Wednesday, 21 November 2012 14:07

Ironman Arizona versus Ironman Texas

Ironman Arizona and Ironman Texas are the first two of many Ironman races I plan on doing and so I wanted to write a post that will compare the two.  The reason I want to compare the two is that Ironman Arizona sold out in 40 seconds and there will be people out there that are upset they didn't get in but can still race an Ironman if they truly wanted to.  If you do the research you can find other races that are open and are terrific races to enter. I want to break this down into more than just the swim, bike and run since the Ironman race is more than just three events.  There is location, the expo. athlete check-in and finish line amongst other items to discuss.  Let's get into this shall we: Location: 
  • ironmantexas_triathlon_thewoodlandsIMTX takes place in The Woodlands which is just north of Houston.  If you are flying you would have to fly into the George Bush International Airport and then drive to the race site.  The drive isn't horrible but it is something else to tack onto your trip.  The Woodlands itself is a sprawling metroplex that is downright gorgeous.  There are pine trees (this is important to those of us living in Dallas and don't see many trees) and lots of places to eat and shop.
  • IMAZ takes place in Tempe which is just east of Phoenix.  If you fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport the drive to Tempe is very short.  The beauty of the location of the race is that everything is close in proximity.  You can get to Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale or Chandler rather easily.  The race is located just outside of Arizona State University so there are plenty of places to eat at along Mill Avenue due to the population.
  • Edge:  Ironman Arizona
  • IMTX is in May and while that is technically spring it can get very hot at that time of the year.  Also, this part of Texas is very humid and thus the air just seems to stick to you.  This year the temperature during the race reached 93*.
  • IMAZ is in mid-November and since there is no humidity in Phoenix the weather feels a bit chillier than the thermometer shows.  The temperature on race day this year reached 83* but was not as hot as that would seem.
  • Edge:  Ironman Arizona
  • The swim at Texas takes place in Lake Woodlands which is a man-made lake.  The water temp this year was 80.1* which meant it was wetsuit optional.  If you chose to go the wetsuit route you started 10 minutes after those that chose to go sans-wetsuit.  The start at IMTX is a bit nuts as there isn't much room to maneuver, but after about 400 meters or so it opens up slightly as the pack thins out.  At the turn buoys it gets cramped again but the worst part is when you make a right turn down the canal.  The canal is quite possibly 10 human lengths wide and the contact picks up quite a bit in here.  The benefit of the canal is there are spectators lined up all along the canal cheering you on and that gives you quite a boost.
  • Arizona presents a different set of circumstances.  The water temp this year was 64.1* and was wetsuit legal as well as bootie legal.  The mass start is not unlike Texas except that there is room to swim after the first 200 meters instead of 400 meters.  There can be an issue on the out portion of the swim with the sunrise, but it isn't horrible.  There is the ever-present issue of turn buoys but once past that the return leg is a straight shot.  The other issue is getting out of the water.  The steps are relatively high and so you have to pull yourself up and be sure to use the volunteers to get you out of the water.
  • Edge:  Ironman Arizona (by a thin margin as the contact in Texas is slightly worse than the water temps in Arizona)
  • Texas has a 112 mile loop that has about 1600 feet of climbing.  There is only one section that you MAY have to stand up for but otherwise this is a very flat race course.  The scenery is gorgeous and while you deal with the heat there is one section in which you travel through a state park that is shaded fairly well and helps out tremendously.  The aid stations are well stocked and the special needs bag area is well-marked.  The upside to the one loop is that the pack has the ability to separate itself from each other.  The faster riders will pull away from the slower riders and there is not issue with congestion.  One downside is on the return back to transition you have to make a few turns through a neighborhood that can slow you down but in the grand scheme this is minor.
  • Arizona is a 3 loop bike course and has about 1500 feet of climbing.  There isn't any area on this course that would require you to stand up and peddle.  You are in the great wide open which can involve some strong winds depending on race day as well as time of day you are on the course.  The biggest issue with the 3 loop course is that all 2000 riders are out there together and thus the faster riders have to handle their bikes very well in order to avoid any issues with the slower riders.  The aid stations are well stocked as well but there is no shade at all.  The temperatures don't necessarily warrant the NEED for shade but even if they did you would be out of luck as you are exposed to the sun the entire ride.
  • Edge:  Ironman Texas.  The one loop course is a much better experience than riding the same loop 3 times.
  • ironmanarizona_triathlon_tempeTexas is a 3 loop course that has nothing resembling a bump let alone a hill.  The course is flat and fast and the best part of the course is running up and down the canal.  This area is lined with fans cheering loudly along with the opportunity to truly be inspired to finish because you can hear Mike Reilly calling out names and saying You.Are.An.Ironman.  The downside to this race course is the one strip of grass that you do a 180* turn on and climb a 5 foot embankment but otherwise this is a runner's course.
  • Arizona is also a 3 loop course but there are lots of turns as you make a figure 8 over Tempe Town Lake.  My biggest issue with the course was the gravel and grass that you run across and it is not flat so as the sun goes down there is the opportunity to sprain an ankle.  The course support is great and especially near Mile 3 / Mile 8 of the run where you can see family/friends 6 times as well as just the party atmosphere.
  • Edge: Ironman Texas.  The run allows you to run and not have to worry about a sprained ankle on uneven gravel or grass.
Finish Line:
  • You cannot complain about either finish line as there is a ton of excitement and Mike Reilly calling out your name.  If you want a pro and a con to each here they are:
    • Texas:
      • Pro:  If your finish time is around the 13.5 hour mark then you will finish in the sun.  Even if you finish later than that you will not feel cold as the temperatures do not drop drastically when the sun goes down.
      • Con: The finish line is quite a bit away from the transition area making for a difficult walk to pick up all your gear after the race.
    • Arizona:
      • Pro: Finishing under the lights is amazing.  It is like being a professional athlete when the lights go on and it is literally your time to shine.
      • Con: When the sun goes down it gets down right cold.  Take the mylar blanket.
  • Edge:  Push
  • These races don't exist without these people and at both races they are exemplary.  The entire race you are being helped by the volunteers and pushed by the spectators.  You truly feel like a rock star or a professional athlete or POTUS but however you care to describe it you are certainly being helped by all of the people along the way.
  • Edge: Push
Post Race Food:
  • While I had the unfortunate incident of being told I need more protein after the race the spread at Ironman Texas is better (and bigger of course.)  There are burritos and cookies, chips, brownies, soda, water and the usual bananas and oranges.  Arizona had french fries with ketchup and pizza.  Nothing wrong with pizza but when you don't eat cheese these leaves you with not much to choose from.  There were cookies (not many) and bananas, oranges and grapes as well.
  • Restaurants near Lake Woodlands are plenty and thus being able to go there is also a great plus to this race.  Arizona also has terrific eateries nearby that you can eat at then go back to watch as people cross late into the night.
  • Edge:  Ironman Texas due to the immediate after race food.
When I reflect back on both races I find myself nodding to the race that took place in The Woodlands and saying that is a better race.  I think the fact that the bike course is one loop with a run course that is better outweighs the location of Arizona or the clearer sighting for swimming.

Have You Done An Ironman Race?  If so, which is your favorite and why?

Published in Race
Friday, 09 November 2012 20:35

Ironman Arizona 2012 Goals

Ironman Arizona is officially in the T-Minus single digit days.  9 days until the cannon goes off and I embark on my second Ironman race of this year.  Leading up to taper week I was nothing but exhausted and hungry and just wanted to get the race over with.  Now that I am in my taper (check out my taper tips here) I have been able to put my game face on as my body has been healing and getting plenty of rest while fine tuning the last bit of race prep.  That last bit is nothing more than reminding my legs that there is a race coming up and they need to be prepared. As with any race I reflect on the training and how well/poor it has gone before determining what my goals should be.  I then toy with the idea of whether or not I want to let the world in on my thoughts.  Is letting my goals out of the bag a way to set myself up for failure if I don't reach them?  Is it a way for me to gauge what I have done in training so that I can prepare for the next race?  Is it a way for me to motivate myself when I am at Mile 100 of the bike or Mile 18 of the run?  The answer is yes to all of these questions.  I enjoy putting a goal out there for everybody to read because it gives me motivation to chase those numbers.  Simultaneously it gives me the opportunity to gauge how well the training went and thus what needs to be tweaked for the next event, because there will be a next event. Ironman Arizona presents a few intriguing scenarios for me.  The first is that this swim will be wetsuit legal, where as Ironman Texas was not.  The other scenario is that the bike is 3 loops of approximately 37 miles.  IMTX was one large 112 mile loop and I enjoyed that immensely as the sites and the sounds were different throughout the race.  Having 3 loops on the run at IMTX was great because I knew where I was the entire time and I am hoping the same holds true for the bike here at IMAZ.  The run is 3 loops at IMAZ and I enjoyed that previously so hopefully I can enjoy that again this time around. Swim Goals: I swam IMTX in 1:36 without a wetsuit so I have that working for me.  In addition to that I have been doing a minimum of a 1 mile swim, and the majority of the time a 2+ mile swim in the open water every Friday for the past two months. That has given me some terrific data to dissect and analyze and so I feel comfortable saying that my swim time will fall somewhere in the 1:25-1:28 range. I have been swimming the 2+ miles in the range of 1:11-1:15 but you have to throw in water temp (currently holding at 68*) and about 2,000 of my closest friends.  The one benefit I have going for me is that we are doing a counter-clockwise swim and I breathe to my left so finding the buoys shouldn't be too difficult outside of the fact that we swim directly into the sun when we start. Bike Goals: For me this is where I should be able to make up some time as I am more familiar with my nutrition and what I need to get through the 112 miles.  If you recall I consumed so much liquid on the bike at IMTX that I wound up throwing up twice.  I have dialed in my nutrition and adjusted my bike to the point that I will have 2 water bottles filled with 440 calories each (880 total), 3 HoneyStingers (1 at the start and then every two hours - 480 calories) and 1 bottle of EFS Liquid Shot in the Kona-Mocha flavor (400 calories.)  This will provide me with 1,760 calories and I will take water off the course every 10 miles or so to stay hydrated. With a goal time of 5:50-5:55 (18.9mph - 19.2mph) I would have consumed just under 300 calories per hour and that should be more than enough to avoid any issues whether they be over-consuming or bonking.  This goal time is just slightly faster than IMTX which I finished in 6:05 or 18.4 mph.  The course at Arizona has an elevation gain of approximately 1500 feet while Texas was at 1600 feet.  Very comparable. Run Goals: This is where I think I have made the most improvement and the majority of that is mental.  Going into Texas I was concerned about running the marathon and the pain and a lot of that had to do with the marathon I had endured at Las Vegas in December.  I hurt a lot after the Las Vegas marathon and I think that was still on my mind when I was in The Woodlands.  I ran a respectable 4:09 at Texas which is 20 minutes faster than my first marathon but was definitely not what I believe I am capable of. I have knocked out 20 and 22 miles runs during this training cycle at an easy 9:00/mi pace.  When I say easy I don't mean that it was just something I did, but it was more of a pace that did not knock me over and did not make me feel as if I was going to pass out.  I believe that my endurance and my mental capacity at this point can have me running a 3:50 marathon.  If I cross the line anywhere between 3:50 and 3:55 I will be happy with that outcome.  A 3:50 marathon is a 19 minute improvement and I have a much better plan than I did at Texas. My plan is to walk for 10 seconds at every other aid station starting at Mile 2.  This will cut down on the time I spend walking which I did quite a bit of at Texas.  I also plan to not carry a hand-held water bottle and instead take water off the course.  That handheld felt like an anchor when I was on the 2nd loop and wanted to throw it in the garbage.  This time I will have a flask of EFS Liquid Shot in my shorts pocket along with 2 HoneyStingers in my jersey top.  That will provide me with 720 calories and just under 240 calories per hour. When I tally up all these times I am looking at a finish time of: 11:05-11:18 then throw in 10 minutes of transition and the final goal time is 11:15-11:28 I cannot tell you how ecstatic I would be with that time but even more so if it is 11:18.  The race is on November 18th (11/18) and my father's birthday is November 18th.  If I am near the finish line around 11:15 I will wait and cross at 11:18 in honor of my Dad. I will be sporting bib #1572 if you care to spend some time on tracking my progress through the dessert.  Of course, as Karen Whitlock pointed out 1572 is a 12 surrounded by another 12 (5+7) and that just happens to be my birthday as well (12/12.)  As some might say.....that's a whole lotta karma. So there you have it folks.  Thanks for reading and if you are racing IMAZ or plan to be out there let me know so we can try to get together.
Published in Race
Monday, 19 November 2012 20:55

Ironman Arizona 2012 Race Report

Ironman Arizona 2012 is the last triathlon of the season and I went out with a BANG.  This race report came very close to being the shortest race report for an Ironman race but fortunately (or unfortunately for you) I have a lot more to say since there was and ending that I can speak of.  In case you don't want to go through the process of reading every word just jump to the bike section and you can read why this was very close to being a short post.  If you care to read it all than let's jump right in together: Thursday:  On Thursday I flew into Phoenix ahead of Karen because she had to work.  From the airport I drove straight to the expo to go through the athlete check-in and get all of that over with before heading up to Emily's house.  Emily was kind enough to allow Karen and I to stay at her house during this race weekend and I am so grateful to her for doing so.  We picked up dinner and then I headed back to the airport to pick up Karen and prepare for a rather easy Friday. Friday:  Lots of nothing going on.  Did the rounds of the expo for Karen to see and spent the day off of my feet as much as possible.  Friday night is the big dinner night for a race on Sunday and I ate and ate and ate.  Felt good though. Saturday:   Headed down to the transition area early so that Karen could begin her 22 mile run since she has the Dallas Marathon coming up.  At first I was going to go to sleep in the car and then do the practice swim and a quick 30 minute bike and 30 minute run.  I was antsy so I figured I would ride and run then swim.  Thankfully I did as I realized as I was heading to the swim that I did not bring my bike and run gear bags and they had to be checked in that day.  After getting that all done we headed to the tattoo parlor to talk to the artist about sketching out the tattoo (I will be getting it today so stay tuned for pictures.) Sunday:  Race day.  It all starts with a 3:30am wake up followed soon by a cup of coffee, a bowl of granola and toast with peanut butter, banana and honey.  Gather up whatever I need for morning clothes and into the car we went.  Off to the race site at 4:44am (a node to Emily) and we got down to transition after fighting with the GPS for a few minutes.  Walking down to the race site I had a calm come over me.  Maybe it was experience or just that I knew I was ready but either way there were no butterflies. I got all my gear checked over and then put my nutrition on my bike along with pumping up my tires.  Body marked and porto-potty time.  After that I ran into Troy and Michelle and what a terrific sight.  We all stayed with each other until it was time to jump in the lake, and here the race report begins: Swim:  Michelle and I jumped in the lake together with about 7 minutes to go before the cannon.  We found a surfboard and hung onto it.  While handing on I dropped my face into the water several times and kept kicking to keep my body warm.  The water temp was 64* and while I made it much colder in my mind before jumping in the temperatures  still ran a chill down my spine. With about 1 minute to go until the start I told Michelle that we needed to start swimming so that we were moving and would be able to just go without stopping.  As we were swimming the cannon went off and we said our good lucks and went.  The start at IMAZ is not as crazy as I expected.  I sighted on every stroke to start to make sure I wasn't swimming on top of people and to also help me find a line.  After the first 200 meters I found an opening and went.  I was not touched after that, nor did I touch anybody.  That is until the first turn buoy, then second turn buoy which are very close together.  People warned about the sun as you would be swimming into it but I never had any issues on this section of the swim. After the second turn I had smooth sailing and picked up the pace.  I was settling into a groove when the leg cramps started to hit.  My calf muscles would get very cramped and I had to swim while flexing my feet.  It was after the 4th or 5th cramp that I decided to kick just a bit more to keep my legs from tightening up again.  Then before I knew it I saw the last turn buoy and was headed toward the stairs.  When I got to the stairs my legs were a bit fatigued and I almost slipped climbing the stairs and that is when the lady in front of me went down.  Feeling so bad for her I just stepped over her and kept on moving.  Found the wetsuit strippers and off to grab my bag and into the changing tent. T1:  I pride myself on getting through the transition areas quickly, but this time I decided to bake cookies or so it would seem.  A 12 minute transition in T1.  What is this all about?  Well, let me tell you.  Being afraid of being cold I took some toe warmers and hand warmers from Emily that had to be opened.  I changed out of the shorts I swam in and into a dry pair.  I put on a top (swam without one) then applied sunscreen and arm sleeves.  Put on race bib, shoes, gloves and helmet and I finally got out of that tent. Bike: Ironman Arizona is a 3 loop bike course with each loop consisting of 37 or so miles.  I got on my bike at the mount line and started going.  I held back a bit because I wanted to make sure that I could feel my legs and not over exert myself because I was cold.  After finally settling I began my plan to hydrate and get the calories in.  The plan was to drink my prepared drink every 15 minutes, a HoneyStinger every two hours and EFS every 1.5 hours.  In between I would take water off the course from every aid station.  I would drink what I could and chuck the bottle before getting out of the aid station area. At the first aid station, which is about 13 miles into the race, is where the race nearly ended.  I slowed down behind another rider as he reached for a water bottle.  As soon as he grabbed it I grabbed mine.  He dropped his, and then a Gatorade bottle dropped from some place and he went down.  With only one hand on the bike and no place to go I went down over top of him and hit the ground with a huge thud.  I  could feel the air leaving my lungs and then my head smack down hard on the ground and then the sliding began.  I stayed down for a moment and then stood up and a few volunteers helped me. One woman told me I was ok and that I had no swelling and the bike looked ok.  I was gathering my thoughts when I thought of not being able to continue and this so soon into the race.  I thought of the sacrifice that Karen had put in to get me here.  I then started smacking my saddle and cursing.  After feeling bad for myself I did a body check (check) and a head check (check) and then a bike check (check) and started to go.  Before even the first peddle stroke I noticed that while my bike was pointing forward the wheel was pointing to the left.  That is when I really thought my race was over.  I asked the volunteer helping me if there was a bike aid around and he found there was one at the end of the aid station.  I walked my bike down there not knowing what to think.  The mechanic put it up on the bike holder and made some adjustments and told me the bike was perfect that I could keep racing. I got on the bike and with a lot of hesitation and trepidation I began going.  This section is where the 3% grade is but we were also facing a headwind.  With my body still wracked and the elements against me I had the slowest splits of my day at this point.  When I reached the turn around I was pissed and said it was time to ride.  I started hammering and noticed that I was riding at 30 mph (thank you tailwind.)  I got to the turn around to start Loop 2 in about an hour and finished Loop 1 in 2h6m.  My goal was to do a 5:50 bike split and doing the math I knew I would need to kill the 2nd and 3rd laps but I did not want to hurt my run so while I was aggressive I did not blow all my energy.  My left hip was feeling good and other than the cut on my shoulder I thought I was ok.  That was until my right hip started throbbing and the top of my right foot started to hurt. When Lap 3 started I just wanted it over with and pedaled.  This time there were no incidents or issues but I really wanted to be off my bike and running. T2: More like it.  I ran down my row, yelled out my number and as I got there the guy was picking up the bag and I told him to throw it.  I caught it in full stride and ran to the tent.  Just like in Texas I did not go into the tent and sat down on a chair outside and put on my visor, running shoes and grabbed the bottle of EFS.  Off I was in a swift 1:51. Run:  3 loop course but the miles seemed to be further apart than I remember a mile being.  The course is a mixture of cement and gravel.  There are a lot of turns and  I think this caused the miles to be further away than other 3 loop courses I have run or trained on.  When I started running I noticed my pace was down in the 8:00/mi and I wanted to pull back and get my HR under control which I did.  I slowed down and started the hydration plan.  Every aid station I would take water from and every other aid station I would walk for 10 seconds.  I did this through the first two aid stations but I felt great at the 4th aid station and did not stop to walk. I started to feel really full and though I needed to use the toilet.  I went into the bathroom (yes, not the porto as there were bathrooms on the course) and nothing happened so I got out and got ready to get going again.  I managed to make it to Mile 10 before I wanted to walk the aid stations.  At this point my left hip was throbbing and my shoulder hurt so bad I could hardly keep my left arm pumping during the run.  The pain was almost unbearable but I started to do math calculations in my head. When I reached mile 13 my watch was beeping so much that I just turned it off and decided to just run.  I knew that to get in under 12 hours I needed to run a 2 hour half-marathon and that became the goal. With every passing mile I would multiply the remaining miles by 10 minutes (assuming I was running 10:00/mi pace but I really had no clue) and made sure that I was always under 12 hours.  When I hit the 17 mile marker I told myself it was only 15k to do, then again at mile 20 (only 10k to go) and finally at mile 23 before I could get my thoughts out another athlete yelled: only 5k to go until I am an Ironman.  That got me fired up and I picked up the pace.  I was really hurting here but knew that I did not have far to go. As I got closer to the end I could feel the electricity in the air.  As I made the turn toward the finisher's chute Susan Lacke ran up on me and I had no idea who it was but I got pissed because I was thinking:  What a$$hole is going to sprint past me to get to the finisher's line.  When I saw Susan's face I could have cried.  All the pain was now leaving my body and I only had a few hundred yards to go.  I crossed the finish line and could not lift either arm, legs in total shut down mode and my brain completely fried from trying to motivate my body to keep moving forward.  After the catcher held me for a few moments I started walking and found Richard who helped me through the chute and over to Karen. I hugged her and told her I was in so much pain.  More pain then I ever thought I could endure.  My hip was screaming mad, my shoulder was not happy and the soft area on my head started pulsing.  I never noticed the major road rash on my calf or shoulder area, let alone the skin ripped off my elbow until this morning's shower when it all screamed at me. Through it all I never lost sight of my honor my father.  I did not hit the 11:18 but I think he would be proud of me for not quitting.  He would be proud of me for proving that anything can be done if you put your mind to it.  He would be proud that when I finished I did not bitch and moan about my time but instead accepted what the day gave me. For that I am the proudest.  I fought the good fight on the course and when it was all said and done I set a PR in the process.  Finishing my second Ironman this year in 11:53 will be remembered for the time but for me it will always be remembered for not quitting even when the going got tough. Thank you to everybody for reading and for your support.  At different times on the course I channeled you and you helped m get to the finish line.  I can never repay for your help. [gallery link="file"]

Published in Race Reports
Thursday, 13 September 2012 14:48

Ironman Arizona Update

[caption id="attachment_6488" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmanarizona_triathlon_training Source: Ironman Arizona
If the roads are that paved I will be one happy person[/caption] Ironman Arizona is a tad over 9 weeks away and the training is entering its peak phase for sure.  Coach doesn't provide me the schedule in advance so I only know what I am doing for the week on Sunday afternoon/evenings.  I like it this way, and she plans it this way, because I can't look ahead as to what might be hard and so I lose the focus and purpose of the current days training.  For me every training session must have a purpose otherwise I feel as if I am wasting my time and I hate wasting time. My overall impressions of this training cycle, in comparison to Ironman Texas, are that it is going better.  I feel stronger at this point of my training cycle than I ever did for IMTX.  The workouts that have been prescribed are harder because there is a lot more interval and hill work but it has certainly been paying off.  When I raced Rev3 Maine a few weeks ago I felt strong in the water (the wetsuit didn't hurt) and very strong on the run.  I had the fastest run split at the 70.3 distance at that race and this is coming off of 8 months that included 70.3 Puerto Rico and Ironman Texas racing and training. I received some great news from Rebecca when she rode the course last week.  Her feedback was that it can be a course that I spend the entire time in the big ring on.  She said I MAY have to go to the small ring when I get out toward the turn-around of Loop 3 but otherwise should be more than OK in the big ring.  After the sh*t show that was last weekend's ride into the 15-20mph headwinds my biggest concern is not the course itself but more mother nature and the winds.  I know that there is nothing I can do about it and that we all will be dealing with it, but that wind can play havoc on your mind. In addition to Rebecca's first hand scouting I asked Aimee about the course since she raced IMAZ last year and she gave her impressions.  Again the bike wasn't the biggest deal in terms of the course but more a concern when it came to the wind.  If it's there it's there but that is nothing I can concern myself with as I keep pushing forward and adding miles and miles to my tires and legs. My runs have been outstanding and my hope is that I am not peaking too soon with that discipline.  I ran 17 miles on Tuesday at a 9:37/mi pace and kept my HR way down.  The cooler weather is helping out tremendously with this, but so is the fact that I was running smart in the 100* days here.  I took it slow then and now the pay-off is here with faster run splits.  Yesterday I was scheduled to run 50 minutes at LT pace and when I first saw the schedule I was thinking how painful it was going to be.  Running with an HR of 155-165bpm coming off a 17+ mile run was not going to be pleasant, or so I though.  I got in the pool first and swam a hard but enjoyable 3800 yard set and then set out on my run.  Surprise, Surprise!  I held an 8:00/mi pace while keeping my HR at 151bpm. [caption id="attachment_6489" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmanarizona_triathlon_training Source: Ironman Arizona
I'll be sure to point out who I am when they take the pic this year.[/caption] My goal is to run a sub-4 hour marathon and if I am able to hold an 8:00/mi pace at 151bpm then holding a sub-9:00/mi pace at a 140-145bpm level is certainly feasible.  Aimee mentioned that the course was flat outside of the ramps going up from the lake.  If they are short then there is plenty of time to recover on the flat sections and run fast to make up for lost time on the uphills. I have also changed up my nutrition plan and have been using it in training and raced with it at Rev3.  For Ironman Arizona I am getting rid of the water cages on the back of my saddle and using only a torpedo and a down tube cage (read that as no speedfil.)  In the torpedo mounted bottle I will have 400 calories of EFS Liquid Shot watered down (Kona-Mocha of course.)  In the down tube I will have 400 calories of Herbalife24 Prolong and Prepare mixed (Mango flavor for that brunch feel when combined with the Kona-Mocha.)  In the side pockets of my jersey I will have two HoneyStingers (1 vanilla, 1 chocolate) and I will start the bike with a lemon flavored honeystinger.  When you add up all the calories you are looking at 1280.  For a 6 hour ride that comes out to 213 calories per hour.  If I need to I will supplement with perform on the course (used it on a training ride and it didn't bother my stomach so we should be good to go.)  I will also take a water bottle and drink and toss at the aid stations every 10 miles. Out on the run I will have a tiny handheld in my shorts pockets.  The racing kit I have has shorts that have a pocket that is perfect for holding the mini-handheld and you don't even realize it is there.  I will have them filled with 400 calories of EFS Liquid Shot (vanilla to change-up the flavor) and I will have 2 HoneyStingers (vanilla) in my jersey for at the 1 and 3  hour mark.  This will give me 720 calories for a total of 180 calories per hour. My plan is to take 10 second walk breaks every two miles at the aid stations to get water in me.  If I am on target I should be hitting the aid stations approximately every 18 minutes which is perfect timing for a swig of EFS and a swig of water to wash it down, then keep on going.  I have been having success with this practice on my long run and hope that it continues on race day. So all that being said the training for IMAZ is going well.  I feel strong and mentally ready.  I know that I am only going to keep getting stronger in the next 4 weeks and I have to be smart to stay on top of my eating and sleeping habits.

If You Have Raced IMAZ What Are Your Tips/Tricks To A Successful Day?

Published in Train
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 14:15

Pass The Salt

[caption id="attachment_6387" align="alignright" width="300"]sodium_electrolytes_enduranceathletes Source: Pigeon Racing Pigeon[/caption] Pass the salt is a phrase I have not said in years.  A few years ago I weighed 35 pounds more than I do today and when I decided to get healthy and begin to rid myself of processed foods I threw salt, or really, sodium into that garbage can as well.  I knew that there was so much sodium in the packaged foods and the fast food 'burgers' I was eating and so my initial reaction was I did not need sodium at all and began to cook without salt.  I was having a blast in that I was tasting the ingredients and not the sodium as I was cooking.  I felt the weight coming off and the energy going up so I never thought about adding salt to my food and it has just not been a part of my diet. That is until Wednesday August 8th came.  That morning I went out and ran for 2 hour and 15 minutes.  I covered 14.5 miles that morning at a pace of 9:17/mile.  It was an aerobic run where I was not pushing the pace at all and ran comfortably as seen by my average Heart Rate of 151 bpm.  This was a great morning run but it was very humid.  I had taken a handheld with me that I could drink from every 15 minutes and provide my body what had been typical for me.  Approximately 250 calories with nearly 1400mg of electrolytes.  Perfect blend and never before any issues, that is until I went swimming that afternoon. My swim set that afternoon was to be 3900 yards with a 1000y set at threshold pace followed by 10x100 descending.  It was during the 1000 yard set that my legs started to feel a bit tight.  Then in the middle of the 10x100 the cramps hit and they hit hard.  I have swam through cramps before and they typically go away, but this time  they persisted.  At first so did I as I was not giving into the cramps.  I figured that if I was in the middle of Tempe Town Lake and needed to swim through cramps I would need to know how to do it.  I kept on going and then the calf cramps found their way into my toes and that is when I had to call it quits.  The cramps hurt so bad that I could barely stand and was thankful to be in the pool and not the lake. Yesterday I was at my chiropractor getting ART and other painful work done and we started chatting about my training.  I told him about this situation and he said immediately to me:  You need to put salt on your food since you are not eating processed or fast food.  He followed that up with the fact that I need to add calcium and magnesium supplements to my diet. I did a bit of research on leg cramps while swimming and the first item that popped up was dehydration.  With dehydration comes a shortage of electrolytes and being as I had run 2h15m earlier that day it began to make sense.  The other item that caused cramps during swimming is plantar flexing.  The more I thought about it the more it made sense that it was purely dehydration.  I typically drink 1.5 gallons of liquids per day and on this day I just did not replace all the calories and electrolytes that I lost during that run. With all this being said I am now going to add a bit of salt to my meals as I am cooking, and especially this week since this is taper week with a 70.3 coming up on Sunday.  The lesson here is to not just know your body but to know what you are putting your body through.  Every day and every run is not the same.  There are days that are hotter and more humid that others.  As I have said before recovery is the key to building up your speed because you get the proper recovery.  I did not recover well enough between the run and the swim and I paid for it. You can also read this post that I did back on March 22, 2011.
Published in Train
Monday, 06 August 2012 14:03

Training Camp Triathlon Style

Training Camps have opened all across the country for the players of the National Football League.  For me, this past weekend was a training camp as well but this was a triathlon training camp.  I made the decision about a month ago to invite myself down to the Houston area to spend the weekend chasing The Carrot (Jeff Irvin) all around his neighborhood.  The timing worked out perfectly as Jeff was going to be doing his final big block of training in advance of Ironman Mont-Tremblant and I am in the throes of training for Rev3 OOB Maine and Ironman Arizona. [caption id="attachment_6303" align="alignright" width="300"]triathlon_training_cooktraineatrace_danglethecarrot_ironman At A Rest Stop Flashing Off Jeff's FLO CYCLING Race Wheels[/caption] Our plan was for me to head out from Dallas on Friday afternoon to get to Jeff and Annie's by dinner time.  We would eat, load up water bottles and be asleep early so that we could catch up with a group ride that started at 630a on Saturday.  We would ride for 4 hours then follow that up with a 30 minute run.  After that we had no plans but to make sure to get to bed early again so that we could be on the road running for 1.5 hours by 530am and then hit the pool for a good swim and then I would be back on the road to Dallas by lunch time.  All sounded great and you know what.....we nailed it. Friday around 1pm I got on the road after packing as if I were moving in with the Irvin's and not just staying for a weekend. This sport of triathlon that I love involves a lot of shit.  Let's see what I brought:  1 cooler with Herbalife products, rice cakes, powdered peanut butter, honey, plates and knives and forks.  1 triathlon bag with cycling shoes, helmet, water bottles, running shoes, swim cap, goggles, pull buoy, towels and running sneakers.  1 bag with clothes for wearing and clothes for training.  1 bag with laptop, ipad, cords and magazines.  Oh, and don't forget the bike and the pump in the car plus the small cooler that had fruit and 3 water bottles for the 4 hour drive.  As I had planned on taking it slow I didn't mind stopping nearly every hour to have to use the restroom.  Pulled up to the Irvin's house around 5pm and unloaded all that garbage.  As soon as Annie got home it was off to dinner. Now here is a funny story about dinner.  We go to an Italian restaurant and I order a veggie pizza with no cheese.  After Annie and I split a hummus plate I can see the waiter walk up to the table with the pizza and then turn around to head back to the kitchen.  Annie says that there was cheese on the pizza and so they had to take it back to make a new one.  After the food comes and we are chowing down and laughing and having a good time the waiter comes by with a complimentary dessert.  Guess what he brings?  He brings a cheesecake?  Really?  I just ordered pizza with NO CHEESE and you bring a cheesecake to make up for bringing the first pizza over with cheese?  Annie, Jeff and I just laughed at the irony of it all.  Off to the house we watch some Olympics and then early to bed. When the alarm went off in the morning I hit snooze about 100x as I was just not ready to hit the road but it was time to go.  Jeff and I load up the Team Baha vehicle and head out to the Lifetime Fitness gym.  From there we would ride two miles to the launch site of the group ride.  When we got to the launch site I had to buy some HoneyStinger waffles.  I got two vanilla and 1 chocolate.  I had never tried the chocolate and it was good.  Not as good as the Vanilla and Honey but better than Strawberry.  7am comes and the ride starts.  After about 30 minutes we are stopped by a train crossing and as we are standing there I say to the group:  Nobody told me we were going swimming in the ocean first.  I was covered in sweat and could feel the wet blanket of humidity covering me.  It was unreal how covered in sweat I was. Jeff and I split off from the group and ride at our own pace and move around the area at a very nice clip.  The one thing I noticed about this ride is that it is FLAT.  I mean completely flat.  I downloaded my Garmin data and the total elevation gain over 70 miles was 217 feet.  The ride in and of itself was great as it was a different route, obviously, than I had been riding but the company was awesome.  Jeff and I talked the whole time and laughed a lot throughout the ride.  One thing that was key was that we stopped a few time and I had to pee which meant that I was hydrating properly. At one point Jeff and I were going about 20 mph and enjoying ourselves when this terrier comes tearing out of his yard and chasing us.  We picked up the pace to the tune of 28 mph and the little dude was not just hanging with us but he got right in between us which means he was going faster than 28mph.  It was hilarious and I could not stop laughing at this dog.  Thanks pup for giving us our interval work for that hour. [caption id="attachment_6304" align="alignright" width="300"]triathlon_training_danglethecarrot_nap Dangle the Carrot and Cook Train Eat Race enjoying the Olympics[/caption] When we were done we put in a solid 30 minute run and the legs were starting to feel it by the end of the run.  There was this feeling of a huge gorilla sitting on my chest.  The air is thick and damp and it is a much different climate to work in than the weather in Dallas.  Once we were done with the run we decided to have lunch and as we were getting ready to go grab food we made the best decision ever which was to go and shower first.  Now here is where I feel for Annie.  In to the house come these two smelly and sweaty guys that had just finished working out for nearly 5 hours.  It was a horrendous smell that came into the house.  Shower off to lunch then onto the couch for some Olympics.  Now when they invent the ability to watch TV through your eyelids Jeff and I will be ready. As you can see from the pic we both passed out. On Sunday morning we were going to put in 90 minutes (sounds much longer than 1.5 hours doesn't it?) and then hit the pool.  As soon as we walked outside I knew that the run was going to be a slugfest.  Jeff and I had planned on running 10 miles in the 90 minutes for a 9 minute pace.  We decided to incorporate a 10 second walk break at each mile to simulate the aid stations at the Ironman races.  Once we started that gorilla on my chest had been joined by an elephant.  Seriously difficult to breathe with the humidity.  After about 2-3 miles I finally felt in a groove.  After 45 minutes we stopped at the car to top off liquids and off we went.  It was at this time that the sun was coming up and the weather felt great.  That lasted about 20 minutes and then the heat began to creep in.  When the 10 miles was up (after 95 minutes) and we were walking toward Starbuck's I could feel the bucket of sweat just dripping down over me.  I changed shirts in the parking lot and could actually ring out my clothes they were that bad. At the pool after the run and the 70* water felt cold.  Once I started my swim I thought:  Holy crap this is long.  Did the heat and humidity sap every ounce of strength from me?  That is when I realized that this was a 25 meter pool and not the 25 yard pool I was used to swimming in.  Every set felt longer than the next and it actually was.  I put in 2500 meters of swimming and it felt good on my legs.  The hot tub felt even better. Back at the house and Annie had made us waffles......yaa-hoo!  Oh these waffles were the best thing I had ever eaten.  I jumped in the car for an eat and run incident but I knew that if I did not start driving I would never make it home as the exhaustion would take over soon enough.  I managed to get home in about 4 hours and when I walked through the door the only thing I could think about was food.  I was starving and wolfed down dinner then watched Running the Sahara with Karen and started to doze off around 8pm. An awesome triathlon training camp weekend with Jeff was done and it was time to get ready to get back into my routine.  I cannot wait to have another triathlon training camp and right now we are looking at February in Austin where we can get some climbing in.  Thank you Jeff and Annie for hosting me.

What did you do this weekend?  How was your training?

Published in Train
Monday, 02 July 2012 14:48

Ironman Arizona Weeks 3 And 4

Ironman Arizona training is in the process of being right in the middle of the throes of a Texas summer.  I sure paid the price this weekend with the heat and the humidity kicking in and really kicking my butt.  I can't recall the last time I had to slow down to the point of basically walking but the lactate threshold ride followed by the lactate threshold run put a whopping on me and reminded me that liquids, liquids, liquids are very important. For the past two weeks I have struggled mentally with my swim.  I felt like I was going backwards and I can trace it to the fact that I was trying to hard.  I was putting so much pressure on me to get faster and faster and faster that I paralyzed myself.  I would get to the pool and just not want to get in because of the worry of whether or not I would be faster. After my open water swim I emailed my coach with the subject:  Swimming......UGH!  I told her that I felt like my swim was going backwards and that no matter what I tried I was struggling.  As usual her response opened up my mind and allowed me to swim freely the very next day.  I was so comforted by her words that my text message to her was:  From Swimming.....ugh! to Swimming.....hellz yeah!  I have had two swim sets since our email exchange and they have both been very good and I am looking forward to today's swim set. I have changed a few things about my training for Ironman Arizona in comparison to Ironman Texas.  For IMTX I did my Monday ride in the morning on the trainer.  It has been a 1 hour ride in the aerobic capacity zone.  This time I am going out on the road and starting around 6:30am and doing a 30 mile loop and I am loving it.  I have created my own race against myself and am pushing myself. Here is a comparison of the last two Monday's in which I rode the same course.  The one from today I hit the start button on my Garmin one mile into the ride so the total ride was 1:36:19 and I am excited about that.  It was warmer with a steadier wind of 10mph versus 1-2mph last week. [caption id="attachment_6138" align="aligncenter" width="600"]ironmanarizona_imaz_training_triathlon Very Comparable Week To Week[/caption] The second thing I have changed is that instead of swimming at 5am in the morning I am doing my swims at lunch.  Although I have hated the swim for two weeks I think this is a good change.  I can focus on the form of my swim instead of sleep-swimming through the set.  I am still getting up early but I am doing the ride or run and then coming home before going for a lunch swim.  This has forced me to make adjustments to my schedule but I think it is better for me. The numbers for the bike have been down for the past two weeks but the run mileage has picked back up a bit.  Overall time for each of the past two weeks spent training has been just over 13 hours.  This week should be in the 15 hour range when all is said and done. Here are the numbers to date: Swim: 18.4 miles Bike: 452.9 miles Run: 79.7 miles   [caption id="attachment_6140" align="aligncenter" width="600"]ironmanarizona_imaz_training_triathlon Will Be Interested To See If Weight Drops As Summer Drags On[/caption] Thank You For Reading!
Published in Train
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 11:44

Ironman Texas - Run Recap

Ironman Texas - Swim Recap can be found here. Ironman Texas - Bike Recap can be found here. ========================================== After telling Scott I felt great it was time to head to the Run Gear bags.  I yelled out my number and the volunteer pointed me to where it was.  I ran down there and was handed my bag and toward the changing tent I went.  I noticed that not everybody was running into the changing tent and I thought to myself why would I go in there.  I can slip on my shoes (I had removed my feet from my cycling shoes on the ride so I had no bike shoes on), turn my race belt around, put on my visor, grab my handheld and go.  So that is what I did.  I got out of T2 in an un-MattyO like 3:55. Now here is where this is screwed up I thought.  I still had to run through the changing tent to get to the run course.  Why?  That was the flow of traffic and it slowed me down.  Probably a good thing though.  As I exited the changing tent I had them slap that goopy mess of sunscreen on me because I did not pack any into my Run Gear Bag (remember this for Ironman Arizona in November.)  They lathered my shoulders, my legs, my neck, nose and cheeks and off I went. I looked down at my watch and it was still running so I was happy to have it with me to check my heart rate.  As I looked down at my watch I saw my goal Heart Rate for the run of 155bpm.  That was going to be the top end for me and so I started out with that in my head.  Within moments you are at an aid station. Following my plan of stopping at each aid station and walking 30-45 steps I began to implement my plan.  I took in some water and squeezed a sponge on my head and then about 5-6 sponges into the top of my race kit and zipped up. You head out onto a grassy section where you do a complete 180* turn and then head up a steep grassy hill.  Now the hill is only about 3 steps long but it could be dangerous because the footing is not solid.  Once over that hump you are into a parking lot and doing a lot of turns and zig-zags.  The best part is that you are under a canopy of trees but this also screws with your satellite connection to your watch.  I saw I was at an 11:00/mi pace but told myself not to move faster because the data was getting screwed with because of the turns and trees and having to locate the satellites.  Keep steady, keep strong and only walk at the aid stations. Each aid station is so loaded you could get through without bringing any nutrition or hydration of your own.  If you train with what is going to be on the course then you would be all set.  Since I love the EFS Liquid Shot Kona-Mocha I trained with it and was using that in my handheld.  I also had two HoneyStinger waffles broken in half in my race kit to be consumed every two hours. As I was running I started to notice a lot of people walking.  The problem is you don't know if they are on Lap 1 or Lap 3 and are walking.  Either way my observation was that there were going to be more and more walkers along the way.  I got passed by a few people here and there but for the majority of the time I was passing people.  I could hear people complaining about the heat and I thought to myself this isn't hot.  I again go back to the fact that I trained with 5-6 layers of clothes on and forced my body to adapt to the heat and humidity that we would face.  This helped immensely at this race. About one-third of the way through Lap 1 I heard footsteps coming up on me.  They were moving fast but there was no heavy breathing.  My initial reaction was that this person must have just started and they are going out too hard.  Sure enough as I got passed and I looked to my right this person was hauling ass.  They were not breathing heavy and their cadence was quick and light.  I looked down at the calf to make sure they weren't in my age group and noticed the P.  I just got passed by Caitlin Snow as if I were a volunteer handing out water.  She looked effortless and within 30 seconds she was out of eyesight.  It was unreal to see that speed at what proved to be her third and final lap. The run course is gorgeous.  There are some easy rolling hills but nothing that saps your energy or takes your breath away.  Having aid stations approximately every mile apart was perfect.  I knew that I would drop off the sponges, grab a cup of water or ice, then more sponges and be on my way.  It was a perfect cadence and rhythm  through these aid stations.  At one point I thought I need to really keep everything cool and so I stuck two sponges down my short and into my crotch.  As I was running I was thinking what if I have to pee will I take the sponges out and go or just pee on the sponges.  I'm not sure if this was the same thought from the volunteer who just handed me the sponges or not but after she saw me jam down my shorts she made this look of disgust.  I laughed so hard and said:  Jason take them out if you have to pee. After the 30 minute mark and the 2nd 15 minute alarm the watch started to really go nuts and beep.  At around mile 5 I looked down to see where my heart rate was at and my watch was blank.  The battery finally died and it became a race of perceived exertion.  Where am I?  How do I feel?  Are you breathing heavy?  Are the legs hurting?  All questions I would ask myself for the remainder of the race.  Each time I asked the response was you feel great keep plugging along. Toward the end of each lap you get onto the canal and it is lined with spectators.  People cheering for their athletes but as I came around for Lap 1 it was kinda dead.  I yelled out to the crowd that I understood we were having all the fun but let's hear some noise.  Let's get some cheers going and they responded.  Right after that I came up on the Kingwood Tri Club tent, which Jeff is a part of, and sure enough a sign.  Powered By Veggies....Go Jason!  I almost peed' myself from laughing.  It was the perfect sign to see. Right after that I caught up with a guy and we started chatting.  He told me he was on Lap 2 and ready to be done.  I told him he has to look at this like a 5K.  The first mile you fly and love life, the 2nd mile sucks and you are wondering why you are out there, the third mile you are so geeked to be finishing that you turn up the speed.  He thanked me for the analogy and off he went.  I kept at my pace because I was still on Lap 1. Midway through Lap 2 and the bladder was yelling at me.  I knew it was about time to release and so I took out the sponges and started peeing everywhere.  It felt magical and made me feel a lot lighter until my stomach rumbled.  It wasn't a rumble of you have eaten too much and drank too much but more along the lines of having eaten a big meal and your body had to get rid of the waste.  I crossed over the bridge and into the Swim Start area where there were 15-20 porto-potty's.  Stupid me ran past them thinking I could hold it.  Looking back:  Hold it for what stupid?  Anyway about 1:00 past the porto I was faced with turning back and going, keep going forward and potentially be the cover of a poster for Ironman who doesn't quit regardless of situation but then I remembered the bathroom I used at 6:30am was right around the corner. I must have had this look on my face of desperation because a volunteer was about to enter the bathroom when he gave way.  As a matter of fact he did not enter with me either.  I blew that place up and I apologize to those that had to go in there after me.  Let me tell you though about 5 pounds lighter and this race was ON.  I got out of there ready to roll.  My pace felt like it picked up and I started passing more and more people.  Keeping steady to not overheat myself though. Toward the end of Lap 2 I saw Karen sitting at the Kingwood Tri tent and I yelled at her and she yelled back.  It was great to see a friendly face at that point knowing that within the next 8.5 miles I would be an Ironman.  I chugged along and each time you pass through this section you hear Mike Reilly calling out somebody else's name and saying YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.  I played this vision over and over in my head.  My goals times were out the window as I didn't have a watch and just wanted to keep running.  Walking was never an option and especially on Lap 3. I was on cruise control and running strong when Jeff of Apex Endurance caught up to me.  I asked me where we were at because I had no watch.  He told me it was 6:40p and that we had about two miles to go.  I said to him that we have 20 minutes or 10:00/mi to beat 12 hours.  I was ecstatic to think that.  After hearing that I came up on Karen again and handed her my handheld.  I honestly wanted that thing gone at Mile 18.  I was tired of drinking the EFS at that point and even more tired of carrying it.  At Mile 20 I took in some coke and a mini-brownie.  Then at Mile 24 took some more Coke and that would be the end of the nutrition/hydration.  Giving Karen that handheld felt like an anvil was being let go from my hand. Jeff began to pull away and I just kept running.  When you know you are getting closer your pace picks up, and the volunteer directing traffic between the 2/3rd laps and finish was awesome.  When she saw me veering for the finish she smiled bigger than me and said you are almost done so soak it up.  Coming up that hill and into the finisher's chute was something I will never forget.  Karen, Jeff, Scott, Annie, Shannon and Lesley were all there cheering hard.  Hearing their voices was incredible. Now the finisher's chute starts but then you have to make a right turn and then a 180* turn to head back toward the Finish Line.  I was beyond word and high-fiving people when I heard some spectator say you only have 30 seconds to beat 12 hours.  Mike Reilly said something along those lines as well.  Then I saw our friend Stefanie yelling my name and cheering and I just bolted up the hill.  I saw 11:59:4X and knew I would be in under 12 hours. As I neared the finish line I pumped my fist and just let out a yell then jumped high over the finisher's line.  The catcher grabbed me and put her arm around me, then asked me to dinner and a movie.....just kidding.  She asked how I was feeling and I told her great that I just needed a moment.  To them that means medical and ice.  Told her I didn't need any of that and I was just overwhelmed with the enormity of the whole process. From training to racing to finishing.  The whole idea was incredible and now it was over.  She walked me to get my medal and lo and behold:  Chrissie Wellington.  She put the medal over my head and then said to me:  Way to crush that course Jason.  I smiled and thanked her and kept moving.  Another volunteer poured ice down my back and chest, I was handed a shirt and cap.  They took me over to take pictures and were going to shepherd me to the athlete lounge when I told her I wanted to hug my wife. I walked over to Karen and grabbed her and held on for dear life.  Each second that passed my grip on her got tighter as did hers on me.  My tears were flowing (as they are now) and I could barely keep my composure.  I kept telling her how much I loved her and thanked her profusely for going with me on this journey.  As tough as it was to wake up at 2:30-3:00am every day to train it was harder on her.  Lots of missed family time and friends but through it all she kept me moving forward toward this dream.  I cannot say it enough but without her this day never happens.  Thank You Karen.....You Are An IRONMATE! After the crying and hugging we walked into the athlete lounge where the worst part to the whole adventure took place.  I walked to Freebirds to get a burrito and asked for the veggie burrito.  The lady handing them out promptly went into the whole you need protein.....OMG LADY I JUST RACED AN IRONMAN. GIVE ME THE F'N VEGGIE BURRITO NOW!  I then told her that the burrito had plenty of protein in the black beans and what I really needed and anybody out here needed was CARBS.  After that moment came a better moment and that was running into Susan and Neil again.  Just two great and wonderful people. After all that was over Karen and I went alone to our favorite after race or hard workout spot.  IHOP!!!!!  Those pancakes never stood a chance. Stats: 4:09:43 (9:31/mi) –> Goal 3:55 - 4:00 First Lap: 8.4 miles: 1:11:01 for 8:27/mi pace Second Lap: 8.5 miles: 1:26:08 for 10:06/mi pace First Lap: 8.4 miles: 1:26:24 for 10:04/mi pace 0.7 mi: 6:10 for 8:48/mi pace Division Rank: 113 (moved up 91 spots from the bike; moved up 171 spots from the swim) Gender Rank: 544 (moved up 481 spots from the bike; moved up 1010 spots from the swim) Overall Rank: 443 (moved up 404 spots from the bike; moved up 771 spots from the swim) And for those keeping score at home: #1s on the run:  1x #2s while on the run course:  1x #3s while on the bike: 0x Thank you for reading.  Come back tomorrow for the overall experience and wrap-up. [gallery link="file" columns="4" orderby="rand"]
Published in Race Reports
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 12:14

Ironman San Juan Race Report

Ironman San Juan was an incredible experience (outside of getting home but even that was an experience) and one I cannot wait to repeat again next year.  That is correct......I have plans to compete at Ironman San Juan next year.  The venue was incredible, the people better than that and the food was top-notch.  It did not hurt that this was like going home and one that I will cherish forever. If you had been following my wife Karen through Twitteror Facebook you know that I missed my goal times but a hefty margin but after much contemplation and conversation with my coach the end product proves what a terrific race I had.  I would be remise if I did not say Thank You to all of you for your support.  It has proven to be invaluable and a tremendous source of inspiration and motivation. Now let's break this down Hubie Brown style.......


ironman_triahtlon_sanjuan_cooktraineatraceGeting ready to Race

Having booked a room at the host hotel I did not have to wake up super early to travel to the race site.  I set my alarm for 4:30am so that I could eat breakfast by 4:45am which was 3 hours prior to my wave start.  Those three hours would provide me with enough time to go to the bathroom and clean out the system before the gun went off.  Typical of race day my breakfast was granola with almond milk, one rice cake with peanut butter and 1/2 sliced banana and a Herbalife24 Carb-Smoothie with the other half of the banana.  One cup of coffee would accompany this breakfast and help to get the system moving and functioning properly. After breakfast I headed downstairs with Karen to make the 2 minute walk to Sixto Escobar Stadium where transition was setup.  Once at my rack I laid out all my clothes and that is when the fireworks started going off.  In the 45 minutes I was in transition I heard no less than 5 wheels blow from being over-inflated.  It is hot in San Juan, hotter than normal this time of year, and thus the air was already expanded in the tires and when the athletes were trying to fit in 140 psi the tubes or clinchers would blow.  The noise was loud and kept happening over and over again.  My buddy Juan popped over to my rack with his bike pump and I filled up my tires, laid out my cycling shoes, running shoes, helmet, race belt, sunglasses, and HoneyStinger Waffles.  Poured the Herbalife24 Prolong into my Speedfil and filled up the A2 with the liquified EFS Liquid Shot Vanilla.  Placed my tiny cooler with my two handhelds of EFS and my recovery food of peanut butter and banana sandwich, an apple and a pear.  All set up and grab Juan to walk out the stadium when we run into Richard.  Photo opportunity taken and time to head back upstairs to relax before walking over to the swim start. After laying down in the bed for about an hour it was time to head over to the swim which was a 10 minute slow walk.  Karen and I took are time getting there and once there I figured I should do some warm-up swimming and tossed myself in the water for a few minutes.  The water was warm but the swim felt good.  I was ready for this day.  As we walked across the street I found my wave and stood in line with the rest of the athletes, when I over heard the dreaded question:  What are you shooting for?  The question was not directed at me but the conversation broke down like this:

  • I am hoping to be around 6 hours.
  • Yeah, I want to do a 40 minute swim then hold 230 watts on the bike....blah, blah, blah
  • Oh you race with watts.  I use my hear rate.
  • Dude, once you go watts you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner.  It is the best.  Best since sliced bread.  You know that sh*t that Samuel Jackson and John Travolta looked at in Pulp Fiction?  Yeah, watts is even better than that.  You thought the invention of the wheel was big......shoot WATTS is where it's at (not exactly this way but it might as well have been.)

ironman_triathlon_sanjuan_swimOut Of The Water And Onto The 500+ Yard Run To T1

 I had made the determination to put myself in the middle of the front row and go for it.  Swim all out for 200-300 meters to breakaway from the fray and then settle into a nice rithym.  I stood on the beach until about 1 minute to go and then waded into the water and when the gun went off so did I.  I swam as hard as I could without sighting because every time I turned to breathe there was a guy there.  In addition to that I tend to swim to my right which in this case was a good thing as the buoys were all lined to the right and we were swimming in a clockwise motion. After some feet slapping and quick kicking I settled in.  I felt like I was cruising and trying to figure out if I wanted to push harder or save myself for the bike and run.  I was never alone and felt that I was doing a good job of swimming at a good race pace.  Before I knew it I was making the right hand turn at the red buoy when a few of the swimmers from the wave behind me started passing me.  Around the second turn buoy and headed for home.  I know I had 9 orange buoys before hitting the bridge and I started counting them off.  The sighting was very good and eventually I was passing swim caps from two waves prior to the M35-39 age group. Once I got to the bridge the sea floor rose quickly and was slightly disorienting.  Through the bridge and we were in an area with a lot of chop.  Being on the small side I was getting tossed around by the 1 foot to 2 foot swells.  At this point I was swallowing so much water and pushed to get to the end.  This is when I turned and saw the Hammer Nutrition race kit.  I thought it might be Richard and as I got out of the water it turns out that it was Richard.  I knew that he was a fast swimmer and thought to myself that getting out with him was a good thing.  I looked down at my watch and saw 41:XX and felt the disappointment immediately. I had to block it out because it was now a long run to the transition area.  By long I mean long.  Well over 500 yards to where my bike was stationed on the opposite end of transition.  Trying to forget the swim and not trip on the way there were the only things on my mind.

  • Goal:  35:00 - 37:00
  • Actual: 41:37 (2:11/100m)
  • Rank: 620 Overall; 129 M35-39
ironman_triathlon_sanjuan_bikeCheck Out The Ocean Behind Me
After mounting the bike I knew that I would be facing a very flat course and told myself to hold back a bit because I did not want to fry myself before the run.  Having driven the course the day before I knew the way out would be the tailwind and then the way back would be the headwind so it made more sense to enjoy the out but conserve energy.
As I started out I went to take a sip and immediately the tip of the straw flew out and down to the ground.  I would be riding this course with no Prolong was my immediate thought.  Of course though the straw worked fine but I would have to keep it pointed up to avoid spilling all over.  Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  As we get started out we do a few climbs to get out on the highway, which was completely closed down for the triathlon.....just an incredible feeling to be riding a highway devoid of cars.
It wasn't until between Miles 5 and 10 that I finally realized that the wind was in my face and that I could stop thinking about the swim.  Nothing could be done now so just enjoy the ride.  I was passing a handful of riders but not really pushing the effort level.  I looked at my watch a couple of times and noticed that my heart rate was fairly constant in the 150-155 range but I also knew I had to bring it down as that is pretty close to lactate threshold for me on the bike.
When I hit the turn around I knew I had just gone 20 miles and the legs felt great.  On the way back into town it felt like I was riding for forever and the reason it seemed that way was the wind shifted and was again in my face.  The 8 miles back to the turn around to do the second loop felt forever and when the rider next to me asked 'Where is the turn around?' as I was passing him I knew I wasn't the only one feeling that way.
I also may have felt that way because I was not drafting the way the majority of the riders were drafting.  These guys were wheel sucking big time.  At one point I could here disks and aero wheels coming up behind me.  Fully expecting one or two riders the amazement on my face must have been priceless when 10-12 guys passed me as a peleton.  Not even trying to draft I got scooped up in the wind pull.  I was there for about 15 seconds before they dropped me but you could feel the advantage they gave each other.  There was also another rider I was behind who made zero attempts to pass the rider in front of him for a good 3-5 minutes.  It was insane and the officials were out in full force.  I saw two red cards handed out and that made me happy.
Around Mile 45 I saw a man jumping up and down and cheering like crazy.  I did a double take and he looked just like my Dad.  It was eerie and I immediately welled up inside.  I could feel the tears build up in my eyes bought fought them back and did what I could to maintain my composure and then it happened.  I ran out of liquids and instead of panicking I pulled back a bit more knowing I only had about 20 more minutes of riding.  Not a bid deal and just needed to get through it.
Trying to finish strong was tough as the end of the ride was on and off ramps and bridges so essentially the majority of the climbing was at the end.  Knowing that I was about to get started on my run I pushed through and passed a few more riders along the way.  I got my feet out of my shoes and coasted into the dismount line ready to run.
  • Goal: 2:40 - 2:45
  • Actual: 2:46:15 (20.21 mph)
  • Rank: 433 Overall; 105 M35-39
ironman_triathlon_sanjuan_runRunning Through El Morro
After grabbing a handful of cold water out of my little cooler I slipped on my running shoes and grabbed my two handhelds of EFS and was ready to hit the run course.  My goal was to try to negative split the run which meant going out slow and getting comfortable and then turning it on at the end.
I was true to my plan as I saw splits in the 8:30/mile range.  This made me smile as I was actually executing the plan I had set out to do.  The only issues I did not factor into my pacing plan was how hilly the course turned out to be and the heat that we had to deal with.  Karen heard natives of the island even say that the temperature was very hot for Puerto Rico that time of the year.
Not one to make excused I pushed through and made it a point to grab water and ice on the way through every aid station.  I poured water over my head, chewed on ice and what I did not chew on I tossed inside my kit.  When the first hill hit I immediately thought of San Francisco and saw so many people walking and knew that if I ran I would be able to gain valuable time on them.  I did not let up and just kept pumping my arms up and down all of the hills through out the course.
When I hit the turn around for the second loop I could not believe that I was 7 miles away from completing my third 70.3 Ironman race.  This gave me some extra inspiration and I picked up the pace and that is when I felt the first rub of my toes on my shoes.  With all the water being poured over my head plus the hoses on the course my feet were shifting inside my shoes.  Going up hills was tough but was worse going down the hills.  Every step became tougher and this pushed my splits for the final 2 sets of 15 minutes to 9:09/mi and 9:39/mi.
It was at approximately the 11.5 mile mark that I knew I had to just bury my head and run through the pain.  The faster I ran the faster it would be over with and so I did.  I was passed by a guy in my age group with a kit that said Energizer on it and I was not going to let him beat me.  I pushed and right at the Mile 13 marker I passed him and pushed through the end.  My final half-mile was run at an 8:30/mi pace.
I crossed the finish line happy that I would finally be able to take my shoes off and let my feet breathe but also caught another lump in my throat thinking about my father.  Karen was right there at the end the way she always is and that made the pain of the day go away.
  • Goal: 1:40 - 1:45
  • Actual: 1:57:00 (8:47/mi)
  • Rank: 267 Overall; 67 M35-39
ironman_triathlon_sanjuan_finishAll Done And Ready To KEEP Eating
While my goal time was not met I am very proud of my race.  I executed the plan to the T.  I busted out of the gate in the swim, I held back on the bike and still managed 20 mph and did not fly out of T2 into the run and burn out.  After talking with Coach there are a couple of tiny things I would change.  First I would not go all out at the swim start but instead swim my race and find feet to draft off of.  I know I can swim faster but burning that energy and going anaerobic may have cost me more than it saved me in time.  On the bike and run I could have pushed slightly harder.  On the second half of the bike I was at an HR of between 135 and 140bpm.  I could push that to 145bpm for sure and not have wasted energy.  From the run perspective I could have pushed harder on the second half as my HR stayed in the 150-155bpm range.  These hear rates are great for an Ironman but for a Half-Ironman I can probably push just a tad harder.  This is being nit-picky because that is how I am built, but all in all on a very hot day I executed a tremendous race.  My nutrition and hydration were spot on and shows that I have learned how to pace for upcoming Ironman Texas.
  • Goal: 5:03 - 5:13
  • Actual: 5:29:35
  • Top 25% Overall
[caption id="attachment_5541" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Dinner In Old San Juan"]Ironman_Triathlon_Sanjuan_dinner[/caption] I ate just about everything in sight.  It was a hot day and I know I must have dropped close to 10 pounds out there.  I ate oranges and bananas and pizza, then my recovery sandwich and fruit.  If I could get my hands on it I ate it was pretty much how it went down.  After spending some time gathering my thoughts of the day I went and retrieved my bike and made my way to the hotel room to lay down. This was short-lived as Karen was hungry and we decided to go to eat and early dinner with Juan and his wife at Cafe Berlin.
Do it if you can.  The swim course is excellent outside of the final 200 meters but in the grand scheme of things that is nothing.  The bike course is gorgeous.  Beaches and ocean views along with nature preserve parks can't be beat.  The run course is very challenging but with a run through parts of Old San Juan and past the castle at El Morro and the history is with you.
The volunteers and crowd were tremendous.  The people were cheering for you even if their athlete passed two hours before you even reached them.  There was singing and dancing on both the bike and run course.  Vuvuzuellas were played and there was plenty of water, bananas, oranges and Gatorade on the course.  The only downside was no sponges to hold onto during the run but otherwise zero complaints.
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Published in Race Reports
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 14:21

Tips for First Time Triathletes?

Last week I found an article on about Training Tips by Peter Reid for triathletes and it got some traction and conversation.  These tips were great for those that were further along in their triathlon career and not for those that haven't even tried the sport just yet.  I was thinking about what I would tell the person who is just getting into this sport for the first time. How would I describe what they needed to do?  Would I go into the 'just enjoy the first race' or would I tell them they had to train for it and really be committed to it?  I would not want to scare anybody off because I think this is a great lifestyle.  I enjoy testing my limits and finding out that those limits are further away than I can imagine. I love the idea that food is not for comfort because I am stressed or bored but it is fuel for the fire that burns inside to keep me moving on that last 1/4 mile of a tempo run.  The ability to push ones mind into darkness so you can embrace the suck (thanks Chris McCormack.) Maybe I point out the ever ongoing conversations via Twitter, Facebook, Text, Email and smoke signals to learn from and help out your fellow triathlete.  It is an ongoing lifestyle that for me is hard to describe but if I had to I would say it in one word:  AWESOME. So how do you translate AWESOME into tips for first-timers?  I haven't got a clue but does and they laid it out nice and neatly for me.  This article was written by Paul Taylor for Toughman Triathlon.  Once again I lay out my thoughts as best I can without just saying AWESOME.

10 First-Time Tips From Everyday Triathletes

You have a job. You have a family. You signed up for a triathlon. You want to get a great time and still balance other important parts of your life. How do you manage it all? There's no better way to find out than by talking to those who have. We found six age groupers who have not only balanced the demands of life and the sport, but have succeeded at them all. What's the common thread? The Toughman Triathlon in Westchester, New York, offers the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run while recognizing the time constraints of everyday life. Many finishers of the Toughman have plenty of advice to pass on to newcomers. "Our race is intentionally designed for age-groupers," said Richard Izzo, event organizer. "We attract time-pressed athletes looking for a half triathlon their whole family can enjoy." What did they have to say? We spoke to them and walked away with 10 tips for success this year: Get a Plan: Ann Williams, age 46, family physician and faculty member at Columbia, placed second at last year's Toughman in her age group. She tells everyone to find a plan. "If you can't afford a coach, find a program and stick to it. Don't just wing it." Ann fell into the sport as an injured runner looking for exercise. Today she says, "Anything you do well at is a lot of fun."
  • This goes without say.  While you want your first one to be fun and enjoyable you also don't want to bonk or you will wind up hating every stroke, pedal push and step.  There are a number of free plans out there so download one and get started.  It might not be the perfect fit to start out but it is better than just saying I will run for 3 miles on Tuesday and 5 miles on Thursday, then swim on Monday and Friday.  Inevitably you will not be prepared for the race and can risk injury.  If you are injured you will not enjoy the sport the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
Train Consistently: "Train an hour and fifteen minutes on some sport every day," advises Michael Begg, former Penn football player and current account manager at Presidio Network Solutions. Michael, 42, lost over 60 pounds training for the event last year. "Results are measurable." Begg, from Trumbull, Conn., likes the sense of empowerment he gets from the races. "It's something the whole family can enjoy."
  • I don't agree with this because unless you are only planning on swimming for 1h15, cycling for 1h15 and running for 1h15 then how will you be fit enough to conquer a 3hr bike ride?  I found out the hard way that you have to actually swim farther than the race distance to be prepared for the race distance.  For my first triathlon, a sprint with a 250y swim, I swam exactly 250 yards and got out of the water.  Come race day I was able to swim 200 yards and walking nearly 50 yards in the pool.
Know the Course: Christine Dunnery, age 42 from New City, New York, holds the race record. "Preview the course. In the case of Toughman, preview the bike course, if even by car." Christine, age 42, is a seventh grade English teacher and track coach when she's not raising the bar for the rest of her competitors. She likes triathlons because she like pushing her limits and "leading a healthy lifestyle."
  • I think this goes without say.  You can formulate a proper strategy for when to go hard, when to change gears, etc.  Now some courses you won't be able to do that with but look at the elevation maps and correspond them with aerial maps so that you can see where you are on the course and what you need to do.  On the swim know if you are going clock wise or counter clock wise so you can setup your angle for going around the buoys.  There is more to a triathlon than just racing it and knowing the course is a big part of that.
Eat Right Before the Race: Williams willingly offers a good prescription for food. "Prerace nutrition starts at least a week before the what you normally eat when you train. Find a routine and stick with it."
  • I couldn't disagree more with this.  One week is not enough time to fuel your body properly.  You should make this a lifestyle commitment even if you decide not to pursue the sport of triathlon.  Eating food that is wholesome and not processed should be a lifetime commitment and it will help support you in anything you decide to take on.
Get Plenty of Rest: Mimi Boyle, age 38 from Greenwich, Connecticut, placed second overall this year at the Toughman. "Don't underestimate the amount of sleep you need." Mimi is an account director for a package design company. Mimi stays passionate about the sport because, "I want to always try to go faster...I honestly feel better, eat better when I train for a race."
  • Rest days are vital to recovery.  Your muscles don't get stronger while you are pushing your body to its limits.  They get stronger when they are rested so do not overestimate the necessity for rest.  Your body will tell you when it needs rest but you should also plan a rest day in your training.  I train at the wee hours of the morning so that my body has 24 hours to rest and recover before the next mornings training session.  I believe that this has helped me get to where I am today compared to where I started.
Pack Everything the Night Before: Begg advises people the night before to, "Pack all your essentials. I have one big bag, and three smaller bags...[ones for] swim, bike, and run."
  • To me this is a no brainer.  This removes any chance that you might skip a workout because you are running 'late' trying to look for gear. Pack it all up the night before and be prepared for that next morning's training or even that session you have planned after work.  If you remove any obstacles in your path you will have no excuses to miss a session and don't look for one either.
Visualize Success: Mimi Boyle encourages other athletes to prepare mentally as well as physically for the race. "Do a little bit of visualization. Imagine a relaxing swim. Visualize yourself executing a perfect race."
  • I always visualize me crossing the finish line of the race or pumping my fist when a training session goes well.  Success is like a virus in that it breeds upon itself.  Once you taste that satisfaction of a successful race or workout you hunger for more.  You want to keep momentum on your side and it starts by visualizing the positive to your race or session.
Pace Yourself: Don Henry, age 45 from Pound Ridge, New York, says it is critical to, "Pace yourself. The swim is always the swim. Understand the hardest section of the course and don't blow up. At Toughman, the first 25 miles of the bike are the toughest and the ones to do carefully." Don is a financial adviser in Westchester County. He used to play golf and weighed 20 pounds more than today. Why does he love the sport? "Being part of the community and enjoying the camaraderie of fellow triathletes," he said.
  • If you have trained properly then you should be able to know your approximate finish time of each discipline.  Take a look at Jeff Irvin's pre-race predictions and then read his race report and see where he fell in line.  Had Jeff not trained properly he would not have known how to pace himself for success in accordance to his plan.  There is a simple correlation here.  Proper training = expected results on race day.  Can you have a day that is worse or better?  Of course, but you can eliminate a lot of that from happening by being prepared for the race.
Don't Panic: Scott Harrison, age 56 from Darien, Connecticut, took second place in his age group at the event last year. The general contractor for a commercial/industrial construction firm tells fellow athletes, "Don't panic. The swim is daunting for first timers." Scott used the sport to beat addiction. Today, triathlon is his lifestyle. "I travel with friends to events. This is what we do."
  • The swim is always going to be daunting and that is because it comes first so your pre-race nerves/jitters are right there.  If the bike were first or the run first then that is where the jitters will occur.  Either way know your capabilities and find a rhythm.  Discover your breathing patterns and stick to your plan.  I cannot stress enough how creating a plan and sticking to it will help ease the burden of any panic that might set in.
Don't Let One Problem Ruin the Day: Christine Dunnery wants everyone to expect that something will go wrong. "Don't get caught up on a single thing that happens during an event -- like a flat tire." Get off the road, fix it, and know that you will finish the race.
  • I really like this piece of advice.  The best way to say it is to expect the unexpected.  Anything and everything will happen on race day, but if you have planned and trained and visualized then these setbacks will not affect you as much as if you were not prepared to race.
  For me these tips are excellent but they all boil down to one thing:  Preparation.  Failure to prepare is preparing to fail as the cliche goes.  As questions and listen, then apply those answers to your training and racing.  Triathletes are some of the most friendly people I have met.  We are all competing against each other but there is a brotherhood in the sport and we will work with each other to help each other out as well.  

What are your tips for a first-time triathlete?  First time marathoner?

Published in Train
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