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!