Monday, November 12, 2007

Treasure Island Race Report

I’ll keep this short…

I went down to do the San Francisco Treasure Island race for a few reasons. One was that it’s a pretty big race and attacks some great competition, two it was also an ITU race so the big pos, like Hunter Kemper were down there, and three it was a multi loop race with lost of turns which meant it was going to be a technical race. The reason I want to get as much experience on thee types of courses is because that is what the ITU Worlds course will be like in Vancouver… 10k, 4 laps, lots of turns. So I wanted to get a feel for what that would be like.

Since there was an oil spill on Wednesday that dumped about 58000 gallons of oil in the bay, pretty close to Treasure Island, they went ahead and cancelled the swim… or were told that they would need to. That started my mental wheels turning on how they would handle this situation. Would they start us at 3 sec. intervals like they do at Memphis in May, or would it be a mass start bike (unlikely), or would it turn into a pure duathlon with a 5k run then the 40k bike and then a 10k run? That was what I really wanted to know. The fact that they cancelled the swim did not bother me all that much, it was truly out of their control. But how they were going to deal with this was what I was concerned about.

So they decided to go with a sort of duathlon that incorporated a true swim to bike spirited T1. So what that meant was that in my wave (35-39) we started at the swim exit with just out race suit. No socks, cycling shoes/running shoes, helmet, etc. It was pretty much how you would come out of the water without a wetsuit. I wore my sunglasses, so I guess that is not what I ‘normally’ wear out of the water, but they did not say anything.

Before the start I really went through in my mind how I would handle this race. I think that really defines people in the athletic field as to how they can deal with change. The ability to morph or adapt to a new set of constraints. It was no different than not getting the ‘ideal’ transition spot. You figure out how you will make the best, and take advantage, of the spot you get…. or if you miss a bottle at an aid station, you figure it out. But obviously this was not ideal to have the swim cancelled, but how could I still make the most of the situation and not lose time because it was ‘different?’

I walked through the transition area and tried to figure out the ‘flow’ of it the best I could. Taking note of the Bike Out, Bike In, Run Out etc. I needed to know this very well because transitions in this race would be very important. When they take out 20 minutes of a 2 hour race, seconds become even more important. Though they always try and arrange the transition area to be ‘fair’ we all know that it never truly is. Wherever you see the pro transition area, that is the fastest area. I think I had a good spot, but the younger age groups (I’m no longer in the ‘younger’ category) definitely had an advantage as to where they were. Those of you who race Valley Girl know exactly what I am talking about when you see people who have their gear inside the swim area and those that are out on the road. There is no way that those two areas are equal… not even close. But I knew that I am capable of being pretty swift in short course tris so I felt good about that.

It was about time for the start of my race so I got lined up. It was a tight area to line up in since it was the exit archway of the swim. Not ever really designed for a race start. I ended up being in the second row. I even tried to squeeze my way to the front, but it was packed. I was already figuring out how I would get in front of all these people because I ‘was’ going to be in front. The guys in front of me seemed pretty set on being there, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they would be fast from the gun. The gun went off and we were on our way. Buy about my 3rd stride I could tell that I was going to get by these guys. Running bare footed on rough asphalt when it’s 50 degrees never really feels all that good, but when you are in a race, it feels like you have shoes on to me… never even noticed it. I ended up leading the group into T1 and was in and out. I was the first out and I would imagine about 8-10 seconds ahead of the next person. Mission #1 accomplished. Now on to the bike…

Let me first give you an idea of the setting. This race was on Treasure Island… and old Coast Guard base. I think it’s been shut down for a long time, probably because of the bad roads. The roads we used were somewhat, no not somewhat, they were horrible. We used sections of parking lost, roads that we patched and re patched, roads that would make Spokane roads look like newly paved highways. I was honestly a little nervous for my bike… not wheels, but bike. The course had about 20+ corners per lap (6 laps total so 120 times going through corners). The race was split into age group and gender waves which meant that even though I might be in the lead, I felt like there was always someone in front of me because there always was. So as I left T1, I was in the lead. But once I got out on the course I never had open road. There were many times that I would be going into corners very fast and be coming up on someone that was taking it easy through them. There were times that I had to roll the dice and times I had to brake and use the few seconds for recovery. It was a war zone. Even on the straight flat sections you had to watch out for people because they would swerve erratically to avoid a pothole or bump and not pay attention to anyone around them. There were people riding 2 abreast and chatting. I passed people on the left, right, in between, through corners… any way I could. There were times that I was going 30+ mph and praying that people would not swerve. You really had to be aware of everything and make predictions and estimations. So bike handling was paramount. Having been a fairly competent criterium racer in my younger years, really paid off. I knew in corners where people would go most of the time base on their speed. I also knew some ‘escape’ areas that I could go if I misjudged a corner and people. I definitely pushed the envelope. It was the last race of the season, I have all winter for road rash to heal and fix my bike :) There were a few close calls, one cone hit, and I saw 4 people on the side of the road waiting for medical support (not because of me). It was a very intense race. I guess I could have slowed down and it would have been fine, but it was a race. And in races, you go as hard as you and the course permits.

No one passed me on the bike, so I knew that I was in 1st in my age group. But I had no idea as to the other age groups. So every second was still counting. I went into T2 fast and exited just as quickly. The run was a fairly flat out and back three times. Kind of boring, but you knew if your pacing was consistent or not. My first couple miles were a little rough. I had some tension in my stomach, nothing crazy, but it was bit uncomfortable. I eventually burped a couple times, and it was all better. Mile 3 and 4 went smoothly and I was ready to pick it up for 5 and 6. I started running faster and was watching my HR as to not go too hard right away. I made it to the final turnaround and was heading back. I was itchin’ to ramp it up, but I did not want to have to slow down before the finish. So slowly I went a little faster and faster until the final 400 meters where I opened up my stride and finished strong. No one passed me in the run either so I knew I was in good shape in my age group but it looked like there were some pretty fast guys out there on the run ahead of me from other age groups.

As time passed, they finally got up the results and I found out that I won overall. Nice! The guy who was 2nd was about 30 seconds behind. He ran quite a bit faster, but I was 3 minutes faster on the bike… thank goodness. My transitions were quick overall as well. Some people don’t understand the importance of transitions in short course racing. But when you lose a place by 3 seconds, or the entire race by 2 seconds, it hits you between the eyes. Just like in IM, nutrition is HUGE… in short course, transitions are HUGE.

So a good way to end the season I suppose. I don’t know if having the swim cancelled helped or not, but it was what it was. You race the race in front of you. You can’t dwell on what you thought, because that does not get factored in when the results get posted. Races change all the time, just like in life, and you need to adapt.

I have to thank Nick and Marissa Tuttle who drove me around San Francisco, let me stay at their place, took me to the good places to eat, and were a huge support during the race. It really takes the stress out of traveling when you don’t have to figure out how to get somewhere. During the race, Nick was out on the bike course and run course cheering me on like it was the Olympics… it was awesome. Then after the race he bought me a pop and hot dog. That was better than any award… I had my trophy and ate it.

Nick hung out in the rain to watch the ITU race with me and then stayed for the awards as well. I can’t say that it was ‘easy’ to do because it was not all that nice out. But Nick was always offering help, carrying stuff, getting the car… he was awesome. We finally were able to go and get some dinner at a great hamburger joint. I had this big hamburger with a giant plate of fries, and even a chocolate malt. Just what you need before getting onto a plane. It was a great trip. I left Spokane at 2:30pm on Friday, and was home at 9:30pm Saturday. So I think I got a lot done in about 30 hours.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Kona Race report... well, part of it

Here is the first part of the race day report. I was typing it on the plane ride home from Kona on Sunday, and then got tired, as I'm sure you will too when reading it. 2nd installment will be coming soon.

Well here I am on the plane coming home from Hawaii. Yup, it’s the red eye. I had my ginger ale and I have seemed to get some necessary energy to remove the computer from the bag and get typing. I have to say that I am in the most uncomfortable seat in the world… the middle. I don’t know how we can have about 15 plus people we know on this plane and I end up in the middle, after racing Ironman, for a friggin’ 5+ hour flight. What did I do wrong? Regardless, the time will pass and we will eventually be in Spokane.

I did not get to give a race report, so I thought I would get that going first… not that anyone cares, but it allows me to reflect and be honest about it with myself.

I got up, as normal and all things seemed to go fine… breakfast, pills, etc. Jessi was going to drive Ben and me down to the race start to be there at about 5:45. Greg came along to with his camera... or was it that the camera came along with Greg? I joke with Greg telling him that his camera can get him in to a lot of places just because of how big it is. I guess it’s the lens. I’m not sure if he’s compensating for something, but it’s pretty impressive. He took some early shots of Ben and me and after Jessi dropped us off near the race site, Greg followed us to body marking. I think I have mentioned this before, last year, but body marking in Hawaii is ‘official.’ That is they use these specific stamps and there are about 4 people per person doing all the numbers. It’s a pretty serious thing. On a side note, I always find it a bit humorous that no matter where I put my tattoos (temporary sponsor ones) they always seem to find a way to purposely cover hem with the numbers. I wonder if they do it on purpose, or if someone told them how much it pisses me off and they just keep doing it to get a good laugh in the bushes.

After the body ‘stamping’ we headed to transition. There were about 50 volunteers (no joke) lining the way to the transition area. There was not way that Greg was going to be able to get in without a pass of some special ‘band.’ So we parted our ways. I got to my bike, aired the tires, got my nutrition set up on the bike and in my bags, and was feeling pretty solid about how things were going. Just then I looked up and saw Greg taking a picture IN the transition area. I started laughing asking him how in the world he got in there. I thought it was so cool, but I also knew that is was nothing short than an act of God to get him in there. So it was another nice face to see in the pre race transition area. I am sure he got some great shots that I hope to see sometime.

As the start was getting closer, I figured I needed to dump my clothes and bag so I connected with Jessi. It would be the last time I would see her and Emma before the race. I always feel like a kid on the first day of school and my mom sending me out the door. But I always like to get a kiss from them and Emma normally always says something sweet. This time she said to ‘beat all those guys out there.’ Kind of a tall order, but I figured it was a pretty good goal… short lived.

I eventually made it down into the water and swam out to the start. Last year I started a little too far back and too close to the buoy line. So I got pretty beat up for how fast I swim. This time my goal was to swim a little more conservative and potentially come out a little further down, but with a less stressful swim. So I lined up what I thought to be the middle of the line more in the front. Probably 2nd row. I looked down the line and realized that they extended the start line much further down and now, once again, I was pretty close the buoy line which would mean another stressful swim. But there was nothing I could do because the start was near and I felt good where I was in term of being in front. The officials on the surfboards were paddling back and forth to make sure that people stayed back. But this was like the line awaiting the open of the doors of Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving. It did not matter who you were, what you were on, or what you said you would do, this anxious group was going to go. If you got in their way, you would get run over and that was just part of the game. Kind of like a mob mentality.

The officials were getting a little anxious and I saw one guy turning his board towards the course and yelling at the other guys saying that there was 2 minutes to go… very anxiously. I thought something was up, not too sure, but something. In about 1 minute the cannon went off and anarchy ensued. Here we go.

That start went well. The typical panic in some, people going the wrong direction, over the backs of your legs, arms hitting you in the head, etc. It’s a little crazy but I know that people are not intentionally doing this, for the most part, they are just trying to do the same thing you are. And when people breathe to their left, and you are on their right, they never see you so when they tend to ‘drift’ into you, they never knew you were even there. But I will also say that it gets pretty annoying when the same person keeps hitting the top of your head over and over.

We finally got out to turnaround and started heading back. I was able to get some clear water from time to time which was nice. I really felt like a ping pong ball. I was just bouncing around quite a bit. But more importantly I was trying to stay calm. If some guy wanted where I was that bad, I would let him have it… pretty simple. It really was not worth it to time. But I also held my ground as well. You can tell the difference from a jerk and people just swimming and bumping into people.. I ended getting out of the water in about an hour… 1:00:54 I think. Ironically Ben got out about 20 seconds ahead of me which is hilarious because we always seem to get out in the same time in the Ironmans we have done. In IM Cda we came out at the 1.2 mile mark one in front of the other. This is never planned. We don’t start in the same place, we just end up finding one another in the race… pretty funny really. So after I came out of the water and grabbed my bag, I saw Ben in the T1 tent and sat right across from him and got my stuff together. He left before me, but we pretty much mounted our bikes at the same time (my shoes were on the bike).

I knew that the bike would be a tough leg today with the lack of sun cover and the winds. But I also wanted to get going and get the intensity going. I could always rest later. This bike leg was no different from last year’s. Lots of packs out to Hawi, and officials giving out drafting penalties. I like to see the officials out on the course and ones that are actually being active in assessing penalties. I understand that there are times that people are simply in a tough spot, but there are plenty of other times that it’s so obvious. I finally made it out to Hawi. That last 20 miles to Hawi (miles 40-60) it was such a tough head wind. Most of this section is uphill too so it made it a little more difficult than normal. After making the turn, there was a bit of a tailwind, but it was also downhill which made it a very fast section. I was pretty much spun out for about 5 miles… probably less, but it felt like forever. The wind was a bit of a tailwind but also coming from the side. The gusts would hit you and body and bike would lean about 30 degrees. It was pretty crazy, but you just had to keep going and not lose speed because of wind.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kona Update #2

Okay, here I am trying to get another log done here. Where was I… maybe I should bring you up to speed on what has been happening since Tuesday. I spent some of the day recovering and was able to get out on the road. Jessi I and went for a short run and ended up running into myself. Yup, me. There were 2 HUGE banners of me on Alii drive. It’s kind of a ‘rear angle’ but it’s pretty impressive. I would say that it’s about 4 feet by 10 feet tall. It was a shot that was taken last year during the Ironman Activewear shoot. Now I am in 3 places throughout the island. And I guess there is one in Europe that is 4 times as big. Nice to know I am famous where I am not. It’s pretty amusing to see that each day. 2 of the banners have been moved to the Ironman Village at the entrance. At the end of the athletes parade (parade of nations of sort) we were walking by it while people were taking pictures in front of it… random people. Mark decided to yell out, “Hey, see that picture, that is this guy right here!” It really did not cause much of a stir since people are not necessarily ‘moved’ by triathlete celebrities. Especially when you have people like Mark Allen, Dave Scott, Norman Stadler, etc. here that people don’t really seem to ‘flock’ to either. Heck, even the Bachelor is here… what’s his name, Andy? Anyway, I seem to see him all the time walking around with nothing on but shorts. I would suspect that people would run up to him and ask questions. But no one really does. I don’t think the triathlete culture is really star struck by famous people. In the last few days I have swam at he same time, and around, Norman Stadler, Chris McCormack, Desiree Ficker, Michellie Jones… and the list goes on. Desiree actually gave Jessi and me a pair of goggles and a cycling jersey. She was pretty nice. I was out on the Queen K riding the Kuota on Wednesday and rode with Chris Lieto and his brother Matt (who I raced against at Blue Lake), did I already tell you that? Most all of the pros here are very approachable and willing to ‘chat.’ But there are a few that I find less than approachable. Ones that I know their names, but I will let you make your own judgement when you meet them. It’s kind of sad when these elite athletes look down their noses at other athletes. To me, this is a time that their personalities should shine. They should do all they can to connect with people when the time arises. This is their sport, we are the people who actually ‘know’ them. They should take advantage of this and network with people and make themselves available to chat. Take an athlete like Natascha Badman. She smiles and says hi to everyone. She is one that seems very approachable and, as a result, gets the most media coverage regardless of her placing. IF I were a sponsor, that is the person that I would like to endorse. Not some snobby pro that only wants to talk with other pros. That does nothing for the sport. Enough of the negative rand…

This morning was the underpants run. If you want to know what this is, look at Jessi’s blog from last year at this time, or even in August of this year when we were up in Canada at the underpants run up there. But in short, it’s a fundraiser that people run about 2k in their underwear. So you can only imagine what people pull out the stops to do. This year Jessi organized a Tri Fusion theme that consisted of red boas for the girls with coordinating black panties and red tops. The men wore black underwear and red afro wigs. We all had Tri Fusion tattoos and man did we make a scene. Ben Greenfield helped the case a bit sporting his tuxedo type thong… yes, the butt floss type. Ironically, Ben seemed totally comfortable wearing this, and I honestly think he was. There were so many cameras and video cameras taking footage of us that I honestly started to wonder what in the world was going on. Kevin Best came a bit late and said that all he could her was someone yelling ‘Tri Fusion from Spokane, Washington.” And Kevin could not even see us. He said that he knew where we were because ALL the cameras were pointed in one direction. That was, at us. We got interviewed by Greg Welch (which should be on ironman.com tonight (Thursday, Oct. 11th). Then we were interviewed by Inside Triathlon, and many other foreign reporters. It was absolute chaos. It was funny, because people like Michael and Amanda Lavoto were there, the Bachelor was there, Michellie Jones was there, but no one was really paying any attention to them. It was all about the red and black, and the boas and red afros. I think those shots will be all around the world. They even interviewed Emma for crying out loud.

On a little side note, I do find it quite funny that people want to take pictures of our group, on their ‘personal’ cameras. You you know darn well that they are not interested in anything but the mid sections and crotches of all the people. I mean, be honest hear. They always say smile, but you know that the camera is cropping off all of our heads and going straight for the crotch. I could go straight downhill from here, but I will stay straight here. It was fun, look for the pics on www.tri-fusion.com in the gallery.

After the underpants run, Jessi and went to a PowerBar brunch that athletes that are sponsored by PowerBar are invited to. I went last year and it was pretty cool. Great food, lots of swag, and about all the PowerBar products you could possibly stuff into one bag. It’s nice to see and meet some of the pros and amateurs that are supported by PowerBar from around the world. They truly ‘wine and dine’ you. Once again, you definitely find those that are more approachable than others. I know the ones that I will cheer for, and ones that I will save my energy on.

So, that brings us to current day… for the most part. Whew, finally. I seemed to have written a lot, but I have limited detail. More detail in future entries. I will hopefully share my viewpoint of this race, as in what it means to me. It sure has been a lot of fun being here with so many friends and family. I don’t know how many other times I will come here, or want to race here, so it’s been a real treat. Nothing bad meant by that, or ‘shock’ statement, just thinking out loud. I mean, how often do you get to go to the Superbowl and then get to play in it as well? It’s a real honor and blessing. Thanks to all of you who have been part of the journey.

Kona Catch Up #1

It would be just like me to wait until half way through the trip to start writing about it. I have good intentions, like Jessi, to blog each day… to email my class to let them know what is going on, and to check in with people while away. But the reality of it all is that you get caught up in just relaxing and hanging out with friends and family. Then, all of a sudden, it’s time to go home and all the visions that you had of documenting this amazing trip. So here goes my attempt in ‘catching up.’

The trip started off a little rough with me getting a bit behind on my sleep the preceding days. On Tuesday, of the week leading up to leaving, I had a Staff Council meeting at 8:00am, before children arrived. That same day we also had a ‘Principal half Day’ at school which required us to be at school until about 7:00pm. So, it was a long day that did not allow for too much prep for the trip. Then on Thursday the entire 6th grade heads out to Camp Reed for an overnight. So, yet again, a night sleep of about 4 hours after all the little ones are asleep and then needing to get up in the morning a bit earlier. That day, after being in the cold and a bit of rain started to b ring on what seemed to be a bit of a cold. That night I spent much of the evening coughing. But I thought I would rebound, and I did not want to miss Camp. That takes us to Friday, the day before we leave. Still need to pack AND make lesson plans for the week I will be gone. Fortunately Gary Berven will be taking care of my class so I know they will be in excellent hands. But I still have to make a few plans for that week. That leads to another night of about 4 hours sleep. We finally get on the plane and all things seem to go pretty well. We are traveling with some pretty great people that make the trip a bit more fun and easy to manage.

We finally get into Kona with all of our bags. After getting all the rental cars, stopping and getting food, and unloading the car, it’s about 12:00 Hawaii time… that is 3:00am Spokane time. Needless to say, another night without much sleep.

We wake up (actually Emma wakes us up) Sunday morning to the beautiful sun lit hillsides and crystal blue Pacific Ocean. It really does not get much better than this. It was already about 75 degrees and the AC was blowing cool air. Even though I was excited to be here, and looking forward to a relaxing few days, I was definitely sick. Sore throat, congestion, coughing… all the signs. Fortunately I had an appointment to see PZ Pearce about some other issues in regards to preparation for the race. So I was able to throw this in as well. Champions Sports Medicine (PZ’s business) is an amazing sponsor of mine. They have been so supportive all year long in helping out when my body needed it the most. So it was great to have them here in Kona as well to give me a little extra hand. I ended up getting on a Z Pac (antibiotic) that should knock out anything bacterial in the next 4-5 days. Even if it was viral, it was worth the chance. He checked out some other tings as well, but this definitely got me going down the right track.

Tuesday brought about a better day. I think I could feel the antibiotics taking hold… or maybe the ease of conscious that there was something that would be helping. I was able to get out and go for a swim and a short ride too. I actually ran into Norman Stadler’s manager and stirred up a conversation with him that led to him offering for me to ride the new Kuota Kueen K… the one that Norman will be riding on Saturday! This bike has not even been released yet. I will be the 3rd person to ride it. So of course I do it. I take it out on the Queen K. For a rear wheel it has the Zipp 1080… yes that is right, the 1080. There are only 2 wheels like this made in the world. One for Michellie Jones and one for Norman. I am riding a wheel specifically made for Norman! I don’t think he will be riding this wheel because it has too much flex, and that is why I was able to. Oh well, I’ll take it :) It was a pretty amazing bike. I do really like it and would not mind racing with it. I don’t think they spent as much time on the components as they should have, but they are pretty good. But the frame and the R&D that went into it are pretty visible. But you can read all about that on line. I took it out and the thing just flew. It was set up a lot more aggressive than my bike, so it was a little uneasy to ride, but fun to ride as well. Don’t really know how it would be after 112 miles, but for about 45 minutes, it felt pretty fast an fun. I heard from Norman’s manager today that Norman rode 60 miles and averaged 26 miles per hour. That is Wednesday… the week of the race. Norman is out doing 26 mph rides! Are you kidding me?

Gotta hit the sack. I will continue my update tomorrow and will hopefully bring you up to date.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Black Diamond Race Report

Black Diamond Race Report

This was, and will, be the last race leading up to Hawaii. Kind of interesting that we all use the work ‘Hawaii’ to refer to Ironman World Championships in Kona. When in reality, Hawaii is much more than that. Anyway, Black Diamond is a ½ Ironman in the Enumclaw, WA area. I raced this event late year, but they have changed the bike course quite a bit… shortening it and taking out some major climbs. But the rest, was pretty much the same.

Jessi, Emma, and I headed out from Spokane at about 6:00pm for the roughly 5 hour drive. Should be about 4.5, but with Emma, we always make one more stop. We eventually got in to our hotel a about 11:00pm, unloaded, and got ready for bed. Emma has not been feeling too well the last day or so. She caught a cold/cough from somewhere, and sounds like a seal from time to time. At night is normally when it happens. So, at about 2:00am she started coughing. Jessi decided to take her out to the car and try and get some sleep in there. I did not even realize that she did that, but when I woke up, they were gone. Jessi will probably blog about her experience with Emma and the car later.

I got up at about 6:00am… which was nice. Normally Ironmans and ½ Ironmans start so early they warrant a 4:45am wake up call. But this race started at 9:00am. Kind of late for any race really. I had my traditional breakfast and stated getting ready to load up and head out. Jessi and Emma were already in the car. Jessi looked like she slept about 30 minutes and Emma still was coughing from time to time. Regardless, we had to get to the race site.

Upon arrival, we found out that we could not park in the parking lot since it was ful. I knew about this beforehand, but I tough 2 hours prior should be enough time… it wasn’t. Jessi dropped me off with all my gear and went to park the car. It’s always nice to go to some more ‘local’ races because you see so many familiar faces. Obviously at this one we had a bunch of Tri Fusion members (about 30 in all), but people from all over the state that you have come in contact with. Right when I got out of the car, I saw Ben Bigglestone. I formally met Ben last year at IM Cda at the B70 tent. He is one of B70s key guys and is a wealth of knowledge. We have become good friends over the year and always seem to have a lot to talk about when we run into one another. As I was talking with Ben, an old friend from Camp Reed said, then another person that I raced against last year, then another guy who wanted to know about PowerBar… the list goes on. You will see why I point this out later in the report. Ben also encouraged me to race ‘Elite’ today rather than as an age grouper. He said that he was the only one at this point and did not want to start all alone. So, I obliged and then roped in Ben Greenfield and Chris Blair to dot he same. That way we would have at least a few people.

So as I am setting up my transition area, I keep running into people chatting with them. So many great people and often people you don’t see very often. I also think this I what people do when they are nervous… talk to people. As time kept ticking away, I still did not have my transition area really set up. I had a bunch of crap all over the place but nothing where it should be. There was about 15 minutes left before the start of the race and I realized that I was no where near ready for this race. I started to scramble, getting on my skin suit, trying to find my gels, finding my race belt… this list goes on and on. All of a sudden there is 5 minutes before the start and my wetsuit is still on the ground. Anyone will tell you that I am not the first one down to the water, but this was ridiculous. I was actually nervous at this point. I finally got most of the things where they needed to be except my gels that I could not find. When Jessi zipped up my wetsuit I told here to throw some gels onto my towel so that I could at least have a few. She was able to do that, since in T1 I saw them there. I did make it tot the swim start on time, but only because they were running late. I think this was a sign that I was not really in the ‘zone’ for a race. I think the 5 days leading up to it where I did not workout at all should have been a sign. Or was it that I did not register until the day before, or get lodging the day we left… hmmm… things sure start to add up.

I headed to the start where I saw some people, including Jessi, Mark W., Daryce W., and the like laughing at me and my frantic state yet still maintaining composure like, ‘Imenat to do that.’ I got in the water with the other ‘Elite’ athletes. Ironically Adanam Jensen, the only pro in the race, was not racing Elite… hmmm, another sign of a dysfunctional day.

The horn sounded and off the 5 of us ‘Elites’ went. I took off pretty hard and lead most of the 1st lap wondering why no one would come by. Ben Nigglestone eventually did and then we all made a wrong turn and had to be redirected. Not placing blame on anyone, juts one of those things. As we continued the 2nd lap, things started to get a bit crazy with lapped swimmers (2 lap swim), and trying to figure out where in the hell we were supposed to be going.

Finally I exited the swim, behind Ben B., and Ben G. But we all met up in T1. I was able to scramble through T1 pretty east. But I have to say that I just did not feel ike I was ‘racing.’ It was more like a training day with some friends. I figured this would soon end.

I got on the bike with a it of an elevated HR and watched my power output and wanted to keep that in a certain range. I watched that super closely the entire time. I let people go on the bike and ended up catching a few in the process. It did not help that I had to pee on the bike which took a little time. And, no, I did not actually pee ON the bike. Even with my many years of cycling and bike handling, I have never found a great deal of comfort in peeing on the bike. I think I have too much respect for my bike as well as those around me. So as I strategized ‘where’ I would go, I was thinking maybe on a down hill? Maybe on a flat, a corner.. But I figured the best place would be at the top of a hill where my speed would be at the lowest and it would be a great place to recover. Business taken care of. Jessi actually came around the corner to see me, and I think she was a bit worried initially when she saw me stopped. But she just waved.

I eventually got into T2 feeling pretty good. I took splits at the 28 mi mark and the 56 mi mark and saw that my HR, speed, and power were all identical. Pretty cool to maintain an exact split for that distance. That is what I wanted to do. So I guess that was good. But in the process I let people go that I normally out bike.

T2 was fast… one of the fastest of the day. But since I had to pee again, I had to stop at on of the port-a-potties right outside T2. I started off running pretty smooth reeling in a guy that sprinted by me going into T2. I felt good, and felt like I could maintain this pace for quite a bit. I was about 8 beats above my LT, but I thought I would no be reaping the rewards of a conservative bike. Things went fine, but at mile 8 I started to feel a bit more tired in the legs. My HR dropped a few beats, but I was still pushing it pretty well.

With about 2 miles to go I realized that I was in the middle of nowhere. The person in front of me (Joe Byers) was about 3:30 ahead, and the guy behind was about the same distance. Hard to really push yourself when you know that the difference in placement really did not matter if you ran a 7 minute mile or a 9 minute mile. I still ran the faster, but it really did not matter.

I came in 5th overall, and felt pretty good. Legs were a bit sore from the run, but it felt more like a good workout day. I think I knew that it was going to be like this when I started. I was not really mentally prepared for this race. I just went and ‘did it.’ You never get your best results when you are not passionate about what you are doing. But it also allows you not to go and do something stupid.

The challenge here was trying to determine if easing up on the bike set me up for a better run. Or, by going a bit easier on the run I put myself too far outside of the race itself. Tough call really. It sure was nice to get off the bike feeling like I could run well above my LT for all of the run. Heck, I think I did for the bike too. And the swim, I’m sure I did… I normally do. So, though I was sick, I did 4 hours and 30 minutes at above my LT pace. I guess that’s good. I stayed on top of my nutrition, but still feel like I floundered a bit in the run in terms of nutritional intervals. But the temp. was cool, so that helped.

I cannot end this without mentioning the amazing support I received from Jessi and Emma on the bike course cheering me along. No matter how many times I see them, I never get sick of it. Jessi knows me so well… she knows when things are good, and too good, and when things are simply tough, maybe too tough. But that makes it even more worthwhile to see her out there. And Emma, are you kidding me? Ask anyone, she cheers better than just about anyone I know. How many 4 year olds do you know that will spend 7 hours out there cheering people on. Even people that she does not know. She shakes her cowbell, hands out water and gels to people at aid stations, she tells people they ‘look good,’ to ‘keep it steady,’ that they have a ‘nice pace,’ to ‘keep it up.’ She obviously has been around the best cheerleader in the world… my wife.

So, need to reevaluate the race plan for Hawaii. But before I do anything, I need to get well. No training when I am sick. Unfortunately this is ‘the week’ to get some good quality in before Hawaii. I am so stressed… wait, no I’m not. It’s just Hawaii.

See you all in Hawaii!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Trip and the Race... well, part of it.

We headed out on Tuesday with Kathi and Kevin Best following along as we took the maiden voyage with the utility trailer all decaled up with some of my current sponsors. I could not believe that the trailer could hold all that stuff and still had a bit more room. Our goal this year was to bring all the food we would need so that we did not have to buy anything up there since the dollar is weak and Canadian goods are so much more expensive. We were a bit worried about getting over the border with all the food, but they did not even want to look in the trailer and let us through. Otherwise we would have to sit at the border ands start eating a ridiculous amount of food.

We got to our condo just fine but ran into a slight room problem since they ‘thought’ that we would want to show up on Wednesday even though I had told them Tuesady. So we got into a fine room, but would have to move to the one that we stayed in last year the next night… no problem.

Wednesday was a beautiful morning and we were able to get things unpacked and situated. Kathi and Jessi did a phenomenal job making this condo like home… or at least the kitchen. We were set in all regards. I really appreciated all the work that they did before leaving up there so that we did not have to scramble and get things while we were up there. It sure made things run smoothly. They really took care of us athletes too making sure that we had enough food, the right food for meals and plenty of it.

Wednesday evening I went for about a 30 minute run that felt great. I ran along a river that flowed between the two lakes in Penticton. It was beautiful and still quite warm. I wanted to run easy, so this was a great place since there was not anyone around. When I got home, dinner was about ready and it was perfect. Another fine meal that hit the spot. As the evening progressed, I started to feel a little ‘stomach sick,’ but I figured it was from the run or something and would be gone tomorrow.

When I woke up Thursday, my stomach really hurt. It felt similar to when you spend a little too long at the bars the night before. Almost like I could not stand up straight. I still had a small breakfast of some Koshi granola and bran flakes. Afterwards I went for a swim. I swam for about 30 minutes and the swim itself felt fine. When I got to the turnaround point, I stood up and noticed that my stomach was still a bit bothered. I started talking with a guy and during the conversation I actually thought that I was going to puke. Nice first impression. So I swam back, grabbed some Recover Ease and retired to the bed where I would stay for about 7 hours. I tossed and turned and felt like I had the flu. I tried drinking as much water as I could, but as you know nothing seems to go down easy when your stomach is upset. After about 6 hours I noticed that I had started to break a sweat, which I thought was good. I started to feel a little less nauseous, which was a welcomed feeling. At about 6:00 Scott Ward showed up with his son Mitchell and that was when I got out of bed. I helped move his stuff in and started moving again.

The Bests and Jessi showed up shortly after Scott from the store and some vineyards to get dinner started since we would be having all the Tri Fusion people over for dinner. Which consisted of the Piciccis, Wyborneys, Bests, Thompsons, Scates, and some other friends of people. Of course, all kids were welcome as we had quite a dinner. During the amazing chicken and flank steak barbque, there was a 5k run that went right by our condo so we went out and watched. There were some pretty fast guys ad then there were some that… well… weren’t. There was a group dressed up like Kiss, and another guy running in a Speedo that should not have had one in his drawer. So it was quite entertaining. Though it was a great time with great people and food, my stomach was not feeling any better. It was constantly cramping to the point I was sweating when it did. We ended the evening with Scott taking the kids down to the ice cream parlor that was right below our condo. Very convenient. We stayed up for quite a bit and talked but knew that we need to hit the sack.

Friday was the last day to register so regardless of how I felt, I knew that I needed to get down there. I went down there to find no line and went right on through. Only bad part about being a bit late was that they ran out of labeled swim caps so I just got a plain one. I never really understand that. There are 2800 participants which means you order 2800 swim caps. No rocket science here, just common sense.

I also when for a ride with Kevin, Kathi and Jessi. We rode up to Summerland at a good pace. I was watching my power an heart rate and all seemed to be good there. Now if I could just get my stomach dialed in. I turned around after about 30 minutes so that I only rode for about an hour. Jessi, Kathi and Kevin continued on for a bit to ride about 2 hours.

Saturday started off with a good swim and a day of rest. I got all my gear together after a bit and took it down to transition at about 3:30pm. I also registered for the 2008 Ironman Canada as well. They allow athletes this opportunity and it seems like a pretty good option. I went home and relaxed. I ate some of Kathi’s spaghetti pie and consumed a ridiculous amount of fluids. Later we had dinner and then called it a night. Sunday morning would come soon, and sleep was pretty important. The status on my stomach was better, but it was still cramping and quite gassy… which Jessi can attest to.

Race morning came at 4:30am. No matter how well you sleep, it’s always early. I woke Scott up and we got our breakfast. Shortly after we got up, everyone else did too. Though they were not racing, active spectating requires you to be ready to go in order to get to all of he right spots on time. Lots of strategy is involved in doing it right. And let me tell you, these guys do it right. They go out on the course the days before to determine when and where will be the good spots to be. They know the intervals at which people are from one another, and they use all the technology they can to get updates from people who are watching from home on line to get placings at intermediate split checks along the way. They are the best. And they don’t just follow one person… they were following about 8 people. So as I left them at the condo, I know that I would see them again soon.

I have to say that I really like the support at IM Canada and how Penticton really embraces the race. But, let me also say that I don’t think I have ever been to a race that is more difficult to get around the start/finish area even for athletes. It’s pretty frustrating. I stood in a bodymarking line for aout 25 minutes… way too long. Someone eventually got a marker and started to hand it back in line to allow athletes to mark themselves. So finally I was out of that mess.

I went to my bike and made some necessary changes to my fueling and added a couple things to my transition bags. Other than that, I was ready to go. I started to change into my wetsuit with about 20 minutes before the race. But I also knew I would need one more bathroom stop. So with about 10 minutes before the race, I found myself in line for a porta potty. Not the best place to be, but the way my stomach was feeling, and cramping, I figured this would be a necessary stop. I was in and out and out and needed someone to zip my suit one last time. After that, I headed down to the water with about 5 minutes before the official start… plenty of time. I walked to a place that I thought would be an ideal spot for me and went straight to the front. As I was standing there, I saw Sam just a couple people over from me. Always nice to see a familiar face in such a huge race. This was going to be the largest mass start Ironman in history at about 2800 people. I definitely did not want to get in the wrong place in this start.

The cannon went off and I took off like it was a 400 meter swim. It was perfect, not a person around, I was moving forward, and feeling good. I eventually merged with a small group and swam with them the rest of the way. I did not feel as if I was working all that hard. I just settled in focused on my form and finally made it in. I swam a good swim for me at 56:17. I think I was 44th overall including pros. So I am anxious to see where I ended up as an age grouper.

T1 went fine. I tend to take a little extra time there to make sure that I am taking care of things I need to pay close attention to… like nutrition. I want to make sure that I get everything so I don’t end up getting out on the bike and find out I forgot something

I took off on the bike and was happy to be on it. It’s always hard to think that you will be on this darn thing for 5+ hours, and yet it feels so good in the first couple hours. I really paid close attention to my SRM powermeter. My heart rate (HR) was a bit high, and it normally is after coming out of the water. But I kept at a wattage that was well below my lactate threshold (LT). So even though my heart rate was bit high, the wattage that I was producing was well below my LT and therefore I should see a drop in my HR in a short bit. Regardless, I knew that my body was no longer creating more lactate that my body could not buffer at the wattage I was producing. But as the time clicked by, my HR was not dropping. I decided to trust the watts instead of the HR. A pretty aggressive decision, but it seemed like a good one.

I was flying by people. I think I caught all but one, maybe two, female pros before I even got to Richter Pass (45 miles ish), and they started 15 minutes before us. I passed Heather Fuhr early on in the bike and I wasn’t too sure if that was a good sign or not. Normally when I have been deep into the pros on the bike early on it meant that I was riding a bit too hard. I wasn’t sure if that was the case here or not, but I continued on. I ended up maintaining the same wattage on the climb up to Richter. I was still feeling good and staying in control I thought. I was on top of my nutrition, but my HR was still not stabilizing where I thought it should be. I crossed the first timing mat and was in 1st in my age group. I don’t know where I was overall, but I was definitely up front. After the 11k rolling climb up Richter, (a few false flat sections), I started to notice that my stomach was cramping. Nothing crazy, but it needed some relief. I knew on the backside of Richter there was a pretty long descent. I should be able to soft pedal down that and get thing back in check. Nope, wasn’t able to do that. There were some severe headwinds that dwindled what should have been a 45 mph coast, to a tempo paced pedaling yielding about 22 mph. No much of a rest. I stayed focused and continued on. No people passing me, and I did not understand why. I felt like I was crawling.

After I got to about the 60 mile mark things went from uncomfortable to bad. I started taking in gels and then immediately throwing them back up. I would imagine that anyone coming from behind would think that I had a really bad congestion problem because when gel comes back up that quickly, it just looks like snot. I bit sticky though. I knew at this point that I was in a bit of trouble. Low on energy, no fuel, cramping stomach, about 50 miles to go, and a relentless headwind. Not good. At about this point I did see Jessi, Emma, Kathi, Kevin, Jennifer, Natalie, and Greg which was nice to see. Unfortunately when you are in the mental and physical state I was in, it really I hard to respond to the cheers. You just want to get to the end of the bike.

At the aid stations nothing sounded remotely good. I knew that I needed something in my body that would actually stay down. So I went with the old standby, bananas. Not a lot in them, but they were staying down. I was able to muster my way up Yellow Lake (another major climb) and then started the descent into Penticton. Normally this downhill is a nice, high speed descent for about 15k. A good rest before the marathon. But, luck would have it that it was another headwind all the way down. It was so severe that I passed a guy with a disk wheel (he passed me up Richter) that had one hand on his aero bars and one hand on his base bar to maintain stability because he was getting blown all over the road. I could definitely feel the wind. Even with my 808s, I was getting quite a bit of turbulence. I can’t imagine what the lighter women were experiencing. I ended up passing quite a few people coming into T2. I came into the tent in 31st place including all pros. Not too bad really, but when I got off the bike I cold hardly stand up. My stomach was so cramped up, I just hunched over and walked to my T2 bag and sat in the tent. It was at that point that I needed to think about what was going on. As I was being aided by a volunteer as he dumped out all my gear and was organizing it for me, I told him that I thought I was probably done. I don’t think it really registered with him, but he eventually went to help someone else and then eventually came back to see how I was doing. I asked if he could go and get my dry clothes bag. He said that he wasn’t sure if he could or not, but he was able to and I just kind of sat there watching people come in and transition. I was able to see Scott and Martin, but that was it. I guess Sam transitioned out in the field. I was hoping that they would all have great races, but I knew my was at its end. I have to say that it was pretty fun watching people come through and take off. There were some very interesting techniques.

After I got my dry clothes bag was able to call Jessi. Never really thought about ‘needing’ a phone in my transition bag, but glad I had it. They were still stuck in traffic but were on their way in town. I know Jessi felt really bad and wanted to do something, but there really was nothing to do. I just needed to get out of there and get some food in my body that would stay down. I thought I would just walk back to the hotel room and take a shower. While I was in transit, Emma called and left a message for me on my phone that was basically saying that she hoped I was okay and that my tummy was getting better and that they were on their way. It made me cry to think that I would not have the chance to carry her across the finish line this year. I really did not know how to explain this to her, or even if I did, if she would understand it. It was hard enough for me to drop out of a race (first one ever), but even harder to think that it might have disappointed her day as well.

I ended up staying in the T2 tent for about 45 minutes before I left. I saw quite a few familiar faces. But I eventually had to do the ‘walk of shame’ out of the transition area and out of the race. It’s pretty hard to get outside the ‘arena’ of the race. Once you are in it, you pretty much have to come across the finish line. So I went to Mike Reiley (the voice of Ironman) and he opened the gate and was able to let me out. I’m just glad he did not say, “Roger Thompson, you are not an Ironman!” Kind of funny, but a little depressing too.

I eventually got back to the condo and was able to shower and get a little food in. Shortly afterwards, the crew arrived. I was able to hook up with them and we went out on the course to cheer everyone along that was still out there. As we stood at the 22 mile mark, I found it difficult to watch those people who were finishing in the tops of their age groups come by… the same people I was substantially ahead of going into T2. It’s amazing how much better we feel when we are on the sidelines. But I know I was only fooling myself thinking that I would be up there running that fast.

It was great to see my fellow Tri Fusion friends and be able to cheer them along. It was great to see them all: Martin, Sam, Scott, Keats, and Vicki. I could tell all of them were digging deep and were determined to get to that finish line. I think Vicki was the only one with a smile on her face. The American version of Natasha Badman.

We hustled back to the finish line to try and catch them finishing, but missed a couple of them. No matter where or when you finish an Ironman, you always feel like you won the whole thing when you come down that blue carpet. It’s a phenomenal feeling, and one that is well deserved when you accomplish the distance.

We eventually saw everyone in the park after they finished. I knew they all pushed themselves way beyond what they probably thought they would that day. I knew Sam dug really deep after seeing him in a mild form of shock after the race. I know this race was an important one for him and he left it all out there.

The benefit from racing is that you always learn something from it. No matter what happens, you walk away with a new knowledge about yourself. Some good, some bad. It’s what you decide to do with that knowledge that advances you forward, or potentially keeps you from reaching your goals.

We eventually went to have dinner at a place that was on the run course at the final turnaround with bout 600 meters to go. We ate there for about 1 hour and saw people making that final turn to home. It was pretty inspiring seeing the determination of all the people out there. Some were running, and some walking. But one thing was for sure, they would finish this monumental task. I applaud every person out there that finishes one of these events. Whether it be an 8:30, or a 16:59.59. You overcame so many obstacles that stood in your way not only in the race, but in training as well.

I have to say a big Thank You to all the people who were there supporting me on Sunday. From those out on the front lines at the race, to those people at home texting Jessi and calling her with splits, results, and support. I know that not all people can make it, but it truly does mean a lot to me that you care. When I cross those timing mats, I know that it sends a little ‘hello’ from me to all of you that are waiting to see how things are going on-line. I knew that there would be great question when I did not get a T2 split, but I figured you would contact Jessi and she’d let you know.

In the condo Jessi, Kevin, and Kathi sure helped to make the trip fun and easy. They prepared all the meals. Jessi and Kathi planned all the meals beforehand which made each meal so easy… well, for me anyway. No worrying about where we would eat and the menu. All that was taken care of before we even left. And we even got it all across the border. Nice! Kathi sure said some kind words to me as well after the race that really helped me out. Though she has never dropped out of a race, it seemed like she knew what I must have been feeling.

And to my dear wife Jessi who was there for me and knew that this was not an easy decision, but kept reminding me that it was the right one and not to ever second guess it. She reiterated that there really wasn’t a choice, this is what you had to do. It’s always hard, but when you have the support that I did, it makes its palatable and allows you to learn and look forward.

So thought this race was not necessarily a ‘success,’ I learned far more than if I would have PR’d it. A lot about me, and those around me. It’s the mental aspect of all of this that is tough to train. And that is what was tested on Sunday.

Thanks for reading. I hope you always come away from every race you do with something new about yourself beyond what place or time you got. Sometimes you have to look deep. And other times it is right there in front of you. Because it’s often the people right there in front of you that you learn the most about.

Thanks to all of those that helped to make this an amazing trip. It’s truly one that I will never forget.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Post IM Canada

Okay, I know it's been a little bit, and most of you know the story, but I will post a full race report from my day soon. I really appreciate all of your kind words on my last post. Thanks for those, they really brighten my spirit.

School started up the day after we got back from Canada and we have been unpacking and getting our rooms ready at Brentwood. Know that I am not 'hiding' and not wanting to tell you all the details. I just want to make sure I have enough time to do a quality job.

I am looking forward to Kona now, and I hope to have a better performance than I did last year. And I was pretty happy with last year's race.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Getting Better In Canada

Saturday, August 25th.

The Day Before Ironman Canada

This morning I found a little more relief from the stomach tension I have been experiencing the last few days. It's definitely still there, but not quite as frequent or intense. I know I can tolerate the pain in the race, but my concern is the absorbtion of fluids and nutrition when racing under tough conditions. But there is really nothing I can do but take care of myself and rest. If I cannot get fluids and nutrition in, I'm pretty much dead in the water. A boat without gas is simply driftwood.

According to theweatherchannel.com it is supposed to be a high of 71 degrees and about 10mph winds. Morning is supposed to be about 55. So conditions look pretty good from my perspective. I wish they were a bit cooler with a little rain, but it should be good conditions for a long day of racing.

The support up here has been great in terms of friends coming up and supporting the 8 Tri Fusion people racing. I'm excited to see them all out there tomorrow whether it's from the top of Richter, or from a car, or from a road side bitro. A familiar face that knows you name is always welcomed.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow no matter what happens. There is a lot of work, time, and sacrafice that goes into one of these days made by so many people. I think I am 'blessed' and it is a true 'gift to my life' that I have such amazing friends that would take time out of their vacation time to come up and join us in this day of celebration. And to think that Kona could be even bigger? Yikes.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not Feeling So Well In Canada

Thursday, August 23rd

So I woke up this morning with a bit of an upset stomach... nothing crazy, but not perfect. When I woke up I went for a swim at about 9:00am and it went fine. Nice to get in the water here and stretch it out a bit. But when I got back I was a bit dizzy and my stomach was not feeling all that much better, actually worse.

I walked across the street to our condo to get some breakfast. The whole time not feeling great with a headache and feeling like I spent a little too long at the bar the night before. I eventually decided to retire to the bedroom where I would be for about 6 hours. Nothing ever felt good, and I just could not get any food or fluids in. So I stayed in bed and tried to get some sleep, but I was just way to uncomfortable. I finally broke a sweat, and started to feel a little better.

I still have a bit of an upset stomach, but I hope that it's on the mend. Better today rather than Saturday I guess. But I hope to be back at 100% Sunday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Okay, I'm Back!

So, what has been going on you might be thinking? Well, I'm not going to rehash what has happened because it would take way too long. But in brief, this is where I am at in regards to my triathlon racing, here we go:

March:Oceanside 70.3
I have done this race a few times and it’s always humbling for a Pacific Northwesterner to go down to the warm climate of Oceanside and pull off a good result. But I always come away with a new found knowledge of where I am, and where I need to go. The swim down at Oceanside is a bit confusing with so many age group waves and the general course layout. So I am pretty happy to come out in the top 5% of my wave there every year to get on the bike. This would be my first year that I would be racing my new Felt DA. It performed very well. It felt effortless and I came away with my fastest ever bike split down there taking off about 12 minutes off my prior bike splits with less effort. My run went okay, but not comparable to my bike. I was disappointed with my 19th place finish, but it was early and it definitely let me know what I needed to work on.

Whitworth Sprint Triathlon
This was an early season sprint race that was a lot of fun. I was able to test out my new bike on a short technical course and see how it would perform in race conditions… it worked very well. This was a very technical course since it was 13 laps of a 1 mile course. Very mentally challenging not only remembering which lap you were on, but staying mentally sharp for the corners and other participants on the course. I ended up coming away with the overall win at this local race. Great training for future short course events.

Spring Thaw Duathlon
This was a great duathlon that kind of starts off the multisport season for the surrounding communities of Spokane. A great turnout with some great competition. It’s definitely a runners course, so you get some great runners there as well. I seemed to have a good race there setting a new course record and winning overall. Another test to see that my speed was still there… even though it was pretty painful.

Napa Valley Half Ironman
This race was a great test for me. I wanted to work on my Ironman pacing and try out some new nutrition and intervals for it. I had a great swim, a super bike, and a solid run. I ended up severely cramping on the run at about mile 9 in my right calf, but I was able to maintain an ‘altered’ running gait to finish the race winning my age group and coming in 2nd overall to professional Gordo Byrn.

Blue Lake
Blue Lake was a USAT Olympic distance race that was a Tri Northwest Club Championship as well. There was a large turn out with a couple professionals in attendance as well. The race went pretty well for me. It was the first Olympic race that I had done since ITU World Championships in 2005. I love that distance, and my body seems to adjust well to it too. I ended up having a phenomenal bike split (fastest of the day) followed by a strong run. I ended up winning my age group and placing 2nd overall to Matt Lieto. A very competitive field so I was very pleased with my fitness for that distance since I have been focusing on Ironman and half Ironman races.

Trailblazers Sprint Triathlon
Another great local sprint race that brings out a lot of great competition. A very fast course. I jumped into this one at the last minute. I was not sure I would do it with it being only a week out from Ironman Cda. But what the heck. It’s a race that would be less than an hour and it was a great opportunity to see a lot of the local athletes and find out about how their season has been going. Everything in this race was strong and felt solid. Again, my bike was perfect. I ended up winning overall.

Ironman Cda
The day started off like all the other days this week… windy. The fortunate part is that the temperature was a bit cooler. Almost unseasonably cool. It felt more like a fall morning than a summer one. The past 4 Ironman Cdas have been so incredibly hot, that this was a welcomed change. But the wind was not welcomed by most. I loved to see the wind on the swim. I was actually excited to get started. It was going to be a tough swim.

Everything was set in transition and ready to go. I had mentally gone over the race over and over. But no matter how many times you check and re check, you seem to think that you will forget something.

Before the swim start, they announced that athletes could opt out of the swim. People choosing this would not get age group awards or qualify for a Kona slot, but in case anyone was afraid that they would not be able to swim in the conditions did have an alternative. I like this announcement because it was letting all the athletes know that the water conditions were as bad as they looked. It instilled a little more fear in the participants, and the overall feel of the day. Me… I was excited! I love chaos. I love tough conditions. I love it when the course may be considered ‘dangerous.’ Bottom line it’s water, there are waves, and you swim. If you have been swimming in a pool for the past year, this may be a little more than you would want to see right now. But I was actually really excited for this race to start.I started on the front line in a spot that looked like to me was a straight shot to the first turn. But when you are looking at about 750 yards out, everything looks like a straight shot. The wind was moving the markers a bit, so I just wanted to be sure that I knew where I was going because when your head is in the water with those waves pounding against it, sometimes it’s tough to spot.The cannon went off and the race began. I took off pretty hard with a shorter stroke count to battle the consistently larger waves. Kind of like riding in a smaller gear and spinning up a hill. I went about 200 yards and then started to look around to see who was around me. It did not seem like anyone so I started to wonder if I was going in the wrong direction. Soon I started to merge with the rest of the masses on the buoy line and things got a little tight. But it soon settled in and the typical bumping was going on. Nothing to unusual, a couple flagrant grabs here and there, but nothing that really screwed me up. As I rounded the 1st lap of the swim, it felt good. I did not know my split, but I was definitely in a front group. The second lap was a pretty easy swim to settle in to. My only problem in the swim was when we came up on some slower swimmers that we were ‘lapping.’ I ended up getting more upright and pointing my toes more erectly downward which cramped up my calves. This happened 2 times, once to each calf. It hurt so bad that I had to start kicking with my foot at a 90 degree angle to my leg for a bit… kind of like wearing a hiking boot. Not the best form, but with my Blue 70 suit on, it did not seem to impact me too much with the leg flotation. But it was pretty painful and a bit nerve wracking. I was a little concerned about the impact this would have on the rest of the day. But for the time being I needed to get done with the swim and get on my bike.

I ended up coming out of the water in an hour and a few seconds. My slowest wetsuit legal swim to this point. But considering the conditions, I thought it might be good. I later found out I was 60th overall which was good. So the course must have been slow, or the conditions made the course slow.

I had a pretty good T1 and was on my bike quickly. The air was cool, but the sun was out and I knew the day would get warm. I had my race plan and nutrition pretty dialed in. I was going to stick with the same, or similar, plan as the one I used in the half IM in early May. My intensity zones (HR) were adjusted for longer distance. I had a lactate threshold test done a few days prior at Champions Sports Medicine by Ben Greenfield to determine exactly what my body could do. For the first 45 miles, things felt good. The bike felt effortless. I wanted to make sure that I was not going too hard early on (common problem) and then pay for it later. I kept monitoring my effort and HR. I was breathing through my nose, felt like I could hold a conversation with someone… all the signs that things were good. I was all by myself on the bike. I almost felt like I was on the wrong course. I was in 14th place overall by the 34 mile with one of the fastest bike splits, and I felt pretty good. But I was noticing that my stomach was feeling a bit ‘gassy.’ I could not figure out what was going on, but I decided to stick with my nutritional plan. After about 30 minutes more, my stomach was feeling worse and I started to notice a decrease in my hydration interval. My heart rate started to drop a bit and my intensity was still feeling the same. This all tells me one of two things: More food or more water. But nothing was going in really well. I knew I was getting behind on nutrition and my race was starting to suffer. From about miles 45-65 things were rough. I felt like this great ride I had established was going to start falling apart. I rolled through Special Needs on the bike and grabbed my bottle that I had planned to and made a bathroom stop. After leaving the Special Needs section I was not feeling like things were doing any better and I started to try and figure out what was going on. At about the 80 mile mark I decided to abort my nutritional plan and go with the one that I have used in the past that was more gel based and water. But that this point in the race, I was way behind. I did not know how far behind, but I was definitely going downhill. I started feeling a little better with about 15 miles to go on the bike, but things definitely were impacted from my lack of nutrition. But the bike was over and all I had left was a marathon.

I came off the bike in 18th overall and had a fast T2. As I started out on the run, I wanted to make sure that I did not go out too hard. I figured if I stayed at 8:00 miles, I would be in good shape. I started off slow for the first 2 miles but still found myself at 7:30 miles. So I eased it up a bit more. My stomach was feeling sour and I just wanted to throw up or something. I thought that if I had to run 26.2 miles with my stomach like this, it was going to be tough. My mile times started to drop and so did my HR. I knew what I was experiencing was again a result of improper nutrition on the bike and now it was impacting me on the run. I made it through the 1st lap okay, but I was getting slower and slower. At about mile 18, things just went from bad to worse. My calf that had flared up in Napa that I had been going to PT for since was getting tight. I walked through the aid station and went to run again and my calf said no. I knew that I could potentially do some serious long term damage if I were to keep pushing it, so I was limited to a walk. Not the best situation to be in at mile 18. To walk 8 more miles was going to be long. Fortunately at the aid station I grabbed a couple fists full of cookies and a couple cups of water and Gatorade. I wolfed those down like the true Cookie Monster. I ran into some friends on the side of the road and chatted with them or a bit. I could have stayed there all day, but I figured I should get going if I was going to finish by dark. After about 3-5 minutes I started walking again. I walked about 2 miles, through a couple aid stations before I attempted to run again. The run actually felt better than the walk, but I was not going fast. I think I was at about a 10:30 or so. I finally reached the turnaround at Bennett Bay and was happy to know that I was heading home. I continued to run and was going to try and run the rest of the way back hoping and elevate my pace. My stomach was feeling better and felt like I finally had something in my stomach to work off of. I think that the cookies (though not the best for quality calories) had calories, and sugar, in them that my body needed. I think that by consuming so many calories and walking for a bit allowed my body to absorb the calories and get caught up. I got the mile 23 and started drinking cola and running harder. It was feeling pretty good… well, as good as you every feel at the end of a marathon. With about 1 mile to go I elevated my pace a bit more. I really was not noticing anyone cheering. I was pretty much in a zone, and not necessarily a good one. As I approached the turn to the finish, I was happy to watch all the people continue to the second lap. I made the turn to see about 400 meters to the finish. A beautiful sight with a slight downhill grade. The bad part of this sight was that there was a guy about 75 meters ahead of me that looked like he was in my age group. Now I have always said that by running faster, or sprinting, in the last 200 will not make up time, but it will make up places. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to close this gap but I elevated my pace a bit more and started striding out a bit. I could tell I was closing on him, but the finish was approaching fast. The crowd was cheering louder and louder sensing me, the guy from behind, might just pass this guy. Since this happened, he turned to look back and see what people were cheering about. When he saw that I was closing in, he increased his pace as well. Crap! The finish line was getting closer and closer. I was in the better position to close, but did I have the kick to do it. As I was running down the stretch, I was a lot of familiar faces cheering their hearts out. It really helped me out. As I got close to him, with about 125meters to go, I saw that he was 27… not in my age group. But I had worked so hard to get to where I was. It would be silly not to attempt the pass. I got up next to him and he elevated his pace one last time. We were now approaching the stands and the finishing arch. I took a deep breath and let it fly. I got by him pretty quickly and he pretty much gave up and settled back in to his original pace. I looked back to see that I had a pretty good gap on him so now it was time to celebrate in the finishing stretch. I have always said that of all the areas to ‘run fast’ this was not the area. The final 40 meters is all about you. The crowd, he announcer, the banners,… it’s all there and I think it’s so important to absorb this. But I could not go from a 6:30 pace to walking. So I spun around and acknowledged the crowd and ‘high fived’ both sides as I came to the finish. It always feels like you won the race here no matter what place, or time you come in. It’s just the energy.

So though my run did not go very well to put it mildly, I still came in at 10:15. Not too bad for that course, but bad since my swim was a 1 hr and bike was 5:09. That leaves over 4 hours for the marathon. Yikes! Slowest marathon ever for me. But it also goes to show you that perseverance does pay off. I was able to get a Kona slot because my age group got 10 and 3 did not take them. I was 12th in my age group so I ended up getting one. Whew! I was really thankful of this because in the race I figured I was at about 30th in my age group. The difference between 12 and 9th was about 4 minutes. The same amount of time that I stood talking with some people on the run after I started to walk at mile 18. You can always look back and find places where you ‘could have’ made up time. But it does not change the outcome. So it was nice to get this taken care of here. I will still race IM Canada and hopefully put together a good race up there. I had a great race there last year, so that might be tough to top.

After Ironman Cda I did a couple more races to prepare me for the Regional International Championships in Federal Way. The importance of this race was pretty big. It was a qualifier for 2008 ITU World Championships in Vancouver Canada. I really wanted to get there, but you needed to win your division. More on that later. But before that I did a race in Helena Montana 2 weeks after IM Cda. Here is my report on that race:

I raced this race back in 2005 and it went well after swimming off course and having a sprint finish with Adam Jensen in the last 200 meters. I wanted to test my fitness after IM Cda this year to see where I was and was not. The race went well. I swam on course, biked fast and had a solid run. I was disappointed in my run time, but knew that I was still recovering from IM. I ended up winning overall there with a similar time as 2005 when I was specializing in that distance. So I was happy about that, but not ecstatic.

After Spring Meadow I race Tiger Tri in Colville, WA. Nice race, and we had a ton of peoplr from Tri Fusion up there. We ended up getting the top 4 overall in that race. Pretty cool. Here's my brief report on that event:

This quarter Ironman race that is always tough and brings out some of the faster athletes in the area. I won this race in 2005 and was looking forward to another good race here again. It did go well, but not perfect. I had some ‘volunteer’ difficulties in both transitions that cost me about 40 seconds. But the race goes on. I had a great swim coming out 10 seconds behind the lead swimmer, my bike split once again went very well, and the run was steady. I ended up getting passed by the eventual race winner with about 1 mile to go. He beat me by 17 seconds so that lost time in transition haunted me a bit. But that is just the way it goes sometimes. Better here than at Worlds.

Two weeks later I would head off to my next 'A' race, Federal Escape. A bit longer of a race report, but here goes:

Federal Escape Triathlon- 2008 World’s Team QualifierThis was a race that I have had my eyes on for about a month. I really wanted to race ’08 Worlds which will be in Vancouver Canada. It’s so close and such a HUGE race. I really wanted to attend this one again. Since USAT Nationals were the week after IM Cda, I knew that I would not be in good form to race an Olympic race, and do well, that soon. USAT offered 8 regional qualifiers for ’08 Worlds to fill the remainder of the team. Our regional qualifier was Federal Escape. Only challenge, you needed to WIN your division. I have had some great results throughout the years, but I don’t think I have ever gone into a race saying that I was going to ‘win.’ I normally know it’s a possibility, but I just want to race my best. And if I do that, normally things fair well.

There were a few guys that I saw on the race confirmation that were fast. One guy who can run 10ks in about 33 minutes. So I knew I would need to have a solid day with everything going right. My goal was to get an ITU slot… that’s it. I knew that would mean going hard from start and to finish without any mishaps. The swim went very well. A lot of bumping, positioning, but nothing out of the ordinary. I came into T1 with some familiar faces from our Tri Fusion club, Ben Greenfield and Joe Byers. That was good to see since they are very strong swimmers. But already out of T1 and on the road was professional Chris Tremonte over 2 minutes ahead.

The bike course was a very technical course. It was a 4 lap course with about 9 turns per lap. Congestion could be a factor as well as maintaining speed. I took off on the bike and started to reel anyone I could in. I maintained a steady effort and power output. Ironically, as the race went on, my heart rate dropped and my power output and speed increased… that’s good. I had not clue where I was overall in this race by lap 3 since there were so many people on the course and you did not know which lap anyone was on. Jessi told me I was in first, but I did not know by how much… but it really did not matter. All I knew was that I needed to keep going and push the bike to gain as much time as I could over these phenomenal runners.

I came into T2 alone. Always a good sight to not see any bikes in T2. I took off running a solid pace letting my body settle in and get comfortable. I ran the first 5k in about 18+ minutes. For me, a solid 5k in an Olympic race. Jessi could not tell me how far 2nd was back since she had not seen him. She knew it was more than 50 seconds. I picked up the pace on the second lap a bit to give it what I could. I was now seeing more runners on the course that were on their 1st lap. I wanted to get past them so that anyone that was chasing me would have a tough time finding me in the mix. At mile 4 I elevated even more, and then again at mile 5. I knew the last half mile would be a tough one, so I was prepared. I knew that I WOULD NOT get passed with a half mile to go. I was pushing it harder and harder and saw the finish line in sight. Jessi said that she could see him now, and to not let up. I knew he would have to run about a 3 minute mile to close the gap, but Jessi just did not want me to slow for anything.

I ended crossing the line and winning overall. I secured my slot for the 2008 ITU World Championships. I was so excited. In the process I beat one of the fastest short course pros in the Pacific Northwest. It was a great result for me. Possibly the best race of the season so far. I have not seen the official splits yet, but I know that solid splits in every leg played a role. My swim, bike, and run all went to plan. I have to give a little extra credit to my bike split since I know that is where I gained the most time. This course definitely favored a technical rider… thanks for that.

So after Federal Way it was back to increasing volume again to prepare for IM Canada. It would be a tall order, but thinking 'I Can't' is not an option. I was in this same position last year going into IM Canada. That is, having a Kona slot and punishing your body again in another IM. Well, I don't think you can ever 'just do' and Ironman. I would like to be the best prepared to have a solid day. My goal again, as it is in every IM, is to race a smart race and have things come together. I never expect to do anything unexpected, just do what I can and not have things out of my control influence the end result.

I have been using an SRM Powermeter since Tiger Tri and I had some testing done again with Ben Greenfield at Champion Sports Medacine and Pacific Elite Fitness. We were able to corelate my power thresholds with my power outputs. Hopefully this will help out in my pacing in IM Canada and eventually Kona. I hope to be able to ride a little easier, and smarter, and then have another good run as I did last year in Canada. I like to look at what I did on the bike in the races I have a good run in. If I have a crappy run, I really don't care what I did on the bike because I probably went too hard and my un suffered because of it. But I do think that IM Canada has a pretty fast bike course, so I hope to have a faster bike than I did last year because I really think my overall bike splits have been faster. But I will be watchin my effort and watts and really give any interest in my speed or time.

I have to give to shout outs to those people and businesses that have been behind me thus far.

Julie and Shawn Talbott at Wicked fast Sport for proving Recover Ease that has allowed me to train hard day after day. As well as Energ Ease that gives me that little pick up to train and race with (http://www.recover-ease.com/).

PowerBar for all their amazing products that make racing and training meld together and keep me well fed (http://www.powerbar.com/).

Ben at Blue Seventy for getting me into the fastest wetsuit on the earth. Sure makes the swim not only easier, but faster (http://www.blueseventy.com/).

Ben Greenfield at Pacific Elite Fitness for helping me with my training as well as LT testing and nutritional support. He really takes the ‘guesswork’ out of it all and allows me to focus on going fast (http://www.pacificfit.net/).

Alex and Natalie at Ironman Activewear for keeping me comfortable and looking good in their clothing during the race and training (http://www.ironmanactivewear.com/).

Molly at Rudy Project for keeping my head safe (and fast) as well as providing protection for my eyes that looks amazing too (http://www.rudyprojectusa.com/).

Robin at Fitness Fanatics for supporting me with my bike and many other triathlon needs at her shop (http://www.fitfanatics.com/)

PZ Pearce at Champions Sports Medicine. Dr. Pearce has provided the facility for my testing and also aided in getting my calf injury identified to get the proper PT for it. Nice to have the best sport med doctor in the world here in Spokane (http://www.champsportsmed.com/).

Craig Hemmenway at Apex Physical Therapy for giving me the PT all the way up to race day. Without that, I know I would have been in trouble (http://www.apexpt.com/).

Cheryl and Gordon Fagras from Cee-Gees for getting me the best hydration system available. All my fluids stayed in my aero bottle, not on me. Also for the most comfortable aero bar pads. I felt like I could go forever (http://www.cee-gees.com/).

Tri Fusion, the most amazing triathlon club in the world, for all their support in training and then again on race day with the cheering and support on that tough day (http://www.tri-fusion.com/).

Also all my friends and family have made it out there to cheer me on. Some have been there at every IM, some that get to the races they can, and some that will be there for the rest. I appreciate all of you encouragement throughout the year as well as race day. It sure makes the race feel like you are in your won backyard.

Emma, who cheers as loud as she possibly can and shakes her cow bell for everyone. He cheer, ‘Go Daddy,’ is what I reflect on whenever times get tough.

And finally Jessi, who was not able to be on the sidelines again this year because she was racing as well. I love the fact that I can see her out there, but I missed her all over the course as well at IM Cda. But I think I love it this way too. She is the one that really makes it possible for me to do any of this. From meals, shopping, mental sanity, sacrificing her sleep to train at 4:00am, to making sure Emma has a sitter when we have a conflict in training times. It’s amazing to me that the two of us can have jobs, a family and social life, and still both be training for an Ironman. We make a pretty good team. I love and thank you for all that you do for not only me, but everyone.

So, that's it. I'm currently sitting in bet at the Golden Sands Hotel after a great day here in Penticton.

The first person that comments on my blog I will give $1. That tells me that you have not given up on me :)