Monday, June 6, 2011

how far is too far?

This week one year ago i was in Saratoga Springs for a professional conference. No bike, no pool, and not a lot of time to squeeze in any meaningful training, and only around 5 weeks to go before the taper should begin. A trip planned to Lake Placid for the Tupper Lake weekend would hopefully give me a chance to do my first and perhaps only 100 mile ride, since last July. My back has been giving me trouble and all the stretching and massage i can muster has no positive effect.

Last year I adopted a healthy new perspective, at least new for me, to endurance racing. I forgot about results, finish times, cut off times. I committed to 'just start', and then to 'keep going'. Perfect for someone with a super laid back and easy going personality. Interesting though, I dont always see myself that way, nor do some of the people in my life who know me longest and best. And I did complete the 140.6 mile distance, in itself proof that i wasn't willing to let the day pass without making the effort. This was important to me, even if my mind could play that trick that had me smling and joking through the struggle and pain and into the night.

There's something deep inside me that has me returning. There's something about taking on a challenge. I feel a need to take the next step, to do more, to go farther.

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
– T.S. Eliot


I had no business starting that race last year, and I made the cutoff by less than 10 minutes. I did finish sprinting and 'strong'. Does the fact that I finished mean I still havent gone too far?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

oh yeah i forgot i have a blog

I need to do the 2010 race report. But first I need to go for a long ride.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

that. just. happened.

post race

as i crossed the finish line my knees buckled. The elderly woman assigned to catch me, caught me. Whats this? i am perfectly fine, my legs just gave out for no apparent reason.Ive often wondered about this, I understand better now. My body was really only along for the ride, my mind carried me over the finish line, and once that was accomplishment it simply stopped holding88 me up, and the legs took a second to get with the program and take over.

They put a medal around my neck and a cap on my head.Then I was all alone as they went on to greet the next finisher. Farrah and Gustavo came up to me and congratulated me. Gustavo looked great, he finished hours earlier and was at the finish line now greeting people. Awesome, dude. They took my photo, and i walked on to find pizza and my bike.

Pizza was all gone, but i got a soggy subway ham sandwich. Next time, guys, order more pizza please.

I went to the massage tent, they were getting ready close down. I had a little finger poking session from the massage student, nothing to write home about there. Memorable, though, was when, as i laid on my back, eyes closed, she standing at my head said "Ooops im sorry". I asked what happened. "Oh i leaned over and my breasts went in your face". Nothing to apologize about, and if you hadnt mentioned it i wouldnt have known.

This story made me laugh, very very hard


Christine and Michelle helped me with my bike and stuff back up the hill, which was much appreciated, although I really think I could have carried my stuff and both of them on my back. I swear I floated up that logn hill in front of the Crowne Plaza.

Back at the house, Phil and Javier had already finished and were hanging out. What a fantastic day. The best day ever. So far...

2009 Ironman North America
Lake Placid, New York
Bib 1977, Male 50-54, 150th of 181, 16:17:37

Friday, July 23, 2010

Run

Run

The run course starts with a pretty good downhill, and that along with the cheering crowds can trick you into going out too fast. I looked at my watch - 8:30 pace! I forced myself to slow down. Turning right and onto the really big hill I saw Michelle, Farrah and Ch, and not left and Christine. Great to see familiar faces and so nice to have people cheering for +me+ :). I did a pirouette as I passed them. Thats how i roll.

After I jogged out of their sight I tried to walk some, and I stopped at the first portapotty, even though I dint really need to. Anything to get my pace under control.

I ran and walked now, stopping and walking through each aid station, taking water and gatorade at each one.

At run special needs I stopped and changed my shoes. I had planned to do this, and even though my first shoes are dry and my feet feel fine, i change them. This turns out to be a mistake. I do also take a good handful of vaseline and slather my crotch and nipples. The volunteers avert their eyes.

The first loop was challenging, and as i ran down Lake Placid Drive toward the Olympic Oval my mind looked for a way to turn right for the finish line. I guess thats probably not a workable solution, soldier on, left turn and back down the hill.

Its around twilight now, the sun is down but its still light enough to recognize faces. I saw Nathan and Kristine running back into town. Nathan looked at his watch and quickly calculated that I would have enough time to beat the cut off. I still have no idea how he was able to do that, but thanks!

Food selection at the aid stations was starting to get sparse. I pulled a pack of sports beans from my pocket, but realized i was going to need to start eating or else crash and burn. I found the power bar vanilla crunch was palatable enough, for now, but i was becoming concerned about the rest of the race and nutrition.

It was pretty dark now. Turning left past the equestrian center I saw a man vomiting on the way back into town. Across the street, on my side, a state trooper turned his back, his body language said he couldn't help that person and didn't want to watch him in misery. I carried the image of the sick guy with me, to reinforce my need to eat, and to eat the right stuff. I did not want to be him. (I later found out that guy was Brian Brode - Triboomer)

Turning onto the River Road out and back, doing some calculations with distance and time remaining and expected pace. It seems I am in a position to finish before midnight, as long as I keep moving. I met a young woman there who did the math along with me, we were both surprised at our ability to do these calculations. We talked a while, then she ran off ahead.

It gets very dark on River Road. The aid stations are well lit, but in the mile in between you can barely see the road in front of you. They hand out glow sticks so that as the road begins to open to vehicular traffic the runners can be seen.

I reached the turnaround and the 20k timing mat. This is the start of the race, not i start pushing and counting the number of people i pass. I did a Blaiseman Roll over the mat and took off.

I started taking the chicken soup at the aids stations now. And coke and pretzels. The chicken soups is really good, and MAGIC! I am having fun.

You can hear Mike Reilly announcing new Ironmen, even this far out. Sound travels far on clear dark nights like this, and there was a super-gravitational pull at work now.

I saw strange lights on the road. Green and Orange and Yellow, sprites bobbing and weaving in front of me in the distance. As I got closer I could see, these were runners still heading out and away from the finish line, clearly having difficulty even walking in a straight line. God Bless Them, but someone should tell them they have no hope of finishing before midnight. Do they know? God Bless Them.

I'm turning right, done with the out and back and heading up the hill by the ski jump. Run-walking, looking for the next chicken soup and coke. Right turn again at the airport and I'm heading back to town. Up the hill by the IGA and a left turn onto main street. The crowds are still there cheering, very much needed and appreciated.

Up the hill on this final out and back, I am really pushing, although it may not look like it. I'm walking and running. Ive got a bad blister on the ball of my right foot. Its not going to stop me but it does slow me down.

A spectator is yelling at the top of his lungs for someone to run. "Dont walk, run you'll feel better, run, RUN, RUN!!" As I end my walk segment and break into a jog, I hear him scream "Thats it! RUN! Doesn't that feel better? YOURE LOOKING GREAT! I told you it would be better, run, RUN!".

He's screaming at me. I look over and make eye contact. He's stopped yelling now and just smiles. I say "Who the hell are you?".

A guy running just in front of me chuckles and says "He's your coach, didn't you know?".

I really appreciate all the support from the volunteers and spectators, but after almost 11 hours on the road, i am not going to react well to screaming, and I am pretty sure I dont look great. A sincere "Nice job, way to go" will be sufficient thank you.

I am running faster now, down the hill. I can see the lights from the Oval. I can hear Reilly louder and louder. Im running 9:30 pace. At the bottom of the hill I give the volunteer a head fake, as if I am heading out for another loop. Always leave them laughing. I turn right, past the cheering people and into the oval. I'm fying.

8:00 pace, around the oval, and I go under the first inflatable ironman arch, look around and realize, really, where I am and whats happening. I am sprinting now, probably 7:00 pace around the curve, doing the airplane thing from side to side, high fiving the crowd. I hear Mike Reilly say "Wait, Wh.. LOOK AT THIS!". The people in the grandstand are on their feet and roaring. Mike Reilly does the low five thing and I cross the finish line.

Run 5:54:55 13:33 pace

Bike to Run Transition

So happy to be off the bike. I walk into the changing tent and find a bench, open my run gear bag and start changing. Looking around I see not too much activity here. A medical person is talking to an athlete about his chest pain. Someone else asks a volunteer how long he can stay there before he has to leave and start the marathon. The vollie pauses, puzzled look, then says "Hey you can stay as long as you want, until we close at midnight".

I finished changing and walked out to the run start. I pause here for a few minutes waiting for the Garmin to acquire satellites. I feel really good.

T2 16:30

Thursday, July 22, 2010

bike

I came out of the changing tent and was handed my bike. With a flat front tire.

I think when i had the guy help me with inflating the rear tire, he also hit the front with a shot of pressure, which it didnt need. Overinflated, during my almost two hour swim and transition tent meet and greet, the temp warmed up and pop. Not a problem, if youre going to have a flat anywhere, this is the place to do it. They fixed it for me, 10 minutes and i didnt even get my hands dirty.

I had advice from the guys at Endurance Nation on my race execution. Dont chase people passing me on the climb out of town. Save yourself, you will see many of them later at the end of the bike portion, or certainly during the run. Stay aero, focusing on form on the bike will improve efficiency and preserve much needed resources for the run discipline. They also gave great advice on where to grab nutrition, where you wouldn't be able to (like the 40mph + descent into Keene, no, you dont start messing with a gel packet then).

I also knew from personal experience that I needed to force myself to drink, I should be emptying all my bottles between aid stations. Kona Kola Nuun in every bottle. A gel every 20 to 30 minutes also a must.

Throughout the day I played leapfrog with the same group, being passed by them on ascents, blowing by them on descents. For me at least this wasnt going to be about chasing or making a breakaway. Like I had written on my forearms, "patience" and "purpose" would bring me my own success this day.

At bike Special Needs I stopped and took some time to move off to the side, dismount, restock my Nuun tabs, eat some Sports Beans and have a long drink. And goofed around a little with the volunteers. A nice little break, maybe 5 minutes spent, a good investment with the return being a smile on my face as i left for loops number 2.

Climbing out of town on the second loop I noticed the words on my forearm beginning to fade. Moreso my left arm than right. So my mantra for the rest of the ride was "my patience may be wearing thin, but my purpose is still clear"

I stopped at the portosan on the Haselton out and back and fully utilized the service provided there.

I was feeling a little bonky passing through Wilmington Notch the second time. i broke out my secret weapon, Peanut M&Ms I had saved in my bento box. The sugar really helped to carry me through. I did come out of the saddle up Papa Bear, more to stretch than anything else.

Returning to the oval i went up around the back of the high school, then carefully down a hill,and pass offed the bike.


Bike Time 8:10:14 13.7 mph pace

Swim to Bike Transiton

On the way into transition i called out my number, and that was passed down the line so my gear bag was waiting for me when i got into the changing tent.

I decided i would be comfortable for this long ride, so i had my bib shorts. After taking my time getting dressed and applying the chamois butter, i went to the sunblock table, oy what a mess.

This was a very long transition, but really set the tome for the rest of my race. Im built for comfort, not speed.


T1 23:12