Thursday, August 31, 2006

First you have to admit it......BPA

Self: Hi, my name is TriEric and I pee on the bike.

Support Group: Hi TriEric. Welcome. We all pee on the bike also.

Yes, that is how my first meeting with Bike Pee'ers Anonymous started. I first had to admit what I do. It felt refreshing, like the warm stream of water running down your legs from a bursting bladder. I was able to share my secret without someone saying EWW or GROSS. Of course most of the people in the group were triathletes, except for the 5 year old who had his training wheels recently taken off and it scared the piss out of him. Such a sad little story.

Coming fresh off my recent Ironman I was presented with this question time and again, "What do you do when you have to pee?" I look people straight in the eye and tell them the truth. If necessary, I pee my pants. In fact the only time I unclipped from my pedals was during my stop at the special needs bags. Otherwise the bike and I were one for 112 miles.

During my IM training I had talked with Coach Angela about peeing on the bike. She highly recommends the practice and knew I could handle it. Okay that didn't sound quite right. Angela said, "If you have plans to race a Half Ironman or Ironman event, one thing you want to do ,or be able to do, is PEE ON THE BIKE! This means you pee while riding, while moving, you do not stop to go the bathroom."

The hardest part is the mental aspect of the act. Except for when we are babies and learning to use the potty, we usually don't pee ourselves. Maybe that occasional drunken evening out or the uncontrollable laughing will make you squirt, but we try to avoid urinating on ones self. But during a bike race or triathlon the time it takes for a natural break is costly. Consider the following.......

Decide you have to pee.
Slow down to pee.
Get off the bike.
Walk over to the port-a-potty / tree / bush / etc.....
Walk back to your bike
Get on the bike
Get back up to race speed.

WOW, you've just spent 3 or more minutes going nowhere. No forward progress. Now for an Ironman race multiply that by 4 or 5. Even if you "only" spend 3 minutes per break that could be between 12-15 minutes. I don't care how fast or slow you are, this could have an impact on your race. For the quick this be the difference in placing or qualifying for Hawaii. For the back-of-the packers this could mean missing a cutoff time and not being able to continue. For everyone it could mean missing that goal time.

So there are advantages that go with peeing on the bike. But how do you actually do the "dirty" deed? I have enlisted Coach Angela to offer her words of wisdom for the women and I will provide some personal insight for the guys. Either way peeing on the bike, as well as yourself, is a mental battle.

Mental Preparation:
What is pee? Water. Okay with some "waste" mixed in for color. The main components of urine are (salt) water and waste products. The major waste product from cells in the body is ammonia which gets broken down by the liver. That yellow tint is the waste products from the blood. Read more here Ask a Scientist or here MadSci Network.

Remember the time savings during the race.

You will already be sweaty and stinky. You probably won't know anyone around you. You will look hardcore, or crazy. If it's hot out you will dry up pretty quick. Wash yourself off with a water bottle.

Believe me, it's not easy. It took me a bit of convincing the first time I peed on the bike. Since that first time I have learned some important things to think about.

For the guys:

Face it. We have it easier with two options for peeing on the bike. Stand up and "whip it out" or simply open up the gates feel the warmth.

"Whip it out" Method:

You need a slight downhill for this to work. This way you can keep your forward momentum while not pedaling. On the side you are going to pee, drop your leg to the bottom of the stroke and stand on your pedal. With your opposite hand maintain control of your bike, possibly even on the brake in case you have to stop. Pull down your shorts and take aim. The stream usually makes it to the road without getting on yourself or the bike. Now I have read where it's bad form to pee off the right side of the bike because of the drive train but that is where the side of the road is, away from traffic. I usually don't hit my bike. I also watch my speed. You don't spit into the wind, so why would you piss into the wind. I have found that speeds approaching 10MPH produce enough wind to blow your pee back onto your leg or bike. At that point you should have just peed your pants. And no matter how much you "shake it" that last drops will wind up in your shorts.

"Let it Flow" Method:

Now we are getting hardcore. Just go. Your tri shorts will provide the path for the water to flow. Usually down and around the back of the leg. Speed doesn't matter at this point. Actually speed is sometimes a friend as it will blow the water off the back of your leg. There is also the drying affect of the wind. I usually don't worry about my bike shoes getting wet because there is not as much movement like with running, so there is no aggravation or chance of blisters.

With peeing in your shorts you will want to have a spare water bottle available to wash off with. If you are fortunate enough to pee before an aid station you can get a bottle from there and have a quick mobile shower.

For the Women:
I enlisted the help of Coach Angela to help me with this section. Here are some excerpts from her e-mail to me.

Peeing on the bike… yes girls do it too!!

For women this is a harder thing to practice during your training, because we cannot whip it out, so to speak. Yes, you are going to the bathroom on yourself. If you are on a long ride by the time you have to go, you should be peeing water anyway. If you hydrate properly, needing to pee will take care of itself during race day.

Preferably you are drinking at least a 20 oz bottle of water per hour, not including Gatorade or other sports drinks. Assuming you were hydrated before the race, along with the length of the race you should be able to go to the bathroom.

I talk myself into having to go. I start thinking about having to go. I think about how much I have drank, or being cold, or think of running water. Use whatever method or thought that will trigger your brain to make you want to pee.

If possible I try to time going right before an aid station, because then I can get a bottle of water to rinse off with, throw away the bottle I just went the bathroom on. Most of you have a bottle below your seat, just make sure the bottle that is down there is one you can dispose of and not one full of fuel for the race. To some of you this may seem disgusting but you are only peeing water. Also you may have bottle cages behind your seat. I have never had a problem with that because the pee is running down the leg of your shorts away from the bottle. No "spray" makes it to the rear bottles.

WOW, thanks Angela for that helpful insight into peeing.....for women.....on the bike.

Here are some other tips for bike peeing.

I find there is a make or break temperature for peeing on the bike and being comfortable. I think somewhere around 75 degrees F I stand up to pee. Below 75 nothing dries up and you are a wet sticky mess longer. It just makes things uncomfortable. Guys are fortunate to have options. Above 75 degrees you will eventually dry up with the heat ad wind.

If it's raining out, anything goes. You get washed off by the rain while you pee.

You can quickly drop those people that have been drafting behind you illegally.

Wash your shoes after the ride ASAP. I've heard vinegar works well to kill the smell, and if left unattended IT WILL SMELL. Remember, there is a form of ammonia in urine.

I know this is hard to deal with. There is a support group out there to help. If you have any questions or comments that you do not want to post publicly just e-mail me. Coach Angela is willing to entertain questions from the women in the blog-o-sphere. She can be reached at and she says, "I always pee on my bike."


Papa Louie posted some demotivation posters on his blog. Something about getting "chicked" at one of his races. Nothing wrong with that, I had my ass handed to me by at least 25 Ironwomen at Lake Placid.

However, his Defeat poster will not be accepted. I offer this as an alternative.

Game On!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What would you sacrifice?

I have to say that I lead a pretty lucky life. I have good health. Those around me also have good health. I have no reason to complain about my state of being. I have a job that pays me well. My kids frustrate the hell out of me, but they are teenagers. I have a loving wife who supports me and I support her; mentally, emotionally, physically.

I try to do the "right" thing and support those less fortunate than I. The fundraising for my Ironman was my first foray into that type of thing. When you know someone personally who is dealing with a serious illness the motivation behind the fundraising increases dramatically. So my Ironman charity was Komen foundation for breast cancer. It started with two friends and it quickly spread to include others who were directly making contributions to support family or friends.

So today I hear news of another friend in need. At the Y pool I swim at, TriSaraTops swims there also, you get to know the people around you. Dave the lifeguard is a diabetic. Ruth, noodle lady, had some lymph nodes removed. I met a lady earlier in the week who says she has to give up triathlon, running specifically, because she has severe arthritis in her one knee.

Jason is a newer swimmer at the Y whom I have gotten to know over the summer. He migrated over from a Y that closed earlier in the year. He became Sidestroke Jason because that was all he did, sidestroke. But he is a super nice guy and a solid athlete. He races motorcycles. I would call them super-bikes myself. Crotch rockets on a twisty-turny closed road course. He has been racing for the past several years and finally won the big race this past month. He deserved it because he worked hard for it, like we all do in triathlon or running or cycling, whatever your passion.

His victory was short lived. Soon after his race he learned that his 1 year old son has Leukemia. First I cannot imagine how devastating that must be to a parent. Like I said I have been very fortunate to not experience anything like that. What now? Jason appears to have tackled this adversity with great maturity. His son comes first. Jason has decided to leave the competitive world of motorcycle racing. He just can't afford to get injured, lose time from work, fall short on money, possibly kill himself. His son desperately needs him right now.

WOW. To leave something that you have worked so hard for. At the top of his racing career. But I commend his decision. I know that if I was faced with the same decision I would do that also. I know that if a major life altering situation arose during my Ironman training I would have stopped as well.

Yet the figurative death of a motorcycle racer has opened the door for the birth of a triathlete. Yes, Jason has always wanted to try-a-tri and is going to give it a shot. He doesn't have all the equipment yet, mainly a bicycle, but he is looking to start improving his swim and change to freestyle swimming, no more side-stroking. I'm going to help him best I can. I have already given him some pointers in the pool and I'll make up some workouts for him.

Next year I will push to raise funds for Leukemia & Lymphoma like TriSaraTops is doing for her Ironman MOO. So for now I contribute to her fundraising, and encourage you to do the same. If you can't contribute to her charity, or have already made contributions or are volunteering somewhere..........what I'm trying to say is there are many ways to help those less fortunate. Do what feels right for you. Make a difference. Don't sacrifice the gift.

Game on.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Two for Tuesday - Women in My Life

How about that.......2 Two for Tuesday. This is a post Ironman entry as I begin thanking the people who supported me during my quest to become an Ironman.

Aimee - My wonderful wife

From day one when I first mentioned signing up for Ironman she was behind me 100%. Not once did she doubt my ability or complain about my training. She knew what this would involve and wanted to see me accomplish this task. Being a highly motivated athlete herself, she had her own training to attend to. First a half marathon in the spring then a fall marathon in Baltimore, soon to come. How many times did she wake up with me early to help me get out of bed to swim as she hit the tread mill? How concerned was she when my right hip seized up on me 6 weeks prior to my first marathon? How many times was she waiting for me with her bike to go out with me for the run portion of my brick?

All of them I cannot count, but she was always there. Providing the mental boost when I was down or doubting myself. I cannot think or express how much I am in love with this woman for all that she had done for me since we became married. She was the motivator that got me back into running seven years ago. I think about the past, present and future of my life with Aimee and know there will be even more memories to add onto the ones we have so far. Je t'aime.

Angela - My Fantastic Coach

Three years of coaching. Three years of friendship. Three years of growth that she has encouraged and nurtured through her training plans. We have learned much about each other. She has helped me push harder to reach my goals. I have tried to help her become a better coach. Without her I would still be a mediocre triathlete training in an unstructured manner sitting in the middle of the pack not knowing how I could ever complete an Ironman. I feel that I am more physically fit now than when I was in high school running track.

It's hard to describe how I feel about Angela because she is both my coach and friend. But what a wonderful combination it is. As long as she is coaching I hope to be under her guidance for many years to come. Friends Forever.

Two for Tuesday - Web links

Found these new web links. One is from Flatman.

Ironman Wisconsin Editorial

New Website on Running

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ironman Race Report - Race Day (Run/Finish)

I couldn’t believe I was finally on the run. I knew I had been racing for at least 7 hours but wasn’t sure. On the bike I never looked at my watch except to check my heart rate. I had turned my bike computer down so I wouldn’t be looking at it all the time. I usually checked for my cadence. On the bike I never looked at speed, mileage or time. I raced by perception, checking my HR and exerting myself based upon how I felt. I was going to do the same on the run.

So I leave the transition area at the Olympic Oval and head out onto the streets of Lake Placid. All of the streets are closed off to traffic. Around the Oval the spectators are behind the metal fencing along the streets. After about 100 yards the fencing is gone but the streets are still empty except for the cheering fans lining the streets. Here I am practically by myself with only a couple other runners around me and you hear thunder-sticks, cow bells, whistles and people rooting you on. The streets were covered in chalk with race numbers, names and words of encouragement.

I felt great starting the run. They say there is an aid station almost every mile on the run course. When I approached the first aid station I figured I had gone a mile so I looked at my watch to see what pace I was at. My watch read somewhere around 7:15. I knew that wasn’t right, it better not be right, or else I was going to crash and burn during the marathon. Later, it came to me that I was actually reading the total watch time. Yup, 7:15 starting the marathon was about right. I thought to myself, as long as I don’t blow up I can have a great race today. That was the last time I looked at my watch for time. As on the bike, I only looked at my watch for heart rate information. I never hit the split button to determine my pace or anything. I think it really paid off because I had no concept of time. I just ran towards the finish line.

When I did check my heart rate I was exactly where I wanted it to be, around 146. This is what Coach and I agreed upon in my race plan. On my fuel belt I had two bottles of water, a flask with HammerGel, a pouch with my tube of Endurolytes and some Clif Blocks. I was feeling good and had a great pace going, probably around 8:30/mile. At the aid stations I was taking water and some food like oranges. The day was also starting to get hot so sponges were in order. I would grab several sponges to use. One often went under my running hat and another between the shoulder blades under the jersey.

After a couple of aid stations I noticed a bad burning sensation near my right pectoral. I looked down and saw a nasty rub mark from my tri top. I didn’t notice it on the bike at all but it must have come from the swim. The way my tri top and wetsuit rubbed must have been bad during the swim. Being in the aero position I never noticed it. Now on the run with the up and down motion I was noticing it much more. I tried to more the seam away from the area. We would just have to see it if would get worse or not.

After turning onto Riverview Road at the Olympic Ski jumps was this guy with his Olympic Gold medal from 1960 summer games. I don’t remember his name but the sign said, Touch a Gold Medal for Luck. I did more than touch the medal; I grabbed it for a moment. This thing was huge. Larger than the palm of my hand, my fingers curled over the top. The road was very cool and Aimee was already out on the course with her bike. She was there to cheer me on and take some pictures. At the next aid station there was some watermelon that was awesome. It tasted so good. I also saw some Vaseline on the last table as I passed it by. I should have taken some right then for my rub mark but for some reason I didn’t want to turn back. I figured there would be some at the next aid station.

Janus had also setup inspiration alley. All of the big signs people made at the Janus tent were placed along the side of the road. Ford had also setup a big trailer with speakers and a DJ. He was calling out peoples names and telling everyone they looked strong. There was also an inflatable arch hooked up to a water truck. There were misters in the archway. As you ran through you were sprayed with a fine mist of water. Further up the course near the turn around I saw Coach Hodska and his sidekick Baker. They were riding their bikes the opposite way. I yelled at them both. Baker yelled out an encouraging, “Way to go Andy Gibb”. He must have a fixation with the Bee Gees and their youngest brother.

Most of this out and back was not very eventful. At one aid station I made a pit stop, yes I actually used the port-a-potty. Aimee saw me and tried to take a picture of me coming out. She was going to tell Angela that I used a bathroom. It was too early to try peeing while running, wet shoes for 19 miles is not fun. As I approached the Ford Inspiration Zone there were timing mats on the road. The computer picked up your number then flashed you name on a big display panel with a message. Aimee told me later that you could have a personal message entered for your athlete. It was very cool seeing it. As I passed the DJ we slapped hands and I felt my first significant rush of emotion. I was maybe 10 miles into the race and I knew I was going to finish. But I had to keep myself under control since there was still a lot of racing to do. I pulled myself back to the moment and regained my focus…….mile….at…..a….time.

Coming off Riverview Road and heading back to town there is an uphill. This first uphill I managed to run and still keep my heart rate where it needed to be. People were still all over the place. At one aid station someone had a Mr. Potato Head in the middle of the road. It was holding a sign that said, “Go Virg”. Each time I passed that spot Mr. Potato Head was facing the direction Virg was coming from. Aimee even got a picture of him.

Getting closer to town there is the Degree of Difficulty Hill. Angela had told me that I was to walk the hill no matter what. Keep the HR low, don’t go through the roof, recover quickly and start running again. I grabbed two waters from the aid station before the hill and drank while power walking the hill. At the top of the hill where we turn towards the Oval was a group of people with a megaphone cheering people on. They wanted me to run but I knew my plan called for me to walk. I didn’t let them persuade me to run.

After I made the turn I started running again and made my way to Lake Placid Drive. This out and back was probably 2 miles total. The aid station on this road was also where my family was volunteering. The run special needs bags were lined up and I knew where to go for my bag. I grabbed a new tube of Endurolytes, two water bottles and a second flask of HammerGel. As I approached the aid station I could see my mom and dad doing some cleanup picking up paper cups and trash. On the opposite side of the road I saw my sis-in-law Becky jumping around like a mad woman yelling my name. All I could think of was, “Why is she over there? She is supposed to be at the aid station.” She took some pictures of me then ran along the side of the road behind me while yelling. She is a trip. I saw Amanda handing out GU and I was out to the turn-around. On the way back through the aid station I saw Andrew and my father-in-law in the line of volunteers. I was glad to see everyone helping out. After the aid station I saw Jim Berbee pass me. I wasn’t sure where I had passed him but I yelled out some encouragement and kept going.

Approaching the Oval you can turn left or right. Left takes you back onto the course for lap #2. Right takes you to the Oval for the finish. I would be taking the right turn in about 2 hours. I still felt good as I began my second loop. I think I started to feel a loss of energy as I turned onto Riverview Road. I touched the gold medal again then had to use the port-a-potty. Two potties and one was occupied, at least I thought so until I opened a door and there was a guy standing there. I let go of the door and decided to step between the two potties and pee right there. I leaned against the one potty and relieved myself. I had to kind of jerk myself upright away from the potty to get going again. I knew at that point my energy levels were starting to drop. I also watched my heart rate begin to drop. Coach Angela had always said, “HR high stop eating, HR low feed the body.” I had watched my HR drop from 146 to 140 to 135 to 130. I knew it was too late now to fuel up, so I just put whatever I could into my body to survive the second loop. I was hydrating and taking the Endurolytes just fine, so no dehydration. I started to drink cola at the aid stations and still eat the fruit available. The pretzels, cookies and Fig Newtons were too dry for me to eat. It was during the second loop that Linda Misencik ran up to me on her first loop of the marathon. It was good to see a familiar face. We ran a little bit together until she pulled ahead of me. I used her to pull me along for part of the run.

I kept seeing Aimee and Coach Hodska on the course, always offering encouraging words and bits of advice. Aimee could tell I was starting to fade. The lack of energy was taking a toll on me mentally. I found myself becoming more focused inwardly. I was either zoning out or zoning in, depends upon how you look at it. I was zoning in on moving forward and keeping myself hydrated. I was zoning out all of the external factors that didn’t matter anymore. I ignored the DJ at the Inspiration Zone, that could have been lost energy. I tried not to think of the finish, more lost energy as the emotions tried to surface whenever I did think of the finish. I knew I was going to finish, I just wanted to finish strong.

At one aid station they finally had some chicken broth heated up. I took some and it tasted good. I could feel the positive affect it had about 15 minutes later. At the last aid station on Riverview Road I knew there was some watermelon. I wanted that watermelon real bad. As I went through the aid station I didn’t see the watermelon. At the last table I looked across the road and saw the volunteer with the bowl of watermelon. I walked across the street for that watermelon. It was a wonderful treat that tasted so good.

Turning off Riverview Road I walked the hill that I ran before. There was no way I was going to run it. I tried to pick up my pace a little since I knew I was getting closer to town. My speed didn’t improve that much. At I approached the final hill into town I grabbed a water and cola from the aid station. I was going to drink them as I powerwalked up the hill. The same group of people where there cheering us on. After the aid station I saw a sign along the road that my family had made. That late in the race it was a very welcome sign. As I continued on Lake Placid Drive I saw Linda ahead of me. I slowly pulled myself to her and passed her at the turn around point. She made some comment to me and I began to run a little stronger. The adrenaline was starting to kick in as I knew my finish line was not far away. As I approached the left/right junction I was paying attention to who was in front of me. I was going right this time to the finish. Where were the two people in front of me going? One went left and one went right. As we entered the Oval I tried to stay away from the guy in front of me. I wanted to spaced apart for the big finish. Family and kids were lined up along the fencing waiting to join their mom/dad/husband/wife for the final push to the finish line. At the top of the Oval I heard Aimee call out my name and I pointed to her, that is where my finishing video starts and my tunnel vision begins.

The guy in front of me… I too close to him? Will we finish enough apart? Then I hear, “……and Eric Gibb, from Avon, Ohio, both first time finishers” then silence. It was only me and the finish line. I raised my arms in victory as I crossed the finish line of Ironman USA in 11:15:39. I am an Ironman. Two ladies were at my side immediately. A medal was draped around my neck and I walked away from the finish line. All of a sudden Barry Horpsted, the ART guy, was right there to congratulate me. I was just happy to see a familiar face. I suddenly became very quiet as a huge emotional rush swelled through my body. Barry asked if I was okay and I just told him it was emotions. Then the lady on my right said there were some people calling for me. Right at the finish line, between the video truck and the fencing was Andrew, Amanda and Becky. I walked over to them, gave them a big hug and started to cry. I could finally release the emotions inside. I told them I loved them and was escorted away by my two finish line catchers. I was handed my finishers bag and had my picture taken. They walked with me to make sure I was going to be okay. They didn’t leave my side until I reached the food area and were sure I was going to be okay. I grabbed some pizza and cola but only took one bite. I couldn’t eat. I looked around at the other people sitting at the tables and was saddened. I didn’t know anyone. I had no one to share my Ironman victory with. I left the food tent and went to get a post race massage. Once I got to my table I saw my new friend Jen, the volunteer coordinator. She was busy but said that she would be over soon. It was just great to see another familiar face. The massage therapist working on me was great because we talked about the race and how I was feeling. Then I saw Bethany head out to pick up the transition bags for the guy next to me. When she returned I asked her to get my bags also. I explained that the bags were right outside the entrance to the massage tent. She was the greatest and got my bags for me. We chatted for a little bit. Jen finally made it over to check on me. We also talked until my massage was done.

I grabbed my bags and started to figure out how I was going to get out of the oval. I headed towards the finish line when Barry came up to me. Aimee had spotted him and asked him to find me. No one knew where I was and wanted to make sure I wasn’t in the medical section. Barry made it his mission to find me for my family. I walked with him over to my family and thanked him once again, I was with the people I wanted to celebrate with. My dad and Andrew helped me get my bike out of transition and we left the Oval to head back to the condo. At the condo, they had decorated the inside with signs, streamers and balloons. Yes, I was an Ironman.

PS....the race may be done my my journal continues. Post race commentary will be posted as well.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ironman Race Report - Race Day (Bike)

On our last episode of "24", Jack Bower was pursuing his latest lead regarding the plot to control the President.........

I know. My race report is like "24". I have so much to write and am still very busy with work, spending time with Aimee and getting back into the swing with training. So here goes my Bike Report from IM USA.

I ran past several people mounting their bikes so I could do my running mount onto the bike. I had to clip in quickly because a quick left hand hairpin turn was ahead that dropped you down to the streets. Then down two more hills before reaching the main road heading out of town. I wasn’t surrounded by too may people but enough to keep you company. The first 9 miles was a rolling uphill ride along some beautiful roads. It was nothing hard just a steady climb away from Lake Placid. It was interesting riding because some people were better climbers and some were better downhillers. I’m more of a spinner up the hills as opposed to mashing gears that may get you up there faster. I was definitely a faster downhiller.

I was trading position with a female named Molly. She would pass me on the uphill and I would pass her on the downhill. The longer downhill started as we rode by two small lakes, just beautiful. At this point I passed Molly for what seemed like the 6th time. I looked over at her and said, “Molly we have to stop meeting like this.” I don’t know if she appreciated the humor or not as she looked over at me but I was having fun already. I cruised down the major downhill trying to stay away from other riders and I zipped by in the aero position. The roads were a little wet but that didn’t affect my effort going down. I was pretty aggressive. I don’t know when she passed me again but Molly did and then she was gone. I didn’t see her again until the run course. I couldn’t miss her, she was being escorted by a bike that said “1st amateur female”. Considering there were no pro women at the race, Molly was the 1st overall female.

So let’s get back to the bike. I was keeping my heart rate under control and perceiving my effort to be below all out exertion. This plan of attack was similar to how I raced the Mountaineer Half IM one month prior. I had my nutrition and was also taking bananas at the aid stations. As I approached the town of Jay I was on the lookout for my mother-in-law and Joe. Sure enough they were in the front yard of the B&B they were staying at. They gave me a loud round of cheers as I rode by. The rider next to me said, “That must be nice”. I replied that it was my M-I-L and she has to cheer for me. We quickly turned left and headed toward Wilmington. Immediately we are climbing. I was told it is a three mile climb. When we drove the course the incline didn’t seem like much. However, on a bike any incline is felt, especially when it doesn’t seem to end. Everyone was just trudging along. There were small groups of spectators in front yards and one duo in particular dressed in huge Afro wigs and sporting Harlem Globetrotter jerseys. He was so full of energy cheering on each person as they rode by. He was out there each time I rode that hill. As I looked up the rode I noticed an athlete standing in the middle of the road with his bike lying on the ground. He was looking for help, “650 Tubular, second flat”. Unfortunately the neutral bike sport motorcycle had just gone by the opposite way. I don’t know how he was expecting anyone to help by depleting their own supplies. I wonder what happened to him.

Heading into the town of Wilmington is a nice downhill section. We are about half way into the bike course now. Before heading back to Lake Placid the course turns north for an out and back section. Aimee had ridden her mountain bike from Lake Placid to Wilmington. It was a perfect place for her to see me twice without moving. She also saw some good wipe-outs as people took the corners too aggressively. This road is completely closed off for the race and we start to bunch up again. The rolling hills and narrower roads are full of people. As we climb up on hill the riders ahead are zipping back down on the other side. I just have to remember that I will be zipping back the other way soon also. At one point we are climbing the road in a pack of what seemed like 50. You couldn’t avoid it. You had to have some good bike handling skills to make quick movements to avoid being caught behind a slower rider. Everyone was great about letting people move over. I was vocal in telling people ahead of me, by yelling their name, they could move over or squeeze ahead of me. I was also the recipient of good sportsmanship as well. At the turn around the little town was hopping with activity. A huge Budweiser banner was strung across the street. The banner said Welcome Race Fans. I know it was more meant for NASCAR but it was actually fitting for our day. The aid station was busy and they had a DJ providing music.

We zipped back down the road to Wilmington and finally headed back towards Lake Placid. Route 86 back to LP is simply amazing. There is more uphill than downhill, but you also have the great views of Whiteface Mountain and the river next to the road. It was during this time I came up on Meridith LaRosa. My sister-in-law (Becky) works with Meridith’s neighbor (James); Me -> Becky -> James -> Meridith. Got it? I recognized her name and number since I looked them up in the race guide. I called out her name and explained the connection. I rode on and wished her good luck. She would pass me on the run and finish with a time of 11:05 and be in the top 15 women. James says she is a monster athlete.

The final climbs to LP is a three step process. I never really felt the difference between the three steps and was surprised when I was on the third called Papa Bear. The last uphill is the straightest part of the course and you get a great view of what is ahead of you. The road is closed and hundreds of people have lined up on both sides to cheer you up the hill. This was truly what the Tour de France must feel like. People are 3-4 feet away from you on both sides, clapping, cheering, ringing cow bells, banging thunder sticks and helping you get up that hill. We turn to the right and still have to climb up a little more. I thought we were done climbing when one more small climb appeared and there were awesome crowds cheering there as well. I gave it an extra little push because of the energy I was getting from the crowds.

After cresting the last climb we turn onto Lake Placid Drive and head towards downtown LP. Before reaching town I approached the bike special needs area. A volunteer with a walkie-talkie would relay the race number to a person with a mega-phone. A volunteer was waiting for me with my bag. I stripped off my gloves and arm warmers, leaving on my vest and leg warmers. I refilled my aero bottle and placed a full bottle on my frame. I grabbed a tube of Endurolytes and another Clif bar. I should have known things weren’t right when I only had to grab one Clif bar. My nutrition plan called for me to eat two bars each lap. I reasoned that it was okay because I was grabbing bananas at the aid stations. I left the special needs area and headed into downtown. Going around one corner I saw a water bottle fly across the road and a spectator quickly scooped it up. I thanked him for the quick action as I rode by. What a feeling to be riding through the closed off streets of Lake Placid with spectators lining both sides of the street. As I cut through the corners I heard my name called out on the PA system. So now I had to make a good showing. Don’t crash out in the turns but also look powerful as I ride by everyone. I made it through without incident. We crossed the timing mats for the first loop split and rejoined the course for lap two. Up to this point I had peed 2-3 times on the bike so I knew I was properly hydrated.

I kept myself under control for the second half of the bike. I was warned to not get overly pumped up for the second lap and conserve myself until after the big downhill. The roads were drier for the second loop and I bombed the downhill to Keene as fast as I could. I don’t know which loop was faster on the downhill but my max was 46MPH. I think with my race weight of 152 pounds that was as fast as I could have gone. I’m sure some of the heavier riders were topping out in the 50’s, but I didn’t want that weight during the climbs. I stayed steady during the second lap.

Along the climb between Jay and Wilmington I received a pleasant surprise. As an athlete began to ride past my on the left he called out my name. It was Jim Berbee, founder and Chairman of Berbee Information Networks, my employer. He is not as involved with the company anymore but is a multiple Ironman finisher. We shook hands and he asked me how I liked the course. All I could say was beautiful. Jim is a strong athlete at 42. We traded positions several times before he pulled ahead for good. I would later pass him on the run but he still finished in 12:21. He told me later that his run training wasn’t what it should have been and he suffered on the run.

I peed 2-3 more times while on the bike. I know some people are freaking out about peeing on the bike and yes guys have it easier than women, but you have to consider the time involved. I saw people stopping at porta-potties. I even saw people get off their bike and march into the woods 20 yards from the road. For a single pee break off the bike you could be spending 2-5 minutes decelerating, peeing and accelerating. Multiply that by 4 or 5 and you have lost anywhere from 8 - 30 minutes. Just something to think about. Actually during my last pee break during a small downhill section a guy rode by me and said, “That’s awesome”. Maybe he has never seen that before but I’m surprised that he didn’t think to ask about it from someone. Oh well.

As I approached the final hill on the bike course I was happy to see it. Not from a, “I can’t wait to get off the bike”, attitude but an “I can’t wait to get started on the run”. I never wanted to get my ass off the bike. I completely enjoyed riding 112 miles. As I attacked the final climb of the day Aimee was there waiting for me. She had ridden back from Wilmington to watch me on this final portion of the bike course. I loved seeing her on the course so much.

The same climbs back to Lake Placid Drive were missing some spectators who moved over to the run course but those left over were still cheering loudly. Making the left hand turn onto Lake Placid Drive I was greeted by the back end of an SUV. On the back of said support vehicle was a sign reading, “Last Cyclist”. I had caught the lantern rouge completing the first loop. I had to make a decision. The SUV was going too slow. I tried to pass near the curb and he also swerved that way. I moved to the driver side and tried to make contact with the driver to let him know I was going to pass. I finally made a sprint move past the SUV and also past the last rider. I tried to offer some words of encouragement. I checked the results and she wasn’t allowed to start her second loop, she only had a swim time in the results book. I cruised through the turns in the middle of town and made my way to the entrance to transition. As I rode behind Lake Placid High School I un-strapped my shoes and took my feet out. I swung my leg over the saddle and coasted to a stop before the timing mats standing on my left pedal. After I crossed the mat a volunteer grabbed my bike and told me to run right. I went around the oval towards the transition bags. A volunteer with a megaphone called out my number and a second volunteer went ahead of me and was holding out my bag. All I had to do was run by him, grab the bag and enter the changing tent.

Bike Time: 5:53:48

As I ran into the changing tent I asked for some work on my legs from one of the ART guys. I dumped my T2 bag out on the chair next to me and started taking off my socks, leg warmers and wind vest. A volunteer asked if I had everything I needed before he put my gear in the T2 bag and took it away. An ART guy came over asking if I needed sunscreen so I decided to have him spray some on. After I got my socks and shoes on I jumped on the ART table and had both hamstrings stretched out. When he was done stretching me out I stood up and someone put my fuel belt around me. I grabbed the reast of my stuff and headed out of the changing tent. As I crossed the timing matts and entered the street I realized I didn’t have my sunglasses on. Fortunately I had my hat on so I didn’t worry about it, I was running.

T2 Time: 4:48

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I have seen the future......

and it is good.

I know. Where is the bike report?!?!?! This has been a crazy weekend. So the race journal has to wait, but I am inspired to write about my weekend.

Friday I was working from home and getting some good work done when a last minute task slammed my way. It would involved getting into a customer remotely to do some computer setup. Great. But I did manage to have lunch with Coach Angela and talk about the past, present and future. AKA, Ironman recap, how I'm feeling post IM and where I'm headed next. I'll tell you about my future racing plans later. More work after lunch then BuckeyeRunner's hisband came over so I could help him get him new wheelset on his bike. After the mechanical work we went for a 2 hour ride. he was worried that I might want to hammer at some obscene speed like 26MPH, remember....Ironman is about pace not speed. Anyways he's a strong rider and we were clipping along at times. I'm still in my post IM recovery phase so I'm not supposed to be hammering yet.

After that it was getting things ready for the rest of the weekend and dinner. Pick up my daughter from her day at the Van's Warped Tour and off to bed.

Saturday started early because I am a captain for a bike aid station at the Greater Cleveland Triathlon. This Half IM event is in it's second year and I love helping out at this race. My aid station is at the furthest point on the course and people are so glad to see you at mile 30. I recruited my Snakebite teammates so it was an all SBR affair, including a new running friend Lloyd.

So I picked up my supplies Sat. morning and watched the kids races before heading home. Aimee and I had tickets to the Indians game in the afternoon then a quick appearance at a summer picnic held by one of Aimee's clients. It was good to see Carmen because I wanted to thank him again for a huge donation he made for my charity. Then back home to get my daughter to work, prep my gear for the aid station, then tackle my work task. Of course it didn't go perfect and I was up until midnight trying to make things work. I had to leave it at 95% done since I had to get up at 5:30 in the morning.

5:30 came too fast. First Aimee's alarm was still set for 4:30AM....that hurt...but I was able to get that last hour of sleep in.

Wake up, eat, contacts, pack the truck with aid station gear, fill water coolers. I left by 6:30 so I could swing by Panera and get bagels for my crew. Off to the aid station. I was early, because my inner self said I had to be, and started placing the gear. The crew started showing up and we finished our area. Made signs for the racers and filled water bottles. Then the Sherrif's Deputy came over and said there was a course change. We managed to confirm the change and move our aid station 400 yards to the otther side of the intersection. I was so proud of my teammates. We moved that aid station like nothing. We knew it was going to be tight before the first racer came through, but we did it.

Our Aid Station was awesome. Everyone did a great job. Except for Aimee and Mel, all of the ohters were road cyclists. I think they really got into it though. Doing anything the racer asked for and making sure Gatorade, water and gu made it to everyone. They all learned something about triathlons today, all the better for everyone.

After the last racer came through we tore down the station and I packed everything into my truck. I hauled everything back to the transition area for the RD.

After I hung out with friends post race I had to zip over to my father-in-laws to cut the grass. He got stuck in Houston because of work, so we were trying to help out around his house. Remember I've been up since 5:30AM with only 5.5 hours of sleep.

Back home I unloaded what was left in the truck, then Aimee came home. Dinner and blah blah blah and here I am writing a blog post when I should be in bed. So why am I posting?

Because, I have seen the future and it is good.

Three sightings have improved my field of vision.

I drove my daughter to work Saturday night. Her brother was working two doubles this weekend to make up for the small vacation he took with his girlfriend's family. I hadn't seen him in a while and wanted to talk. He was working the go-cart track, no he was the manager at the track that night. Actually he has manager duties wherever he is working. This is his third year at this place. Watching him grow up, accept the responsibility and do a job well makes me proud. I would watch him as he let people get into the go-carts, having to tell some kids they were unfortunately too small to ride and perform his final safety check on each driver. He had a serious air about his duties. I've always tried to instill a good work ethic by example. I think that's how I got mine, from my dad. So I was very proud to watch him work. I know he will be great at whatever job/career he undertakes in the future.

The bike course at the Greater Cleveland Tri is not easy. Actually there are some nasty hills involved. Nothing like what Bolder has been riding but significant for Ohio. Well, the race had some major changes due to devastating flooding along the shore of Lake Erie. The event site had to be moved, course changes made and so forth. Some people made wrong turns or were guided in the wrong direction. An unfortunate occurance but everyone was under pressure. Regardless, I was loaded with all of my aid station stuff and following the sag car. He had already picked up two people off the bike course so his rack was full. I wanted to make sure he didn't need my help. Sure enough one person pulled off the rode and was going to stop. I offered to take him back in my truck. We put his bike on top of the already full bed and headed out. This athlete was mid 50's, from Detroit, doing the aquathon (Swim/bike) at half IM distances. He had accidentally done the sprint Tri bike course, yet he decided to head back out of transition and ride the original 56 mile route. When I picked him up had was at mile 65, and still smiling and laughing about it. He said he would catch some guff from his friends but I told him to shut them up since he rode 9 more miles than they did, who's laughing now?

His attitude was what struck me as awesome. Despite coming from Detroit he stayed the course, once he made it on the right one, and rode his bike. He did say that he enjoyed the Indians game the day before and was impressed by downtown Cleveland. He didn't let a small turn of events diminish the fun weekend he was having. The future lies in the spreading of his attitude and spirit to those around him. I was encouraged myself.

#3 - and this one amazes me.
After I picked up the guy from Detroit, there was one more rider on the course. The SAG car and I pulled over to discuss his options. He wasn't going to make the bike cut-off. The SAG driver explained the situation to the racer and I could see him trying to make a good decision. He crossed the street to my truck and we placed yet another bike on my pile of stuff. The guy from Detroit commented to me about this persons bike. The tires were dry and cracked. I had never seen pedals like that before, pre-Look style, he was riding in his running shoes. Shifters on the down tube. This bike must have been ridden my Eddy Mercx in the Tour de France. Before we pulled back onto the road I congratulated this racer. He was the last cyclist. He was 16. That's not a typo people. Sixteen years old and doing a half IM race. I was amazed. Not only that we was out there doing it but stunned by his composure. He had an air about him that he knew he put his best effort forward. He knew the bike was his weakest sport. Yet he was calm and composed about it. the more I talked to him the more impressed I was. He already is a good swimmer and runner. He's going to school at Bowling Green, OH, where they grow 'em fast and lean. The girls cross country team has won state four years in a row, so he's in good company. He has raced triathlons for several years at olympic and sprint distances. He ran the Columbus, OH marathon in the fall of '05 with a 3:50:00 time...and told me how he didn't race smart that day and surged too early at mile 13....I'm like oh okay. He said that if he could have made it to the run he would have been fine. We was probably looking forward to running 13.1 miles, and would have clipped off some fast splits.

I saw the future of not only our sport (triathlon) but hopefully other sports as well. Athletics filled with composed young men and women who compete for the joy and satisfaction and not for the hardware or money. To walk off the bike course and have his attitude......I saw adults today with far worse attitudes. INCREDIBLE. I know he will learn from this day and come back stronger than before.

It inspires me and renews my faith and spirit in this wonderful sport that I have found and love. WOW.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ironman Race Report - Race Day (Swim)

Race day has finally arrived. My race journal I am writing in Word is 14 pages long so far. Boy am I getting wordy...but hey, this is my journal and my journey and I like what I'm writing. I hope you do also.

I slept well before the race and woke up around 3:00AM to pee. I also went downstairs and grabbed my first Boost of the morning. I went back to bed for one more hour before my alarm went off. I ate an orange, small bagel with peanut butter and 2 more Boost. I had a good amount of calories in me, probably around 1000. I showered to wake myself up and put on my racing clothes. I walked into Andrew’s room and told him I would see him later then I gave Amanda a kiss on the forehead. Aimee and I grabbed the rest of my stuff (tire pump, backpack with wetsuit, goggles and cap, special needs bags and fuel for T1 and T2 bags. We then walked to the Olympic Oval with her mountain bike since she would be out on the bike and run course for the day.

In transition I pumped up my tires and pulled the swim caps/garbage bag from my bike. I placed all of my nutrition on the bike and put my frozen fuel belt bottles on my fuel belt. As I was working on my transition bags the guy next to me stepped up to his bags. I was staring at his blue toenails. I commented on his toes and he said his daughter painted them last night, awesome. It takes an Ironman to allow his toenails to be painted blue. I was done in transition and went back out to rejoin Aimee. I got my body markings then we went to drop off my special needs bags.

We saw Matt Luck and his wife Sue one more time and they were returning from the special needs area. One more good luck and the girls exchanged cell phone numbers. As we walked back towards the swim start we stopped near Aimee’s mountain bike and I put on my wetsuit making sure I put body glide on my arms, neck and calves.

I gave Aimee a huge hug and kiss while she tried to keep herself under control. She was excited to finally witness the beginning of a race that I had trained 6 ½ months for. She wasn’t nervous because she knew I had the training under my belt and was well prepared for the long day. I made my was to the start area and saw Mark, Linda and Rocky near the bathrooms and we wished each other luck again.

There were a lot of people standing at the waters edge. I wasn’t going to dick around so I immediately got in the water to get some kind of warm-up in. I wanted to start near the middle of the start line to avoid the masses that would try to follow the cable under the wire. In case you haven’t heard about the swim cable at Lake Placid it’s pretty cool. They run a cable straight out and back along the swim course. The markers are attached to this line and it provides the athletes to swim without having to worry about sighting. The cable is only 3 – 4 feet under the water, but then again everyone wants to swim close the line and not sight.

I took my position in the water and continued to swim back and forth. I went along the waters edge to see if I could spot Aimee and anyone else. When I wasn’t swimming I floated on my back to stay calm and not waste any energy. These wetsuits are great for just that type of thing, treading water was not even necessary. The National Anthem was sung beautifully by a friend of my mom and dad, Kim Dodd. Kim’s husband is the son of my parents friends who grew up in Cleveland. Kim has a great voice and has done the National Anthem for Ironman for quite a few years, not exactly sure. Soon after that the starting canon went off.

National Anthem

Swim Start

My race plan called for me to start in the middle of the start line and go towards the first turn buoy at an angle. It would keep me from getting pummeled and in open water. I started out fine trying to draft off a woman in front of me. I was feeling great for the first 400 yards. Then all of a sudden I don’t know what exactly happened. I was surrounded by a maelstrom of people. Close quarters, sandwiched in between two guys. I lost my focus, confidence and stroke. My breathing was erratic and I’m sure my pulse/HR was through the roof. I couldn’t get back into my grove. I started to swim heads up, then breast stroke, then side kick. When I started to swim side kick I looked behind me to see more people barreling down on me. I knew I had to act fast but staying where I was definitely was not the answer. I had to get out of the mess I was in. I made a bee line to open water at a 45 degree angle across the path of the swimmers. I tried to pick my way around people but when I had to I swam over peoples legs. I had practiced this in the pool before with some friends, so at least I had that skill working for me. Once I made my way to more open water I was fine. I immediately got back into my stroke and rhythm with no problem, like nothing happened. I haven’t had an “attack” like that since early ’05 when I was swimming Olympic races. I stayed wide through the turn markers and swam on the outer fringes the rest of the way back to shore. It was during this time that I felt the urge to pee. I’ve never peed while actually swimming. Usually it’s been done in Lake Erie while treading water, but I wasn’t going to stop, tread water, pee, and then start swimming again. I don’t think anyone was behind me so I just went right there while swimming. First time I’ve peed like that during a swim. Something about being surrounded by water, oh well.

I exited the water for the first loop and got a big shock. The race clock said 32 minutes. Now my best Half IM swim to date was 36 minutes. How did I manage to pull of a 32 minute swim lap? I didn’t dwell on the time and wondered if I could negative or even split the second lap. That thought was soon out of my mind and I hit the water for lap two. I wasn’t going to push the swim so I could negative split. You never waste yourself on the swim, especially when you have 10-16 hours to go.

The crowds on the second loop had thinned out and I found myself swimming closer to the underwater cable. This was cool because I didn’t need to worry about sighting as much. I still sighted so I could gauge how far I had to go for the turn marker. I was concentrating on finding a person to draft off of……..

Swim drafting. Well there is a topic of discussion. Perfectly legal in the world of triathlon, swim drafting is simply the act of following the person in front of you. The lead person is breaking through the water and the follower can swim with less effort in the smooth water behind the lead person. Now I have done this on occasion when there are enough people to swim with. I simply find someone going the same pace and slip in behind them. The water in Mirror Lake was clear enough to see the people around me, especially the person in front of me. I found that this would help keep my swim form on track by keeping my hands wide of the feet I was following and keep my head up so the water was hitting my forehead and not dropping under the water, bad form. So anyways I’m trying to draft off some people and I keep touching their feet. Just a light scrape of my fingers on the bottoms. It seemed like I could never anticipate where the feet were going to wind up at. These people didn’t kick much with their feet so the feet kind of drifted back and forth. Of course on the other hand there are the people that kick a lot and you are stuck following a cloud of bubbles.

So I’m having fun, yes fun, on the second loop drafting behind people, keeping my stroke long and powerful. I tried to conserve as much energy as possible for the rest of the day. On the way back to shore I felt the urge to pee again. WTF? Is my bladder that small? Was my wetsuit compressing my bladder? So I let it loose again. Hell if I was going to stop at the bathrooms after coming out of a big lake. I swam until I touched the sand at the beach. I stood up and started to undo my wetsuit immediately because the wetsuit peelers are right there. I glanced at the race clock and hit the split button on my watch.

Official swim time 1:04:59. I was 99 of 418 in the swim and 440 overall. How awesome is that. I was expecting somewhere between 1:10 – 1:15. First withdrawal from the Bank of IM training account, first deposit into the Bank of IM time account.

I spotted and made eye contact with an open peeler but someone else got to him first. Fortunately there were two open right next to him. I dropped onto my back and before I knew it my wetsuit was off. I grabbed my wetsuit and started the run towards T1.

I now know how cattle feel when being herded into the barn. The fencing holding the crowds back was five feet wide with grass carpet to run on. I heard and spotted Aimee along the fencing as I ran to T1. My transition bag was in a great spot due to the low number secured through JCC. All I had to do was follow the fencing around to the first row of bags. I didn’t have to squeeze between the other racks to get my bag. I grabbed my bag and headed into the changing tent to get dressed.

With the cooler morning temperatures I decided to wear arm warmers, leg warmers, wind vest and long finger gloves. I know it may sound like a lot but that huge downhill I mentioned from Friday was only 9 miles away. I didn’t want to get chilled flying down at 46MPH. Others were wearing arm warmers and jackets but I didn’t see any other leg warmers. The guy next to me was sneezing so I did the polite thing in saying “Bless You”, each time he sneezed. Come on, we have to show come decorum in the tent. Support your fellow athletes. The changing tent volunteer was great as he made sure I had everything I needed before stuffing my wetsuit into the T1 bag and took it away for me.

Out of the changing tent I had to run past a majority of bike racks before getting to my primo spot in the first row. I didn’t have to run far with my bike before I passed the mount line. I ran past several people to find clear space and did my running mount onto the bike. Including the run from the lake to T1 my changing time was 7:19.

We interrupt this.....

....race report for a special Youtube video I found at John's blog this morning. Have something nearby to wipe the tears away.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Ironman Race Report - Pre-Race (Saturday)

Sorry it's been so long since the last post. I've been busy and this post has taken longer to create than I thought. Three days in the making and I submit it for your approval. Enjoy........

Each morning leading up to race day I would let myself wake up when the body was ready. Aimee set her alarm for 5:30AM so she coould get ready for her long 2 hour run. I woke up around 6:30, she finally left for her run, and I had something to eat. I packed my running shoes and bike to loosen up the legs and make sure the bike was in good order. I drove into town and rode my bike first. I did a loop around Mirror Lake and was able to see where the run turn-around would be. Back to the car I put on my running shoes for a quick out and back next to the lake. There were alot of people out, some triathletes, some runners, some cyclists, etc. People walking and enjoying the day.

I stopped by the beach to use a port-o-potty and check out the beach. The Gatorade Swim Check-in tent was busy. the tent is available for people to put their dry clothes while they swim in the lake. You can also pick up some schwag after your swim. First I was surprised by how many people were swimming....the day before the race. Second, the schwag at the Gatorade tent was lame. They were handing out GU and water bottles. I don't use GU and I have 10 Gatorade bottles at home, I'll pass. I walked to the Oval along the path from the lake. I wanted to know where I was going for T1.

I went back to the car and drove home. Aimee had just finished her run when I pulled in at the townhouse. Aimee had a great breakfast planned for all of us. While she made breakfast I started to put my transition bags together. During the late morning it started to rain. We knew the rain would be heading in but not sure how much was going to come down. Breakfast was fantastic and hit the spot. The pre-race nutrition called for a larger breakfast, medium lunch and light dinner. Around noon my mom and dad stopped by and they took the kids with them to the volunteeers meeting, then up to the campground. Aimee and I went to drop off my bike and gear bags. The overnight rain had people covering their bikes with plastic bags. I covered my seat and arm rests with old swim caps. I also used a garbage bag to cover the rest of my aero bars. I wasn't too worried about the drive train since I had applied some lube earlier in the day. I double checked the transition layout with a volunteer and walked the route for getting my gear off the bag racks.

We went back to the ART tent for another pre-race treatment. Barry handed me off to another guy who fine tuned me just right. My muslces were feeling great for the race. Aimee and I then went to the Janus Charity tent to report my fund raising totals to date. They had some computers to use and I had $5,910 at that point. I felt great to be able to exceed my goal and reported my total to the JCC rep. We chatted a little and she gave me my JCC tri top. I've worn it twice since being home. I'm proud to wear it when I can. She also told us about how Janus secured us with low bib numbers and the bibs also had a different color background. This was all very cool. My mom reminded me that my bib number was also my dad's age. She will be 71 in October. TriFrog also reminded me that 71 was the race number for Floyd Landis during the TdF, only I think the number was luckier for me than him.

Exiting the Janus tent we ran into Matt Luck, another Cleveland triathlete who was doing his first Ironman. I wasn't sure if I would see him during the weekend, I'm glad we did see each other. I gave him a big hug so I wouldn't have to look him in the face and have tears roll down my face.

I have to side track here briefly. Why would I get emotional the day before the race? Where were these feelings bubbling up from? The final month or two I could feel the wave building inside of me. But I couldn't/wouldn't allow it to be released. Remember, don't reveal yourself to the race. Wait until you have won the battle. Man that is hard to do. With everything that can happen in the life of an Ironman in training how are we supposed to keep it together? By surrounding yourself with people that support and love you. People that understand what you are doing and why you are doing it, even if you don't know yourself.

Like I said, the eb and flow of emotions were picking up in frequency as race day approached. I never knew when a rush of emotion would hit me.

I would watch a replay of last years race at Lake Placid and almost cry.
I'd look at Aimee and think about everything we had been through for the past 6 months.
The last e-mail from Coach Angela before the race took me 5 minutes to read through even though it was only 5 sentences long.
Hearing Coach Hodska tell me I was "dial-in" for the race.
Seeing a welcome friendly face in Matt.
Coming out of the Janus Charity Challenge tent knowing I did my best raising money.

These were the emotions bottled up inside me the day before my big "A" race. Emotions that were to stay bottled up until I cross that finish line.

So back to my meeting with Matt. We chatted for a bit and wished each other luck, not knowing if and when we would see each other on race day.

Aimee and I made it back home for some quiet time. I reviewed my race plan again while Aimee and her dad sat with me quietly at the table. No distractions. Pure concentration on my race plan. Picturing my race from beginning to end. Hoping it would all go well.

Tom, Aimee's dad, left for a volunteers meeting. Aimee and I were left alone at the townhouse. We hadn't really been alone since we had gotten there except for dinner the night before. Went spent some quality time together before everyone returned for dinner.

Saturday night dinner was with everyone at the townhouse. We had pasta, bread, wine, salad, sausage, etc. It was a great time to be with everyone. My mom brought some desserts including a cake that Amanda decorated with candles in the shape of my race number. We took pictures and everyone "secretly" went out to the garage to make signs for race day.

When everyone left and it was time to go to bed I felt extremely prepared for race day. Coach Angela provided me with the training plan and motivation to be prepared. I had executed the training plan to the best of my ability and it was showing. Aimee had done everything possible to help, I can't even begin to list everything. The week leading up to the race I had rested wisely, ate cautiously, hydrated religiously. I was hydrated since the day we arrived. I hadn't seen yellow pee in four days.

Time to get one more nights rest before the Big Show began.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ironman Race Report - Pre-Race (Friday)

Friday morning was another day to wake up when I felt like it. After breakfast Aimee and I went to meet Coach Hodska for some downhill practice. This was important in order to feel comfortable with the sweeping turns and high speeds encountered during the long downhill.

This major downhill section isn't totally downhill. There are two sections that flatten out and require pedaling. Actually I was pedaling alot. I would pedal until I spun out my gears. Why waste a good downhill. Bike handling skills were also valuable. The curves were gradual but at that speed you still needed to push down on your outside pedal as you turned. There was a little bit of steering to do as well from the aero bars. "Chicks dig guys with skills".

The first time down I was on the bullhorns and had to brake since I was too close to some other riders, Hodska, Mark and Rocky. Being on the horns make the front wheel shake alot so I had to clamp the top tube with my knees and relax.

The second trip down was much better as I was alone so I stayed aero the entire time. After each ride down Aimee would be there to drive me back up to the start. We did one more ride before I looked at my computer. My max speed was 46MPH.

Once we loaded up for the last time was drove back to town. We made a quick side trip on Riverside Drive. This is the long out and back for the marathon course. At least I wasn't going to be seeing it for the first time on race day. This is the view coming back on Riverside Drive. These are the Olympic Ski Jumps, very impressive.

We made it back to the house for lunch and relaxed a little before my afternoon massage. I reviewed my race plan again.

When Aimee and I went to the Oval for my massage we met up with my mom and dad. While I was getting my massage the three of them made signs at the Janus Tent. Aimee managed to snap a few pictures.

Jen was my IronHands massage therapist. We had a great time together and talked about alot of things. It was so hot under the tent she pulled back the curtains for some fresh air. I didn't care since I had shorts on. I have Aimee to thank for this pictures.

Jen was the volunteer coordinator. She did a fantastic job and I felt great heading into the race.

In the Janus tent my mom was making a sign while I goofed around in the background of the picture.

My kids, Andrew and Amanda, drove in from home on Friday. They arrived right before Aimee and I left for dinner and The Veranda. I got them squared away and we left for a nice meal. The Veranda has a nice porch that overlooks the downtown area of Lake Placid. We got two nice pictures from the porch.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ironman Race Report - Pre-Race (Thursday)

Ahhhh, vacation. I woke up when my body told me to. Of course it was still relatively early because that is what the body is used to. After breakfast we went grocery shopping to get items we didn't bring from home. When we finished putting things away Aimee, Tom (her dad) and I drove the bike course to see what the roads were like, get a general feel for the hills, and enjoy the scenery. Downhills would be fast, uphills would be manageable. The hills were relatively mild compared to the Death Ride back home.

Back home for an early lunch then head up to the Olympic Oval where the athlete village is set up. Driving around town we saw this guy running along the road. Turns out it's Eric Hodska, he lead the summer tri camp I did in June. We pulled over and talked with him for a short bit. It was great to finally see a familiar face around town. He told me that I was ready for this course and that Coach Angela had me dialed-in for race day. It's always good to hear those types of words coming from an accomplished coach and triathlete like Hodska. We would be seeing him the next day at downhill practice and on the course race day.

At the Oval we looked at the merchandise for sale but I didn't see anything that I needed or wanted. We started to head over to registration and found the ART (Active Release Technique) tent on the way. I walked up and signed-in to get worked on. Dr. Zak had given me three names he recommended to have work on my legs. Barry Horpestad was the first name on my list and he was immediately available. Barry was great. He worked on my hamstrings, hip flexors, and other connectors. Barry has been an ART doctor for 9 years and has also been an athlete at Ironman USA.

After the ART we went in to registration and was taken care of in like 10 minutes. We dropped off my race stuff and grabbed my swim gear. Coach's plan called for an easy loop of the swim course. I felt great in the water and enjoyed the swim. I took a nice nap back at the townhouse.

My mom and dad came over to the house and we all drove to Tail of the Pup BBQ. They have a lobster clam bake and great ribs on the menu. I went with the ribs for my race protein. It was a nice relaxed atmosphere and Ironman was about 10 miles away. Back at the house we relaxed and sorted through my athlete bag. I took this picture of my Ironman Gorilla.

I don't think he really wants me to GO but I'm not going to let him stop me on race day.