Monday, September 29, 2008

?#*@$&! Your Penalty!

A South Carolina Half Iron Distance Race Report

How things have changed since last year. About this time, I was pondering my first DNF and how I might rectify that situation. For all intents and purposes, my triathlon race season was over. For me, it was all about marathoning at this point.

Sunrise over Lake Greenwood. 
Spectators watching the swim start.

Before Dee Dee and I left Saturday, we managed to top off with gas. I don't like topping off, and we didn't really need to. It's just that we didn't know what to expect when we got out of Atlanta. We stopped at the top of the perimeter for Matthew's soccer game. Again, the gas thing meant one trip. We would leave for South Carolina after the game. I started to get nervous as the gas gauge drifted towards half a tank. Nervous enough to exit the interstate, only to find no gas at that exit. Lucky for us, the further away we got from Atlanta, the more gas there seemed to be. We stopped for lunch and filled up at the next effort. The mental relief for me was palpable.

Dee Dee decided to play with her new electronic gadget. It's called a TomTom. She plugged in the destination, and the little gizmo proceeded to tell me how to drive. At some point, its route diverged from the route I got from Yahoo(!) maps. We were feeling adventurous and went with the TomTom. Evidently, the TomTom was programmed for shortest distance, not time. It took us through small town South Carolina, where we happened to catch every light we possibly could. It ended up taking us three hours to go 180 miles. But.... We weren't in a hurry and got to the hotel just fine to check in.

After getting our room, we made a mad dash for packet pickup. I was surprised at the number of people there. Pick up went smoothly. We ran into Kevin and Cathy while we waited in line. Then, as we were walking down to see the lake, we ran across Nat, Steph, and Doug. The lake looked beautiful, not at all dried up like some the lakes we came across on our trip. After surveying transition, we got back in the car and headed back to the hotel. TomTom came in real handy here. No issues what so ever.

Her HAWTNESS, Iron Sherpa in Training.
More than ready for Ironman Florida 08!

After unpacking and lounging around for a while, we walked four doors down to the Italian restaurant for dinner. It was packed with triathletes. Since we weren't in any hurry, we waited for 20-30 minutes for a table to open up. We thought we might meet Danni there, but our wires got crossed, and we ended up missing out. We did get to see Kevin and Cathy again. Cathy and Dee Dee made arrangements to hang out the next day. We ordered. Our food came. It was good, and all was right with the world.

Matthew is quite the photographer!

When we got back to the hotel room, Matthew went to play on his computer, while Dee Dee and I watched football on T.V. Alabama was playing Georgia, at Georgia, and it was a BIG DEAL. LOL... So big, as a matter of fact, I fell asleep before the first half was over. It was a good thing too. I woke up at 1 AM and couldn't get back to sleep. I think the last time I checked my watch, it was 1:30. I eventually dozed off and woke up when the alarm on my watch went off at 4:45 AM. I call THAT a good night's sleep :-)

We really didn't have that much to do after waking. I got dressed and ate my breakfast. I had decided to bring my own breakfast this time. No donuts for me!! LOL.. We packed up the car and hit the road by 5:30 AM. The ride is about 10 miles, and I'm not sure why, but we didn't get there until a little before 6 AM. I grabbed my stuff. With Dee Dee and Matthew in tow, we headed down to transition. I went into transition at the bike exit and found my rack. For some reason, I had it in my mind that I was number 384. I found the perfect spot on the end. Racked my bike and got everything set up. At that point, the dude on the end of the rack said, "I think you are on the wrong rack!" Doh!! How embarrassing!! LOL... I found an empty space on the rack behind mine and moved everything over.

Now, it was time to take care of the technical details. I got body marked. I wondered why everyone was standing in line. Somebody told me everybody had to be weighed. I dutifully got into line and had my weight recorded. My weight came in at 184.5. Not 185 Mr. Weigh-in Man!! With plenty of time, I decided to hit the port-a-lous one last time. On the way back to my rack, I realized it was already 7 AM. The race was to start at 7:30. I'd better get my warm up in. I grabbed my wet suit and headed down to the swim exit.

Getting suited up for the swim

I proceeded to take my HRM watch off and promptly broke it! What a doufus! LOL... I traded my broken watch for Dee Dee's Timex. Somebody told me the water was 73 degrees.

Warming up by myself until Kevin joined me

It felt chilly on my face, hands, and feet as I slid into the water all by myself. I warmed up for 10 minutes, including several intervals of 10 strokes hard. The water just felt so good. I have really been enjoying my swim time lately.

Kevin and I warming up

It was 7:22 AM when I climbed from the water. I grabbed Dee Dee and Matthew, and together with Cathy and Kevin, we headed over to the race start. There really was no need to hurry. The race started just a wee bit late. While we were waiting, we stood around chatting with Nat, Steph, and Doug. About ten to fifteen minutes later, the horn sounded and the first wave went off. When it was time for my wave to get into the water, we descended some stone steps down to the lake. I know the water was 5-6 feet deep at the steps, but some kids were jumping off the wall Saturday into deep water in front of the steps.

Waiting for the start of the third wave

I surveyed the crowd and decided my best bet was to start on the far right. This is becoming a habit with me :-) Fifteen seconds before the horn sounded, I hit start on my watch, and then we were off.

Immediately, I found myself in clean water. The second wave was four minutes in front of us, and the guys around me all but disappeared. My goals for the swim was to 1) make coach proud of me, 2) not to add any yardage by going off course, 3) do not be afraid of mixing it up with the group. Liz asked me to take it slow and easy for the first 200 meters, then find a comfortably decent pace I could keep up for thirty minutes. I felt so good after my warm up that I started out a little faster than I should have, but I reigned myself in several times. I ran across a couple of other swimmers, including some guy who felt it necessary to push me. I was like, sorry dude! I'm in front of you. If you don't like it, make waves! I totally ignored the push and picked up my pace.

One of the buoys WAAAYYYY out in the lake

After the first turn buoy, I had to dodge a few peeps from the proceeding wave. For the most part, I was trying to keep a straight line and follow the people in front of me. Eventually, I decided to ignore the other swimmers and focus on the buoys. I tend to drift to the right when I swim. I concentrated on good form, remembering my new catch, and not sighting so much. It worked out beautifully. I passed within a couple of meters of every buoy. I was kind of worried about crowding at the turn buoys, but nothing ever materialized. I often found myself wondering how long I had been swimming. The half iron swim is such a long distance, you kind of lose all track of time.

At the final turn buoy, there was quite a crowd of people. There just plenty of folks from the previous wave. People from my wave were moving through, and the speedy peeps from the wave after were catching up. It was quite the fish bowl. Unlike in previous races, I had not a moment of panic. I kept swimming hard and powered through all the swimmers to open water. I remember some guy from wave 2 that was doing the breast stroke, and I was simply amazed at how fast he was. It took me quite some time to catch up with him and pass.

The final leg of the 1.2 mile swim

When I sighted, I could see the swim finish in the distance. I wasn't ready to kick in the after burners yet, but I did focus on keeping my stroke strong. At last, I hit the final buoy and kicked it in. I had swam out this far during my warm up, and I knew what it would take to get me to the exit. There were a lot of peeps watching from the shore line. I climbed up the boat ramp, under the swim finish sign and hit my watch. It showed 35:27. That gave me an unofficial time of 35:12, more than four minutes faster than my time in Florida. I crossed the timing mat and into transition for an official time of 35:32.

Exiting the water

My transition space was on the far end, near the bike exit. I jogged quietly to my spot and began the process of removing my wet suit. While I was taking it off, I ended up getting the same cramps in my calves that I always get, and they are a real pain. I got my bike gear on, grabbed Aerowyn and headed towards the exit. I stopped when I realized that my water bottle had slid out of transition and up against the fence. I didn't want to get a penalty for littering (or DQ'ed). I grabbed it and put it back in my space. That was when I realized that I had left my timing chip on my towel. Lucky me :-)

Mounting the bike

I left transition and hopped on my bike. There was a small hill immediately after mounting. I was grateful that my bike was in the smallest gear. Dee Dee snapped a picture or two of me on the way out, and Matthew chased me up the hill taking pictures on his disposable FIJI they gave us. He was such a good sport. As I was pedaling out of the park, I remembered to reset my bike computer. My instructions for the bike were to keep it easy for twenty minutes, get my fueling on schedule, then kick it up a notch. I needed to feel fresh and ready to go at the hour fifteen mark. Since I didn't have a heart rate monitor, I had to go entirely by perceived effort. I'm pretty used to that now, and I THINK I managed to take it easy for the required twenty minutes. I was feeling pretty good.

Heading out on the 56 mile bike

The South Carolina bike course is one big rolling loop. There are a few places where it is flat, but most of it is uphill downhill uphill downhill. LOL... Nothing steep mind you, just constant going up and down. There were stretches of the road too that were just crap. That not with standing, I thought the bike course was OK. Not great, just OK. You know you have a good swim when you proceed to get constantly passed for the next two hours. I think I passed like 3 people on the entire route. Around mile 20, my back and hips started hurting. I have no idea what was causing that. I thought it might be the new suit, especially when my left hammy seized up on me. In truth though, I think I may have strained my back just a little bit sleeping on my stomach at the hotel. This actually happens to me at home.

Around the halfway point, I am riding a long, minding my own business, when this double line of riders comes riding by me. I was like, you got to be kidding. I laughed when not thirty seconds later, the USAT official comes pulling up on his motor cycle. I hope he gave the entire bunch a penalty. It was ridiculous. As I rode along, I kept hoping the course would flatten out. I had heard a rumor to that effect. It never did. We hit one particularly bad stretch of road, and I was grateful for my new tri suit with removable chamois. It performed marvelously, but I'll give you guys a review on that later.

At about the eight mile mark (to go), I was off in la-la land when I realized that I was riding up on some chicas tire. I did what any self respecting triathlete would do. I wasn't going to pass her, so I came out of aero, applied the brakes and dropped back to the proper distance. That was when I realized my friend, the USAT official was coming up right behind me. That's how I got my PENALTY. Thanks alot JACKHOLE!! I realized I was in the draft zone, maybe a little slowly, true, but I corrected my own mistake! and you gave me a penalty anyways!! Grrrrr!!

I finally hit a nice stretch of road within a couple of miles of the park, and I was able to pick up my pace. By now, I realized that I was not going to come in under 3 hours, but I wasn't giving up on my desired sub-6 goal. I made it back to transition with an official bike time of 3:05:27, more than five minutes slower than Florida.

Coming into T-2

My second transition went very smoothly. I decided to wear my new Mizunos to run in. I had to stop and put on my socks, but that was no biggee. In these long courses, I just don't FEEL like hurrying all that much in transition. I still made it out in a respectable 2:59.

Hitting lap button as I exited T-2

The run course exited out of the park on the same road the cyclists were coming in on. Bikes to the left, runners to the right. It was almost all uphill too on the way out of the park.

Matthew chasing me uphill out of the park, taking pictures!

The first mile marker and aid station were at the park entrance. I desperately needed to pee, but I missed the port-o-lets. They were behind some cars. I knew I could hold it until the second aid station. The pre-race notes mentioned a port-o-let at every aid station. We made a right turn at the park entrance. Within a quarter of a mile, we exited the shade and into full sunlight. I'm not sure what the high was Sunday, but it was getting hot. Not Florida 70.3 hot, but still hot. When I arrived at the second aid station, you guessed it. No bathroom. I cursed and decided to duck into the forest. I was a bit more discreet than the chica who was doing the "other thing" at aid station number one in the woods, but hey, I've been there, and it was no big deal to me.

Just about half way done!!

About a quarter of a mile pass the second aid station/mile marker, you made a right turn back into the park and glorious shade. This is where they dumped the second port-o-let. Lucky me :-) The run here was all shade and mostly downhill to the lake where you came to the third aide station and the turn around. This was really nice, as I was able to grab water on the way by on one side, then gatorade on the other. At this point, I had been pretty consistent with my nutrition, drinking water and gatorade at every station, and taking a gel every couple of miles. I grabbed a salt tab and forced that down too.

My legs started to feel better. I had been averaging about a 10:30 pace up to this point. As I climbed out of the park, I picked up the pace a bit to take advantage of the downhill in the "Valley of Death" as I called it. The sun was really starting to heat things up. Back up a short uphill at the park entrance, through the aid station, and a left into the park and glorious shade. I kept my pace consistent and wondered where the turn around for the second loop would be. I hoped they wouldn't make us run ALL the way downhill, but yup. They did.

Making the turn around through the chute

When I got back to the house where they had packet pickup, I was shunted off through a chute and back out on to the run course. My legs began to feel heavy. The up hill really zapped them. It took all my strength and mental fortitude to keep running through Death Valley and up the hill on the other side. I think I walked a couple of times here. I felt the stirrings of intestinal troubles, but up to this point, I had been fine. After hitting the eight mile marker near the final turn around, I realized that sub-6 was no longer in the cards today. I decided to duck into the port-o-lets near the turn around.

There were some boy scouts at a camp site there, and I wondered what they all thought of us crazy triathletes. It took me almost three minutes, and I fully realized that it was unnecessary. I just wanted to be comfortable as I could be. I stepped out of the port-o-let with my tri suit unzipped down to my pelvis (free show! nah!!! LOL!) and proceed to zip it up, with my hair, if you catch my drift. Not only was that embarrassing, but it hurt like hell. I guess I'm lucky I didn't zip up something of more value.

I quickly re-arranged my clothing and took off running again. Coach didn't like me walking, but I always feel rejuvenated after a walk break. It must be from my year of doing the run/walk thing. Since a sub-6 wasn't in the cards for me today, it became about pride. Pride in what I was doing. Pride in pushing myself, for myself and my training, knowing that I put forth not only my best effort, but a consistent effort which met my goal.

Back up out of the park I went. I made the left out onto the main road and walked through the aid station again. I forced myself to run up the final hill before the park entrance, and then it was a left onto the shaded park road. I winced visibly when I saw the sign that said mile 12. I was so hoping that it said thirteen. When I reached the packet pick up location, I could hear the finish line, but the race peeps directed me off to the right. Grrrrrr!!! I ended up doing a loop around the road where we parked our car, then back to the building and a right turn down to the lake.

Coming to the finish line, running along the lake

There were a lot of people watching me. I wanted to take a short cut up the hill to the finish, but the kind spectators pointed me in the right direction. I ran down by the swim start, followed the lake, then up the freakin hill to the finish. That my friends, really hurt. I kept up a good pace all the way to the finish, and I'm sure my finishing photo will tell a story. They called my name, and I crossed the finish line with 6:15:56 on the clock.

Man, that REALLY hurt!!

I forgot I started eight minutes behind the lead group. I was not quite as happy with 6:11:xx, but then I realized that I had a 6:07:56, and I was very pleased. My run time was 2:19:44, for a 10:40 average pace, with a potty break. Gotta love it :-)

I stopped past the finish line and bent over to catch my breath and ease the pain. Someone came out of the medical tent to check on me. I was very grateful, but I was fine. I walked over to the misting tent and cooled off, the went to find Dee Dee, Cathy, and Matthew.

Mini-Iron Sherpa!

They were setup on the hill, watching the runners come by. Matthew wanted to get in the lake, and I was like "Hell yea!" We went down to the stairs. I soaked in the lake for 10-15 minutes and enjoyed the 73 degree water. It was yummy. After drinking my bottle of 8 oz water, I headed back up to Dee Dee and planted my butt in a chair. Not soon after, Danni came running through the finish looking strong. We cheered her in and was so excited that she met her goal! Way to go, Danni!

We collected her from the finish line and went and grabbed some grub. That was the best hamburger and pasta salad I have had in a while. Before I ate, I re-weighed myself. I came it at 185.5. I may have been weighed down a little with the water I drank and had in my clothes from the lake, but it just showed that I was spot on with my nutrition and hydration.

Danni and I got the chance to chat a bit. While we were talking, Kevin came running in. He had had back issues, but he finished up strong. He explained that he had taken some ibuprofen and it helped him a lot. I, for one, was extremely happy to see him finish up the race in style.

I can definitely say after this race, that I have a complete grounded respect for the 70.3 distance. I hurt more after this race than I have any other race I've done. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with my training, but still, I'm proud that I left everything out there on the course. I was extremely delighted with my swim and run times, and I'll take an unofficial fourteen minute PR any day (damn penalty!!).

We said our good byes to Kevin, Cathy, and Danni, packed up the car and drove home. I managed to stay awake the entire time. We stopped for gas not once, but twice, to make sure we had plenty after we got home. Got to love this gas crisis.

Now, reality is staring me in the face. Nothing left to do but dance....

Wes

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ready to Race

Dee Dee tells me, "Suck in your gut!!!" ROFL!!!

Off to South Carolina! As usual, your support overwhelms me!!

Wes

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Green Light

A week of little to no sleep culminated in a night on the couch Monday night. If anyone wants to adopt Mufasa, let me know. That whole snoring thing is just my vivid imagination.

I guess I should note that on Saturday night, I slept 12 hours. That's probably why my swim Sunday was such fun. Sunday afternoon, I picked up a U-19 boys match. I took this opportunity to get assessed, even though it was my first match of the season. The game wasn't very competitive, but the assessor was kind enough to give me a passing grade. There is some relief in getting THAT knocked out for the season. Running on the soccer field is hard work, and by the 60th minute, I was feeling every step, another good reason to can my bike ride for the day.

So Monday night was major suckage. I worked from home Tuesday and did my 1:15:00 brick on the trainer and treadmill. I took it very easy and had a really hard time getting my heart rate into Zone 2 on the intervals. Coach said I was fatigued, and I believed her. What ever the reason, my legs felt much better after the workout. I managed to work out some of the kinks. I'm still not feeling the "Popeye" effect that I like during taper, but I'm still hoping.

Yesterday, we worked out the details on my race plan for the South Carolina half iron distance. Liz always asks me what my plan is first, and I say something like, swim, bike, and run. She always sends me back something more detailed :-) The big deal though is I have received permission to try to go sub-6, and after a good night's sleep last night, I believe I will be ready.

Now, if I can just find some gas to get me to the race...

Wes

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shelled

Over the past couple of years, I have become "in tune" with my legs.  They talk.  I listen.  I know every single place where aches and pains originate, how they feel, and what they are saying to me.  Training for Ironman has honed this skill.  I caught myself getting out of the car today.  I was very careful to not twist or turn or bump anything in my feet or legs.  A light bulb when off in my head, and I realized how I've been protecting and sheltering my most valuable assets, my legs for a long time now.

Coach has been keeping them, and me, on edge.  I was just telling her how well we've done, pushing and pushing and pulling back, without ever going over.  Till now.  This past week has just been one crap ride after another.  It hasn't been mental.  My legs hurt so bad, hitting Zone 3 was impossible.  All my rides basically ended up being hilly recovery rides.  Blech!!

The runs have been better.  Difficult at first.  Very difficult by the time they were over.  I've gritted through them.  Mental toughness is required ya know.  The swimming has been awesome.  I went and swam in my wet suit at Red Top Mountain yesterday for forty five minutes and I loved every second of it.  After the swim, I let Liz know I was bagging my ride for the day.  Just wasn't going to do it. That's a first for me.

This is my body.  No one knows how I feel unless I tell them.  My body, legs included feels so very stressed this week.  I just hope it has time to recover before the half ironman this weekend.  I'd really like to do well.

Wes

P.S.  Special thanks to Nat and Sarah who came out to swim with me yesterday.  You gals rock!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Angry Tennis Balls

One would think that after riding for seven hours, soreness and muscle fatigue would primarily be confined to one's legs. Not true. Being in aero for 6+ hours makes, amongst other things, your arms, ribs, back, neck, and head sore. These things too need healing.

To begin the process, I did a 45 minute continuous swim on Tuesday. I actually focused on the word "continuous" and warmed up for 10 minutes then went right into my intervals. My arm muscles were oh so sore, and every time I turned to breath, my neck complained. As is often the case, by the time I hit the intervals, it was all systems go. Nothing like a little variety to shake up a continuous swim. I finished up the intervals with about 20 minutes left to go and proceeded to drift off in my mind as I did lap after lap. I {heart} continuous swims. It allows me to abandon the monotony of lap counting and just swim.

Even though I AM much much stronger than I was even four months ago, it takes more than a couple of days for me to recover from a 100 mile ride. My youngest son goes to goal keep training near Columns Drive on Tuesdays. This allowed me to run along the Chattahoochee River Tuesday night. It was an easy recovery run, and I really enjoyed running in the near dusk like conditions. It was just me, the river, the trail, and various woodland critters. My run was comfortable, unlabored. This proves that my body is learning to separate the muscles I use for running from the muscles I use for cycling.

Coach gave me a 1.75 hour ride yesterday with the note, We are still training for Ironman! This was in reference to the fact that I have an upcoming half ironman to taper for. I opted to go into and leave work early so I could ride in my hilly neighborhood. It became quickly apparent, practically from the moment I left my drive way, that my legs just weren't ready for a hilly workout. Within fifteen minutes, the muscles in my legs were crying for their momma. I swore I had tennis ball size knots on the inside of thighs where the muscles meet the knees. I had to slow down to a miserably pathetic pace and do way to much coasting. But I got it done. An hour forty five is an hour forty five.

I emailed Liz, whining about my performance. She was unsympathetic. I love my coach...

Wes

OSN: 45 minutes, continous, ~2200 meters
ORN: 4.3 miles, 45 minutes, 10:30 mmp
OCN: 24.5 miles, 1:45:00, 14 mph avg

Monday, September 15, 2008

(My) Phoenix Rising

"Hell week is over!!"

I, of course, say that in jest, but even in jest there is truth.  I learned that watching America's Next Top Model last night {rolls eyes}.  Yet, there is something immeniently satisfying about completing a 17+ hour training week and never really struggling.

The alarm clock went off at quarter to six yesterday.  Must.stay.focused.  Six weeks to Ironman and I'll be glad to sleep in a bit.  Geesh!  Made it out to the Silver Comet Trail early enough to have to wait for it to get lighter out.  This time, I was better prepared.  I had gels, fig newtons (strawberry), crackers, cliff bars, a PB & J sandwich, salt tabs, an entire rack of Tiger Gatorade, and water.  There was no excuse for poor nutrition!!

My instructions were to finish the ride feeling fresh and to do no more than 120 miles.  I was curious as to how one exactly "felt fresh" after being on the bike for 7 hours, but I was ready to give it a go!  All week, I teased Dee Dee about how sure I was I was NOT going to go over 120 miles.  LOL!!!

Instead of doing a 3.5 hour out and then back, I decided to do 2 one hour and forty-five minute out and backs and refuel at the car.  It was so nice and cool on the trail early in the morning.  I kept the effort at high Zone 1 and low Zone 2 the entire day.  I was pleasantly surprised to hit the 29 mile marker on the way out, and I came back a little faster.  I spent a few minutes restocking, and then I was off again.  The day started to heat up, but the trail is mostly shaded and riding was still very pleasant.  I was even more surprised when I hit the 29 mile marker again, almost right on schedule.  This time, however, on the way back, my muscles got very tired, and it took me a wee bit longer to get back.  I did 116 miles in 7:01:32 for about a 16.5 mph average.

I took my time packing up my bike and getting my Zoots on.  I needed to do a twenty minute run off, mainly to test my hydration and nutrtion.  I had drunk 9 bottles on the bike, and while better, it still was not quite enough.  I was just so sick of Tiger and electrolyte water by the end of 7 hours.  I would have given a digit off of my thumb for plain water.

My legs were pretty tired as I started to run, but I found some joy as that familiar feeling of (running) strength came back to me within the first couple of minutes.  I found my form and took off down the trail at 10:15 - 1o:30 pace.  I ran 1.9 miles in 20 minutes.  I had no stomach issues, no leg issues.  It was a great feeling to have at this point in my training.

Dee Dee has been asking me after my long bike rides if I could run a marathon.  I've been telling her, "Not yet!".  Now, after this training day, my confidence is boosted, and I know that I am almost there.

Wes

OCN:  116 miles, 7:01:32, ~16.5 mph avg
ORN:  1.9 miles, 20 minutes, 10:30 mmp

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I have arrived!!

A Hot Lips Hustle 5K Race Report

You know you have arrived when a complete stranger, at a local race, says "Hi Wes!" LOL... "I read your blog!" Thanks for saying "hi" today, Dennis!! It was a pleasure meeting you.

One would think, at this point and juncture, that I would be somewhat relaxed going into the Hot Lips Hustle. It IS the third year in a row I have done this race. I was pretty sure I wasn't even going to PR. Yet, I still SLEPT LIKE CRAP! LOL...

Dee Dee and I rousted out of bed at 6 AM. This gave me time to check my eye lids for cracks for fifteen minutes, then stumble downstairs to eat some cereal and drink some coffee. Heck, this time, I didn't even get all my gear together the night before. I quickly found my clothes. They are easily accessible now, as more often then not they are drying on my rocking chair :-) I found my race belt in my transition bag. Grabbed my case with the HRM and Garmin, and off we went.

Sort of... No sooner did we get into the car to leave than Dee Dee had to GO TO THE BATHROOM. What's UP with you women? LOL... Dee Dee thinks I'm special by the way. I seem to be able to go on command. It really is one of my better handy dandy skillz.

Off to the race we went. Still managed to get there by 7:30 AM, and check-in was a breeze. I couldn't tell if the race grew much this year, but the church parking lot was full. Peeps were spilling over into the post office and shopping center parking.

I took off down the main road, and my stomach did not feel good. My ankles were sore. I am a bit used to that, especially after a long run. It only took five minutes or so before my ankles started feeling better. I held an easy but steady pace and made it back to the church on time for the race to start. I found Dee Dee, and together, we waited about five minutes for the race to start. With thirty seconds to go, I moved up behind the front of the packers, mostly kids and speedy peeps. The RD asked us all to count down with him, and without further a-do, we were off.

Evidently, I am getting good with this HR stuff. I started off at a steady pace and saw/felt my heart rate stabilize in the 165 to 168 range. For the first half mile or so, I was trying to keep pace with an 8 year old kid :-) Once he tuckered out, I turned it up a little bit. The out portion of the route is mostly downhill (very slightly). I was pretty happy when I crossed the first mile in 7:51. I immediately had visions of PRs dancing in my head.

The next half a mile or so became harder. My HR was in the 170-174 range. I was breathing hard, but I was not labored, except when my running nose decided to interfere. As a matter of fact, I paused mentally to do a survey of my legs, and I decided they felt fine. If my lungs could keep up, I was going to continue to push. I bypassed the drink station at the turn around and began heading back. I figured that it was going to be slightly harder to come back, but I reminded myself that I needed to stay within my parameters. I had to slow down a little bit as my HR drifted up into the 175-177 range.

I crossed the two mile mark around 17:30. This was a definite slow down for me. Due to several breathing episodes, I had to slow down to a crawl a few times. I did not want to walk this race. Eventually, I picked the pace back up and kept trucking. With about a half a mile to go, I really turned it on and allowed my HR to climb to 177. As I reached the end of the school, my Garmin read 25:11, and I knew that there would be no PR today. I relaxed a little and finished the race at a more restrained pace. My finish time was 26:20 for an 8:30 mmp.

After turning in my time card and getting my t-shirt, I grabbed a drink from the ice bin and began jogging down the main road. I did a quick ten minute out and back to wrap up my first training session for the day.

I found Dee Dee waiting for me by the food. We grabbed a few things then hurriedly left with Matthew in the car. He slept through the race. We made it to his game about an hour before the scheduled start. I'm happy to report that Matthew won his second game of the season. We are excited for him. His game was in Roswell. It was almost 1 PM by the time I got home. I ate lunch, grabbed my swim gear and made it over to the pool. I had a 4000 meter swim to do today. I misread the warm up and ended up doing 3600 meters instead, but it was a great swim. I can already tell the difference in power with my new catch.

After my swim, it was rush rush rush out to Duluth, Georgia to watch Jimmy play his game. Jimmy is in the U-17 age group now. All of his games are 90 minutes. That makes for a very long day :-) I think I got home from the grocery store at 6:30 PM. We ate dinner around 7:45, and I finally got to sit down and relax... Psshew!!

Now, it is 9:36 PM. My race report is done, and I must go pack for my 7 hour bike ride tomorrow. No rest for the weary indeed....

Wes

P.S. Hey Atlanta! There is no gas shortage. You can stop making a run on fuel now....
P.S.S. I was VERY HAPPY with my effort today!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rest Day has Arrived!

I thought my legs would be a little sore yesterday after my looooong run on Wednesday, and they were, but I was very happy with the way they are recovering. When I see (x) minutes in zones 1 and 2 on my training plan, my tired little legs jump for joy! I can leave the HRM at home and just ride for the sheer joy of feeling the wind in my hair.

And that is what I did.

I chose the route that takes me down by the lake, where I swim, then back up and around the eight mile loop that I run in my neighborhood. The hills always make me work a little harder than I want to, but easy pace helped my legs feel so much better.

On tap for the evening was an optional thirty minute continuous swim. I had no idea so many peeps go to the gym at 8 PM at night. I thought fo sho the pool would be full, but nope. There were two lanes free. I jumped in, did my five minute warm up, then took off swimming. I kind of lost track of time cause I had no need to count laps. When I checked my watch, I was surprised to see I had five minutes left. Score!! I love those kinds of swim sessions.

My third crack at the Hot Lips Hustle 5K is tomorrow! I am excited. The plan is to warm up for twenty minutes before the race. During the race itself, I'll start out a few minutes in Zone 3 then build up into Zone 4. I'm not sure if my legs will have a PR in them tomorrow, and quite frankly, I don't want to hurt myself, but ya just never know, ya know? It's a flat fast course. Anything could happen!

Have a great weekend, y'all!!

Wes

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Standing Corrected

With the advent of September comes the final push in preparations for Ironman Florida. I am so busy, I hardly give it much thought (I can't believe its coming up so fast). Every once in a while, somebody makes a comment that jerks the race right back in front of my face. Not that this is a good thing, or a bad thing, just that I am training fine without having to be continuously aware of my impending doom :-)

Liz has tweaked my schedule a bit, but not without discussing it with me first. She's nice like that. She has promised me a mini-taper before the half-ironman at the end of this month (happy dance!). There-to-fore, she has moved my off day to Friday, and I've gone this week so far without rest. Now, this isn't as bad as it sounds, since last week was a recovery week, and I've been feeling mighty fine.

This week is, however, my longest ever, with over 17 hours of my time, my family's time, swimming, biking, and running. I started off the week with a 3500 meter swim and a recovery run, then followed this up with an hour and twenty minute grind session on the bike yesterday. I love Liz and all, but there's just something wrong with your coach when she says stuff like,

Leg strength workout to pre-fatigue legs for tomorrow's long run.

That would be a 2.75 hour run. Just so, so wrong ;-) LOL.... I'm still trying to decide how much of Liz is dark and how much is light. You know those elves, they go both ways! ROFL!! And dammit, I know its for my own good but since when do I have to be reasonable? {insert petulent child face here}

I was worried about this long run. Not because of the, ummm, big increase in time and distance, but because my shoes suck!! My Mizunos have 500 miles on them and the sole is starting to wear and tear. The Zoots don't have enough cushion, and the New Balances are either causing or contributing to my calf problems.

After much discussion with Liz and The Bug, I bit the bullet and got a new pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 4s. I was SO happy when my Superfeet Green insoles fit perfectly too. I replaced the shoe laces with Yankz, prepared all of my nutrition and got to sleep around midnight last night.

The alarm went off at 5 AM. Yes. This is ME we are talking about. I actually got up earlier than I needed to. I had breakfast and put all my stuff together while I waited for my food to settle. I drove the car up to the park. I did not want to climb Mount Doom and Ass Kicker every time I needed to refuel. I did my run in 2 5.x mile loops, coming back to the car after each hour. I drank 32 oz of fluid per hour, half water, half gatorade. I ate one gel every thirty minutes, starting fifteen minutes into the run. I supplemented on salt tab at the top and bottom of each hour. It went splendidly, including the thirty minutes around the park in Zone 3 and the cool down.

I remember a while back somebody asking, "What's the best running advice you've ever been given?" I have my answer now. Take two sips from your Fuel Belt every five minutes. For me, that translates into staying hydrated! Trust me folks. Being hydrated 2.5 hours into a run, just rocks.

And that advice I gave you about breaking in new shoes? You know! The comment about not going long in new shoes. Well, don't listen to me. I obviously have NO idea what I am talking about :-) Err-to-fore, I stand corrected...

Wes

P.S. That whole impending doom thing... Rest assured, I have no doubt :-)

ORN: 15 miles, 2:45:30, 11:01 mmp

Monday, September 08, 2008

I Lurved My Swim Clinic

I so wanted to back out of this. I mean, taking a swim clinic at this point would not help me all that much, would it? When the instructors emailed me, I opted to back out. They wrote me back and offered to discount the course. With a class size of 8, I guess the break even point is fairly narrow. I spoke to Dee Dee about it, and she said it was OK. Fine! I agreed to come, then I started feeling guilty.

I wrapped up my recovery week with a nice easy 2600 meter swim on Saturday and then a brick on Sunday. I was bubbling with enthusiasm after my 2 hour ride and 30 minute run off. My legs never felt so good. LOL... I should mention that Dee Dee did her first brick in a while. She rode for an hour then did a 2 mile run off. She looked strong!! Dee Dee and I barely had time to get home and eat lunch before I was back out the door.

The swim clinic was held at Marist High School. Marist is located at the top of the perimeter (I-285) in Atlanta. It took me about 45 minutes to get there, which included a pit stop for some fluids! I was still dehydrated. I made it on campus and located the pool without too much difficulty.

The class had a total of seven triathletes, two women and five men, the youngest being sixteen and the oldest being in their fifties. I would say that I was the second or third youngest guy. The instructors, Carole and Tim did a fine job of helping everybody relax. We all introduced ourselves and discussed why we were there, and finally it was time to get down to business.

They started off by video taping our stroke. We did two 25 meter lengths of the pool. On the first length, Tim videotaped us while making comments, Carole wrote them down. On the way back, Tim video taped us from the end of the lane, while Carole made observations and comments. I was lucky enough to go first. After having my stroke video taped, I basically sat around watching everybody else.

Once every one was finished, we moved to the chairs by the video machine. Since I was first, they spent a lot of time on my stroke. Once they had identified a problem and explained how to correct it, there was no point in going in to great depth for each person that had the same mistake. My stroke issues basically boiled down to three things:

1. Leading with my elbow (also dropped elbow)
2. Crossing over
3. Hand entry (slicing the water)

After analyzing each participants video, it was time to get back into the pool. First, Carole went through each drill, demonstrating how to do them properly. Then Tim showed us how to do a proper catch, ensuring our elbows don't fall. For those of you who are curious, turn your kick board long ways, on the surface, put both hands flat on the board and push it down to your thighs. This is the way the catch is supposed to feel. I don't know about you, but I'd rather learn by feel than sight any day.

We then spent the next 30 minutes or so doing each drill twice, once with the kick board, and then without. It was great to know, for the first time, that I was actually executing each drill properly.

For me, the answer to my problems lies in three things.

1. Keep my hands outside my goggles (I'm trying to keep them shoulder wide).
2. Hands flat, reaching out before entering the water, then stretch.
3. Curl my arms like I'm pushing down a keg or a beach ball, this will keep my elbows high.

I practiced this in the pool this morning, and it went very well. I did notice that this "new" stroke is using muscles that were being under utilized. Therefore, I need to take it easy on them until they get with the program!

Overall, I'm very happy I went to the clinic. I definitely got my money's worth. If anyone else is interested in attending, and you live in the Atlanta area, you can find the website with class listings here. The next clinic is going to be in January, I believe.

Wes

OSN: 2600 meters, 58:00
OCN: 32.22 miles, 2:00:00
ORN: 3.2 miles, 30:00
OSN: 3500 meters, 1:11:00

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sarah has My Mojo

Man! I did NAWT want to get out of bed this morning. I actually caught myself thinking that it would be nice if triathlon season was over! LOL... I have been going pretty much non-stop for two years and my tired arse is ready for a break.

There is something psychological, for me, about a run over one hour during the week. Crazy enough, it seems, to make me want to just stay in bed, and not workout, and not work, and not feed my family.

But I did (get out of bed), and I ran, and I was glad. It was cool out this morning. You can already feel the change in the air. I felt alive. I ran 80 hilly minutes at a slow pace, with no HRM, and IT WAS GOOD :-)

I have this sneaking suspicion that this pulling sensation I get every once in a while from the outside of my left calf muscle was being caused by my tri shoes for the bike. I was experiencing some pulling on my knee, and I noticed that my toe was pointed out too far. I made an adjustment and things are starting to feel better. We'll see.

In other news...

I have just received the green light to run in the Hot Lips Hustle 5K next Saturday! Woo hoo! This was my first 5K ever, and last year, I improved almost 4 minutes over the previous years time. I'm not promising anything this year, cause I have to stay within the boundaries of my training plan, but being there will be just enough for me :-)

Sarah?! Just kiddin about the mojo thing! I'm glad you found yours. I know you have enough for me and several other peeps, sose I might try to snatch sum from ya while you aren't lookin! LOL!!

Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Wes

P.S. Y'all go by and vote for Sarah at the B'fit Birthday Challenge! Scroll down to the left hand side of the page and select 'Sarah'.

ORN: 7.25 miles, 1:20:00, ~11:02 mmp

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Simplicity

A while back, I was discussing hydration on the bike with Liz, and I asked her some pointed questions about whether or not I needed this hydration system, or that sports drink, or some such and such supplement. Her response, although a bit lengthier said:

Too complicated!

I chose the simpler route and ended up with five bottle racks on my bike now, one on the aerobars, two underneath, and two in the back.

A few short weeks later, I went to the book store to look at "Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes". After thumbing through the book, I put it back on the shelf.

Too complicated!

The book was awesome, just not my cup of tea at the present. Someday, I'll revisit every day nutrition for the endurance athlete, but for now, I want to keep it simple. (Perhaps a Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes for Dummies is in order. Marni?)

I figure there are three different requirements for an Ironman nutrition plan.

1. It has to be simple.
2. It has to be doable (very important).
3. It has to work (most important)

My food plan on the bike seems to be working just fine. As far as food goes, I have a garbage can for a stomach. It's the hydration part that needs work. Yesterday, I decided to start small. I drank 2 twenty-four ounce bottles of liquid on my bike ride. This was huge for me, as I rarely drink even one bottle. Not only did I have to pee my pants when I got done, but for the rest of the day, I could feel the difference.

Start small, start simple.

Now, on to that detailed fueling plan...

Wes

OCN: 22.85 miles, 1:29:00, ~15.2 mph (hills)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Fifth Discipline

Wow! I feel like I have so much to talk about and so little time. LOL... That's a welcome change from a few weeks ago. There's a fine line between volume, entertainment, and long winded-ness when it comes to blogging.

Got Yankz?

Dee Dee was given a pair of Yankz in her race packet from the Acworth Women's Triathlon last year. I figured they were too complicated and allowed them to languish in a drawer in the kitchen. Well, a couple of nights ago, I got the wild idea to pop those in my New Balances, and I did, and I love them! No more tying my shoes. I slip my feet in, and out, and they are comfy. Nuff said!!

I'm on board for a swim clinic this weekend. Why, do you ask, would a person that swims a sub 1:30 100 need a swim clinic? It's very simple, really. I need to know :-) I need to know that I have a good stroke, and I am performing at the best of my abilities. Will it help me for Ironman, or at all this year? Who knows? Only time will tell. Not only will it be fun to hang out with a Master's coach and Carole Sharpless, but I'm hoping to learn a few things that I did not learn in my last swim session. LOL...

A post written by my coach, Elizabeth Fedofsky, got me to thinking the other day. If you guys don't read her blog, you really should. She is inspiring, witty, funny, and insightful, all rolled up in a pint size frame :-) (Sorry Liz! Couldn't resist!) Then I read this post by Crazy Mel, and it hammered home a Iron truth.

We all know the three disciplines of racing Ironman. There is swim, bike, and run. Then to that, we add the all important fourth discipline, nutrition, but a fifth discipline? At first, I thought it would be loosely termed "keeping the spouse and family happy". In writing this post, however, I realize that it is just another facet of the elusive discipline, balance.

To the unknowing, Ironman might appear to be an exercise in selfishness. There are long training days, often alone or with people other than family. The race is a solo affair. The spouse sacrifices her time, her love, sex, and money so we can achieve our dreams. The kids have to do without mom, or dad. They are left at home alone, or dumped at a friends house. Time with dad is at a premium. On race day, they all drag themselves out of bed at some ungodly hour. Stand all day in the hot unforgiving sun so they can run with dad across the finish line in the dark hours of the night.

I would put forth that these sacrifices are not in vain. Ironman is a life changing event, and for 99% of the people that do Ironman, I would say that is a good change. Bree Wee recently commented on her blog, to the effect, "If I am not happy without it, I would never be happy with it." She was referring to a Kona slot. To that I would add, if I am not happy with myself, how can I ever be happy with somebody else. It is an exercise in futility.

So, yes, the Fifth Discipline of Ironman. Balance. For me, an athlete, that means taking a little time out of my training to do the little things to show my wife and children that I love them and appreciate the sacrifices they make for me, and too tired is not an excuse for failure.

Just sayin...

Wes

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Altar of Ironman Nutrition

The longer you go in this race, the more important nutrition becomes. It IS the fourth discipline after all. Liz said truthfully that it is the ONLY thing we have total control over race day. There is no excuse for not nailing it. Evidently, I have "issues".

It was a busy, busy week. I came off my long ride of last weekend feeling pretty standard (exhausted). I thoroughly enjoyed my rest day and was looking forward to picking back up on my workouts Tuesday. Dee Dee had warned me that the pool was closed at my gym. I got up early and went to the gym closer to my office. The recovery swim went well. They evidently do not have any lights in the pool there. After the swim, I hopped on the treadmill for my recovery run. I was just getting to the cool down when we all were run downstairs due to a tornado warning. The remnants of Fay was coming through. I was having such a good run too.

Wednesday, I had a decent run and a recovery bike. Thursday, I basically fell apart. I had a 1.5 hour bike, and my legs had just had it at that point. It may have been the time of day, but I think my body was still dehydrated. I'm working on that. Friday was another long run, and I felt OK for that.

The weekend rolls around, and its time to get my long stuff on. I woke up early to go to the gym. It was Matthew's birthday, and Jimmy was playing in a soccer tournament. I get to the gym at 6:30 AM, and it was closed! Boo!! Total lack of planning. I tried the aquatic center, but it was closed too! Double boo!! I went home and then back to the pool at 8 AM. I did my first 4000 meter swim. I impressed myself this day. I did the whole workout in 1:17:00. That included drills and rest intervals. I was pretty pleased with that. I just hope I'm counting right! After the swim, I had a one hour fifteen minute ride off, but I had to cut it short to get to Jimmy's games. He won both his games Saturday, and Matthew had a nice birthday dinner.

Sunday morning, the alarm went off again at 5:45 AM. No sooner had the alarm gone off then Dee Dee's Mom and two of my nieces roll in, fleeing Hurricane Gustav. I packed up my gear and drove to the Bud Plant. I needed to do a 7 hour ride, and the Bud Plant is probably NOT the best place for your first seven hour ride, but Sarah and her friend Holly wanted to do the 45 mile route. I couldn't pass up some company for half of my ride. Cartersville it was!

I was supposed to do the 12 mile loop by myself then swing by and pick up the girls. I guess I was running a little late. As I was fixing up my bike, they came pulling into the parking lot. We quickly got organized and out on the road. The 45 mile loop was as beautiful and scenic as always. The morning was still cool and we had a slight breeze. Sarah and Holly were loads of fun. Not only did Sarah oogle and ogle over every deer, cow, and goat that we saw, she even talked like them in her best cow voice. Not to be outdone, Holly hummed the song to "Deliverance" every time I made a turn on the remote country roads. Like I didn't know where I was going or something. They were a double barrel of fun. I'm not sure what was up, but either the Backroads Century was redoing their symbols, or some jackhole had gone around spray painting over all the route markers. Either way, I pretty much knew the route, and by the time we got to the turn for the 65 mile route, the symbols were still visible.

We were a bit disappointed in "The Dog". He was, evidently, really tired from chasing all the cyclists from the previous day. He only half heartedly ran with us down the road, and quit way too soon. We had plenty of hills on this route. The girls and I finished up the 45 miles in 2:50:00 or so, for a 15.2 mph average pace. Sarah thanked me for going slow, but I was like, no, thank you for pacing my tired legs!

I fully realized on the second loop that I was not drinking enough. I tried to catch up. I had been eating fine, but for some reason, I feel like I should drink what I have evenly on the bike for the 7 hours. That means five bottles in 7 hours. Coach threatened to "clock me". I'm supposed to drink more than twice that much. I finished the second loop a little quicker, not much, than the first one, but I was forced to stop by the car and get my backup bottle. I filled my aero bottle with that and then did the 12 mile loop. After riding past the gas station for the second time, the thought hit me that I should ride back up there and buy some more fluids. Brilliant!! I had 15 minutes or so left on my 7 hours. I went to the car, grabbed my wallet and rode back up to the gas station. The cool water never tasted so good. I'm sure I shocked my system by drinking too much, but I was so dehydrated. I rode back to the car and finished up my ride in 6:55:**, for 105 miles at 15 mph avg.

The run off after the ride was almost humiliating. I had GI issues. I was dehydrated. There are no bathrooms at the Bud Plant. I was forced to woggle out for fifteen minutes, then woggle back. I was never so happy to be back in the car. Once I got home, and I was able to get the gas out of my system, I was happy and felt fine, but until then, I was in some really excruciating pain.

Over the last 24 hours, I have had a detailed discussion with Liz about my nutrition (again), and I have promised her a detailed plan in writing this week. There are very few constants or gaurantees in life. Some of them are: you eat, you breath, you die. To that, I can add, if you are bullheaded about your nutrition, Ironman will cure you, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I am now officially worshiping at the altar of Ironman nutrition. No more fooling around. I will not screw this up. I've worked too hard, for too long, to let the thing I have total control over ruin my day. I've got work to do people.

Wes

OCN: 105 miles, 6:55:change, 15.1 mph average
ORN: 2.3 miles, 30 minutes