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.