Monday, 26 August 2013 09:04

Hotter N Hell Hundred Bicycle Race Report

Hotter N Hell Hundred and Wee-Chi-Ta race weekend was one for the ages.  I cannot recall how I became registered for these events but I can say that I am glad that I decided to race them this weekend.  As race day drew closer and closer the ideas for the times that we would be completing the bike ride in hovered around 5 hours and the run was discussed to be finished in 2 hours and 30 minutes.  What we hadn't planned on was that the Hotter N Hell Hundred actually meant temperature and not necessarily the mileage of the course. This was the endurance athletes nirvana with races on back to back days.  Actually there is a third race on Friday morning that is a mountain bike race but I will never complete the Triple because you have a better shot of me eating a steak than competing in anything involving a mountain bike.  They scare me as much as snakes so that pretty much rules that ever happening. This race report will get broken down into two days because of the fact that there was a bike race and a running race. That is me being a half-genius.

Hotter N Hell Hundred Race Report

[caption id="attachment_8840" align="alignright" width="225"]hotter n hell hundred - bike race - cycling Our Motel 6 Accommodations for the weekend[/caption] On Thursday night Jeff Irvin came to my house so that we can leave Friday morning to head to Wichita Falls, Texas.  Jeff is in the midst of Ironman Florida training so Friday morning we decided to go for a 1+ mile Open Water Swim and a 6 mile recovery run.  Once we were done with that we took showers and hit the road for the two-hour ride to the race site in Wichita Falls, Texas which is approximately a 2 hour drive from my house. As we pulled into the Motel 6 in Wichita Falls our jaws hit the floor of the car.  Jeff's exact words were:  Is this building abandoned?  From the outside, calling this anything but a sh*t hole would have been a compliment.  We checked in and the lobby actually looked quite nice.  To our surprise, after we parked in the middle of the grass of the hotel, the room was actually very modern.  It turns out that this Motel 6 is under going renovations and so we happened to catch them in the early phase of this renovation. At the expo we picked up our packets for both the Century Ride and Trail Race.  The lines moved fast and the expo was quite expansive.  It makes the Ironman expo look like a race expo for a 5k, but that is to be expected with nearly 15,000 riders participating in the ride.  We hooked up with Bob Shuler, the One Hour Ironman and headed off to dinner.  After eating it was early to bed and early to rise since we paid for the event breakfast which started at 5pm. The alarm went off, we headed to breakfast and then mounted our rides for what would turn out to be the hardest bike ride I have ever done.  There were some jitters at first as I questioned whether or not I could hold a 20 mph average for 100 miles considering I haven't ridden more than 72 miles since Ironman Texas ended and while I have been training it has not been structured and has not had any particular goal in mine.  The cannon sounded, literally, and we were off.  Within a few minutes I could tell something was off as my bike was rattling but I was holding a 22 mph average so I just rolled with it. As I was riding next to another racer he mentioned that my bike sounded weird and when I went to switch into the big ring nothing happened.  Ruh-Roh Raggy!  I rode for a bit longer and then pulled over.  I fiddled with it and put the chain on the big ring.  Spun the pedals and right back into the small ring.  This was going to be a very long day.  I had already lost Jeff, Bob and 2 of Jeff's friends so I would be going at this alone.  Our plan was to meet at the third aid station which was mile 31.  I got there averaging just under 22 mph and felt pretty good.  I went to the bike mechanic but the line was long and he was working on cables.  I jumped back onto the road and figured I would go until Hell's Gate at Mile 60. It was around the 50 mile marker that I could start the feel the heat and with my bike in the small chain ring I was probably doing 100+ RPMs making me work harder to maintain a decent speed.  The course if filled with rollers and tons of chip seal.  It was sapping my energy but I kept telling myself to get to Hell's Gate.  I reached Hell's Gate and this kid was talking to me but I was staring at him blankly.  He must have repeated himself 4 times before I realized he was holding another bike and was asking if he could hold mine.  I gladly gave it to him then went on a banana and orange search along with looking for the porto-john hoping to be able to pee.  At this point of the ride, and being three hours in, I should have pee'd at least twice on the bike but I never had the urge. Sure sign dehydration was setting in.  Once my business was taken care of, I re-filled my water bottles and hit the road again.  I noticed that the salt line on my shorts had gone from crotch level at mile 35 to mid-quad level at Mile 60 and now the work was going to begin.  Staying hydrated as much as possible would be my biggest goal. I told myself when I started pedaling that I only had two hours left. Put your head down and work.  Just pedal and ignore the rest.  Nothing else mattered.  Well, the rest stop at Mile 80 mattered because I was told they had 30 varieties of homemade cookies there.  I got to the rest stop and wasn't feeling hungry and dehydration was certainly there.  I drank two bottles of watered down PowerAde and refilled two more bottles.  I spoke with friends from Dallas and got back on my bike.  I wasn't going to stop again. I was going to pedal all the way through.  I broke down the remaining ride into 5 mile increments in my mind. At one point you pass Dean and their volunteer fire department was out and they had a sign that read like the words were sent down by God himself.  ICE CREAM.  I thought, long and hard, about stopping to get one but I also knew that if I did stop I may not start again and I wanted this ride over.  By the time I hit mile 99 I knew I was done.  I started getting excited until I saw TWO tandem bikes ahead of me and I had to beat them.  I hammered hard and then when my watch went off for mile 100 and I still wasn't finished physically, I was done mentally.  Finally the finish line at mile 101.6. As you cross they want to hand you a medal and if I tried to take one I would have just collapsed.  I stopped my bike took the medal and texted Jeff to find out where he was.  He was at the car and I walked over there.....gingerly!  When I reached him his only words were:  That was fu**ing hard.  I looked at his shorts and they were caked in salt like mine.  Two guys that weigh 140-145 pounds at most had probably lost 10-15 pounds of water and looked so fragile and distraught.  We shared war stories and then started laughing like school kids that we not only decided to do this, but paid for it and would be running a 13 mile trail run the next day. [caption id="attachment_8841" align="alignright" width="200"]hotter n hell hundred - bike race - cycling This was the screen of my iPhone after the ride.[/caption] Bob finished while Jeff and I were at a tent with some friends.  Jeff went to get him and when he came back he was without Bob.  Bob chose to go into the air-conditioned auditorium to recover from the sweltering heat.  Later I found out from Jeff that his Garmin registered 108* which is bananas.  This race was so much harder than Ironman Texas that I can honestly say I would rather race an Ironman and possibly a double before entertaining the thought of doing this again. That is of course until I thought about my Ironman choices for 2014 and if it is Chattanooga or Florida this ride will fit in perfectly to a training schedule.  Of course, being the Endurance Idiot that I am I started looking for other 100 mile bike rides for the rest of this year and think I may have a go at one or two of them before the sun sets on 2013. This was a tremendous ride as well as a test of will for myself. I managed to go 5:16 of pedal time with 29 minutes of stopping for 100+ miles in the small ring. My fitness is not completely lost and gives me hope for what could happen next year at my chosen Ironman.  This is certainly a bucket list race and one that everybody should experience as the entire area comes out in full force to support the riders and the event.  On the news the night before the race they even had coverage of the spaghetti dinner.  It really is an experience and one that I am thrilled to have shared with Jeff, Bob and other friends. Come back tomorrow to see how the Wee-Chi-Ta Half-Marathon Trail race unfolded for me.
Published in Race Reports
Ironman 2014 is now being discussed in full between myself and I, myself and Karen, myself and Maria and now with you.  When I finished Ironman Texas 2013 I was fully convinced that going back to the The Woodlands was going to be in the cards.  I absolutely love the course in terms of racing as well as being spectator friendly.  The course also plays to my strengths and weaknesses.  I can climb on the bike but because I weight as much as a paper towel going down the hills doesn't give me much momentum thus a hilly bike course has typically been shunned.  The run course at IMTX is flat and fast.  The biggest problem is the heat but for whatever reason (and if you can scientifically tell me why) I am not bothered by it as much as others as evidenced by my marathon and 15th place finish in my age group. Now that I am 4 months removed from that race my mind has wandered and I have considered 5 races for 2014 and making a decision has become somewhat impossible for me pick and why I am turning to you, the blog reader, for some advice.  I am going to treat this vote the way Major League Baseball treats their All-Star votes.  Certain percentage to each one and I can come up with a final answer that way.  I will get 25% of the vote, blog readers 10%, Maria 10% and Karen 55% because without her blessing it doesn't matter what I want to do it isn't happening.

Here are my Ironman 2014 Choices:

[caption id="attachment_8819" align="alignright" width="230"]ironman 2014 - triathlon - IMTX - Texas Ironman Texas[/caption] Ironman Texas: Pros:
  • Race takes place in May meaning I will be racing again and soon.  Good for the mind.
  • Experience with the race and thus no surprises.
  • Cost effective.  Can stay with friends and it is a car ride away.
Cons:
  • Been there, done that.
  • Hotter than the sun.
  • Extremely tough swim from start to end.
[caption id="attachment_8817" align="alignright" width="230"]ironman 2014 - triathlon - IMLou - Louisville Ironman Louisville[/caption] Ironman Louisville: Pros:
  • Race is in August giving me some more time doing what I want when I want in 2013 and early 2014.
  • New race which can lead to new experiences.
  • Hot and humid which doesn't bother me and is something I can actually look forward to.
Cons:
  • Nearly 3,000 feet in climbing with a 2 lo0p course.
  • Run is only 2 loops which some would prefer I enjoy the 3 loop course as it gives me a mental edge to know where I am at in shorter time intervals.
[caption id="attachment_8818" align="alignright" width="230"]ironman 2014 - triathlon - IMFL - Florida Ironman Florida[/caption] Ironman Florida: Pros:
  • Race is in November which gives me a lot of time to do as I please before jumping into an Ironman training plan.
  • Flat, flat and oh its flat. Less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain on the bike and less than 200 feet of gain on the run.
  • 1 loop bike course.
Cons:
  • Getting in is getting to be nearly impossible and the anxiety of getting in.
  • Flat, flat and flat means lots of aero position and pushing your legs to the their breaking point with no real rest.
[caption id="attachment_8820" align="alignright" width="230"]ironman 2014 - triathlon - IMTEN - Chattanooga Ironman Chattanooga[/caption] Ironman Chattanooga: Pros:
  • Brand new race so while there can be issues the idea of racing an inaugural race appeals to me.
  • Bike course has 2,100 feet of climbing where Texas is 1,600 feet and Arizona is 1,700 feet so not a big difference.
  • Run is through downtown Chattanooga.
  • I get to say Chattanooga a lot.
Cons:
  • Inaugural race so no idea about recon and asking past participants about the race course.
  • Just far enough away to fly, yet close enough to drive.
  • No known hashtag for it:  #IMChooChoo, #IMChat, #IMRockyTop, #IMManning, #IMNooga
The price point for all is the same at $650 except for Louisville which is $625 so there are no savings in the registration fee and thus the cost difference will come down to travel and accommodations (anybody in any of these areas willing to offer a home-stay?)

Which Ironman 2014 Do You Vote For?

[listly id="6uK" layout="full"]  
Published in Race
[caption id="attachment_8756" align="alignright" width="211"]triathlon diet - lifestyle - training - ironman These 4 Items Belong In Each Endurance Athletes Lifestyle But Not All Are Going To Be The Same.
Source: Nutrition Translator[/caption] Triathlon diet and/or lifestyle there are those that are seeking the magic bullet and turning to sites and blogs, like mine, for answers.  I get questions and comments on all of the social media platforms that I am on seeking advice.  The problem with this advice seeking is that sometimes you can read the emotion and what they are really seeking is the one size fits all answer.  Unfortunately that does not exist because we are all different and as a matter of fact each day for each individual is going to be different. Let me provide you with an example.  That example would be me and here is how the last week of my triathlon, diet and lifestyle unfolded.
  • Monday: Tired from the weekend of training I pushed my run to the evening to go with Karen.  The moment we started running I could feel my legs weight 1,000 pounds each.  That morning I had a 3 egg omelette with mushrooms for breakfast, toast with salsa verde and poached eggs for lunch and post run I had chocolate waffles with banana and almond ice cream.  I pushed my carbs to the evening because that is when I was going to be running.
  • Tuesday: Decided to not workout in the morning as I was tired and would do a recovery spin and some strength/core at lunch.  The ride and lifting went well and I felt good throughout the workout.  So good that I asked a Facebook group I belong to if anybody wanted to swim and run on Wednesday morning.  That day I ate for breakfast: toast with almonds, raisins, banana and honey.  Lunch consisted of an Asian slaw salad and dinner was a falafel waffle with a greek salad.  All was going well to date.
  • Wednesday: Nervous about the feeling in my legs I was contemplating skipping the run.  I jumped in the water and swam 1.2 miles in 44 minutes. It was slow and sluggish but felt good enough to run.  I put in 6.3 miles at a pace of 9:30/mi.  Just about right and my legs didn't hurt too bad.  I ate a well-balanced diet that day that was based on carbs early in the morning to take care of my workouts.
  • Thursday: Wanted this to be a recovery day so I planned on riding for an hour and running for 15 minutes off the bike.  I felt better than I thought and put in a 20 mph bike ride and then ran an 8:21/mi pace off the bike.  Where did this speed come from?  I was on top of the world that in the afternoon I went and did 40 minutes of core/strength.  Look out world.  I also started tracking my meals via My Fitness Pal again and that really helped.  That day I had my carbs in the morning to again help in the recovery from the workout as well as burning off those carbs throughout the day.
  • Friday(today): I woke up with muscle soreness in my back.  The reason was that this was the first time I had done a focused core/strength workout since prior to Ironman Texas......a long time!  The always scheduled 6:30am OWS was happening and I had decided I would run 6 miles out of the water with Drum.  As I drove to the lake I could feel my back and I thought that I would wait until I got out of the water to decide on the run.  Jumped in the lake and lo and behold I was (my version of) Michael Phelps.  That 44 minutes swim was now finished in 39:10.  A 5 minute improvement which is otherworldly in my book.  I decided not to run because tomorrow I am riding for 5 hours and on Sunday running for two hours.  My breakfast this morning was French Toast and my plan for the rest of the day is to focus on protein and less on carbs.
If the people who asked me what I eat, how, why, or when were to follow this routine they may either find it too easy or too hard and the reason is that they are at a different spot in their endurance lifestyle than I.  More than that though they have different stresses in their life that can also affect their decisions on what to eat and how to get their triathlon and diet lifestyle to coincide. So when I get these types of questions I do my best to provide a response that includes some sort of disclaimer that this is how I do it or that I am not a registered dietian or a sports nutritionist.  That the answers I am providing are from my own research as well as trial and error.  Yes, there are certain 'rules of thumb' when it comes to eating for the endurance lifestyle but how one person's body reacts to a specific diet is not indicative of how another's will react.  The way I provide examples for this triathlon diet lifestyle is as follows:

How The Triathlon Diet Lifestyle Can Be Interpreted In 'Real' Life:

  • My results are not indicative of the results that you will have.  Similar to past performance does not predict future performance in the stock market.
  • There are guidelines that apply to everybody but not everybody will do it the same way.  This is similar to a golf stroke. There are certain mechanics but look at Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods and try to tell me that one is right and one is wrong and I will tell you both have won Major championships.
As you can see there is no one size fits all when it comes to training or nutrition for endurance sports especially an Ironman. I don't eat solids in an Ironman race but you may need to or have to.  I don't eat meat, but that may be something that you enjoy.  I choose not to race 5Ks and would rather train for and race for a 140.6 mile race.  Neither is right or wrong or better than the other except in that this is what works for me.  Figure out what you like and enjoy and instead of keeping up with the Joneses set the path for yourself.

Triathlon Diet Lifestyle Guidelines That I Believe Apply To All:

  • Cut out processed foods and eat real foods as much as possible.
  • Surround your workouts with carb based meals.
  • Listen to your body and if it needs to rest then rest and don't push it.
  • Recovering from your workouts is just as important as your workouts so get the proper nutrition into your system post workout.

Do You Believe There Are Universal Rules For Triathlon or Diet?

Published in Train
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 17:50

A Race Is Over And Done With. Now What?

[caption id="attachment_8530" align="alignright" width="276"]a race - triathlon - training - ironman The Now What Face?!?!
Source: The Frigault Team[/caption] 'A' race is what we train days and weeks and months for.  We sweat and bleed for this A race.  We pour over data from our power meter and Garmin watch.  We watch every last calorie until that late night head in the pantry binge that you discount because you rode the trainer for 2 hours that morning and have a 1 hour run the next day so those calories don't count.  Our whole sense of being is focused on that A race and once we toe the line (do you really toe a line in triathlon?) and the cannon goes off we swim, bike and run as hard as we can.  All of those hours of training are being put to good use right at that moment.  After you cross the finish line you race to the food tent and eat everything in sight.  Three chocolate chip cookies, 2 slices of pizza, a gallon of water, maybe some beer and then you sit around going over war stories with your buddies. You may race to your blog to type your blog post about the race.  You don't want to leave out any detail, like your pinkie toe rubbing against a rock in the 17th mile of the race and having to stop to remove that pesky little rock.  People need to know this stuff don't they?  Your race recap covers a week's worth of posts because you keep thinking of things and keep adding to it.  Finally Race Recap: The War And Peace version is done and the high-fives no longer are coming your way.  You longingly stare at your medal and you can't wait for the race photos to show up.  When they do you pour over them and remember every last moment of the race.  You decide to not spend money on the race pics because none of them makes you look like Chrissie Wellington or Pete Jacobs.  Fortunately for you there will be PLENTY of more opportunities to purchase these photos because you will be reminded monthly for the next two years that it is the last chance you have to buy said photos. When the pomp and circumstance dies down and your training becomes nothing what do you do then?  This is the situation I find myself in right now.  It has been nearly 2 months since I finished my 3rd Ironman and while I have been getting in regular swims, bikes and runs in there is something missing.  That competitive drive to be better today than I was yesterday isn't there because what am I training for?  For example, this week I jumped in the pool with the idea of swimming 1,500 yards with a structured set that included 2x400 negative split swims.  I barely got through the warm-up when I cut the 1,500 to 1,000 and instead of 2x400 it became 300 and 200 negative splits with a 100 yard cool down. I know that there is another Ironman in my future and most likely will be Ironman Texas 2014 but because that is close to a year away the fire that burns is more of a smolder than it is an inferno.  In order to keep that spark going I am literally inventing competitions with myself.  I am talking about stupid things.  Things that nobody in their right mind would think of and all because my A race took place in May and that leaves me the entire Spring, Summer and Fall to think about training in the winter for an early spring race.  Heaven forbid I decide not to race Ironman Texas and instead want to travel to Boulder in August or Florida in November.  My goodness may the world have mercy on Karen if that happens. Anyway, back to these ridiculous contests that I have created over the past month or so.  They are to the point that I am making them up on the fly and creating rules along the way.  Want to see what some of them are?  Here you go:

A Race Substitutions

  1. Run for 30 minutes with heart rate between 127 and 140.  Anytime out of that zone gets added onto the end in the form of walking. GASP! Walking.
  2. Riding my normal route on the weekend and having to get to the typically 30 minute mark in less than 30 minutes or have to plank for the amount of time difference when the ride is done.
  3. This week because we are moving has formed an almost necessary contest:  Breakfast for every meal for the week.  Really?  WTF?
  4. Seeing how many straight hours HGTV can be on the television with the sound on before I lose my mind. I call this mental strength training.
As you can see it is only going to be a matter of time before Karen loses her mind with me and these ridiculous contests but this is what happens when the A race comes and goes and there is an open void on your schedule.  I have plans to race 70.3 Redman and 70.3 Oilman later in the year but I haven't registered for either.  I do have the Hotter N' Hell 100 in late August that I will be riding with Jeff and Bob.  That right now is the fuel for my fire but truth be told it is a 100 mile supported ride that if I get tired or bored I can just stop and refuel with all the chocolate and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I can stuff in my face.  Now, there is a contest I should start!

Have You Had Your A Race Early In The Season? What Are You Doing To Combat The Open Void Left Behind?

Published in Train
Triathlon tips is a segment that I am going to implement on a quarterly basis.  Now that I am not training 18-20 hours per week I am able to do quite a bit of reflection of what my training has consisted of, what it will include and topics of discussion between Maria and John of No Limits Endurance Coaching and I. Triathlon is a sport consisting of 3 disciplines and each one plays into the next.  With having to 'master' all three of these events there is a lot of opportunity to leave time on the course and whether you are a World Champion, an Age-Group Elite or just getting ready for your first Sprint Triathlon then these simple steps will help you get faster.  Keep in mind that these triathlon tips do not involve gadgets such as disc wheels, aero helmets or power meters.  These triathlon tips are ones that anybody can employ to get faster and these are all tips that I have either been practicing or have implemented in training and races and have seen the benefits.

5 Simple Triathlon Tips To A Faster Finish

1- Recover / Taper Properly.

This may seem like the most obvious of triathlon tips but it is one that I realize I failed to execute properly over the past 18 months.  Since I started my journey to Ironman I have been training and or racing for 18 months straight.  This schedule included 2 Ironman, 4 Half-Ironman, and 2 Olympic  distance races amongst other events mixed into hours and hours of training.  How much recovery could I be doing from these events when there was another one coming up.  As much as I believed I was recovering I wasn't truly recovering as I had another block of training just waiting for me. In the past 5 weeks I have done a lot of whatever I want in terms of training.  I would get on my bike for 30 minutes and call it a day. I might plan a 40 minute run and stop after 15.  This past week I had my first 'structured' block of training but no workout exceeded 2 hours straight.  These were all done in Zone 1 or Zone 2 with nothing being in a steady Zone 3.  You know what has happened?  I have gotten faster at the same exertion level. The bike route I have been doing for the past 6 months I know like the back of my hand.  It takes me 28-30 minutes to reach checkpoint #1, that is until it took me 23 minutes.  The second checkpoint took me 42 minutes one week ago and this past weekend I was there in 38 minutes.  My heart rate has stayed at the same level and is proof that I am more efficient than I used to be.  As for running I am putting down sub-9:00 miles and barely touching Zone 2 when that time used to be Zone 3.  I have fully recovered and the data is showing so.

2- Train In Race Conditions.

At Ironman Texas I ran the 15th fastest marathon of M40-44 and I didn't have any special secret. I did not have a fan cooling me off as I ran.  I did not have an electrolyte IV running through my system.  What I had was experience.  Ironman Texas takes place in mid-May and for a large part of the country, including Texas, the peak training volume is in January and February and the weather is not always conducive to heat acclimation training, but there is a simple solution for that. Get into your garage or an enclosed room and wear plenty of layers.  I would wear anywhere from 5-6 shirts plus a sweatshirt and peddle and peddle and peddle.  I would be a sweaty mess when all was said and done but it helped me get ready for the 90*+ day that we would face at Ironman Texas.  When others were faltering I kept a strong and steady pace that allowed me to execute the race strategy that was laid out before me.

3- Know Your Race Strategy Inside And Out.

I cannot stress this enough.  Your race strategy is your go to spot when all hell is breaking loose and trust me all hell will break loose.  You will forget something or you may drop your nutrition on the run.  Something is going to happen but having your race strategy either memorized or written down on your hands will help center you. When I raced 70.3 Puerto Rico I wrote down the zones that I was to race in for the bike on my left hand and for the run on my right hand.  When the skies opened up and the rains started coming down the anxiety of the race changing went up.  I simply looked at my left hand, while in aero, to see where I was supposed to be and where I was by looking at my watch.  An adjustment and I was back in the race mentally and the rain did not affect me. At each point of the run (there are 4 since it is a 2 loop out and back) I would look down and see where I was supposed to be in terms of running zones and where I actually was.  At one point as I passed my wife I yelled to her to text Maria that I was executing the sh*t out of the race.  I was hitting every zone that was laid out before me and holding true to my race strategy.  As the heat/humidity climbed I was undeterred because I knew where I was supposed to be and when. This might be my favorite of all the triathlon tips I have seen or written because it takes away the guessing and allows you to focus.  There is no where should I be and what should I be doing.  You have put in hours and hours of training so you know what you are capable of and this simple reinforcement of that will let you enjoy the race knowing that you are going to execute a race strategy that you trained for.

4- Shut Out The Outside And Focus On Yourself.

Racing triathlon is certainly one time where you are going to be selfish and it is ok and acceptable.  In this world of the constant connection we may have our minds wander to what Twitter or Facebook may think if I am not executing and racing as fast as I had projected.  What are my coach's thinking of my performance?  All of these things add anxiety and anxiety will cause your ability to race to your potential to change.  You will lose focus of what you are supposed to be doing at that moment of the race.  The moment you lose focus, you lose form and when you lose form you lose speed. Next time you go to the pool instead of thinking about your form think about what you are making for dinner and keep that thought process for 100 meters or yards.  Was it as fast as the 100 meters you swam when you thought about high elbow, proper catch, breathing?    Try the same test on the bike or the run.  What happened? Did your loss of focus force you to push harder once you realized where you were?  That extra expenditure of energy will cost you.  Triathlon can be a long day if your focus wanders for just a bit so staying in the moment (one of the 22 Tips I Wrote For No Meat Athlete) will allow you to reach that finish line faster. [caption id="attachment_8382" align="alignright" width="275"]triathlon tips - racing - ironman Knowing How To Legally Draft Can Save You Precious Time And Energy[/caption]

5- Legal Drafting

Nobody likes seeing the pack of riders go by or that one rider who just sucks the wheel of the person in front of them for miles on end.  You see them and hope that there is a referee near by to flag them down and hand out a penalty.  That doesn't mean that you cannot legally draft though and legally drafting can be the difference between setting a PR and missing by a few seconds. What is legal drafting?  How about getting on the feet of a faster swimmer and swimming in their wake?  You can get in right behind them or have your head placed near their hip and enjoy the benefits of them setting the tone for you and allowing you to swim faster than you normally would on your own.  Legal drafting in the water is a tricky scenario to play as you don't want to be drafting off of a slower swimmer than you nor off the feet of a person that is exponentially faster than you.  If you find yourself not holding a steady pace but instead an easy one chances are that person you are drafting off of is slower than you. If you are really pushing it and don't think that you can hold the pace for 2.4 miles or whatever distance you are racing then let those feet go and find another pair.  Going anaerobic to hold feet isn't going to help you. On the bike you can legally draft as well.  Each race will have a different rule regarding passing but each race allows you a certain amount of time to do so and you should take advantage of that.  You may not think that 10-15 seconds of drafting is going to help but if you do it enough your legs and your PR will thank you.  Executing the proper legal draft pass takes some experience but once you have it you will be thrilled with those precious seconds.  If you have 20 seconds to pass and it takes you 5 seconds to get to the wheel in front of you once you enter the passing zone then spend 10 seconds drafting and getting pulled. After 10 seconds go around them using the slingshot effect that is created and pass them within that 20 second passing zone. Easy peasy but know the rules of your race before attempting. The same can be said for the run.  Now you may not gain speed the way you would with the bike or the swim but you can certainly aid yourself in terms of blocking from the wind as well as gaining confidence that you can hold a pace.  At Ironman Texas there was no wind on the run but I drafted off of Chelsea Tiner who is an elite age group triathlete in the Dallas area.  I stuck with Chelsea for a mile or two and I found myself comfortable and knowing that I could handle that pace for the remainder of the race. None of these triathlon tips require you to have a Black American Express card but they do take time to get comfortable with.  Knowing how to train and recover properly, knowing how to legally draft takes time and experience but once you have understood how to execute them you will see the times of your races come down.  Then you can invest in a great set of race wheels, an aero helmet and the most expensive power meter you can find.

Do You Have Any Triathlon Tips You Want To Share?

Published in Train
Kona is the pinnacle race for anybody who dares enter the starting chute of an Ironman event.  You may 'just' want to finish but deep down inside you know that you are dreaming of being in the waters of Hawaii ready to race the ultimate in Ironman events.  I have this goal, which was once a dream, of qualifying for Kona and racing with the best in the world.  I am pushing my body and my mind on an almost daily basis envisioning this and doing whatever it is I need to do to get there.  I may not get there in 2014 or 2015 or not until I am 75 but I will get there and I will be in Kona because I qualified and not because I was given an exemption by World Triathlon Corporation. Why am I saying this?  I am saying this because this weekend during my travels through the interwebs I saw a few things that really bothered me about WTC and Kona and I wanted to get it off my chest as well as hear from you and get your thoughts.  We all know that it is very difficult to qualify for Kona as you have to be your best on that day to beat the best and nab a highly coveted slot.  Qualifying for Kona is not like qualifying for the Boston Marathon where you have a time you must beat and then have the opportunity to get into the race.  To qualify for Kona you not only have to be fast but you have to be faster than the fastest competitors.  Let's say you race an Ironman and finish in 10:22 which is a 1 hour PR for you but there are only 6 slots in your AG and that finish puts you at 50th.  Unless 38 other athletes ahead of you pass you are not going to Kona.  It is difficult and it should be. [caption id="attachment_8351" align="alignright" width="300"]kona - hines ward - kansas Hines Ward Finishes 70.3 Kansas[/caption] What WTC is doing, and has been doing more of recently, seems to be just giving Kona slots away.  I applaud them for the Legacy clause where a person who races 12 Ironman events gets an opportunity to go to Kona as you are rewarding your most loyal customers.  On the other hand I am disgusted by the fact that celebrities are getting in without having raced an Ironman at all.  This year it is Hines Ward and while I truly enjoyed his spunk on the football field I am not happy with the idea that he is going to Kona and racing without having to qualify.  Would he qualify?  Not this year as evidenced by his time at 70.3 Kansas and thus he would have to work like the rest of us to get stronger and faster in order to beat the best to get there. Then there is Gordon Ramsay.  Did you know he is racing Ironman?  Don't know who Gordon Ramsay is?  He is the guy whose shows Hell's Kitchen and Master Chef will make you think twice about becoming a restaurant chef.  Chef Ramsay was going to race Ironman New Zealand but had to pull out due to an injury and is now going to be racing in Kona.  How did this happen?  If I got hurt prior to Ironman Texas would I have been sent an invite to Kona or would they have just said sorry buddy but we are also keeping your entry fee.  Shouldn't Chef Ramsay be governed by the same rules that govern the Age Groupers, whom without Ironman doesn't exist? Lastly, the whole Refuel With Chocolate Milk concept has entered the annoying phase for me.  Athletes competing to go to Kona not through qualifying but through votes.  Have people vote for you and boom you are off to Hawaii to race in the most coveted Ironman race in the world.  Qualifications for this:

If you’re a passionate athlete who refuels with lowfat chocolate milk after a tough training session, race or competition, APPLY now to become a sponsored athlete of Team REFUEL by submitting a 60 second video that explains your post-workout routine and how chocolate milk plays a part. If you’re chosen, you score $500 in sponsorship money and top notch training gear, along with the potential for free race entries to our program partners Rock ‘n’ Roll and IRONMAN, and team support throughout your 2013 training and competition.

Nothing there about having had to have raced an Ironman before.  Just sign up shoot a video, talk about chocolate milk and get votes.  Not really a lot of endurance needed for that now is there.

I have nothing against those that are entering their names into the Chocolate Milk sweepstakes but instead my issue is with WTC and the slots that are being handed out instead of being earned.  Are these handouts devaluing the Kona qualifying?  Where do the corporate exemptions stop?  I can recall seeing a clip of a woman from the Biggest Loser racing in Kona along with Joe Bastianich (who is also on Master Chef) racing at Kona.  I don't know what they did to qualify or how they get there but I can almost guarantee you that they were not beating out the best of the best to earn that slot.

I don't know if WTC is taking away slots but if they are that is an injustice and a slap in the face of the athletes who pour their heart and souls into the sport on a daily basis to make an attempt at qualifying for Kona.  I have a goal of getting there and I am putting in the work and when I see slots being handed out to people just because they drink chocolate milk, scored a TD in a Super Bowl or are a celebrity chef it drives me insane.  Triathlon is one sport where the average Joe has a chance to compete with the best in the world and put their abilities up against each other but having these slots be handed out to people who do not qualify is putting a wet towel around that accomplishment.

Kona Ironman World Championships: Still Hold The Same Aura?

Published in Race
[caption id="attachment_8295" align="alignright" width="225"]mind games - control - triathlon - ironman Control The Mind.....Not The Other Way Around[/caption] Mind games are going to happen when you race an Ironman and is, what I believe, to be the difference between people of similar ability.  Your thought process is going to swing all over the place during an Ironman but playing mind games and controlling what you are thinking of will help you tremendously in accomplishing this monstrous feat.  If you think about how many thoughts you have on a typical day at work then add in the pain and struggle of exercising for 10-17 hours straight and you can begin to see where an Ironman race is won or lost.  When I refer to won or lost I am referring to your personal goals and not necessarily an age grouper who can finish in 12 hours coming across one day and beating Craig Alexander.  The race is between you and yourself and always will be.  If you beat yourself you'll beat others. Often, I am asked the question: Do you think anybody can do an Ironman?  My answer is a resounding yes.  I believe anybody can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles consecutively but whether they can brave the training and RACE an Ironman is a different thing.  When you break down the race and the three portions that make it up you do not have to move fast (that is a relative term depending on your ability) to complete the distances.  Here is a break down of the time allotted to each discipline and the average pace at which you have to move to accomplish finishing an Ironman in 17 hours:
  • Swim: You have 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 2.4 mile swim.  I swam what was the worst time of any of the Ironman races I have competed in at Ironman Texas 2013 with a time of 1 hour 48 minutes 59 seconds or a pace of 2:49/100 meters.  If you took up the entire time before they stopped you from racing you would have to swim at a pace of 3:37/100m.  This is not a pace that is unsustainable for a lot of people.  Yes some people don't make the swim cut-off but I don't believe it is because they are not capable of this pace, but more than likely the result of anxiety or an issue in the water that caused them to swim at a pace that would not allow them to continue.
  • Bike: On the bike you have 8 hours to travel 112 miles.  If you break this down into a miles per hour reading you would have to average 13.4 mph to finish in 8 hours.  Again this is not an impossible task if you have trained properly for the race.  If you just decided that you were going to hop on a bike and compete at a 140.6 distance race then yes it would be very difficult.
  • Run: The marathon may be the most daunting portion of this because a stand-alone marathon is hard enough but having to do one after you have swam 2.4 miles and cycled 112 miles makes it seem that much harder.  The difference between a stand-alone marathon and one at the end of an Ironman is that you are not racing in Zone 4 for 3 hours but instead working that steady burn in Zones 2 and 3.  In order to finish before the 17 hour mark you have based on the two scenarios of a 2:20 swim and 8:00 bike with 10 minutes in T1 and T2 combined, you will have 6 hours and 30 minutes.  At a pace of 14:53/mi or what you probably average if you walked the entire course you would be able to cross the finish line and call yourself an Ironman.
When you look at these paces it doesn't seem as daunting does it?  Can you do those things?  I say yes, but the difference between finishing in 17 hours and thinking that you can't is what takes place during training as well as during the race and it isn't in your legs.  The muscle that you are going to work the hardest during training and racing is the brain.  The brain will play mind games and tell you that you can't.  On rainy days, on cold days, on snowy days, on a Tuesday the brain will say stay in bed.  Staying in bed is not an option if you want to be called an Ironman and so you have to fire back and play mind games yourself. Another question I am often asked is why continue to race Ironman Texas or 70.3 Puerto Rico where the temperatures are like being on the sun and the humidity makes breathing seem like you are swallowing pea soup on every breath.  My answer is I am willing to suffer more than the next person.  I enjoy the ability to race in these conditions and it is because I know that others are not willing to do it.  I play mind games with myself that it isn't that bad and that I can push harder especially when I know that the person I am passing is thinking: What the f*ck is that guy doing? This year at IMTX the temps were in the mid-90s with a heat index over 100*.  Throughout the run I was given a you look great.  Awesome pace.  Keep up the great work.  That motivated me to keep going and those comments would get locked into a vault and when I felt like I couldn't take another step I would pull one out and think: what if that same person saw you now?  Get going.  Mind games are that simple to play.  Think about hunting down the next person with a number on their calf that is in your age group.  Nobody within eyesight?  Make them up.  Do whatever it is you need to do to keep moving and avoid walking.  The simples way to do this is to go into the race with a very well-studied strategy.  Since Ironman races don't always go according to your strategy you will have to adjust on the fly and this is where the mind games happen. I remember on the third lap that I was starting to have severe foot pain but I also knew that there was a corner with music playing and people cheering loudly. I made the decision that I was going to dance at that corner if for nothing more than to get a bunch of screams and high-fives.  Those cheers were going to lift me up and move me past the pain in my foot and I was proven correct.  Once I got past that point my paces picked up and the pain in my foot disappeared. The biggest mind game I am playing today is the 'get comfortable with the uncomfortable.'  As you read in my post about meditation I have high anxiety when it comes to the swim.  Swimming the 2.4 miles is not something I am afraid of, but rather the treading of water.  Sitting there waiting and waiting and then the thrashing and thrashing and my heart rate climbs into an anaerobic state.  This has a domino effect on my ability to push on the bike and run and so I am doing what I can to make sure that the anxiety is not negative at the start of the race but instead turned into adrenaline that can be used for good.  Visualizing a calm and efficient start.  Seeing my wife's face so that I can bring my heart rate into a steady zone.  All of these things are going into play because I know I can swim a 1:15 but will my mind allow me to is the question.  My answer is yes and I will overcome my mind by tricking it into believing that the uncomfortable is comfortable. At some point during an Ironman, or any race for that matter, you will have a conversation with yourself.  Your ability to respond and take your game to the next level is what is going to allow you to push to the finish line.  Conquer your fears and fight the demons that will undoubtedly show up.

Do You Play Mind Games?

Are You Willing To Do What Others Won't?

Published in Race
IMTX is 10 days away and that means.....well that means a lot.  It tells me that I am officially in taper mode.  It tells me that I survived overload weeks.  It tells me that the third chapter of Ironman races is coming to a close.  Having raced IMTX in 2012 and finishing off 12+ months of training for the 140.6 distance at IMTX 2013 means the world to me.  My body has survived the rigors of training.  My marriage has survived (sometimes barely) the stress that Ironman training can put on it.  Along this road I have found a lot of support as well as lost some friends and their support.  Life has changed, for the better, since the day I decided to do the first and it certainly has changed and will have changed when May 18, 2013 rolls around and IMTX is in the books. As of right now I have no races on my schedule for after IMTX and I like it this way.  I have no pressure to get back into training.  I have nothing to look forward to which means that my sole focus is to race IMTX 2013 as hard as I possibly can because there is no tomorrow.  I purposely setup my race schedule for this year in this manner because I think that the heavy race schedule of 2012 allowed me an out.  The mindset was oh, you raced IMTX 2012 in 11:59 but you can do better at IMAZ.  Oh you crashed and finished in 11:53 you still have IMTX 2013.  Same can be said for the 70.3 races I did.  There was always a tomorrow, but not this time.  This time there is no tomorrow and everything I have done for the past 5 months will be on the line and I like it that way. Some people will ask me what my goals are and to be honest with you there is only one goal because there is only one race.  Yes triathlon is a combination of three sports, but in the end it is one race and that is the only time that matters.  I have not finalized my race strategy with Maria and John but I can tell you that our goal for this years version of IMTX has been 11:15 or better.  How I get there I don't really care.  If I swim 1:15 then I have 10 hours to bike, run and transition between the sports.  If I swim 1:30 then I have 9h45m to do those activities.  My training has me pointed in that direction but no one knows what race day will bring and so I will go into this race knowing I have done everything I can to get to 11:15. Swimming: Swimming has been going extremely well.  I am very pleased with where I started and where I am today.  This is the one sport that could have been dramatically improved and it has.  When I started with Maria and John my 800 TT time was 14:50.  A few months later we did another because I could feel myself getting faster and I finished in 13:56.  The last 800 TT we did was a few weeks ago and I was down to 13:22.  That is nearly a 1m30s improvement since December over 800y.  Doesn't seem like much but if you break it down to an Ironman 2.4 mi course that would look something like this: 1:18:30 down to 1:10:30.  Also, keep in mind that when I finished that TT in December I was huffing and puffing and could have starred as the Wolf in Three Little Pigs.  When I finished the 3rd TT I was gassed but I could have gotten on my bike and put in a good start.  Can I swim a 1:10:30 at IMTX?  I have no idea but what I do know is that even if I swim that 1:18:30 I would have improved my time by 18 minutes over IMTX 2012.  I'll take that any day. Biking: This was the second discipline that the majority of the work we did in this training cycle went into.  There were days where I did not think I could get to 145bpm and hold it for an extended period of time.  There were days where I would go slightly above my target heart rate (John approved this!) and there were days where I just wished that I had a run instead of a bike session scheduled.  All the while the improvements were there.  Getting into specific heart rate zones got easier and easier and it made the confidence meter go up.  My last long bike ride I averaged 18 mph and that is with all the stops and starts that you get with riding outdoors in the Metroplex along with using stock wheels instead of race wheels.  The last component that cannot be ignored is adrenaline, which doesn't exist on those long rides by yourself but will certainly be there come race day.  I think that an increase of 1 to 1.5 mph is possible given the factors and having fresh legs for a race after a good solid taper.  At IMTX 2012 I averaged 18.4 mph and I do believe that 19.0 to 19.5 mph is something I am capable of but there are circumstances beyond my control that make this impossible to guess at.  If I finish at 19.0 mph I will be one happy athlete as I would go from 6:05 to 5:54.  I also can gain confidence in the fact that I raced a 6:02 after a wreck at IMAZ that probably caused me to lose 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep the rubber side down this time Jason! Running: The one discipline we did not focus on and yet the improvements have been drastic and quite scary.  I remember the day I hit 8:30/mi and was sitting at the bottom of Z2 and thinking to myself:  Is this for f'n real?  Am I really going nearly :30/mi faster than I would normally be for this HR?  It was bonkers to me because our focus has not been on the run but lo and behold with the fitness gains since December running gained as well.  I am really psyched about this because all along I have felt that a sub 4-hour marathon at the end of an Ironman was possible.  I believe the hardest part is going to be holding myself back from jumping off the bike and running as if my name were Roger Bannister (for you young'uns to the sport of running click here).   At IMTX 2012 I ran to a 4:09 and that was without a strategy.  IMAZ produced a 4:06 with a hanging arm so a sub-4 hour marathon is something I am certainly capable of.  My familiarity with the course and the total elevation gain of ~250 ft plays right into my strengths.  There will be pain on this run for sure as that last lap will be the bell lap and I'll be running and chasing down that 11:15 regardless of where I am after the swim and bike.  Embrace the pain for 8 miles and gloat forever about breaking 4 hours at the marathon of an Ironman......that is the dream. Outside Life: This has been beyond stressful.  I posted the other day on Twitter that if I decided to make lemonade out of all the lemons I had I could put Minute Maid out of business.  It just seems that one thing got piled onto the next and Karen and I are doing all we can to keep our heads above water.  The problem is that it is all the little stuff that drives you crazy.  We purchased new appliances for the house in the hopes of luring a buyer.  Since then we have had no showings, and about 10 minutes after the installation was done the power went out.  Karen thought it was the house but it turned out to be the neighborhood.  I then went to use the garbage disposal the next day and it wasn't working.  I went to Home Depot to get a handful of stuff but then Karen just pressed the reset button and voila the garbage disposal was working.  Little things always add up don't they. Some of the projects I have been working on professionally and personally have fallen through but because of triathlon I have been able to keep my chin up fight through it and figure out alternatives to getting those projects back.  I have to give credit to Karen for keeping me focused on IMTX as we get closer and keeping my arousal level to a 4.  Anything above that and I am putting undue stress on my body and mind and it just isn't necessary.  If anybody want to hire Karen to be their guide through taper let me know and we can figure out an hourly rate because her service has been priceless. [caption id="attachment_8096" align="aligncenter" width="553"]imtx - ironman - triathlon - texas - 140.6 IMTX Training Peaks Volume[/caption]

Are You Racing IMTX 2013?  If So, Leave Your Bib Number In Comments So We Can Track You (By We I Mean Karen!)

Published in Race
[caption id="attachment_8067" align="alignright" width="283"]race day - stress - checklist Source: Andy Core[/caption] Race day is nearly here and for the past week I have been planning, packing and getting ready to head out to the race venue.  As triathletes we have a lot of items to deal with when it comes to race day.  It would be easier to take care of if we just had to worry about getting in water and swimming then jumping on the bike and finish with the run.  Unfortunately, our race day also includes transitions, fueling, potential clothing changes, multiple pairs of shoes and multiple pieces of head-gear. When I got into this triathlon life my race day consisted of driving to the venue and having that venue not be too far away.  As the races have gotten bigger so has the travel.  In the 3 years I have raced Half-Ironman and Ironman races I have traveled to San Diego, Phoenix/Tempe, San Juan, The Woodlands, Austin, Maine and let's not forget the trip to Las Vegas for the marathon. In that time I have had my share of stresses come race day.  There are the times when I couldn't get the spare tire affixed to my seat post, or when I was called to see TSA because I had CO2 cartridges in my bags.  There are the times when you get to the race and realize that you don't have socks and need to purchase new ones even though you shouldn't have anything new on race day.  The list of mishaps come race day could take up an entire blog post but I don't want to add stress to your travels to race day so instead I am providing a race day checklist for you to follow. I print out this checklist the Monday before the race and begin to assemble items and check them off the list.  When it comes time to leave my house my race day checklist has multiple checks on it and cross-outs as well as additions as I recall different items I want to add.  This list provides you with the absolute necessities but do not be beholden to this list if you are accustomed to taking something else to your race than I do.  In the end this list should help relieve some of the race day stress of the event and the travel. Race Day Checklist

Do You Have Anything To Add To This Race Day Checklist?

Published in Race
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 11:44

Ironman 70.3 San Juan Race Report

Ironman San Juan 70.3 is now history but it wasn't without its ups and downs.  Fortunately for me the ups far outweighed the downs.  I went into Ironman San Juan with no goal time expectations and just looking to execute the race plan that Maria, John and I set out for myself.  The goals were heart rate driven and whatever time I crossed the finish line would be my time and I was going to be happy about it. If you read the Ironman San Juan 70.3 race strategy you will note that the goals were:

  • Swim:  Moderate Hard to Hard for first 200-300 meters and then settling into a steady state from there on out for the remainder of the swim.
  • Bike: 148-150 bpm with my heart rate not to exceed 155 bpm even going up the climbs.
  • Run: Lap 1 was to be 150 bpm or less, Laps 2 and 3 with a HR of 150-160 bpm and Lap 4 no higher than 170 bpm.

When I reflect back on this race I can say with pure confidence that I hit the race strategy out of the park.  I never fixated on my time other than when I got out of the water and that is because I have been swimming a ton in preparation for Ironman Texas.  The swim at Ironman San Juan was going to be a gauge for how much I have improved in the water, or at least I thought.

Ironman San Juan 70.3 Race Report

Swim:

The strategy, as I mentioned above, was to start out moderate hard to hard for 200 - 300 meters and then settle into a smooth and steady swim.  Maria mentioned in our Google+ Hangout that the goal was 35 minutes.  This seemed feasible but I did not let the time get into my head as I know I am capable of swimming a 35 minute 1.2 mile Half-Ironman swim. As I entered into the line the butterflies finally hit and I was ready to go while having pre-game nerves at the same time.  I was not nervous about finishing, but more about making my coach's proud of what I accomplished.  This was a recurring theme throughout the race and one that inspired and motivated me to keep going with a relentless forward motion. I stood on the beach until there was 1 minute to go and then entered the water and lined up to the far left and at the very front.  The goal was to swim out and start to lean toward the buoys as the swim went along.  Since this Ironman San Juan 70.3 is a clockwise swim this would play well since I tend to bleed out right when I swim.  As soon as the gun went off I started swimming at a moderate hard pace and it felt great.  I was not kicked once nor was I slapped on the back.  I felt great and saw the second buoy and it was really close to me.  What had just happened was my first thought and then it became swim steady. As I was swimming I was seeing the buoys but it didn't register for me that I was so far to the inside that I was swimming inside the buoys now.  The chop of the water was tough to sight through and I had made such a hard right turn during the first 300 meters that I went from the far left to the far right.  My goal now was to fight to get back on the swim course.  I started swimming back left and could not get there during the next 200 meters but I was fighting and just wasting energy.  As the red turn buoy was in sight I had no choice but to really swim left and fight the chop and the other swimmers.  As you can imagine I had made a complete Z in the first portion of this swim and was very frustrated by the lack of direction.  Swimming hard for 200-300 meters to start is great but if you are not sighting properly you are wasting energy as you end up all over the course. I rounded the first and second turn buoys and was being passed by people from the previous wave but thought I was having a good swim.  The swim never felt longer than it did last year but I could really feel the chop and that was much different.  I began swimming harder in the back half and never felt tired but it was a struggle because of the current and chop of the water.  When I was about 200 meters from the bridge I started getting tossed around.  There were quite a few other swimmers there and it became a bumper car swim.  Hitting people and getting hit because the chop was so tough. Once through the bridge the chop really gets going.  It was much worse than last year and I did all I could to get to the finish and get out of the water.  I was swallowing salt water left and right and it burned my throat while now making me cough even harder.  The cough is a lingering effect of the flu from just the week prior.  Once I hit the swim exit I looked at my watch and saw 45 minutes.  This is 4 minutes slower than Ironman San Juan 2012 but I know that I swam the way the plan was laid out.

Bike:

The run from the swim exit to the transition is 400 meters and it is one of the hardest ways to get your heart rate down and ready for the bike but I controlled myself on the run and did not get too far ahead of myself.  I got into the stadium and tossed on all my gear and out of transition fairly quickly. Once you exit transition you go up a steep driveway and then travel through a part of San Juan before you head out on the highway.  One of the great parts of Ironman San Juan is that they close down the highway for the race.  This makes it a great bike course for all abilities.  I knew my race strategy and was going to be executed no matter the speed or time.  I broke the bike down into sections which would help me get through the 56 miles while not focusing on speed:

  • Section 1: Start to merge with Lap 2 (10 miles)
  • Section 2: Merge to turnaround (9 miles)
  • Section 3: Turnaround to start of Lap 2 (9 miles)
  • Section 4: Lap 2 start to turnaround (9 miles)
  • Section 5: Turnaround to lap split-off (9 miles)
  • Section 6: Lap split-off to finish (10 miles)

Each time I looked down at my bike computer I was at 145 bpm and up to 150 bpm when the head wind would hit us, which came on the way back into town twice.  The only other times when my heart rate got elevated was at the on and off ramps of the highway and the two times you ascend a bridge. While on section 3 the skies opened up and the rains came down.  It felt great at first but then it got harder and harder and started to worry me that the next 1.5 hours was going to be in a downpour.  After about 5-10 minutes it cleared up but then you could really feel the heat and humidity radiating off the ground. While sticking to the heart rate goal I also focused on getting liquids into my system.  I had two water bottles with approximately 850 calories of Herbalife24 Prolong and Prepare plus another 200 calories of EFS Liquid Shot.  I only carried two water bottles which meant that I had to take water off the course.  On the first pass I dropped the bottle and did so again on the third pass but on passes 2 and 4 I got the bottle and drank.  I managed 4 bottles of liquids in the time I was on the bike and peed once while riding. Section 5 brought with it a very difficult head-wind and lead into section 6 which was where all the climbing on the bike is.  The last 20 miles was tough but I managed to stay focused on my heart rate and not get disappointed with the overall time on the bike.

Run:

Maria and I broke down the run into 4 laps since it is a double out and back.  The strategy was to start out slow and pick up the pace throughout the run.  I have never executed a half-ironman run in this way.  Typically I try to slow down but fly out of transition and then blow up on the second half.  This time I was determined not to allow that to happen. When I started running my legs felt like they just rode 56 miles quite hard and that forced me to slow the pace.  This run is also very challenging in that it has more elevation gain than the bike.  With these two components involved I had nothing left to do but to run with my heart rate in mind. I reached the first mile quickly and then the first of the steep hills came and it was  tough but manageable.  I was fueled by the athletes walking and I was not going to let this hill beat me.  Heading toward El Morro I started to gain my running legs and just in time to head into the fort.  The fort is very hot as there is a 30 or 40 foot wall that doesn’t allow the breeze to come into play and radiates heat back onto you. I ran into and out of the fort and on the way out I came up on a wheel chair athlete that had to fight his way up the steep cobblestone.  The crowd went bananas cheering for him and it was great to see and hear. During Laps 2 and 3 I picked up my pace, per the race strategy, and was feeling great. I began passing other athletes by the bunches and knew that I was going to finish strong.  The paces were consistent and my body felt great.  I fought through the hills and the fort again and was staying focused.  Leaving the fort I knew I only had a couple of miles to go and I kept passing other athletes who were either walking or being disabled by the heat and humidity of the day. As I got to the 12 mile marker my gut began to cry out in pain.  I knew I only had 1.1 miles to go and I had to fight through it.  Every step was making the cramping worse.  I descended into the final half-mile and I could tell my pace was slowing.  Each land of the right foot caused a jarring effect into my gut that made me wince in pain.  It got so bad that I stopped for the first time in a race and tried to pull my ribs out.  I walked 10-15 steps and then started running but the pain was got worse.  I walked again and when an athlete with 41 on his calf passed me I put the feelings in my pocket and fought the pain the rest of the run. I had one last climb up and over a bridge and that is when I saw Karen.  It was such a great sight as she was cheering loudly and going crazy.  I managed to forget about the cramping for the final few hundred meters and when I crossed the finish line I finally looked at my watch and saw 5:41 and could not have been prouder of my effort.

Ironman San Juan 70.3 Event:

Ironman San Juan 70.3 lived up to its billing and memories for me.  This is the second year of racing on the island and it was more fun the second time as it was the first.  I finished 12 minutes slower this year but had a better race. The swim was more challenging with the high winds that caused more chop this year than last.  The bike was just as I remembered it with the elevation gains being at the beginning and end when you are getting on and off the highway. The roads are horrible in places but perfect in others.  The winds will take a toll on you in one direction or the other but the views are breath-taking and the majority of the ride is flat and fast. The hardest portion of Ironman San Juan is the run.  As mentioned, there is more elevation gain on the run than on the bike but if you break it down for yourself into manageable parts you can get through it unscathed. The pros turned out in full force for this year’s race and I had the pleasure of meeting Leanda Cave at the airport and Kelli Williamson at the hotel after the race.  Linsey Corbin and Faris Al-Sultan were pleasant at the pro briefing.  Linsey was also very nice when we met her after the race at the hotel. This race is a must do for the event alone but being able to spend time on a Caribbean island eating local food and soaking up the sun is the icing on the cake.  If you choose to race this event next year be sure to contact me so I can give you a de-briefing of the places to visit and eat because that is as much a part of the experience as the race itself.

Ironman San Juan - Thank You!

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