Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Race Report Ochsner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans 2010

Praise God for His grace and love because I am a flawed man! Yet, in God’s eyes, I raced a perfect race! What an experience! This was a loooong day…longer than I expected, but the journey is something I would never change. Before I really get into the race report, I remember asking myself, “Did I leave it all on the course or did I stay in my comfort zone?!” I left it all out there. I am looking forward to getting faster times but I am certainly NOT disappointed with my effort. Besides, this was only my second triathlon and only four months preparation before my first Half Ironman.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt

I can tell you exactly the moment I wanted to quit and go home! At that moment, I was standing on the edge of a cliff and quitting, well… it seemed like the only logical thing to do…
The day started super early. I went to bed the night before around 7:30 pm with the help of a sleep aid! I read too many horror stories of people having sleepless nights. Being Type A about this training, I, of course, used this sleeping aid two other times; once before a half marathon and once before a long bike ride. I wanted to know what I felt like after using this sleep aid. My alarm was set for 3:15 am and I was awake and alert by 3. Only the last hour of sleep I was a bit restless, but I really had the BEST sleep ever! No complaints! When 3 am rolled around I was alive! I wasn’t really nervous or super excited but alive and alert!

I was scheduled to leave at 4:15 am, but left at 4:30am instead. The car was packed and ready to go by 4:15 am, but I wasn’t. Let’s just say my stress manifested itself in another way! And let’s just say about ten times that morning it continued to manifest itself in that same way! UGH! So, 4:30 am we’re on the road to the transition area which isn’t that far away, about 6 -10 miles. Because of road closures we had to cut through Decatur Street which, apparently, is a HUGE party area of New Orleans even at 4:30 am! The music was loud, the people were drinking, and the transvestites were out and about! Unfortunately, so was traffic! Who would guess there would be traffic at 4:30 am.

After the delay through party city, the rest of the trip was uneventful. I made it into transition confident I had everything I needed. I was extremely excited to see my bike was still there! People joked that the safest place in New Orleans was the bike transition area. I believe it! That’s a rough city. I started organizing my gear in a way so I wouldn’t forget to carry anything out with me! Turns out it worked! I didn’t forget to take anything I needed out to the road with me on either the bike or the run. I will add, though, having a flashlight in transition would be extremely beneficial. It’s difficult to lay out your gear if you can’t see! I heard an announcement that the water was calm and the lake looked like glass! Oh yeah?! Just what I needed to hear!

And as I mentioned before, I made several more trips to the port-a-johns before the morning was over. At one point, I heard the announcer say transition was closing in ten minutes. I wasn’t really sure what that meant. I asked some random guys and they said everyone would have to be out of transition and in the swim start area. DOH! I didn’t have my wetsuit on! I thought I had plenty of time. My wave didn’t start for another hour and 15 minutes. I hurried back to my area, grabbed my bag that contained my goggles and other swim items. I quickly put on body glide to prevent wetsuit chaffing and grabbed my wetsuit. I went to the swim start and there is where I put on the suit. This was the first time I saw the lake that morning. Somewhere between 5am, when the lake was “smooth like glass” (the announcement said) and 6:40am, the waters had become a much rougher. The lake was moving. A lot more than my swims on Lake Norman and the practice swim on Friday!

I walked down to the starting area because the men’s pro start was about to go off. They played the national anthem and I heard the sound of people’s heart rate monitors beeping. You can set your monitor to go off if your heart rate peaks at certain beats per minute. Apparently these people were getting excited because the start was near. I’m sure I was too! However, I still felt pretty calm. I guess it hadn’t really hit me yet.

I walked back over to the swim chute and there were people standing around so I stood around with them. I heard an announcement, “pro men are wearing light purple swim caps.” I look up! DOH! I’m standing at the rear of the pro men! They looked like normal people! I quickly made my way to the side guard rails! I mean they weren’t doing anything special just standing around but I was a little embarrassed!

The pro men go out and it was quite the spectacle! Hilarious! Everyone is watching trying to see how these guys take on the start. They ran in the water for about 25 yards. A couple of pros tried to dolphin dive but they realized the water was still too shallow. Then ran/walked a little more before, finally, the swim! It was hilarious! The water depth seemed to go from deep enough to swim to shallow. You really had to get out there before you started to swim. I walked over to the swim exit and I saw KP standing there! That was really cool to see her standing there! I knew exactly where to look for her after the swim exit. Uh oh! Had to make another run! I asked KP to try to get pics of the pros as they were coming out if she could.

I ran back to the porta line and I saw the first pro running in. Andy Potts in 23 minutes! I knew he was the strongest swimmer in the group but that’s insane! 23 minutes! He didn’t look phased! Then I saw Macca chasing him shortly after. After my last visit I realized my wave was being asked to line up in the rear of the starting chute. I still wasn’t panicked, just calm, just praying. I tightened my goggle straps as tight as I could because they had leaked the day before. Today they kept getting fogged up while I waited!

The announcer counted us down…1 minute. Instant feeling of going up on a rollercoaster! You know that feeling right before you peak? You ask yourself, “Self, Why did I do this?!” I thought to myself, “At least I have a few meters to walk out into the water and get settled”…30 seconds. Heart is racing! “Go out easy. Steady strokes. You can do this.” I was concerned that the water looked a little too choppy this morning. On Friday at the race brief, the announcer told me the water always feels rougher than it looks. Well today it was looking pretty intimidating! I was unable to imagine what it would feel like. I had only done three previous open water swims in my life and one was on Friday.

Swim Start Area

1.2 Mile Swim:


I walked out into the water feeling like a soldier going into battle! The horn was the battle cry. I wasn’t battling against the people in my age-group, but against myself! I was my only enemy this day. Me… and my demons.

The more I walked the more fearful I became; the more determined I needed to be. The water was waste high and I decided to make my stand! This is where my swim had to start. It is time!

I can tell you exactly the moment I wanted to quit and go home! At that moment, I was standing on the edge of a cliff and quitting, well… it seemed like the only logical thing to do…

I took one stroke and I went to breathe. That was the moment I wanted to quit! After my first stroke, I turned to breathe and I was immediately overcome with water! A swell had covered my entire face. The water was extremely rough! I panicked! I felt like I was drowning! It was the only time during my short 8 month swim career that I had felt like I was drowning. I was seriously picturing myself raising my hand and calling it! I have never been so afraid in my life. I thought I would die if I continued!!!

I stopped seriously with the thought of raising my hand. The moment I felt like I was drowning, I felt a huge adrenaline dump. The flight or fight feeling you get when you are afraid. I decided to fight! That would become the theme of the day! FIGHTING! The guy to my right was still able to barely walk in the water. The water was nearly chest deep. Instead of quitting, I thought, “Dude you just started! You just started! You better get settled and get moving!” So, I walked. When I saw him start to swim, I began to swim. He didn’t know it but there was some comfort in having another swimmer next to me. If he could do it, I could do it. I took my next breath and, Praise God, I could breathe! I was back in this fight!

I made the first turn and was starting to find my rhythm. I made it to the first big orange buoy which I thought was the turn around. I was happy dancing in my head! Man that was quick! Uhh Yeah… I was wrong! I saw people still swimming so I continued to swim. I managed to sight well and stay on track while swimming on the west side of the course. During this stretch of the course I was kicked in the head several times and elbowed in the eye. The next day I couldn’t figure out why my right eye was hurting. Oh yeah, that’s because I took an elbow! At one point, someone seriously swam over me! I thought to myself, “Did a kayaker just go over me?” This huge mass had just gone over me, but as it passed I was kicked, again, in the head! I thought, “Oh! No, that was a person!” as Dori would say in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,”

I passed a lady who was having a rough time. She was there just floating on her back, taking her time! I was happy for her! She was still in it! I was happy for me that I wasn’t her! I prayed for that woman. I hope she made it. I passed a few people that were taking breaks. I just kept at it. Several times I would go to breathe and take in water! I had proved early on I could overcome that (the swim start) and so I just kept moving. I was breathing every two strokes. In the pool I would breathe every fourth. I felt comfortable that if I took in water I would be alright until the next breath. I can breathe bilaterally (breath on the right and left side) but just wasn’t comfortable doing it during this swim. I found what was working for me and I wasn’t going to change it.

I knew I was moving a lot slower than I could, but I felt comfortable in the water and I wasn't going to jeopardize my comfort for speed. This was my first open water swim in race conditions and enough chop to put Mr. Miyagi to shame. I had to find my groove and go with it. I did breathe bilaterally once or twice during the entire swim, but that was it!

Once I hit the turn around, I knew I was going to complete this swim! That is when things started to change. I could feel my calf muscles starting to cramp! My goggles, because of the choppy waters, were starting to leak. I didn’t panic this time. Smooth is fast! One thing at a time. Don’t panic, it’s game day! I took a second and pulled the left goggle strap as tightly as I could and I just kept moving. I had watched a YouTube video (love YouTube) of Dave Scott and he was talking about how people tend to cramp during the swim. He said to combat this, dorsal flex your feet and it should stretch out the calves a bit. I did that and it helped. Just Keep Moving.

I had only about 300 meters left! I could feel my body moving up and down in this unforgiving water! I was timing my breathing pattern with the water because at this point I had taken in water several times long the way! One time I almost got sick when the water triggered my gag reflex. After the turn around, the course seemed to change. I couldn’t see the buoys anymore. I was now swimming directly into the sun and could not sight the buoys. Desperate to just keep moving, I started sighting on other swimmers which I know isn’t the best thing to do.

Every time I tried to sight, I would have a face full of sun and not a single buoy in view. I heard other people complain later that the course could have been marked a little better. Since this was my first race, I don’t have anything to compare it to. I recall seeing people on the shore and just being jealous that they were on land and here I was still in the water. At that same moment, I realized I was one of many people putting on a show because I WAS SWIMMING IN A HALF IRONMAN!!! WOOHOOO!

A few moments passed when I realized I wasn’t getting the occasional kick or elbow. I thought, “Man did I get this swim figured out!” Then, each time I went to sight, I would hear a yell! It was a kayaker yelling for me to get back on course. I had gotten about 25 yards off course and had to swim back. About 5 minutes later, I was off course again! I just couldn’t see the buoys. As I approached the shore, I could see the “swim run-in” inflatable! Woohoo! I began to sight off of that. Yeah, but then there were the wooden posts in the water. I found myself on the right side of said posts and the exit was on the left. I had to swim back out then around the posts finally to the exit. That took me another 25 yards out of the way. I didn’t care! I was done with the swim!

I had just finished my first open water triathlon swim; my first Half Ironman swim. The scariest part of the race was over!

Body scan….heart rate elevated, but manageable…calves cramping... no big deal. Are you ready to ride? Oh yeah!

One down, two to go.

Swim: 51:33 Minutes (goal 43minutes)

Transition 1:

I run up the chute and I see KP! She looked as happy to see that I made it through the swim as I was to finally have it over with! I’m sure that was a difficult time for her as well, watching people being pulled out of the water and not knowing exactly where I was. I didn’t run up the chute. I didn’t see any reason to. I just walked silently! I didn’t have much to say, or couldn’t talk if I wanted to, Lol! I just looked at KP, smiled, and gave her thumbs up to let her know I was still in this race! She didn’t know that just 50 minutes ago I was in a tough spot and wasn’t looking good. She didn’t care that I wasn’t first out of the water or the fastest person swimming. She was just happy to see me! And me her!

I made it to the wetsuit strippers and I knew what to do from watching YouTube Videos (again)! Lol! And who said YouTube isn’t educational? I unzipped my suit, pulled it down waist high, and had it ripped off by a stripper. (Wetsuit stripper, that is hehe). When he pulled it off I felt pain in my cramping calves and almost screamed out! That would have been super awkward. Some guy standing over me with my legs in the air and me screaming….yeah, uhh… glad I didn’t scream! HA!

I walked over to my bike and transitioned the way I had visualized in my head so many times before. It was a smooth transition, nice and slow. I didn’t want to forget anything important. As I walked the bike out to the mounting line, the aero bottle slid forward. Whoops! I forgot to lock it down this morning during prep. I got it secured and I was on my way for the easiest part of my day! (or so I thought).

T1= 4:04

56 mile Bike Ride:

I was a little nervous riding in this race because the aero position is still very new to me. On the way out, I was getting passed, it seemed, by everyone! My heart rate was up and I was trying to cycle at a speed that would bring me back into my zone. The road was super flat minus a few climbs around the bridges. The wind on the other hand was extremely unforgiving! It was the invisible enemy! I was only averaging about 15 mph. In training I was up around 18-21. I’m not yet a fast cyclist (or swimmer, or runner, Lol!), but I’m faster than 15mph! At one point, I thought to myself, “My bike computer must be broken.” When I hit some of the mile markers, I realized it wasn’t. I was struggling on the bike. Not physically, but more mentally. Why wasn't I going faster?! I wish I knew what it was! Was it the tough swim I just completed? Was it the killer headwind? Was it me trying to be super conservative to save some for the run? Was it the cramps I was experiencing from the swim? I wish I knew! Well, going forward, I think I will talk to my coach about what was happening on the bike.

With all the planning I had in mind for transition 1, I turned on the Garmin, but never started it so we don’t know what my average heart rate was for the bike. Ugh! For the most part, my heart rate was between 137-140 bpm.

I was hydrating well on the bike; one 24oz water bottle of Perpetuem per hour. Because of the heat and my issues with cramping, I decided I was going to use two SaltStick capsules per hour. Feeling bold, I was able to grab two SaltStick Capsules from my bento box and ingest them! (Progress! hehehe) As expected, I did have to pull over on the side of the road to refill my water bottles and take in nutrition. I stopped once on the bike for a restroom break. In all there were 4 stops in total.

On the way out I was able to see the pro males on their final stretch of the bike course. I don’t recall who the leader was at that point, but they were fast! It was a sight to see for sure.

The first few miles of the bike were really congested with riders. I wanted to be in the aero position but just didn’t feel comfortable. Some of the people passing were real jerks! REALLY! They would ride up really close to my rear tire, pass, and then cut me off about 6 inches to a foot in front of me. Sometimes, there would be a double pass where one person was 3 feet away on my left side, which was great, except another cyclist would squeeze in the middle of that three foot gap to pass! One good thing was that we had the entire road! Four huge lanes for cycling. Two lanes outbound and two lanes inbound. If they needed to pass they had plenty of room to do so. Not to mention I was as far right as I could be. It just did not make for a comfortable ride.

I wondered what would happen if our tires clipped one another. A few more miles up the road, I saw what the results of unsafe cycling were. I saw several riders being treated by Medic and one person was being transported. I just don’t know why people ride with their egos and not with safety. Finally, I decided to buckle down and I began to ride in the aero position. If someone was going to crash into me because they wanted to pass too closely, so be it! I came to race too! Maybe I’m just a newbie venting, but I just think we need to be safe. There was plenty of room to pass safely. I will get off my soap box now! I will say, however, in my next race I am going to put my head down and ride my race. Whatever happens, happens.

I recall while on the bike how quickly time seemed to fly. The first hour went by in no time. Then the second, and third. It didn’t seem like I was out there that long. After the turn around, the road seemed lonely and quiet. There weren’t as many cyclists because they had all already passed me, Ha! Before the turnaround I could see cyclists on the opposite side of the road heading in. Afterwards, there was the occasional rider. The closer I made it to transition, the less I would see until there was nothing. It was a LONELY ride. To entertain my mind I just kept repeating I just swam 1.2 miles in a Half Ironman! I would have this huge smile on my face every time I thought about it.

I also expected once I hit the turn around, I would be able to take advantage of a tailwind heading back and make up some time. Ugh… about that… NOT! I swear I felt like I was hitting a headwind coming back. On some of the boards I heard a couple of other people in the later waves say they felt like they had hit a head wind coming back as well.

About ten miles to go, I hit the final aid station. I, of course, had to stop to be able to turn and grab my nutrition. As I was about to pull out, I nearly crashed into another rider. Ok, I’m exaggerating. I didn’t see her and was getting ready to pull out when I saw her. I apologized fervently. I was so apologetic! She was understanding and said no problem. I jumped on my bike and began the final leg. The female was off to the side of the road and I could hear her brakes engaging. I was about 30 feet down the road when I heard the clink of metal and a *THUMP* Somehow, that sweet girl wrecked. I felt responsible, even though I knew I had nothing to do with it! I was 20 feet down the road but I felt so bad for her! There was nothing I could do. I hope everything worked out for her!

I could finally see the UNO campus! The transition area was in sight! Oh yeah! The excitement! 2 down 13.1 miles to go!!!

56 mile bike ride 3:34:09 (goal time= 3:18:00)

Transition 2:

When I hit transition, there was no large crowd, no announcers, and no KP! I looked for her and figured she had to get moving in order to make it to the points on the run that we had planned for. I didn’t expect to feel the way I felt after the bike. I was in need of some external motivation. I would have to make it to mile 6 before I would see her.

This transition was slower than the first. I performed the necessary functions and, in addition, I mixed Perpetuem for the Fuel Belt. I made it to the run-out exit and realized I was in trouble.

13.1 Mile Run:

When I made it to the run out I has planned to run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. I immediately knew I wasn't going to be able to make this run walk combo. My legs felt dead! Like really dead! I was concerned that I wasn't going to make 3 miles much less a half marathon. I made it to the first mile marker, but unfortunately, started the run way too fast. The run, much like the bike, seemed quiet there in the back of the pack. On the way out, I saw this guy shouting, “The run will come to you! Let the run come to you! It will get easier!” “Thanks sir”, I shouted back. Oh HEY! That’s ANDY POTTS! I realized then he must have won the race! That was really cool that he was there with the back of the packers cheering us on!

Getting to the second mile marker proved as difficult as taking that first swim stroke. At about a mile and a half, I was beginning to get a headache and feeling a little light headed. Shortly thereafter, my stomach turned and I got sick in some poor person’s yard. “There! Now I have a reason to quit! I made it through the swim and the bike, but now I got sick. I can quit now. No one will question that! You got sick!”

I was fighting another battle! Greater than the 12 miles that lay ahead. It was the battle I came here for. Man versus himself. I was ready to quit again. It was extremely hot and the air was humid. My legs were dead and could barely conjure up a walk much less a run. I then remembered an Ironman video I had seen. It warned that during these events, your body will give you a thousand reasons to quit but there is always one reason to keep going. At that point my reason to keep going was so that I wouldn’t be quitter! One foot in front of the other… just keep moving. I made it through mile two and then mile three. There were people in front of me. I told myself I just had to keep them in my sight. Don’t let them get too far ahead. Mile 4…they were gone… my battle raged on.

I began to tell myself, “If you are going to qui,t do it at mile 6”, knowing, of course, that KP was at mile 6 waiting for me…there was no way I was going to quit in front of her! I just kept moving. Every step quieting those demons that once yelled at me to quit early on in the swim. I wasn't counting mile markers anymore. I was counting oak trees in the park. Just run from here to the third oak tree. Sometimes I would make it; other times I wouldn’t. I could feel the lactic acid begin to build in my legs like poison. My mind was in this battle and it was dragging my dead body along for the ride. Other times, I would succeed and it felt great. Lots of small battles were won in this Half Ironman! The more I ran, the better I felt. The more time passed, the more I wanted desperately to run.

The New Orleanians (is that right?) were out spraying runners with garden hoses. Some turned their sprinklers on and pointed them toward the road for runners. Cold water against my body had never felt so great! Children with squirt guns would ask to squirt us as we passed. I don’t think anyone said no! The children couldn’t refill their guns fast enough!

As I approached mile 6, I was looking for KP. I saw her car parked and next to it a Medic. I started freaking out. “Where is she?! Where is she?!” I turned right and in the distance I could see the steady flow of runners and volunteers. As I moved closer to the chaos, I saw a woman dressed in black. I didn’t immediately recognize that it was KP. My mind seemed to go blank out on the course. This unidentified person then starts jumping up and down like a mad woman! It was KP!!! She ran alongside me and said, “Babe, you’re doing it. You’re doing it! I’m so proud of you! You’re looking so good!” All I could say was, “Stop, you’re gonna make me cry!” LOL! Well, she was! I ran a little further before I had to walk again. Thoughts of quitting, interestingly never crossed my mind at mile six!

The way the course was designed, I would see her again around mile 9. I continued to run from tree to tree and lamp post to lamp post. I came across a group of people that were running from bicycle lane marker to bicycle lane marker. They were getting it done and moving a lot faster than I was. I accepted I wasn't going to have a stellar half marathon time. I just wanted to finish at this point. I was running out of things to give this course.

By mile 9, I remembered I was going to see KP again! She always asked that when I passed her for me not to look like I was hurting. I tried this time to look strong. I couldn’t do it. I had to walk to her this time. At least I was able to talk and show her I still had good spirit! She cheered for Julie Ammon as she passed by us. Julie is a lady I had met along the way. Julie finished her first half Ironman 30 minutes past the cut off. Today, she was turning that around! She knocked 25 minutes off her time this day. Good Show Julie!

Soon after I left Julie to her battle and said goodbye (for now) to KP, I met up with another group of people finishing their races. One was a guy in the 28 year old age group. He was having a tough run, too. Together we made it to Mile 10. Mile 10 is always the marker I look for on my half marathons. If something bad was going to happen, it has historically happened at mile 10.

I was feeling good! Talked about running the whole last 5K in. “It’s only a 5k”, I would think to myself. In actuality it was mile 67 of the half Ironman at that point. I prayed that I had unknowingly kept some secret energy in reserve. That by some miracle of sheer will, I could run it in. I tried to run the last 5k. I likely made it a half mile, the longest I had run all day, before I had to walk/ run again. I was steady though, all the way to the last turn.

I could see the finishing chute. It was less than a half a mile away! I could hear the crowd. I tried to run it in twice before my legs gave out. The last ¼ mile I just gave what little I had left.

The Finish:

It all seemed surreal. So many thoughts were running through my head. I thought, “I’ve dreamt of this moment and now here it is!” I also thought, “Here is this kid from the projects, this guy who used to be overweight and is a recovering alcoholic, running down the finish of one of the most challenging endurance events around.” Thank you Father for your love! At the finish line I, of course, gave it up to God! I know why I’m here (smile)! I saw KP and my cousin Jason just before I hit the finish! I never saw someone as happy to see me as KP was as I approached that line!

Half Marathon 3:08:20 (goal= 3hours)

I saw my time and it didn’t matter! I was so happy to be done with this race. I had just completed a half Ironman! Everyone wanted to talk at the end of the race. All I wanted to do was sleep, Ha! My brother called and I talked with him for a moment. He apparently tracked me the entire time! I am so grateful he did that! Those lonely parts of the race weren’t so lonely after all. He was feeding information to KP to tell her where I was in the race. This gave her an idea of where I was and how much time she had to get from point to point.

I especially didn’t want to hold the phone to talk to anyone lol! It was waaaay too heavy. Kp looked at me and said, “You did it! I knew you could do it!” I just lost it! The tears just fell down my face. I think I finally realized what I had just done! The truth is I wasn't so sure I could do it and I did! My brother said, “Your demons screamed at you to stop from the very beginning and you didn’t. When you were at the finish, what the hell were your demons saying then? NOTHING!”

Lessons learned:

Swim: A choppy swim is nothing to be afraid of! It just takes more courage to accomplish.

Bike: Conditions dictate your race. Get stronger on the bike and learn to take from aid stations while still in motion.

Run: The first couple of miles you should start off easy. No need to carry Perpetuem on the run. Water, gels, and SaltStick capsules seemed to work fine. Mixing the Perpetuem at the transition just takes too much time and effort.

As you can see, I didn’t hit one goal time. In a couple of years, I probably won’t remember my times. I may not have hit desired times, but what I did achieve was completing my first Half Ironman! I learned what it means to not quit and get through the tough parts of a race and of life. Would I have sacrificed the fun I had in order to hit times I thought I was capable of? Glad I don’t know the answer to that. I had fun during this race! When it hurt, I embraced it. When it hurt more, I tried to smile. I’m glad no one was around to see what my attempted smile looked like! More importantly, when I wanted to quit, I didn’t! The times will get faster, the training tougher, but I will always remember my first Half Ironman!

P.S. I am so ready to get back into training! Beast Mode for Ironman Cozumel! The harder I work now, the shorter my day will be in November!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The race report is coming!

The race report for IMNO 70.3 is coming :)  I had a minor surgery immediately following the event and am finally coming out of the drug induced cloud of pain meds! I can't wait to get back to training! On a side note, my local tri store asked me to write a brief article about my tri experience. Wow! I was honored! It's going to be sent to hundreds of emails! That was really exciting. Here it is:

I never considered myself an athlete. In fact, I was the exact opposite. I struggled with my weight most of my life, drank more than I should more times than I can remember (mostly because I passed out drunk) and smoked like a coal train. Five years ago when my son was born, I stopped smoking and really started eating. Three years ago something changed. I wasn't happy being 5”9,” 232lbs anymore. I found out about this race people do for “fun” called a 5K. I could barely run a mile! I signed up and completed my first 5k in Feb. 2007. Something happened when I crossed the finish line. I had become a runner and the addiction to endurance events was born.

A year later, 2008, after enough bad experiences with alcohol, I stopped drinking and stop telling myself there were things I couldn’t do. In late August 2009, I signed up for swim lessons with the intent of signing up for my first sprint triathlon; Take Flight Triathlon in October 2009 (just a few weeks later). I could barely get through the swim! After crossing the finish line, I was bit by the bug! I became emotional as I approached the finish line and it was only a sprint triathlon. To me it was more than that. It was the spirit of believing in me. Something I didn’t do a lot of over the years.

I thought that I could do an Ironman! I had lost nearly 60 pounds over the past 3 years and now I had faith. I enlisted support from family and friends, sought a coach, and signed up for two half Ironman triathlons and a full Ironman. I could barely swim 250 yards but there I was signing up for a full Ironman.

On April 18, 2010, I completed my second triathlon. It was only my third open water swim ever which yielded choppy conditions. Ironman New Orleans 70.3. I trained for four months and learned a lot about myself and this sport during that long day in New Orleans. It all started with a 5k finish line and the belief I could do it. 70.3 down 70.3 to go!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

All i have to do is sleep, wake up, travel 70.3 and the first phase is over...for now!

Well, day two. I didn’t do much today. I woke up, had a HUGE carbohydrate loaded breakfast then we went to the River Walk. We walked over to the Expo, again, because it is so much fun and the atmosphere is awesome and reassuring. I have to admit I violated a tradition. The whole not buying distance souvenirs until I have completed the distance. I think that is going to change. I claimed this distance as mine and bought two 70.3 water bottles, hehehe. Big spender I know! It was funny they were a buck cheaper than the water bottles I buy from home.

It is welcoming to be among fellow athletes that are experiencing the same feelings you are. I overheard these guys at the expo talking about this scale that gave body fat and hydration percentage, bone density, and a host of other not so important information. It was pretty high tech. I was dreading to hear my body fat percentage, but was amazed, I was smack dab in the middle of average! Woohooo party! A few blogs ago I wrote that I am training so hard just to be average so that was welcome information. It was a lot lower than my highest body fat percentage which was 22% at my top weight of 232 lbs. It’s funny, no matter how much weight I lose I still feel like I look 232lbs some days.

Moving right along, around 1pm we headed toward the bike check-in. We arrived and the first thing I did was go to the swim start because I wanted to see what the course looked like set up. I wanted to see what 1.2 miles of swimming looked like. When I saw it I wasn’t intimidated by the distance. I had to tell myself that I swam this distance in training. Afterwards, I got air in the tires and took my bike on a farewell ride before bike check-in. During the race brief they said the first three miles would be rough. On my test ride I was expecting rough, but wowzers! It felt like I was riding off road! A mountain bike would have been a better choice for the first few miles. I turned around on the bike and went back to the transition area, turned in my bike and waved goodbye. On the way out I met a gentleman who said he did this event last year. It took him 8.5 hours. He was nearly 70 years old. KP and I drove part of the bike route just to have an idea of what it looks like. Part of the route is on the actual interstate! Like the highway! Lol! It will be closed off but that should be a lot of fun to cycle on the actual Interstate. It’s not every day you get to cycle on the Interstate.

We went to a point on the race where I am expecting to see KP and my cousin Jason on the race. It wasn’t difficult to navigate to today, however, a half Ironman wasn’t going on either, so we picked out a plan b which is a viewing hotspot location.

At 4 pm I had a much needed massage and had them work on my calves since they have been kind of tight the last couple of days. Back at the hotel, KP and I went through the race checklist and prepared everything for the morning (4 o’clock in the morning!!! Poor KP). I have eaten what I needed to today, or at least all the clean carbohydrates that I could (and even then didn’t come close to the 700 + carbs that I heard a nutritionist recommend for race prep!). I have hydrated and prepared, and now it’s time to pray and get a good night’s sleep! Tomorrow morning….GAME ON!!!

One arm stroke, pedal revolution, and step to the Glory and to quiet...those...demons...

A big First Day 04/16/2010

I met some of the most inspirational people, to me, in Ironman. The first person I met very early on in the day. I went to the athlete meeting at 10:00 am. It was the first meeting of the day. Of course the rookie was going to be at the first meeting. It worked out because it freed up the day and led to some chance encounters. (Instead of chance, I like to call it a God Thing.)

After the meeting, I went to the USAT check-in counter. I met an individual by the name of Marcus who is a member of the IamTri website. He recognized me from my profile pic. That was pretty cool running into him; small world. I was handed a check list that would send me through the merchandise floor (of course) to find my bib number. I would hand that list to the volunteer. The volunteer handed me my packet. The front of the packet had a sticker that contained my name, age division, swim cap color, and, most important, my wave time. In this case it was 8:00am. This puts me in the first wave of my age group.

We walked through the floor and I saw some things I would have loved to purchase. I have this jinx, tradition, or whatever you want to call it. I don’t buy myself distance souvenirs unless I have already completed the distance. Now other people can buy it for me but I always feel weird buying it. I bought the children Ironman cowbells that I am sure they will love. They loved the first cowbells I bought them some time ago. I saw some half Ironman water bottles I REALLY wanted to get but it violates my tradition.

Out the corner of my eve I saw a gentleman whom I felt like I knew; or at least had seen before. He had an amputated right hand and a prosthetic leg. I walked up to him and asked “Sir, what’s your name?” “Jason Gunther” I had a huge smile. “Sir, it is an honor and a pleasure to meet you.” He asked where I recognized him from and I’m sure he knew I was going to say Kona 2009. He was featured on the 2009 NBC Kona Ironamn. He, unfortunately, didn’t complete it but it wasn’t because his heart wasn’t in it! This guy is a fighter. We laughed and joked and I was, again, inspired by this gentleman.

We cleared the expo around noon, went to the hotel to grab my swim gear, and then I was off to swim. I went to transition area of the event. Guess who I saw cycling the route in her SkinFit outfit! None other than "The flying blonde Dutch girl," Yvonne van Vlerken. Unfortunately, some time ago she decided to keep her ponytails tucked in because it made her more aero dynamic. The pink SkinFit gear and bright blonde hair gave her away immediately; and the accent as she yelled at her fiancé may have been an indicator too! She was very pleasant and smiled while I attempted to take her photo. She won the inaugural Ironman Cozumel which is the Ironman I am scheduled to do this year. That was really cool to see her.

Now I am not the guy to get start struck. In my career as a soldier and police officer, I have met two presidents, and countless, countless musicians. But, you show me a professional triathlete, I become a 12 year old boy at a Michael Jackson concert! I’m not kidding! I yelled, Yvonne we love you babe!” Ooooooh uhhh yeah. Babe is my gf’s pet name and she wasn’t so happy about that lol. Well, at least I got a warning about calling Yvonne babe instead of a right hook hehe.

I made it done for a practice swim and was just in awe of this setup! It really is big business. The bike area was huge! I found my bike since I already had my packet and bib number. It’s great I don’t have that far to run out of transition in my bike shoes and my lane leads right to the front entrance so I have a straight shot once I get out of transition. It really is a great spot!

I get into the water and I noticed the visibility in the water here isn’t as good as it is in Lake Norman back home. There was a little bit of a claustrophobia going on. Once I got settled I was able to get some swimming in. The water was a little choppy and is expected to be in the same state come Sunday. I had an issue with my goggles leaking; probably because I didn’t pull it tight enough. Sunday those things are going to be glued to my face! Talk about panic. That was the first time that happened to me. However, I had to man up and tell myself I’m not the first person this has happened to. Cowboy up and get to sure. I did and was glad that was over. Thankfully if this happens in the event, I was told I can just have a kayaker come over while I fix my goggles.

Admittedly, I am nervous about the swim. However, I know it’s something I can get through. Because of those claustrophobic feelings, I was breathing every two strokes. I typically breathe every four strokes in the pool. I think I will try to push past the breathing and breathe bilaterally every 3rd stroke.

After exiting my swim, who else to I see, “The Iron Nun,” Sister Madonna Buder! If you don’t know her wow! She is the oldest lady to complete Ironman Kona! One year they had to create her age group because it didn’t exist! She has completed in over 40 Ironmans and she’s doing New Orleans. Really, if she can get through the chop! So can I :)

I felt like God was putting all of these inspirational figures in front of me so I don’t forget. These were just by chance! It was by design!

After the swim, I went home and changed and went to see Chris McCormack speak. Now, I’m not a big fan of McCormack because he comes off as an arrogant cocky son of a mother! In, fact, I enjoyed watching him get beat. I’m sitting in the room and of course waiting for this prima donna just knowing he will be late! And he was 5 minutes! I guess in the scheme of things that isn’t bad but it is when you have someone already figured out.

He walks in and starts talking. It wasn’t what I expected at all! He was little nervous you could tell. I was waiting for some guy to come in prepared to talk about himself and we didn’t get that. He asked, “So what do you guys want to do?” The next thing a hand went up and the gentleman asked McCormack a question. He answers then silence. I raised my hand because I know I wasn’t the only person in the room wondering this. I asked him how does he deal with his pain, where does he go! I looked around to make sure it wasn’t a stupid question and I see head nods! Yes, it wasn’t a stupid question.

He said something that I will not forget. He said embrace it! That is what brings us back is the pain. Wow! He didn’t say find a happy place, block it out. No! Embrace it! WOW! That’s it! He admitted he comes off as cocky in the media but he said he does that to show his opponents he’s not afraid. He said, truly there are times he is “petrified.” It was nice to see these people are human too. Although their athletic ability far exceeds ours, they have race day nerves and feel the pain too! I also learned he LOVES his family! Guess we have that in common. While I don’t consider myself a McCormack fan, he is definitely a man I respect in this field! I hope he wins on Sunday!

Im heeeeeere! 04/15/2010

++++Didnt have internet service in the room so these entries are a little out of order the previous entry was sent via blackberry++++

Welcome to New Orleans. After an extremely long 11 hour ride, I am finally here in New Orleans. We arrived late last night and I didn’t really get a chance to see the city’s skyline or architecture. However, I did see the roads I am preparing to conquer. The streets are pretty flat here and all I could think about was the run.

We arrived around 10pm central 11 est and checked in. We nailed our “goal time” to arrive at the hotel. I laughed and said hopefully it is indicative of the rest of the trip here. I put the wheels back on the P3 and walked her into the hotel lobby. After seeing the tri bike, people knew immediately what I came to do. I felt like a rock star :)

It was funny the valet driver told me I was going to have a lot of competition. He didn’t realize he was looking at my competition. It was me! He told me of someone who traveled from Venezuela to compete. The guy didn’t speak one word of English. Suddenly, my 11 hour drive in my own country didn’t seem so bad.

I woke up this morning, apparently still in “my” time zone, at 530 central. This would place me at 630 est which is the time I normally get in the mornings. I had hoped to get on the internet to update this blog and my facebook page but couldn’t connect to the internet. I called the front desk and she said it would cost me 15 bucks a day for internet! Who does that anymore?! Who charges for internet! I can go to McDonalds and get a Wifi connection. Krisit and I will be searching for a local Starbucks to connect with friends. I have my Blackberry so at least I am partially connected.

On the agenda for the day: I am going to the first athlete meeting at 10am and registration at 1030. Then I am going to enjoy my first Ironman/Half Ironman expo! This is followed by a 1.2 mile swim were the locals go to train. I found out about this by visiting the beginnertriathlete.com New Orleans 70.3 website. Following, We are going to the French Quarter where I will meet my cousin and his family. I haven’t seen him in a decade! Growing up he was like a brother to me. I am going to try to do family portraits for him but since my external flash is kaput, Im not sure what we can do. Hopefully the sun is bright enough and I can edit some of the darker shadows. We will see! I am super, super, excited about this event. For the last few months this day seemed so far away, yet here it is. I am here! I am ready!

P.S. I had a treatment for my knee this past Wednesday. I hope that it will hold up. In the past few weeks I’ve noticed I only have issues when running hills. Thank God New Orleans is a flat run. I don’t anticipate any problems.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What an eventful day! No internet in room but will have access to it tonight can't wait to upload these entries I have typed on my laptop.
I'm sitting in the athlete briefing and like everyone is ripped! I picked out 5 women already that look like they are going to smoke me! I gotta work harder! :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fear Not 04-14-2010 10pm est

Wow, tomorrow we head out. It all seems real now. Im sitting here in this apartment listening only to the creaking footsteps over my head. Everything seems to echo now. My dog isn’t here and he is never not here. Something is noticeably different in my life today. My dog is with the children spending time there while I am in New Orleans. The only thing left here, is me…and my thoughts.

I’m not that afraid today. Today there is calm about me. An acceptance of where this journey has taken me. I remember when I was in the Army we had orders to deploy. This was in the late 90’s under the Clinton administration. We were, at the time, on the verge, yet again, of war with Iraq. We were all packed up ready to go. No one remembers this except for the soldiers that were ready to deploy. I remember when I signed my Will and there was an acceptance; a calm. Although this doesn’t even compare, that sense of acceptance is the same.

When people ask me what is my biggest fear. I think about the fear that I have the hardest to overcome. When I lived in the projects as a young child, we lived on the 11th floor. I was always afraid I would fall out of the window and as a result developed a fear of heights. Determined to combat that fear, I started rock climbing 2 years ago. Six months ago on my 30th birthday, I went skydiving. That used to be my biggest fear until I confronted it.

There, however, is one fear that lurks in my shadows. Prevents me, at times, from doing things I don’t think I can do. My biggest fear: failure. Yet today, today I embrace that fear. It is that fear that drives me. That I will use to push me. It feels like when you’re going up on a rollercoaster and you peak, you know what’s about to happen, and you accept it. That is what today feels like. I am not looking forward to the 11 hour drive to New Orleans but, I will sure be glad when it is over!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What am I pushing more? My body or my mind? 04/12/2010

I found myself wondering this today. I don’t think I quite know the answer. I know that if my mind didn’t accept it, my body would have never been able to follow. Maybe it was my body telling my mind that it was capable of more and needed more. Is it these guys have a love hate relationship but desperately need each other to exist? Each one battling for control and needing the other to submit to its laws. I imagine this is the true battle of the Ironman.

“Tired is a state of mind, exhaustion is a state of body” (taken from Trifuel.com)

I have been very fortunate to have some really solid training sessions over the most recent weeks. Last night, I did a 30 mile ride, it was pretty solid. I used a higher cadence (pedal rotations per minute) than I normally did. I usually feel pretty good with a cadence of 75. After seeing stronger cyclist pedaling around 85-90, I decided to give it a try last night.

I noticed several things immediately. One was I was able to move faster with the same effort (judging by my heart rate). My legs didn’t feel like they were working as hard. I also noticed finding the balance point in the gears vs/ higher rpms was challenging. What I mean by that was if the gear was too low my legs were spinning way to fast with almost no resistance. If the gear was too high, I was grinding along a bit and wasnt really moving at the cadence I was striving for. I was constantly shifting in order to keep that balance point; a little bit of “float” mixed with resistance” As the road had subtle inclines and declines, I was making precision adjustments to keep the “feel” of the bike under me and able to move at a higher cadence. It seemed like a more technical ride.

I took the bike to the hills in Highland Creek and practiced my soft pedaling techniques. It is the same hill that I grinded my chain on with no problems. The K-edge Chain Catcher did save me once on a hill. I just have to figure out how to take it on. It is at the base of a decline and then has a super sudden incline. I tried to move to the small ring on the decent but had to move to the big ring because there was a lack of resistance. On the incline of the hill, I tried to move from the big ring to the small ring and I could just here the saving grace of the chain catcher. Well, I will continue to work on taking that hill since I have insurance (chain catcher).

At the end of the ride I was feeling really good. I am so confident riding the bike (still working on taking one hand off and pedaling) that I did something stupid ha! I was at an intersection and the light was red. I was trying to go slow enough that the light would turn green. I did this because I was super confident in my cycling. Well what I didn’t see was the slight incline that caused my already slow moving bike to stop. DOWN GOES FRAIZER! HA! It was at a super major intersection and it seemed to happen in slow motion! Since it happened in slow motion I had time to think SAVE THE BIKE! Well I did! With my body. I was still clipped in the pedals and wasn’t fast enough to unclip when I realized I was falling. I put out my right hand to save the bike. In doing so bruised my palm. There is a small lump there from swelling. Thank God! there was no discoloration! (broken bones?)

This is my last work day before Im off! Just a couple more hours to go. Tick Tock!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

6 days and a wake up

"The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy...It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed." - Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ

An old running partner shared this with me and it really nailed endurance events. I know there is going to be pain. I don’t know when it is going to come. It could start after the swim; somewhere on the bike. I know it will be on the run; maybe not. I do know when it will end; somewhere between 6 and a half and 7 hours. It will cease to matter somewhere around the last turn, just before the finish. The finish line that has been waiting as it had been all these months. Just waiting for me to cross it. Just waiting to be the evidence I need to show I can move on to the next level. I will share the finish line with everyone, but at that moment, when I cross, it will be all mine.

"You wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the year, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement........Runners just do it - they run for the finish line even if someone else has...reached it first."
It just amazes me that just 7 months ago I was doing my first sprint triathlon. A 250 yard swim and I swam the back stroke after 100 yards. And used that stroke for 50 of the total 250 yards! Now I'm swimming in a half Ironman. The body is totally willing to do what the mind won’t allow.

It is Sunday! Wow, next Sunday this time I should be transitioning from the bike to the hardest part of the day…the run. I am experiencing unique feelings. Nervousness and calmness, doubt and fearlessness seem to coexist and I feel them simultaneously. It is different than the feelings I’ve experienced leading up to my first 5k or first half marathon 3 years ago. Not that they weren’t significant in my life, but this Half Ironman means so much more. Completing this really solidifies whether or not a full Ironman is doable in 7 more months. I have seen some athletes begin training for Ironman as late as 9 months out. It is my hope that 7 months of training with a half ironman under my belt should really give me an edge.

I will be honest, tapering isn’t going to well. I have been extremely tired and, for the first year ever, battling allergies! This is the worst pollen count I have seen since living in Charlotte. After a couple days of popping Zyrtec-D like supplements, I can breathe enough to go for a run. I have a 30 mile bike ride after work today. I will be hitting the flat roads since I think this is my last significant distance I will be riding before NO. Since this is a short ride, I think I’m just going to focus more on the higher cadence pedaling. I wonder if I will notice a difference.

The moment I hit taper, I knew the physical training has been completed. Now the mental training has begun. I started revisiting all of my favorite Ironman Videos and looked at my favorite videos from Motivational Movie Mondays (Tri To Endure blog). I even pulled out my white chip and just held it. The White Chip, to me, is the most important chip you ever get. That is the first chip you get when you admit you have a problem with alcohol and something needs to change. Yeah it’s coming with me to NO. I began recalling the reasons why this is so important and what this event is really about.

I find myself almost floating off this “fear” and excitement of the unknown. Triathlon is still all very new to me. I just hope I can just successfully finish the tapering over the next week. Work’s been pretty slow so I have been able to finalize my pre-race nutrition program. I also finish packing my clothing. It was pretty easy considering I am wearing uniform for the next few days. I’m now in the process of making an itinerary for the actual pre-race; i.e. arrive at race site, register blah blah blah. I’m waiting till Wednesday before I pack up my actual race gear. Im sure that is going to be an all day event. Check and rechecking my gear bag, followed by recheck, recheck, recheck, recheck.

I think the next few days I will making shorter blog entries to really document what I feeling and doing for prep.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I cant believe it's only 9 days away

Wow! 9 days! It doesn't sound right! This will be only my seond triathlon. I feel ready. I am ready?! I want to know who I am! Am I fighter?! I fought most of my life in the projects! Can I push it when it hurts! It hurt everyday when I was drinking.  Am I rambling? I think so. Can I push it when it hurts I asked?! It is easy to say yes! But will you ever know? 9days! Get some! (sorry that came from the old Army days lol)

I did my last long ride two days ago. It was about two days too days but it too was a good ride (hehe did I use too, too many times?!). I was riding some windy flats in the Blakeney area of Charlotte. This area is near the TrySports triathlon store and is known to have some good rides. I hit the flat roads for a while and it was getting boring because it was a 10 mile out and back so the scenery never changed. While on the route, I saw what appeared to be route markers painted on top of the asphalt. I looked at how many miles I had left to ride and decided I would explore a bit.

There were two markers on the road. One was a blue circle with a triangle on top that indicated the route- i.e. continue straight and turns. The second was a tan/ faded orange box with a triangular direction indicator. Since the loop I used had a lot of the blue circles, I decided to follow that route.

What a great route. It took me outside of Charlotte into a town I never heard of called Marvin, NC. I lived in Charlotte almost a decade and never heard of this town! From Marvin, it took me into Waxhaw, NC. At this point I decided I needed to turn around because I was on my last bottle of fluids. It was a really nice route in the country! I went from urban Charlotte, NC to country within 10 miles.

The route offered some challenging climbs. At one point, I was doing 5-8 mph up a climb that seemed to go on for about a half mile! That was a bit of a spirit breaker but it was an awesome challenge. The roads on this route never seemed to be really flat. It was either up hill or downhill! The road was extremely scenic, challenging and a pleasure to ride. I can’t wait to jump off this demanding ride and do some runs! The best part!!!!!!! On even a short 30 mile ride I would get honked at least 3 times and nearly killed once! I never felt like I was in danger from passing vehicles. There weren’t a lot of traffic signals which meant more continuous pedaling which is always exciting. I hate the stop and go of riding in the city.

Oh, I have to add one more thing, while on the route I learned something that I already knew but never really followed. A higher cycling cadence makes it easier on the legs. I usually grind my gears and stay around 75 rpm’s. For me, I just feel sturdier on the bike around that RPM because I can “feel” the bike under my legs. While on this route, and a previous route I have been passed by other cyclist. One thing I noticed was these guys obviously had higher RPM’s; they were really moving those legs.

When I was passed by this particular cyclist, who was about my build but a LOT younger, I decided I was going to shift down and really start spinning my legs. I noticed and immediate difference! I was able to catch up to this cyclist and even felt strong enough to pass him. I decided not to pass him because part of that would have been feeding my ego and nothing is gained from that! Besides, this guy just taught me a valuable lesson. He eventually went left and I went right. I wanted to ride with him but at this point I was out in the country and had no clue where I was!

One last thing I learned on this ride. After having the damage to the bike, I decided my shifting habits were not going to work so I needed to find the correct way to shift since for the last two years I pretty much “taught myself.” When I took the bike to Inside Out Sports I talked with their bike mechanic Craig to learn proper shifting technique. He taught me about soft pedaling and explained where the tension is on the chain and why soft pedaling is needed.

Soft pedaling is probably the equivalent of using the clutch on a manual transmission. When we shift gears on a car we don’t just let the clutch out quickly; the car could stall. Instead, we ease the foot off the clutch until the gear catches. It is the same idea with soft pedaling. When switching from the big ring to the small ring, I stop pedaling momentarily, change gears, then lightly pedal until the gear catches. I noticed on this particular bike it makes a happy clicking sound. This sounds totally different than the chain flying off and grinding into the carbon sound! I LIKE the happy sound! I look FORWARD to the happy sound!

I used the soft-pedaling technique on this ride and it was an eye opener. All this time I was doing it wrong! I was “popping the clutch.” I can tell you because of this technique I was more confident in my shifting than ever before. Having the K –Edge Chain Catcher was a great backup too. I didn’t have a single issue with shift or the chain falling off. Imagine that! When you shift using proper technique you don’t have issues hmmmm. Who knew?!

Well, Im excited about being in the taper phase of training! Nice and easy until the big day! 3 more working days before vacation!

P.S. I order the last of my custom decals for the bike. It says “It is finished.” These are the last words of Jesus on the Cross. These words mean a lot to me. John 19:30. This will compliment the Labarum that is posted on the seat post of the bike. There is really good history behind the Labarum. http://www.encyclo.co.uk/define/Labarum

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Define Triathlete

Merriam-Webster Dictionary online had a simple definition. tri•ath•lete: an athlete who competes in a triathlon. I decided to look up athlete. ath•lete: a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.

Today my friend, I AM a triathlete! There is no weight, size, speed, or body fat percentage associated with this definition. In the triathlon definition, it said competes but never said who or what the person is competing against or for. For me, I am competing against myself. I have struggled long and hard worrying about time, how fast I am going to go, and my place in my age bracket. Today, I feel like a winner because I am toeing the line! Goal A-complete the race. Goal B(onus)- complete 6:45 or faster.

I had two years sober on April 3, 2010. When that date comes around, I get to reflect on the angry, scared person I once was. Today, that person is dead. He no longer exists in this world. By the Grace of my Father, he will never be back. It is those swim strokes, pedal revolutions, and steps against the pavement that help drive in further into the ground. That is who I am competing against. That is what I am competing for. To quiet those demons!

Today, I call myself a triathlete because I have trained as hard as I could. I kept going when I wanted to stop. I took the road less traveled; more importantly, I have been inspired by others. I am one 60 mile ride from being in official taper. As my body absorbs this training, my mind will too. I will recall the good times in training and the rough times (i.e. running knowing you are dehydrated try not to do that often it sucks!). I will re-read this blog and remember why I am doing this. Less than two weeks out from New Orleans Half Ironman and I need to be reminded.

There was an Ironman Video where they had the professional and amateur triathletes explaining what a person experiences during the Ironman. One female, said when you are on the course you come up with hundreds of reasons to stop. But there is always one reason to keep going. This is the Ironman! Although this is only a half Ironman, I am sure I will be searching for that reason.

A few days ago I was explaining to someone what a half Ironman is exactly. As I am explaining the half Ironman, 1.2 mile swim, I was thinking that will be fun! 56 mile bike ride going to be nice cycling through New Orleans followed by a half marathon 13.1 mile run never ran a flat 13.1 mile course before can’t wait!

As I’m looking at this guy’s face, his mouth dropped. I laughed at myself because I tried to figure out when exactly did that change for me. When did I go from a mouth drop expression to WOW this is going to be GREAT! I can DO IT!

As I sit here and feel the beginnings of my heart racing, I feel ready, assured, and confident. I have the best support team in Charlotte! (hint, hint KP) My cousin Jason who is in the Navy and whom I have not physically seen in a decade or more was stationed in New Orleans. He will be there as well! Thank You Guys for being in my corner. Knowing I will be tracked by however many people is a huge deal too! I know everyone can’t make the trip, but they will be right there with me electronically.

KP will take the job of wrangler moving from point A to point B to show support while also assuming the role of International Chief Communications Officer lol. This translates to handling the thousands of phone calls she will be receiving from my brother in Germany I’m sure. We joke that this will be her half Ironman! Fortunately, for the actual Ironman will be less stressful for her!

Update on the bike.

Cervelo said the bike frame should be replaced. I looked at the damage and it really isn’t that significant!!! It looks like the paint got chewed up a bit and maybe a nick in the carbon but I don’t think it’s that concerning. So, I will cycle and keep my ears open for warning sounds. The K-Edge chain catcher is being put on the bike as we speak. I really need to do better with getting pictures added!

I have my Fellowship of Christian Athletes race kit and looking forwarded to donning it on race day. I wore it at Cooper River and I felt like I was floating. It just felt like Christ was that much closer on that day. I know the true reason is because I was cover in Christian designs I was reminded just how close Christ really is in all of this!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What Goes down must come up.

A few blogs back I wrote about the ups and downs. Well, excitingly, now I get to write about the downs and ups. I took the bike out on the road two times since the last post. Once for a 25 miler and the second was a 45 mile ride. The 25 mile ride was pretty much an easy ride to gain a bit more confidence in the aero position and trying to get more comfortable. I feel more confident on the tri-bike. I did a 3/4 mile open water swim (2nd open water swim ever!) and really confronted my fears of the open water swim. I had, for me,  solid run at Cooper River. I feel like I am in a good place and I plan on staying here a while!

I took the bike through the Highland Creek Parkway. These are the hilly-ist roads I know of in this area. I was able to make some good speed and then it happened. I was on a hill in the big ring and maxed out in the big ring. I then attempted to shift into the small ring. Note: this is something I was able to do quiet a bit on my road bike with no ill effects. That wording should tell you something really bad happened. I also say get away because, as I learned, this is not the proper way to shift.

Well, sadly it did. The chain over shifted and missed the small ring. The chain was then wedged between the frame and the small ring. I was in the middle of pedaling when this happened which caused the chain to grind into the frame a bit. It gouged the frame pretty good. I mean it looks ugly! This is referred to as chain-suck damage.

On the way back home it felt like the chain was slipping. I would pedal and then on a random stroke feel no resistance. I was able to make it home other than the chain slipping. It didn’t happen frequent enough for me to think there was anything significant that happened. I knew that I certainly needed to get the bike looked at. Especially since my first triathlon, Cool Breeze Sprint Triathlon, was coming up.

The next day I had a 45 mile bike ride scheduled. I needed this ride to really gain my confidence in riding in the aero position. More importantly, I needed this ride to help nail down my nutrition for the half ironman (what I will eat and drink on the bike without upsetting my stomach). I loaded one Cliff bar, one gel pack, and I was using Perpetuem as my primary nutrition on the bike.

The first few bumps I realized the BIG YELLOW sponge was for! IT IS SPLASH GUARD! I had drinks splashing on my glasses, all over the bike; it was everywhere! I thought, “I need to put something there to keep this from splashing all over the place.” Then it dawned on me! THE BIG YELLOW SPONGE would be perfect! LOL. I’m still cleaning the bike from all the fluids that spilled all over the place! This is how I learned what the big yellow sponge was for!

On the ride, the chain slipped but not consistently. When it did slip it would make me unstable so I knew I had to get the bike looked at asap. Two days later, I took the bike into Inside Out Sports and they saw that I actually damaged a link on the chain. Then I pointed out the damage t the back and asked if I compromised the frame. He couldn’t give me a good answer and admittedly didn’t know; which was totally understandable. They took pictures of the damage and sent them to Cervelo to see if I need to replace the frame. This was about a week ago and still no word. (no news is good news.) I was expecting Cervelo to say I need to replace the bike frame. They are supposed to. That is how they don’t get sued you know.

I was told about Cervelo’s crash replacement was an option but I would have to pay (rough estimate) $1, 000 but I also get a new frame. I also looked into Calfree Design who is the leader in carbon bicycle repair. They would charge me 500 dollars and I would be looking at a 5 week turnaround. Ok so here are my options pending Cervelo’s response to whether or not the damage was significant enough. 500 bucks and a 5 week turn around (no cycling) or 1 grand and I could be cycling the same day. Tough Choice. The only thing I can do at this point is to pray but more importantly pray for God’s Will.

To prevent ever over shifting again, I purchased a K-Edge Chain catcher. This prevents the chain from over shifting. I have read great reviews and am looking forward to adding this to my bike.