Sunday, November 26, 2006
We finally got a good enough snowfall that we were able to make a snowman. Jessi and Emma went shopping with Ntalie and Lorie. While they were gone I made a big snowman... roughly 7 feet tall! I was pretty excited for Emma to return to see this giant in her front yard. Unfortunately, Emma was asleep when they drove up so I had to wait for her to get up from her late nap. She finally awoke at about 8:00pm. We went out to chek out this cool creation (nice pun). It did not take long before we decided to bombard it with snowballs and Karate chops. It's head was the first to go. Emma got one heck of a belly laugh from that. It was exciting for her to see this huge snowball fal from 5 feet up and crash onto the ground. It was pretty much all over from that point. Jessi decided to go and get he camera and was able to salvage some shots before the snowman was completely demolished.
After we destroyed the big one, I created a smaller one that Emma pushed over and jumped on. now I'm not too sure if this is the message we should be sending her as she goes off to school, but it sure was fun. I would imagine that in a year or two we will get a phone call from school saying that Emma ruined someone's snowman at school by jumping on it's head. It's a little different picture han the Hallmark image that we all want to have as the dad lifts the child up to the snowman's head and then the child places the hat on it or the carrot nose. Instead, I lifted Emma up high enough to get the head so she could kick it off. I think my activity brought a bigger smile to her face... and mine.
Of course with all of this vandalism going on, it turned into a snowball fight. I have to say that Emma started it. It almost ended as soon as it started when Emma got a bit of snow in her eye. But she quickly rallied by throwing a couple snowballs at me. She was pretty relentless. I was even hitting her with some and she just got more to throw at me. We then decided to make a prince and a princess print in the snow... Emma's idea. It was a little heavy to be doing angels, and perfect for making prints. Emma made a few an so did I.
Our hands were getting a little cold, so we decided to head in. Not to mention that it was 9:00pm and Emma was screaming and laughing and I started to wonder what our neighbors would be thinking. As we headed in, Emma wanted to take in a little snowman that she could put by her bed. I was able to convince her that the sink may be a better home. So there it melted.
I'm sure I did some lifelong damage to her by robing her of her Hallmark moment. But I guarantee yu that we had a lot more fun.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Someone wanted a picture of her feet to be included too... she was really sweet to her Daddy and kept telling him how brave he was at the doctor's. I could tell though that she was pretty nervous to see her Daddy hurting. Emma loves her Daddy SO MUCH!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Kevin Best came over at about 5:15 am to take me to the race. Now there’s a friend. He has done this a lot in the past. Like IM 2005 for Tomppa, IM 2006 for Jessi and me. I’m not too sure why he likes to do this, but he always comes over showered and ready to go with more spark in his eye than anyone else. We drove down to the race site looking for the best place to park. In some ways I would have been happy if we would have jut simply drove around. Race day morning I normally move at turtle pace. I drag my feet, wonder around, sit and stare… you name it. I have always done this. I even missed the start of a duathlon because I was fiddling with my shoes in the parking lot once. Mark was there for that one. It’s never been about not wanting to race. It’s just that I am never in a hurry. I am normally the last one out of he changing tents in the morning at IMs (Greg Gallagher can attest to this as well).
So this day was no different. I knew that I needed to go and get body marked, which I had no clue where to do. I’m sure they mentioned it somewhere at the pre race meeting that I did not attend. So I just casually wandered in the direction that most the other people were going and eventually found it. I knew they used some pretty slick numbers to body mark with in the past, and this year would be no different. They are like huge stamps. No permanent pens here, each station had their own set of giant stamps. Unfortunately I had a long number, 1258, so that would mean that my number would run the length of my upper arm. The people are always very nice when they do this and are pretty cautious in making sure they get it right… there is no second time. I then meandered back to the transition area where I checked my bike, filled my water bottles, and aired up my tires. I normally run about 115 psi when I race, but I decided to go with about 125 this time. Don’t know why, just to create a little more anxiety knowing that my chances of flatting just increased potentially.
Now it was time to start getting serious. I walked over to the changing area (i.e. bathroom) to get changed into my race gear. Faris Al-Sultan (professional male winner from last year) was right there too getting dialed in as well. I thought that I must be in the right place. I got my new Ironman Activewear suit on and then applied a ridiculous amount of sun screen (spf 30). This is pretty big for me. I am normally not one to apply sunscreen… especially spf 30. It was now time to head to the swim start. This was pretty easy to do since this was where the masses were. I eventually got down to the water and it was like being on the field of the Superbowl. I looked up and saw people all over looking down cheering and trying to get people’s attention. I took it in for a minute and even looked for some familiar faces, but realized that it would be pretty tough no matter how hard I squinted. The swim start line is about 100 meters out in the water so I swam in that direction. When I got there I was pretty congested with people treading water and speaking a lot of different languages. I did my best to get as close to the start line as I could, But I would have to settle for about 3 rows back. I figured this would not be too bad since these were some of the fastest Ironman swimmers in the world… wrong.
The cannon went off about 2-3 minutes early. I think they actually planned this to keep people on their toes. After that, it was whitewater chaos for a long time. I swam with my head above water to navigate where I was going. People were hitting, scratching, clawing, grabbing, punching… you name it. I think some of this comes instinctively when people are in water and trying to stay afloat and get air. But I also think some people are just jerks. I then realized that I should have lined up on the front line like I do in all races. It never really settled down until about the ¾ mile to 1 mile mark. People were all over the place and did not want to edge one way or the other. I kept passing people the whole way out. Which again told me that I should have lined up in the front. After we rounded the 2 sailboats that signify the end point of the far end of the rectangle, we started to head back. I was able to find a lot of open water and took advantage of it. I was still passing people and saw people start to fade that had gone out way too hard. The way back in was a bit more difficult. The swells seemed to be a little more challenging for some reason and sighting was more difficult as well. But I normally just follow the general direction of the splashing arms. When you can hear the announcer, you know that you are close and people typically speed it up a bit. I ended up coming in with a pretty big group of people in about 1:01. My slowest Ironman swim ever, but I hear that all times were about 4 minutes slower. I don’t know what the means other than I swam a 1:01.
I knew that this would be a quick T1 since there was not a wetsuit to peel and carry. I grabbed my bag and headed to the tent. I rolled on my socks, put on my shoes, shoved my gels in my back pockets, grabbed my race belt, and headed out. It sounds like a lot to do, but it happens very fast. After being miss directed by a volunteer as to where to go to get my bike (I ignored her after I passed her) I was there at my steed. My helmet was on the bike so I threw it on and shoved my sunglasses somewhere in the direction of my eyes. Getting out of transition fast is something I like to do. I think a lot of people dilly dally and waste time.
I ran out with my bike and got to the mount line where people where getting on their bikes in a variety of ways. I like to run with my bike about as fast as I comfortably can, and jump on. I normally like to run past everyone that are trying to get on their bikes because that way I can mount in a clear area and not have to navigate around them as they swerve around trying to get their feet clipped in. I was on my bike, feet locked in, and off and riding. This is always a good feeling for me. I feel very comfortable on the bike… kind of like being in your own car. I don’t really feel like that on the swim or the run.
The first ½ mile is all uphill. This hill is totally lined with people. If they were yelling my name, I would never know it. But I did notice that the people were a little quiet, so I took my hands off the bar and waved my arms up and down to signal ‘let’s hear some noise here.’ And sure enough, they responded. The announcer at the corner announced my name and said something else too, I can’t remember. Now it was off for the 112 mile ride through the vicious lava fields in the Hawaiian desert. In the first couple miles I saw my support crew: Kathi, Kevin, Tim, Kris, Anna, John, Cindy, Mark, Lorie, Jessi, and of course Emma. It’s always a great uplifting feeling to see people out there that you know cheering you on. It brings this race that is so far from home a little closer to home.
The first 10 miles is a sort out and back in Kona. There were a lot of cyclists around me. I was passing some, and some were passing me. I watched my heart rate to monitor my effort. It is so easy for me to go too hard in the first 2 hours, and then I pay for it later. So my goal was to keep things in check and ride a controlled bike. I was now headed out to the lava fields. I knew a lot of this road, but in a race it looks a little different. The first aid station came quick. I discarded my one bottle and took on 2 new ones. I was staying settled in to my pace and started to notice ‘groups’ of cyclists passing me. Not one or two, but trains… yes trains of cyclists. I knew that I did no want to get caught up in the, ‘don’t let then pass me’ mentality, but these were groups… large groups. Now, I understand that there are times in a race that tings get congested, and people end up in ‘drafting’ situations. I knew this would happen in Hawaii because when you assemble so many people with similar abilities, people are going to be going the same pace some times. But what I saw was not a result of that. What I saw where people riding together, as a group, taking advantage of one another’s draft. Again, I am not talking about 2 or 3 people. I’m talking about 20-40 person groups. If you know anything about drafting, it’s about a 25%-30% advantage. For example, if I were to ride at 22 mph, and my heart rate would be about 135. Now, if I were to be tucked in a group of people going 22 mph, my heart rate would be about 115. Think about that… 135 effort or 115 effort. Which one would you like to finish a 112 mile bike with when you have a 26.2 mile run to follow? So it was pretty discouraging to see these great athletes cheating. I don’t know of any other way to put it. On the way back from Hawi, there was not as much drafting going on because the long 7 mile hill broke things up as well as the headwind. But there was a few people I saw that were literally right behind another rider. I mean literally right behind. It was so bad that when this other triathlete that was coming past me, he accelerated up to a guy that was drafting and started yelling at him. I started to laugh, but he did have a point. I think you either make it legal to draft (which I don’t think would be a good idea), or you get more officials out there and start making an example. I saw the same 2 officials the entire time. Presumably they were the same ones for the entire course. I’m sure that there would be a few pissed off people, and even people that might get a penalty that did not deserve it. But bottom line is that people would start to think twice before doing it. That was probably the most disappointing part of the entire race was seeing that.
So, back to MY race. I was so fortunate to have a lot of friends and family out on the course cheering and giving my high fives. It sure breaks things up a bit. Some of my crew was actually able to get out on the course and drive by me with the van door wide open so they could cheer, take pictures, and even video tape. It was pretty cool. I have got to hand it to my crew, they get out there one way or another. When they are told that ‘It can’t be done,’ they get it done. My legs were feeling a little fatigued at about the 3 hour point on the bike. This is pretty common, but I now notice it earlier and I am able to make some adjustments. I was able to get a little recovered and as a result, I was able to pick it up quite a bit towards the last 25 miles. At about the 80 mile mark it started to rain. The rain wasn’t all that great, but it was nice that the sun’s vicious rays were blocked a bit. It made the road feel a little less draining. I came in to T2 feeling pretty good. I figured I did about a 5:15, which is what I did in Cda and close to what I did in IM Canada, so I thought I was where I needed to be. I felt good too.
T2 went fine. I had to pee, so I went into one of the Honey Buckets in the transition area. If I gotta go, I try and do it in the transitions that way it is not reflected in my marathon time. Most of you know the wonderful experience we all have when going into on of those plastic septic systems, but let me paint another picture for you. 95 degrees, and 90% humidity. Oh wait, these are used by triathletes that have pretty much a liquid diet 24 hours prior to races and very uneasy stomachs the day of the race. So to say that these bathrooms are a little ripe would be like saying the Kennedys might be a little afraid of guns… very understated. I managed to stomach the odor and not pass out from the Honey Bucket sauna as I got most of my pee in the general area of the toilet seat. One piece suits are very difficult to go to the bathroom in quickly.
I left T2 in pretty good shape. I felt like I had legs for the run. I waited a bit before I looked at my heart rate monitor so I could let tings settle in. So at about the 2 mile mark I started looking at it. First 2 miles were 14:40… a little fast considering there were some pretty big up hills. I knew that I needed to slow down a bit but my effort seemed to ‘feel’ okay. My heart rate was about 5 beats too high from what I wanted but I thought that might have something to do with the heat as well. So I just kept it going at the same intensity. Oops, big mistake. I was able to keep things going until about the 13 mile mark when you again return to the Queen K, or in other words, the lava fields. It was hot, hot, hot. The heat was not totally trashing me. I still felt okay, but I knew things were going kind of downward. I made it to mile 18 where you are in the ‘Energy Lab.’ It sounds like a good place to be… it’s not. It’s a slight downhill all the way to the ocean and then a short out and back. I would say about 2.5 miles total distance. The nice part is that once you hit the turn around you are now headed back to Kona, which means the finish. The downhill into the Energy Lab seems like a 1% grade going in and about an 8% coming out.
We had a slight tailwind and the sun was in full force. There is a place ½ way out of the Energy Lap that they have set up which is called the Motivation Zone. I can’t totally remember because the guy sounded like he had been in the sun a little too long as well. I was having a hard time focusing on what I was doing as I attempted to seek any little piece of shade I could. I started running closer to fatter people thinking that their shadow would be larger. I also ran close to cars as well hoping that the sun that was straight above us would somehow create and angle to create just the smallest piece of shade. It was like a grizzly bear jumped on my back. I started to walk for a bit just to try and get some perspective on what in the world was going on with my body. But it seemed hopeless. Like I was trying to wring out water from desert sand. It took me a few miles to regain a little composure. I felt like everyone had passed my by this point. It was hard mentally, but I knew that if I pushed myself too hard, I would end up being transported to the finish in an ambulance. And if that happened, no t-shirt, no medal, no way to spend more money on Ironman paraphernalia that would have saved me about $500.
The last 1.5 miles is mostly downhill. Down one section, that I was looking forward to, it’s about an 8% grade. Unfortunately it was harder to run down this ¼ mile section because it did no feel like my legs were going to hold me up. I felt like the brakes were totally on. But I knew that I would make it even if I had to roll the whole way. But I have to say that one image in my mind kept me going more than almost anything else in that last 5 miles, and that was the thought of bringing Emma down the finishing stretch. I was so excited to share this moment with her. I knew that it would mean so much to her and she would remember it for ever. So as I made the turn on to Alii Drive, I started looking for her. I slowed down my pace because as most people know, I don’t have the best eyesight. In doing so, a few people passed me, but I really did not care. Then all of a sudden, I saw Jessi and at her side was Emma reaching one hand out in my direction with her fist pumping. I was so excited to see her. Before I arrived, Jessi told her that she may not be able to run with me in her flip flops (or ‘Flick Flocks’ as Emma calls them). So Emma took them off and was prepared for the challenge. But I wanted her to see what was going on and enjoy the ride. So I picked her up and carried her for the last 200 meters. She was reaching out giving people high 5s and taking it all in. I don’t know where I got the strength, but bizarre things happen in that last 400 meters. I think it’s when everyone runs their fastest splits, have the biggest smiles, muscles pump just a little harder… it’s the finish of an Ironman. And in this case, the World Championships. I think the athletes absorb some of the energy of the people lining the street in the last 400 meters. It’s truly something that you have to experience. The more Ironmans that I do, the more that I try and take in that last 400 meters. It’s something that you cannot go back and re-do. You have earned that last 400 meters. I think you have two choices: you can absorb it and feel like you are the only one out there, or run straight on through and your overall time will be about 5 seconds faster. I would encourage everyone to run it slower, and try and connect with every set of eyes that are there to celebrate your accomplishment. Because after that, you are a name with 2000 other names in black and white in a result book. And in all honesty, the only thing people look at in those is their own names. My name is in it this year, and yes, I’ll look for it. But I also hope that it will be in that book again and I will be able to talk about that final 400 meters again.
I have to say that this event was a lot of fun and was probably the least stressful race I have done at this distance. Though it was a tough day, it was a good day. I had fun. But I also need to let people know that it’s more than just me that is out on those streets. I have a lot of family and friends that have been cheering me along the way in Hawaii and even at home stuck to a computer for the entire time. I thought of all of you often and wanted to get to all those time checks so that you knew that I was still going and doing well. When I would cross the mats, I knew that there were many people at home getting the data and some of you calling Jessi to let her know where I was. I thank you all for that. I know there were a lot of you who wanted to be there, but couldn’t. Know that there will be another time hopefully and also know that I felt your energy Sunday. I also want to thank my coach, John Phillips, who has been along in this journey since November 2003. It’s been quite a road full of twists and turns for me as an athlete, so thanks for being patient and giving me the feedback I need, and don’t necessarily want. I also want to thank my coach, John Phillips, who has been along in this journey since November 2003. It’s been quite a road full of twists and turns for me as an athlete, so thanks for being patient and giving me the feedback I need, and don’t necessarily want.
As most of you know I had a large contingency there to cheer, encourage, cater, and assist all week. I know they all had fun because of where they were, but they also made a time and financial sacrifice to be there as well. I thank you all for that and I often feel a bit guilty of the sacrifices you made this last week. It will be a trip that I hope will never be forgotten. From the welcoming earthquake, to the fine dining service at Rios… it was all sandwiched in to an amazing trip.
I hope that though you all have been there for me along the way that through this journey you have learned something as well. Whether it’s about your own goals, challenges, dreams, hopes, ambitions… whatever it may be, I hope that you too make things happen in your life. We tend to remember things that we have to work hard for. It’s through those challenges that we see deep within ourselves of what we are made and realize later it’s not what we originally thought. So reach, reach way up high for those dreams. And once you have them in your grasps you will soon realize that there is another one out there just a little further away that you will soon be going for. It reminds me of Emma at the pool this week in Kona. She would push the air mattress out in front of her and jump on to it. She was pretty nervous at first but once she jumped and got it, she went for it again and wanted me to push it a little further away. Granted, not really a dream, but a little goal. Even Emma isn’t content with what is, she is after what can be.
I have to say a huge THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU to my number one support crew/team/manager/cook/sponsor and that is Jessi. This year has been an amazing year for both of us and it’s through our commitment to one another and our respect for what each other does, and dreams of doing, that we can make this all happen. She has been there for me during some tough times…and not only triathlon. We have had to weather some good storms, but one thing is for certain, we will always have our family.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
This is what it looks like where the start of the race will be. I have gone out and swam the course on Tuesday and Wednesday. As you can tell there are a lot of people doing the same thing. Today (Wednesday) the waves were pretty tough. They don't look too bad in the picture, but out away from shore I had trouble seeing where I was going because you could not see in between the swells. The water is warm though, and very buoyant. It feels like you have a wetsuit on, but you don't.
We were also able to spend some time on a little beach that had many sea turtles. I personally did not go snorkeling, but everyone else did. To see the turtles I could just stand in knee deep water and they would just feed on the greenery on the coral reef. Pretty amazing. Emma tought every time that the turtles head popped up, it was saying 'Hi Emma.' And whenever one of its flippers popped up, she thought it was waving at her... pretty cute.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Yes, we all survived here in Kona. I do not want to understate the quake, because it was pretty scary. We woke up to the entire room shaking. It honestly felt like there was a bulldozer trying to push the place over. Then it came to me what was really happening. Being from Spokane, I wasn't too sure of what I was supposed to do... stop, drop, and roll... play dead... act big, run downhill...dig a hole... what do I do? I ran out of the room to see Mark was just getting out of the shower and said, "That was a big one." We were a little concerned because we were on the 2nd floor in the condos, but then I thought that would be better than being on the 1st floor. We had water spraying out of the hot water tank and pictures fell off the wall.
There was an aftershock that was pretty big too. Fortunately we were outside and watched the windows of the buildings near us flex around. I don't know how they did not break.
We went up to a coffee shop to see if we could get some breakfast or something since we did not have anything to eat in the morning since we had just arrived the night before. For some reason, we thought that a coffee show should be immune to power outages and the earthquake in general. I don't know why. It's kind of like know that the power is out in your house, but you still turn on the light switch when walking into a room. You know... but you act like you don't. I think those behavior are housed in the 'idiot' portion of the brain. Somewhere near the 'asking for directions' portion I would imagine or the 'remembering anniversaries.' Regardless, we were there with a bunch of other locals who had their theory on what was happening. The biggest fear was that the volcano was erupting. The other fear was that a Tsunami was well on its way. Both theories were dismissed shortly by the news that someone was able to obtain. Don't know how since all the radio stations were down as well as television. After we had some coffee, donuts, and orange juice, we were able to start thinking more rationally. So most of the group headed for the pool. I, however, unpacked my bike and went for a 2.5 hour ride.
The ride went well. The moment I got out the door, I think my body started sweating. I headed down the infamous Alii Drive where the marathon in the race goes and just about everybody seems to run or ride at least once a day. The road, that follows the ocean, is packed with people doing some form of exercise. It's even worse during the weeks leading up to the race because you have all of the obsessive personalities in one city who all feel like then need to be training all the time since it looks like everyone else is. I headed out Alii drive and then to the Queen K highway. This is he stretch of road that the bike is on. It travels to the town of Havi (pronounced ha-vee) through the lava fields. Now, when I think of a 'field' I think of a place that you could play a softball game, have a picnic, walk a dog. There is not way you could do any of that in these 'fields.' These fields are all about rock... one continuous rock that is black and absorbing all the heat from the sun it possibly can. Then the 30+ mph winds come blowing through and blow the heat right into you. There is not escaping this hair drier effect since there is not any shade either since most vegetation does not grow too well in rock. I headed out the Queen K for about 1 hour and then spun it around. I don't know how it is possible to have a headwind on the way out, and then a headwind AGAIN on he way back, but it happened.
I started to feel the sun a bit and did a quick 'tan line' check. Yup, I was darker. But being from Spokane, I knew that my body was immune from the high UV rays here in Hawaii. I was actually getting a little concerned about getting burned too badly, so I picked it up a bit. I ran into some other riders out there and chatted with them for a bit. Everyone had the same story about the race...how they have done it before... how you have to drink a lot... how they had all of the answers.. blah, blah, blah. I don't want to sounds like I know everything, because I really know I don't, but come on. It's hot, I'm working hard, and you are telling me to drink fluids? No kidding. I never thought about that. Good idea. Duh! Kind of reminds of the old Snicker bar commercial that started off with the person saying that they were hungry, then they ate a Snicker bar, and then their hunger went away. I also have that same feeling when I do that... it's called eating. Anyway, I eventually made it home and relaxed.
Most of the people that are here with us were spending time down at the pool and eventually made their way back. We all took a short nap, had lunch, and headed back to the pool for a short bit.
Tim and Kris Seppa made dinner for everyone and we also invited over Tomppa, Tulla, and Severi Soderdahl for dinner. Tomppa was the professional that stayed with us during IM Cda in 2005 who got 2nd. He is back again here in Hawaii to race this year and is looking very strong. It was great to connect with them and hear all about how their year has been going. The life of a professional triathlete is pretty tough one. They are amazing athletes that work very hard and only have a few opportunities to really 'test' themselves and make the big $$. Here in Hawaii, this is the Superbowl, the World Series, The Olympics... this is the one. So people come out here and pull out all of the stops. It was great to talk with Tomppa about his race, the course, and what he was doing before. Pretty cool. That is one thing about professional triathletes, or at least most of them, they are pretty down to earth and friendly. Jessi went out on a run today and Faris Al-Sutan (winner last year) ran up next to her and they chatted for a little bit. Crazy! Here you have the winner of the race last year, chit-chatting with the locals... and enjoying it. I think this is one of the things that draws people to this sport. If you are a pro, and arrogant, you probably have had only one good race in your career. Those guys are far a few. It seems like in triathlon, the more successful you are as a pro, the kinder and more approachable you are. Just a quick observation.
That's it for now. I'll attempt to load up some photos soon.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Due to the fact that most people are not up from a night of binge drinking, Sam was flexible enough to move back the ride time today to 9:00. He showed up in his pimped out Honda CRV with the custom neon green and pink fade paint job. However, he did not come alone... he had his entourage as well. Another fully loaded Tahoe with 4 people in it to make sure he had everything, i.e. wife and kids.
I was informed that Gregg "Casper" Gallagher would be there, but I never seemed to see him. I'm sure he was there in spirit. Rumor has it that he and Scott decided to go on their own solo mission and try and get in some serious training rather than hanging out with us hackers. I'm sure Scott just did not want to be made fun of again because he did not have a helmet.
The day started out sunny and fairly warm. As we both turned on our MP3 players the tempo immediately picked up while climbing the 8% grade out of my neighborhood. I'm sure Sam was listening to some of his music from his mullet wearing days like Motley Crue or Poison... maybe even Twisted Sister. Whoever it was, I knew they had big hair, makeup, and worse of all, they were men.
We ended up riding about the same loop as we did last week. Out towards Deer Park and then back along Hwy 2 and then out Greenbluff and then to the Valley and then home. I took a pretty hard 1 hour pull passing many roadkills including a big chocolate Lab that pulled at my heart. Always sad to see those big dogs on the road. Somewhere there is a family wondering if their family friend will be coming home. Someone will eventually have to tell them.
After about an hour, Sam went to the front after careening down a descent at about 50 mph. I sat on his wheel for about 30 minutes trying to match his pace on the climbs as he got out of the saddle and powered up them. We eventually go to the Greenbluff loop where Sam started to use some interesting strategies to get rid of me. He started throwing his CO2 cartriges at me as well as some other tools. I picked them up and we got them back onto his steed.
We completed the Greenbluff loop after narrowly missing a dump truck who seemed to think that he needed the entire road for his fat ass truck. I was surprised that Sam did not huck a full bottle at his head through the window. We were hoping that we would run into the Colbert 1/2 marathon to cheer on Kim, a Tri Fusion member, as she took on this 13.1 mile challenging course. We got the report that things went well and she kicked butt.
Argonne was next. We kept a steady tempo up it and came smokin' down the other side. We eventually go to Plants Ferry where we fueled up again and shared some stories on how we could win Ironman CDA... that lasted about 10-15 seconds when we realized that it would be easier to change the weather. We headed further east and eventually ended up at Fitness Fanatics and chatted with Robin about the bike show. Looks like new bikes are on the way... don't know if there will be one under my Christmas tree though. If you have not been out there, I would recommend that you take a visit. She has some great cool weather clothing there right now that would be great for the upcoming chilly months. I showed Sam some things that he might like since hig long johns that he was wearing under his Russel sweatshirt seemed to showing its age.
With the wind at our face we headed towards town. We eventually got to Monroe where we headed up the dreaded hill. That thing is always a bear, and you never seem to make the light at the top either. Maybe that's good to rest since you can typically feel your pulse through your eyes. But after that, it's pretty much smooth sailing. We made it back in about 4 hours, not counting the stops. The weather was perfect and I think we have had it easy this fall.
That was my last big ride before Hawaii. Now it's pretty easy going.
Thanks Sam for hanging out with me today and making the ride a little more entertaining. Not quite as entertaing as this video that Tanya (Sam's wife) gave me of him riding his mountain bike a few years back. Check out the slow motion... it's a wonder he has kids:
Saturday, September 30, 2006
The setting... Fairwood parking lot at 6:30 am, temperature 42 degrees. Though the sun was not quite up yet, it was clear and calm.
Sam was waiting for me (weird huh) and checking his wheel when I arrived. His front brake was rubbing but we were able to fix that quickly with Sam's 1000 piece tool kit from his jacked up Honda CRV. We took off and headed north on 395. The cool air only took a few minutes to make your face go numb, but after that it seemed to go fine... kind of like the swim will do tomorrow too. We hit the first few hills a little hard to waken up the legs... And awake they were. We eventually made it Deer Park where we turned east and headed for Hwy 2. On the way there we saw and abandoned full size Dodge pick up that was wrapped around a tree with law enforcement on the scene. The driver was not there, and probably fled the scene when he hit the tree late last night. Sam said that he thought the truck looked like one of his friends because of the rainbow sticker in the back window that read 'diversity.'
We eventually made it to the Greenbluff loop where I got a call from Gregg and Scott who finally got out of bed and would eventually join us in about an hour. Sam and I continued hitting all the hills on the Greenbluff loop until we finally joined up with Gregg and Scott. I did not recognize Scott at first because he did not have his helmet on. He said that he was a really good cyclist and did not need one. He said he only wears one if he thinks he might crash. He did have a fleece hat on though that made him look tough. I was feeling a little out numbered by the red bikes, but I think my carbon weave sent out a neutral message. They say red bikes go fast, so I was a little nervous.
We headed south on Argonne and hit the major climb where O' Sam a Bin Ladin pulled a 9/11 sneak attack on us and danced up the hill until we no longer saw him. We eventually caught him at the light at the top and descended down the other side where we saw him doing donuts in the intersection. Here's the video of O' Sam a Bin Ladin:
Sam decided he had enough riding with us cupcakes, and headed west on Upriver Drive.
Scott, Gregg and I headed east and went to Plants Ferry to fill up on some water... or at least I did. We rested for a few minutes exchanging muffin recipes and our favorite fall color combinations. We then contined east until Scott came up with an excuse to turn around. We needed to get back in time for his son's soccer game at Farwell. So we picked up the pace.
We exchanged the lead quite a few times and Gregg and I battled to see who would get to ride behind one of Scott's quads. Scott actually has to ride on the white line because he needs the shoulder for his other thigh.
We were making good time thanks to some hard efforts by Gregg and Scott. We turned north on Freya and started up a short climb by Esmerelda Golf course. Scott did not shift at all and got out of the saddle and grinded up the hill. I held on for dear life and started to see stars at the top... they were stars and balloons for a garage sale in a few bloks... but I was tired. We were still grouped up and out of nowhere Gregg goes flying by us at about 35 MPH. He turned to look at us as he passed to give a smile, but he did not want to lose the draft of the URM truck he was in the draft of. Fortunately we caught him at a stop sign and were able to get all back together. We were able to get Scott to his game with 3 minutes to spare thanks to some strong headwind pulls from those guys.
Gregg and I contunied to Gregg's house which took us up a hill that I have climbed a 1000 times near Wandermere that I used to live on top of. It brought back some old memories when I as a yound cyclist and would have to climb that hill in a 42x21 which was plenty. Now I found myself in a 39x25 working hard. I thought I was in good shape? Ah, youth.
Gregg refueled me with some Gatorade and PowerBars and I needed to head off for another hour by myself. I hit some tough hills but managed to make it home where I took my Recover-Ease and then had a small bite to eat... 1 bowl of oatmeal, a bagel, a pbj sandwhich, and a yogurt. Ya know, just something to get in the tummy. I ended up being out on the road for about 6+ hours, but I think I rode about 5:15. Good ride with great people who found it to be fun to ride together as a group. I cannot wait until we can all be at these rides with our Tri-Fusion clothing. It will look pretty dang cool.
Thanks to Sam, Scott, and Gregg who all made the ride happen. We all rode different distances today, literally, but were all able to at one time ride as a club. Pretty nice. Maybe next time other wil join. But make sure to eat your Wheaties, cause these work horses don't go easy.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I just got back from a little 3 hour ride that was a bit windy, but the sun was out and the temp. was nice. It was the first endurance ride I have gone on since Canada. I have done a few recovery rides on the trainer, but nothing to crazy. I wasn't really looking forward to this ride because it would be my first day out in the saddle again and the legs would probably be a little soft. But you got to get going again sometime. The days 'off' are over now. Black Diamond 1/2 IM is in 2 weeks, and Kona is in 6 weeks.
As I was getting ready to go, I decided to take some new products that I have been wanting to use in training and racing since they became available through a very generous sponsorship. One is called Delta-E, and the other is Energ-Ease (from the makers of Recover-Ease which has been an amazing product). Recover-Ease is the tiltle sponsor of the team I have raced for this year and they have been very supportive throughout the year providing many athletes with samples to try. And some of you have tried A LOT. The Delta-E is a bit more of a stimulant and the Energ-Ease is more designed to reduce cortisol exposure and increase testosterone exposure which means that Energ-Ease can help you maintain an “anabolic state” during exercise – keeping you from going catabolic and breaking down vital tissues. Ya, I wish I could come up with that of the top of my head, but that's what they say. It's the red and yellow bottle on the right of the Recover-Ease.So I took off and watched my heart rate (HR) pretty closely to see how recovered I was. It seemed like it was being responsive so I kept a pretty steady tempo. About 1.5 hours into the ride I was still feeling pretty good so I kept pushing it a little more. For the 2nd 1/2 of the ride my avg. HR was higher than what I race IMs at, yet I was feeling great and my power output was looking good too. I really couldn't believe it. I kept drinking and eating at my normal interval (even tough I should have increased it since my intensity was elevated). So in the last 30 minutes my effort was even greater and I was still feeling great. When I got back my avg. speed was high (not really an indicator of anything), my HR was a bit higher than normal, and my power output was great. I know a little bit of this has to do with me being well rested, but I don't think I have ever had a long endurance ride like this where I maintained such a high HR and still felt great at the end.
Though I need to do a lot more testing with each of these products, but with my initial experience, I think I might have found an EPO substitute. Athletes would normally not share this type of information with other athletes, but you still have to train folks, and you have to train right for any supplement to its maximum effects.
You can order both of these products on line, and if you do, let me know before you do because I might be able to get you some samples of each of them to try before you spend money on an 'unknown.'
I hope all you rides have been good ones. I know my next ride will not be as brilliant, but if it goes 1/2 as well as this one, it will be a good one.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
I know a lot of people who have the fitness to do a 10 hr IM their first time, but they don't know how to race it... they don't know their body or how it responds to that kind of stress. So they end up going hours slower and feel like they failed. Most of these people focus on one major race a year as well... the IM race they signed up for. I don’t want to sound like I am being critical of these people because there are a lot of extenuating circumstances that are often involved. But just because I drive my car around a track 10,000 times, really fast, does that mean that I will do well in a Nascar event? Does anyone do well in their first 'big' event they do? With that said, I feel that as an athlete trying to improve yourself, you need to race.
Racing is so different from training. Trainng data is great to have, but to improve your racing you need race data to assess and make changes from. There is no way you can push yourself in training as hard as you do in a 1/2 IM or IM. Certain foods/hydration may work in training, but your body may not accept them in race conditions with nerves as well as the increase in intensity. I don't think a lot of people understand this. I want a race to become habitual in terms of what the general outline of it looks like. I.E. start, transitions, congestion, aid stations, etc. I want to be able to focus on myself in a race, not a bunch of new stimulation that distracts me from my race. The only way transitions get faster is by doing them in a race, for them to become second nature. Yes, you need to practice them, but they are a bit different in a race. I want it so that when your helmet strap is screwed up, you can deal with it, not freak out and watch people leave transition before you and figure your race is over. Also, the only way you get better at getting your needs met in aid stations is by experiencing them in a race with many other people around. Just an opinion from what I have seen and experienced. I definitely do not have it figured out, but I have made a lot of mistakes and have learned from most of the mistakes that I am aware of.
In 1997 and 1998 I raced short stuff and a lot of the pacing and nutrition did not play as big a role. I was pretty successful, but as I ventured into IM distance, I look at what I knew of myself in 2003, and what I know now about training, nutrition, and racing now... yikes. Obviously more now because of the feedback I have received from training, and more importantly, racing. I think one of the biggest things that was pointed out was at Ralph’s 1/2 IM this year when I could not figure out why my HR was dropping towards the end of the bike, yet my perceived exertion was still the same or even harder. After some consulting with some amazing professionals, I determined that I was low on fluids or food. That helped me adjust my food/hydration interval a bit and worked great at Wildflower. I have been able to use that advice in other races too like Lake Stevens when I was behind in hydration going into the run (because of the crappy aid stations) and it took about 30 minutes to recover from being slightly dehydrated on the bike. My second lap of the run at Lake Stevens 70.3 was faster. I experienced something similar at IM Canada. On the run I noticed at about mile 10 my HR dropping. I knew from prior racing that I was behind in something. So at the next aid station I took in a gel, grabbed a couple more for extras, grabbed a couple waters, and took it all in. Shortly after, I saw my HR responding. That was nice to see. At that point I knew I need to increase my food/hydration to accommodate the heat and effort. I did not want that to negatively impact my performance. As long as I was taking in gels, water, Gatorade, and occasional banana, I figured my stomach would be able to handle it all. I would have NEVER figured this out if I wasn't testing myself in races. I would have just had a crummy IM Canada and wondered why. Then, like most people, I would have assumed I just needed to train more. What a waste of time. Kind of like having a flat tire on your car, and then getting a new engine. I saw a lot of people out there on the run that looked really good in the first 10 miles, and then they fell apart. You feel like helping them, but like a drunk person, probably no the best time to be giving them advice. They just want to hear that the finish is getting closer. It’s the same thing in the pool. You see people busting their ass, but doing all the wrong things. But it’s their battle, not mine. Those are the people who ‘have it all figured out’ and just can’t figure out why they are not getting faster. They think they just need to train more… keep training, you will eventually run out of time in a day.
Unfortunately these great people quit the sport because they get so frustrated. It's too bad because at one time they really loved the sport. I don't claim that I have this mystery solved, because I know I don't. I get a lot of feedback from a lot of different sources. Through it all I feel like I'm narrowing my mistakes. But I still am making them, and those are the ones that I am aware of. What about the ones that I am not? Yikes, I have a lot of work to do....
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Gosh, where do I start? I'll just give you a race day report.
I was up at 5:15 am, which I have to say is not all that early for an IM race. Jessi, Kathi, Kevin, and Emma were soon to follow with brighter eyes than me. I think they were more excited than I was at this point. It was a typical pre race morning with my typical breakfast, hydration, supplements, etc. Not too much stress at all. Our hotel was about 1k away from the start so I decided to walk.
I showed up to the race site about 1 hour before. As most of you know, that is pretty darn close to the race start from what I normally do... 2 hours. I have to say that I was not a huge fan of the race set up in terms layout. It was very difficult to get into transition, bodymarking, special needs bags, etc. The bathrooms were crazy. One line was about 30+ minutes long. I decided to walk 5 minutes so I did not have o wait at all. This is pretty much how it all went. It was finally time to get my wetsuit on and get going. I was still in the changing tent with about 15 minutes before the race. Again, most of you know this is how slow I typically move race morning. I wasn't worried at all, even though I did not know the layout of the swim start. I wondered down to the water with about 5 minutes to go. I went to where I could swim the shortest straight line and walked up to the front line. I stood there for a few minutes looking around me to see if I could find someone that looked like they would be explosive off the start. I was also looking for Sam Picicci, but I could not find him either. They gave us the 1 minute warning so I started my watch... then the cannon sounded. We were off. I have to say that it was the easiest start to an IM swim that I have done. It was kind of a water start, but you were still standing. It slowed down the 'rush' into the water quite a bit. So congestion was pretty limited.
I came out of the water 55th including the pros... which is my best 'placed' swim by far. I went into T1 knowing what to do, and left pretty quickly as well. I think I passed a few guys there as well.
As I headed out on the bike and my primary goal was to ease up the effort on the bike so I could have a better run... or as I have told people before, have my best IM run ever. It seemed like things were going well. The 1st 40 miles are pretty flat, and I was going well. Richter Pass felt great and I was feeling super. But I was having trouble getting my HR down for a bit so I decided to simply 'slow down'. So I did. Some people passed me, but I kept reminding myself that I wanted to have a good run, and if a 6hr bike was in the cards, that's the way it was going to be. I eventually found myslef in no mans land and just kept a steady pace. When I got to the next major climbs (Yellow Lake) my heart rate was very receptive to my effort, which is a good thing. The last 30 minutes or so is mostly downhill so I was able to recover a bit from th harder efforts required by Yellow Lake.
I had a good T2, and headed out on the run. My heart rate seemed a little high from the start, but I really did not feel like I was pushing myself at all, so I maintained that effort after trying to get it a bit lower. I passed a few people on the run on the way to the turn around, and a few people passed me as well. But 13.1 miles is only 1/2 the run... it's always harder the second 1/2. I was making time on some people that I frequently race against who are great athletes, so I knew I was going fine. But was I working too hard? On the way back would I fall apart? Well, on the way back I passed most of the guys who passed me on the way out. They were falling apart. I was taking in tons of water, ice, gels, sponges, whatever I could grab in the aid stations. It seemd to work okay, but there was more uphill on the way back. As I was nearing the 23 miule mark, Kevin told me that the next guy in my division was 1:40 ahead. That would be tough to close in that limited amount of time, not to mention I was tired. But I knew there was a guy behind me that was closing. It took him until the 25 mile to make his pass... but he was in a different division. But I was coming up on another guy in my division at the 25 mile mark as well. Crap! Do I make the pass now and run the risk of him staying with me? Do I slow down and pass later and run the risk of someone else passing me in the time? I decided to surge pass him and push myslef as hard as I could for the next 1.2 miles. For those that do not know the course, the last 1.2 miles is an 'out and back,' so the people in front of you can see how far ahead they are and you can see anyone coming behind. After the turnaround, I saw that the guy I passed was long gone, but there was another guy surging. He was about 10-15 seconds behind. It was time to see how those 800m intervals would pay off. I cranked it up and it was all or nothin'. I wasn't sure if I would make it to the finish at this pace, but it really did not matter. I would either hold him off, or not. But if he was going to pass me, he was going to puke doing so. Because of this high intensity effort (about a 6:15 min mile) I ended up passing another guy with about 15 meters to go... crazy. That is why I look so amazed in my finish shot. I just could not believe it.
It was my best finish time and my best swim, bike, and run splits as well. I ended up running faster on the 2nd 1/2 of the marathon than I did going out. Can't say that I do that too often. I simply had a plan and executed it pretty well. I would have to give myself an 85% on race plan execution, and a 100% on my marathon execution. It just went well.
I was finally able to stand on the stage and get an award at an IM event. Pretty amazing feeling, but not as great as crossing that line at the end... not matter what place you came in.
The spectator support up at IM Canada was amazing. I was impressed that there were people cheering for the entire 112 mile bike loop. But I have to say that I think that IM Cda, here in our own backyard, is a better run event. IM Cda is just so much easier to get around, get to athletes after the race and before the race. IM Canada made it quite difficult. We wnted to stay and watch the last finishers finish at midnight, but it was just a pain to get to where you needed to go at the finish... oh well, our loss.
I have to throw a huge thank you to Kevin, Kathi, Jessi, and Emma for their support throughout the ENTIRE race. They were told that it was impossible to to see athletes on the bike course and run course. And if you attempted to, you would not be able to get back in time to see them finish. Kathi and Jessi actually went out on the course 2 days before to see where they could get and do a little research. They went on a 4 hour ride that turned into a 5 our ride filled with stories of people telling them that, 'It couldn't be done.' They decided that these locals did not know how to watch an Ironman race and they would see to it that it 'could' be done. And done it was. I saw them for the ENTIRE bike course. From the first couple of miles, to the last few miles. They would cheer as I went by (with Emma and her cowbell) and then they would hopscotch up ahead and to do it all over again. It was pretty amazing to see and so encouraging as well. They were able to do the same thing on the run too. Obviously things move a little slower on the run, but getting to where you want to go is tough to do. I know it was a lot of work for them and a long day standing on pavement in the sun, but I know that their encouragement and cheering really helped me get to where I needed to be.
There is so much to the IM Canada story, that is just too long to write, so if you are interested in where we stayed, the swim, bike, run course, layout, where we ate, the closest Starbucks (only one in Penticton that just arrived 2 years ago) what to do and not do, etc., let me know. For he first time being up there, I think we did a pretty good job getting higs all dialed in... especially where we stayed.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Since so many of you are 'bragging' about your foot accomplishments, I thought I would throw mine in the mix as well. My second toe on both feet is slightly longer than my big toe (some call it the smart toe, but it never helped in school) which creates some problems when getting shoes sized right. So I normally have a large callus on both feet. And when that finally lets go, I start over with blisters. However, I think I had a fold in my sock at Troika and the 1/2 marathon created a couple blisters that look tough. Then on my 18 mile run last week, things only got worse. Oh well. It makes it tough to wear flip flops (though I am still fond of the old term 'Thong') when your feet look like some STD... not that I have ever seen or had one. Ahh, the life of a triathlete.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
This morning was the first (hopefully of many to come) of the Sunday Starbucks Swims. Jessi, Emma, Kathi, Kevin, and Paisley all met at the Starbucks at 5 mile at 8:00 (Bests arrived at 8:30, but they are always late :) ) and drank a little coffee and then headed out to Medical Lake for an open water swim. The water temp. was perfect for wetsuits and not too cold either. We all swam at least 1.5 miles. It was a hoot to all be out there and enjoy a lake where you don't have to worry about anything but the other swimmers in your group. Boats are not allowed on this lake and it's a pretty big lake too. So I hope we will be able to make many more visits to this venue. I hope others will be able to join us in the future. I'm sure people had 'good' reasons like not wanting to get wet and all, but maybe next time.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
This weekend I, along with Jessi, Emma, and Kathi Best, will be heading up to Ironman Canada in Penticton BC. I have never raced this one before, and I am looking forward to it. I can't say that my training has been 100%. I have this looming event in late October that just seems soooo far out. So I have been taking it a little easier this summer after IM Cda. After I secured a slot to Kona, I felt a lot of pressure for IM Canada gone. So, I have to figure out what I am going to do up there. First would be to finish. Always easier said than done. But I would like to go a little easier in the swim and the bike this time and have a faster run. The last 3 IMs that I have done have VERY similar marathon times. In 2004 the two I did were 4 seconds apart. This year in IM Cda, it was about 30 seconds slower. I should be able to have a better run if I come off the bike a little better and start running easier miles from the start. You always feel like you are doing that until about mile 15, that's when the mile times seem to start falling apart.
Last week we sold our boat. It was hard to see it go, but we just were no using it. Even when we would go up to Diamond, we would end up going out on the boat with John. It's hard to believe that we used to put 200+ hours on it each year. This year, 4. Those boats are meant to be driven. When they are not, you start to have problems. We have had a lot of great memories on that boat. We got it when Jessi and I first got married. It was something that we both loved to share together. We made a lot of new friends too because of a common love for watersports. It's not to say that we won't get another... just not this year.
So, since we don't have a boat to haul, no need for a big rig. So we sold the Excursiona and bought a Subaru Outback wagon. Mark will tell you it was so we could be like him. Regardless, I love it, and it's fun to drive.
We will be heading up to Canada in the Subaru Outback. Not too sure if we will be taking the trailer or not. We might get one of those roof boxes... who knows. It's quite a bit smaller than the Excursion, but it's pretty fun to drive.
We recently had a garage sale too. Boy did we unload some stuff. Just about all of our watersports gear, and a lot more odds and ends we do not want to store. Nice to start to get rid of that suff that has been being hauled from house to house. I'm sure we will regret it and have to go and buy it again... oh well.
That's about it from here. I really will attempt to do a better job keeping things updated. Maybe more on training and racing. But there has not been too much training lately. Canada will be a great test.
Monday, July 17, 2006
IM Cda is over and in the history books. It was a good race for me overall. I don't think it ever goes 'perfect.' There is so much to do right and pay attention to that you always mess something up. Regardless, I was able to walk away with a Kona slot. That was the objective so I guess I was successful.
Many have been asking if I will still do IM Canada. Yes is the answer. These races are so great (and expensive) it's hard not to do them when you have the opportunity. I don't see Kona as being a race that I plan on getting a PR at, but it's one that I think everyone needs to do first before they have some crazy ambitions of winning it the first time. The wind, heat, and humidity is something that you can not replicate. Especially here in Spokane in mid October. So I do not see IM Canada having any huge negative effects on my race in Kona. Canada will give me more knowledge about my body and race strategy.
My training the last 3 weeks have been sub par. We spent a week up at the lake over the 4th, and then went down to Tahoe for a family reunion. Since I have been back, I have been getting the bak yard into shape since I think it was being overtaken by weeds. Some were getting pretty tall and I was not sure if I was supposed pull it or use the chainsaw. That took a few days, but it looks pretty good now. I think I have been able to get in 2 swims, 2 runs, and 2 bikes since IM Cda. So it's been a nice break, but I have some work to do now to get ready for IM Canada.
I am racing lake Stevens 70.3 this weekend. That should be a good 'wake up' as to where I am, and where I am not. You can't really fake that distance. But I think I have a good race plan and relly need to stick to it since my fitness may be lacking a bit. It should be fun since we have friends going over to race there too. It will be their first 1/2 IM which will be a good experience.
After the race, we will be going to the Ocean to visit my folks who will be camping there for a week. I think we will be there for about 3-4 days. Hopefully my training will not suffer. We always have a great time there and we are looking forward to this year as well.