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.

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. 

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. 

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 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Stagecoach Century 2015

The sun rises, it would soon be up.  And we would be off.

Here we go.  Just a few miles in.

Already going uphill.

Yup, its that freaking steep

Turnin' over the cranks.

Gut check.  Strava start.  Yeah, right.  Leave that for the skinny dudes.

This is a steep part.  I'm doing the "paperboy"  Photographer captured it well.

The downhill was fun!  Tuck and GO!

The finish!

The stats:

Bike: Specialized Roubaix Expert
50-34 crank
11-28 cassette
Fuel: Sunrype Mango Manosteen, Rootbeer Gu, and on course PB&J
(okay maybe an oreo or two, too)

Pedal time 6:38.

Weather: About as good as it gets for the desert in January.  47 at start.  75 at finish.  Breezy in spots on northern third, but not bad.

The event:  Great.  Quiet, low traffic road.  More aid stations than you could possibly need.  The chance to at least see of the areas best riders.  Strongly recommend this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ironman Arizona

Thursday November 13, 2014.  Three days until Ironman Arizona.  Today’s schedule is a 45 minute bike, easy, make sure the bike is good, and just shake out the legs a bit.  With this accomplished, I focused on quality food, and a slight uptick in hydration to compensate for the desert dryness.  Also increased carbs, but not to a stupid amount, and no over-eating.  Thursday was  a glorious day in greater Tempe.  A high of about 80, light winds.  It would be a great day to have an Ironman.   Nice of my hotel to welcome us too!

Friday November 14, 2014.  Two days until Ironman Arizona.  Another glorious day.  I do not workout two days prior, I find this is a good off day for me.  I did go to packet pick up and take care of making sure I got my packet, instructions, and all was ready to go.  Continue to get proper food and drink in me.  And relax.  Try and relax.  Stay off the feet.

Saturday November 15, 2014.  Ironman eve.  Yet again, a terrific day.  Another 40-45 minute bike ride.  This time I headed out from the bike start for 21 minutes, then turned around.  Went through a warm up, hit all the gears, and a couple of short bursts.  Felt strong and good.  Wiped the bike down, put the numbers on the bike, and racked it.  Also dropped off my bike and run bags.  Nothing to do now but eat, sleep, and wait.

Sunday November 16, 2014.  Ironman Arizona.  Greeted with a nice, cool morning.  The buzz is electric in the Ironman Village.  Nervous, chatty athletes.  Nervous quiet athletes.  Even some that looked calm, cool, and collected.  For some reason I was nervous.  More nervous than I remember being for IMCdA.  Then it was bothering me that I felt nervous.  I couldn’t seem to calm down.  I was wondering if I should have brought a second bike helmet.  The second for, well, you know, barf.

What calmed me down?  Putting on my wetsuit.  Once the wetsuit was on, it was like, oh, okay, we’ll migrate down to the lake, get in, and swim.  I’ve done this a time or two.  In we go, down some steps into Tempe Town Lake.  About 300-400 yards from the start.  Had to get in at the exit point due to low water levels.

Used the 300-400 yards as a warm up.  It seemed like an eternity, but finally BOOM!  The cannon went off.  Swim start?  More like mortal combat.  2,700 people starting to swim at the same time in no semblance of order.  Push, smash, crash.  Repeat.  Trying to find some swimming room.  Had to go Tarzan style for 400-500 yards just to not crush someone.  The visibility in the water was less than zero.  The lake water was very silty.  I found some swimming room, and got into a bit of a groove.  Now that I was swimming, I would come up on groups of other swimmers.  Getting around them was like trying to make progress in a traffic jam.  Roughly three-quarters of the way through and suddenly the water has a chop to it.  Great, it wasn’t challenging enough with 2,700 people and no visibility.  Now I’m fighting the water.  A few minutes later it hit me.  Or was that another swimmer hitting me (again)?  The chop means WIND.  Expletive, expletive, expletive.

Finally the end of the swim.  Getting out on the steps was a challenge with the low water level, and my sea legs.

Up and out, about five minutes slower than CdA, and ten minutes off my goal, but with the conditions, acceptable.  Off to transition.  Hearing lots of Go Tri Club!!!  TCSD and TCSD rooters were out in force.

Walking/trotting to the transition area, I locate my bike bag, and head toward the changing tent.  Since I am not changing my bottoms, I don’t go inside, but find a tree to lean on and get out of my wetsuit, change my top, and get my helmet, sunglasses, and cycling shoes on.  I skip the wetsuit strippers.  I found it took longer at CdA and I had to carry a heavy wetsuit to transition.  I’d prefer to have my hands free until I was ready to change.

Now that I was ready to ride, I went over to the bike racks, and headed out.  It was a short distance to the mount line and I was riding.  Once onto the road my fears were confirmed.  It was WINDY.  My least favorite element to ride in.  Wind never stops.  It is noisy, and relentless.  Okay, get your mind right.  You cannot control this.  You’ve ridden in it.  You did the 2011 Eastern Sierra DoubleCentury.  You can do this.  Positive thoughts.  The return will be a tailwind.  The course, was a three loop out and back.  Most of the way would be right into the wind and most of the way back with it.

The first out went pretty good.  Slower than I planned, but that was all wind.  My effort was right, and I felt good.  About that wind.  You really feel it, as if with every pedal stroke you take, someone is pushing you right back.  And when it gusted, wow!  Sustained winds of 20 MPH with gusts over 30.  The bike was being pushed all over.  I FLEW back into town.  My first loop was just three minutes slower than my stretch goal despite the wind.  Turn around and do it again!  Through town and out to the Beeline Highway.  The Beeline was just shy of 11 miles.  Going out right into the wind, and a bit uphill.  Just a quarter of a mile on the Beeline I shifted and my chain dropped.  Expletive.  Okay, two minute fix, right?  Not even, usually.  Get the chain on but the crank will not turn.  Flip the bike to get a good look at it.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!  My chain is bent.  I mean bent, like will not roll over the chain rings bent.  Is my day over?  All I can do now is wait for Bike Tech and see what, if anything can be done.

And wait.  And wait.  Finally a vehicle stops, I tell him, and he radios one of the motorcycle techs.  He shows up a couple of minutes later.  Now I realize my day might not be done, as he has chain links.  He goes to work on my bike.  It did take a few minutes, but I was back in the game!!!  I cannot thank him enough, back on the bike, and continue my second loop.

By the way what is that smell?  Ugh that is awful.  Okay its gone.  Hit the turnaround and come flying back down.  There is that smell again.  Wretched sewage, or something?  Oh, there is the sign.  Landfill turn right.

Back into town, and one more time, turn around and back out.  Here is where the mechanical hurt more than the 45-50 minutes I was idle.  I never got the same groove on the bike after the delay.  I think I stiffened up some.  And it screwed with me mentally.  I kept wondering where I would be if it hadn’t happened.  Trying to get those thoughts out of my head, and into being thankful I was still out there.

At what seemed like an eternity, I hit the far turn-around one last time, and zipped back into town with the tailwind.

Off the bike and into transition.  Now I am calculating times.  See, the run is always my weakest sport.  And I have had injury issues all year.  I broke my foot in March.  And after I started running again, I have had knee issues.  So I did not get the run build I wanted.  I went into this with a very conservative run strategy.  Walk the first four minutes.  Then run 30 seconds, and walk 1:30, repeat.  I did this the last two months of training, and it was working, and I figured a 6:00 to 6:30 marathon based on this.  No world record, but better than my CdA marathon with a strong run build.  My concern was would the knee hold up?  I’m starting the run over an hour later than I anticipated.  If this becomes a walk, I’ll be struggling to make the 17 hour time cut.

Think positive.  Start your 30-130 and FOLLOW THE PLAN.  You put this plan together, your body responded well the last two months.  The knee has been doing great the last month.  Your actual running has improved.

First run segment,  Ouch!  No, not the knee, my left hamstring.  What???  This has not been an issue at all.  Okay, diagnose.  Is it a cramp or a pull?  For the second time I was wondering if my day was over.  Feels like a cramp, which is weird.  When I cramp it is usually my quads, occasionally my calves.  And more often, after my day is over.  However, I did have pickle juice with me.  The worlds greatest cure for cramping.  I took some and about 30 seconds later I was good.  I was off, and on to my run-walk.  And I was run-walking STRONG.  My splits were great, as I was tracking a 3:00 half marathon.  The sun was going down, it was chilly, which is good for me.  Heat and running do not mix for me.  The conditions for running were ideal!  They flat out sucked for cycling with that wind, but for running, fantastic.

The run course is two loops.  The cruelest thing on earth is hitting the end of loop one.  You see the split for finish or continue.  You see faster athletes finishing.  You hear them finishing.  You’ve still got 13.1 to go.  Here it is for me.  Can I get in around six hours?  Heck, can I break six hours?  The half was 3:00:29.  I need an oh-so slight negative split.  And I feel good enough now to do it.  Will it hold?  Miles 13-18 no problem.  Then I noticed I was creeping into 14 minute miles.  The difference wasn’t the run segments, I was walking slower.  So starting with mile 20 I started running more.  I went from 30-130 to 40-120 then 45-115.

Not a single niggle from the knee all day!  No more hamstring issues, and just a bit from the calves, another gulp of pickle juice fixed that. 

Getting close to the finish, I hit a walk segment,  Walked maybe 30 seconds and I reached the barriers marking the finish chute.  No way I was walking any of this.  Too much crowd support.  I started running, and the folks watching started cheering.  They love to see folks run it in.  Around a slight bend and there it is.  The finish line.  The big timer.  Mike Reily’s voice booming, telling the person in front of me they are an IRONMAN.  I migrate to the right side, and high five a bunch of spectators, then make sure my bib is centered, I hit the final few meters, and I hear Mike bring me in.  God, I LOVE that!  Me, I am an IRONMAN!!!! (For the second time).  It is very emotional.  And then, it is over.  Just like that.  Done.  The volunteer takes you back, makes sure you don’t need medical, and gets you to the photo area.  They take a few shots, and get you to athlete food.  And you are done.  Euphoria, emotion, and hey, its over?  I want more!  Well, maybe another time.  Right now I think I want off my feet.

Oh and the run time?  My Garmin showed just over 6 hours.  Darn, missed the sub six.  Except the official time has me at 5:59:48.  Very, very happy!

So a strange Ironman for me.  The event I expected to be the best, the bike, was the poorest event of the day especially with the mechanical.  Even without it, it was about 6:45 of ride time, which is disappointing for the course.  I really expected to have a bike time faster than my run time here. 

I would be remiss not to thank all the volunteers, and especially the bike tech that saved my day.  Thank you all for your support.  And thank you to Ironman for putting on a great event.



Blue Seventy wetsuit
Tyr Rx googles


Specialized Transition Comp
Williams 58-85 wheels (LOVE THESE)
50-34 compact crank set
11-28 cassette
X-Lab cages


Saucony Kinvara 5 shoes
Fuel Belt

Total time 15:15 – Was shooting to go sub 14, but the mechanical and wind put the kibosh on that. 

On course photos courtesy of Tri Club San Diego
pre-race photos by me.

 What is next?  Well I am signed up for IM California-Oceanside 70.3 in March.  If my knee continues to behave, my plan for next year is one or two 70.3s and several shorter tris.  I also want to focus on my weight and conditioning.  For a former obese ~400 pounder I have done well.  But by triathlete standards I am heavy.  It shows in the pictures this year, I really need to get the weight down some more.  This will help with speed, but more importantly it will save the joints and muscles stress, allowing me to keep doing this stuff.

No 140.6's next year, unless, of course the Kona Lottery comes up for me!  :-)  I'd walk through hell in a gasoline suit to race at Kona.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tiki Swim 2014

Tiki Swim is the first stand-alone swim event I have ever done.  The last two years I did Superfrog the day of Tiki.  So many people said they loved it last year; and since I am doing IMAZ, Superfrog did not fit on the schedule this year. 

My friends were right, it is a fun event.  Starting south of the pier in Oceanside, swimming well past the pier before turning south and heading toward the harbor.

Arriving early on a pleasant Sunday morning, 64 degrees outside with just a hint of a nip to the air, some clouds, with enough clear to see some stars as the promise of daybreak looms to the east.  The water looked pretty calm.  Two, maybe three footers without much power.  Should be pretty easy to get out, and then swim. 

Chatting with Sugarmagnolia, Leo, and Leah before the swim we suddenly noticed the surf had picked up and had some bite.  It was about 15 minutes before go time, daylight was upon us and it seems it woke the ocean up.  Crash.  The two to three footers were now three to five, and with punch.

We got in to get wet and a feel for the water.  I went out just past the first set, and rode a fast, fun wave back in. Like sitting on water with jet propulsion.  Then the short march south to the start.

A few announcements, Blah, blah, blah. (Imagine the Peanuts parents) and then the siren.  GO TIME!

Into the water, no need to run in, I get to where it is time to swim, and a strong wave is coming.  I duck, a bit late and smash, the water crashes into me.  I ducked just enough to not go backwards, but I popped up with my goggles around my neck.  Luckily my eyes were still where they belonged.  I fixed the goggles and started swimming.  A few more to duck, but forward progress was being made.  I was looking forward to getting past the swells so I could get into a swim grove.

And past the swells I got.  But I was getting rocked like a 12 foot aluminum boat in stormy seas.  The chop was well past the swell line.  I’d be in this chop for the duration.  All one could do was swim and make forward progress.

The number of swimmers was good, there were others out there, but it never felt too crowded.  I caught a few, but had no problem passing, usually plenty of room.  Maybe I had that room since I was constantly way wide of the buoy line.  I knew I was adding distance to this one.  Isn’t 2.4 miles far enough?  Everytime I made my way back to the buoy line, I was back wide again.  The chop was pushing me.  At one point I wondered if I could just drift to Catalina Island

Did I mention it was choppy?  I could not figure out what was wrong with me, when suddenly I realized I was nauseated.  I have never had that swimming before.  I figured it out, it was the tumultuous waters.  I found myself wishing I had some ginger or Bonine.

There was a triangle buoy out where the 1.2 mile swimmers would merge onto the 2.4 mile course.  I wanted to hug that buoy.  I snuck a look at my watch and was right at 50 minutes here.  This is over half way, but I wasn’t sure how much over, trying to do math while swimming in a washing machine is a challenge.  I figured I was about 30 minutes out, which would put me at 1:20.  That was my time at IMCdA in a choppy but much calmer lake.  This felt harder; maybe I have more than that to go?

Is that a yellow buoy?  The yellow buoys signal the harbor, but I am still getting chopped.  The mouth of the harbor was still rolling, but calmer waters were ahead.  Must keep swimming.  One-two-three BREATH.  One-two-three BREATH/SIGHT.  Repeat.

Hmm.  That feels easier.  Now I am in the harbor.  Not only is there no more chop, but I felt like the current was with me.  Like turning a corner on your bike, and out of a head/cross wind into a tail wind.  Ahhhh.  Except now my arms were tired.  I was ready to be done.

Now I am in a swimming groove.  The arms are tired, but I am swimming!  CRASH.  Right into a guy.  Who decided to stop.  Right in the middle of the water.  Hope I didn't hurt him, as I hammered the poor guy with my right hand.  I assume he was a newer swimmer, but cap color he was doing the shorter course.

To my left is another swimmer.  We are matching stroke for stroke.  Everytime I breathed to my left, we were exactly the same.  This seemed to go on for several minutes.  It was probably 8-10 cycles.  Then he went about ¾ of a length ahead of me, and started to come in front of me.  Okay, I’ll trade with you.  I was thinking, yeah, see, now I’m back ahead.  Hey, where is he going?  Oh, that is the turn into the boat ramp.  Steve, wake up, you are there!

Yes, and like that, my arms dragged the cement, letting me know it was time to stand up.  Well that and the volunteer telling me get up, you are there!

Up the ramp, across the timing mat.  Stop the Garmin.

Go get my timing chip off, my medal and hat, and look for my friends.

The swag:

A couple of minutes later, Leo popped out of the water.  Then I saw Leah.  After getting out of my wetsuit, and feeling more comfortable, I went to the finish line just in time to see Sugarmagnolia come out. 

It's all over:

Photo courtesy of Sugarmagnolia

Everyone was talking about how tough it was.  The chop was relentless.  Which only means we were all even more proud of getting through the day.  A 2.4 mile swim.  Hey!  Where is my bike, it is now time to ride, right?  Oh wait, I just swam, and don’t have to bike now?   That feels weird.  Seven weeks from today, I’ll get to do that in Tempe, AZ.

Garmin time 1:23:04

Blue Seventy Wetsuit

Tyr Rx goggles

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Solana Beach Sprint Triathlon, 2014

I haven’t done a sprint triathlon since 2011.  After missing Oceanside with a broken foot, I was itching to race.  Solana holds a special place to me.  I did the duathlon back in 2009; it was my first multi-sport event.  I did the triathlon in 2011, it was my second triathlon. 

Since coming back from the broken foot, my swimming has been pretty good.  The bike, not where I want it, but training is back in full force.  Running is behind.  And since running is by far my weakest of the three, the running is not good right now.

This race isn’t about crushing it, or a PR.  I was itching to put a bib on, and use it as a test.  Test one, was an epic failure.  And I wasn’t even at transition yet.

I arrived and was in the parking area at the Solana transit station.  I saw my friend Andrea, said hi, parked, and opened the van.  When I opened the back gate, I looked at a big empty spot where my bike should be.  My mouth agape, heart in throat.  Yes, I left the house without my bike.  Really?  Are you kidding me?  The bike is my favorite part of the day.  How the heck did I forget my bike?  Luckily at o-dark thirty; traffic is light and I was home in less than 15 minutes.  Got the bike, back to Solana.  The only issue was I lost my good parking place, and was on the street in a residential area, a good deal further away.  Perhaps the next zip code.

Still got to transition with plenty of time.  Set up, got body marked, used the bathroom.  The first triathlon of the day, if you will.

The 40-49 year old men were the second to last wave of the day.  An 8:20 start.  Many would be done by the time we started.  As locals know, our water temperature is very warm for us.  70-72 degrees.  I’ve been ocean swimming without a wetsuit for the last month.  I decided for a 400 meter swim, to forgo the wetsuit here too.  One of the nice things about this race is a wide open area for swim warm up.  And something to do watching wave after wave go off. 

Finally it is time.  This race exposes my biggest swim weakness.  Not the swimming, but the entry from the beach.  It feels like my feet sink deep into the sand, and pulling them back up with 20 pound weights on them, then enter the shallow water, splash, stumble, splash, shin deep, swim time?  Forearms drag the sandy bottom, back up, three or four more strides, dive, now I can swim.  Most of the wave is ahead of me.  This means I’m catching them throughout the swim and in more traffic than I need to be.  “On your left!”  doesn’t work in the water.   I really prefer water starts.  This swim is short, and out of the water, back onto the sand for the slog to the ramp.  Up the ramp, over the hill and through the woods to T1.  Well, that is what it seems like.  T1 is a long way from the ocean.  In fact, I bet the run from the beach to T1 is longer than the swim itself.  After that marathon run, okay, a wee bit of an exaggeration, my bike.  Shoes on.  Helmet on.  Sunglasses on.  Here we go!

Treating this as a bike test.  In other words, GO!  Breathing was high, heart rate up.  Tried to get that to settle a bit, then aero, and hit it.  I love the hum of the 85 mm deep section rim as I get into a rhythm tucked into the aero position.  There were sections where I felt strong, but for the most part I felt so-so, and not as fast as I think I should be.  The result confirmed this.  Bike time was 27:00.  A 20 MPH average.  I’ve held that at Superfrog for the entire 56 miles; twice.  Well, my fitness isn’t where I want it, and my bike fit feels off.  This is why we test, now to take action.

Run time.  I had no expectations here.  Just getting my runs back up, and was hoping to run three 10:00 miles, without feeling like I killed it.  At about ¾ of a mile, I was right on with pacing, and felt good.  Then, ouch.  The back of my knee hurt.  I took a few walk steps.  Honestly the walk was worse than running, so run I did.  It was painful at times, and at times I felt okay.  But it slowed me down.  I didn’t care, I was just concerned with the level of the injury.  After all, my goal is IMAZ, not this race.

Should I pull up and DNF?  I’d probably have to walk back, so might as well finish.  And running feels better than walking, so, keep going.  The last ½ mile I actually felt much better and finished strong.  It was pretty cool as I entered the finish area a big rolling thunder hit.  Yes, I came “thundering” down the finish.  My friend Andrea was there, I did a running high five,   I crossed the line, gave up the timing chip and got my medal.  Then, I could hardly walk.  Reality time.  What is wrong?  I stopped at “medical” and got an ice bag.  Limped to the food area, and ate.  Ducked under the tent at Operation Greyhound as it started to pour, and, hey greyhounds are really cool.  Met Jake and Carter the two greyhounds they had there.  And watched an actual thunderstorm.  At the beach, in San Diego, in the summer.  A first for me in the 17 years I’ve lived here.

Overall, not a great performance by me, but accomplished a big effort training day.  Went to the orthopedic doctor on Monday.  No tears!  I have patellar arthritis, and my patella does not track properly.  Already cleared to swim, bike, and elliptical.  Just need some rest for running, and before I resume, will have my foot/gait analyzed and make any changes I need to with orthotic/shoes.

Had a bike fit on Tuesday with Nestor at Studeo DNA.  The bike feels good in the trainer.  We'll give it a good road test on Saturday and Sunday.  

Credit to the volunteers, good enthusiasm from them, and my friends Ted and SugarMagnolia who were swim buddies for those that needed them.  Andrea had a PR, so very good race for her!


 race issued swim cap
 TYR Rx goggles.

Specialized Transition
Williams 58/85 wheels
Giro Aero helmet
Mid-compact crank set 52-36 with 11-28 cassette

Nike Voomero 8 shoes

DeSoto 400 mile bib shorts
TCSD tri top