Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ironman Race Report: T1 & Bike


I came into T1 super excited and started dreaming about Kona.  I just gained 7 minutes on my goal time and if things continued to go well I'd have a shot or so I thought.  I had my wetsuit in my arm and went to navigate the massive rows of transition bags.  Here's a picture of the area in the morning:
I found my bag and grabbed it.  I immediately took out my aero helmet and put it on as I was navigating my way to the change tent.  The change tent was a happening place.  I immediately saw "crack" and other ungodly horrors.  It was crowded but I found a seat.  I opened the rest of my bag and started to go through my routine.  Jersey on, stuff my wetsuit in the bag and ignore arm warmers, knee warmers and vest.  I looked at my feet and they weren't cover in sand so I just started to dry them off.  I put on my right sock and shoe first when it happened.  The guy next to me stepped on my left foot with his cleat.  I yelped like a puppy and he said sorry.  So here's my key T1 advice when you sit on the chair stay small.  Its kindof like swimming in the mass start.  You want to be as small as possible to get through.  This foot stomp would cause me pain throughout the bike and run even though I didn't know until the end why my foot hurt.  Again, totally forgetting stuff and more Alzheimer moments.
I finished my routine and I was off.  I dropped off my bag in this massive pile on the way out of the change tent.  I went out the back side of the bike racks since my rack was closer that way.  I grabbed my bike off the rack and proceeded to jog.  I was passing people who were just chatting and walking their bikes to the mount area.  I thought good for me as that's one more place.
I got to the mount area and proceeded to do my running mount.  For some reason, I was more tired than usual and I about fell.  No problem as it wasn't too congested so I just went from there.  I had my cleat covers on which was allowing me to jog on the pavement without fear of falling and I didn't have to clip when I started pedaling.  I got around the corner and when things opened up a little I removed each cleat cover and clipped in.  I was off...
The bike was going to be perfect because it's a simple ellipse like course and we had a slight headwind going south but the wind would continue to get stronger and turn into a raging tailwind heading home north.  All the major climbs, we would have a nice tailwind.  This would really keep the legs fresh and the mind fresh as well.  Mother Nature was so nice.
I knew I was early and probably wouldn't see my support crew.  I didn't but it didn't matter too much as I would see them on the run where it was easier to wave and smile.  I settled into my pace and was dodging slower bikes and staying out of the way of the speed demons.  I didn't even look at my speed at all for the first miles.  I just went easy.
I started to drink water as per my nutrition plan for the bike.  After about 10 minutes on the bike I had to piss really bad.  I kept looking early on for an open portapotty but no luck.  Crap!  Not only that but my left foot's toe was really hurting.  It was like I had accidentally put a roll in my sock when I put it on in T1.  It was weird because I've never had any toe issues with my cycling shoes.  I never made that T1 foot stomp connection until after the entire Ironman was done.  Wild! I kept going and soon I was at the first little steep hill by mile 10.  My legs still didn't feel warmed up yet so I just went up the best I could but still passed about 20 people.
Since my swim was farther towards the front I was able to go down the hill after this at full speed without much trouble.  It wasn't crowded so I was quite happy.  I made my way back to the main flat road and started to take in nutrition.  I still had to piss really bad and still no portapotties open so I made an executive decision, piss like a competitive triathlete...on the bike without stopping.
I had a full bottle of water to wash off afterwards but I needed to find a spot where there was no one behind me.  Finally I was all by myself and I let it fly well not exactly.  I had to really focus to get it going since I had never practiced peeing on the bike.  I felt better and squirted the water on myself to wash it off.  I probably just would've waited in a portapotty line had I not had such a fast swim.  Every minute was going to count so I was going to do what I had to see if I could make Kona.
I kept a nice easy pace and then I saw Jeff.  We exchanged swim times.  He did a sub 1 hour swim which was awesome and he was shocked when I told him I did a 68.  I kept going but still had to piss again.  Overall I think I peed 6 times on the bike.  It just wasn't warm enough out on the course and I was doing mostly liquid nutrition.
The best advice that I got was just roll with what your stomach does regarding nutrition.  This was great advice because I started to feel bloated at certain points so I'd just go with water for a bit and then when my stomach would feel better I'd go back to my Infinit.  I was all over the map with my nutrition.
We arrived at the first milestone of the day Richter Pass. You can see it in the background.

There's a tight right hand corner heading to the start of the hill.  I tried to take this as fast as possible to carry as much "free" speed into the climb.  I was fully warmed up and felt good at the start.  I was cruising up the first part laying waste to the cyclists around me.

I was still trying to stay within myself but push just a little.  I was flying compared to everyone else on the climb.
I never got passed on the uphill sections.  I remembered the climb from riding the course last year.  I was going up the last of 3 segments when I saw Miranda.  I said hello but I was surprised to see her.  I was worried but didn't really get a chance to find out what was happening with her race.  As I read on her blog, she was having major stomach issues but still managed to wish me well.  Definitely world class!
I started the decent and people who I had just passed were zooming by me.  I was aero and going as fast I could but that's my weakness because I'm so light.  The rollers started and I'd pass people going up but they'd pass me back going down.  This is where I was passed by one guy on the uphill.  I was shocked!  My pride was hurt a little as he pulled away from me a bit on the downhill as well.  He slowed for an aid station and I zoomed by him but I really don't remember if he passed me again or not.
On the one of the last rollers, I saw Don's murdered out black Beyond with full on 808s.  The entire bike is black and sweet looking.  He looked good and we exchanged a quick keep going kindof cheer.  The rollers were finished and it would be flat for about 25-30 miles before the final climb at Yellow Lake.  This is where I was being passed every so often as I just maintained my pacing and effort.
We started what was the worst part of the course mentally for me.  It's an out-n-back section where you head south for a ways and then back.  This meant into a headwind plus the road is really crappy.  At the end of this section is the bike special needs aid station.  It seemed to take forever to get to the turnaround at special needs.  It was draining mentally but I just tried my best to keep going at my pace.
I got to the special needs and they handed me my bag.  I had a bottle of Infinit, couple of gels and bottle of Cytomax in it.  I had only consumed 3 bottles of Infinit up to this point because of my tummy troubles.  I decided to stop after the aid station with other cyclists to sort everything so I wouldn't crash.  I dumped my left over concentrated infinit bottle and loaded my cages.  I also tossed a partially eaten clif bar and put the gels in my pocket.
I was off and I grabbed some sips of Cytomax.  Ahh pure heaven.  It was sweet but just something a little different.  Things started to pick up as we had the tailwind again and I was feeling better.  I started to really up the tempo a bit.  I wanted to get back to the main road and Yellow Lake.
I made the turn onto the main road and new things were going well.  I started to push all the gradual ups and really pass people like they were standing still.  Although there were some gradual downs as well and they'd pass me back.  I was probably a mile or two before the Yellow Lake climb when I felt a twinge in my bad hamstring.  Oh no you didn't!!  I immediately shifted down and down as much water as I could.
I made a conscious decision to forgo the climbing glory at Yellow lake and just spin easy up the climb.  Yellow lake is special because there are ton of spectators who line both sides of the road.  It's almost like the Tour and even a few fans run along side you for a bit.  Definitely crazy but I wouldn't be able to drop the hammer like I wanted to because if my hamstring tied up I wouldn't have any chance at Kona and might not even finish the marathon.
I still never got passed going up the climb at Yellow Lake.  It's steeper than Richter but shorter overall.  I passed a ton of people even though I was really going easy.  I left the few folks who I had been playing leap frog with on the rollers leading up to this climb.  Overall it was mayhem with spectators just going crazy.
Once you get to the top of Yellow Lake, its basically downhill all the way to finish and you have less than 30 miles.  I kept thinking about the marathon that loomed ahead but I ride 30 miles during lunch time.  I was so totally about to be done with the bike of Ironman.  I was getting pretty excited.
The first major downhill starts and it was a straight shot.  I checked the wind and it was still behind us so I went full aero.  I was flying past bigger fellows who were on the bullhorns rather than aero bars.  I was stoked.  I was actually picking up time on a few bigger folks on a descent.
The last major downhill has some curves in it and with that it had some serious crosswinds.  I was getting blown around so I stayed up on the bullhorns but tried to tuck as best as I could.  It was towards the end of this section that I got past by a lady who was just flying. More credit to her for being fearless.
Then I saw it, the 100 mile sign...only 12 more miles til I get to start my marathon which I felt I was going to crush.  My legs still felt great and mentally I wanted to be off the bike but I really didn't have any butt issues which was great.  Desoto shorts were rocking that.  As we were heading into town I got passed again by a couple of my leap frog buddies.  I basically told myself they were going down on the run.
Just as I got into town, I had to piss again.  Argh!! Should I go on the bike one last time with the potential of having a few spectators see it or wait til T2?  There were so many spectators lining the streets through town there just wasn't anyway I'd not be seen pissing.  I decided to go in T2 the precious minutes were not worth embarrassing the event by pissing on the bike in town.  It's definitely not what the spectators woke up that morning, braved the heat and wind to see.
We hit Main street again and had this massive tailwind.  Cyclists were zooming by me like I was standing still.  I was still doing my pace and found comfort that they would all go down in the run.  I'd be the one zooming past them once we started my event.
Stay tuned for the next installment, T2 and the marathon.  You'll find out that every place does matter and see how Mother Nature was really Kathy Bates from Misery.
On a side blog note, I just got back from Costco where I absolutely destroyed it.  The only thing which brought tears to my eyes was they didn't have Doritos.  I was shocked and wept right in the chip aisle.  The one bag of chips and they don't have it.  I'll be going to the normal store right after I finish posting to get my Doritos.  I'll have some pictures and movies tomorrow but here's a few stats.  I was able to get it all onto one of the palette carts but just barely.  I spent $450 and Costco record I'm sure for a family of 1.  I ran out of room in my freezer.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ironman Race Report: The Infamous Swim

If you've read a few posts, I usually blog about at least once a week about how I suck in the water.  I swim about as well as a ROCK.  Leading up to the race, I was just worried about the swim.  I knew I could complete the distance as I've done it in the pool quite a few times but I just wanted it to be over.

As I left you, I was standing in the water 3rd row back and basically peeing my wetsuit every 5 minutes waiting for the race to start.  The song Bitter Sweet Symphony by the Verve was playing. I was like that's weird no Beautiful Day by U2 or Ironman by Black Sabbath. Now here was the first of many Alzheimer moments for me, I don't remember the announcer saying 30 seconds to go even though I saw video that he did warn us that the cannon was about to go off.  I guess during the event there really isn't much blood feeding the brain.

The cannon went off, I clicked my watch and the swim plus Ironman started.  I took off like I was a 50 minute swimmer ie. damn fast for the first couple of minutes.  It was pandemonium as there were over 2200 people starting at the same time.  It wasn't so bad where I was as I was a good 100 yards left of the buoy line where the water polo, rugby, and football players are swimming.  I got thumped a couple of times here and there. I also whapped a couple of legs, arms and bodies.  In about 5 or so minutes, it was pretty clear.  I sighted on the houseboat.  In the swim at Canada, they use massive houseboats for each of the 2 turns instead of buoys.  This was great as I could sight from way left and not have to worry.

The swim is a triangle with the first segment/side being about 1600 meters which is not quite halfway.  I just kept cruising with the mass of humanity churning water to my right.  Every so often I decided to move to the school of fish swimming and every time I went right back out to the left.  The draft in the mix of hundreds of swimmers might have saved me some energy but I just couldn't keep my rhythm.

I had no one really around me as I was swimming and was just going an easy pace.  It didn't seem to take so long to get the first houseboat.  As we approached, I could see the bottom of the lake again.  The water is pretty clear up there in Canada and the turn is pretty close to another shoreline so this was a great sign.  I just need to make it to houseboat #2 and I'd be over halfway...with the SWIM.

The turn was uneventful for me as I was still left of the swim pack.  I was using the swimmers on the edge as sighting help since I swim about as straight as a sidewinder rattlesnake.  The top part of the triangle is only 400 meters so that last houseboat came up pretty fast.

Sweet I'm over halfway, this rocks.  I'll be done with this swim and be able to really start the Ironman.  I started to think about not having to swim again in like FOREVER and a great joy came over me.  I decided to lets just hammer this last part of the swim to be done with it.

I started really pushing, focusing and going as fast as I could.  As I was doing this I was got a little to close to the swim pack and got clocked in the eye by a lady swimmer.  It was if Hilary Swank from Million Dollar Baby had punched me. My goggles stayed on but man did my eye hurt.  It felt like it was bleeding.  I started to wonder if they had a cut-man in T1 to patch up such injuries.  A black eye in my finisher picture should be a keeper.  Hopefully, it doesn't swell shut on the bike.  Okay, so yes I over-react to everything as there wasn't even a mark afterwards.

I continued to really push and I'd sight every so often.  The weird thing was I really didn't see a huge pack of swimmers up in front of me.  I was wondering if I was really up with a decent group.  This got me even more excited and I tried to keep up the good pace.  I swear I was passing a ton of people here but it's hard to tell.

I started to see the bottom again and sighted on last time to make sure I was headed towards the finish.  This is where I thought I had rocked the swim.  I didn't see this massive crowd of people running up the beach.  I saw just a few people slowly walking through the water which scared me a little since I didn't want to run into a water walker.  I was swimming until my hand hit dirt or about a foot of water.

My hand hit dirt.  I stood and didn't feel dizzy at all.  During each open water practice swim in the week, I had always practically fallen over like a drunken frat guy on exiting the water. I started moving a little faster out onto the beach.  I pulled unzipped my wetsuit in a second, pulled down the top part of my wetsuit, removed my cap and goggles and then....

I clicked the split on my watch and saw it. 1:08 something...I practically jumped in the air.  I had a shot still at Kona and plus I would be able to get a wetsuit stripper since it wasn't this massive crowd.  After thinking about it, I feel even better because I probably swam a little longer course since I stayed left the entire way around the course.

Here's the pictures that were taken.  You can see I'm pulling down my wetsuit in preparation for the strippers and I look like...well..hell.

Tomorrow, I'll give out the best T1 advice and talk about trying to save time on the bike. Plus tomorrow is the big Costco will go down as the biggest Costco trip ever.  I'm going to take some video and pictures of the special occasion.  Instead of trying to navigate 2 carts through the aisles and Labor Day weekend Costco shoppers, I'll fill the cart with dry foods first, checkout and then come back for the 2nd run at all the cold food, etc.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ironman Race Report: Race Morning

I would like to say I was nervous and excited like Xmas morning, but I was calm like a serial killer.  I guess being nervous and excited for the past year of training leaves the tank empty.  This was a blessing as I was able to consume 2 Clif Bars, water and some Infinit because I had no butterflies.

Part of my type A routine required me to check the weather from 3 sources.  If I was in an ice age, I'd check the weather to see if it was going to snow and if the high was going to be 10 or 15 degrees below.  All 3 sources agreed that rain was coming in the late afternoon, mid 70s til then with a south wind.  If all the athletes heard this my lone groan of disappointment would've been drowned out by hoots, hollers and celebratory high fives.  This was a serious blow to my slimest of slim Kona chances.  The only bright spot was it wasn't suppose to rain during my bike.

I spent the next 10 minutes applying body glide everywhere.  I applied from my heel up my entire calf to ease wetsuit removal in case I had to remove my wetsuit without the help of the wetsuit stripper volunteers.  I painted a body glide turtleneck to prevent wetsuit strawberries and hickies.  It gave me a couple of hickies/strawberries in my race week open water practice swims.  I love my wetsuit but I don't want to show everyone that we have that "type of relationship".

My support crew(Amber, Elena and Joe) and I left at 4:30AM to head over to the start area.  They grabbed spots for viewing the swim start while I went through the simple motions.  Dropped off special needs bags, loaded the bike with nutrition and left a deposit at the portapotty or as I would call it later, The Fortress of Solitude.

I did a quick bike/run/swim exit walkthrough and spotted Miranda Aldritt in the tire inflation line.  I rode the bike course with her last year after she had posted on Slowtwitch.  I can't say enough about how cool the Slowtwitch community is.  Between last year and now, she became a pro and placed 7th at Ironman Coeur d'Alene.  We wished each other luck and planned to look for each other on the run out-n-back.

I hung out just relaxing and waiting to put on my wetsuit.  Again this was quite strange for me as before a major race, I'm about as calm and relaxed as a meth addict needing their next fix.  I had to piss again so I got in line.

I was just a couple of folks behin Jonathan Caron, 2nd place overall last year.  Amazing even pros have to wait in the portapotty lines like the rest of us.  I always thought they had special VIP portapotties which were freshly cleaned, smelled like potpourris, had Ultra Charmin toilet paper, and had a staunch British man had you a towel to dry your hands.

It was time to don the wetsuit.  Other people started putting theirs on so I didn't have to be the first but I followed like a good lemming. I walked over to the swim start entrance as they wouldn't let us on the beach til 6:30am to warmup.  I ran into Jeff as he wanted to actually warmup before the race.  He's a sub 60 swimmer so I guess a warmup wouldn't slow him down.  I just wanted to get all the way over to left of the start line without having to navigate hundreds of people.

As we stood there, I had to piss yet again.  Jeff also had to piss.  We both made like homeless people and just let her go.  Perfect, my wetsuit is officially broken in for the race.  I was warm and my foot was wet.  They opened the swim start and we wished each other luck.  He made his way to the buoy with the fast guys and I made my way out to the far left with the slow I don't want to get beat down by hundreds of swimmer folks.

I saw my support crew and handed them my backpack.  They were right above where I was going to start with the video camera ready to go.  I went to the front and took a 15 second swim to test the goggles and just get a feel for the water on my face.  It wasn't very cold so I was ready.  As I was waiting for the start, I pissed 4 more times.  I finally realized who was nervous, my 2nd in command.

Ironman Race Report Preface

My report is going to be super long so I've broken it up into sections. Here's the first section which I also posted to Slowtwitch as a mini-summary. You can read this and skip all the gory details ones over the next days.

I finished...I wanted to give thanks to the entire Slowtwitch community for being a great resource. Super awesome thanks go out to Jeff P. and Don O. for basically teaching me how to swim. You guys rock!! Special thanks go to BarryP, jonnyo, desert_dude, devashish_paul, and the brick workout discussion threads. Also a great shoutout to the IMC bike aid stations where I got pass-ups like the volunteers were soigners for TdF teams. I never touch my brakes and just went through coasting with no problem.

The stats: 68 swim, 5:39 bike, 3:25 run for a total w/ transition of 10:20.
My goals were 75 swim, 5:45 bike, and 3:15 run.

Key factoids:
- No caffeine outside of training for a year
- No alcohol and no Doritos, Lays, Pringles, fast food for a year
- Never swam before August 14, 2007
- Swimming extra yards doesn't hurt even if you're slow
- Never raced in my wetsuit, only 5 open water swims
- Only completed one triathlon(Florida 70.3) prior to IMC(Yes Fleck, I'm not a triathlon role model. I'm a one and done guy who just wants to say I've completed an Ironman.)
- With Beijing just finishing, I'd say the Ironman wall holds it own against the Great Wall
- If you can barely walk and it hurts too much to sleep, does that mean you pushed hard and should be happy or you didn't train hard enough
- Mother Nature is Kathy Bates from Misery where she's all nice at the beginning and the next minute you're tied to the bed with a 4x4 between your ankles and she's holding a sledgehammer
- all hickies aren't romantic nor are all strawberries sweet

Coming up you'll read the best advice about T1. You'll also learn how Ironman and Alzheimer's are linked. You'll read musings about the condition, Ironman mouth. You'll see that one place can matter. You'll also find out how far might be too far to go for those precious minutes in the hopes of Kona. My thoughts on should you or shouldn't you buy ungodly amounts of finisher great then wear it all through the offseason. Also the top 10 list of why Ironman athletes are eerily similar to mental hospital patients.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Just a short report.  I finished and didn't walk during the marathon although the "marathon wall" started at mile 14 for me.  Here's the simple breakdown. I killed the swim in 68 minutes. Mid 70s for the day with favorable tail wind on the bike which broke down to a 5:39 for me.   Started off the run strong for the first 4 miles and then a 15mph steady headwind hit for the next 8 miles which stunk.  Of course the weather was in the process of changing and at mile 12 of the out and back marathon course the wind had died.  So no fricking tailwind on the way back.  I hit the wall and my legs were in complete fatigue.  Every step from that point on was pain.  I knew Kona was out but I just kept trying to get to the next mile.  I finished in rain with a 3:25 marathon.

I can barely walk today and all my toenails have blisters under them.  I'm a wreck.

The conditions were so good for fast times(I wanted heat so I could go fast and everyone else slow) that the top 15 finishers in my age group were all under 10 hours.  If you look at past results for the race that's never happened.  Crazy fast!  No Kona for me so now I can get fat!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


So I just checked into my hotel and have access to the internet.  We got here on Tuesday and time seems to be flying by.  I can't believe it's Thursday already.  My legs felt great on Tuesday's run but like crap today.  It was because of too much walking yesterday from the hotel.  I'm cutting all that out until race day.

Joe, Amber and Elena arrive tomorrow afternoon with a rental car so that will help.

The swims in the morning have been interesting as I've suffered from going in a crooked line.  On top of that I apply crap loads of bodyglide to my neck and the suit still irritates it.  I'm gonna have a big wetsuit abrasion after I come out of the water on race day.  I also might end up falling over when I finish the swim because each time after only 30 minutes I've been majorly disorientated standing up to exit.

I got a flat on my training ride with the race wheels on Wednesday.  I'm hoping that gets it out of the way and I don't flat on race day.  I got to use my CO2 for the first time and it went pretty well.  I also had to move the valve extender to my spare tube as well.  It was just a simple thumbtack on my front wheel.

Tomorrow is a complete day off with registation and the athlete dinner/meeting for activities.  I'll try to give an update.

3 days...


So I just checked into my hotel and have access to the internet.  We got here on Tuesday and time seems to be flying by.  I can't believe it's Thursday already.  My legs felt great on Tuesday's run but like crap today.  It was because of too much walking yesterday from the hotel.  I'm cutting all that out until race day.

Joe, Amber and Elena arrive tomorrow afternoon with a rental car so that will help.

The swims in the morning have been interesting as I've suffered from going in a crooked line.  On top of that I apply crap loads of bodyglide to my neck and the suit still irritates it.  I'm gonna have a big wetsuit abrasion after I come out of the water on race day.  I also might end up falling over when I finish the swim because each time after only 30 minutes I've been majorly disorientated standing up to exit.

I got a flat on my training ride with the race wheels on Wednesday.  I'm hoping that gets it out of the way and I don't flat on race day.  I got to use my CO2 for the first time and it went pretty well.  I also had to move the valve extender to my spare tube as well.  It was just a simple thumbtack on my front wheel.

Tomorrow is a complete day off with registation and the athlete dinner/meeting for activities.  I'll try to give an update.

3 days...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Last Pool Workout

I got back from the pool today and realized this will be my last pool workout in I don't know like a month.  I probably even wouldn't head back to the pool til December if I could get away with it but I'm sure I'll be back in 4 weeks or so.

Even though I'm not working today and have time before I leave I didn't sleep in.  I figured since I started over a year ago getting up practically every day at 4:30 to go to the pool that the last pool workout before the Ironman I should get up at 4:30.  It was good I got the race week workout prescribed in and I felt okay.  Not super fast but not slow.

I'm going to take quite a few pictures during the trip.  I mean this could be my first and last Ironman so it would be good to look back on during my mid-life crisis.  I'm sure I'm going to have a miserable mid-life.  I'm suffering right now and I'm not even 40.  I just can't go as fast in my runs and I'm definitely not recovering from workouts like I used to.  I can't just go full blast on 5 hours of sleep.  I can't hang with the young pups in the drinking department either.  Although maybe not sleeping and drinking too much isn't something I should aspire to.

My hair is turning gray although its been like that for a few years.  I keep meeting 80s babies that's the most depressing.  Talking to people who were born when I was in high school.  Ouch!!  Another thing is the friends will start turning 40 next year...which begins my slow 3 year countdown as well.

I need to race young on Sunday.

6 more days...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Home Stretch

I'm entering the home stretch for the Ironman.  Every so often I'll get nervous thinking about the upcoming race.  It was hard to watch the women's Olympic Marathon last night knowing I'll be doing that after being on the bike for almost 6 hours.   It was also hard to watch certain parts in the race where people would just pull up or amount of suffering.

I'm sure by now everyone know's the 100m Men's track and field final.  That was amazing.  I finally saw it this morning with the winner just relaxing in the last 15 meters to a world record time.  I've never ever seen that race where such a thing happened.  Never!!  I've watched every olympic 100m final since 1984.  It was just crazy.  See it here.

I packed up all my stuff.  God being gone for 10 days requires a few clothes.  It's going to be a chore to haul my luggage bag, bike case and backpack to the Metro this time.  It wasn't too bad for Florida but this time I have more stuff so it's heavier.  Oh well, I'm in no hurry tomorrow so I'll just take my time.

Again, in case ya missed it my bib number is #639 and you can track the race live on  If you can't find it just look for the Ironman Canada link somewhere on the main website.  I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing from Penticton but I hope to get in at least one last blog before the event.

One week to go!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Taper Weight Loss

Okay, I'm officially worried.  I can only hope that the scale at the gym is wrong but after the last two swims now I've lost 4lbs since I started the taper.  I have been eating less but I have been working out less too.  I hope it's not muscle as I can't afford to lose any of that.  I'm almost down to my old running race weight which I haven't seen since 2001.  I'm worried how this is going to affect my cycling power.  I'll see how the legs feel today on my 60 minute ride.  I also decided to eat a decent sized breakfast after my swim.

I can't believe the race is only 9 days away.  It's mind boggling to think about it.  Everything for the last year has been focused on what's going to happen 9 days from now.  This is pretty wild.  I mean I've built on training for 2 successive marathons which was 15 months of training.  Of course, this totally burnt me out on running and sent me screaming like a little girl to cycling.  This started me down the road to being able to do at least two disciplines and now I've added swimming and I'm almost there.  If I finish the Ironman, there is only one other childhood athletic event that I've always wanted to do.  It's probably because it just happened to go through my hometown each summer, (dun-dun-duuun!!) STP. The one day 200 mile ride would be awesome although sitting in the saddle for over 10 hours would be brutal.

As well I'm only 10 days away from the release of the obese shut-in couch potato laying dormant inside of me.

Yep that will be me by December.  Instead of the typical "How to lose 10 lbs in 2 days" inspirational books, I'll be writing, "How to gain 10lbs in 2 days!".  I went from a size 30 waist to 70 in just 3 months eating nothing but Frito-lay products.  I'm sure you'll see a rise in the Frito-lay stock so don't sell it short right now, buy while it's still cheap.

There is a big thing that would kill all my eating dreams which I have just a "glint" of hope in doing is making it to the big dance in Hawaii. The Ironman World Championships in Kona!  You have to qualify.  Each age group gets a certain number of qualifiers but I'd have to do something special on the 24th to get close enough to the top of my age group for a shot.  It will come all down to the run.  If I will be able to go fast enough to pull back enough competitors in my age group who swim and bike faster than me but suffering the during the marathon.  We'll see...

9 days...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


That's my number for the Ironman.  There are over 330 folks in just my age category and over 2400 total participants signed up for the event. It's going to be a massive amount of humanity hitting the lake for that swim.

Since we're at the 10 day mark, I've been able to see some weather predictions and it looks good right now at partly cloudy and mid 80s BUT there is rain for Wednesday and Thursday of next week.  This concerns me because it could stay or not come until Saturday and Sunday.  I'm hopeful the weather will be good.  Riding in the rain just sucks so doing a 112 miles in it would be brutal.

I have another day off today in the current taper program.  My appetite is on taper as well.  I actually felt full after dinner on Tuesday night and full last night after dinner.  It was a weird feeling because usually I eat snacks up until bedtime and I didn't need to eat any snacks last night.  My weight it staying the same after my weigh in at the gym after my swim on Wednesday morning.

I keep doing little things to prepare for the race.  I've printed out some inspirational material to help calm me down when I get antsy waiting for the race to happen next.  I have also slowly gathering stuff I'm going to take on the trip.

I actually getting a little worried about my bike.  During yesterday's ride, I just didn't feel comfortable for most of the ride or fresh.  I was hoping it's just because it's taking me forever to warmup but it still not the same way my legs felt before the half ironman in Florida.  I still have 10 more days of taper to really get the legs into form for the bike.

The run feels good though.  I'm getting pretty comfortable with the pace and now I'm just hopeful I got enough miles in for the endurance required for that last 10k of the marathon.

It's only 11 days til Elena starts first grade. It's weird that they start before Labor day even though they don't get out of school until June.  I guess it's because they have all these lame teacher days and other weird days off that I never got when I was a kid.  All I can say is I was robbed!!  Kids have it easy these days with the internet, ipods, video games, and a bazillion cable channels.

Only 10 more days...egads!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

1 year anniversary

So it's been exactly 1 year since I started doing all three sports in preparation for Ironman Canada, amazing.  I finished the pyramid this morning and it wasn't quite as good as the one I did 2 weeks ago on my birthday.  It's always just a little tweak here and there that makes a second or so difference.

I looked back at my log and the first week of swims I was swimming a whopping 400 to 500 yards in about 15 or minutes each time.  Each workout about killed me.  This is pretty good stuff looking back on it.  Here's an excerpt from the blog during that first week:

I had to rest during this workout as I really was trying to catch my breath. I ended up only doing 12:30 minutes but that's okay as I think I covered 400 yards even with breaks. I did my last 100 in 2:20 which is 40 seconds faster than yesterday. Small little steps. If I do 4 swim workouts at least every week, I have 112 more workouts to get it all put together for that 4000m swim during the Ironman.
It would be even better if I had videotape of those swims.  I was so clueless on what to do but after an entire year and some awesome help from Jeff and Don I at least know what I should do.  I still can't quite put it all together but I am faster.

I keep checking the weather in Penticton. Right now it looks like some showers during race week but sunny on Friday before the race day.  Hopefully that sunny trend would continue through the weekend for a mid 80 degree high on race day.  That's really my perfect workout temperature.  It's not super hot but it's still hot enough that the heat haters will not like it.

The Ironman Canada website still hasn't posted bib numbers yet.  Everyone who is interested in seeing some "splits" as I progress through the Ironman on race day here's the information right now.  First you need to hit up then find the Ironman Canada link.  It should be front and center.  Somewhere it should say "Athlete tracker".  You click that then either search on my last name, Sherman, through the 35-39 age group or on the bib number that I hope to post.  There will be a time for each event once I finish it.  So you'll see my swim time right after I finish that and my bike time, etc.  The event starts at 7AM pacific standard time.

It's kindof crazy when you think about the overall length of the race.  I'll be on the course for over 10 hours.  I rarely even sleep that long at night.  Some people don't even go to work that long.  During this time, I'll try to break it up in my head so it doesn't seem like forever.  It will be hard to stay mentally focused for that amount of time with the hardest being those last 10 miles on the marathon.  Luckily, it's the event that I have the most experience in oh wait I take that back.  Actually, I have swam more 2.4 mile swims now than I've run marathons just in my swim training.  That's crazy when you think about it.  I guess that's why the swim is first because it really doesn't destroy you like running does.  I'll stop blabbing if anyone has managed to read this far.

11 more days...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Light spinning

Today is going to me 2nd day of an easy 30 minute spin.  Cush!  Tomorrow will a hard day as relative to the taper week.  All in all it won't be really hard but it will be good push the legs a little in the cycling and running.  I will be doing Mayan pyramid swim workout in the morning to round out the workouts.

I'm still nursing the sore hamstring which just "is there" during hard workouts.  I feel it but it's not too limiting just not normal.  The foot extensor tendon is still inflamed as well but again it's not a major issue during the workouts.  I continue to ice all the time and stretch the hamstring as much as possible.  I'm still hoping to make it to morning of the 24th as healthy as possible.

Tomorrow will be 1 year swimming anniversary.  After the death pyramid, I'll do a slow trip down memory lane.  I'll dig up some workout numbers for some amusement.  I'm still god awful slow in the water but compared to last year it's just wild to think about it.

I'm still thinking about all the food I'm going to eat after the 24th.  I can't wait and have held off going to Costco until after the trip.  I'm running pretty low on all food in the house as I empty the cupboards in preparation for being gone for 10 days.  That Costco trip will be EPIC.  I'll have to get one of these for all the food.
I'm just going to go through the aisles like a debutante on Rodeo Drive.  I'll take one of those and some of these.  I'll be walking for a long enough time during this trip I'm sure I can count as a recovery workout.
Just 12 more days...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Only 1 left

What a weird weekend for me...I had so much free time I actually kindof got bored.  Luckily, the Olympics and PGA championship helped.  I did a simple hard 3 hour ride on Saturday and covered 56.2 miles.  Hmmm...perfect although I was a little disappointed in my speed.  I was pretty rested but my hamstring/glute is bugging me on the bike.  This definitely makes the bike a little harder than it should be.

So that was my lone workout on Saturday and the rest of the day I just sat and watched TV.  Of course as I watch TV I have a bad habit of snacking.  I did my best to limit calorie intake.  I set my DVR to record the various swim finals that would be on TV at god awful times in the late evening.

On Sunday morning, the plan was just do some technique in the pool and bust out an hour running with a 6 mile tempo run.  The technique worked out pretty well as I applied some of what I saw the Olympic swimmers doing to help my stroke.  I noticed that the 400m guys were actually gliding quite a bit so I tried that just to see and it wasn't too bad.  I'll decide to mix a little more glide into my stroke.  The technique went well and I had some decent times while focusing on form.  I went over to the park where I did my 8 mile tempo last weekend.

The legs felt a little heavy from the hard ride on Saturday but I settled in after the warmup and was able to create even splits for the 3 miles out and the 3 miles back.  This is even with the entire back being slightly uphill.  I cruised the last mile of warm down at about 7:10 while the tempo was rock steady at 6:30s.  My quads were in pain for workout which actually simulates how they will feel for those last 6 miles of marathon.  Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about my run.

This morning was my last long really long swim before the actual event.  The plan was to swim for 75 minutes.  I decided to wear my tri-shorts to eliminate drag and really go for a good time.  The splits were going pretty good but about 2/3 through I always have a mental lapse and wimp out some splits.  It's amazing my arms were getting tired but if I focused on my stroke technique I could keep my times close.  I averaged 1:51s which is the fastest so far for that distance.  I actually swam just under 80 minutes and covered the actual 2.4 mile swim distance.  If I can swim straight and not get clobbered too much, I should have a chance at a 75 minute swim split at Canada with the wetsuit.  That would rule and really set me up for a chance a great time.

13 days left...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Little Karate Kid

As promised here's a little snippet of Elena's karate graduation.  For her age she's one of the shortest in her group but still packs a wallop.  She's doing sidekicks which are her favorite for winning points in the sparring contests.  She's on the far right..

Can you believe it?  Ironman Canada is just 2 weeks away.  WOW!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Found it

Okay so I found something in my swim stroke this morning.  I was back to moving through the water at a decent pace.  It's just amazing at how the "catch" is so important that if you miss it you basically don't move forward.  So that's a positive and now I can just hope I don't lose it again.  Argh...swimming.  I am coming up on my one year swim anniversary.  It should be fun to give all my loyal blog readers all 2 of you some comparisons for your amusement.

Now onto Desoto Sports clothing and their customer last week I mentioned that I sent back in my tri-shorts that they make.  The pad sewing had ripped so they said they'd repair it.  Perfect so at that time I ordered another pair of the tri-shorts and I also got a pair of their bib shorts.  My current bib shorts are way old and totally falling apart.  I've waited to buy a new pair of bib shorts becaues they always rip in the pad for me.  I figured since Desoto has such cool customer support that I'd drop the money on their bib shorts.  I wore the new bib shorts for a simple 90 minute ride and they actually felt quite comfortable.  Sweet!  I threw them in the wash with my other workout clothes.  I took them out and wouldn't you know their have stitching coming out in the pad again.  WTF!!  I called Desoto and they sent me a return invoice for them.  I just wanted to give a shout out for sweet customer support on their products.  Once I get these shorts back, I'll probably buy another pair post Ironman.

I'm going to start putting together my "lists" for packing and the entire Ironman event to help reduce my type "A" stress that will consume me.  Plus I'll try to give my cheering squad enough information so they can see me at various points during the race.

Oh yeah I apologize for the Blog sidebar as it seems there's a bug with blogger...

Under 16 days...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day off

Today was first day off from training for in like forever.  Other than when I travel for business, I'm always doing at least one sport of the three.  It was so nice to sleep in, work and not have to worry about getting outside to workout.  It was extra cool because at my usual afternoon workout time there was this massive thunderstorm.

Tomorrow I have an easy technique swim in the morning at the usual wake up time and then an aerobic 90 minute ride.  This weekend's workouts will be the last real hard workouts although because the duration is short they won't be too bad.

I'm started to get excited that I actually will be able to become an Ironman.  I mean it's really weird but man if I finish it will be awesome.  I mean sure I've been training for almost a year but even when I was a kid I always thought of doing after seeing it on TV.  Sure Canada isn't Kona but man the distance is what was there.  2.4 mile swim which is like forever and then go do a 112 mile bike and just for fun after that run a marathon.  All those distances when I was kid were super huge by themselves.  I was a runner as a kid but the farthest I had gone was 8 miles during cross country.

So yes I'm already getting butterflies and it's 17 days away.  Race morning, I'm going to be a mess.  It's going to be hard to keep focused on the plan for the day and all the little things to make sure the event goes well.

I'm trying my best to monitor my calorie intake as I've cut back on the duration of my workouts so I don't gain 5 lbs between now and race day.  I really don't want to carry that extra weight up all the hills on the bike course as well as for the 26.2 miles of running.  It's hard because my stomach is probably the size of an elephant all expanded over the year of just stuffing tons of food in it.  So it's complaining right now as I've only put a simple cereal bar and a bowl of salad in it today.  I'm going to eat some pasta tonight and try my best to limit after dinner snacks.  The hardest part will be eating healthy while at the race site for the 6 days leading up to the race.

The official athlete's guide is out so it's just a matter of time before they publish bib numbers.  Once they are up, I'll post all the details for anyone wanting to check on my status during or after the event.

Under 17 days...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Smooth as butter

Today was a total workout yin and yang.  My morning started off with a typical 200yd interval swim workout and my times were horrible.  I had no speed and no stroke.  My rhythm was totally off and I could tell as it was a struggle just to get each 200 done.  My arms were flailing around like I was trying to swat mosquitoes at a campground fire.

I got home and started beating my head against a tough work problem which I still can't figure out.'s so close but yet I can't find the solution.  I hate those type of problems.  It soon became time to go hit the pavement with a 90 minute ride at a decent clip followed by a 45 minute run with tempo at the end.

I loaded the bike up with some "throw-away" water bottles to test their use with my bottle cages for the actual Ironman.  If they could survive the major bumps in roads out here, they'll be no problem for the IMC bike course.  I set off for my typical loop and started easy as described by the Going Long book which I'm following for the peak/taper period.  I warmed up the legs and just sat the pace right around half-ironman effort.  I finished, changed real quick and flew out the door for the my run.

The plan was to run my nice out and back 6.3 mile loop.  I'd cruised the first 2 miles, tempo the middle 3.3 and just relax the last mile.  The last mile has that downhill section back to my condo which I always take it easy now after my hamstring injury.  It seems almost no matter how hard I ride for that 90 minutes I always feel good at the start of the run.  I cruised an easy 7:10 first mile.  I really feel like with my racing flats and a perfect day that's the pace I can hold for the entire marathon.  I started the tempo and just clicked off 6:30 miles without too much trouble.  I'm starting to get that running feel back in my body and legs.  It's just being able to cruise without a lot of effort.

I so happy that my run is coming around just in time for the race.  I just need to stay away from any injury. I'm icing every day the key injury areas: foot, hamstring and knees when they feel sore.

On a totally funny note, check out this YouTube video.  It's hilarious.

17 days..

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bubble boy

Right now, I wish I did live in a quarantined bug free bubble.  There's still a stomach flu/bug going around and I've got just a slight scratch to my throat.  I hope it doesn't develop into a full blown sore throat.  I'm taking Airborne daily even though I heard there was a class action lawsuit which was won because it's fake.  It has helped me in the past so I hope it boosts up my immune system.  This is always the part of the taper that I dread is getting a cold.  I'm hopeful I can keep it together until after the 24th.

I had a decent 60 minute run yesterday except for having to make a pitstop midway and barely making it back to the condo before making another pitstop.  I still have some bug but I'm hoping it just keeps getting better.  I actually felt good on the run which is the first time in a long time.  I was cruising at a 7:10 pace which felt pretty easy and relaxed.

I set up my entire 2 "peak" weeks this morning while I waited at the Maryland DMV.  It doesn't open until 8:30 but I got there at 7:30.  I was fifth in line and by the time the DMV actually opened, the line was already 100 strong.  Of course once I got my ticket, I wasn't called for another 30 minutes while about 30 people went in front of me.  I guess the new car registration isn't high priority in the DMV view of the world.  I got my plain white plates and left.  So no more vanity plates, oh well..

18 days...

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Last Dragon

On Friday, it was Elena's big karate camp graduation ceremony.  The camp rented a gym to hold parents and friends.  They had a little skit at the beginning before all the students from 3-15 years did their form and then they all had a chance to break boards.  My little one was able to break her one board.  We got it on video which I hope to post to YouTube soon.  She really likes karate.  She graduated and went from white to yellow to 3rd degree orange belt.  They ran out of orange belts as the organizers aren't the best planners but she got her yellow one.  For the entire weekend she was always talking about how she is suppose to get her orange belt on Monday.

The ceremony had a special guest, Taimak the star of Berry Gordon's The Last Dragon. It was wild because the guy was at least 6'2".  I saw that movie a bunch when I was kid and I always thought he was short based on the movie.  I guess the magic of the movies was in full effect.  He and the instructor are good friends.

Here's Elena on the far right in her stance during the ceremony.
Well it's under 3 weeks to go and the modified taper will begin.  Thank god.  My left leg is completely wiped out.  The weak hamstring and foot has me favoring it which is making it extra sore.  I proceeded with my most difficult running workout.  I was planning to do a 10 mile tempo run on fairly flat terrain.  I did the mile or so warmup and started cruising out my tempo pace.  I was planning on trying to just sit at a 6:30 pace.  The pace felt hard which just amazes me considering this is the pace I ran my entire first marathon at just 10 years ago.
I was cruising along and when I roughly got to mile 3 I decided to cut it to an 8 mile tempo run.  I was feeling my legs and didn't want to risk a chance of injury plus I didn't think I could hold the pace for 10 miles.  I made it to the rough turnaround and proceeded to head back.  This is where I really had to focus mentally to complete the work.  I ended up with an 8.6 mile tempo run at an average of 6:24 pace.  Not bad but my legs were pretty cooked at the end.
On Sunday, my plan was to ride for 5 total hours with 2.5 hours of half ironman pacing and the rest at Ironman pace.  My legs were a complete mess as I started the ride but this was good as I used that to control my pacing.  It's crucial during the Ironman not to hammer the first part of the bike.  At Canada, the first 40 miles of the bike are the easiest miles with a lot of slight downhill.  Conserve, conserve will be the motto for that portion.
I think I locked into my run pace.  My goal is going to be to shoot for 7:15 miles.  I think if things go well on the bike I should be able to hold that pace.  The last 10k is going to suck but that's how marathon's go probably at any pace.  The legs just get tired.
20 days...

Friday, August 1, 2008


I'm hopeful that the stomach bug is on the last days.  I've lost 2lbs since it started which explains why I was able to do my hill bike workout yesterday at a pretty fast pace.  I was feeling pretty fast on the ups even though my legs still feel tired.  My easy run after the bike was pathetic as my stomach just hurt and the legs were just tired.  I took it real easy and for the first time in awhile came over 7:30s for the simple 4 miles.

I was able to keep in last nights dinner for the most part which really helped my swim this morning.  I decided to try something new by doing a 45 minute "tempo" swim.  My plan was to keep each hundred under 1:50.  I probably shouldn't actually document my times because they are so slow and most triathletes would laugh at such a slow time split time.  Obviously my swim stroke is way better than when I first started but still pathetically broken in just a bunch of little pieces.  I just have a little bit here and there that just isn't right.  I keep messing with my stroke and trying to bring it all together.  After having a rest swim day yesterday, I was able to keep everything just right at 1:49 splits.  I swam for 49 minutes since I really wasn't exactly sure when to stop.  It's hard enough seeing the splits on my watch but I can't see the little "total time" number at all so I go by the clock on the wall which isn't exact.

No one was at the pool this morning which was strange but it was even hard for me to get myself out of bed again this morning.  I'm glad I made it so it's another workout out of the way.  I just got to keep pushing through these workouts to get to the Ironman.  I was happy with the workout as it was my fastest continuous swim for the time and with the baggy swim trunks.  A couple more 75 minute swims to go and then some swim taper which for the half really rejuvenated my swim.

I did some Mac research yesterday and I'm going to go with an IMac instead of the Macbook Pro.  It's cheaper and the portability isn't necessary for me.  I'll wait until this fall as I think they're some conference that occurs then when Apple announces stuff.  I think it will be cheaper and plus I'll have a ton of time since I won't be Ironman training and just getting fat.

I keep holding onto some anger towards Montgomery county where I live, drive and train.  I just can't stand it anymore...the roads out here are pathetic and the road workers are even more pathetic.  Every time I see a road crew, I cringe because I know they are going to screw up another road that I'll have deal with.  Every time they dig up the road, they do a horrible job at the repave.  It's always one big wavy, bumpy, half-sunken blacktop.  It's even worse when they get called to fix their past screwup they don't even have a clue how to fix it.  Combine the worst road crews in all the US with the harsh temperature changes and there are cracks and bumps all over the county.  Ahh...that's better...phew!

Only 22 days left...