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…

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ironman 70.3 California - Oceanside



April 2, 2016.  Ironman 70.3 California – Oceanside.  My third trip around this course.  My sixth 70.3.
Last year was probably my least productive since getting into cycling, then triathlon.  After a mechanical cost me an hour and twenty minutes at this race, I did the Chula Vista Challenge, when weather made both days duathlons.  That was all I raced, all year.  The late summer, fall, and early winter were challenging.  Very busy at work, and my dad’s dementia requiring a lot of my time.  I continued to train, but the volume was way done, and the quality was way down.  I also put on some weight.

Around mid-November I had my dad in assisted living, and I started to get ready.  First up was the Carlsbad marathon in January.  No way I would be ready for that, so I dropped to the half marathon.  I completed that, in a not so great 2:45.  But, a fairly hilly course, and 2:45 should equal a half marathon of right around 3:00 for a 70.3. 

my bike was slower than it had been, but I was starting to see some breakout workouts.  My FTP went up seven watts on my last test.  And I had a couple of rides were the intervals were strong.  What I could see was the endurance was lacking.  I would be strong for 30-40-50 miles, but then crack and really slow down.

I set what I thought were realistic expectations of about a seven hour 70.3. 


I arrived in Oceanside about 4:45.  Pulled into the parking lot and watching a freight train pass.  It was chilly out, so I put on a sweatshirt and a windbreaker, gathered my gear and headed to transition.  I saw my friend Andrea who was volunteering at the start of the bike handing out water, and SugarMagnolia who was volunteering at swim exit.
Photo courtesy of Sugarmagnolia

Set up transition, chatted with a few folks, and soon it was time to put on the wetsuit.  The announcer said the water temperature was 62.2 degrees.  Not bad, that temp usually means it feels cold to me at first, then I’m okay.  Time seemed to fly by and soon we were on the boat ramp, next to go in.  As we were waiting the pro men were exiting the swim.  Impressive a line up of nine all about 22-23 minutes for a 1.2 mile swim.  Damn.

Next we entered the water a short swim to the actual start which was now three minutes away.  That water does not feel like 62, or 62.2, it feels like 66-67.  Very pleasant. 

And the horn sounds, we are off.  A bit crowded, more than I remember for this race.  And choppy.  This is in a harbor, that by my experience is usually nice and calm.  I got into a pretty good groove, and just kept swimming.  The hard part was the sun was coming up, and sighting was a bear at times.  Out of the water, my friend shouted out to me, and I was wobbly!  I kicked the last 100 like I should to get some circulation into the legs but wow.  After a couple of minutes I was able to start trotting in transition.  The transition here is long, and on hard concrete/asphalt.  With my tender feet, I never run well on it, and wind up walking most of the way around. 


At my spot in transition, the wetsuit comes off, bike jersey on, helmet on, cycling shoes on.  Grab the bike, and go.  Ahhhh bike time.  Nothing like bike time.

Out of transition and we roll around the harbor then head onto Camp Pendleton.  To get to Camp Pendleton is a short steep hill.  Up and over, and on base.  I use this area to get my breathing regulated, get comfortable, then go aero and get to race effort.



About three miles in, I felt like my power was very low.  My legs were like jelly.  Usually at this point in a race with the adrenaline, I have to hold myself back some.  I was really concerned at this point.

At times it was better, but I definitely did not have my A game.  I think my nutrition was good.  My Friday food was normal, soup and salad for lunch, pasta for dinner, didn’t overdue it.  Bagel and hard boiled egg for breakfast.  On the bike, I used Spiz which I’ve been working with for about six weeks now and it has done well.  I felt like I was well fueled, just no power.  It really showed on the hills.  While I would never be confused with a skinny guy in polka-dots, I was really struggling on the hills today.  But where I could really see it was the flats.  I can normally put out a good pace on the flats, and I was a good 1.5-2 MPH slower than I should be. 

Finally done with the bike, 30 minutes slower than three years ago, while it felt harder.  I didn’t have a power meter then, but the feel was definitely easier three years ago while being faster.

Back in transition, bike racked, shoes changed, helmet off, hat on, and away we go.  My strategy was a 30-45 run-walk ratio.  I had trained to this the last few weeks and it was working well on tired legs.  It didn’t take long though and I didn’t think I would be able to maintain this.  At this point I really didn’t feel very good.  Mile one felt like mile 10-11 usually feels.  This run is going to be a slog!  And it was.  Mile two through six were just a death march.  As I hit the aid stations, I didn’t feel like I needed much,  so I just tried a little of this, or a little of that to see if something would get me feeling better.  I realized I felt really tired, so I grabbed some Red Bull.  I started to feel a little better.  Not great, but a little.  I was able to go to a 30-90 run-walk, which beat the almost all walk I was doing.  I saw my friends, they hung out just after mile 6, and again about mile 8.  It was nice, and a bit of a boost.  Then the hardest part, going away from the finish until the turnaround at mile 10.5.  Here I was back to feeling pretty cruddy.  I final boost with the last turn around knowing now every step was toward the finish line.  I tried real hard to run for at least 30 seconds every two minutes.  Knowing at this point it would be my worst time in a 70.3, and my worst half marathon ever, I just decided to enjoy the beautiful day, the ocean, and the atmosphere.  Soon I was in the finishing chute and 70.3 number six was in the books.



Disappointed in the overall time, the bike time, and the half marathon time.  But as my friend Leo, who is on deployment in Afghanistan recently said, perspective.  I get to do this, it beats the couch, and lots of people cannot or will not do it.  


Nice of my friend Andrea to hang out.  I’m not much to talk to after a race, and this was worse than normal.  I was fried.  She asked if I needed to go to medical, so whatever happened, something was off, she could see it.  But, I still finished, and will get back on the horse and start getting ready for IMAZ in November.

Analyzing the data today, my Normalized Power on the bike was 77% of FTP, I was shooting for 80-85% so that should not have killed my run, but it felt like I was on the rivet the whole day.  I took in enough calories.  Just one of those days.

Gear
Swim: X-terra Forza wetsuit, Tyr Rx goggles, Tyr lycra swim cap under race issued cap
Bike: Specialized Transition Comp/Williams 58-85 wheels/50-34 crankset/11-28 cassette/X-Lab hydration set up/Adamo saddle.
Run: Hoka One One Bondi 4 shoes
Nutrition: Spiz, 900 calorie bottle on the bike, water.  Spiz 250 calorie bottle on the run/shot blocks/water/Red Bull.

For endurance events, I do recommend giving Spiz a try.  It's not available everywhere, but if your in San Diego, you can get it a Rev Endurance.







Sunday, July 26, 2015

Chula Vista Double, 2015

I have done the Chula Vista Challenge twice.  Last year they introduced the South Bay Sprint, and the option of doing the double.  A sprint on Saturday and an Olympic on Sunday.  However, I was training for IMAZ, and it did not work with my training plan.

However, the double intrigued me, and I signed up for it this year.  While I consider myself a long course guy, 70.3/140.6; I was curious as to how the body would react to racing two days in a row.  So, here we go.

Saturday, day one of the “double.”  500 meter swim, 10 mile bike, 3 mile run.  Well, that was the plan.  We get there, and a San Diego rarity: A thunderstorm.  Lightning over the bay. If you are not familiar with Southern California weather, this is about as rare as it gets.  Real lightning, splitting the early dawn sky as if Nikola Tesla was conducting an experiment.  For safety reasons, the swim was cancelled, meaning it became a duathlon.  A one mile run now in place of the 500 meter swim. 
We migrate toward the start, they play the National Anthem, and then the first group, elites and over 55 will go off in two minutes.  I wish my friend Andrea luck, and get ready as men 50-54 are next.  Holy cow, this is 50-54?  All these guys look like they are 35, and really, every one looks FIT.   Did I accidentely get into a championship wave?  As a note, sprint races usually bring out beginners, and some, um, pudgier dudes.  Not here.  Despite being a now five year veteran, I was the pudgy dude.
If you have read my blogs in the past you know running is the weakest of the three sports for me.  And now, I get to run more.  

They send us away, and I am immediately at the back.  I mean the back of the pack.  We turn around and I realize there is only one person behind me, and I am gaining on one other.  I catch and pass him, and see nobody else.  I get into transition, pretty sure I was 14/16 on the run.  (Confirmed by race results that was right).
                                             
                                               Sprint course, on the bike.  Must go FASTER
 
On to the bike.  Flat terrain, let’s GO!  Flat, but a bit technical with a few turns, one bridge to go over four times, and a bit of rough road.  Two laps, and I was passing people, but not a lot in my AG.  The bike was pretty uneventful, but felt like I could have been faster.  Got off in just over 31 minutes.  Meh.  Would have liked 28.  But okay, it was 6/16 in my AG.  Then run number two.  I deploy a Galloway run method of run/walk and prorate the amount of run vs walk on distance and desired effort.  For the one mile, I just ran it, and ran an 8:50 mile, which is strong for me, despite being at the back of the pack.  I wanted to see if I could sustain that for the 5K.  However, after about ¾ of a mile I realized no, and went to a 90-30 run-walk.  The humidity was taking its toll.  Florida like humidity where the air felt thick, like taking a gulp of whole mile when you are used to skim.   I finished the run in just under 30 minutes, not bad for me, but 13/16 in AG, for an overall of 13/16 in my AG.  Man I need to get better at running. 
Nice post race spread courtesy of the Chula Vista Firefighters!  And a chat with Andrea; who had a good race.   Then the thunder started back up, and it was time to depart.  The afternoon was bizarre.  A light show and bowling tournament courtesy of Mother Nature.
Day two.  Chula Vista Challenge.  1500 meter swim.  40 Kilometer bike.  10 Kilometer run.  Point to point bike.  So logistics, we park near the finish, and get a shuttle to the start, where we left our bikes the day before.
We had a big storm Saturday afternoon, about 1.5 inches of rain.  In San Diego that means bad water quality in the bays and oceans.  That means no swim.  For an Olympic, that swim is now a 5K run!  Uh oh. 
My plan for the day is this: 90-30 run-walk on the 5K.  Ride a bit conservatively because we have a hilly, hot, and humid 10K to finish, which I will go 30-30.
Remember yesterday’s Florida like humidity?  It was more intense today. 
I execute the run plan, and again am at the back of the pack, but felt pretty good.  Just under 30 minutes, and on the bike.  Wow, not even 8:00 AM and scorching hot and humid.  The first 10 miles are pretty flat, then we get about 1200 feet of gain in the last 14 miles.  Kept it steady, with minimal tension on the legs to try and keep them fresh for the run.   Despite this, the sweat poured off my body as if I was a faucet.  At least I did my part to help the draught.  The bike took 1:27, and I felt okay.  Go through the “Ironman style” T2, where a volunteer takes your bike, they bring you your gear bag and you sit on a real chair to change your shoes.  After the shoe change, I am off.  30-30 run-walk.  Jeez it is hot.  I’ve done this before, I know its hilly, but was it this hilly?   Mile one done, mile two.  This is getting hard.  Hard to keep 30-30.  Mile two done, maybe I’ll make it more 25-35.  Yeah, that seems to help.  Mile three done.  Maybe I’ll just go to 30-60.  Okay, much better.  I got this.  Slower than I’d like, but doable.  Mile four done.  Me, run interval, go.  My legs.  No.  We are done.  Me, it is just 30 seconds, we can do anything for 30 seconds.  My legs.  Usually yes.  You realize it’s 93 and Florida like humidity, right?  Me yes, but just two miles and we are done!  My legs, and it will be a slow two miles.  Me, okay, I’ll walk for a bit.  The last two miles were tougher than any point I had during two Ironmans.  Tougher than just about any run.  I have done, but I was done!  The weather, and the course teamed up to crack me like a weak egg, then fry me up.   1:28 to run a 10K.  Ouch.  I track PR’s, not PWs, but that has to be my 10K PW.  I was not last in my AG, I saw an incredible number of people who looked a lot fitter than me walking and struggling on that run.  That is a tough run course without a bike in front, on a 55 degree day.  Put a triathlon the day before, a 5K and a bike right in front, and add in the weather, and it seriously was as tough if not tougher than the marathon in an Ironman. 


                                            Somehow managed to "run" across the finish. 
                                            is that both feet off the ground?
 
Big thanks to Mike Drury of HT Bikes and Pulse Endurance Sports and his team for putting on this race.  They are always good to the participants.  It is a smaller race, and many people seem to avoid it due to its often hot and always hilly run.  But folks, it’s called the Chula Vista CHALLENGE.  And didn’t we get into triathlon to take on a challenge?  So sign up, it is a good race, nice course, and a challenge. 

Gear
Swim:  None used
Bike: Specialized Transition Comp, 50-34 chain rings, 11-28 cassette, Williams 58-85 wheels, Xlab hydration
Run: Saucony Kinvara 5 shoes.







Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ironman California Oceanside 70.3

The race does not always go as planned.  I will admit, I was a bit worried about this one.  Three weeks before the race I got a nasty case of the crud.  Missed my peak week workouts, and a total of nine days of training.  My return was much lower duration than planned, then I hit taper.  I was able to do the taper workouts, but fatigued much quicker than usual.

I mentally adjusted my plan from go for a PR, to have fun and finish.  If I feel really good halfway through the bike, then ramp it up. 

We had a surge of warm weather hit on Thursday with Santa Ana winds, and that brings heat.  Nearly 90 degrees at the coast, which is like a roasting pan.  Saturday was to be the start of a cooling trend, but you never know if the pattern lingers, then it could be toasty.

Race morning was downright pleasant.  I parked easily, ate my breakfast, pumped my tires and headed toward transition.  Took care of business, and started setting up transition.  I saw some friends, and we chatted.  One of the TCSD members had VIP credentials to be a photographer, so lots of shots were taken. 


With my friend Andrea at the TCSD section of transition.  Photo credit: Marcus Serrano

It really does not take long to set up transition, then the waiting game begins.  Pros start at 6:40, but I don’t start until 7:14.  We get into a queue by wave.  We hear the announcer call the male pros coming out of the water, in an amazing 22 minutes and change.  That is for a 1.2 mile swim!  Do these guys have gills and flippers?  Almost time to get in.  There are sea lions perched up observing us.  That was cool.  We get in and swim to the start.  Makes for a nice warm up.  The water feels good.  An unseasonably warm 67 degrees.  No booties, no extra cap.  The horn sounds and we are off.  Well, I had to yell at the knucklehead in front of me that was lying on his back, then we were off. 

I felt like I had a nice rhythm going in the water and was sighting well.  About 1/3 of a mile in, something bumped my leg and swam under me.  I am 90 percent sure it was a sea lion!  That is the second time that has happened to me.  Too bad he didn’t say jump on, and take me around the course.  I could have beat Andy Potts’ time!   I was sighting well until we turned into the sun.  Ugh!  I knew I was zig-zagging.  My 1.2 mile swim registered as 1.36.  Nice bonus swimming.  Even with that, I could see the finish, turned in, hit the timing mat, and clocked a 38:40 swim.  Not the PR of 34 and change two years ago, but a solid swim.  The biggest difference was two years ago I swam right on the tangents and recorded 1.21 miles.

The first test that I was still less than 100 percent was going through transition.  I walked most of the way instead of keeping a nice trot like I normally do.  Got my wetsuit off, bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses on.  Cruise to start the bike.  Yum!

The sun was out, and bright.  Even with my Rudy Project prescription sunglasses I had to squint a bit.  I start pedaling out of the harbor area.  I always start with my hands on the bull horns and upright to get my breathing regulated.  Then after about a mile or so, I drop aero.  That is exactly what I did.  And I felt okay.  A nice smooth pedal stroke, listening to the hum of the 85 mm wheel on my rear.  Some speedy dudes, and dudettes flew by, I went by some as well.  Most of the bike course is on Camp Pendleton, a USMC facility.  The first part is an area we can, and do ride on training rides, so I know it well.  Short steep hill, levels off, Slight downhill, another hill, killer downhill, and to Los Pulgas street.  Out and back on Los Pulgas, then up through the state park campground.

All is still well.  I’d like to be going faster, but this is where I am right now.

Then we re-enter Camp Pendleton on the back side.  We cannot ride back here except for events.  About 2 miles in is San Mateo hill.  Only about a half mile, but super steep.  At one point I looked at my Garmin.  I was doing 3.3 miles per hour.  Up and over, slight downhill, then more up.  Another summit at mile 37, then a sharp steep downhill known as dead mans curve.  The race has a strict 25 MPH speed limit here.  Going over is an automatic DQ.  Complete with radar guns, and timing mats.  It is a steep descent, and I am pretty confident in my descending, so holding 25 is not easy.  I work the brakes, mostly the front, as if you over-brake your rear you can skid out.  Finishing the final curve I hear BOOM!  Thunk, thunk, thunk.  My front tire blew.  Very scary on a steep descent with a bit of curve left.  As I am shouting expletives I am desperately trying to keep the bike under control.  It tips way left, I somehow recover, and now it is tipping right, another recovery, but it is angling right toward the volunteer tent.  Somehow I get it righted.  I have no idea how I kept the bike upright.  Someone was with me.  I thought I was down three times.  I came to a stop about 100 feet before the end of the controlled area, right at the volunteer tent.

Now for a bit of a vent.  I think the 25 MPH limit is ridiculous.  I have negotiated much trickier descents at greater speed.  Having to use that much brake over-heated my rim causing the blow out.  Grabbing the rim after I stopped it was super-hot.  Watching rider after rider descend I was really convinced that the speed limit is too low!  It would be far less dangerous to go 30-35 and lay off the brakes instead of fighting the bike to hold back.

The guy radioed in right of way for tech support.  Meanwhile my left leg shook for about 10 minutes.  While I had a spare tube, the blow out was so strong it knocked the tire off the bead on tore a hole in the sidewall, so a new tube was useless.  Now the frustration.  Tech support is about 30 minutes out.  40 minutes later they pull up, but they have no wheels or tires, just tubes.  What the heck?  It is easy to carry a tube, we should have those.  Every Ironman I have ever done, I see tech support with spare wheels, they swap ‘em out and trade back after the race.  Tech one calls in, only one of four tech cars have a tire.  1:19 minutes I am back on the road.  Thankful they had one, and the techs were all really nice.  But really, 1:19?  It seemed the tech support was under-geared to me.

If you read my blog on Ironman Arizona, and this sounds somewhat familiar, you are right.  I dropped my chain there, and it bent.  And while it took 45 minutes for tech support to get to me, he had a chain, and got me going.  By the way, he was on a moto, and had several wheels with him too.

I take off, with 18 miles to go on a new tire, and low confidence in my rim.  See, the mechanic noticed the rim took some damage too and he was worried about it.  So he let me go, waited about five minutes then caught me to make sure it was okay.  That was nice, and great service on his part.  It was doing okay, but I was a bit apprehensive.  And if you know me, I was frustrated and angry too.

Once I got going, I pushed it some to try and get some time back.  With some rollers and a head wind, probably not the best idea.  By the time I got off the bike I was pretty cooked.  1:19 minutes of sitting/standing around did not help matters.

Time to run.  I hit the porta john before exiting transition and I am off.  I use a run-walk strategy.  My plan for this race was 30-30.  Although I probably should have gone 30-45 with the missed nine days of training.  That was evident by mile four.  The weather was strange.  It was sunny and felt really hot on the first outbound leg.  It was kicking my arse.  But on the turnaround there was a good breeze, and it was cool, almost chilly, while the sun was still hot.  I kept trying to keep up with my ratio, however, I would often skip a run segment to try and get my heart rate and breathing back under control.

I can tell my run fitness is not only not where I want it, it is not where it was five weeks ago.  So I know that damn cold took a lot out of me.


(Forrest Gump voice) I ran from the harbor to the pier.  Then I kept going....Then I went back..Then I did it again...
Photo credit: Marcus Serrano

I trudge along, and I must give the residents of Pacific Avenue in Oceanside credit, as many where out cheering us on, music blaring.  I don’t care for the area around the pier, as all too often beach goers walk through and onto the run course without looking.  I guess it is just too much area for them to keep the people to the designated cross walks.

Returning to the harbor, and turning around, now almost 8 miles in.  I can feel a hot spot on my left arch.  Oh joy, a blister is coming!   Going through the pier area again, and then up to Pacific Street.  Yes, I said up to.  Oh, did I forget to mention this earlier?  To get from the beach area to Pacific street you need to go up, and nice STEEP ramp.  The quads just love that at this point in the day.  In fact, they like going down that steep ramp even less.  Try trotting down a steep decline with tired quads sometime.  It is a real treat.

Out the the furthest point on the course, the final turn-around, I am now headed for home with about 2.5 miles to go.  I am tired, sore, hot, cranky, out of it, happy, and a zillion other emotions all at the same time.

Here we go, the best part of the finish is it is near the pier, so I don’t have to go back up the ramps!  The Voice of Ironman booms out my name, and another 70.3 is in the books.

Too long, bad break on the tire blow out, but we completed the course.

Overall my slowest of the five 70.3s I have done.  Even without the 1:19 delay.  But without a Personal worst, the Personal Bests would not be as sweet.  A bit disheartening to go over 7 hours (moving time) when my goal is to break 6.  Then again, Take 25 minutes off the bike, and 30 off the run, and I am close.  Both of those are doable. 

I would be remiss if I did not thank all of the volunteers on the course.  Three bike aid stations, lots of aid stations on the run, plenty of nutrition available.  And of course lots of fellow TCSDers shouting support.  I really do enjoy this local race.

That was my day.  My friend Andrea also raced.  She did it last year, and dropped out at mile 43 of the bike.  She wanted to avenge that, she even did the Avengers run.  (See what I did there)?  So she signed up again.  Then had several bouts of the crud this year.  With six weeks to go, she had not trained much and was seriously considering not starting.

I offered and she accepted a six week training program to see how it would go.  I saw her on course go down dead mans curve as I waited.  I caught her toward the end of the bike, and was exiting transition as she entered.  I saw her on all the out/back portions of the run.  And I knew she would finish.  I could see she was sore, and deep in the pain cave, but very determined.  So about 40 minutes after I finished, she came across the line!  Her husband was thrilled, and ran along side her, so really despite my day not going the way I wanted it was a good day, as my friend finished her first 70.3. 

Gear:
Swim:  X-terra wetsuit, Tyr Rx goggles
Bike: Specialized Transition 50-34 crankset, 11-28 cassette, Williams 58-85 wheels
Run: Saucony Kinvara 5 shoes

Next up:  Signed up for Chula Vista double in July and HITS 70.3 in December.  May do some local sprints as well.


Goals:  Get fitness back, drop weight.   Results of summer tri’s not important, just practice.  Get after it at HITS.  Help another friend have a great race at Vineman 70.3., and at HITS