Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Summer catchup

So it's been awhile since I've reported anything and I'm guessing you've moved on to better things. Well, I'm back. Can't say with a vengeance, but I'm back.

Spring time turned out to be a challenge for me w/ training. In February I managed to separate the AC joint in my shoulder while skiing, which was totally stupid. I'm a fairly good skier, but I had no business being out there the night of the accident. After five good falls I should have known better to half-ass a 360 off some foriegn jump and wind up throwing my shoulder into a cement-like landing. It wasn't good, but I got plenty of laughs from my PA-to-be friends and some good whisky in the chalet from a couple guys who have felt my pain. I was just happy to not have to drive down the mountain that night. It could have gotten worse. With it being nearly June now I have full mobility in the shoulder, but I lost a lot of strength in these already fairly wimpy shoulders. I also have one kickass of a notch/lump near my clavicle. Such as life.

The shoulder injury set me back for marathon training then I somehow pulled my left calf muscle while out on a 10-mile run. It took weeks to recover from it and I thought the marathon would never happen. While up in Coeur d'Alene I managed to throw a few good weeks of longer runs in so I had some confidence back. but the body felt like a rock. It really showed how inconsiderate I was towards my body during the winter/spring months after the shoulder incident. One thing led to another and the body was just clunky. The right knee started giving me problems and I can pretty much attribute it to a lack of flexibility. When my quads get tight they pull on my lower back. When my lower back is sore I try to compensate then things like my calves go to hell. Then the IT bands start to act up, which then farts w/ my knee. I have been an endurance athlete now for quite some time, but I swear there's times I act like I know jack squat. And since I'm not exactly a spring chicken some philosophies needed adjusting and that has begun again.

Ogden Marathon
Ogden Utah is a beautiful mountain town, and it was Kate and I along with my brother and his youngest daughter, my niece, Britney there to enjoy it. They drove from Wisconsin since Brit is staying with us for the summer. We had a lot of fun checking out the sites and catching up and I would head back to Ogden anytime. I'm a sucker for scenery, it never gets old.

Getting ready for this race I took a look at what I could hold on a good day and trained my paces based on that. The course itself has a lot of downhill with an overall elevation loss of around 1000 feet (starts at 5400ft). You'd think it would be a fast course, but there's also plenty of rollers for a good 10-miles that'll make or break you. The elevation alone may also mess w/ you though it's not too bad at that height.

The start of the race is pretty cool where they bus us to the starting line. We then hang out w/ everyone at the fire barrels to keep warm while the sun works its way up. When we got up there it was around 28F at 5500ft elevation. Pretty chilly, but those barrels were toasty and once the sun came up it warmed up fairly quickly. Kate moved herself to her pace zone and I got to mine then the gun goes off.

The first five or six miles are a pretty good shot downhill and I stayed conservative and hit my paces on each mile. At mile eight the rollers start with some longer grinds until you get to mile 14 which is the significant hill. Miles 13 to 15 I slowed some, but life was still going good and I made it back until mile 18. The flats felt fine and going up was no problem. I trained on a lot of hills so going up is never a problem for me these days. At mile 18 the big downhill starts. It's about 4-miles downhill at around 5-7% and though you might think "sweet", it requires some pretty fresh legs.

Once I hit that downhill at 18 the IT band in my left leg just locked up. There were times I was skipping downhill just to keep momentum. Then the stopping started. For the next five miles I sucked it up and just dealt with what I had to do. By mile-23 and a half I mentally couldn't hurdle the pain and pulled over and sat n this park kind of pissed. If I would have walked 12-min miles the last 2+ miles I would have PRd, but it was so short of what I wanted I didn't care. So for the next 90-mins I sat in the park, massaging the legs, waiting for Kate to make it through. I didn't care about a marathon time, I didn't care about what people might think of me running a 5hr marathon, I just wanted to get over myself and try to turn this into something positive. So for those 90mins I thought about my attitude over the winter, the mishaps, the missed opportunities and found once again you get out of it what you put into it. And what I put into this race didn't jive with what I was trying to get out of it. You don't HOPE for things to happen you MAKE them happen.

After those 90mins I see my wife and she's in a lot of pain as well. When she saw me she figured I was already done, but I let her know I'm still at it and it made her happy we could do this together. Her and I ran the last couple miles together, encouraging each other, finding reference points to run to before having to walk it. It was a hell of grind to get to the finish line, but we did it and we finished together, hands together, arms up up high, big smiles. Now the funny thing is Kate crossed the starting line after me and since this is all chip timed she actually beat me by a couple mins. She has yet to let me forget that!!! :)

Kate was happy w/ her marathon experience despite the very minimal time she had to prepare for it. School for her is at the top of the list so it leaves very little time for anything else. My brother ran the 5K race and did quite well. Britney ran the half marathon and of the 60 women in her age group she took 1st with a 1:37 run. Very impressive. We're proud of ya, chica!

Now that the marathon is done and I think I'm near full recovery I've got my sights on the Boise 70.3 in a couple weeks. Then I'll get into full endurance mode for the Newton 24 race in September. I've got a few races in between like the Bogus Time Trial on Labor Day and a couple Olympic distance triathlons. The Bogus TT is a 15-mile mountain climb TT, which I'm very excited about though it will require to go deep into the well, which is nice. I need it.

That's all for now.

Train smart (and smarter than my Spring training) !!! :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

In with the New Year

Hey all, hope everyone is finding 2009 to be a good year so far.

January is nearly complete and my body is finally starting to get over the "I've taken time off" fitness hump. Mentally I'm completely refreshed from the 2008 Ironman year (hey, I only did one this time, right?) and starting to get some good miles into my legs. Most of the miles these days are coming in the form of running and last week alone I think I put more running miles in than my heaviest week last summer. That's from a pure quantity standpoint though, I think most of my running miles logged last year had some serious quality, but just making the point that I'm going all "Gump" on my ass! I'm also getting a fair share of biking in, which equates to about 4+hrs/week on the CompuTrainer. My Saturday trips over to the RHOP (Rob's House of Pain) began last week and it left me realizing I've got some work to do to get my high-end fitness back in gear. Saturday's workout consisted of mostly 90-110% efforts for two hours followed w/ a nice 40-min run afterwords. I'll be doing those types of workouts until March then getting outside on the bike to get some longer endurance in. I'm feeling very focused at this point, which feels great since I tend to slack when I don't have goals.

A couple weeks back before all the consistent training begun we had the Frozen Dog triathlon, which was a 1st annual race put on by our local Boise Aeros tri-club. The race consisted of a 500yard swim at the pool on Friday then a 10-mile bike / 3.4mile run the next day at the House of Pain. The 10-mile bike was on a rolling CompuTrainer course while the run was outside on our local Green Belt. On Friday I got into the pool in the morning, got a good warm-up in then pushed out my 500 yards. I thought if I could be under 7:20 I'd be happy since I'm not swimming much these days. When it was done I hit the wall in 6:42 so that wasn't all bad. On Saturday I knew there would be plenty of people to keep it interesting. I was in the 2nd group of 8-people and there were a couple people with faster swim times than me. Basically, the clock started at 0:00 and when it hit your swim time you started pedaling. Within a mile of the ride I was leading the race, but it was hurting so I was somewhat banking on that fact that those guys were hurting too and they'd have to suffer on the run as well. I knew the guy next to me, Josh, could outrun me so there was no point in backing off too much. Off the bike I had about a 40 to 60-second cushion so I tried to push what I could, but the pace was brutally slow. I also thought the race was supposed to be three miles and not 3.4 so I found myself worrying that I missed the "X" out on the course to turn-around. So just before the turn-around I hear footsteps and it's Josh just motoring along. I had to ask him if he knew where he was going and he knew the "X" was coming up. I was thinking, "Damn, that is the longest 1.5 miles ever...I must be WAY out of shape.". Anyways, I kept him in my sites for awhile, but he eventually disappeared and I hung on for 2nd place overall. Not exactly a bad way to start your season, but it was definitely an indicator that it's time to put my head down and train.

From a non-training side of things, everything is going pretty well. My wife continues to chip away at her clinical rotations and she's about half done at this point. In six months she'll be completely done and for the first time as a couple she'll have one job and no school. At one time she had her full time gig at State Farm, part time (15hrs) as an CNA on the weekends along w/ at least one night class during the week. Talk about mental endurance, she's a fricken neuro-Kenyan! Anyways, we're both anxious to turn the page at this point so we can start doing some of the things we were used to doing (like travel) before school started.

Over the holidays we managed to put new ceramic in the last two bathrooms floors and completely changed out the floor in the kitchen. Apparently, we have a thing for floors. Tiling the bathrooms is actually kind of fun, but changing out the floor in the Kitchen sucked like nothing has ever sucked before. Talk about your well planned fustercluck! My God Mon! We consider ourselves fairly savvy in the home repair department, but this little project swept in and kicked our butts. Basically the big problem was part of the floor wasn't level in our brand new home. We needed to level it, but made a bit of a purchasing mistake by buying floor patch rather than the thinner floor leveling compound. This made the job a bit long and exhausting. After three days of hair-pulling life is once again grand. The kitchen floor looks nice and the dogs love making it dirty.

Well, that's all for now. In February the training steps up a bit more and hopefully I'll have something more interesting to report.

Peath out!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

End of Year Reflections

Hey all,
It's been awhile since I've blogged out my noggin thoughts so it seems fitting to get something out before the new year. 2008 was a pretty good year for me in athletic achievements, but mainly my goals were geared towards mental hurdles. I've been fortunate enough to be given some genetic gifts that allow me to do these big Ironman races a little easier and perhaps a little quicker than the average population. I didn't have to work too hard to get long legs, and other than some natural habits growing up I've never had to deal with weight issues. I'm lucky that way. I'm certainly no where near the most talented out there, but I also never take for granted what I've been given. It can be taken away like that! Take a long hard look at yourself and point out the mental and physical assets you have. Whether it's great strength, good looks, a 150+ I.Q., artistically gifted, etc., none of them are secure so you should feel lucky you have what you have. Throw in the fact I'm not one of the 5-billion people who can't get a clean drink of water I tend to knock on wood daily. There, I just didn't it again.

So with the end of the year I'm thankful yet again for my health, my family, my friends, and how the lottery of life chose me to be one of those people who CAN pour a clean glass of h2o whenever I want. In 2008, we had an election and our country made history by electing Mr. Obama. I am thankful. Though skin color is completely irrelevant in my book, history is being made and I couldn't be happier. I just wish Kate and I could have been in Grant Park that night to witness what we saw on CNN that night. The sigh of relief I had after this extremely long process was incredible. And this president-elect is already showing how embracing all societies (black, white, gay, straight, you name it) and making wise choices in my book will make this country and this world a better place. I'm not one to strut my political views too much (so please no political comments), especially when I know members in my own family have opinions that don't exactly reflect my own. But I have been passionate about this round of politics and I feel like we got it right. Time will tell of course, but it feels apparent to me these next four to eight years won't involve a president with a personal agenda. "W" is on his way out and the door couldn't hit him in the ass any faster!

In 2008, my wife and I have settled into Idaho and are comfortable calling it home. When you first move anywhere it feels as if you're only visiting. The newness of it all is very exciting and you can't help but think how much friends and family would dig this place. Countless times I'd be running in the foothills on my own thinking, "Damn, my brother would love this.", "Mark and Adrian would love this downtown", "The GFOQ boys would be awe inspired with these climbs.". It was sort of like I was physically living in Idaho, but my thoughts and emotions were in another timezone. 2008 settled some of that down, especially since a lot of family and some friends made the trip to visit us. They sort of reconfirmed my suspicion that they would love this place. Them being out here also slowly let me start putting my thoughts and emotions into Idaho's timezone. I don't think so much anymore about how people from where I used to live would enjoy this. The door is always open for them so whenever they're ready they can always visit. Until then I'll be in the foothills not thinking about how they would dig this, but how much I'm digging this right now. Whenever Kate and I would head with our friends to Chicago to do some clubbing (one of our occassional treats), the wrist-watches stayed at home and there would only be one time...NOW. As the night went on, we'd ask, "What time is it?" The time was always now. This is how life should be lived. Learn from the past, live in the now, and that's what I'm trying to do.

So what does 2009 bring? Athletically, I have two major challenges lined up. In January I will start gearing up for a marathon in May. Kate and I looked at a very nice marathon to do in Eugene, OR, but due to some class time conflicts we had to change the location to Ogden, UT. The Eugene marathon looked to be a much faster marathon since I could train at elevation in the foothills then bust ass on a flat trail at 400ft elevation. Such as life. The Ogden Marathon starts at roughly 5500 ft and ends at 4500ft. So that could still be a speedy race (in theory), but obviously elevation over 5000ft has its affects. Anyways, I will put 5 hard months of training to get ready for this marathon. It'll be my first marathon without a swim/bike warm-up since 2002 and I'd really like to test the body out. My goal is also get my long distance running geared up for 2010 when I'll be back at the Ironman distance. I'm pretty stoked!

My other big race for 2009 is in September over in Aurora, CO. This is the Newton 24hr Race and it'll be a team event with my friends Eric and Brent from the mid-west. The course distance is a tenth of an Ironman and you do loops for 24hrs straight. The team with the most loops wins, pretty sweet. The catch is you have to do three complete loops (swim/bike/run) at the beginning then you can switch it up. Since the swim course closes at sunset and re-opens at sunrise you have to bank up your swim before the sun sets then bike/run all night until the sun comes back up. It is going to test the mind and body wonderfully and I'm excited to get the body ready for the challenge. It should be fun.

If you read Kate's Blog you'll know that her and I have been very excited to get back to downhill skiing. Our local resort opened yesterday so I cleared the work calendar and we bombed up there with our two good friends. This is also part of my 2009 workouts. I love to ski and it's a great workout (though Nordic skiing is the real ass-kicker) so I'm very excited for the season. The snow is flying around here, more so than normal so I imagine the Valley will melt away soon enough. But the mountains will remain white and it's awesome to have something so cool so close.

That's about it for 2008. Everyone stay safe, give hugs to the family during the holidays, and steer clear of the amateurs during New Years Eve. I'll be back to being an Ironman blogger in January.

Take care,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ironman Mooooo

So the big dance has come and gone and what's left are a boat load of positive memories that I won't ever soon forget. From the training experiences in Idaho w/ new friends, to the family and long time friend visits during the summer, to the 100% unconditional support from my wife. It's been an awesome ride and I can say without a doubt that this has been by far the most pleasurable Ironman experience I've had in the nine races of this distance I've finished. As I write this I find myself going back through pictures and videos my niece took during the race, reliving the experience and trying to jog my memory on things that happened. I'm not quite ready to let go and start looking for the next big thing on my athletic plate. It was one of those experiences that felt too good to let go. The only thing that could have made the experience better is if Kate was there in person to get me home. She's half the reason why I got to the starting line in the first place so that would have been sweet. She was online all day though, following my progress as well as getting updates from friends who were on the course. So it was about as close to the real thing as she could get. I imagined while racing that after each event (e.g, swim/bike/run) she would see how I was giving it my all and would be screaming like crazy, which I found afterward was exactly the case. For instance, when I popped out of the swim and saw my time I thought, "Hehehehe, Kate's gonna dig that time!!!!" From the phone conversations to the Face Book chat, I had her and friends everywhere cheering for me. Pretty kickass!!!

Taper Time

During the last week of June and heavy training month of July I was having a terrible time sleeping. Man, when I can't sleep everything and everyone around me suffers. My mind was everywhere. From trying to gear up for the Half in Bend, to my new bike frame cracking and going through the replacement process, to making sure I had all my ducks in the row for when my brother arrived, to making sure my responsibilities w/ work were on track. All of these things were causing some sleep issues and I just needed to relax. Once the sleep sucks so does the training, mainly the long runs for me. Without good sleep it was really hard to push through the long 2+hr runs up in the foothills so I tended to come home feeling like a failure. What a mind-job! After the Emmett Olympic race, the sleep started to come around and I was actually stringing big hours each night. It was fantastic and couldn't have come at a better time now that I was in taper mode. Every workout once again had purpose, focus, and confidence. I felt everything was coming together and I was ready to take my mind to a new level. Pretty kickass!

Wednesday, 4-Days Out

Early on when figuring out my flight schedule to Wisconsin I wanted to get there a little earlier than I would typically arrive for a race. Doing what I can to make sure the travel was completely out of the system before the race was key along with being able to relax and enjoy myself. So that ended up being the plan, which worked out great. My other travel situation was I had a sponsorship with Bike Sherpa, which is a company that will ship your bike to these Ironman events without ever disassembling your bike. I got accepted on the team last January so I figured the crazy bike expense portion of my budget was handled. Once the gas prices skyrocketed there was no longer a justification for the company to handle a few bikes in the PAC North West so that plan fell through. Rather than shipping my bike I decided to take a chance and bring the bike case. The case itself weighs 30lbs so to get it under the required 50lbs meant I had to only pack the bike and nothing else. I used to pack everything in it back when there was only one fee. To keep'er low, the chain, pedals, bike bag, and anything else that could be easily detached got thrown in the other bag. When it was said and done the bike case weighed 49lbs and my other bag weighed 48lbs. I even managed to somehow talk/confuse/eyebrow-wiggle the check-in lady to not charge me the $50.00 for the bike case/oversize fee so the bike went through for free. How friggin cool is that considering she could have charged me $200 for the whole thing? OK, so enough about prices, I might end up jinxing myself.

The flight to Milwaukee was easy/uneventful and my brother and his oldest daughter, Andrea, was there to greet me. Ahhh...with family again! And not to mention Andrea's fiance', Mike, who just returned from a year-long stint in Iraq was in town. He came to hang with family as well, but also to get inspired so he could stand in line on Monday and sign up for next year. Which, of course, he did so I'll be back as a spectator next year to scream his ass to the finish line. Kate and I sent him a little care-package while he was in Iraq, which of course included a box of Crank Sports Gels! He sent me a slew a pics that are totally cool and funny. Strapping a bunch a gels to the barrel of an M-16 like one would to a bike frame is pretty friggin funny!

With a quick drive over to Madison and a quick run to the grocery store we were finally settled in and ready to begin the waiting.

Thursday or Rainday, 3-Days Out

Yeah, it flippin rained all day on Thursday. There was hardly any wind so the clouds just sat there and dumped. Bla! The plan was to get down to the lake for a swim then head out on the bike course for a quick bike and run. The plan totally fell through so we just pushed the workouts to Friday and did plenty of relaxing. We still managed to get a little 20-min run in the rain on Thursday, which was fun considering I hadn't seen rain since early June. Anyway, we got all checked in to the event, got our cattle wristband attached, then spent a couple bucks at the merchanise tent before all the crazies bought everything out. Seeing that half the field (1000+ people) were doing an Ironman for their first time, stuff just sells out quick.

Thursday night we met up with friends for a good dinner. My buddy, Keith aka Kona Dog, got me a replacement GFOQ (Get fast or Quit) bracelet for the black HTFU bracelet we got over the winter. HTFU (Harden the fck up) got so overused thanks to SlowTwitch (or Pantytwitch as I like to call it because everyone in that forum seems to have their panties in a bunch) that it lost its luster. By May, every time I'd hear or see an HTFU I wanted to say STFU (Shut the ## up). Just one of those things. Anyway, the new wristband has that LiveStrong look, but with GFOQ on one side and "Don't Suck" on the other. A perfect progression in motivational wristbands, I must say. It stayed on me for the race and I looked at it several times for a small pump.

Friday, 2-Days Out

Two days out is always my big rest day. It's the day I warn family about ahead of time so they realize that I'll be a log pretty much all day with the feet usually pointing up. Sort of like a Vegas showgirl without the feathers, and heels, and flexibility, and well ok, nothing like a Vegas showgirl, but I try to keep those feet up. Just maintaining my Dork Card there is all. Flipper and I were able to get down to the lake for a good swim then get back to the condo and relax for a bit...well a lot. So much, it drove us crazy since we did plenty of relaxing during our rain day. We eventually made it back downtown for the Ironman pasta meal and to meet up with the Bloomington gang. Seeing everyone again was great. The food really sucked and I seldom complain about stand-in-line food; however, this time, wow, not good, which sucks for the athletes paying for the extra tickets to get in there. I do have to say that the food for the awards ceremony hit the spot. Redemption meal! With all that said though, most meals can be graded based on the company you're with. In that case, the meal was perfect. Hanging w/ close friends is always a beautiful thing.

Saturday, 24 hours Out

Flip and I headed down with Britney to the swim a little earlier today so we could meet up with the gang. Britney wanted to get a good run in so that worked out well since the path along Lake Menona is right there. The big crew from Bloomington was there who's doing the race along with a close buddy of mine, CD, who was there to train. He came here last year, had the race of his life, and now is gearing up for Kona this year. Seeing this is the only year Kate and I couldn't go to Kona to spectate it's a bit of a bummer. We have three friends from Bloomington racing Kona this year. It would have been amazing to go, but we'll just head back to the big island another time. I doubt any of those guys are done going and I'm not exactly giving up on the dream myself anytime soon.

After the swim we threw the bikes in Flip's truck and headed out to the bike course for a quick test and make sure all is good with the legs. We went out to the section where two of the bigger climbs are at, which tend take a little out of you by the 2nd loop of the race. I hadn't been on the hills of Madison since way before moving out to Boise so I wanted to see how they felt after training around here. I have to say, when you get to the base of climb and can clearly see the top it's not too bad. The bike was feeling comfortable and my legs were feeling phenomenal. As long as the sleep holds up and I nail everything else (nutrition/hydration/etc) I think I'm going to have a good day.

Flipper and I got the bikes checked in and got our gear dropped off in typical fashion. The rest of the day and night was spent with family and I managed to sneak downtown in the evening to get one traditional beer w/ my friends from Bloomington. It's tradition in Madison that if you're not racing you head to the German restaurant, Essen Haus, for beers and some good German food. Seeing not even the Germans eat German food the night before an Ironman you can almost guarantee you'll get a seat fairly quickly! I got my pre-race meal in me prior so I was there for the beer and company. It was so great to see everyone together again and I was able to hang there for a good chunk of time before returning back to the condo. I got myself settled into bed and had a great night sleep. It's time to get this thing going.


The race morning alarm goes off at 3:45am and the entire family is up and ready to go. The nerves are totally in check and I can see my brother is ready to get this thing going as well. After nine of these bee-otches I think I've become a little more calm or have at least learned to keep the nerves at bay a little better than back in the early days. We head down to the transition area and start getting the bikes prepped and ready to go.

As I'm getting things ready I realize the very first thing I always do was never done. Strap my damn chip to my ankle. Stupid thing is sitting on my dresser back at the condo. No chip, no problem. I'll get another one, but it could have added to the drama if I wasn't so happy to be there. My mood was great and a lot of it had to do with the environment and the presents of family and friends. No other race of this size could there be so many people I know. Once again, kickass!!!

We all head down to the lake and I head over to the chip timer dude. He assigns a new chip to me and says, "You're #18". Whatever that means, but I asked if it would get assigned to my bib and he said no problem. Flip kind of disappears after that so I imagine he was strapping his game-face on. I run into Dr. Dennis and Dr. Mark and we chat a little before the start of this thing and get the "good luck" hugs in. I think these guys are all going to rock this course today. The weather turned perfect and winds were nice for the swim. The winds will get a little crazier later in the race, but nothing to worry about now. It's time to get wet.

Swim 2.4 Miles

Swimming out on the course to bob around was an indicator that I was feeling good. Sometimes you just know it, other times that powerful feeling comes later. Today, it jumped out at me. Tonto says, "Hmmm Kemosabi..taper good!" The canon finally goes off and it is time to go. I'm out a little wider so I take my sweet time to eventually get aligned w/ the course buoys. In fact, it takes me almost the entire first stretch before I was directly on course. The line getting there was perfect so I don't think I lost any time w/ that approach. When I hit the last corner buoy to start the 2nd loop the watch read 29mins and change so I knew I was having a good swim. But in typical fashion something during that 2nd loop slowed me down. When I finally popped out of the water the clock read 1:02 something with a final time of 1:03 and I was quite pleased with that. The approach I took towards swimming this year had me in the pool three times a week w/ 75% focused on nothing but drills. I swam roughly 5000 yards a week and had nearly the same swim I did back in Germany when the coach I was using (some De Boom guy) had me swimming 12-15000 yards a week. Obviously there was nothing wrong with my endurance and much more to correct w/ my form. So like the flippin Republicans like to chant these days, "Drill baby drill!!!"

Bike 112 Miles

My transition went pretty smoothly and I was off on the bike. Seeing I got out a little earlier this time I didn't have nearly the draft packs I've had in the past. In fact, I can't recall a single instance where I was upset/concerned/frustrated by the typical draft packs I normally see. The Moo course is so rolling though that perhaps that had something to do with it. Other than that bitch-stretch from Verona to Mt. Horeb I think it's hard for draft mongers to get their peloton on.

I'm feeling pretty good on the bike and I'm also keeping a very positive attitude. I must have said "thank you" a thousand times to the volunteers and got some great laughs seeing some of the characters out on the course (e.g, pirates, Eric the Devil, etc). Around mile-45 we begin the series of climbs that help define this bike course as challenging. As I'm heading up the first climb, which is around a half-mile long I see my family just getting ready to begin their cheering section. I probably surprised them a bit though. The times I gave them for when I'd be coming through was way off so I'm early. My bad! They see me and give out some good cheers and then I'm off to the top. At the next climb I see a lot of the Bloomington gang and get a great boost from them. I couldn't wait to get back around to see everyone again.

On the last big climb a dude out of nowhere pops out and it's the Devil. Except I know this Devil who happens to be none other than Eric the Eeeeeeel who's chanting, "HEY DREWBIE, HOW YOU DO'N MAN????" and all the other positive stuff. Eric and his wife, Naomi, are like the Super Fans of Ironman. You can always count on them to help you get to the finish line. And now they've created a little addition to the family so I'm sure the little guy will be raised in the ways of Kung Fu Ironman Super Fan-dome! Eric runs with me the entire climb and before you know it the climb is done. Man, I hope he's around for the 2nd loop when I'll need it even more! Thanks dude!

Somewhere near the end of the first loop the wind changed direction and got a little stronger. We had wind to our back on the bigger climbs, but the next loop those climbs would feel a bit steeper with the wind in our face. However, they were still very manageable for me. All that saddle time in the foothills and mountains paid off for me this year. Getting up the first climb on the 2nd loop and seeing the family again was great. I even had Mr. McCarthy run me up a bit. He asked me if I blew a tire, which was news to me. Apparently that happened to Dr. Dennis so there was some confusion. All is good with my ride (knock on wood). The 2nd steep climb didn't have anyone I knew so I figured I'd see them on the run. It's a quick steep burst that's there just to piss your legs off until you get to the last big climb. On the last dandy the Bloomington gang appears, which was a totally cool surprise and awakening. They cheer for me and then out pops the Devil again. Ahhhh, awesome! I don't recall saying much to Eric just because I was keeping my quads at bay, but he talked to me the whole way up again and before I knew it the climb was once again done. Once again, Beelzebub, thanks!

Riding from Verona back to Madison was friggin sweet. We had a tail and crosswind the entire way home so it was easy to spin out the legs and get them ready for the marathon. When it was all said and done, I got back to T2 in 5hr 20mins w/ a 21mph average. Given how good my legs felt off the bike, I'm pretty stoked about how the ride went. Now it's just a matter of seeing what kind of guts I've got to make a run for a Kona slot since almost all slots are earned on the run.

Run 26.2 Miles

T2 went through smoothly as well, which consisted of a quick change, a quick stretch, and quick unloading of the liquids I consumed. Everything was in check. Hydration was good and the legs felt very good. Time to run.

In true Quentin Tarantino style, lets go back to Wednesday when I arrived at the airport. When you fly with those large bike cases they usually get unloaded last since everything gets piled on top of them. While waiting I noticed a couple other guys waiting who appeared to be in for the Ironman. I started talking to them and found they're from Portland. Every day up to the race I would bump into these two guys. I'm thinking I'm starting to creep these guys out since it just seemed like everywhere I went I'd run into those two. We'd get a good laugh then I'd top it with a more sadistic, over-the-top laugh. Well, OK, in my head anyways.

Fast-foward back to the marathon. A couple miles into the run a guy gets next to me and we start running together. We're chatting a bit and he's keeping splits for us. Around mile-4 he says we ran that last mile in 6:53. What the hell? I'm going to blow at mile 10 at this pace so I'm slowing'er down. I guess you just lose yourself in those early miles while being a chatty Kathy. After a bit I ask him where he's from and he says Portland so I finally look over to see this guys (I've been looking straight ahead the whole time). Shit, same guy from Portland! I say to him, "You're kidding me, man, I'm the guy from the airport." We both start laughing and shake our heads. What are the freakin odds???? Anyways, later in the run he dropped back and finished about 10-mins behind me. This was his first Ironman so he's off to a good start in this crazy sport.

The miles continue to click away, but I'm constantly keeping my quads at bay. It appears I'm slightly dehydrated, but it's slowly getting better. When I finally hit State Street the crowds got huge and that was a big pump. It's such a crazy-cool section for spectators, but it always goes by too fast. Next thing I know I'm out of the crowds and running along the lake. On the back part of the course I see the entire Sweet gang cheering people on. That was a cool surprise since I figured I wouldn't see anyone for awhile. With a couple miles left in the first loop I once again run into The Eeeel. He's cheering me on and checks to see if Kate was being updated. I had no idea so he took care of it. The guy has like teleporation powers! Near the end of the first 13-mile loop I see my brother and he's looking good. No matter how focused I get on a race I still look for the people I know, especially when my bro is there. It's good to know they're off the bike and now it's just a matter of will that'll get them home.

So I got through the first loop in 1:48, which isn't too bad, but I really need to pickup the pace. A few more miles click by and I'm starting to slow down some. Crap! The mood is still great, I'm still seeing family, friends, the big crowds, life is good, but the pace is beginning to drop. Then the paranoia starts to creep in. I started thinking about the chip I had replaced this morning with the #18. Was that a Pro chip? Are my splits off by 10-mins? Watch I miss I Hawaii slot by 10-mins because of the chip and can't prove my case. All of this crap started to bug me because of stories of blown tires and people telling me times that just didn't seem right. OK, I'm just shutting it out and get back to task at hand. Man, I can be a headcase sometimes!

Once again I'm back through the State Street section, which is around mile-19 and see the family. The girls are wearing Boise State shirts their Dad got for them when he was out here. They were quite easy to spot. It looks like they're having a great time! I can't really say much to them at this point because frankly, I was starting to want to get this thing done and get a beer. I managed to catch up to my brother who was on his first loop and he was doing just fine. I knew he'd be right behind me and finish his second Ironman. He gives me some encouragement to get this thing done and I'm off for the final stretch.

With about 2-miles left I'm looking at the watch I'm not exactly pleased w/ my splits. I've slowed down miserably, but that's how it goes. I dig a bit deeper and suck it up to get to the crowds. The crowds could then get me home. Once again, Eric flies out of the crowds to cheer me up the last oooph to the capital. He says, "Mark's just up there. Go get him." I see Dr. Temple and give him a healthy spank. He gives me a good cheer and finally...FINALLY...there's the finish line. I take a quick glance back to see if anyone was trying to run me down. The coast is clear to have a great time before I hit the tape. Reily is calling out my name and naming out all the Ironman races I've done. I'M SOOOO HAPPY!!! I see CD and Sloan in the bleachers and CD comes down to give me a high-five. I literally leap through the finish line in pure joy. I'm so pleased with today and feeling...well...reborn.

When I finally got my finishers stuff, confirmed that my chip was OK (and it was), and got through the finish chute, there's my niece, Britney. It was a total surprise since I thought I'd be alone during this time. She snuck away from the aid-station to see me finish and that was so cool. Having her there brought out all of those emotions that buildup throughout the day that I would have otherwise sucked up, which would have come out at some random (most likely embarrassing) time later. Thanks Chica! Brit hands me her phone and I give Kate a call. Kate is screaming over the phone she's so happy. We talk a bit more, Brit helps me gather up some stuff so I can get out of these nasties and into something a bit more comfortable. Now it's time to start cheering everyone in.

Britney heads back to the aid-station to get the rest of the family so they can all get back to see Flip finish. I hang with the gang as they come in and its just great to see everyone having great races. As people are coming in so are the friends who were out there cheering me on all day. I couldn't have thanked them enough. After a little bit, my brother finds the finish line as well and he's so happy with himself. Wisconsin is such a hard course and he kicked some butt. Way to go dude!!!!!

As you can tell I'm pretty happy with how this race went. I didn't get the Kona slot I was going for, but that's OK. I'm getting closer and this was by far my strongest race. I was a couple minutes quicker at Ironman Florida back in 2006, but Kona slots are based on how you place, not by some time. I moved up nearly 20-slots so there will be a day when I get my Kona day and when it happens you can guarantee you're all invited to the party!

Now it's time for some well deserved rest.

Train Smart,

The Gang

Monday, August 11, 2008

Last Blast before Moo

A couple weekends back I did an Olympic distance race, Emmett's "Most Excellent" Triathlon. This race is hosted by the local tri-club I belong to here in Boise (The Boise Aeros). My buddy, Ken Runyan (who was actually a very fast runner back in his day so it's not just a clever last name), directs this race and did a fantastic job as did all the Aeros out there supporting. I've heard many good things about this race and the timing seemed fitting as the intensity of my workouts seem to be in full force these days. I had a very soft half-iron in Bend so I really wanted to come into this with some pain on the brain.

This is another point-2-point race, which is the only kind of racing I've done all year. It's going to be strange in Madison biking to the same place I started. Anyways, we start out at Black Canyon Reservoir, which is about 30-mins from my house. Nice close race this time. It's a beautiful little area back there, but surprisingly the water is rather dark (or black). It's not dirty, just has that dark color from the rocks/minerals in the water. So the sense of knowing where the field is during the swim should be a bit more acute. This race also has more familiar faces so it was nice to have that this year. Not being at Tri-Shark, where I know just about everyone, this race helped sooth my tri-stranger-pain.

I have to say, it's been awhile since I've prepped up for an Olympic distance race. My habits are in tune to go long-long-long so I think I made my race week prep a bit overcomplicated. I didn't come into this race rested (actually sleep deprived), but I put in my normal prep time with a full day's rest two days out (typical stuff). I just didn't have the strategy figured out and made some dumb mistakes during the race. Sort of goes with not racing as much this year too, I suppose.

The swim kicks off to a good start. Two strokes into my race I take a full-force heel to the face, totally knocking my goggles off. Damn, that was quick and what a nice star-gazing session it was for a few seconds! Whoof! I got my lid reattached and goggles back on, did a quick blood/tooth check, all is good so I got clear and into a groove. The goggles continued to fill up so I had to finally stop, empty them out and adjust the swim cap. When it was all said and done the swim went pretty well despite having to stop those couple times.

My transitions have sucked this year. I can't say it enough, SUCKED to the nth! I had a heck of time getting out of my wetsuit (need some spray) and getting that point-2-point gear bag packed was awfully slow. Ken was standing there taking pictures, asking if I was planning to read a book. Man, I'm supposed to be good at this stuff and that was embarrassing. On the way out Kate yells out that my nutrition had fallen out of my back pocket. Looking back, I can't see where it dropped so now I'm stuck with the just the fluids. I have a gel waiting for me in T2 so we'll see if that's enough, but SCREW ME DUDE....too much freakin drama!

The bike course is surprisingly flat with some gentle rollers and one short-steep hill. If you know the course and can hammer then breaking an hour is certainly in the cards if you can back it up w/ a run. I hadn't ridden the course so I kept a steady groove since I really wanted to run a hard 10K and finish strong. I was redlining for the first couple of miles and eventually got my heart down so a bit more warm-up on the bike would have helped. I ended up swapping places w/ a couple guys during the ride and a couple caught me near the end. I wasn't hammering too hard so that was fine, coming in around 1:02 for the 25-mile ride.

Quick Summary

The second transition went a little better, but still some big room for improvements. I guess it's time to start practicing transitions again. I thought I had those down about 5-years ago. Blame it on age, laziness, your mom, I don't know. When I got into the run I felt pretty good, but not awesome. I figured it would take a mile then I could put my head down and run. Well, it never happened. I never could get enough air in my lungs and let enough C02 out. It guess it was just one of those days...again! I was also found myself in no-man's land during the run. The PROs and some elites were ahead of me and everyone else was behind so I was pretty much out there alone with the people from the Sprint race and no one to push me. Not trying to make up excuses, but it didn't help during my time of badness. On the second lap of the course I was cooked. I probably stopped three or four times to get my lungs back and it ended up being the worst 10K of my life (PW!). The finish came and I ended up 18th out of the 216 and 3rd in my age group. So I actually won $10 for that effort, but could have really given 1st place a run if my run would have cooperated. I was around six minutes slower than my typical 10K if that says anything. DANG IT (said w/ Star Wars Robot Chicken voice)!

So I've got some things to think about and do until Moo. I had my last big week of training (hell of a ride last Saturday) and now into a good taper. I've had a rough go with sleep these last few weeks, but that's coming around again. I'm sure that had a lot to do with my sub-par race performance, but I'll own it and happily take a good HTFU slap to the head.

So with some positive mantras....

Harden the fck up, Drew.
Harden the fck up, Drew.
Harden the fck up, Drew.
Harden the fck up, Drew.....SSSSSSSSLAP!

OK, enough for now. Time for bed.