Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Tour de Palm Springs 2019

Hello!  Is this thing on??  It has been quite some time since I wrote a blog.  My last was after the Hotter N Hell Century in Wichita Falls TX back in August of 2017.  I have not done a century, or a triathlon since, so no blogs.  I have done some metric centuries and have continued to swim, bike, and run, but with some life events, just not has much big event activity.

So what brings us here today?  Last Saturday, February 9th, I did the Palm Springs Century.  It was the third time I have been to Palm Springs for this event, and the second time doing the century.  This event means a lot to me though, as in 2007 i did the 25 mile ride.  It was my first ever cycling event, and really kicked off my love of cycling events, that lead to double centuries, triathlons, and Ironman.

So for me, this was different.  I was part of a group that went to Palm Springs, and I even did a handful of training rides with Becca, Becca, and Brian.  Sounds like a law firm.  I called us team triple B-S.  Anyway, I often refer to myself as a solo artist, so doing three or four training rides with the group, and riding with them during the century was a different experience for me.

I have to say, that the ride itself was much like most centuries.  Ups and downs, good parts and struggles, and got it done.  I say it was a good route, loved that most intersections were controlled allowing the cyclists through without stopping, making it safe, and I could ride Dillon Road all day from the downhill to the rollers to the downhill, minus the last half mile of road so rough it makes the Belgian cobbles look smooth, Dillon road is a blast!  My only complaint was the sag stops were light on choices.  PB*J always welcome, but the third and fourth stops were out.  Banana and oranges.  Oh and Cliff bars.  But if Cliff was a sponsor as listed, why no cliff shots or blocks?  Why no salty snacks?  No soft drinks, no pickle juice which has become standard fare.  This needs improvement.  But that is my only complaint, and yes, I will do this again.
The crew at aid station 3.

But really, I wanted this to focus not on the ride but the experience.  I've known Becca B for a while and have ridden with her, and written training plans for some of her events But Becca M and Brian are newer friends to me.  I have to say they are both delightful, and I had a great time in "team mode" for this event.  And huge props to these guys.  For Becca M and Brian it was their first century.  For Becca B her second.  What an honor to see these folks cross the 100 mile mark.

All done!


All smiles after 101.8 miles.


We met up for lunch the Friday before, went to packet pick up and the expo together, then dinner at a place called Mario's the night before where Todd also joined us.   Lots of cycling stories and good banter at dinner.  Then it was time to get some zzzzs.  Saturday would be a long day.

Oh, how could I forget.  After dinner meant going to my motel, the "New" Palm Springs Inn.  New?  Newer than what?  Well, it was built post flood, although I think they may have used some of the wood from the ark, or at least it looked that old.  Actually I think it was designed by an intoxicated architect well before building codes were in place or enforced.  To get to my room, you had to go through the pool area, negotiating between the pool and pool fence, which was maybe three feet wide, with a narrow turn, up a rickety narrow staircase.  Upon entrance to an uneven floor to a lovely 1940s? style room.  Hey, it was clean, and reasonably comfortable, although no chair, and the bed was a bit lumpy.  Good hot water and shower pressure made it tolerable though.

Was a bit worried about falling into the pool early Saturday morning heading out to the ride!  Still groggy and waking up, it took all my concentration not to go splash!  Well, I am a triathlete, so maybe starting with a swim?

The narrow passage

You already know about the ride, so after the ride, I had the privilege of dining with the ladies.  A different Italian place, and for the second straight night, Becca M and I ordered the same thing.  She has good taste in food! So we have a little joke between us now.  A great way to unwind from the ride, get each other's perspective, which is always interesting since we did the exact same ride, but you get very different points of view.  Then back to our respective motels.

Sunday was the Palm Desert half marathon and 5K.  I planned on the half marathon, but three weeks ago came up with a knee injury on a run.  While I can ride, I definitely need several weeks off running to get it healed, so Becca M and I walked the 5K while Becca B did the half marathon. For the 5K we made a strategic plan of keeping it leisurely!  But, we do have standards, so our goal was no faster than 50 minutes and no slower than an hour!  Ha!  And we nailed it!   Brian departed, he has the good sense to stick to cycling!  Anyway doing any distance of each of the events gets you a "brick"award, coming from the triathlon workout of doing a bike/run.  I did this in 2011 as my first ever half marathon, and was disappointed I couldn't do it "right" this time, but walking the 5K was a nice recovery from the century.

After that, it was time to head home!  A FUN weekend.  Thank you Becca, Becca, and Brian!



Gear:
Specialized Roubiax Expert
compact crank 50-34 with 11-28 cassette
Specialized comp shoes
layers, and a jacket
Rudy Project helmet

Run errr Walk:
Brooks Raveena shoes











Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hotter N Hell Hundred 2017

Way back in 2007 I was looking for my century to do.  I came across a ride known as The Hotter N Hell 100 out of Wichita Falls, TX.  I read up on it, and thought, someday.  Not a first century, not with warnings about hitting “Hells Gate” before a cut-off or be re-routed to the finish.  Not with warnings about a medical director that can close Hells Gate early if conditions deteriorate.  Not with thoughts of 110-degree heat and 20 MPH winds.  No, not a first.  Well, here we are 10 years later and I signed up for the iconic HHH.  In its 36th year, the HHH still comes with all the warnings.  But, here we go!
Normally when I sign up for a race, I book a hotel room well in advance.  Somehow it slipped my mind for this one.  Bad idea.  With 10,000 plus converging on Wichita Falls, rooms were scarce and expensive.  Now, I am a free enterprise loving capitalist.  But I also think there is a code of ethics that should prevent inn keepers from more than doubling their usual rates. Anyway, this meant I stayed at a Motel 6.  Which should have been deep sixed.  What a pit.  That aside, I arrived on Friday to the ballyhooed consumer show.  The only other cycling event I’ve been to with a good expo was the Palm Springs Century.  This one is on a par with that.  And yes, I spent a buck or two.  Much needed new cycling shoes, and various small items that were needed.  All at a pretty good value.
Upon returning to my room, I got my bike ready by putting the number on it, on my helmet, and laying out my kit for the morning.   Off to Olive Garden for some dinner, as I do like pasta the night before.


I was tired, and got to bed early.  The 430 am wake up came, and I felt pretty good.  Knocked down a bagel and OJ, and headed over to the race start.  Parked, air in tires, and ready to go.
They queued the century riders in these groups, Scorchers which were sub six hours.  Four years ago, I may have given that a go, as I did log a 5:30 century that year.  Right now, I was thinking closer to 7 based on my training, and carrying way too much girth.  So, I went with the second group, the Keepers.  At 6-730.  Soon it was 7 AM It was dawn, under cloudy skies, 72 degrees and a dew point of a humid but not awful 67 degrees.  The huge mass of riders came to attention as the star-spangled banner blasted from the speakers.  As the singer was about to hit The land of the free……you couldn’t hear it, over the thundering roar of two fighter jets in a flyover courtesy of Sheppard AFB.  Now that is how you start a big ride! 

They sent the scorchers off, so we had a few minutes to wait, but soon enough, they moved the barriers and we rolled through the double ladder trucks supporting a giant American Flag.  The stars and stripes looked great.
The roll out was predictably slow and nervous with that many riders.  I heard around 12,000!  It was around mile five that things started to settle in.  Conditions were delightful.  In an event known for extreme heat and carnage, I was actually cool at the start! 
The HHH has aid stations about every 10 miles.  I should not need to stop that often.  In fact, when I did double centuries they typically had aid stations in 30-40-mile sections.  If I were riding at that level still my plan would have been to hit 40 and 70 and that is it.  But knowing I need to keep hydrated in the heat, even less heat, but still humid, I planned on stopping at 20-40-60-84.  Fill bottles, grab food, go.
So, I skipped mile 10 aid, and rolled into mile 21.  Feeling good, but was at the stop a bit longer than I would have liked due to the number of people.  Off we go, and while the course was not as precarious as it was at the beginning, it was still crowded.  That was well alleviated around mile 27 when the 100 milers split off from the metrics.  I continued to feel good, keeping my RPE in zone 2, clipping along better than expected.  At 2 hours, I had covered 33.7 miles putting me on a 6-hour pace.  I hit the mile 42 aid station and ran into some Waco Tri clubbers and was invited to ride along.  I jumped in, thinking a bit of shelter here and there would keep me fresh.  Of course, I had to jump out and take a long pull right of way.  They pulled into the mile 50 aid.  Right at 3 hours, still on pace of a 6-hour day!  Okay, but I wasn’t planning on stopping.  Topped off the bottles, and we were back off.  We stopped at 60 just short of Hell’s Gate.  After re starting, the infamous Hell’s Gate was crossed.  Plenty of time, and now we were about two miles from the Oklahoma boarder.  Around mile 50 the wind had picked up and we were drilling right into it.  Plus, after Hell’s Gate we were going uphill.  Not a mountain climb, mind you, but the road tilted up, and the road was rough. We had been treated to some nice pavement early, but this was chip seal that they forgot to seal.  Ugh.  Once again, we pulled into the mile 70 aid.  I was having an issue with my left big toe being hot.  I’ve been having this on 60 mile plus rides, and have worked on my cleat position.  It seemed better this day, but started to flare up again.  Well, this aid had a couple of kiddie pools with ice water.  Probably a big hit on 100-degree days, but nobody was using it when I got there.  I stuck my whole left foot in it, and it provided much needed relief.  When I turned around, I did not see the group.  Not sure if they took off, or I just didn’t see them, but I was ready, and took off.  I did not stop again, until the finish.  Finally, about three or four miles after the mile 70 stop we turned out of the headwind.  The downside to the headwind, hill, and rough road, is I was now on a 630 pace.  That 20 miles kicked my ass.  I still felt pretty good, the rough road section had been my dark spot of the day.  At one point, I felt like I was ticking off a solid tempo, looked down and was doing 12.8 MPH.  Groan. 
Somewhere around this point, I took a minute to horse around and take a photo.

Anyway, the last 30 was mostly uneventful.  Oh, I had the expected soreness, especially in the quads, and fatigue.  But since the wind was opposite of most years, we had a tailwind or helping cross for 20 of the last 30 miles; and the road mostly improved.  In short, I made up some of that time and crossed the finish at 6:21 of pedal time.  Too much aid station time, but some of that is not controllable in a big event.  Unless you are fast, and get to the aid stations well ahead of the crowds. 
Overall, I really enjoyed the legendary HHH. 
As medals go, this one is small, but I really like it.  Shows the fighter jet, race logo, and is of good quality.

Stats:
Bike: Specialized Roubaix Expert (2008)
50-34 chainring, 11-28 cassette.
Garmin 910.
Elevation 1679.
Average speed 15.9 (Doh, tried to get it back to 16)
Approx. 180 ounces of fluid (water/Powerade/pickle juice)

Approx. 1,000 calories, bars, chews PBJs.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Stolen CYCLI5T

Thursday I went to my car.  I stopped dead in my tracks.  Am I looking at my car?  Yes, it is my car.  My brag stickers.  But something is amiss.  What you ask?  The license plate is not my personalized CYCLI5T but some regular plate.  My plate has been stolen and swapped.
So I call the police, an officer comes out, takes a report.  He is nice, through and advises this is usually done on a newly stolen car, so if they run the plate, the car doesn’t come back stolen.  I figure my plate is long gone if that’s the case.  Dreading a trip to DMV on Tuesday.
Christmas day!  I drive down to the 56 path for a run before heading up to see my dad.  After the run, I am hungry.  I drive by a cool looking diner I haven’t visited and consider it, since it is open on Christmas.  But, with the time, I didn’t want to lollygag, so I head over to a McDonalds not a 1/2 milefrom my place for a quick Egg McMuffin.  As I approach the drive thru, I see a white mini van, probably 3-4 years older than mine, but similar.  And you’ll never guess what else?  Well, given the first paragraph, you probably have guessed.  The rear plate.  CYCLI5T.  I pull into a parking spot four or five down, and call the PD.  As I am talking to the officer on the phone, I ask if they are sending an officer.  She says, yes, several.  About 30 seconds later, I see a PD SUV, then several cars approach.  The lead car comes along my van, I give the officer a wave and thumbs up, and point down.  He rolls hits his lights.  Almost immediately, there are four or five officers out of their cars yelling at a guy to get down with guns drawn!  With this guy cuffed, I hear them hollering some more, and another person in cuffs.  Then they say get out of the car, or well send the dog in, and he WILL bit you.  The third person is cuffed and stuffed.
About five minutes later, an officer comes over to my car, returns my plate!  Takes a short statement and sends me on my way.  What are the odds?  I don’t know what the deal was, but as the officers approached, something tells me, the recognized one or more of the people as a known bad guy. 

Anyway, a bit of excitement, I got my plate back.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ironman III, the return to Arizona. Or.. Swim/Bike/Death March

For a variety of personal reasons, which I will not put the reader through, my training for Ironman Arizona was not where I wanted.  As the race approached, I had to face the realization that I was undertrained and overweight; even by my own pudgy standards.

There is no cramming for the Ironman exam.  It takes months of consistent training to be properly ready.  I trained, just not to the level I would have liked.  
I left San Diego for Tempe on Thursday, and took a nice easy drive out.  Checked into my room, which was actually in Mesa, as I went cheap and stayed eight miles away to save $45 a night.
Friday I went over to the Ironman Village and picked up my packet.  Having done two full Ironman races, I knew what to expect, I strolled through the vendors, talked to one of the recovery boot vendors, and did a 10-minute demo.  They felt pretty darn good, but they are out of my budget right now.  

I picked up my bib, timing chip, and goodies, and took a stroll through the Ironman store.  I always get an M-dot shirt with the names of the participants on it.  I have one from every half and full I’ve done.  And I liked the IMAZ coffee mug, so I got one of those.  I don’t need to buy out the store anymore though, I’ve done this!

Got my stuff, time to put my feet up for a bit.  As I drove back to my motel, I passed the spring training facility for the World Champion Chicago Cubs!  What a facility, and the cool part is they got the streets around the park named Addison, Clark, Waveland, Sheffield.  

My routine for the day before a race is to get a short, 30-minute shakeout ride, then rack my bike and rest.  The shakeout ride went fine, but I thought my rear brake was soft.  I gave my bike to bike tech to check it out.  They were swamped and had a 3.5 hour wait, so I went and had some lunch.  Came back and still had to wait an hour.  Ugh.  Finally got my bike, racked it, and went into rest mode.  Social media off, calm the mind, visualize a successful race.


I slept GREAT!  Woke up 10 minutes before the alarm.  Had my breakfast as I drove in.  Got parked, made my final preparations and now nothing to do but wait.  I found a place to sit and get off my feet.  Pros start at 6:40. Age groupers start at 6:50 in a controlled self-seeded start.
About 6:20 I start putting the wetsuit on, take my morning dry bag down, and got in the queue for the Roka swim course with the 1:20 swimmers.


BOOM!  There goes the cannon and the pro men are off.
BOOM!  There goes the cannon and the pro women are off.
BOOM!  There goes the cannon and the age-groupers start!  And now, we are moving.  It didn’t take long and into the water, my race starts.  Swim, swim, I can’t see.  Roll over, rinse goggles, go.  Swim, smash, smash, goggles and cap knocked off.  Grabbed the goggles, lost the cap.  Swim, swim, can’t see.  Goggle fix.  I could not get the goggles to stay clear.  Finally got far enough as we approached a bridge, and I could sight off it, so I wasn’t worried about the limited vision.  I felt strong swimming at this point, and this continued throughout the swim.  I figured I had dropped back to the 1:30-1:35 swimmers with the goggle issues, and had some negative self -  talk, and doubt going on here.  So I gave myself a butt-chewing and got to it.  Then good positive self – talk as I got in a groove!  Here comes the final red buoy, left turn, I can here cheering, and announcing, and can see the exit stairs, and volunteers, and I’m out of the water!  In 1:23:17!  My second best swim at this distance, which is three Ironman races, and one Tiki Swim.  But it feels like a PR with the start being so bad.  I really thought it was about 1:30 so I was stoked.  Off to Transition one.

As I exited the water I was a bit wobbly.  I quickly realized I didn’t flutter kick enough toward the end and had no blood flow in the legs.  Too late now, just start toward transition, I got my legs under me pretty quick.  Got my bike bag, found a seat and got ready for the bike.  Jersey, knee sleeves, socks, bike shoes, helmet.  Go grab my bike, and away we go.


Two years ago when I did this course it was very windy.  The forecast for this year was six MPH with gusts to nine.  Well it felt stronger than that right away, but not even close to as bad as two years ago.  The bike course is three loops.  Out Rio Salado, left on McClintock.  Right here is a Portillos.



  If you are from the Chicago area, you know Portillos.  I wanted to stop.  But, alas, this is a race, and I keep going.  Right on McKellips, left on Alma School, right on McDowell, and left on the Bee line.  The Bee line.  ~10 miles, fully exposed, slightly uphill until the end when there is a definite kick up.  And outbound into the wind.  The first loop is pretty crowded.  More than half the field swims 1:15 to 1:30, so more than half the field is hitting this at the same time. 



Now remember, no drafting, and a six bike length gap is required.  Yeah, right.  Do the best you can and truck along.  The neat thing about a multi loop course is as we are on loop one, the pros go zooming by on loop two.  And I mean zooming by.  Anyway, I’m watching my power staying within, actually a bit under the plan, and doing better than expected on speed overall.  Thankfully no mechanicals this year!!  I stopped at mile 62 for special needs, which was two fresh bottles of carbo pro, along with a Snickers and a Coke.  I stretched out as they retrieved my bag, took a few swigs of Coke, and was off.  I stopped at mile 92 for a quick nature break and another stretch.  Then, it was head on in.  Except the wind had shifted.  As I went down the Bee line my speed was much slower than the first two trips.  The wind was more cross than help, and as I turned on McDowell, wham, right smack into it.  Ugh, expecting a free ride in, and DENIED! 

But finally, on Rio Salado, and the sound of cow bells, cheering, and the village.  Volunteers take my bike, and I get my run bag.  Gotta say, I made it through the bike pretty good.  6:39 (6:32 pedal time) and I wasn’t cooked.  I kept my power in check, and felt ready to run.


In the transition tent, I change out of bike gear and into running gear.  The last thing to go on: my shoes.  A pair of Hoka Bondi 2s.  Well broken in, trained in, with socks I’ve trained in.  Of three models of shoes I used in training, I had no issues with these.  And I wore them on my longest training runs.  That is why they were selected as the marathon shoes.  
I walked out of transition ready for my 30-90 run-walk ratio, which would give me a 6:15 to 6:30 marathon.  This is where my training was, and I’ve learned do not try and do more than where you are.

The first mile has a few short up-hill sections right at Tempe Town Lake, not bad, but I could feel it.
 I also felt a weird sensation, pain in my left foot at the arch.  So I took a quick stop to make sure there wasn’t an issue.  The shoe was on right, the sock was smooth, but I could feel this pressure on my left arch.  Nothing I could do about it, so on I went.  

One of the hardest parts of a triathlon for me, mentally is the start of the run.  I swam a bit better than mid pack for my age group.  I biked just under mid pack.  But I run much slower.  Which means just about everyone I come off the bike with goes right by me.  But I stayed with my plan.  I could feel that tight tension in my quads by mile four.  When I ran I focused on engaging my glutes and hips to take some pressure off the quads.  It usually works.  It wasn’t helping much here.

Assessing where I was, at mile six, I was going to have two main issues over the last 20 miles.  One my quads were getting very grumpy, and two, my left foot was really starting to get uncomfortable.
Despite this, I kept up with a slow version of my 30-90 split and trudged through the halfway point about 3:15.  I say about as my Garmin dropped out a few times going under bridges.  

Right after the half way point is special needs.  I called out my number and picked up two small bottles of pickle juice and my headlamp.  I stopped again to check on that left foot.  Still could not see anything causing the discomfort/pressure.  But it was there, and getting worse.  I decided to walk mile 13-14 and take it easy over those small hills on this two lap course. 

I resumed my ratio at mile 14 and had a couple of decent miles.  But at mile 16, almost right at the marker, I simply could not run.  For the next 10.2 miles I walked.  I tried to go into a run three or four times, and never got more than four to five strides.  It was, in short a death march.  Every step my left foot screamed, my quads groaned, and now my back was hurting too.  Probably from compensation for the foot and quads.  Oh, yeah, and the knees started to ache.  

I tried to keep smiling.  When 10-time Ironman champion Chrissy Wellington was asked why she always had a smile, she said it makes it hurt less.  She is right, but smiling took energy too.  So I tried.  I tried to thank the volunteers at aid stations, and keep my humor.  I did math, multiplying double digit numbers to keep the mind off the pain.  


Mile 20.  Just a 10K to go.  You are almost there.  You’ve got this.  It’s all downhill from here.  If you’ve done any kind of race you have heard well - meaning volunteers, spectators, and even other competitors say these things.  When you are in a slow walk 6.2 miles is an eternity.  I do NOT want the hear this.  And it continues.  Just five to go.  You look great.  No, I don’t.  I look awful.  It takes an insane amount of effort just to move my leg forward.  But forward we go.  Off the bike I had a great chance for a PR time.  At mile 22.5 my PR time was gone.  Finally, mile 25.  The longest mile in the history of man.  Oh, I know a mile is 5,280 feet.  But this mile defies logic.  It seems never ending.  It goes and goes and goes.  Finally, I can hear Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman.  Telling person after person they are an Ironman.  Dammit, that gets me emotional.  I can’t figure it out, but there is something about finishing an Ironman.  I mean, I get it for your first.  I was confused why it happened on my second.  I really didn’t expect it on number three, but there it was.  Maybe because the run, death march was so hard, and I still got through?  Maybe the joy on so many first timers?  Maybe the nice guy I shared some miles with that was on number eight, Ironman being his new vice, five years sober.  I told him, that was way more impressive than the Ironman!  Great job dude, wish I got your name.  

Well, there it is, the finishing chute.  Try to run, you’ve got to run through the finish.  Somehow I managed a pathetic jog, and went through the finish.  And for the third time in my life, Mike Reilly called out:  STEVE SMART YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!   I will not lie, I love that.  Almost 16 hours.  My slowest Ironman thanks to the death march.  But hearing that, makes it worth it.  
I am an Ironman.  Again.  For the last ten miles I really was thinking maybe this should be my last full Ironman.  But the finish is magical. And I’m planning on what one I’ll do next.


Many, many years ago when I was really into bowling, there was a tournament known as the Peterson Classic.  It was held at a dump known as Archer 35th Recreation on Chicago’s south side.  In a less than desirable neighborhood.  The tournament was intentionally insanely hard.  Great bowlers would leave shaking their heads with scores they hadn’t shot since they were little kids.  And there was a sign up that said, Mr. Peterson This is the next to last time I’ll ever bowl in your tournament.  I think the Ironman is a lot like that.  This is the next to last time I’ll ever do that to myself.




Epilog:

The blister:


The bling:



Next:  Undecided.  Evaluate.  Must....lose....weight....

Ironman Arizona, the run?


In the transition tent, I change out of bike gear and into running gear.  The last thing to go on: my shoes.  A pair of Hoka Bondi 2s.  Well broken in, trained in, with socks I’ve trained in.  Of three models of shoes I used in training, I had no issues with these.  And I wore them on my longest training runs.  That is why they were selected as the marathon shoes. 
I walked out of transition ready for my 30-90 run-walk ratio, which would give me a 6:15 to 6:30 marathon.  This is where my training was, and I’ve learned do not try and do more than where you are.

The first mile has a few short up-hill sections right at Tempe Town Lake, not bad, but I could feel it.
 I also felt a weird sensation, pain in my left foot at the arch.  So I took a quick stop to make sure there wasn’t an issue.  The shoe was on right, the sock was smooth, but I could feel this pressure on my left arch.  Nothing I could do about it, so on I went. 

One of the hardest parts of a triathlon for me, mentally is the start of the run.  I swam a bit better than mid pack for my age group.  I biked just under mid pack.  But I run much slower.  Which means just about everyone I come off the bike with goes right by me.  But I stayed with my plan.  I could feel that tight tension in my quads by mile four.  When I ran I focused on engaging my glutes and hips to take some pressure off the quads.  It usually works.  It wasn’t helping much here.


Assessing where I was, at mile six, I was going to have two main issues over the last 20 miles.  One my quads were getting very grumpy, and two, my left foot was really starting to get uncomfortable.
Despite this, I kept up with a slow version of my 30-90 split and trudged through the halfway point about 3:15.  I say about as my Garmin dropped out a few times going under bridges. 

Right after the half way point is special needs.  I called out my number and picked up two small bottles of pickle juice and my headlamp.  I stopped again to check on that left foot.  Still could not see anything causing the discomfort/pressure.  But it was there, and getting worse.  I decided to walk mile 13-14 and take it easy over those small hills on this two lap course.

I resumed my ratio at mile 14 and had a couple of decent miles.  But at mile 16, almost right at the marker, I simply could not run.  For the next 10.2 miles I walked.  I tried to go into a run three or four times, and never got more than four to five strides.  It was, in short a death march.  Every step my left foot screamed, my quads groaned, and now my back was hurting too.  Probably from compensation for the foot and quads.  Oh, yeah, and the knees started to ache. 

I tried to keep smiling.  When 10-time Ironman champion Chrissy Wellington was asked why she always had a smile, she said it makes it hurt less.  She is right, but smiling took energy too.  So I tried.  I tried to thank the volunteers at aid stations, and keep my humor.  I did math, multiplying double digit numbers to keep the mind off the pain. 



Mile 20.  Just a 10K to go.  You are almost there.  You’ve got this.  It’s all downhill from here.  If you’ve done any kind of race you have heard well - meaning volunteers, spectators, and even other competitors say these things.  When you are in a slow walk 6.2 miles is an eternity.  I do NOT want the hear this.  And it continues.  Just five to go.  You look great.  No, I don’t.  I look awful.  It takes an insane amount of effort just to move my leg forward.  But forward we go.  Off the bike I had a great chance for a PR time.  At mile 22.5 my PR time was gone.  Finally, mile 25.  The longest mile in the history of man.  Oh, I know a mile is 5,280 feet.  But this mile defies logic.  It seems never ending.  It goes and goes and goes.  Finally, I can hear Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman.  Telling person after person they are an Ironman.  Dammit, that gets me emotional.  I can’t figure it out, but there is something about finishing an Ironman.  I mean, I get it for your first.  I was confused why it happened on my second.  I really didn’t expect it on number three, but there it was.  Maybe because the run, death march was so hard, and I still got through?  Maybe the joy on so many first timers?  Maybe the nice guy I shared some miles with that was on number eight, Ironman being his new vice, five years sober.  I told him, that was way more impressive than the Ironman!  Great job dude, wish I got your name. 

Well, there it is, the finishing chute.  Try to run, you’ve got to run through the finish.  Somehow I managed a pathetic jog, and went through the finish.  And for the third time in my life, Mike Reilly called out:  STEVE SMART YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!   I will not lie, I love that.  Almost 16 hours.  My slowest Ironman thanks to the death march.  But hearing that, makes it worth it. 
I am an Ironman.  Again.  For the last ten miles I really was thinking maybe this should be my last full Ironman.  But the finish is magical. And I’m planning on what one I’ll do next.



Many, many years ago when I was really into bowling, there was a tournament known as the Peterson Classic.  It was held at a dump known as Archer 35th Recreation on Chicago’s south side.  In a less than desirable neighborhood.  The tournament was intentionally insanely hard.  Great bowlers would leave shaking their heads with scores they hadn’t shot since they were little kids.  And there was a sign up that said, Mr. Peterson This is the next to last time I’ll ever bowl in your tournament.  I think the Ironman is a lot like that.  This is the next to last time I’ll ever do that to myself.




Epilog:

The blister:


The bling:



Next:  Undecided.  Evaluate.  Must....lose....weight....

Ironman Arizona, the bike

As I exited the water I was a bit wobbly.  I quickly realized I didn’t flutter kick enough toward the end and had no blood flow in the legs.  Too late now, just start toward transition, I got my legs under me pretty quick.  Got my bike bag, found a seat and got ready for the bike.  Jersey, knee sleeves, socks, bike shoes, helmet.  Go grab my bike, and away we go.


Two years ago when I did this course it was very windy.  The forecast for this year was six MPH with gusts to nine.  Well it felt stronger than that right away, but not even close to as bad as two years ago.  The bike course is three loops.  Out Rio Salado, left on McClintock.  Right here is a Portillos.



  If you are from the Chicago area, you know Portillos.  I wanted to stop.  But, alas, this is a race, and I keep going.  Right on McKellips, left on Alma School, right on McDowell, and left on the Bee line.  The Bee line.  ~10 miles, fully exposed, slightly uphill until the end when there is a definite kick up.  And outbound into the wind.  The first loop is pretty crowded.  More than half the field swims 1:15 to 1:30, so more than half the field is hitting this at the same time. 



Now remember, no drafting, and a six bike length gap is required.  Yeah, right.  Do the best you can and truck along.  The neat thing about a multi loop course is as we are on loop one, the pros go zooming by on loop two.  And I mean zooming by.  Anyway, I’m watching my power staying within, actually a bit under the plan, and doing better than expected on speed overall.  Thankfully no mechanicals this year!!  I stopped at mile 62 for special needs, which was two fresh bottles of carbo pro, along with a Snickers and a Coke.  I stretched out as they retrieved my bag, took a few swigs of Coke, and was off.  I stopped at mile 92 for a quick nature break and another stretch.  Then, it was head on in.  Except the wind had shifted.  As I went down the Bee line my speed was much slower than the first two trips.  The wind was more cross than help, and as I turned on McDowell, wham, right smack into it.  Ugh, expecting a free ride in, and DENIED! 

But finally, on Rio Salado, and the sound of cow bells, cheering, and the village.  Volunteers take my bike, and I get my run bag.  Gotta say, I made it through the bike pretty good.  6:39 (6:32 pedal time) and I wasn’t cooked.  I kept my power in check, and felt ready to run.

To be continued.....

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ironman Arizona 2016; Pre race through the swim

For a variety of personal reasons, which I will not put the reader through, my training for Ironman Arizona was not where I wanted.  As the race approached, I had to face the realization that I was undertrained and overweight; even by my own pudgy standards.

There is no cramming for the Ironman exam.  It takes months of consistent training to be properly ready.  I trained, just not to the level I would have liked. 
I left San Diego for Tempe on Thursday, and took a nice easy drive out.  Checked into my room, which was actually in Mesa, as I went cheap and stayed eight miles away to save $45 a night.
Friday I went over to the Ironman Village and picked up my packet.  Having done two full Ironman races, I knew what to expect, I strolled through the vendors, talked to one of the recovery boot vendors, and did a 10-minute demo.  They felt pretty darn good, but they are out of my budget right now. 

I picked up my bib, timing chip, and goodies, and took a stroll through the Ironman store.  I always get an M-dot shirt with the names of the participants on it.  I have one from every half and full I’ve done.  And I liked the IMAZ coffee mug, so I got one of those.  I don’t need to buy out the store anymore though, I’ve done this!

Got my stuff, time to put my feet up for a bit.  As I drove back to my motel, I passed the spring training facility for the World Champion Chicago Cubs!  What a facility, and the cool part is they got the streets around the park named Addison, Clark, Waveland, Sheffield. 

My routine for the day before a race is to get a short, 30-minute shakeout ride, then rack my bike and rest.  The shakeout ride went fine, but I thought my rear brake was soft.  I gave my bike to bike tech to check it out.  They were swamped and had a 3.5 hour wait, so I went and had some lunch.  Came back and still had to wait an hour.  Ugh.  Finally got my bike, racked it, and went into rest mode.  Social media off, calm the mind, visualize a successful race.


I slept GREAT!  Woke up 10 minutes before the alarm.  Had my breakfast as I drove in.  Got parked, made my final preparations and now nothing to do but wait.  I found a place to sit and get off my feet.  Pros start at 6:40. Age groupers start at 6:50 in a controlled self-seeded start.
About 6:20 I start putting the wetsuit on, take my morning dry bag down, and got in the queue for the Roka swim course with the 1:20 swimmers.


BOOM!  There goes the cannon and the pro men are off.
BOOM!  There goes the cannon and the pro women are off.
BOOM!  There goes the cannon and the age-groupers start!  And now, we are moving.  It didn’t take long and into the water, my race starts.  Swim, swim, I can’t see.  Roll over, rinse goggles, go.  Swim, smash, smash, goggles and cap knocked off.  Grabbed the goggles, lost the cap.  Swim, swim, can’t see.  Goggle fix.  I could not get the goggles to stay clear.  Finally got far enough as we approached a bridge, and I could sight off it, so I wasn’t worried about the limited vision.  I felt strong swimming at this point, and this continued throughout the swim.  I figured I had dropped back to the 1:30-1:35 swimmers with the goggle issues, and had some negative self -  talk, and doubt going on here.  So I gave myself a butt-chewing and got to it.  Then good positive self – talk as I got in a groove!  Here comes the final red buoy, left turn, I can here cheering, and announcing, and can see the exit stairs, and volunteers, and I’m out of the water!  In 1:23:17!  My second best swim at this distance, which is three Ironman races, and one Tiki Swim.  But it feels like a PR with the start being so bad.  I really thought it was about 1:30 so I was stoked.  Off to Transition one.


To be continued…