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!