Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quote of the week.

"You moon the wrong person at an office party and suddenly you're not 'professional' any more." - Jeff Foxworthy

Monday, December 26, 2011


A couple of years ago I became a certified USAT Level 1 triathlon coach. I obtained this certification primarily as a byproduct of trying to educate myself regarding some of the science behind triathlon training. As someone who, from time to time, is goal oriented, I had to, just had to, complete all of the requirements to meet the certification standard.

That process involved 3 (or so) days of classwork/clinic followed by a take home test. Additional requirements included getting a certification in CPR/AED (mine mixed in first aid as well), background/criminal checks, and an ethics attestations. I did all of this and became certified until the end of 2011 - otherwise known as about now. I had a decision to make. Do I recertify or not?

Re-certification required me to take some continuing education classes or credits, recertification in first aid/CPR/AED (which I did), demonstrating that I've given back to the sport (which I did anyway though volunteering at races), paying to do yet another background check, and the reattestation of ethics. If I did all of this I get to continue to call myself a USAT/L1 coach.

I chose to not recertify at this time. Why? A few reasons.

First, I do not actively solicit clients to coach in their athletic endeavors and never have. There are a bunch of reasons for that but If I changed my mind to sign up coaching clients, I doubt that anyone who would want me to coach would base that desire solely on if I was certified or not. I believe more important is actual knowledge and ability to work with an athlete to help them reach their goals or potential.

Since I don't have any active clients, I do not need insurance. If I decide to start accepting clients I would get insurance but I do not need to be certified to get it.

I do not need any more ethical attestations or background checks. This, I think, is more of a USAT CYA. I've been through this process with a variety of organizations for work and when I coached soccer and basketball for my kids so it is more of an annoyance to me than anything else.

I may elect to do some coaching for some charity teams (I've done coaching with Team in Training in the past). They've asked me to do more with them but I've been too busy of late to give it my best (training for an Ironman has been known to consume some time) and I wouldn't want to short change anyone. I may renew this relationship to help coach their cycle team, especially if El Tour de Tucson is on the agenda, or may help out with the newbies going after their first triathlons. Either way, this certification doesn't buy me much.

This doesn't mean that I'm against coaching. I use many coaches to help me reach my goals both professionally and athletically. I have found that certain coaches who are perfect for me may not be perfect for others and vice versa. I don't really care if they are actively certified or not. I care more about what they can do with me to help me improve.

Also, not being certified doesn't mean that I have to stop learning. I expect to take some continuing education in coaching topics from time to time. I also have to decide about my USA Cycling L3 coaching certification as I've done most of the work anyway. I think, though, that not making a decision there is actually making a decision.

I still have a few more days before my certification expires. I think I should use this time to lay out my training plan for the next few months as it would be done by a certified coach. Then again, maybe it won't make too much of a difference if I do it a few days later.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quote of the week.

From the September 21, 1897 New York Sun:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quote of the week.

"I don't believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be." - Ken Venturi

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Seventy years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress in what almost immediately became a historic leadership speech. Many people to this day can recall the first part of his address, "Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." Getting Congress to declare war wasn't leadership in and of itself but FDR's ability to close the deal on one of the other parts of this speech was: "No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory."

Outside of my triathlon misadventures, I have taken many management courses and have managed a relatively large number of people. As with everything, some of these courses have been useless while others have proved valuable. One theme in one course that has resonated a long time has been the definition of the difference between management and leadership. To paraphrase, management can be viewed as the ability to get people to get a task or a group of tasks done or to achieve an objective while leadership can be viewed as the ability to inspire people to want to get the tasks done to the best of their ability or to motivate them to attain the objective. Subtle difference, yes, but important.

Sure, leadership or management can be observed in a variety ways. There are some classic examples such as in the movie Ben-Hur ( "We keep you alive so you can serve this ship. Row well and live.") or perhaps the Star Wars examples of Darth Vader ("You have failed me for the last time Admiral"). There are many examples in history of political leaders similar to FDR. My question and where I'm going with this besides acknowledging the anniversary of FDR's speech is: Who are our leaders today? Who will be our leaders in the near future?

I think one of the biggest problems with this county is that we are suffering from a lack of leadership. Merely being in a position that requires leadership doesn't necessarily mean that a person is a leader. I might be wrong about the current leaders but if I am then the direction that this country is going in must be caused by the objectives that these so called leaders are leading the country in are wrong. Perhaps it is a bit of both. Either way, we need to get better. As FDR said in that same speech "Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger."

The big question is how do we get better. I have an opinion that you may or may not agree with but without leaders, we will continue to deteriorate as a country. I would even prefer a leader that I didn't agree with than someone who I did agree with that isn't a leader. I don't see a lot of leaders stepping up in the near horizon either. This means in my mind that we aren't going to get better for a while. A super-committee being formed to provide leadership won't cut it. Actually, "super committee" might be an antonym to "leadership."

This speech happened about 20 years ago before I was born and it is still relevant today. One of FDR's closing lines was "we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God." We wouldn't have triumphed then without leadership and we won't now until we get it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quote of the week.

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible" - Walt Disney

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kicking off the season

  • My wife ordered me one of these. Her logic was that it was just a matter of time before I would buy it anyway. If it comes before Christmas a big dent in her shopping list would be made. It would save her some time on finding a present for someone like me who buys more presents for myself than others when holiday shopping. I haven't started any sort of shopping. She is way ahead of the game.

  • A bunch of my friends get together from time to time to celebrate our iron adventures. The last person who has finished a 140.6 event gets the following trophy that needs to be prominently displayed. This is one of the ugliest trophies ever (I put in goggles for reference on the size (about 2 ft tall) in this picture). I wonder where Casey got it as this cannot be a common trophy. I can't wait until IMLP2012 for either Lell or Carey to take ownership of it.

  • Tim had a good idea relater to the NYC26.2, His plan is to apply for the lottery and if he doesn't get in, go the charity route. Interesting thought and I'm considering the same deal now. Wonder what the ante is.
  • I went for a real run on Saturday. All felt good and I kept it short on purpose. 3 miles with no issues is a win.
  • Sunday I joined the TNT faithful for a bike ride. They typically spend more time laughing than riding hard but this ride was just what I needed. 38 miles later I was sorry it was over. That is the mindset I've been searching for.
  • My wife bought tickets to see the Boston Pops playing a holiday concert at the Tilles Center and we went Sunday afternoon. I like to support the arts, my kids are big into music, and my wife is completely in the holiday mode. It was a full house. Maestro Lockhart and co. did a good show (featuring Rockapella and others including the big guy (Santa) himself. During the show they announced that this was the kickoff for the holiday season with all the other various concerts scheduled. I have done nothing holidayish so far so I guess I need stop slacking.

    Anyone else do nothing yet for the holidays?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quote of the week.

"I hope that I may always desire more than I can accomplish." - Michelangelo

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


During my down time I've been making event plans for 2012 (and a little beyond). I don't have a firm plan yet (more of a compass than a map) but here are my thoughts:
  1. Long Island Half Marathon on May 6. This is part of my quest of actually learning how to run. I figure that if I train to have a strong run during this race could validate my progress. I fully expect that there will be some races added as supported training runs including some of the NYRR Central Park runs.

  2. Harpoon Brewery to Brewery Ride on June 16. The website describes this event as "a tough, bare bones ride with the reward of great beer at the finish. This ride is for cyclists who enjoy great beer, are physically and mentally tough, take pleasure in the fellowship of others, don’t whine, excel in the face of challenges, play by the rules, and can ride 148 miles to the finish safely and without their hands being held." Also it notes that "there are a lot more cyclists than there are spots in the ride. Doing the ride isn’t easy, and neither is getting in." If I get in, great and I'll probably need Gran Fondo NY as a 100mile training ride on May 20. If not, the option will be do do an Olympic Triathlon in June. Leading candidates are Rev3 Quassy , RJA memorial Mighty Montauk Triathlon or perhaps Pat Griskus Olympic Triathlon.

  3. Musselman 70.3 on July 15. This is dependent on family obligations. My children will be performing a lot this summer and the probability exists that there will be a concert this weekend that would take precedence over racing. This might turn into the Montauk Lighthouse sprint triathlon instead or perhaps even nothing.

  4. Runner's Edge TOBAY Sprint Triathlon on August 26. Last year's version of this race was supposed to be my oldest's first grown up triathlon. She was ready but it got cancelled due to Hurricane Irene. This year she is a year faster and I am a year slower. Even so, bragging rights are at stake so this race is important.

  5. Shoreman 70.3 on September 8. Last year I did this race as a training day to simulate my Ironman pacing and nutrition. I had a poor run (as I expected going in) but I realized that this race has an opportunity to get a good time. I could do this race or perhaps FIRMman 70.3 in Rhode Island instead if I want a new race experience.

  6. NYC Marathon on November 4. I've never run a stand alone marathon and don't really feel that I need to. However, NYC is an epic event and if I'm ever going to do a marathon this one would be it. I'm going to apply for the lottery and if I get in I will rock this race. If not I may do El Tour de Tucson later in November or adjust my September HIM.

  7. Disney Half Marathon. January 12, 2013. Again bragging rights at stake but I have little hope of victory except against myself. I've done this race twice already and my daughter wants to do a half marathon. This race is fun and doesn't conflict too much (we hope) with school stuff. Won't need to decide for a while though but our intention is to race Disney if possible.

  8. All this may set me up for another iron quest in 2013 but let's not get too ahead of ourselves.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Game on.

I got medical clearance to resume any and all activities last week. DrFeets said it would take a few more weeks for all the healing to complete but everything looks good enough to go. For some strange reason he doubts that I have the ability to stop doing something just because it hurts a little so he advised me to be overly cautious.

Even though I had clearance, I didn't do any training this weekend since Mrs Rockstar and I went away for the weekend (without the kids) to celebrate our anniversary. We went to Connecticut, stayed in a B&B, did some Christmas shopping, ate way too much food, and generally enjoyed just being together. We need to make "us time" more of a priority.

A downside to not training is that I feel fat. Fatter than normal fatness. I haven't been on a scale in a while and it won't be a good number. I've been eating horribly and I'm making up for it in volume (a bad combination). That all ends tomorrow morning when I start my, to steal from Carolina John, Monday Morning Naked Weight. I need to be accountable with logging my food and tracking my weight since you can't manage something unless you measure it. I may sign up for Weight Watchers but I may not right away. I doubt that they can understand that someone with my body composition can finish an Ironman let alone gain weight while training for it. Now that my activity level has gone down my caloric intake needs to decline on at least a corresponding basis. This blog won't turn completely into a weight loss blog but it will be a focus of mine for a while.

Just as important, my body and mind wants to start training again. No, it wasn't due to my coach texting my wife (mistakenly instead of me) to join him for a 3 hour ride this morning but it is time to get back in the game. I'm not going to go crazy with training and focus initially on technique. I won't be afraid to take an extra day off here and there. Training at some level needs to be enjoyable and getting back to that state is yet another of my goals.

Game on.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quote of the week.

"It's a helicopter, and it's coming this way. It's flying something behind it, I can't quite make it out, it's a large banner and it says, uh - Happy... Thaaaaanksss... giving! ... From ... W ... K ... R ... P!! What a sight, ladies and gentlemen, what a sight. The ‘copter seems to be circling the parking area now, I guess it's looking for a place to land. No! Something just came out of the back of the helicopter! It's, uh, a dark object. Perhaps a skydiver. Plummeting to the earth from only two thousand feet in the air. A second, a third! No parachutes yet. Can't be skydivers... I can't tell just yet what they are, but - Oh my God, they're turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they're plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, this is just terrible! The crowd is running around pushing each other! Oh, my goodness! Oh, the humanity! People are running about! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Honestly, folks I don't know how much longer... the crowd is running for their lives."

[The radio transmission cuts off.]

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The art of doing nothing.

Somewhere, sometime I read that the only thing harder than training for a marathon is not training for a marathon. Since my ironman two weeks ago. I have done no training. Zero. Nada. Zip.

Some of this has been due to the condition of my feet. They are healing quickly and don't really bother me so much any more. I went to the "feets" doctor earlier this week and he pronounced my left foot OK to the point where I could start doing stuff without limitation. Unfortunately I have two feet and he recommended that I take another week off to let my right foot heal a bit more. The healing is well ahead of schedule.

My brain, limited as it is, really doesn't understand this and feels that I should be training. I'm thinking that going for a swim wouldn't suck. I dusted off my mountain bike with the expectation of hitting the trails a little soon. I even felt that I should go for a run (gasp) the other night. I hate running.

The lack of training has giving me a lot of time. Time is typically my most precious commodity and I am not used to having free time. I've filled that time mostly with crappy eating (which I excel at) but I realized that is coming to an end when I almost wanted a salad for lunch instead of the buffalo chicken pizza. I got the pizza.

This morning I was taking my younger daughter to her orchestra rehearsal (she was selected for a Long Island wide school orchestra). She commented that I seem to be very energetic these days. I commented that this was probably because I haven't been working out so I'm not as tired. Don't ya think, don't ya think, don't ya think? My daughter, who is not a morning person, said that maybe I should start training again to resist the dark side of being annoying. Not that I was actually annoying but she, as a public service announcement, was advising me on the trend she saw.

Wonder what she meant? Time for a nap.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quote of the week

"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious." - Vince Lombardi

Saturday, November 12, 2011

IMFL: Next Steps

It is said that you learn a lot about yourself while training and competing in endurance events and I agree with this statement. My experiences for IMFL2012 showed me parts of myself that I was proud of and parts of me that I was not. Overall I am glad that I attempted this quest and that I was able to succeed.

Is there another Ironman in my future? My wife had a tee shirt made for the event that read "140.6 miles, Now can I have my husband back?" While she said it was tongue in cheek, I'm sure there is some fact in it. The heavy training volume the last few months has been intrusive to our family. While they are proud of me for my accomplishment, I am proud of them for the sacrifices that they made to allow me to do this.

Immediately after the race I told them that there were three things that needed to happen for me to do another Iron distance race (and I doubt it would be a return to Panama City):

  1. I need to be able to run effectively. This was my biggest limiter in both training and racing. I kept getting injured. I don't need to run a stand alone marathon to prove this to myself but I need to be confident in my ability to train and race. I don't expect to instantly be a fast runner (those days were over 30 years ago) but I can't be targeting a 6:30 or so marathon, miss even that by a lot, and have a bike split faster than my run split (at my current bike speed). During my race I had a lot of time to do a mental debate on would it count getting it done just up against the time limit (the answer was yes) and the anger I felt when I realized I should have been done (but was not and had miles to go).
  2. I need to get my body composition under control. I think that point #1 is directly caused by this. Even now when I look at pictures of "real" triathletes with me, I look like I'm the answer to what doesn't belong and why. I'm down a lot of weight from my heaviest but I need to still drop a serious amount of poundage. Additionally I need to actually do some strength work (that again might help #1)
  3. I need to have the support of my family. We didn't really know what we were in for while training for an Ironman. Yes, we had some beliefs but reality is sometimes better than the beliefs but sometimes worse. While not an expert after doing one Ironman, we are a little smarter as to what it will impact. I don't expect the family demands on my time being reduced for some time as college visits are on the horizon and other miscellany will come up (it always does).

So what's next? I hear there are things called football games on a thing called a TV during the weekend and there is a beverage called a beer. I've been told that my "honey do" list is quite extensive. I do not have any events that I have signed up for in the future and I can't remember the last time that happened. I was asked if I was signing up for a local winter run series that I've done in the past and I said no. My friends are pushing for IMLP2013 but I don't know if I can get the things done that I need to before then or if it will fit in with the family activities. I expect to do some events in 2012, perhaps some cycling events and a tri or two (or 4 perhaps) with maybe one HIM in the fall. I might do a marathon, I might not. I might do El Tour de Tucson again as I like that race but haven't done it in a while. I don't know if I'm going to do any TNT events. My wife has already told me that my level of sarcasm raises inversely to my training load so there needs to be some balance to retain household sanity.

I am having some issues walking still but I expect that will heal within the next few weeks. My plan is to take the rest of November off from training, start unstructured training in December, and re-engage my coach once I figure out the event goals for the 2012. I have to decide if I want to recertify my USAT/L1 coaching certificate or to let it lapse. I'm on the fence there as I do not anticipate formally coaching beyond charity or volunteer opportunities.

There were many people that I couldn't have done this without besides my family. My coach Mike who I probably drove nuts from time to time and made him think of too many odd what if situations. Danielle who focused my swim the right way. My EagleCrew - the six of us who got together with this silly idea of us doing a half ironman in 2009 and now 4 of us have completed the 140.6 distance. Other friends who helped me train like Mr26point2, KathyK, the TNT faithful, and many of the folks in the social media world who kept me accountable. It is odd that I haven't met many of you but some know parts of me well and care so much. The few I've met personally have revalidated that thought as well.

The slow journey continues......Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

PS: I didn't get the tattoo and don't expect to. It might be the right thing for some people but I'm not a tattoo type of guy. The memories I'll have forever and that's enough for me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

IMFL: The aftermath

When you finishing an Ironman there are volunteers who act as "catchers" to walk you through the maze after the finish line. I was immediately grabbed, they put a medal around my neck and a hat (not a visor) on my head, wrapped me in foil and were walking me over to take my finisher picture. I saw my family on the other side of the fence so I went over for a hug and a kiss from them. We took this picture. Then my catcher took me to a food (pizza) area, gave me a water bottle, and asked me to sit down. I may have forgotten to thank her but my brain was fried.

I almost missed the chair.

I had two slices (not pieces) while I listened to the remaining finishers come down the chute. The crowd was in a frenzy. I felt a pain in my side that I blamed on Florida pizza not being the same as New York pizza and we decided to head back to the hotel. When I got up I was very wobbly and my feet were killing me. We made it back to the room intact.

I was debating to take a shower or not but after I looked at my feet I thought I should. My feet had really bad blisters covering the front half of both feet (and I wear size 14EEE). Walking barefoot was concerning but I got to the shower and was amazed that I still had sand on me from during the swim. I was debating cold shower vs. warm shower but did it somewhere in the middle. When I got out I immediately got the shivers and couldn't stop. I limped back to the bed and when I dove under the covers my shivers stopped. I fell asleep about 1:30.

I woke up before 4AM wired. My family had to leave on Sunday due to the kids not being able to miss school (sometimes I wish my wife and I wouldn't care about education so much) but we ate breakfast before they left. Walking was an issue and even standing was an issue. None the less, I had to get my finisher stuff - my badges of honor so I waiting on line and bought some stuff because, well, you have to. I checked my bike back in with TriBike and was in the room resting when Fran called and said he found a place with an all you can eat lunch special.

We put on an eating clinic. IronTim and IronFran went for seafood and I went for prime rib. I had 4 steaks and I think they had more food than I did. The waitress was amazed. We decided not to ask for the dessert menu.

They dropped me off back at my hotel and by now I couldn't walk at all. The amazing part was that except for the bottoms of my feet I was fine. I rested, packed up all my stuff by crawling around the room on my stomach. My wife called and said that they landed safely but she was really not feeling well. It was a quiet night but not with a lot of sleep.

Monday morning my wife called and said she was feeling so bad that she had to see a doctor. She had a rash and her glands were swollen. She said that she really didn't feel great while the race was happening but she wasn't going to tell me how watching an Ironman was really tiring for her. IronTim and Deb picked me up in the rental car and we went to the airport. I was walking very, very slow as it felt that I was walking on broken glass.

Our flight had a change over in Orlando. Once I landed my wife texted me that the doctor told her she had shingles and wanted her to see a specialist to make sure her eyes were ok (the rash was near her eye). I decided to call the foot doctor to see if there was an appointment available just it case it got worse. The office said they would stay late for me.

It got worse. When I landed in NY my wife told me that her eyes were clear, good news. I was walking in the airport like a cripple to the point where one of the airport people asked if I needed a wheelchair. I declined (but probably should have taken them up). Deb's car was at the airport and she drove me home rather than having my sick wife come to pick me up. When we got to my house it was really hard to walk up the driveway.

I didn't know if I could drive. My wife demanded that she drive me to the doctor and she wasn't in so good shape herself. When we got there he looked at my left foot and asked me how I could walk. Then he looked at my right foot which was worse. He commented that I always seem to make him think and I only call if things were really bad which was why he said he would stay late and he wasn't disappointed. He said that people with blisters like I have on one foot really can't walk for about 3 weeks. Since I had it on both feet, he predicted a month. He gave me some surgical boots to wear in case I couldn't fit my feet into shoes and gave me some drugs to fight potential infections. He had nothing for the pain besides saying it was really going to hurt for a while. Oh, goody. He also recommended that I stay home from work the following day (which I did).

Now we are almost a week later. I am still walking slow but am improving. My wife is getting better very slowly (shingles is very painful). What a pair we are.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

IMFL: The event itself.

Race day I woke up before my alarm clock went off. I stayed in bed for a while before deciding to get the show on the road. The weather report said that the wind was now from the NW but would change to be from the east at 10-20mph with gusts to 25. At least it wasn't from the south as a north wind normally means calm seas. I put on my tri shorts that I planned on wearing during the swim and then sweats above them. Ate a quick breakfast and since my daughter Amanda was also already up, I asked if she wanted to help me drop off special needs bags and load nutrition on the bike and for T1 and T2. We grabbed the stuff and headed down. I was most concerned about forgetting my orthotics in my sneakers but I realized when I got to my bike to pump up my tires that something was amiss: I didn't have any bottles with me. Duh.

I remembered that the bottles were on the counter awaiting cold water to be added (not with the rest of the pre-race stuff). As we headed back to the condo I was so nervous I felt I was going to puke before the race even started!(No pukie for me though). As we were going upstairs I was patting myself on the back for getting a condo so close to the start. The bottles were where I expected, we filled them and headed back down to transition to put them on the bike.

Rather than get caught up in the nervousness and pre-race hysteria around transition, I went back to the room, rested under the covers a little, put on my wetsuit in the condo (very civilized) and went down to the start at 6:35 with my wife and girls. It was chilly and I jumped in the water just as the announcer was asking for every to get out of the water. I quickly swam about 100 yards and the water was like glass (yea!). I said good bye to my family and entered the corral just as the pro cannon went off.

I didn't expect a fast swim. My PR for a HIM swim was just under 43 minutes so I was expecting somewhere between 1:30 and 1:45. I decided to let the crazies go when the cannon went off and held back about a minute. I swam to the sand bar, walked a bit as it was crowded, and then headed out. I tried to get in a rhythm but there were so many people packed in I was getting hit almost constantly. I would look for a little bit of clear water to avoid the battles but didn't even bother siting since I figured that once the school of swimmers I was in turned it would be right (the lemming theory). When I looked down in the clear water I saw more jellyfish than my earlier swim and a bunch of little rays scooting along the bottom. I was proven correct when I felt the school of triathletes start to turn. I turned then looked for the far turn buoy which was found right into the sun (thank goodness for smoked goggles) so I sighted off the sun. When I got close to the far buoy I saw people were still swimming straight and the kayakeers were yelling at them to turn. I headed back in siting off my hotel not even looking for a buoy once and siting infrequently. I was most proud of that I kept swimming at the sand bar while others were walking and I passed about 30 people just on the sand bar. When I hit the beach and saw 40:5X on my watch, I was ecstatic.

I saw my wife along the chute and yelled sub41! I fought through the crowd at the buffet table (aka water stop for the swim) and back into the drink for lap two. There were no crowds now so I decided to just swim steady. There were more "friends" swimming and then I saw a jelly that looked like this guy. I decided to swim around him rather than get stung. That would hurt for a long time.

At the end of the second lap I did a physical assessment. I swam the swim very easy (per plan). I felt I could do another lap with no problem but had a bike ride to do. Even though I felt my second lap was faster, it was not. My final swim time was 1:25:59. I was way ahead of schedule.

Out of the water, up the beach, got stripped, ran into the parking lot, got my stuff, and headed into the changing room. There was no room anywhere. People where changing in the hallway but the volunteers said there was more room inside. I fought to get inside but it was butt crack to butt crack, not a pleasant sight nor feeling. It took a while to get a few spare inches, dropped my stuff on the floor to stake my claim, put my glasses on and they immediately fogged up. I got dressed. I decided to wear the jacket and not the tights. I wasted a lot of time just getting space to change and was disappointed with my T1 time.

I got my bike with everyone screaming. The first part of the course headed west. Into the wind. My goal was to keep between 160-180 watts. I realized that I could run a little hot into the wind as I should have the wind on the return so I pushed it a little. It seemed like I was fighting the wind the whole first half of the bike. Everyone riding was moping about the wind but I focused on my power, drinking, and eating.. At the first turn around we got some relief and was able to open it up a bit but the wind was shifting. Reloaded nutrition at special needs and I cut the power a little bit to get in my zone. I started feeling hot spots on my feet at about the 100mile mark and realized this could get bad (I had no idea though of how bad). The last leg, that we fought the wind on the way out, we again fought the wind going the other way on the way in. My final average power was 169w with a NP of 179W (aka dialed in), I gained about 15 minutes over my goal and felt good off the bike.

T2 was much less crowded than T1. I got a spot, changed, hit the porta-potty and was out about in the time where I needed to be. It was about 4pm and I knew even if I had to walk I was good on time. I've walked half marathons in 3:40 so double that and I was still good. I decided to walk the first 10 minutes or so to get my legs back and then go into my run/walk plan. I saw my family and saw they were wearing tee shirts with my number on it. I asked if they had it made before they came down and they said that Fran helped get their luggage because amazingly the guy from Southwest couldn't get to the hotel. Fran was a super hero for my family as he schlepped the luggage from one side of the race course to the other for them. Of course, he had to comment why my family packed dead bodies or bricks in the luggage but that is another story.

I settled into my run/walk but my feet started barking. The hot spots that I felt on the bike were now certified blisters. I had most of the marathon to go. I realized this was not going to be pretty. I kept going. IronFran, Deb and Tim's boys were at the 4mile mark. I kept walking. I went through the park and the blisters were getting worse. I kept going. I saw Fran again and asked his medical advice (in real life he is a doctor). I had new socks at run special needs, extra sneakers, I could put body glide on my feet, etc. He said, "Dude, you are going to be an Ironman. You are a monster. Just get it done and worry about it later. You've got this." I told him that was why he wasn't my doctor.

At the halfway mark I decided fresh socks and sneakers was the right way to go. I flopped down and people/medical staff immediately came over to see if I was ok. After I convinced them I was, I had another lap to do. I couldn't help but think that one lap would have been perfect and there will be damage from another lap. I chose damage.

I was limping a bit now but still walking steadily. The people around me were wondering if they were going to make it. Luckily I did the math much earlier when I had a brain so I knew I was ok as long as I kept going at this pace. Fran was still out there waiting for me and walked a bit to help me out. It helped a lot. I kept going. It was now zombie time. Many were limping along. There was carnage. I kept going. Drink the soup. Drink some water. Don't stop. Keep going. Knock off another mile. Keep going. Then we came to the end. I asked the guy next to me if he wanted to go in alone for the video or should I go. He told me to go. I ran it in. My feet hurt. A lot. I am an Ironman.
There are two more parts to this opus: the aftermath and next steps. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

IMFL: The prelude

This race report will be done in multiple parts. Let me apologize now for the verbosity but this is a narrative which must be told to educate others who may try to emulate my insanity.

Tim, henceforth known as IronTim, and I got on the plane on Long Island Wednesday afternoon to head down to Panama City Beach and the flight was without major incident (I'm not going to go into the ice cream fiasco at MCO). We arrived on time, got our luggage, hopped into the rental car and headed to our hotels. We were staying at different condo/hotels where mine was right at transition and his was just a short walk down the road. After checking in we went food shopping for the week and for the event itself. I though I personally bought too much but there was some stuff that the store was already out of. When I asked if they had croissants, the supermarket bakery guy said that the Ironman people bought them out already but they expected more later in the week. Our shopping was not complete. Dinner at Margaritaville put us in a celebration mindset (even though no alcohol was consumed).

Thursday morning we wanted to swim at about 7:00 to get a sense of the light for the race and how to sight. It was chilly out and the water was nasty with swells of 4-6 feet due to the wind (which was also nasty). During the swim it felt that we weren't moving at all but then you looked up and you were a few hundred yards past where you expected. Also coming in we fought a bit if a rip current so you wouldn't move at all for a few seconds then flew in with the waves. I practiced body surfing. The water temperature was perfect and the water crystal clear to the point where we saw a huge school of fish (yea) and a few jellyfish (boo). I have been stung by jellyfish during a race before and had no desire to be stung again. As we got out of the water, we saw the water conditions were getting worse. There were a lot of athletes swimming and many were grumbling. I didn't feel concerned except for the fact that nasty water would hurt my swim time.

After we got out of the water we checked in for the race and picked up our bikes from TriBike Transport (which was in the parking lot of my hotel). The wind was coming out of the east so to tested out our bikes we did a short ride into the wind (slow) and with the wind at our back (fast). It was cool going 24mph with virtually no effort but we realized that wind could have a dramatic impact on the bike. The ride was a success as everything on the bike worked.

After some down time I was able to meet John and his wife. His blog was one of the first I ever followed and it was great meeting him face to face. His wife, like most triathlete's wives, seems to be a saint. Good people and I'm glad we finally met. His wife took this picture of us:

Thursday ended with the athlete dinner and mandatory race meeting. The best line was from the race doctor who said that all of the other folks kept saying they wanted to see everyone after they cross the finish line and he said he really didn't want to see anyone then at all! IronTim went to the airport to fetch his family and I tried to get to sleep early.


I was supposed to swim and ride again but I decided to get a big breakfast at the Waffle House and recon the bike course instead. I wasn't able to drive the whole course but did most of it and got landmarks before I picked up IronFran at the airport. He was coming down just to cheer us on (note that we cheered him on when he did IMLP last summer).

IronTim and I did the rest of our food shopping at Walmart. I spent the rest of the day as quiet time. Getting my bags sorted and checking in the bike waiting for my family to arrive as their plane was scheduled to land at 5:30pm. Originally I was going to get my own dinner but I decided to go with them so waited a while.

When they landed it was discovered that their luggage was in Orlando. Southwest said they would deliver it the next day to the hotel. My wife explained that there was this race going on and all the roads would be closed. The agent said not to worry since the delivery guy was very resourceful. We had to get dinner quickly and some more supplies (toothpaste,etc) for them at Walgreens and to sleep early. They only had the clothes on their back (and, of course, the text books that they were studying from during the flight).

How resourceful do you think he could be in delivering the luggage at the hotel overlooking transition during an Ironman? Confidence was low.

More to come.......

Quote of the week

"If you done it, it ain't bragging." - Walt Whitman

Monday, November 7, 2011

IMFL: The Executive Summary

It is going to take a while for me to sort out my thoughts to give the race report the gravitas it deserves around my Ironman Florida experience but in summary:

Swim: 1:25:59

T1: 16:20

Bike: 7:14:15

T2: 10:53

Run: 7:33:45

Total: 16:41:47

Yes, I am an Ironman.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You say stalker like it is a bad thing.

There are three recommended ways to stalk me on Saturday during IMFL. So, if you have the inclination (knowing it will be a long day and you might get caught up in the drama):

1 - The traditional method:
  • Go to
  • Click on Tracking
  • Enter my bib number: #2486
2 - The high tech method:

At Timberman in 2009 I tried the myathletegps device to help my family with knowing where I was on the course during a race. Unfortunately we found out (at the same time as the myathletegpsfolks) that the cell coverage was so poor both at transition and out on the course that these devices were rendered useless. Myathletegps did the right thing and refunded all of the rental fees without our even asking at that race.

I read that they were renting these devices at IMFL and decided to try it again after they assured me that the experience at IMFL would be good. The caveat is that there is a few spots on the bike that have limited coverage but they said that they have had many positive experiences in the Panama City vicinity. So to track me you can:
Realize all this could be rendered useless if I forget to turn it on or put it on my race belt.

3 - The "groupie" method. Yes there will be groupies at IMFL. I can't express my appreciation enough for you. In case you are having a problem picking me out - I'm the old, slow, fat guy wearing #2486.

Additionally I've asked one of the prime stalkers (aka my daughter) to update my Facebook ( Joe Rockstri) and Twitter ( @JoeRockstri ) from time to time while I toil the Panama City course.

Thanks, everyone, for all the support!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quote of the week.

"This is about doing something difficult and not stopping when it becomes not just difficult, but cold and difficult... or cold and wet and difficult... or cold and wet and dark and difficult." -Suzy Hamilton

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quote of the week.

"If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just finish the race its up to you." - Dave Scott

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A dose of reality

I decided to write down some expectations for my race next week. I have yet to have the detailed debrief with my coach but I feel that this accurately reflects reality.

My PR for an official HIM swim is 43:01. Most of my swim times are a few minutes within that by I find that I'm typically overly cautious in pushing the swim pace. I'm not going to hammer the swim in the Ironman and will probably try to let the animals duke it out ahead of me. So, somewhere between 1:30 and 1:45 should be rational. If I'm better than 1:30, great. If I'm slower than 1:45 I won't be happy but it would have to be related to the conditions (waves, current,etc) so it it would be nothing to be concerned with. Spend a little fluff transitioning and I'm shooting to be rolling on the bike before 9:00AM.

My coach already told me his plan calls for a 7:30 bike split. I rode a taper ride of 70 miles last weekend at the high end of my iron wattage range. That ride was very windy but during the ride I glanced down at the bike computer at 56 miles and saw 3:40. So 7:30 is rational. Sure it can it be better or worse but again extenuating circumstances (mechanical, wind, conditions, etc). The bike cutoff is at 5:30 (sometimes IMFL makes it 5:15 since it gets dark early) so that means if I am on the bike at 9:00 I have 8:30 as a worse case. One could look at it as I have an hour to play with.

That hour may be important. I expect to be be walking a lot with the ambiguous state of my right calf and left ankle. After T2, I'll be shooting for a 2 minute jog/3 minute walk for as long as I can (hoping for greater than the first 13.1 lap). If I can do that for the whole length I've figured out that is a 6:33 marathon. If I start the marathon at 5:30, I'll be 3 minutes over. If I'm limping the ironman shuffle, it could become an issue.

This is where the hour comes in. If I swim, bike, and run on plan, I'm right around 16:00. If I do better than plan, that is time in the bank. If I do worse, I'm dancing with the cutoff demon and I don't dance that dance well.

It is going to be a long day but I'll be successful if I follow my plan. I have to remember to try to turn off my brain or it will warp reality and have me believing something different. Something will go wrong, I know it. I'll do something stupid, I know that too.

But I also know I'm going to give it my best and I will be proud of that.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ball rot

Sometimes when you ride with a group of cyclists, the topic of conversation goes in directions that you would never expect. Yesterday I was riding mindless laps with Artie and Mr26point2 around Heckscher Park. I had 70 miles on tap as part of my taper. Mr26point2 was in for 110 and Artie was being his wing man helping him on his long rides preparing for IMAZ. We stopped at Artie's truck to reload nutrition and he pulled out a pair of running shorts that had seen better days. This is the conversation to the best of my recollection. There may have been some topics and words edited out. Ladies, you may want to skip this post as being TMI.

Artie: I keep running in these shorts at work since I am too lazy to bring them home and wash them.

Mr26point2: You've gotta get the skank out of those trou otherwise you'll get ball rot.

Artie: I don't get ball rot.

Mr26point2: Everyone can get ball rot at some point unless you take preventative measures.

Artie: Not everyone gets ball rot.

RockStar: Fewer people admit it.

Mr26point2: I'm sure that there are some exceptions to the rule but the only way you don't get ball rot is if you do steroids.

RockStar: Steroids?

Mr26point2: You know, shrinkage leads to more room to help dissipate the humidity inside the shorts. If you don't have the space, ball rot is unavoidable. Artie, you lift. Do you do steroids?

Artie: I don't do steroids.

Mr26point2: Luckily, I've developed a cure for ball rot.

Artie: A cure?

Mr26point2: Why would you care? You said you don't get ball rot since you do steroids.

Artie: I don't do steroids. I don't get ball rot. Chafing, though, is a different story. I got a bad case of the chafes after IMPocono but that was because it was so wet.

Mr26point2: I never get ball rot. I use deodorant.

RockStar: Deodorant?

Mr26point2: Well not really deodorant but anti-perspirant.

RockStar: Lavender scented?

Mr26point2: No, not lavender but if you do it wrong or on top of ball rot, it'll sting.

Artie: How do you know that?

Mr26point2: Research.

RockStar: How does that relate to those shorts?

Mr26point2: I'm trying to help him with the depth of my research. You should write a blog post on this as a public service announcement.

RockStar: Consider it done. Let's roll.

Artie: Chafing is not ball rot. Chafing was caused by rain and being wet.

Mr26point2: Is it raining now? No.

Rockstar: Do you have separate deodorants?

Mr26point2: He needs at least one. Those shorts are carriers for ball rot. We should name those shorts typhoid Mary.

Artie: Let's roll.

Mr26point2: Let roll

Rockstar: Should I really blog about this?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Am I Ready?"

Shannon from Iron Texas Mommy posted this a while ago and credited the writing of this to (Hurricane) Bob Mina. I've recently been reading this almost daily to get into the right state of mind for my upcoming race. Some of you may have seen this before but I think this may be required reading for those attempting an Ironman. Enjoy.


Right now you've all entered the taper. Perhaps you've been at this a few months, perhaps you've been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.

You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until next year to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the snow.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.
You went out when others stayed home.
You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lies before you...and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won't be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.

It is worth it.

Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.
You are ready.

You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here.

You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.

The helicopters will roar overhead. The splashing will surround you. You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one. The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers. Three people will get that sucker off before you know what happening, then you’ll head for the bike.

The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero's sendoff can't wipe the smile off your face. You'll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman.

You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?

You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for what seems like hours. You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out. By now it'll be hot. You'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here. Not today.

You'll grind the false flats to the climb. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. The crowd will come back to you here. Let their energy pull you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter.

Grind. Fight. Suffer. Persevere.

You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back - you'll see people running out. You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're back, with only 26.2 miles to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.

You'll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change. You'll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer - the one that counts.

You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer day. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year long.

That first mile will feel great. So will the second. By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good.

That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You'll see the leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last.

You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control. Blindfolded.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't sit down - don't EVER sit down.

You'll make it to the halfway point. You'll load up on special needs. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people you don't. You're headed in - they're not. They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into town. Share some energy - you'll get it right back.

Run when you can. Walk if you have to. Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You'll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving. You'll soon only have a few miles to go.

You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you…and puts a medal over your head... all you have to do is get there.

You'll start to hear the people in town. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, and when you left on the run, and now when you've come back. You'll enter town. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over.

You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible. You'll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it.

You'll run. You'll find your legs. You'll fly. You won't know how, but you will run. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps. Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you. They'll say your name. You'll keep running. Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you.

You'll break the tape at the finish line, 140.6 miles after starting your journey. The flash will go off. You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and capable of nothing more. Someone will catch you. You'll lean into them. It will suddenly hit you. YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

You are ready.

Quote of the week.

"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." - Zig Ziglar

Sunday, October 16, 2011

112 is 112.

Yesterday I was supposed to ride my last long ride prior to tapering. It was supposed to be 112 miles of generally flat roads but the wind was howling. The weather report called for 25 mph winds with gusts higher. I officially dubbed this wind "stoopid."

I was riding with a friend (who is also doing IMFL) but he had to head back a little early. Just as we were the farthest point from my house, the wind decided to kick it up. This made for a slow slog of a ride cruising along at less than 10 mph while it felt we were pushing it hard for a long way. When I got back to my house, I was at 73miles in. I realized I had a choice of either going out again or going on the trainer. I chose the trainer, popped in the video of IMAZ on the Computrainer and finished up my ride with 39 slow miles in the basement. All in, 112 miles.

Part of me felt like I was a wimp for finishing the ride on the trainer. Part of me felt that since this was the last "big" ride, I had to get the work done. Based on the wind it would be hard to get a sense of what would be an accurate target for the bike split but I felt OK after the ride. Does trainer riding count? Maybe but I viewed it as 112 is 112.

Tapering begins now. The self doubt has already started. Let the madness begin (some who live in the house with me may say it began about a year ago but we won't go there now) !

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quote of the week.

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." - Thomas Edison

Friday, October 7, 2011

Am I Don Quixote?

"To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...
To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star ...

This is my quest, to follow that star ...
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far ...
To fight for the right, without question or pause ...
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause ...

And I know if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I'm laid to my rest ...
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ..."
- Lyrics from The Impossible Dream from
Man of La Mancha

Yesterday 6 miles into my 7 mile run, which was going quite well I might add, I felt a twinge in my right calf muscle. I thought nothing of it until the next step when the twinge got worse. Then I remembered that this is the calf that I've strained at least twice before with devastating results. I stopped my run, limped back, put ice on it, and put a calf sleeve on it. I was not happy.

This morning it was not better. I was now officially very not happy. I started researching all sorts of failure quotes as I saw my Ironman disappeared before my very eyes. I was not a pleasant person to be around.

I thought maybe I'm a fool for trying to do what I try to do. I'm out of shape. The other day someone asked me who was the fattest person ever to complete an Ironman and I answered that I didn't know but it might hopefully be me. I've been fighting various injuries for more than two years now. I am jealous of all the people that can do this without getting hurt and wondered why it has to be so difficult for me. Maybe, just maybe, this dream wasn't meant to be. At least not for me.

But I'm not ready to give up at least not yet. I've been hitting it with the stick. I ate some anti-inflammatories. I'm hydrating well. I made an appointment with the good doctor for some ART tonight. He has "cured" me before on this and let's see what he has to say.

I thought of the song above all day long. I hope I'm not Don Quixote but then again maybe I hope some of him, at least the being true to a glorious quest part, is in me. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quote of the week

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” - Elbert Hubbard

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What happens when your rituals fail.

Saturday I "ran" yet another half marathon. This one, NYRR's Grete's Great Gallop, was two and half laps around Central Park. My goal was to continue the experiment on pacing that I started in last week's half marathon.

For those from not around these parts, Central Park is relatively hilly. While there are parts that are flat, sometimes it seems those parts are few and far between. I had to alter my pacing schedule since I didn't want to spend the running time uphill and the walking time downhill so I introduced more flexibility to the mix. The day was humid (the race site says 93% at the start) but that seems to be the norm these days. The experiment wound up being successful by cutting a few minutes off of last week's time even with the hills. I finished this half in 2:56:32.

It is hard to get excited about this time. Yes, I know that I'm slow but I'm not that slow. Yes, I know I'm gimpy (and I'm sure be feeling this tomorrow) but can't be that gimpy. The biggest issue was my pre-race ritual got messed up, specifically my pre-race constitutional that, in addition to dropping a pound or two it sets up my abdomen for racing. Not that I didn't try, but nothing was happening. Of course a few miles into the race it felt like a turtle was poking his head of his shell. This wasn't good.

Another thing that contributed to this negativity was getting lapped. Each loop in Central Park is about 6 miles. The wheel chair competitors (who fly down the hills) left a few minutes before the "elites." I started in the back but with almost 5000 runners in the half, it took a while to get to the starting line. The wheelchair guys passed me at about the 3 mile mark and the elites a short time later. Each time someone passed me, especially when I was walking, I cursed under my breath. People near me may have thought I had Tourette's or something but I podded along.

At the end of the race while I was getting my stuff from the bag check, my body tried to make up for missing it's ritual. I had to go EXACTLY then. After a short sprint to the porta-potties (probably the fastest I ran all day), I took care of business. Or so I thought.

But nooooo, I had to spend most of Saturday afternoon sprinting for bathrooms. Each time it smelt like something crawled up inside me and died. Flaming asshole disease started just in time for my ride Sunday morning.

I had 95 miles scheduled on the bike. I started late since it was raining.It stopped raining so I figured I'd give it a shot. The more I was on the bike the more it hurt. I took some breaks along the way. Then it started to rain. I finished up with just under 82 miles and called it a day. Short of my goal but I'll take it.

I'm blaming my gastro issues on a sauce I had with pasta on Friday night. For the next few weeks I will be practicing both race day nutrition and pre-race nutrition almost religiously. I don't think I need to practice post race nutrition and celebration though. That is a ritual that will hopefully take care of itself.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quote of the week

"Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” - Mark Victor Hansen

Monday, September 26, 2011

A weekend in the Hamptons.

Wikipedia (picture credit) defines the Hamptons as "several villages and hamlets in the towns of Southampton and East Hampton on the far east end of Suffolk County in Long Island, New York. These townships occupy the South Fork of Long Island, stretching into the Atlantic Ocean. The Hamptons form a popular seaside resort, one of the historical Summer Colonies of the American Northeast." I was not partaking in any of the seaside activities last weekend nor some of the potentially snooty activities hobnobbing with the goober schmoochers but had two training days on tap that were wrapped around events the the Hamptons.

The weather forecast called for the weekend to be a washout but I had to get the work done as the beginning of the last big training block for my Ironman. First up was the Hamptons Half Marathon where I was putting my Iron run math to the test.

My first mistake was actually waiting until the last minute to actually see where this event was. There are many villages in the Hamptons. I thought somehow that this race was in Southampton which is about an hour from my house when the reality was that it was in East Hampton which is an additional 30 minutes or so away driving. I also read that there were concerns about the parking and they arranged for a bus to get people to the starting line but that bus was sold out. I got up at stupid o'clock and watched the lightening reflect off the fog as I drove. It was wet but I was happy that it wasn't raining. I brought many different types of rain clothes in the car just in case. The parking proved to be a non issue and after I got my number I chatted with some former Team in Training buddies. This was a big TNT event.

My plan was to start running every 5 minutes and to stop after running for about 2.5 minutes. If I felt strong I could go an extra few seconds. It the terrain was uncooperative (aka hills), I would cut it a little short. I carried a water bottle and wanted to drink a lot. The humidity was close to 100% with the expectation that it would start raining at any moment. I wanted to keep this up for the whole half marathon and keep each mile under 15 minutes. If I could go a little faster than plan I expected best case of a 3 hour half.

I started out flying (for me <9:00/mile). It was hard to shut it down and follow the plan but I realized it wasn't a cardio problem that I was trying to solve, it was an ankle problem. The miles clicked off and I was doing well. I kept it up and found myself soaked from either sweat or the ambient humidity. My ipod died at about mile 10I think due to moisture but I kept on plan. The mile splits were:

Mile 1:12:06 (a little quick with 2 walking breaks but hey, it happens)
Mile 2: 13:55
Mile 3: 13:37
Mile 4: 13:46
Mile 5: 13:36
Mile 6: 13:50
Mile 7: 13:48
Mile 8: 13:17
Mile 9: 13:55
Mile 10: 13:40
Mile 11: 13:30
Mile 12: 13:32
Mile 13: 13:54
Remainder pace: 11:35 (.19 mile). ( you have to kick it in a little).

Overall time was 2:58:58. The plan worked perfectly! I didn't get rained on! Even more exciting was that I was in no more ankle pain than usual. I got in the car and headed home.

The next morning I was up early again and headed back out for the Tour of the Hamptons Century. This one started in Southampton and I was expecting a flat ride as a training ride perfect for IMFL. I've ridden out there a lot and while there are some hills the closer you get to Montauk, the south shore of Long Island is generally flat. There is the probability of wind but that would be OK. The humidity again up there but the forecast just called for occasional showers (there were none again). It was supposed to be cooler (proven to be yet another meteorologist lie as it got very warm).

This ride, in contrast to my expectations, was decidedly unflat. The route seemed to follow every opportunity for an uphill. There was nothing major but mostly short little stingers. I rode with some friends who were doing some of the other route choices (there was a 25, 50, 70, and 100 plus mile option) and rode a lot solo. I ran into some hot spots on my cycling shoes that I need to address. I was in no real mood to continue as I was hot and paying the price from running the half the day before. I considered short cuts to get back to my car but then realized this was where the hard work was. Either do it or do not. It was up to me. After some instant soul searching. I chose to do it and wound up putting 104 miles in the bank.

Next weekend I have another half Mary on tap to test the Iron run math again and an unofficial century to ride at race pace. I'm sure I will find a flat route to ride realizing this is the hardest time of training. I chose to do sign up for this and need to remember to HTFU and just get it done.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Your race proofs.

Buying race photographs can be a stressful experience. Most of the time is this stress is induced by the anticipation of "great" photo. Sometimes your mindset may set the bar a little lower and you'd want a "good" photo. "Adequate" might be the level above "poor". Most race photographs, of course, fall into the "sucks" category.

I bought the jpeg of this picture that was taken at Shoreman 70.3 a few weeks ago. I haven't figured which category it falls into but I think it at least is in the "not bad" bin.