Monday, December 28, 2009

A year in the life of a triathlon idiot

Time for a somewhat self-indulgent look back at the year... how it started, how it unfolded, and a chance to think about what it all meant. If you are reading this and that sounds really painful, just read the next couple of paragraphs and then you can skip the rest of it starting where it is labeled "Race Review" :)

Before digging into the recap, I first want to mention that I will be starting a new blog for this new year. The title and theme of this current blog were explicitly tailored to the 500 Miles of Hope idea, and that has now been completed (although I will continue to highlight HFK). I'll post info soon on the new blog in case anyone is interested in following that one. I think this time it will be a little more eclectic - not as triathlon focused. I'd love to cover more on Haiti and Mexico, random things that interest or amuse me, etc. Along the triathlon lines, though, I do want to include items related to the coaching part of triathlon; as I'm starting to get more involved in that aspect (and truly enjoy it!).

So, on to a look back at my year in triathlon and endurance sports... A year that was quite aggressive by my standards (for a mid-40's guy with a full-time job and no real athletic background), but something I wanted to to in order to test my limits and get some things out of my system. Training and racing at this volume can be considered anything from disciplined to dedicated to obsessive to perhaps a bit dumb, depending on one's perspective. I'm going to go with something that mixes a bit of obsessive with self-discipline, that I did in order to push myself and achieve things I once did not think were possible. I believe it is the same thing that drives people to do other "excessive" endeavors, such as climbing the world's tallest mountains or swimming the English channel. We all have something inside us that feels alive when we accomplish what initially seemed impossible.

This all started with a goofy idea I had as I started thinking about the race mileage that I would be accumulating during the year. If I did everything I wanted to do, it would be close to 500 miles, and so that milestone kind of stuck in my head. I had done the Janus Charity Challenge when I had competed in my first Ironman in 2007, and really enjoyed that fundraising/awareness aspect. So, I decided to go ahead and do this crazy amount of racing this year (at least for me); and dedicate it to something that I believed in. The final result was 500 Miles of Hope, dedicated to a program called Hope For Kidz that provides education for children in Haiti.

This post was my introduction to that concept:

http://500milesofhope.blogspot.com/2009/02/introduction-and-background.html

RACE REVIEW
I had already done the first couple of events (a 20 mile run and a small duathlon) when I made that original post and started the blog. Next up was the Austin Marathon ; where I ran a nice steady race, keeping in mind that it was going to be a long year. I managed to finish in the top 24% of my Age Group (AG) and top 15% overall, so things were off to a good start.

Shortly after the marathon, I took a little detour and went to Clermont, FL to do the classroom work for my USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coach certification. I finished the rest of the paperwork and exam in April, and received my official certification on May 1st. I've started coaching a couple of people since then, and really enjoy that side of the sport. I'll be looking to delve into that a little deeper in 2010... perhaps hooking up with a more experienced coaching mentor.



The next event on the schedule was the Lonestar Triathlon in Galveston, TX. Moody Gardens in Galveston provides a fun venue for a race, and the race director (Keith Jordan) always puts on top-notch events. I had a great race and finished 3rd in my AG and top 8% overall, which I was pretty excited about - it seemed like all that hard work was starting to pay off! :)


Just two weeks after Lonestar, I fulfilled a goal that just 4-5 years ago seemed impossible for me, and went to Boston to run in the Boston Marathon! I had qualified at the Austin Marathon in 2008, leveraging the fitness gains I had achieved to get ready for Ironman Florida, and was really pumped up to actually be there. And it was every bit as fun as I had heard... tremendous crowd support, scenic and challenging course, and a great place to visit. I'm running the Austin Marathon again this coming February, and hoping to qualify once more so my wife and I can go back to Boston in 2011! Speaking of my wife, good time for me to point out how terrific she is with supporting me. Thanks Susie!!!


May and June were pretty quiet from a racing perspective. Lots of training, though, including a couple of long organized bike rides. One of those resulted in a pretty good bike crash, which luckily caused only minor bike damage and an elbow that took a couple of months to feel normal :) It was also really really really hot (really)! We had over 60 days where the temps hit 100 degrees or higher this year. Yikes...

The one race I did participate in during that time period was not as an athlete - I joined the race committee for the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon and served as the swim course director. It was a lot of fun, and very interesting to see things from the "other side". I highly encourage folks to volunteer and/or serve on a race committee whenever you have the chance. Besides being necessary for these events to continue, it is also very fun and rewarding :) Thank you to the race director (Glenn Beck) for letting me take that role (and doing it again this coming year).

Got back to racing in July with the Marble Falls triathlon. This is a unique and interesting race, kind of a hybrid between the sprint and olympic distances; with a challenging/hilly 23 mile bike course. The bike course had always left me pretty worn out for the run, so it felt great this time when I got off the bike and was still able to have a nice fast run. I ended up with 3rd place in my AG, and top 10% overall. It was weird for me this year to be placing in the top end of my AG, since I started at a place where I thought that type of result was just not in the cards for me.

In August there was more training in the blistering heat, and a much-needed family vacation to Hot Springs, Arkansas. We had a great time, and just enjoyed life for a few days...


Then in September I started the gauntlet that I had been anxiously awaiting from the start of the year. An Olympic triathlon to kick things off, and then 2 full Ironman triathlons in a 10 week period, with a half-ironman stuck in the middle for good measure. What was I thinking? Not sure...

So, first up at the beginning of September was the Austin Triathlon, an Olympic distance triathlon. My good fortune continued, and I was able to place 2nd in my AG; top 9% overall. The swimming was really starting to improve, and my bike fitness was allowing me to be slightly faster on the bike and still have my fastest runs since I started triathlon (6:43 pace on the 10K portion of the race). This was great for my confidence, but there was no time for letting up, as the biggest tests were yet to come...


The first of those big tests came less than two weeks later, the Redman iron distance triathlon. On a day that came close to being a disaster (morning downpour nearly resulted in a race cancellation, and made the bike very challenging); I ended up doing really well and completed the race in 11:23, almost a full hour faster than my first IM in FL. I was extremely pleased with that time, and even more pleased when I found out the final results. Redman is a fairly small race (less than 200 IM competitors), and only one person in my AG had a better time. Not only that, but he won the entire race, which left me as First Place in my AG!!! Wow, the first time I ever won first place in a triathlon!

At this point, I honestly felt like I had achieved everything I wanted to for the year; but still had a couple big events to go. I think it was about then that I started really looking at the amount of time and effort I was investing, and what I was sacrificing in other areas of my life. While I was having a blast and doing great, I knew that I needed to soak it all in and enjoy it fully - because I just wasn't going to sustain this level of training and racing in the years to come. I decided that the future for me was going to hold more balance. I love triathlon, and the training I do will still get my best effort; but the coming years were going to have a more sane schedule - and if the results drop off a bit I am perfectly happy with that!

My next race was the Longhorn 70.3 in Austin, and I was really hoping to have a great day. It had been 5 weeks since Redman, and I felt like I was recovered and re-trained, ready to do well at the half-Ironman distance. And I did have a very good day, finishing 14th in my Age Group out of 142 people and top 13% overall. While I was happy with the results, it was a little short of what I had hoped for. The swim wasn't great, and I could never really get going on the bike; so it took a pretty fast run to make up some time. Tough day against some tough competition. Looking back at my training/racing logs, I can also see now that I was just plain and simply starting to wear down (no surprise). Still, if you had told me 5 years ago I could have that type of result, I'd have had a good laugh :)

After Redman, there was some time for rest & recovery; a quick ramp up on training; and 5 weeks later it was time for the coup de grace - Ironman Cozumel. This was the race I had signed up for in Nov of 2008 which set this whole chain of events into motion. Here is the full race report, but the short version is that it was a great and beautiful swim, a really tough and windy day on the bike, and then a marathon that wasn't my finest hour :) I ended up at 12:29, somewhat slower than what I had anticipated going in. In retrospect, though - it turns out to have been a good result for that day; as it put me in the top 21% of my AG and top 24% overall.

With IM Cozumel in the books; I had completed the entire 581.4 miles of racing!!! Considering all that can happen in a given race, let alone an entire year, I was truly blessed to have been able to have participated in and finished every single race on my schedule! :) And what a great location to finish it all off - my wife and daughter and I had a GREAT time in Cozumel the week after the race... The weather was fantastic, the beaches and ocean were beautiful, the people were very friendly and excited to have us there... we didn't want to come back home! And I also met some great fellow triathletes and their families from all over the world (England, Canada, Hawaii...). A terrific way to cap off the year!

EPILOGUE
Since Cozumel, things have been pretty laid back. Trying to catch up on a million things that need to get done around here. Went back to Mexico for a mission trip just before Christmas, and I'm starting to ramp up the running for the Austin Marathon. Biggest event of all, though, is the upcoming trip to Haiti! I get to go and visit the kids that this year has been dedicated to... and they are truly wonderful kids that are the hope of Haiti's future.



That's it for now... I'll post a couple more items here; but will soon switch over to a new blog (as mentioned above). In closing, one final plea to check out the Hope for Kidz website and perhaps make at least one small one-time donation to help those children get some education. Ciao for now...

RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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2009 Race History:

January 11: RunTex 20 Miler (20 mile run) -> COMPLETED

January 25: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (27.2 miles run/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


February 15: Austin Marathon (26.2 mile run)-> COMPLETED


April 5: Lonestar 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


April 20: Boston Marathon (26.2 mile run) -> COMPLETED

July 19: Marble Falls Triathlon (28 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

Sep 07: Austin Triathlon (32 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

September 19: Redman ironman distance Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED

October 25: Longhorn 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED


November 29: Ironman Cozumel Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Play time almost over...

Starting to plan my races for next year, and the first thing on the plate is going to be the Austin Marathon (mid-February); which means I need to get back into the running. Was gone for a long weekend to Mexico to help start building a local church there, but did an 8 mile run before I left and a 10 mile run today. By next week, I'll start a full running schedule. I'm going to Haiti in the 3rd week of January, and can't do much running there; so I have to fit in most of the training before then. My goal will be to get a Boston Marathon qualifying time again, as I'd like to go to Boston in 2011. We'll see how it goes...

Speaking of the Mexico trip I mentioned above, here's a couple of pics from that trip that might be interesting:

Starting point on Saturday


Progress as of Monday afternoon



The "Tracks" neighborhood where the church is located


Hoping to get to that end of year wrap-up post later this week. In the meantime, I hope everyone is having a great Christmas, and best wishes for the New Year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IM Cozumel 2009 race report

What a fun way to finish the year! It was a tough day (details below), but I was able to finish the race and wrap up a year that included two full iron distance triathlons, two half-iron triathlons, and two full marathons... and then have a fantastic week of fun, rest, and relaxation on the beautiful island of Cozumel! :)

Getting through this year with no major mishaps, injuries, or issues was a huge victory; and I am very thankful and appreciative that I've been blessed with a life that includes such great memories. I'm very well aware that the majority of people in the world do not have these kinds of opportunities... and along those lines - don't forget about the Hope for Kidz link that is listed below ;)

SUMMARY
This triathlon was a great example of expectations vs. reality; as well as the danger of comparing one race to another based purely on time. Just about all of the athletes that I talked to, including a couple of the pros, were at least cautiously optimistic that this would be a fast course; especially due to a very flat bike course. There were some concerns about the wind, heat, and humidity; which turned out to be well-founded... That combination (the wind in particular), ended up taking its toll on just about everyone, including myself. I had a very fast swim (1:02) and a good start to the bike, then hit the winds and quickly reset my expectations for finishing time. Finished the bike in just over 6:17, which was slower than I had hoped but not terrible; and then really hit the wall on the run, ending up with a finishing time of 12:29:03. Not quite what I hoped for, but nothing I'm complaining about either. At an Ironman, finishing is always the main goal, and never a guarantee.

Once the dust had settled, I learned the lesson (once again) that you can't really compare races purely by the finishing time. After an 11:23 at Redman just 10 weeks before, I have to be honest and say I was disappointed to be an hour slower for this race. This was even just a little slower than my first Ironman in 2007 (IM Florida). However, when I saw the final overall results, I noticed that even though my time was a few minutes slower than IM Florida, my placement was actually much, much better! At IM FL, a time of 12:20 put me right in the middle of the pack (finished around 48% both overall and within age group). At IM Cozumel, a time of 12:29 placed me in the top 25% overall and at 21% in my age group. That definitely improved my feeling about the race, since I knew going in that I was in better shape and better trained than I was back in 2007 for IM FL. This was just a tougher day on a tougher course (and maybe my old body had reached its limit this year). Anyway, enough rationalization and on to the full race report...

PRE-RACE
I arrived in Cozumel on Thursday afternoon (Thanksgiving day) and got unpacked and settled into the hotel. My wife Susie and daughter Kayli were flying in on Saturday, wisely choosing to stay clear of a stressed-out and no-fun JD for the two days before the event :) I met a fellow triathlete who was also there alone, his family arriving on Saturday as well, so we got together on Friday to check out the swim conditions, drive the bike course, register for the race, athlete meeting, etc. The Friday swim practice was actually canceled due to rough water, but we did get in for a short informal swim just to convince ourselves that we could handle the swim even if the water conditions did not improve. Saturday I got all packed up and checked in my bike and transition bags (see pre-race bike transition pic below). When I got back to the hotel, my wife and daughter had arrived; so I was able to spend Saturday evening relaxing and enjoying time with them.
















RACE MORNING
Woke up and got to the race site without incident. The host hotels provided buses to shuttle us to the race start, and that worked out nicely. The first thing I noticed was that the water was much, much calmer, which helped my mental state of mind quite a bit. I then went about setting up my bike to make sure everything was ready, trying to keep myself busy and calm until it was time to head down to the water for the race start.

SWIM
I took this picture of the swim start location on Friday , which shows the side of the dock that we all loaded up onto for the swim start. It took quite a while to get everybody into the water - I think some people were still getting on the dock when the race began. I jumped into the water and waited for the start closer to the beach myself, since that would give me a fairly straight line to the turn buoys without being right in the middle of the swarm.





As soon as the swim started, I was thrilled with the BEAUTIFUL clear water. It was amazing how much that helped, you could see everyone around you for quite a distance, which really helped you to swim your own race, avoid traffic jams, and find good feet to draft off of :) It was also pretty cool to be able to see everything, including the marine life and the scuba divers positioned at the bottom near each buoy. I was tempted to wave hello, but thought better of it as I realized they might think I was signaling for help and pull me out of the water!

After a short distance to the turn buoys, we turned around and headed back past the docks for the long section, which was with the current. A final turnaround, and then we headed back to the other side of the dock where they had set up wooden stairs for us to get out. Due to the clear water, I actually was able to see my watch a couple of times and knew I was doing well, but still was very excited to see a swim time of 1:02 as I got out! Wow, that was fast for me, and ended up being a fast swim for most people I talked to later (most likely due to swimming with the current on the long section).





T1
I stayed very calm and deliberate for T1. First we ran across the carpeted walkway you can see to the left, and then grabbed our T1 bags with our bike gear from the racks you can see being set up in the picture to the right. Including the run out of the park once we had our bikes, it was a fair amount of distance to cover, but I went through it smoothly and got on the road with no problems.



BIKE
After that fast swim start, I was feeling very good about things; and that continued as I started on the bike course. The first 10 miles or so were nice smooth, flat roads; and we were well protected from the wind. Even being conservative and keeping my HR down, I was doing great. Then the road started turning towards the back side of the island and I started feeling the effect of the winds. Nothing too bad at that point, but a noticeable drop in speed. When we hit Punta Sur and turned along the coastline, though; that's when I really knew the day was going to get tougher. As you can see from the picture below, there is no protection from the wind, and it was really howling! Plus, the road itself turns into the chipseal pavement that Texans know and love. That combination lasts for a 12 mile stretch, and every mile of that I watched my avg speed drop further and further. And, by the way, this was only the first of 3 loops - so I'd be doing this two more times! Oh well, nothing to do but stick to the plan and try to keep the HR in the right range, keep hydrated, etc.


Things improved a little when I finally took the left turn that took us back towards the city, and especially as we got into the city and all the crowds were there cheering us on (the roads were closed to traffic, so there were very few spectators on the far side of the island). Going through the downtown area, we passed the second transition area for the first time and headed back towards the swim start at Chankanaab park. That was a very nice stretch of road... too bad we would only be on that section twice!

The second loop I tried to just maintain the same type of effort and speed as the first, not wanting to overcompensate and end up blowing up completely later in the day. I did try and get in as aerodynamic of a position as I could on that backside, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. The winds were coming mostly as a crosswind, hitting on an angle on the right front side; so there really wasn't much I could do about it.

The final loop I just tried to enjoy the smoother, less windy part of the bike as much as I could; and then just get through the coastal section without driving up my HR too high. I had known since the first loop that any type of PR (personal record) was out of the question, so I was focused on keeping a reasonable bike pace and hopefully allowing for a decent run. I finally made it to the second transition area downtown with a 6:17:07 bike split, putting me at just under 7 1/2 hours total.

T2
Looking back, I must have been a little disoriented and tired already, because I ended up leaving my Garmin on the bike when I handed it off to a volunteer. I thought about going back to find it, but decided that I could keep track of pace via the mile markers. I'd done that for plenty of races before the Garmin, and I always survived :) My goal at that point was to try for a marathon time of less than 4 1/2 hours; so I could keep my total under 12. Ah, the best laid plans...

RUN
The run was three out and back loops of about 8.7 miles each, similar to the three loop bike course. Three loops actually works well for me, as I go a little conservative on the first, gauge my condition on the second and pace accordingly, and then by the third loop I can tell how things are going for the push to the end. Here's a pic of me on the run coming through an aid station. Bananas anyone?



Susie and Kayli were at the back end of the loop right in front of our hotel, and it sure was a welcome sight to see them! I was running at a decent pace at that point, but I could also tell that I was fading, as I was having trouble eating and drinking due to nausea. I warned the family that things would likely start slowing down for the next couple of loops.

Whether the bike course had taken too much out of me, or the humidity was making me too hot and dehydrated (or the combination); by the second lap I could tell I was burning out. I had done some walking before I saw my wife and daughter again, and I told them that in order to finish I would likely have to do quite a bit more. It's very frustrating when your legs are capable of running, but the rest of your body is just too fatigued to allow it. Such is the Ironman... it is not just about the three events, it is about putting them all together in one day.

When I got to the last loop, Susie and Kayli had re-positioned themselves to be downtown for the finish. Susie tried her best to encourage me, including telling me that I actually had moved up a little bit in my age group. Really?!? I don't know how that was happening, as I didn't see any bodies on the side of the road :) This picture kind of tells the story of how I felt:


So, now it was time for the last loop. The first part of that last out and back was some of the hardest 4+ miles I've ever done; alternating short runs with walks and praying for the last bit of reserves I had in my body. The good news was that somebody had finally told me where to find the Special Needs bags, which contained some chicken broth that I really wanted (many people had that same problem, they did not have any signs or indication where the SN bags were - which turned out to be the parking lot of my hotel!!!). Once I reached the turnaround, I could finally sense the end and made myself a deal that I would run as close to 2 miles as I could, then walk a little before making the final run to the finish line. But whether it was knowing how close I was, the chicken broth that I finally found, or just wanting it to be over - I was able to keep on running all the way to the end! That's one of the things that I love about doing endurance events, finding out how much you have inside even when you think there is nothing...


Hit the finish line at last, with a time of 12:29:03, happy that my final run kept me under 12 1/2 hours :)


Here's a little video that Susie shot of me crossing the finish line.



POST-RACE
I knew that I was pretty well shot, and I had learned the wonders of the post-race IV at Redman earlier this year; so I didn't waste much time after turning in my timing chip and headed straight to the medical tent. After the IV and a nice hot cup of soup with noodles, I felt like a whole new person. How I wish that they'd allow me to do that at the beginning of the run! After leaving medical, I got my finisher's shirt and scarfed down some pizza; then left the athlete area and met Susie and Kayli. They helped me grab my bike and all my gear; and we went to find a taxi to take us back to our hotel. On the way, a very excited Mexican lady was grabbing every finisher that she could and having her husband take pictures of her with them; which brought a smile to my face as I pictured her photo album with all these worn-out looking strangers in their sweaty race garb. The local Cozumel folks in general were very excited about having the race there, and treated us all really well.

Once at the hotel, I ate some food and then crashed for some much needed sleep. Woke up the next day feeling pretty good, so we started on the *real* vacation at that point, and ended up having a fantastic week on the island with sun, beach, snorkeling, scuba - and even a visit to the San Gervasio Mayan ruins. As I said at the beginning of this post, it was a great way to end the year!

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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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Race Schedule:

January 11: RunTex 20 Miler (20 mile run) -> COMPLETED

January 25: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (27.2 miles run/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


February 15: Austin Marathon (26.2 mile run)-> COMPLETED


April 5: Lonestar 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


April 20: Boston Marathon (26.2 mile run) -> COMPLETED

July 19: Marble Falls Triathlon (28 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

Sep 07: Austin Triathlon (32 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

September 19: Redman ironman distance Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED

October 25: Longhorn 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED

November 29: Ironman Cozumel Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

*** GRAND TOTAL: 581.4 miles of racing! ***

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quick (short) update on IM Coz

Wow, that was a tough day; and seemed to be for a lot of people! Most that I talked to kissed their goal times goodbye about halfway thru the bike stretch on the back side of the island. The winds were just howling across the road and it took a lot out of you and your speed :) Had a great swim, though, and then we did get lucky with overcast conditions for the run. Ended up with a 12:29, which I am slightly disappointed with (just couldn't absorb food and water); but very happy to have finished - and having a great time here in Cozumel! I'll post a race report with pictures and video when I return to the US, but just wanted to capture a quick snapshot of the day.

Hasta luego...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quiet before the storm

As usual, not a lot to talk about during the last part of taper. Just doing the remaining workouts and getting ready for the trip. I think I'm more anxious about the travel part of this than the race itself at this point. Once I (and my bike) make it to Cozumel safe and sound and I get settled in, I'm sure my stress will switch to worrying more about the race :)

So... next post will be from Cozumel, Mexico - maybe I'll be able to add a couple pictures to liven things up a bit.

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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Quite the production

Getting into the detailed planning for the Cozumel trip. Hotel, plane, bike packing and shipping, transportation, phone service, etc. ... lots of things to take care of. Oh, and I guess I should train some, too :) Seriously, flying internationally for a triathlon adds a lot of tasks to the plate! I just keep focused on that goal of crossing the finish line, and then spending the rest of the week with my family enjoying fun, relaxation, and lots and lots of food. I wonder how much weight I can gain in a week?

At the finish line of Ironman Cozumel it will have been close to 400,000 yards of swimming, 5700 miles of biking, and 15oo miles of running this year - and time to blow off some steam and have a good time. A little over a month from when I get back home, I'll be on my trip to Haiti to visit the kids and the friends that I've made in the years past. Pretty hectic, but life just keeps flying by, so you have to treasure every moment that you get to break out of the ordinary, right?

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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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Race Schedule:

January 11: RunTex 20 Miler (20 mile run) -> COMPLETED

January 25: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (27.2 miles run/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


February 15: Austin Marathon (26.2 mile run)-> COMPLETED


April 5: Lonestar 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


April 20: Boston Marathon (26.2 mile run) -> COMPLETED

July 19: Marble Falls Triathlon (28 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

Sep 07: Austin Triathlon (32 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

September 19: Redman ironman distance Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED


October 25: Longhorn 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED


November 29: Ironman Cozumel Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Are we there yet?!?

I'm starting to feel like my kids used to on our long road trips... ready to finish the journey and relax/stretch out a bit :) My final race for the year is coming up in just about 3 weeks - Ironman Cozumel on Nov 29th. Not sure if I'm more anxious about doing the race, or getting it over with and being able to hang out on the beach sipping margaritas the rest of the week! This has been a fun year and I've been able to accomplish what I set out to do (well, once I finish this race...); but I'm ready both physically and mentally to do some rest and recovery.

This week I've been back to full bore training, and I'll wrap it up this weekend with a 100+ mile bike ride (with about 8 mile run after); and then 18-20 mile run on Sunday. After that, I'll start moving into taper mode and preparing for Cozumel. I'm actually feeling pretty good this week, other than a slight pull in my upper left hamstring that's nagging me (mostly on the bike).

So, time for the home stretch... Let's get it done and have a great finish to a very good year!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Longhorn 70.3 - taking my own advice

In an entry about a week ago, I wrote about how you have some control over your performance goals, but there are a few factors you can't control (e.g. weather); and that once you do your best performance, you can't control the actual outcome (i.e. how you do compared to others). I concluded with this remark:

"In the end, you just do what you trained for and hopefully can be happy that you gave it all you had..."

Today, as I was contemplating my race on Sunday, I found that I needed to take my own advice and be happy about my performance for that given race on that given day. I really had done well, and was able to complete in 5:07, which is very close to what I thought I could do. No use worrying and wondering about if I could have done better on the swim, or why my bike time wasn't quite what I expected... I gave it my best and had a good race. And if you can't be happy with that, maybe you need to think about why you are racing!

So, sports psychology aside, I'll dig into the full race report... and don't forget to check out the Hope for Kidz link!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had been sick for the last few days leading up to the race; so I ended up doing absolutely nothing after a short swim on Wednesday morning. Another one of those "be happy for what you have" considerations, as if I had been sick one more day I wouldn't have been able to race at all! The only negative was that I ended up pretty wired by Saturday night after laying around all week, so I had a hard time getting to sleep. Ended up with less than 4 hours of sleep, but drank some coffee, got ready, and headed to the race site. Got things ready for the race without any issues, did some warmup sprints, and it was time to go!

SWIM
Dumb mistake number one. I *always* hang back a bit and to the side to start the swim, because getting tangled up with a bunch of other hyped up males ends up doing more harm than good (at least for me). This time, I started to the side, but too far in the front. The first part of the swim, I paid for that, as I got clocked pretty good a couple times and in general had a rough time. Finally got into my own space, and was able to settle into a good rhythm. The winds were unusually strong for that early in the morning, so there was a lot of chop in the water as well; especially on the way in. Thank goodness it was a wetsuit swim! I was very happy to get out of the water, and ended up with a swim time of 36:40. I knew I'd lose time from last year's swim, when the swim course ended up being short, but that was about 2 minutes or so slower than I hoped. Oh well, no worries :)

T1
Transitions were very different in this race, in that we actually had two transition sites; one for the swim to bike; and then a different location for bike to run. In order to facilitate that, we had to take all our swim gear (including wetsuit) and any loose items that weren't going on the bike - and stuff them into our T1 bag before we headed out on the bike. The race folks grabbed those bags later and brought them over to the race finish. Ended up working out great, just slightly more confusing. Got through it fairly quickly, though, and headed out on the bike.

BIKE
I am not a power biker, I like to get the longer flatter sections where I can really wind up my cadence and fly. So, this course is a little tougher for me than a flat course like the Lonestar triathlon in Galveston. A lot of up and down, a couple good hills, and fairly rough road surfaces. And a pretty good wind as well, so the bike ended up being a challenge. I could track my average pace on my Garmin, so I could tell I was not going to make up any time on the bike. I actually had to work pretty hard just to keep in the same range as my bike time from last year. I didn't want to overdo the bike at the expense of the run (classic and most common triathlon mistake), so I just kept chugging along and trying to keep as close to 20 mph avg as I could. I completed the bike in just over 2:48 (19.9 mph avg), and have to admit that I was a little frustrated at that point. I knew breaking 5 hours was no longer achievable, and hoped that I still had a good run in me to keep it close to that 5 hour target.

T2
As mentioned earlier, the transitions were in different locations. I had left my running gear in a bag at my T2 bike spot the day before. So, I pulled into transition, racked the bike, and pulled my shoes and hat out of the bag and took off. Pretty simple and quick.

RUN
The run course was 3 loops, which was a nice way to break up the half marathon distance. Each loop was a do-able 4+ miles. I started out on the first loop, and I could tell I was going pretty fast; but my heart rate was OK and I wanted to make up some time - so I didn't back off much. After a couple miles, I started settling in and could tell that I would have a pretty good run; barring any unforeseen issues. The sun had come out to play, so it was warming up into the 70's (ended up in upper 70's I believe). At the end of the first loop, I saw my wife Susie and my mother-in-law; who had shown up to cheer me on for the last part of the race. For the friends and family that do this - THANK YOU!!! You just can't believe what a boost it is when you know you're going to see some friendly faces cheering you on, especially on a loop course like that.

The second loop I was still holding a pretty good pace, and feeling pretty strong. Perhaps that "forced taper" I referred to in my previous blog entry was helping me out, or maybe having done nearly 1300 miles of running this year, or both! :) I came across one guy my same age that had just exited a "pit stop", and ran with him for about 1 1/2 miles. He was going a good pace, and it helped me to just focus on his feet and not think about anything else. Eventually, he seemed to fade slightly and I moved on ahead.


The last loop ended up being the gut-check part of the run, not surprisingly. I started to slow a little, but was determined to keep pushing and finish it strong. When I got past the 11 mile mark, I got that "smell the barn" feeling where you get that extra push of energy knowing that you are (finally!) almost done... I finished with a run time just over 1:35, which I was very happy with. Nearly the same run time as I did at Lonestar in Galveston earlier this year, but on a tougher day and course.

The finish was very cool, by the way. As you can see in the video below, we finished with a half loop inside an arena (I'm the third one in that group). Very nice for the fans, and a lot of fun for the racers. Thank you Keith Jordan and Endorfun Sports!





SUMMARY
So, my total race time was 5:07:47. That put me in the top 10% of my age group (over 140 in my age group), and I was very happy to achieve that with such a competitive field. There are always things to work on and pick on, but as I discussed at the top of this entry; for now it is time to enjoy the feeling of having given it all I had. I set out this year to do over 500 miles of racing, and I am down to the last race on my agenda (Ironman Cozumel on November 29th). No matter what happens there, I've been blessed with some great experiences and fun times, and that is why I do this in the first place.

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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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Race Schedule:

January 11: RunTex 20 Miler (20 mile run) -> COMPLETED

January 25: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (27.2 miles run/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


February 15: Austin Marathon (26.2 mile run)-> COMPLETED


April 5: Lonestar 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run) -> COMPLETED

April 20: Boston Marathon (26.2 mile run) -> COMPLETED

July 19: Marble Falls Triathlon (28 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

Sep 07: Austin Triathlon (32 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

September 19: Redman ironman distance Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED

October 25: Longhorn 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED

November 29: Ironman Cozumel Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Forced taper

Been a little sick for the last couple of days (began Wed afternoon). Nothing major, but keeping me from doing any type of exercise. So, assuming I'm back to full health on Sunday, we'll see if this "forced taper" ends up being a good thing or a bad thing! :)

Going to be an interesting race - first time I've done a race with 2 different transition areas, and the first time to finish inside an arena. Good times...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Getting ready for another race

Next weekend (Sunday) is the Longhorn 70.3 half ironman. Usual mix of excitement and nervousness that precedes a race... I guess that will never change. I feel pretty well recovered from the Redman triathlon 4 weeks ago - we'll see how true that is about 2 or 3 hours into the race, though.

I was just reading through some of my coaching materials, and it talked about performance goals vs. outcome goals. Performance is how you actually do in terms of your time, and outcome is your actual placing in the race. They made a good point that you have much more control over the former vs. the latter. So, it's healthier to focus more of your energy on your own performance; and then see where that leaves you in terms of the outcome. For example, if I broke 5 hours in this half IM, I would be thrilled. That may put me in the top 10 of my age group, it may not (there will likely be over 100 in my age group). That part I can't stress over. Even the performance goals can be affected by things outside your control - weather, inaccurate distances in the events, mechanical issues, etc. In the end, you just do what you trained for and hopefully can be happy that you gave it all you had :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Not loving the weather folks...

They just can't seem to get it right. My report from the Redman triathlon 3 weeks ago outlined some rain issues that the forecasters completely missed; and things seem to be continuing along those lines. This past Saturday, they all said it would be mid-50's in the morning and overcast; and then clear up and warm to low 70's by the afternoon. Great day for a long bike ride, right? Well, they got the first part right, but the second part never happened. Stayed mid-50's and overcast the entire day, so after 5 hours on the bike I was a bit of a popsicle. I know that for the northern folk and those inclined to like cool weather that sounds ridiculous, but for my southern blood and reptilian nature (can't keep myself warm); that was not pleasant.

The next day they had a 20% chance of afternoon showers. I luckily decided to get my long run in early, because I was done around 9:30 am, and 5 minutes later I looked out the window and saw it pouring down rain, which continued for most of the day.

So, here's my question... If these people can't even give you an accurate weather forecase one day out -> how in the world can anybody take them seriously when they try to predict weather patterns over the next 50 or 100 years?!?

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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Must allow for fun!


I did a 5K run this past weekend, and was reminded that these events can be a lot more fun when you take the pressure off yourself in regards to performance. Since I didn't have any particular goals or specific time that I was shooting for, I simply showed up for the race and had a great time! I did very well (for me); so it wasn't a matter of how hard I raced; it was just the mental perspective of not being overly concerned with how I did. I really need to take more of that perspective into my goal races... I've done the training and preparation, so now go out and give it my best shot and let the chips fall where they may :) Easier said than done for the big races, but worrying doesn't help your time any, that's for sure.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recovery time over...

I've been taking it very easy and doing mostly light workouts since the Redman triathlon. My left shoulder, in particular, was very sore for the first week. That is starting to feel normal again, and I'm starting to feel that workout motivation kick in again (at least a little). So, I guess it's time to start ramping things up. I only have a couple of weeks, and then I need to do at least a short taper for the Longhorn 70.3. Short recovery after that, another week or two hard, and then it will be time to taper down and get ready for IM Cozumel. Should be an interesting couple of months!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Redman 2009: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The 2009 Redman iron distance triathlon was my 2nd iron distance triathlon (the first was Ironman Florida 2007). Somewhat of a different experience, a little bit of a smaller and more informal feel. IM FL had almost 2300 total competitors, and over 250 just in my age group; whereas this year's Redman had about 200 competitors, and there were 19 in my age group. Not as much hype and hoopla, but a very well organized and run event; about half the cost of the IM-branded races and much easier to get registered (doesn't have to be a full year in advance like most IM events). If you really just want to do an iron distance triathlon, and don't need all the glitz, these independent races are a great way to go.

So, on to the race itself. As the blog title indicates, I break down the day into three categories; the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

the Good: was the results, which for me were really more like great; especially considering the way the day started. Which leads to...

the Bad: the actual race day conditions (more about that below).

the Ugly: ending up with a little visit to the medical tent after it was over. It wasn't really that bad, but "The Good, the Bad, and the not-so-Great" doesn't have much of a ring to it.

THE GOOD
So, let's start with the actual results, which the bottom-line folks like me will appreciate. Swim was 1:07, bike was just over 6 hours, and run was just over 4 hours; with total time of 11:23. This was almost an hour improvement over my first IM, and given the race conditions, I was thrilled with that time. I was even happier with it when I found out that I had won my age group! In the interest of full disclosure, there was one other guy in my age group that beat me; but he was apparently some sort of freak and/or alien who did it in 9:20 - which made him the winner of the ENTIRE event (and broke the old course record by almost half an hour). Kudos to him, that's just a whole 'nother level... I've had a few 2nd and 3rd places in the last couple years at other triathlons, and one first at a small duathlon, but this was the first time for first place; so that felt terrific!


Pre-Race
On to the gory details of how race day unfolded; i.e. the "Bad" part... It had been raining in Oklahoma City all week, but the weather forecasts all indicated that things would be clearing up on race day; with only a 20% chance of light, scattered showers in the morning. I think we all know where this is leading... Shortly before the race was supposed to start, we started feeling a few rain drops, and they announced that there were reports of significant rain further out on the bike course. A few minutes later, torrential downpour. In very short order, everybody and everything was soaking wet; and the transition area was covered in about an inch of running water. With temps in the 60's, it was also a fairly cold rain (at least for this Texas boy), and even with my wetsuit on I started to get very chilled. Then came the announcement that we all dreaded... the bike course had flooded in a couple spots and they might have to cancel the bike and go to the contingency plan. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I still had IM Cozumel coming at the end of November, but I had not come all the way to OKC and gone through all that stress to not even get a chance to race! The race director and staff were awesome, though, and they ended up with a workable plan to allow us to race. They delayed the start 45 minutes, and implemented a mandatory dismount at the spot on the bike course where the road was flooded. The race was on!



SWIM

By the time the swim started, the rain had subsided, and I was ready to go. I knew the bike course would be wet, meaning I'd have to be more cautious, but I could deal with that. The swim in Lake Hefner was great. All the full iron distance folks went first in one group of about 200, which is certainly less chaotic than the branded IM races where 2200+ start at one time. We swam parallel to shore for the first part of the swim, then turned out away from the shore and looped back around, then did that whole loop a second time. The water on the first part of the loop was pretty shallow, so you could actually stand up at any point if you wanted to (and some people did...). At the end of the first loop, I stood up just long enough to glance at my watch and take a couple deep breaths. I was under 33 minutes, so that made me feel great. On the back half of the second loop, I started noticing rain drops again, which was a little disappointing, as I had hoped that we were done with the rain (Ha!). I finished the second loop uneventfully, and got out of the water at 1:07, 10 minutes faster than my time at IM FL, and feeling very good. All that extra swimming this year seemed to have paid off!

T1
One of the nice things about the Redman Tri is that you can set up your transition like a normal triathlon (at many IM's, you have to have a clean transition area and keep all your gear/nutrition/etc. in transition bags that you grab between events). So, I was able to get in and out of transition and off on my bike in less than 3 minutes.

Bike
I have to admit that the rain, which was coming down pretty hard at this point, was making me fairly discouraged. The first 10 miles of the bike course have a slight downgrade, and I normally can use high cadence and really make good time on that type of stretch, but the wet roads and poor visibility made me much more cautious. And the roads are not great to begin with, especially one 3.5 mile section on the back side of the course (which we went thru 4 times). I had a bad fall in wet conditions in April, and thoughts of that day were definitely playing in my head. I wanted to be conservative on the bike, anyway, but this was slower going than what I wanted. The rain cleared again, and once again I thought maybe that was the end of it and started feeling a little better; but sure enough it came back again a while later. And that repeated another time or two, the rain finally ending for good after somewhere around 3 or 4 hours into the bike. The positive side of all the rain is that it kept the temperature down, so I had no problems with overheating. If anything, I was pretty chilled at times. Yes, I am a cold wimp... that's why I live in Texas! So, I was finally able to finish the last part of the bike in relatively decent conditions, and came in with a bike time of 6:06:15. That was slightly slower than my bike time in IM FL, but I knew I was still well-positioned to meet my goal of beating 11 1/2 hours if I had a good run.

T2
Nice quick 1 minutes transition and I was off, wondering how the run was going to unfold. This was going to be the make or break part of the day, for me.

Run
When I first started, everything felt great. Good pace, good heart rate, stomach feeling pretty good. Of course, the rain and clouds were now gone, so it was sunny and warmer. Would have been nice if that was reversed - sunny and 70's on the bike; then cloudy and a little rainy on the run! :) And the rain had left it's toll on the run course, with some flooded and muddy sections that made things a little more interesting. But that's all part of the challenge; it's a long day with a ton of variables and surprises, and how you overcome the obstacles is a big part of the race.

The run was broken up into 4 loops of about 6.5 miles, and I felt pretty good on the first loop. By the second loop, I could tell I was going to face some challenges. My stomach had started to act up, not wanting to take in any more gels or food, and really not tolerating much liquid other than a little bit of water. That is often blamed on not getting nutrition right, but I think it has more to do with the body just being pushed too far and starting to shut down. The right nutrition plan helps, and I certainly make that a big part of my planning and training, but in the end it comes down to your training, your pacing, and adapting your body over time to handle something that it is just not built to do! I had similar things happen at IM FL in 2007, so I was able to recognize and deal with things earlier and better. I didn't try to force anything down, and I took a couple of short walk breaks to allow the stomach to settle so I could get some nutrition in there. Potatoes and vanilla wafers were great, by the way :)

Around mile 17, I was starting to reach my limits, and had to take a couple of longer walk breaks. Earlier, I had passed a guy and mentioned to him that I might need Divine intervention to finish the last couple of loops. As I was walking, I heard footsteps behind me, and then a voice saying "hey, here's your divine intervention, let's get going!". That brought a smile and lifted my spirits, and I joined him for the next half mile or so, and then had to let him go on ahead. Shortly after that, I was able to get running again, and then I did a final 5 minute walk with just over 4 miles to go. At that point, I knew that I needed to just put my head down and gut it out if I wanted to meet my time goal. I kept thinking about all the training I had done, all the sacrifices that I and my family had made... let's finish this thing strong! Somehow that worked, and I was able to finish those last 4 miles at under 9:00/mile. I caught back up with "divine intervention" guy, and tapped him on the shoulder and thanked him for helping me out. Never saw a sight as wonderful as the finisher's chute, and I crossed over the mat with a 4:04 marathon run split. Total race time: 11:23:30.

THE UGLY
The Ugly was how I felt shortly after finishing. I walked into the food tent, and my first thought was that I needed to sit down. A couple of the volunteers asked me if I was OK and did I need anything, so I asked if I could just get some water. I drank a couple of small bottles of water, and they were asking if I needed anything else, so I half-joking told them "a place to lie down". They pointed right behind where I was sitting, and told me that was the medical tent, which had some plastic lawn chairs I could sit in. Sounded good to me!

Of course, if you walk into the medical tent, they are going to start checking you out. My pulse was a little weak and my blood pressure was a little low, and I was shivering quite a bit (told you I'm a cold wimp). The medical staff was fantastic and took great care of me, eventually giving me an IV when drinking liquids wasn't getting me hydrated fast enough. That did the trick, and I felt much better; and was able to go pack up my gear and haul it back to the car and get to the hotel. Half a pizza later, it was time to crash and get some much-needed sleep.

The Day After
I went back the next day for the awards ceremony, thinking that I had won 2nd place in my Age Group (and very happy about that!). When they announced 2nd place, it was not my name... what??? Then they announced first place, and it was me - wow! I later figured out that the alien guy had won the entire event, and that's what moved me up from second to first. For a little guy like me with no athletic background to speak of, I'm still pretty excited about that :)

So, there's the story of my 2009 Redman triathlon. In total, I have now raced 370.5 miles so far this year, with a Half IM and one more Full IM to go to complete the year. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders by being able to meet my goal time; so I think that IM Cozumel will be that much more enjoyable without that pressure. And I am thrilled that this year of racing, dedicated to helping educate the children of Haiti, is turning out so well! :)


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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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Race Schedule:

January 11: RunTex 20 Miler (20 mile run) -> COMPLETED

January 25: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (27.2 miles run/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


February 15: Austin Marathon (26.2 mile run)-> COMPLETED


April 5: Lonestar 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


April 20: Boston Marathon (26.2 mile run) -> COMPLETED

July 19: Marble Falls Triathlon (28 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

Sep 07: Austin Triathlon (32 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

September 19: Redman ironman distance Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED


October 25: Longhorn 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles s/b/r)

November 29: Ironman Cozumel Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Show time

Heading out today for OKC and the Redman triathlon. No matter how much training and preparation you do, a full iron distance triathlon is a long day with a lot of variables. So, my primary hope/prayer is that it is a safe and steady day. By that I mean no illness, injury, or major mishaps; and that I can just get through each event at a nice steady pace - and then see at the end of the day where that takes me.

Here's to that "safe and steady" race for all the competitors on Saturday!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No 3rd place this time...

nope, this time it was... 2nd Place! :)

Had a very good day and managed to get 2nd place in my age group at the Austin Tri on Labor Day. Pretty good swim (for me), solid bike, and then had a very good run. Hopefully I did not push it too hard, as I'm getting real close to Sep 19th and the Redman triathlon. Shouldn't be an issue, though, as I have very little soreness today and feel pretty good. Most importantly, no injuries and no major mechanical/bike issues. Still wish that I didn't give up so much time in the swim. Doing much better last couple years, but sometimes I wonder if it's possible for us old guys without the swim background to ever catch the true "fishes". That's the truly addictive part of this sport, is that you NEVER feel like you're as fast as you can be. There is always a way to improve your swim, or bike, or run, or transitions, or whatever...


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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

*****************************************************************************
Race Schedule:

January 11: RunTex 20 Miler (20 mile run) -> COMPLETED

January 25: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (27.2 miles run/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


February 15: Austin Marathon (26.2 mile run)-> COMPLETED


April 5: Lonestar 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


April 20: Boston Marathon (26.2 mile run) -> COMPLETED

July 19: Marble Falls Triathlon (28 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

Sep 07: Austin Triathlon (32 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED


September 19: Redman ironman distance Triathlon (140.6 miles swim/bike/run)

October 25: Longhorn 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run)

November 29: Ironman Cozumel Triathlon (140.6 miles swim/bike/run)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When have you done enough?

With the Redman iron distance triathlon looming, and a shorter tri coming up on Labor Day; I find myself asking the age-old question that all people involved in athletics ask themselves: "Have I done enough?" Which is usually closely followed by the "have I done *too* much" question... and that cycle continues until your head explodes. I've finally learned a way to be at some level of peace, though; and that is that I consider myself to have trained well as long as I am still asking BOTH questions. I don't want to overtrain to the point where I have burnt myself out and not allowed for recovery/build; and I don't want to undertrain so that I am not prepared to deal with the distances of the race. So, if I can look at my training one way and think "maybe I could have done a little more, but not much", and then from a different perspective think "maybe I could have backed off a little more, but not much"; then I am probably about where I need to be. If anybody that tells you that they have "THE ANSWER" in regards to training volume and intensity... run away! It is as much an art as a science, and the best mentor/coach will be one that works with you week to week to evaluate where you are at and how you are feeling, and makes appropriate adjustments to your your training plan accordingly. Just look around at the pros... They've been doing this for years, and they still are constantly tweaking training plans and even switching coaches and strategies; all to find that elusive "perfect plan".

Bottom line for me, the training I've done to this point is all in the past, and now I'm beginning the taper process for that iron distance triathlon on Sep 19th. Past couple weeks leading up to this have been pretty intense, but I feel like I'm where I need to be. This past weekend, I did a 105 mile bike and 6.5 mile run on Saturday, and a 20 mile run on Sunday. Felt great, had very good paces, and no major fatigue or soreness. Too many variables at an ironman tri to know exactly what's going to happen, but I do know that I'm properly prepared. Just praying for safety, no injuries, and no major mishaps; in that order.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Where are the wheels?

Had some vacation time last week, and it sure was nice to relax a bit and take the training down a few notches (at least for one week). The picture to the right is me riding something without wheels for a change... I think my body and mind really were ready for a bit of downtime. I've been back into training this week and feeling very good. Very hard for us type A obsessives to relax and recover, but that's critical in order to reap the gains from the training.

I'll be going pretty hard the next couple of weeks, then racing on Labor Day. After that is a short 12 days until the first ironman distance race this year! I am so glad that it is almost here, I'm definitely ready to get out and put this training to the test.

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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nothing too interesting the past week....

Not a whole lot new or exciting to report on the training/racing front (I know, that has been the story for quite a while, hasn't it?). I did come across an interesting quote I'll pass along:

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." - Jim Ryun

I liked that a lot, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it really is. No matter what you are trying to accomplish, the initial hype and motivation only lasts so long. After that, it just has to be part of what you do.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The number of the day is...

102... This past Saturday, went on a long bike ride with a friend of mine; and when we got back we had covered 102 miles. Got pretty hot for the last couple hours, as has been the case all summer here in TX. We started/ended at a lake, so jumped in the lake for a few after the ride. Then I got dried off and got in the car, which showed the outside temp to be 102 degrees! 102 miles and 102 degrees, not quite the synergy I really wanted that day :)

After a slow start to recover from last week's triathlon, got back into normal training mode last week, ending with the aforementioned 102 mile bike ride, a little time on the elliptical; and then an 18 mile run on Sunday morning.

Monday, July 20, 2009

3rd place - I'll take it! :)

Before I dive into the triathlon stuff, a quick note related to why this blog started in the first place, which is the Hope for Kids program. I get the privelege of being able to actually go to Haiti and see the kids that we sponsor in person, which obviously helps to make it very real and personal for me and my family. I was reminded of that recently when my wife framed and mounted a couple of embroidered linens that one of our sponsored kids made for us. The child (Valodia) gave it to me on my last trip to Haiti, and seeing the look on her face when I opened it was one of those highlight moments in life. These are very real children with very real needs, so take a look at the HFK link below, as well as the first post in this blog; and see if there is something you can do to help and/or pass the information on to others. Thank you!

OK, back to triathlons... Did my second triathlon of the season, and had a pretty good day. The race (Marble Falls Triathlon) is basically somewhere between the normal sprint and olympic distances: 1000 meter swim, 23 mile bike, and 4.4 mile run. Fun race, with pretty good hills on the bike. My swim time was almost exactly what it was last year, which was slightly disappointing with all the swimming I've been doing; although in retrospect it seems like it took less out of me to get that swim time. My bike time was faster, though, and I was able to take 30 seconds/mile out of my run time! So all in all, a good day and a fun time.

I ended up getting third place in my age group, which is the same place I got at the half ironman earlier this year. Given the two big ironman distance races coming up, and the Longhorn Half IM, I'd be perfectly happy if that trend continued! :)

I'll get back on the training horse tomorrow, and have a 100+ mile bike ride planned again for this Saturday, and an 18 mile run on Sunday morning. Have I mentioned that I'll be really happy when this is all done and I can try to have a semi-normal life again?

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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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Race Schedule:

January 11: RunTex 20 Miler (20 mile run) -> COMPLETED

January 25: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (27.2 miles run/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


February 15: Austin Marathon (26.2 mile run)-> COMPLETED


April 5: Lonestar 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


April 20: Boston Marathon (26.2 mile run) -> COMPLETED

July 19: Marble Falls Triathlon (28 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED


September 19: Redman ironman distance Triathlon (140.6 miles swim/bike/run)

October 25: Longhorn 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run)

November 29: Ironman Cozumel Triathlon (140.6 miles swim/bike/run)

Monday, July 13, 2009

A different perspective on time

The other day I was questioned on the amount of time per week that the training involves, and how does it affect the rest of my life, my family, etc. This year in particular it really is a large amount of time, and not something I intend to sustain in the future. I mean, consider the number of extra training hours it takes to shave off a half an hour from an Ironman triathlon. You are basically sacrificing many hours per week for *months* in order to get that time savings... not exactly a great cost/benefit ration; unless you're really gunning for a slot to the Hawaii IM World Championship or something similar.

However, I started thinking about some of the things that I used to do, which nobody ever questioned. How about watching college football games on Saturday for a good portion of the day, and sometimes into the evening; or going fishing all day. How many people do that, and nobody gives it a second thought? Yet if I spend my Saturday morning and early afternoon doing a long bike ride, people often act like I'm practically sacrificing my life. Similarly, if I told people that I spent my lunch break sitting in front of the tv (I work from home...), it would barely blip on the radar. But tell them you spent an hour running 7 or 8 miles, and all of a sudden you are a crazy person. I know it's not a perfect analogy, but like the title of the post says; perhaps a little different perspective on the time commitments that go along with triathlon training.

Quick update on training, since I haven't posted in a bit... this past week was the last of a three week heavy block of training. Finished up the week with a 95 mile bike ride and a 12 mile run, now I'll be tapering and recovering, getting ready for the triathlon that I'm doing on Sunday. Still way too hot down here, right around 100 or slightly above nearly every day, with rain a very very rare commodity.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New bike is here! and another tri coming up...

Been busy the last week plus with the new bike and lots of training. I need to do the training so my results will justify the bike :) I still have plenty of tweaking and adjusting to do, but at least everything's put together and working!

I signed up for a triathlon in Marble Falls in a couple weeks, so that will be the first test of the new bike. I don't anticipate any huge differences, especially on a 23 mile hilly bike course. But I am excited to get out there and try out not only the new bike, but also all the training. I haven't raced a triathlon since April, so it's time to find out if all the training is paying off...

Speaking of the training, since my last post; I've done quite a bit, including a 100 mile bike ride, 88 mile bike ride, and two 15+ mile runs. And still working out hard on the shorter stuff, trying to increase speed and strength. The heat is making things more difficult, as these 100+ degree scorching temps can really drain you in a hurry.

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Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

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Race Schedule:

January 11: RunTex 20 Miler (20 mile run) -> COMPLETED

January 25: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (27.2 miles run/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


February 15: Austin Marathon (26.2 mile run)-> COMPLETED


April 5: Lonestar 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run) -> COMPLETED


April 20: Boston Marathon (26.2 mile run) -> COMPLETED


September 19: Redman ironman distance Triathlon (140.6 miles swim/bike/run)

October 25: Longhorn 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run)

November 29: Ironman Cozumel Triathlon (140.6 miles swim/bike/run)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Triathlon from the other side

I participated as a member of a triathlon race committee for the first time (swim coordinator), and really enjoyed being on the "other side" of the race. The race was held this past weekend, and we had about 400 participants. It was a lot of fun, and I'll definitely be doing more of this in the future. I already knew that the race directors worked hard to put on a race, but I still was impressed with the amount of planning and effort that goes into making a triathlon happen. My hat is off to the race directors, staff members, and volunteers that all work so hard to provide a fun and safe race!

Training-wise, it was a pretty light week by design. I knew my weekend would be consumed with the race course set up and the race itself, and I was also due for a recovery week. I'm back into full training mode this week. One piece of exciting news is that my new bike (Cervelo P2) is due today, so I'm anxiously awaiting the UPS man! :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Successful experiment for coping with heat

Saturday was another day approaching 100 degrees, so it became necessary (at least in my mind) to figure out a way to avoid at least some of that heat. So, I got started early (7 am) and did the first 80 miles outside on the road, completing a little before noon. It was already getting really hot at that point, and I could feel the effects. As soon as I got back, I just got cooled off for a few minutes (less than 10), and did the rest of the miles on the computrainer with the fans going full blast. The CT is always a good workout, so I did not feel at all like I was short-changing the training; but it certainly did help to get out of the sun. When I was finished on the CT, I got on my running shorts and went out for the run portion of the day. It was brutally hot at this point, but I was much better off than if I had stayed in the sun that entire time. I broke the run up into two loops that both ended at my house, so in between I could come in and cool off for two minutes and drink some cold water.

Bottom line was that I was able to complete 100 miles worth of biking and 5 miles of running on a day that full sun and was well over 90 degrees. Without that hour break from the sun at the end of the bike, I'm sure I would have been close to heat exhaustion. I remember full well when I trained for IM FL a couple years ago, coming in after similar days feeling dizzy and just collapsing on the floor. Unless I planned on racing in 100 degree heat, there just is no need for that. It does not help your training (in my opinion), it actually has a negative effect since you slow down so much and take much longer to recover.

The next morning, I felt well enough that I went out and did a 17 mile run and felt pretty good. I did notice that my heart rate stayed relatively low, which often points to overtraining; so it's a good thing that this is a recovery/tapering week. The body knows when it needs rest!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More heat, more numbers...

As mentioned in last post, not liking the Texas heat much for training. I did a 93 mile bike ride last weekend, and it was 95 degrees by the time I was done. Ouch. I was supposed to do a 5 mile run afterwards, but 3 1/2 was all I decided to brave in the heat I've learned that heat exhaustion does not make for great training. Did a 15 mile run the following morning, but there was actually some cloud cover and a strong wind, so that made things much better. Next weekend I'm supposed to try to hit 100 miles on the bike again. I may experiment with doing the last hour on the computrainer. It is still great bike training, and it will allow me to get out of the heat. The run will still be hot, but at least I'll have been indoors for an hour beforehand. I may even run before the computrainer. Anyone ever tried that?

In other news, being terribly left-brained analytical, I can't help myself but to crunch the numbers once in a while. I'm closing in on 200,000 yds of swimming, 2500 miles of biking, and I'm just over 700 miles of running so far this year. I have decided that ironman triathlons are not so much a question of your level of ability, but more a question of your level of obsession.