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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Iron Run Math

I expect to have issues on the run during my Ironman due to my injuries and the lack of actual running. I also expect to be stupid with diminished brain function during the run. Yes, stupider than normal. Perhaps even stupider than teenagers think of me. Perhaps.

My coach told be if I'm able to consistently get a mix of run/walk that results in 15:00 a mile, it would be great and give us something to work with. 15:00/mile turns into a 6:33 marathon. I would sell my soul right now, cheap, for a 6:33 marathon in November.

I walk at between 17:00 per mile and 18:00 when I focus on walking quickly. I've done this pace for 9 miles. When I can run, I don't run fast. Pushing it, I run about 10:00 per mile but a jog pace is somewhere about 12:00.

So I did a math exercise. I figured if I jogged 2 minutes at a 12:00/mile pace, I would cover 1/6 of a mile. If I walked 3 minutes at a 18:00/mile pace, I would cover 1/6 of a mile. If I alternated this, I would have a mile done in 15:00. The more I mix in running, the faster I'll finish.

I expect math functionality to leave my brain somewhere early on race day so I figured I'd do the math now, write it down and put it in my special needs or transition bags, and probably doubt it during race day (see the stupid prediction). I'm going to test the math in my half Mary this weekend. I won't be anywhere near my PR but if I'm in the 3 hour neighborhood, don't feel that I want to chop off my foot because of the posterior tibial tendinitis pain, and have a successful century ride on Sunday, all will be good in the hood.

Now if someone asks me something along the lines of "if a train leaves Chicago........", the answer will be <6:33. The answer to every question might be <6:33 except the big question where the answer is <16:59:59.

Quote of the week.

"I learned that the only way you are going to get anywhere in life is to work hard at it. Whether you're a musician, a writer, an athlete or a businessman, there is no getting around it. If you do, you'll win--if you don't, you won't." - Bruce Jenner

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Allen Lim Potatoes

"Dude, you cannot imagine how good potatoes are between 70-90 miles in on a ride" - Dr. IronFran

Fear not, this blog will not turn into a cooking blog but recently I've added Allen Lim's potatoes to my riding nutrition menu. Who is Allen Lim and what are his potatoes you ask?

Dr. Allen Lim is a sports physiologist that has been involved in several cycling teams including Garmin and Radio Shack. He performs a variety of roles on those team but has published a series of YouTube videos on some of the food prepared for the cycling teams. Here is a link to his video potato recipe:

The potatoes are eaten like an apple and they are close to heaven.

PS: Dan Quayle was not involved in the proof reading of this article.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quote of the week.

"Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do." - Thomas Aquinas

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Upside down flags

The United States Flag code states " The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."

During my race last Saturday one of the houses along the run course had a flag in front of their house displayed on a flag pole upside down. I actually knew that an upside down flag was a sign of distress but I wondered why they chose to make this statement. There seemed nobody home (and I was a bit occupied at the time) for me to ask why so I thought about it during my race to take my mind off my pathetic run performance. Two thoughts came to mind:
  • Since the date was 9/10 I wondered if this was somehow related to the 9/11 remembrance activities.
  • A statement on the political and economic state of the country.
I started trolling the web to see what the deal is and found there seems to be a movement in various pockets of the country to display the flag upside down as a protest sign about the political and economic state of the country. This seems to be igniting some passionate confrontations but I haven't seen any evidence of these confrontations leading towards actionable plans, just displays of frustration with the current state.

I wish I was able to talk to the homeowner to find out the root of this mystery. Do you think this was related to 9/11 or was it related to protesting the current state of the country?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Shoreman 71.8 or so.

I signed up a while ago to race the Shoreman 70.3 held Saturday 9/10/11. This was a small race capped at 300 racers and I didn't know if that would be a plus or minus. I was concerned about this being a new race but the timing worked perfectly for my schedule, the race costs were reasonable, the commute to and from it was less than many other race options and the terrain was very similar to IMFL. The concerns about this being a new race were realized but I'll get into that later.

Earlier in the week I got an email stating that due to Hurricane Irene some bridges on the bike course were washed out so they needed to adjust the bike from a one lap 56 mile loop to a sort of 2 lap course that would be 57 miles. I say sort of because it wasn't a full two laps but a couple of miles from transition there was a turn around. I didn't understand why they did move the turn around a little bit to make it 56 but I guess there was a reason for that. After the race I still don't understand it though.

My goal for this race was to nail nutrition and iron pacing. It was basically going to be a long training day where I wanted to dial in the effort and practice not going too hard. I knew my time wouldn't be the best that it could be but wanted to see what time the pacing effort would turn into. I expected a 45 minute or so swim, try to keep 200 watts or so on the bike and survive the run. I say "survive" since I can't run and would probably walk a lot of it. If I could run 2 minutes of out every 5, it would be a success. If my foot/ankle started hurting, don't be afraid to DNF. I wanted to keep reminding myself this race isn't my A race.

I had very little taper going in although training this week was light. The weather report was not so favorable with a rain possible in the morning and thunder storms in the afternoon. My wife met me and work and we drove down the night before. I did a short ride to make sure the bike was set up right. I got all my stuff ready and tried to go to sleep. The hotel we picked was very loud so sleep was hard. Up at 4:30, ate a banana, drank a 32oz Gatorade, loaded up the car and went to the race site.

It was wet and cloudy, not raining but looking like it was going to rain at any moment. It was also very dark. I packed many flashlights but could only find one. The bugs were biting but I had bug spray. I set up my stuff but wrapped everything in plastic as I expected it to rain and didn't want to have to put on soggy clothes during the race. Kept sipping Gatorade and went to the swim start to neoprene up.

The sky was still overcast so I decided to go with clear lenses on my goggles. The swim was an odd configuration as it was one step up from a swamp with a left turn about 100 yards in and then an out and back. I warmed up and came back to the beach to hear the race talk. I started in the second wave with the men over 40 and tried to go pace steady. This swim was the most physical that I've ever been in. I got pummeled on this swim from the beginning to almost the end. I thought I might have a black eye from one punch in the face but I kept swimming. I didn't check my time at the turnaround because I figured no good could come from that (if too slow, moping). The swim seemed long, it seemed slow and when I popped out of the water and saw 44:33 on my watch I was happy. It took a while to get to the timing mat so my official time would up being 45:19. I was happy and the effort matched the expected results. Note that myIronman pace these days is for a 90 minute swim so this was right on.

I got to my bike. Got ready but couldn't put my foot in my cycling shoe. There was a flashlight in there. Duh. I started riding and saw I didn't reset my bike computer from the shake out ride the night before. Duh again. Then just started riding, eating and drinking. I started with 3 bottles of Ironman Perform, one bottle of water, 4 gels, and some Allen Lim potatoes. It drizzled a little but it was so humid it was hard to feel if it was raining or not. I felt I was going too hard constantly so kept dialing it back. I set up my bike computer to not read mph, just power and time since I last ate. I felt strong. The clouds burned off and it started getting hot while still humid. I dialed back the effort again. My goal was to average 200 watts and thought I overshot it. Afterwards I found I averaged 201. Right on plan and I finished 57.5 in 3:23. Right in line with a 7:00 Iron split. I felt without the dialing back I could have gone much faster.

I saw the folks getting their medals from the aquavelo and the thought quickly went through my mind that I've had a successful day already and why ruin it with a death march. I decided to start running and did my mix run/walk for the first two miles. I felt really bad feeling like I might barf and got some chills. The heat was getting to me. Many people were walking so I decided to walk more than a bit to recover a bit. The race was supposed to have Gatorade at every other stop but when I got the to first that was supposed to have it they said they ran out. Ran out? This was the first lap and the leaders were just coming around for their second lap. They had water and at every stop I drank a cup, poured a cup on me, and filled a hand flask to sip along the way. Racers were going to the wrong side of the road since there was shade on that side of the street. I kept walking. I saw my wife and she cheered me on. First lap done.

On the second lap I started to mix in some more running as I was feeling better. It wasn't a lot but it was something. I kept going. It seemed like most of the water on the course was from a hose but one rest stop said they had ice! Almost everyone left was walking now. I was approaching the finish and my wife told me to reel in the guy ahead of me. I was trying to do it for a couple of miles so I told her that was doubtful. They he screams and almost face planted on the ground. There were people running over to him as I got up to him. He said every muscle in his leg was cramping and he couldn't stand anymore. The ambulance came for him, I started jog/walking it in, saw my wife and told her I kicked that guys ass!

I made the cutoff and walked the 13.1 in 3:35. I was getting hot spots on my feet and saw a blister starting to come up. I got my medal and my wife said to get her some food. I looked at her strangely and she said she was out there all day and couldn't get anything to eat or drink. The race site was in the middle of nowhere. There was no food or drink for sale for the spectators. She offered to buy a water bottle but they wouldn't let her as they said the food and drink was for the athletes. She wasn't happy as she couldn't leave because the car was blocked in and it was miles to a store. She had a hard, hot day too but made the experience better for me. When we got in the car the thermometer said 91.

I would consider doing this race again. The course was fair and what it said it was going to be. I'm going to contact the RD and recommend that they address the food for spectators, Gatorade or equivalent sports drink, and hose water problems. Hopefully these are just symptoms of the initial running of the event and not something systematic. In summary, I did as I expected in the swim and bike. The run was not surprisingly bad but this is all part of the iron journey.

PS: I found out about the race via JoyRun's blog. Logistics made it so we didn't actually meet. She switched to the relay with some friends and was done way before me so maybe next year!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Quote of the week.

“Prove to yourself that you can do it. Prove that you were always who you thought you were, not who they said you had to be.” - Rachel Snyder

Monday, September 5, 2011

Split Double Header

Last weekend I had two "events" on my calendar - the Quassapaug Sailing Center Open Water Swim Festival on Saturday and the Golden Apple Century on Sunday. One was a fail and one was not hence the split double header metaphor.

Lake Quassapaug is the site of the Rev3 Quassy and I did the aqua velo there earlier this year. I didn't have a good swim that day but the QSCOWSF race didn't leave at the amusement park end of the park but was held at the "other" end. The swim festival had three races: a 3 mile race, a 1.5 mile race, and a 1/2 mile. Many people did all three. I signed up for the 1.5m and the goal was to get a sense of a timing for my upcoming ironman swim.

When I showed up it was a very low key environment. The leaders of the 3 mile swim were just finishing and I noticed that the leaders were not wearing wetsuits. The water temperature was 73 degrees (which I consider perfect wetsuit temperature) but the later finishers did have neoprene. You could easily tell the swimmers from the triathletes and not just by time. I ran into a problem where my smoked lens goggles weren't that comfortable due to an issue with the rubber around the lens but had a spare set of clear goggles. Since the sky was overcast that would work fine.

I have a tendency to go out too conservatively on the swim and my times often don't reflect my ability. I didn't want to hammer on this swim but I did want to go faster than I would normally go. The course was set up as 6 buoys out and come back. Buoy 2 was a 1/4 mile, 4 was a half, and 6 was 3/4. I said beforehand that if I was over an hour I'd be disappointed.

The race was uneventful. I felt my siting was a bit off. There was more contact than I expected but I made the turn in 26:07 and was happy. On the return the wind kicked up a but causing a minor chop. I finished in 56:37 which translates into a 90 minute or so Ironman swim. I was happy and it didn't take too much out of me.

Sunday was a different story. Years ago I rode the Golden Apple Century and it completely kicked my ass to the point that I was considering not cycling any more. It was time for a rematch and the Golden Apple kicked my ass again. Without mercy.

This is a difficult ride. There are no real monster hills but I describe the day as death by a thousand cuts. It was very humid and the sweat was pouring off me. Then I realized I was in the hydration danger zone when the sweat stopped. Most of the route is via country roads and there were not enough opportunities to reload enough water to keep going. Still, I did. Even though I drank 9 bottles, I was parched. Riders were talking about short cuts to get back to the start/finish/cars but I kept going. I couldn't find the mini rest stop at the 88 mile mark. I felt very shaky. I walked up a more hills than I care to remember. I saw another rider and asked if he saw the rest stop and he said no. I saw he had fluid and begged some water off him. He saved me as I was considering drinking out of a pond. I finished riding when I saw a Dunkin Donuts near the end. I wound up doing 99 miles and didn't feel the need to go the mile+ to the finish just to come back. I called it a day.

Why did I do so poorly? Was it the course? Was it that I failed hydration? Was it that there were not enough rest stops (although the baked potatoes were a godsend)? I doubt I'll ever know. On the positive side, even though I got schooled, I learned some lessons that will help me for my Ironman.

There still needs to be a Golden Apple redemption ride in the future though.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Unnatural events

I've been missing from the blogosphere recently. The primary reason for this is that Casa Rockstar was out of power long enough for us to throw all the food that was in the refrigerator away and we found out what it was like to be without land line phones, cable or internet for 5 days. Everyone is safe and no damage to the house itself although there are a lot of trees down in our area. Many people near here are still without power (and everything else) and driving around without traffic lights gets to be challenging at times. Even so, it could have been worse. One of the downsides is that there hasn't been nearly enough quality training and time is running out.

We've had the biggest storm here in 26 years and an earthquake. What's next?