Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My blog rating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

Porn (5x) and Hurt (1x)

I hate to see what Bolders blog is rated.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Boulder Training Camp/Vacation - Day 4

Sunday night Bolder and I talked about what Monday should hold for us. I felt it would be a shame to not get another bike ride in. It would be the last time I would have an opportunity to climb anything significant, even though I’m hoping to attack Whiteface Mountain at Lake Placid.

We started formulating the sequence of events starting with my flight departure at 12:45PM. As we started working our way backwards to our wake up time I stopped the conversation. I looked him square in the eyes and said “No”. There was NO need to get in another bike ride. There was NO need to put more stress on our bodies. There was NO need to rush around like crazy people and have a repeat of Saturdays rush to ride. Once the planning became more effort than the enjoyment we would get from the ride, we had to call it quits.

Boy am I glad we decided to skip the morning ride. We woke up at our leisure and headed out to a local “greasy spoon” for breakfast. We talked and enjoyed the scenery from our booth and ate some great breakfast food. Getting back to the HABC I started to pack for my return trip home. Around 10:00AM we finally headed to the airport.

I felt sad looking behind me and seeing the foothills and mountains I was leaving behind. I think Boulder, or at least Colorado, has chosen me. I can hear it calling for me to return, either for a visit or permanently. The empty feeling in my stomach as I left Boulder would become filled again when I embrace Aimee in my arms at home. Then we will make plans to return so I can show Aimee the beauty of Colorado.

I cannot say enough about this epic weekend with Bolder. When I say epic it was on many different levels.

Yes the training was “epic”. Masters swim class and a total of 4000 yards swimming for the weekend in outdoor pools, one being 50 yards long. A two day total of 105 miles on the bike with 6 hours 15 minutes of riding. There was also 10-11 miles of running.

The eating was “epic”. Bolder took me to some of the nicest restaurants where we ate fantastic food without breaking the bank. You can’t go wrong with Salmon BLTs, burrito’s covered in cheese and sauce, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches, 12 ounces of prime rib, breakfast souffl├ęs, brick over baked pizza, and blackened catfish. Oh, I can’t forget the Mint Oreo Cookie ice cream for evening snacks.

The scenery in and around Boulder is “epic”. The number of cyclists was thrilling. The mountain views spectacular. The plains and red rock escarpments were breathtaking. I had a hard time focusing on the road because I wanted to see everything around me. The multi-purpose path along the Boulder Creek was a true testament to the dedication Boulder has to the health and enjoyment people are expected to have while there.

Most importantly and most epic of all was the building of a friendship with my TriBrother. Bolder is a most gracious host and wanted to make my trip enjoyable, and he succeeded. The more we talked the more we realized how many things we have in common, inside and outside triathlon. Bolder has a deep and passionate commitment to the tri-blog community. The invaluable advice and support he provides is priceless. He fielded several calls from people that had raced on Sunday offering congratulations and moments of zen, often both.

Many thanks to Bolder for a wonderful weekend. This man has Game and more often than not, it’s On.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Boulder Training Camp/Vacation - Day 3

So what do you do after an epic day of riding? You train some more then relax for the rest of the day.

Bolder and I had a nice relaxed breakfast before heading to the pool where we would be swimming after our morning run. We briefly checked on conditions for Ironman CdA as we both had friends we were tracking. It was hard to tear ourselves away from the computers. We gathered our gear together and headed out to the trail head. The paved path ran along Boulder Creek. What a beautiful place to run, walk, bike, skate, take the dogs, kids and family for a great day out.

We started with somewhat heavy legs from the 80+ mile bike ride the day before. Bolder's plan called for a zone 2 run so I was just going to go along for the ride, er.um.run. The cover of the trees was a nice break from the sun. After leaving the paved path we continued on climbing higher along a nice dirt path that was filled with runners, walkers and cyclists. We saw people fishing, rock climbing and even kayaking in the Boulder Creek.

When we finished our run I waded into the cool, flowing waters of the creek to provide some hydro therapy for the legs. The 45 degree water was refreshing to say the least but felt great on the legs. I spent 10 minutes in the water as we talked some more before we headed to the pool for an easy swim.

The city pool we were at was huge. Imagine looking to the other side of the pool 50 yards away. I'm used to swimming in a 20 yard pool. I felt like I was doing an open water swim. I kept waiting for the wall of the pool to approach and it took forever to get there. We did 1500 yards which only took 15 laps. At home that would have been 38 laps. Again it was great to swim outside in the sun.

After we showered and dressed it was time to "strap on the feed bags". Bolder took me to Proto's Pizzeria for some salad and oven baked pizza. It was a fantastic pizza at the coolest little restaurant. Twice I saw people walk in after getting off their bikes. The atmosphere in Boulder is unbelievable.

After polishing off a large pizza we retreated to the HABC to continue our athlete tracking for Ironman CdA. There is nothing worse than two Ironman triathletes parking their asses in front of laptops analyzing the proceedings of the race while we are in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. But hey after the day we had on the bikes yesterday we needed some extra rest for the legs.

We managed to watch the finishes of the top three pros. We especially enjoyed Michael Lovato's little victory dance and interview with Greg Welch. With the pro's finishing we knew there was time before our friends would be finishing....enough time to go out and grab dinner at Jax's Fish House. We had some of the best calamari ever for an appetizer and I followed that with a blackened Catfish that was to die for. The bartender recommended it and I'm glad I took his advice.

We walked around downtown Boulder taking in the sights and bought a couple of t-shirts. The plaza area is home for some local entertainers. We stumbled upon the Zip Code Man. He was asking for zip codes from people visiting Boulder. From only the Zip code he would name the city and sometimes provide restaurant suggestions. With a plastic chain he outlined the United States and asked for more zip codes. He would place each person in their state, including me. After he had about 15 people placed on the outline he then told a story that included each city we represented. So he remembered each persons zip code then named the city. This guy is amazing and a great entertainer.

We finally made our way back to the HABC and continued our Ironman CdA vigil in front of our laptops. I was waiting for Jodi and Bolder was watching several people including IronBenny. We were disappointed with the athlete tracking because with no intermediate run splits we didn't know how people were progressing in the race. I had the live feed on my laptop and was able to hear Jodi's name announced and caught a glimpse of her finishing her first Ironman in 12:37:05. She did awesome and I can't wait to hear the complete write-up.

So that takes us up to me finishing this blog post and heading to bed. Hoping to get in one more ride tomorrow before heading to the airport.

Do I have it in me for one more Game On? I'll let you know tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Boulder Training Camp/Vacation - Day 2

How could the second day in Boulder be better than the first? I wasn't sure since we biked up a beautiful canyon to Jamestown and had a great session at masters swim. But damnit if Bolder didn't have something planned that would blow me away.

I woke up around 4AM, 6AM Cleveland time. I wasn't quite ready to be "up" so I hit the bathroom and went back to sleep. I managed to get another 1.5 hours in before getting up around 5:30AM. I knew I would be up before Bolder stirred so I made myself comfortable watching some TV and catching up on sports, news and weather...on three different channels.

I did some surfing of the web and waited patiently for Bolder to wake up. We weren't meeting up with the Boulder Tri Club for a group ride until 9:00AM. I waited for Bolder to wake up. I mixed up some fuel for the long ride he had planned for us. I called Aimee to chat for a while. I waited for Bolder to wake up. I read the local newspaper, Friday and Saturday editions. I waited for Bolder to wake up.

I wasn't sure quite when Bolder was going to wake up. Briefly the thought of my host lying dead in his bed flashed through my mind. OH.MY.GOD....I killed him. Bolder finally wakes up. Dude it's like 8:00AM and we have to meet the group in one hour. We high-tailed it up to the bagel shop to grab a bite to eat pre-ride. Drove back to the HABC and kitted up for the ride. We rode to the coffee shop where the group was to meet, only 5 minutes away, and waited for the ride to begin.

We set out with a group of seven riders. Conversation was good and the pace moderate at most times. We rode out to Carter Lake. This is a cool reservoir type lake that you have to climb to get to. It was about a 750 foot climb with two switchbacks. It was very cool to reach the top and see the lake on the other side. At the boat launch area for the lake was the campground grocery store. At this point were had 30 miles behind us in 1 hour 30 minutes. Not bad. Most was flat or downhill, except for climbing to Carter Lake.

I have to mention how much I enjoy seeing cyclists out riding.....a lot of them....all sorts of them......waving hello.....smiling......enjoying their ride. I saw so many cyclist that I thought I was in cycling heaven, which I think I am. Throughout the day I literally saw over 100 cyclists. If I didn't see a cyclist every 5 miles I would be surprised.

After refilling bottles we continued on. After another short climb we crested and started a screaming decent to the plains. We rode with the group a little longer until they turned right to head back to Boulder and we turned left to continue the days adventure.

Oh...the views of the foothills and mountains were spectacular. Some of the snow is still on the peaks and no picture can capture what I saw. Unfortunately I didn't have a small enough camera to bring along for the ride or else there would be some pics to accompany the story.

We continued our way towards our destination of Masonville which is southwest of Fort Collins. We climbed and descended. We saw cows, horses and other livestock. The roads were smooth for the most part and had very little traffic at times.

At Masonville we refueled again with water for myself, powerade and Mountain Dew for Bolder. This old mining town has two stores that were the coolest hole in the wall places with charm and character. It was also a popular stopping point for motorcyclists. I couldn't resist buying an ice cream sandwich....Hey I never do that type of thing and I'm on vacation.

We headed back towards Carter Lake retracing our route. Bolder and I had talked about time trials and determining LT values and power levels. So we decided that I would try a TT. I took off and started a 20 minute all out ride. The route wasn't the best because there was one downhill, some sharp turns and a major road to cross. But I did the TT regardless and we have some PowerTap information to look at.

After the TT I rode easy until I could place my right lung back into my chest. I rejoined Bolder and we began the last hour of our ride which would take us away from Carter Lake and into the town of Hygiene. That is not a typo. THE.TOWN.OF.HYGIENE. Don't ask me how they came up with that name. I'm sure there is some good history. Once we made it to Hygiene (I try not to snickers as I type that) we refueled again for the final push home to the HABC.

The rest of the ride was rather uneventful. The entire ride was actually uneventful except for a mysterious chain skip that was plaguing Bolders ride, the BMC ProMachine. We stopped several times and couldn't see any obvious problems. We did narrow it down to the chain though.

I will post the ride route and details in another post. Several comments about this ride.

  • It was hot. No cloud cover and direct sunlight.
  • The company was great. The others in the group were great to talk to and Bolder is a great cycling companion.
  • the views were awesome. Like I said earlier, Carter Lake, the Plains, Foothills and Mountains were gorgeous.
  • This was my longest ride for the season. I will not repeat the mileage again this summer.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed this ride. From beginning to end. The tired feeling my legs was well worth it.

Once we got back to the HABC we showered and headed out for an early dinner. And boy did we eat. We each had the 12 ounce prime rib. Yes, we ate it all. After dinner we walked around downtown Boulder so I could see the sights. What a great little town.

Back at the HABC we relaxed, talked about the ride, and looked at the PowerTap information. Now I am done for the day. Hopefully the legs will recover overnight and be ready for a 1:30 run tomorrow morning.

Game is still On.

PS.....Good luck to everyone at all of the Ironman events, especially JT at Coeur D'Alene....her first IM.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Boulder Training Camp/Vacation - Day 1

I have made my way to Boulder to visit and train with Bolder for the weekend. I have been waiting for this weekend and a chance to get away all month. I know I will miss Aimee all weekend but Bolder has plenty planned and I think he is going to send me home as a shell of my former self.

The flight was uneventful and Bolder met me at the airport. I couldn't miss him sporting a BMC t-shirt and some of the locals pointing and staring at the namesake of the Bolder Boulder 10k. He even brushed off a couple of autograph hounds.

During the drive to the HABC we talked about many things and discovered some more similarities between us. I just love looking at the mountains since I have absolutely nothing like that back home. Lunch, or mid-afternoon snack for me, was at a Walnut Brewery where I had a Salmon BLT. That is definitely a sandwich I will have to make when I get back home.

We finally made it to the HABC and I unpacked my gear in the "The Medal Room". The HABC is a fabulous outpost for training at the base of the foothills of Boulder. We let lunch settle before taking our first training ride of the weekend. Just something to loosen up the legs and let me take in the scenery during a ride up to Jamestown. This ride was great and allowed me to use a PowerTap for the first time. I'll wait for the downloaded information before doing any analysis.

The climb up to Jamestown was simply gorgeous and reminded me of the bike course at Lake Placid. The final 10 miles to LP was very similar to the ride to Jamestown with pine trees, high cliffs and a river running along the road. Plenty of opportunity to talk and relax. Once we arrived in Jamestown we made a u-turn and bombed down the road. Once I got comfortable on the Trek 2200 I was able to take the curves more aggressively.

About half way down the wind started to pickup, and not in our favor. The winds were coming UP the road. And the winds were so strong that we were actually loosing speed going downhill. At one point I looked at the PowerTap and I was riding at 31 MPH downhill and pushing 450+ Watts. I'm sorry but that math doesn't add up. When we made it to the bottom we looked at each other and couldn't believe what had just happened.

We made a turn to head back to the HABC. We had to climb again before bombing back down. The winds were still blowing and we could actually feel the extra push from the wind as we were going UPHILL. It was certainly some freaky wind. On the downside back to Boulder I was warned about a stop sign half way down. I was following Bold's leada so I knew when to brake. I certainly knew when to start braking, I only had to smell the burning rubber from Bolders brakes...and boy did it stink. I was 50 yards behind him and I could smell the pungent odor of burning rubber. When we got back to the HABC the front brakes on the BMC had a glob of rubber. It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen.

Here is the profile from my powertap.......

After we relaxed and talked about the ride, we got ready to go to a masters swim session. I haven't done a structured swim workout since before the half iron race. It felt nice getting into a pool that wasn't 88 degrees and following the workout provided by the deck coaches. I felt strong and fluid in the water. After a kick ass one hour workout we finally grabbed something to eat at Wahoo's Fish Tacos. I had a massive burrito that helped fill the void from the double workouts of the day.

I'm looking forward to the ride and swim scheduled for Saturday, but right now I am tired and ready for bed. The two hour time change is bad enough when you aren't working out.

Game On.

Preserving Your Chi

Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me let’s talk about the Half Ironman I’m doing tomorrow. Okay so that’s not how the Salt ‘n Pepa song really goes but that was the idea behind the June issue of Inside Triathlon. Come on, admit it. You picked up the Sex Issue just like everyone else. We’re human, sex sells. You may not agree with the marketing department at Inside Tri or Triathlon Magazine but they are in the business of selling issues. How can you not be curious when the cover looks like this.

Now did you actually go beyond the pictures and read the articles? Or is that argument reserved for only Playboy magazine? I felt that the articles were interesting and informative. Aimee and I were quite interested in the sub-article on page 52, “An Alternative for Abstinence”.

Scientifically there are theories that abstaining from sex raises the testosterone levels in both men and women. For some sports they say that is good because aggressiveness is linked to testosterone, especially when you are dealing with something like boxing or football.

But does triathlon need all that extra testosterone? Just look around in transition before the race begins. If the sight of all the scantily clad, buff and tanned athletes doesn’t raise your levels of testosterone you are way too focused on the race. You are missing one of the best parts about celebrating the human body and triathlon.

And how aggressive does one need to be for a triathlon? The true nature of the sport is to compete as an individual….you against the clock or distance. Okay so the swim start can resemble the scrum at a rugby match but other than that, how aggressive do you need to be. At races greater than the Olympic distance it’s all about being steady, reserved, consistent, and under control. Go out too aggressive at an Ironman and you may have a long day. Be too conservative at a sprint and you will be left on the beach sipping a pina colada.

Now Chinese theory states that each individual has a central energy store, or Chi. Everything comes from this same source of energy or life force. A contributor to the article says that in men, sperm is part of the ultimate life force, the essence that the body uses to heal injuries or a person (men in this case) needs to perform at their best. Sorry ladies, they didn’t mention anything about your Chi. However, women are the ultimate life force with their ability to give birth…..but I digress.

Professional triathlete and U.S. Olympic hopeful, Matt Reed, shared his own candid views on this topic. He doesn’t feel it helps or hinders a person’s race day performance. He admitted to race morning intimacy since pro races are often held in the afternoon. Now most age group races start in the early morning and a quick romp in the sack may not work out. I would say two days prior to the race is when you should avoid the two hour marathon sex sessions.

Wait a minute…..was that a huge collective groan I just heard from the women? It can happen…..conditions just need to be right. You know…the moon has to be in retrograde to Venus only when the fourth moon of Saturn in on the dark side….blah…blah….blah. IT COULD HAPPEN!!

Aimee and I read this article right before my Half Iron at Racing for Recovery. She knew how important this race was to me. She wanted me to perform at my best. She didn’t want me to “loose” any of my Chi. Do you see where this is going?!?! ABSTINENCE PEOPLE! How is this good? I have trouble dealing with this theory. Do you know that prolonged abstinence leads to this and this. How am I supposed to ride a bike for 2.5 hours with this between my legs? Is it going to simply make me go faster so I can release the Chi I don’t use during the race post race? When was the last time you were able to “perform” after completing a half or full Ironman race? STOP! You don’t have to answer that….rhetorical question….I really don’t want to know.

As if training doesn’t take enough time away from spending intimate moments with our significant others, now we have to deal with abstinence before races. Good gracious what have we gotten ourselves into with this triathlon stuff?

So I have come to the following conclusion….preserving Chi equals this.

Chi On.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Flashpoint Bike Porn

Now who doesn't like bike porn, epsecially when simple cosmetic surgury can spice up any bike. Aimee did a Biathlon with her dad on Father's Day so I cleaned up her bike and put some new bar tape on. I also put the Flashpoint 60's on her bike to see what they would look like. I liked what I saw so I had her "race" on the wheels....she was more escorting her dad on the course.

I put black tape on the aerobar and that hawt robins egg blue on the handlebars.

After the race she commented on how she felt like a poser, especially when she wasn't riding very fast. Next race she can use the wheel set again and fly around the course.

I also put the FP 60's on my road bike, my beloved GT ZR3000. I'm gonna have to do a crit with these bad boys.

Game, and wheels, On.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A fine mess I've gotten myself into....

......I'm visiting Bolder in Boulder this weekend. Just a nice trip to finally meet my TriBrother in person and have a good time riding, running and swimming. Enjoy the scenery, without any butt crack, drink some beer, eat some food.....etc.

However, my wife (Aimee) is a little nervous about my trip. She is worried that I will fall in love while at the HABC because of this. You see I have decided to not take my own bike out to Boulder. Turns out Bolder rides the same size machine that I do so he will provide me with a steed from his stables. Will I be able to resist the temptation to bring a similar steed into my own lineup?

I have no intentions of retiring my beloved GT and Elite. They have served me well and I would rather work on bettering the engine.

But it will be quite an honor to ride a steed from the stable of Bolder.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Racing for Recovery Half Iron - Part 3

I was feeling pretty good starting the run. The brick workouts had paid off. My legs felt as normal as can be after riding 56 miles. I knew they would come around after the first mile. I could see Scott ahead of me. Looking at the results he had left transition 33 seconds ahead of me. I wasn’t sure if I would catch up to him or not. The first mile of the two loop course was in the open. After leaving the path that circled the reservoir the run course started to wind through the woods on asphalt. The majority of the run would be on this winding path. I quickly lost sight of Scott and was running very much alone. There was no way to see the aid stations before you reached them which made it difficult to use gels. I would come around a corner and there would be the table with water. I quickly forced down a Hammer Gel and grabbed some water, not the best way to get nutrition.

The second aid station was located at the beginning of an out and back section that was on a dirt path. My trail running paid off as I really liked this section. I could see the people ahead of me, especially when they turned around and headed back to the pavement. Prior to reaching the pavement and aid station I opened up another gel and put down some more energy. I followed that with water to drink and dump on my neck. The course continued to wind through the park. I completely lost sight of Scott and wouldn’t see him again until the finish line. I paid attention to my surroundings and made note of markers on the trail so I would know where I was during the second loop. All of the trails came together at the 5.5 mile mark and that is where Coach Angela, Aimee, Tina and Wesley were cheering us on. Everyone said I was looking strong. I was feeling comfortable with my pace. I was keeping my heart rate around 155 BPM. Angela wanted me around 150, no higher than 153, but I was fine at 155.

I wasn’t taking splits during the run so I don’t know my mile times. I was just moving forward to the finish line. I looped back out onto the course at the transition area and grabbed some more water. Roughly 6.5 miles to go and I would be done. I tried to push the pace and increased my heart rate to 160 BPM. I often find myself maintaining pace with the increased effort, simply making sure I don’t slow down too much. More people were on the run course now and I passed several people starting their first loop. Around mile 8 I head footsteps approaching from behind. I figured it was someone that felt really good on their first loop. In reality, two competitors I had seen during the two out and back sections had increased their pace and were passing me. I checked their calves and they were in the age group below mine, but only by 1 or 2 years. I tried to see if I could latch onto their pace but couldn’t muster the increase in speed. My legs were happy with the pace they were going. I was going to keep it steady until mile 10.

During this second loop I was able to prepare for the aid stations much better and consume the gels well ahead of time. I would alternate between water and Gatorade at the aid stations, often taking two waters so I could pour some on my head and neck to cool off. During the dirt out and back I saw many more competitors on their first lap, including Jen. She was looking strong on the run just like the bike. She was having a good day.

The turn around on the dirt path was near mile marker 10. This is where the race really begins for me. I readied myself for the final 3 miles and the increase in pace. I knew how I wanted to feel. I wanted to hurt during these last miles. I wanted to leave all of my training and preparation out on the course. I increased my pace so my watch was showing 164 BPM. Again, for all I know I was only maintaining pace to fend off slowing down. Angela and Aimee had left the run course and were waiting for me at the finish area.

As I approached the transition area I heard some people cheering. I could begin to feel the emotions of the day starting to rise to the surface. I only need to keep in under control for another 100 yards and my day would be done. Two volunteers were directing people towards their second lap of the run course. I was ready to finish and ran past the volunteers. I saw Aimee along the finishing chute taking pictures as I ran past. As I approached the finish line I finally saw a clock for the first time and it said 4:47. We started about 2 minutes behind the “elites” so I knew my time was around 4:45. I slowed down and I crossed the timing mat, raised my arms high and let out a loud emotional holler that I’m sure a lot of people heard. I had set my PR for the Half Iron distance triathlon by 27 minutes. The executive director of the race handed me my finisher’s medal. Two volunteers gave me a bottle of water and a cold towel to put on my neck. Angela and Scott were at the finishing area to hear me finish with a loud roar. Afterwards Angela said she loves to see me finish because I get so excited.

I gave Angela a big sweaty hug and had to walk around to start cooling down. Aimee made her way to the finish area and I was so glad to see her. I gave her a big hug and was finally able to release the emotions of the day. I wouldn’t let go of her for two minutes as the realization of what I had done started to sink in and forced the emotions out of my body. The time and effort of training really paid off. Seeing the results of the hard work is what gets me excited and emotional. Maybe I’m too serious about the training and that’s why the emotions come out at the end of the “A” race, but damn it feels good.

I talked with Scott about the race. We were pretty far ahead of the other AFT athletes so we could rest up and collect ourselves. Scott finished in 4:33. His effort really took a toll on his body. Angela and Scott left earlier than they wanted because he wasn’t feeling the greatest. Aimee and I stayed to watch more of our friends finish and pick up the age group awards for myself (2nd in AG/13th overall) and Scott (1st in AG/5th overall).

Run time: 1:39:36
Pace: 7:37/mile
Finish time: 4:45:34

That’s how it feels when Game is On.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Racing for Recovery Half Iron - Part 2

On the bike my race plan called for a conservative pace. In summary this is what Coach said.

1. HR Zone 135-145 for the first 30 miles
2. For the next 26 miles HR is below 150
3. Pick up the pace each lap
4. Race your race, zone in on yourself and what you want
5. It will be hard when people go by you, you will see them again and you will be passing them

Earlier in the week I told Angela that I was thinking about NOT wearing my HRM. She said that she could trust my “judgment” racing without the monitor. I decided by Thursday night that I would wear the monitor, but only use it for two readings; heart rate and countdown timer. The heart rate information will keep me from exploding in the middle of the race and the countdown timer would remind me to drink, take salt tablets and eat Clif Bloks. I would NOT start my watch or take splits during the race. I would go completely off the official chip times. Even the computer on my bike would only show RPM and distance. I didn’t want to get too hung up on time or speed.

So, this is what happened on the bike. After exiting transition Scott and I started passing people. I stayed behind Scott by 4-5 lengths. The opening miles of the bike course had multiple turns. There were volunteers at each corner and they did an excellent job controlling traffic. Some of the corners we worried about the night before were a non-issue on race day. Several of the corners I stayed in the aero-bars to maintain speed. Scott slowly started to pull away from me as we approached the intersection where the multi-loop portion of the course began. Scott trains with power so I knew his focus on the bike would be different. I was keeping a healthy pace and felt comfortable where I was heart rate wise.

I was drinking and eating well. At the start of the first loop I ate my first three Clif Bloks. I alternated between water and my Gatorade/Carbo-Pro mix as I saw fit. The bike course is pretty boring. Not much to see, very flat, not scenic at all. The bike aid station was positioned where the loops begin. Several miles before the aid station I peed on the bike. I saw this as an advantage because I would wash myself off with my water bottle and exchange it for a new one at the aid station.

As I approached the aid station I had to do a quick assessment of the intersection. There were cones in the middle of the road directing people to the left side of the road. All of the volunteers were on the opposite side of the road. This makes for an interesting left handed grab of the water bottles. I had emptied my aero bottle and refilled it with more Gatorade/Carbo-Pro. I dropped two bottles and picked up one water bottle from a volunteer. Now remember that this aid station is right AT the corner to start the loop portion of the course. I didn’t have time to place my bottle in the cage before I was into the intersection and needing to make a left hand turn. With the bottle still in my hand I managed to somewhat grab my handlebars with the fingertips and make the turn. I put the bottle in the cage and powered down the road getting back up to speed.

More people were on the course now and I lost sight of Scott up ahead. The traffic from the extra riders was not bad and I was able to pass people with no problems. Occasionally I needed to remind people to stay to the right. Despite the fact that we were on less traveled country roads, racers still need to ride on the right side of the road, not in the middle. I had to cross the center line several times in order to pass people. Approaching the aid station for the second time I peed on the bike again, washed myself off with water, dropped the water bottle and grabbed a new one from the volunteer. On this grab I slowed down enough to get the bottle in the cage before the turn, but I did drift into the intersection and had to turn sharply.

My condition up to this point was pretty good. Remember that Coach had planned for me to be 135 – 145 with the heart rate. Well for the first half of the ride, through lap two, I was maintaining 150 for my HR, or at least that is what I saw each time I looked at my watch and I tried to keep it there. I wasn’t spinning like I have in the past, but pushing bigger gears. I was using more muscle but still getting the heart rate up there.

I made the turn and started my final lap before heading back to transition. This last lap I upped the effort and pushed my heart rate up another 5 beats to 155 BPM. I was still comfortable with the effort and felt it would still leave me enough in the tank for the run. At some point during each loop I ate three Clif Bloks. The energy and calories were working out well with the Gatorade/Carbo-pro mix in the water bottles. During my final lap I finally passed someone I recognized, Jen. She was looking good, in the aero and I gave her some words of encouragement as I passed her. I peed one more time before the aid station. I couldn’t believe how I had to pee so much but I wanted to feel comfortable and not have any pressure in the bladder. As I approached the aid station I spotted a boy handing out water bottles on the right side of the street, which was great because this time I could turn right towards the venue and transition. I called for water and he was ready to hand it to me. I made the right hand turn and knew I only had 11 more miles to go on the bike.

During my last lap I had been passed by only one person. I could now see Scott and this other racer ahead of me on the road. They were not within striking distance but I still felt strong and it was nice to have some “targets” to go after. I tried to push the pace a little more but the inner thigh of my right leg began to cramp. I immediately eased up and slide further back on my saddle. Using different muscles being further back on the saddle helped release the spasm. I was worried that the muscle would bother me during the run, but that never happened.

Weaving our way back through the country roads, the volunteers at the corners were doing an excellent job with traffic and I was flying through the corners keeping up my speed and momentum. I think I peed one more time before re-entering the park. Inside the park I could see some of the leaders on the run course. As I approached the parking lot, I un-strapped the Velcro of my shoes. On the final straight into transition I pulled my feet out of my shoes and placed them on top of the shoes. I decreased my speed and swung my right leg over the saddle getting ready to dismount before the transition line. I ran into transition and re-racked my bike, helmet off, shoes on, grab hat and race belt, exit transition. I grabbed water from a volunteer as I started my run.

Time 2:29:11
Speed 22.5 MPH

29 seconds – fastest T2 split overall

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Racing for Recovery Half Iron - Part 1

The “A” race. The one race that a person trains towards for months, focuses on for weeks, peaks for in days and races for hours in order to shave off minutes at the finish. The Racing for Recovery Half Iron Distance Triathlon was my “A” race for the 2007 spring/summer season. With Ironman USA as my 2006 focus I did races with hills, including the Mountaineer Half Iron. Even my first Half Iron in 2004 was on a hilly course, both bike and run. I felt it was time to race on a flatter course and push myself to some painful limits. Both of my prior Half’s involved finishes around 5 hours 12 minutes. I wanted to go under 5 hours.

Aimee and I drove up to Monroe, Michigan Saturday afternoon. We went directly to the race site for packet pickup and to scope out the venue. I had registered early for the race so I received a special jersey instead of a t-shirt. We walked along the beach to figure out the swim course in Lake Erie. The temperature in the water would be warm enough for my sleeveless wetsuit. I liked how the swim was put together because you don’t have to get out for a second loop, I prefer to stay in the water the entire time. From the beach we walked the chute to the transition area and scoped out where the bikes would be racked. Getting a good view of the entire venue was important so that you can just flow through on race day.

Coach Angela had several of her athletes racing, including her husband Scott. The AFT racing crew included Kyle, Doug and Trephina (1st Half before first Ironmans), Jennifer and Chris (2nd Half in prep for their first Ironman at Lake Placid), Bob and Scott (training for Ironman’s later in the year), Debbie (in training for an Ironman Double) and myself (doing the half as my A race). We were able to see everyone at the race site or hotel, chat some and wish each other luck. Most of us headed out to dinner together. Joining us for dinner was our good friend Tina. Tina inspired me to raise funds last year for Susan G. Komen. Tina would help Angela watch over her two year old son for the day as well as cheer for everyone.

For dinner I had a good Louisiana Cajun Style pasta with chicken. I can handle spicy food well and this meal wasn’t that spicy. When we returned to the hotel I need to use the bathroom real bad. I had a big lunch and finished my big plate at dinner without using the bathroom during the day. Possibly a mistake because my stomach was not happy and let’s just say things were loose and my insides were bubbling, not a good feeling.

Scott and I had some tune-up work to perform on our bikes. I noticed a small cut in my rear tire so I wanted to replace it with new rubber. Scott had to do some general maintenance. When we were done, Aimee, Scott and I drove the bike course. The beginning of the course had a lot of turns to deal with. Seeing the corners and any debris on the road was helpful. There were enough rough sections to be worried about. Some parts would force you to ride in the middle of the road. We were hoping that traffic would be light for a Sunday morning. Overall the bike course would indeed be very flat.

After our ride through the countryside we retired back to our hotel rooms. Aimee walked over to Wendy’s for a Frosty. We both needed something sweet and I was hoping the ice cream would settle my stomach. Lights out for the night was around 9:30PM. I needed a good nights rest since Friday night I didn’t sleep well for some reason or another.

Sunday morning started at 4:50AM when the alarm went off. I got up, put on some clothes and went for a walk around the hotel parking lot. I wanted to wake up and pull my mental state together. I made it back to the room and began the purging process that started after dinner the night before. This wasn’t a normal purge for me. Things were looser than normal. I grabbed a banana from the hotel breakfast bar to try and pull my stomach together. Aimee and I finished putting our gear together and packed the car for the day. No late check-out so we would not be coming back to the hotel.

Arriving at the venue around 6:00AM we immediately put my bike in transition. I was the second bike on the rack, so I had to pick my second favorite transition spot. My stomach was still bubbling so I ate two Tums. I think it may have helped but my last stop in the bathroom was nothing but water. Now I was worried that I would have GI issues during the race and would be spending my time squatting on the side of the road loosing water and nutrition all day.

About 45 minutes before the race I started to focus my thoughts and energy inward. Mentally I needed to be ready for the race. No more socializing, I was here to race. I needed to be in the right frame of mind.

I put together my transition area with my nutrition for the day and gear. I then did a detailed run through of transition. I started about 20 yards away from the transition entrance where we would be running on some rough ground. I weaved my way through the crowds to my bike and simulated putting on my gear. Walked out of transition and mentally hopped on my bike. I then turned around and “dismounted” my bike and re-entered transition and “re-racked” my bike. A virtual change in gear and I walked back out of transition to start the run. Aimee had also tied a blue bandana at the end of the rack so I could spot my row easily.

I was transition ready. I grabbed my wetsuit and started walking with Aimee towards the beach start. I put on my wetsuit before the beach and walked with Aimee holding her hand. I am so fortunate to have such a supportive wife that understands my competitive nature. I got in the water and did some warm-up swimming. The water felt great and the sleeveless wetsuit was a perfect choice. I did some hard strokes and adjusted my goggles so they would be water tight. The race director gave a course overview, the executive director of Racing for Recovery spoke, a moment of prayer and we started the race.

A small number of “elite” racers started first. Then 114 men entered the starting chute for a mass beach start. I positioned myself in the second row like Coach Angela told me and we were off. The water was shallow for a long time, but as soon as it was deep enough I got in the water and started swimming even though there were others still walking. I tried to get into a good rhythm early on. I was stroking on the right side breathing every stroke for quite a ways. I would occasionally switch to the left side and only breathe on that side. I did this for about 400-500 yards. I finally changed my breathing to what I call race breathing, three breathes/strokes on one side, three count stroke, change to breathing on the other side. I was also making sure I was sighting often and well. This race was probably my best sighting during the swim.

The swim course headed straight out from the beach for 500 meters, came straight back to the beach for 400 meters, then was parallel for the remainder before angling back towards to swim exit. The starting point and exit point were about 800 meters apart. After we turned to swim parallel to the beach I settled into an alternate breathing pattern. I was still swimming and sighting well. However, I couldn’t find any feet to draft off of. The brown water made it difficult to spot anything under water and no one was very close when I spotted markers. I was fine swimming on my own; this is an individual sport you know.

As I headed back to the swim exit I tried to increase my effort on the swim to finish strong. I’ve always been a firm believer to swim as far as you can. I touched sand and kept swimming. I could see people standing up and walking in the water. I don’t know if I gained on them but I swam until I was only 10 yards from the beach. I didn’t have very far to run in the water. I immediately started to peel off my wetsuit. As we ran through the flags I saw a person with an EH jersey on. EH is Eric Hodska. He coaches Angela’s husband Scott. Scott and I exited the water together. I ran past him, heard Angela yelling and saw Aimee ahead taking pictures.

Swim time: 34:21

I peeled off my wetsuit and put on the rest of my bike gear. Socks and shoes, sunglasses and helmet, grab bike and go. Scott and I exited transition together but I ran past him so I could jump on my bike. I hit the saddle of my bike and almost took a dive as the bike started to wobble under me. Somehow I kept it together and kept moving forward. I thought I heard someone call my name as I pedaled away. I heard my name a second time and something about a bottle. Scott was yelling at me. I had hit one of my bottles behind the seat and it was hanging on for dear life. I put the bottle back in its place and continued on. I thanked Scott as he passed me.

T1 time 1:59

More to come as I get my Game On.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This Buds for You

I haven't been posting much as I have been busy with work and am conserving my mental and physical energy for my Half Distance tri this weekend, Racing for Recovery. This race is my Spring/Summer A race.

So for your entertainment I offer this commercial. After the race, I'll have a bud for myself.