem that excited about completing an ironman". I realized that I've been in a very contemplative mood since finishing St. George. I thought that it really wasn't the big accomplishment that I had expected it to be, and rationalized that I've achieved a lot of things in my life, and this was just one of them. Well, the last couple of days have begun to tell another story. Typically, after a race I get very excited and want to share everything. I tend to be a fairly effusive and open person, letting my thoughts an feelings out on my sleeve.

The last couple of days, however, as I walk around, I seem to be standing straighter. In fact, I have the feeling of a quiet increased level of confidence. It's that darn ironman:). The more people I talk to, the more I'm reminded of the difficulty of the St. George course. I ran into someone today whose daughter did the race, he spoke of a couple of people they carried out of the water! The number of people who didn't finish, many of them very high quality athletes, is a reminder as to what I accomplished.

But, I don't really want to get on the mountain top and shout anything out. I'm very content going about my day with an increased feeling of confidence and a heightened feeling that there is nothing I can't accomplish if I set my mind to it. I'm looking forward to the rest of the race season. I've got some goals to really see how fast I can be. It's fun to (almost) be 51 years old! I truly AM an ironman.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Life Strikes Again

Four days out from Ironman St. George and I've decided to go back to working a full five days a week. It was great to work 3 1/2 days while I could, but life has a funny way of taking over. Work needs me this summer, and being an owner of my Geriatric practice, I really have no choice. The day will come soon enough where I can pretend to be a professional triathlete:)

In an odd way, I feel a huge relief now that I've done my first ironman. Training will seem easy from now on. I've been quite lucky, I have no residual soreness just 4 days after the race, although I am certainly still tired. Was able to swim 20 minutes today and then did an easy 75 minute bike ride.

It looks like I'm going to spend the summer just being a doctor. I have to say I expect it to be fun and rewarding after all the time I've spent over the last few years running a business. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by great people who I am confident will keep those administrative burdens off my back.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

St. George Ironman Race Report

St. George Ironman Race Report

Was up at about 3:40 am, had a banana and some cereal and brought my Venti Vanilla Soy Latte to sip up until race time. Also, took a gel about 15’ before the swim. Stood in the porta potty line forever (they never have enough); put on my wet suit and made one last stop at the porta potty before making my way the swim start.

The water was about 58 degrees, but thankfully, it wasn’t windy. I swam out and positioned myself about 5 rows from the front, right in the middle and the gun went off. I got kicked in the head once near the start, but otherwise, was able to draft most of the race. Occasionally, I’d find myself in open water and just enjoyed it for a a few moments, although, at these times, I’d really focus on my form and rotation and quickly bridge to whoever was about 10-20 feet in front of me. I swam freestyle the entire time, never had to stop, never felt tired. The swim was easy, and I really enjoyed it. Tried to pick up my kick a few times to get some feeling in my legs. My swim time was 1:11:26, putting me 488th overall and 26th in my age group, not bad!

My Transition was 9:57, although I don’t think I could have gone faster. I couldn’t feel my hands and feet coming out of the water, walked to the transition tent, which was a mad house, found a chair, sat down and methodically proceeded to dry my upper body off, put on my bike jersey, shortsleeve windbreaker with a piece of newspaper in between (good idea!), arm warmers, lightweight gloves, sunscreen and chamois cream and my shoes, all the while peeing while sitting in the chair. Hydration was never an issue today, and, in fact, this was the beginning of a continuous theme. Got my bike and proceeded out of T1.

Immediately, I realized how good I felt on the bike and really had to make an effort now to push my wattage beyond 160 watts. About 5 minutes in to the bike, I took my bottle of carbo pro out from behind me and dropped it! I realized two things, it was going to be a long day, and I needed to be nourished, and, I didn’t want to get a littering penalty. So, I turned around and picked it up. That probably didn’t take me more than 30 seconds. I then proceeded out on the bike. The bike was really uneventful for the first 70-80 miles, and really felt comfortable. My average wattage initially was in the low 160’s and through the big hills, ended up peaking at about 165 watts after the first loop. I really stayed in my comfort zone, with the one exception that I had to pee by the end of the first hour. I tried and tried to go while riding, but the good descents were too fast and I couldn’t go while riding uphill or on the flats. I probably used up some time trying. Also, I was getting discomfort in my right lower abdomen from my bladder distension. This would actually be a constant for much of the day. Finally, about 1 1/2 hours in, I just pulled over to the side of the rode and peed while eating a gel and taking some electrolytes. Throughout the bike I took in my 1800 cal of carbo pro and ate 600 calories worth of gels and took 2-3 thermolyte capsules every hour. And, I kept drinking water with all this. The uphill portion of the ride was scenic, and I’m glad I had my 11-28, because there was a headwind going up the steepest climbs. I found myself having to push 220 watts just to get up these hills, whereas in February, without a headwind, I only needed 190-200 watts. The first descent was ok, getting up to 42 mph in places, a little scary at times. I started to remember that I had crashed in my last triathlon prior to this one. I did find some long downhills where I could stand and finally was able to pee. The second loop of the bike was tougher than the first, and again, started having discomfort in my right lower abdomen from my bladder. Ultimately, I had to pull over about 3 times of the bike in order to pee. These were somewhat welcome breaks, however, and I always took a gel during these quick stops. I realized that miles 80-100 were tough, my average wattage gradually slipped down to about 160 from a peak of 165. The last 10 miles were scary. There must have been 20+ mph crosswinds, and I was gripping the front of my bike for dear life. All I could think was that completing the bike without crashing would be a major accomplishment. My bike split was 6:49:12, averaging 16.4 mph. My average wattage was 158 watts. I was 39th in my age group on the bike, overall I was 617th. I did slow down the second loop, but the winds also picked up during this time. This was one tough bike course!

My bike to run transition was 9:38, again, didn’t waste time. Was methodical in taking off my bike jersey, windbreaker and arm warmers and putting tape around my right great toe (I have a corn developing) and vaseline on my feet before putting on my compression socks. The vaseline helps, no blisters or toenail issues whatsoever! Put on sunscreen, my hat and made one more stop at the port a potty to pee (still clear my the way!).

Since the first 3-4 miles of the run is uphill, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was now in for a longer day than I had “planned” on. I didn’t wear a watch, so I had no idea of my splits. My legs actually felt ok, but I was feeling somewhat nauseated. I took my carbo pro, which was warm by now, and tasted not so good. But, I stuck with it. This might have been a mistake. After running for the first couple of miles I realized that not only didn’t I want to suffer for the next 4+ hours, but that doing so might not have good consequences. I suppose at this point I kind of asked myself why I was doing an ironman.

I’ll never forget seeing Julie Moss crawling across the finish line on Wide World of Sports. Once I started doing tri’s in the early 90’s, I set a goal of doing an ironman by the time I turned 40. At that time, I was working too much and decided to put off that goal until I turned 50. I thought that work and life wasn’t going to let that happen, until I changed my mind and went ahead and signed up for St. George a year ago. Crashing at Long Course World’s in Perth just 6 short months ago, also made me realize that I wanted to enjoy racing, not just suffer. In my heart, I was hoping to come close to 12 hours, but that would have taken a 4 hour marathon, and that wasn’t going to be in the cards today.

So, I started walking on the uphills, albeit, trying to “power walk”. Ironically, I was not alone, and in fact, still managed to pass some people. I was able to run the downhills, however. and was actually surprised to see that I’d done the first 7 miles at 9:53 pace. Pretty remarkable. The next 6 miles were done at 11:46 pace. It was interesting that I was staying with the same group of people most of the way. I didn’t get discouraged, and just decided to enjoy the experience. Fortunately, I wasn’t having any cramping. I was, however, stopping at the port a potty to pee just about every 2-3 miles! I stuck with my carbo pro for the first 10 miles and then got rid of it. I took in 3 gels, and tried one orange slice, but that made me feel like I was going to throw up. I was afraid to try anything else, but finally took in some gatorade which was marginally ok. Obviously, I kept taking water and my thermolyte capsules. At mile 13, I got my special needs bag and ate 3 ginger cookies, which were fine. I tried two starbursts, but they were too sweet. Miles 13 to 20 were done at 12:01 pace. I ran into Danny, a Coast Guard guy, ad he suggested the chicken broth and coke. I decided to start drinking coke around mile 21. This gave me new life. I ran/walked the next 5 miles with Tricia and Mark, we encouraged one another. This was necessary. For the last 3 hours of my run, the wind averaged 15-20 mph, and it seemed like there was a head wind in all directions! This course was definitely a challenge! With 1 mile to go, I decided to take off and ran the last mile, gaining renewed energy as I got closer to the finish. I passed several people and brought my average pace for the last 6 miles down to 11:56. What struck me was my overall consistency on the run. Despite walking literally all of the uphill sections, I still managed an overall 12 minute per mile pace and stayed consistent. As I rounded the last turn, I could hear the crowd roaring and I looked forward to Mike Riley, announcing my name and saying, “Michael Wasserman, you are an Ironman!”. I know I looked strong and felt like I had wings on for those last couple hundred yards. My overall run rank was 615, two better than my bike rank, so I clearly wasn’t alone in suffering through the run. In my age group I was 45th . Consistent through the three disciplines, as usual!

In the end 13:18:26. 615th Overall out of 2350 people. Many said that this was the most challenging ironman they had ever done. I finished literally as the sun was about to set, but I finished before it went down!

I have to be quite happy with my result. I finished strong, I actually felt ok afterwards. Because I didn’t run the whole marathon, I probably didn’t beat my body up as badly as I could have. A sub 5 hour marathon on a brutally hilly and windy course is not too bad. In fact, I was a little surprised that I managed to go under 5 hours.

I don’t know what’s next, but I do know that I AM AN IRONMAN!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Go figure-best run ever!

After Sunday's tough workout, I felt great on Monday, but was pretty tired yesterday. My coach told me to just run based on how I felt today. I slept 10 1/2 hours last night and woke up refreshed and feeling good. Got on the treadmill, and after 2 3/4 hours and 18 miles, literally had to force myself to get off! I could have kept running! Followed that up with over an hour of strenuous snow shoveling (we had a semi-blizzard last night).

It is remarkable what the human body can accomplish! It seems like the further along I get with ironman training, the more I am able to do and the more my body can handle. Today was remarkable for a few reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I kept a smile on my face for 2 3/4 hours on a treadmill! I really enjoyed the run and time almost stood still.

5 weeks and 3 days to go!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

6 weeks to St. George!

A week ago I spent three days in Long Beach, California at a meeting and managed to "squeeze in" 42 miles of running. Ran 14 miles each day, the first two days broken into two runs and the third day just one long slow brutal run. Came home and the next day had my best 4 hours of biking indoors. Worked out and recovered through the week, fighting off borderline fatigue and soreness from one day to the next. I've also been fighting pain in my right "shoulder". The quotation marks are for the fact that I've learned that it's not exactly my shoulder, but my right deltoid, as well as my biceps and triceps. I've been massaging my arm daily and stretching and was ready to swim on Saturday. I ended up swimming 5,000 yards, over a 1,000 more than I've ever done before, and it felt easy! Go figure.

Today was the big test, my key workout prior to St. George. I was really excited yesterday, but woke up this morning feeling a little flat. Also, my legs felt sluggish and a little sore. Well, in some ways an opportunity to train feeling both tired and unenthused. I'm sure that will happen at some point during the St. George Ironman:), so figured that I could use this as an experience. With that in mind, I started my 4 hour indoor bike ride, with an effort that was supposed to be similar to the effort I will have on the bike at St. George. While it wasn't "easy", it also wasn't really hard. Well, that's not really the truth. It was a bit of a struggle, but never got unmanageable. I watched Goodfellas and just stayed persistent. At St. George I will have gorgeous scenery to enjoy! I really think that's one of the big advantages of this race. The course is beautiful. So long as I remember to smile and enjoy the surroundings, I'll be ok. When I got off the bike, my legs didn't feel any better, but they really didn't feel any worse. I'm pretty fortunate, insofar as biking hasn't been having much impact on my running legs. So, 10 minutes later, I was out the door for my 13.2 mile hilly run.

The run wasn't bad, the first 10 minutes were a little tough, but I then settled in to a rhythm. I just finished reading "Born to Run", and when I get tired, I just think about the joy of running. Again, at St. George, this will be easier to do, the run course is also beautiful. I kept a solid pace and just kept increasing my effort. Just under 2 hours later, I was done.

My coach has suggested that my pre workout ambivalence may be a sign that I'm right on the edge with my training, so I have a few days to recover and take it easy. This experience continues to be remarkable, as I keep taking my body to places I never thought possible. 6 hours of training today, and as I sit here and type this blog, I have no soreness. A small pizza has helped me replenish (as did some "healthier" calories), as did a one hour nap. Naps are critical!

I have to remind myself that my result at St. George isn't important. It really is about the journey. I'm doing everything possible to have a good result, but an Ironman can be fickle. I made it for 6 hours today, but how will I do after 11-12 hours and at the end of a marathon? I don't know, but I know that when I'm feeling tired or discouraged, I'll try to smile and remember the joy of being outside running or biking.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

10 Weeks to Go!

It's remarkable that there are just 10 more weeks prior to St. George. I've been negligent about blogging, but balancing ironman training, work and family is a challenge that I've actually been managing pretty well (another blog for another day). The last month has been amazing! I've felt a lot of the different things that one goes through in ironman training. The highs of completing longer workouts than ever before. The lows from fatigue and occasionally not nourishing enough. Just this last week I went from an incredible day of fatigue to a day of high energy! What is most amazing is that I know that I could do an ironman now if I needed to, I'm that ready. The good news is that I have 10 more weeks to prepare.

Today, Sunday, is a day off for me, the first real planned complete day off I've had in awhile. No training whatsoever. I'll even try not to think about training today, except while writing this blog! Over the last 3-4 days my mind and body have been telling me it's time for a break, which is good. If I didn't learn anything from my accident and subsequent lay off about the value of rest, I'd be pretty stupid. I took 8 weeks completely off from running, and my running is now, just 8 weeks later, as good as its ever been!

So, let me review some of my recent accomplishments. In the last week I did a 4,000 yard swim workout, which didn't seem that hard! I also swam 6 x 500 yards in 50 minutes. Both of these results bode well for my 2.4 mile ironman swim. A week and a half ago, I ran 2 1/2 hours on a very hilly course. My average pace was close to 9 1/2 minutes/ mile. I'd like to get this down to about 9 minutes/mile pace for the hilly St. George course. That said, my recovery from these runs has been excellent. Yesterday, with tired legs, I ran 7 miles on the treadmill at 8:53/mile pace. The effort was very comfortable the whole way, never having to breath hard at all. My biking continues to go well. I'm gaining power at lower exertional efforts and have ridden 4 hours in doors. In fact, last weekend, on Saturday, I swam 4,000 yards, and then between Saturday and Sunday rode 112 miles indoors and then was able to complete a solid run. A few days before doing this, I essentially ran a marathon over the course of 2 days on hilly courses.

Next weekend I'll be in St. George at Triathlon camp! I'm looking forward to riding the course.

Also, I've managed to find my run mantra, "I am strong". It came to me one day while running after a very hard bike. It has stuck with me ever since. I plan on using it to get me through the marathon at St. George. What was most exciting was that I wasn't trying to come up with a mantra at the time, it just came to me in a moment of clarity!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'm back!

Well, just a few days into the new year, and I can say that I'm truly back. In the past few days I've had great swim, bike and run workouts. Considering that I'm 4 months out from St. George, this bodes well. Now, I just need to be patient and not do more tha my coach tells me to do.

First of all, I'm back to running. With ice still on the ground, I'm sticking to the treadmill. I've been able to run (with some intermittent walking) for 70 minutes/7 miles without any significant pain or soreness. Today, I actually ran for 40 minutes (4.4 miles) immediately after a 90 minute bike ride. I managed to get up to 7mph pace and stay in zone 2 (effort pretty comfortable). While this isn't my peak pace for this heart rate, it's a great starting point for St. George.

Next, my shoulder is coming back pretty well in the swim. Despite some soreness (which probably stems from biceps tightness from limiting my motion for 8 weeks), I was able to swim 2600 yards, with 5 x 300 yards at a very respectable pace (1:40/100 yards), again, not my best ever, but a really good starting point for my upcoming training.

Finally, my biking has certainly not suffered, especially since that's about all I did for a month. Yesterday, I was able to ride 3 hours on my indoor trainer, with a good portion of that time in my aero position in my zone 2 heart rate (comfortable), at a power that again is not my optimal, but a good place to be at this point in time. Today, I rode 90 minutes with better power and lower heart rate than yesterday. It actually felt like I've "snapped back into place" in terms of my fitness level!

I think that the most exciting part of this is that I'm about to enter my 4 month training period for Ironman St. George. I am taking an extra day off every week, giving me three half days off during the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday). This really feels good, insofar as it really takes any pressure off of me for the training I am about to embark upon for an ironman. If I had to do the training with a full work load, I don't think that I could have handled it.

I continue to contemplate the nature of my desire to do an ironman. Triathlon and the training it comes with is certainly "a place" I like to be. Training for an ironman certainly gives me plenty of time to be in this "place". I want to do well, but really to the extent that I feel fine doing the race. I want to put myself in a position to have a successful race, which means, feeling very good during and after the swim; having a comfortable bike ride; starting the run feeling reasonably good. The rest will be what it is:). I don't have any other major goals. Is it possible for me to qualify for Kona? Yes, but I can't try to do that, and I can't really make it a goal. It's also not really why I'm into this. I just want to give it my best effort.

Happy New Year, it's good to be back!