Friday, September 15, 2006

Ironman - Moo, the event.

The finishing video is now at

For a short weekend there were so many things to do, get done, organize, turn-in, create, buy, endure and then enjoy, that it will be hard to get all in text. But I'll give it a shot. But the end result is that Roni Jackson and I are now qualified to wear the "m-dot" in public.... and wear it proud.

TSA verified that I've lost too much weight in this endeavor. On the way out it appeared that I'd never been through an airport. The morning started at 4-something-am and I left everything metal in my pockets, watch, belt, phone, etc. so I got singled out for search. When the TSA guy patted me down he felt a lump at my left side chest and said suspiciously "What's that?". I said, that's my rib.

Friday was registration day and amazingly, we endured a couple of hours of lines. We had to line up to verify our ID, line up to get weighed (anyone losing a certain % of body weight in the event might be removed from the course), line up to get our registration material and swim caps then line-up to purchase any desired M-dot souvenirs. Luckily, there was no line to pick-up our bikes from Tri-Bike Transport. However, that's where my first problem started. I had a flat front tire.

Returning to the hotel I used my only 2 CO2 cartridges and my only 2 tubes to get the front wheel back in shape. No problem because the Ironman store is also a bike shop so I replaced what I used and was set for the race. Kyle, Roni, Patty and I went for a pasta dinner and took in some of the Madison flavor and fantastic weather. The topic of conversation was the Sunday forecast. It was supposed to change but was improving. The 61 degrees and rain soon turned to a forecast of mostly cloudy and 67. Ya gotta love it, it'll be fine.

Saturday, we woke to overcast and cool. It was worrisome, but the forecast was holding and Saturday was supposed to be bad but Sunday still ok. We spent the morning packing and re-packing the Dry Clothing Bag, T1 Bag, T2 Bag, Run Special Needs Bag and Bike Special Needs bag. Predicting exactly what we would need was difficult enough but predicting the needs for changing weather was more so. We knew we needed to test out our clothing. So, donning our sleeveless jerseys and arm warmers we took a short ride and determined that we were cold.... but tomorrow was to be better and arm warmers will do fine. It was a bad bet.

Last year Patty bought me a nice waterproof running jacket and insisted that it go in my T1 bag. I protested that I've got what I need and that was too much (I'm always a minimalist when it comes to transitions) but... she insisted, and in it went. I can just leave it in the bag, right?

We dragged our bike and T1 and T2 bags to transition before the 3pm deadline and scoped out the swim to bike transition route. We would run out of the water, go about 50 yards to the "helix", run up 3 floors of the circular parking garage ramp to the convention center side door, into the T1 bag area, grab a bag, change in the next room, head for the bike racks, run to the mount line, mount up and roll down the other helix to the bike route. I felt lucky to get a very end spot on the bike rack in plain sight, easy to find while hurrying. So, off to an early dinner and early to bed.

Sunday morning Roni and I took advantage of the excellent hotel offer for a 3:30am breakfast. My nutritionist said eat early and "stuff yourself" so I did as best I could. This was all well and good except for getting a bit nauseous all the way up to the swim start. Relaxing while digesting we returned to the room where Patty and Kyle were still sleeping. Go figure, still sleeping at 4:30am.... who does that? So, we noisily got dressed and headed for "body marking". Hitting the street was the first omen; it was cold and it was misting. Under the lights the crowd milled around the entrance to the bike area and there were dozens of body markers ready with Sharpies. We waited on one marker but as Roni got marked I noticed the poor handwriting. If I'm going to get marked on, I want to be marked in good handwriting so I changed lines. The new marker put on some nice big blocky numbers very fit for an Ironman wannabe so I was happy. Now to escape from the cold. We went inside the convention center and found some floor to burn some time and wait as long as possible to put on the wetsuits. We had the water fountain and restrooms close and used both frequently over the next 45 minutes. Then it was wetsuit time. We pulled on the neoprene, got the goggles and hats and secured the dry clothing in the proper bag and dropped it off on the way to the lake.

We'd gotten an early start but it was crowded. The MC announced that if he was going to get all 2439 athletes "chipped in" we needed to start crossing the chip pad and get into the water immediately. That was ok with Roni because she needed to calm herself by getting in early and getting her face wet. Meanwhile, I was still nauseous and, according to Roni, had a pretty horrified look cemented to my face. We clung to the bank for awhile talking to other swimmers and still looking for even one of the supposedly 1100 first-time Ironmen triathletes. So far, everyone we met were repeaters. The MC then said we needed to move out, get in the water and make room for the rest of the athletes. That forced us into the water early, we went out about 100 yards and treaded water next to a buoy. Much to our chagrin, we realized that this buoy was the start line and we had no business being in the front of what was announced as the largest swim start in Ironman history. Oh crap, drowning under real swimmers during the world's largest boxing match is no way to start a race. We tried to back up but there was current or wind or something taking us right back to the start line. At the gun, that was the last time I saw Roni until well into the run.

The swim start, judging from the aerial pictures was a quarter mile wide. Everyone was heading for the first turning mark in the 2-loop course and I figured that was not good. It wasn't. Approaching the mark a swimmer on each side of me closed in and the boxing match started. Amazing how much traction one can get while doing a freestyle stroke on humans. Not too much damage around the first mark but on the way to the second some dude was going the wrong way and continued to nail my starboard side. I had to stop stroking and use both arms to push him off of me. He never missed a stroke as I just aimed him in another direction. Amazing. Round mark 2, 3 and then 4 for the second loop. Not sure which mark I saw the bottom of but I got pushed under by a converging group and I remember how clear the water is as I saw the bottom of the mark, the anchor line and a bunch of swimmers above. I think I rounded the right side of the line. A few underwater strokes and I was around the mark and in the clear again.

Out of the water and onto the carpeted parking lot the wet suit strippers pulled my top off in a nanosecond. I almost lost my shorts when the bottoms went. They handed my the suit and up the helix I went for at least a quarter mile run to T1. In T1 the day was made with an error. I found my T1 bag and dumped it on the ground in front of my chair and a helper offer assistance. I said sure, there's my instructions written on my bag. He read #1 - stuff wetsuit in bag, he did so and continued. I was at #8 - arm warmers when we couldn't' find them. Crap! OK, gimme that rain jacket, its cold out there anyway. I zipped it up, put on my number belt, gloves, stuffed food into pockets grabbed the gatorade and T1 bag and walked away. As I left I heard, who's arm warmers are these? What, crap, hey thanks, and stuffed them into my pockets. Later that day someone offered money for the rain jacket. It had become priceless. My bike was for sale (cheap), but not my jacket! This error saved the day and maybe my race.

Out onto the bike course the rain had started in earnest and the jacket proved to be "resistant" not "proof". But it was better than the sleeveless jersey underneath. About 12 miles to Verona and the 1st 43 mile bike loop started. Constant rain kept the speed down but it was a fun route. There were a few climbs that had the feel of an AlpD'uez where the crowds covered the road and magically parted as you slowly climbed the grade sometimes standing out of the seat. On one of these climbs there was a really large dude in drag and plenty of crazy folks out in the rain. These cheese-heads would not let the rain dampen their day. One guy offered a hot bratwurst on a stick as I climbed. I grabbed it and they all yelled crazily as I ate it. There were some great descents but the standing water prevented really letting it go for fear of losing steering and ending the day. There were plenty of crashes and the scary sound of sirens were all around. At one point I got caught looking down or eating or something and found myself within about a quarter-inch of the pavement edge and a serious bar ditch. Correcting about a half-inch at a time I rode that edge for a hundred feet before recovering onto the road again. I wished I'd thought to glance at my heart rate monitor.

I restocked my Enervitene and Sports Beans from the Special needs bag, and peed again. I've never stopped so many times for the Porto-Let. Texas hydration wasn't required for this ride but who knew? Then the turn back to Madison went right into the teeth of the rain and wind. Geeeezus, 13 mph makes it an hour home... to go run a marathon. Great. Will I be able to run? At this point I don't know.

Finally at the convention center I can't find a buyer for the bike so I just give it to a friendly support worker and dashed into T2. Not nearly as much gear... all I need are shoes and to put on something dry. I ditched the soaking cycling jersey, got a tri-top, put the rain jacket back on and grabbed more Enervitene. Leaving T2 it felt fast and I was running. All I could think about was Todd having to walk 4-5 miles from T2. Todd went real hard on the bike in Lake Placid. Maybe the rain slowed me down on the bike enough to have something left. I thought if I could run the first 10K I could keep it going. Things felt good and at mile 1 I found Patty and Kyle at the Broach bar on the fence saying "LOOK AT THE POTATO!". For the potato details you've got to go to Todd's blog (see link at right). A potato had appeared on the course right in front of where they stood. This was one of several good omens of a day that NEEDED good omens.

Running in the rain was never a problem and always felt good but this was kind of cool and the rain was still constant. But I knew I had dry shoes and dry socks in my Run Special Needs bag and that was motivation. At mile 7-8 I saw Roni in her sleeveless top. We stopped to talk for a second and she said she was freezing. I was really worried about Roni because I'd already heard that people were being taken out for hypothermia. We parted and my concern for Roni was foremost on my mind. Lots of turnarounds on the course and almost no clue where I was but the mileage signs were clicking off. At 12 miles I was running towards this screaming, jumping, large man with a video camera pointing right at me. What crazy cheesehead is this? Whoa! Its Kyle, what's he doing way down State St. in the rain? And then, there was PAtty running next to me with an umbrella and insisting (see a pattern here) that I put on dry shoes at the bag stop. I guess she thought I might be getting loopy and might forget... but this thought was keeping me going to the halfway mark. I kept going and found my bag but nowhere to sit other than the curb with a puddle at it. I sat my ass right into an inch of water, no choice. Next to the fence the fans in the crowd commented on the dry shoes/socks and saw me get WAY happier. A quick change and I was off for the 2nd half-marathon. The shoes felt AWESOME! So far, I'd run while walking only 100 feet at support stops. The 2nd half forced walks at the 3-4 big hills. Then the leg muscles started tightening up.

At mile 19 I was still going when I saw Patty and Kyle again on the rain soaked State street area. They were yelling and cheering, still. Patty started running with me and was a bit surprised that I was running. It was good to see familiar faces but man, they were wet and the weather still sucked. After that, the road went into no-mans land. Wandering through neighborhoods that were dark, sloshy and then back out to the park trails that didn't seem like earlier in the daylight. It seemed a lot more circuitous and just tacking on miles for grins. At 21 I hit the wall and the leg muscles just wouldn't go anymore. I walked and walked with a few different folks chatting a bit and attempting to run every now and then. A girl zoomed by walking and someone said "wow, if I could walk THAT fast I'd never need to run". That girl was flying, but not running.

At 25, I had a wet coke from a wet table with some really wet God-sent support folks. It was a real pick-up and I was tiring of the half-cups of salty chicken broth. With the end near I ran again, or shuffled, or something. Going up the hill to the capital I knew I was going to make it and I saw a girl ahead take her rain jacket off. Ah-ha, pictures! Let's look tuff for the camera and strip the jacket to finish in the sleeveless tri-top. I was never so happy to run through the chute and spark up the wet crowds under all those umbrellas. I punched the sky a few times and I'm told that I had a cantaloupe sized smile for the finish line photo. Try going 140.6 miles in the rain and not be happy at the finish line. Ain't happinin'.

PAtty had calculated my 1st half-marathon time and went for the bleachers assuming about the same time for the 2nd half. Unfortunately, I was 44 minutes later. That must have been the little 4 mile walk. But she was there and was almost as happy as I was. She shared my IRONMAN dream and never once thought it wouldn't happen. Although I don't think she'll want to run another marathon with me like Little Rock. She thinks it should be done fast and I'm more the 'take my time and enjoy it' runner.

We didn't have to wait long for Roni. At one point I was really worried but she found a rain jacket that kept her warm. It must've infused some energy because I was 45 minutes ahead at one point and she was running me down in the marathon finishing not quite 20 minutes behind. In all our thoughts, it worked out pretty much like we figured. Roni is a stronger runner. We both got warmed up in the Maonona Center. We still had to pull the bikes out of the transition area that night and pick up the T1 and T2 bags. Kyle was nice enough to roll both bikes in a heavy downpour over to Tri-Bike transport. Then went for food at Broach's. We weren't too tired to eat and did pretty well with a post-race pig-out.

Ironman. A memory that will last forever. Roni and I have both been asked numerous times if we would do it again. While the memory was fresh, the answer was "hell-no". Now that the pain has eased and the tortured brain cells lost some memory function, the answer from both of us is "why not?". No matter what, it won't be like the first one. And there's no way it could be as wet or as cold... or as enjoyable.

If you've read this post, thanks for YOUR support. I'll be reading it again when I'm old to remember the silly things I did when I was young.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


14 hours, 18 minutes in the rain. Many more details to follow!



Sunday, August 27, 2006

112 Degrees!

It is taper week and we might as well do the Hotter'n Hell Hundred bike rally, right? Sure! Early in the year, after Bob and I had ridden his 2005 cycling goal of the MS150 he said he'd like to do the HHH. It was only 2 weeks before Ironman Wisconsin but, I thought if I took it easy, it shouldn't be a problem. So, this weekend, Bob drove up from Austin to meet me at Glenn's on Friday. Saturday at 2:45 am we woke up to make a pre-3:30 am departure for Wichita Falls, TX. ....and I thought all these 5-something-am mornings were getting old.

Bob's been training but he admitted that he hadn't done 100 mile rides. He also said he'd finish the Hotter'n Hell. He did. It took 8 hours, but his riding time was 5:45. Spending a lot of time in the support tents got him recharged and rested enough to get a good century ride done. Way to go Bob!

My ride was intended to be easy since I've done 4 rides of close to 100 miles in the last 5 weeks. And its taper time. The HHH started to plan. Bob and I rode together for 30 miles. I was running interference, picking pace lines and getting through the masses of riders. Every time I looked back, Bob was there. It was pretty crowded so I didn't get to communicate with him much and couldn't tell if he was pushing too hard but he stayed on my wheel. At the first set of climbs (if you can call them that) the packs started breaking apart. Bob was still there so I broke away from a couple of pacelines because I knew Bob trained in Austin and could handle the hills. As we approached the largest hill of the set the road got all packed up. There were small groups to the right and 2 different pacelines and one was passing in the oncoming traffic lane of the 2-lane road. For some reason they slowed at the hill and instead of backing off I looked up and knew that I could take this paceline and the whole pack of 50-60 riders before it got too dangerous with possible oncoming traffic. I pulled even farther left, had plenty of room, I was by myself, had lots of speed, got down in the bars and pushing 100 rpm or better I took every rider well before the peak and scooted into a very large gap. It was apparent then that Bob didn't have the same opening and wasn't going to go for the kill. OK, game on.

So, I was on my own after that and had groups of under 10 to work with on occasion. Mostly, I took the chance to stay solo and in the triathlon position (not too welcome by groups) and just go for the ride. Very often, after passing small groups, I could take a glance down and see a wheel riding very closely behind. Sometimes I would take the opportunity to get up on the horns, fall back in the line and rest, have something to eat and drink then work my way back up to the front. Most of the time I could pull away from the group before long or I would see them peel away for a rest stop. I had just pulled away from an AT&T uniformed team when I looked back and witnessed one of them crash. The guy landed well after an amazing leap and 4-5 giant steps off the bike. He likely wasn't hurt but I never saw them again.

The nutrition plan that I received from Roni's friend was put in play for the HHH. The liquid mix turned out to be unpalatable when it heated up but I drank most of what I brought. I also validated Enervite as a great, easily digestible supplement and will use that at IMMOO.

I finished the HHH shortly after noon for a 5:12 ride. On the PA they announced that it was 112 degrees (but its a dry heat). The ride was a lot slower than prior years where it was 90% pack riding but a lot faster than I had planned. But I felt great, racked the bike and went for a run. I wanted to get in at least 20 minutes just to remind myself that this is possible. As I left the site in my running shoes some guy on a bike went by and said "Man, you tri- guys are nuts." Yes! I really wanted to hear that, and I agreed.

Bob made it in about 3pm and by then everything had really heated up. The parking lot was intolerable and even shade was hot. I had found the air-conditioned MPEC lobby to be a fine place to take a nap. We packed up Bob, grabbed a couple of BBQ sandwiches and hit the road. It wasn't long before an ice cream stop, ya-hooooo!

So, today, the Sunday after the HHH, Roni and I had to get a 2 hour run completed. Patti and I joined her, and Jerone, Rob and Scott also joined us and we were all off at 6am for a White Rock loop and more. I did the WR loop in 1:49 (about 20 minutes slower than normal) and called it a day. Scott had also done the HHH Saturday and had asked me in the hot parking lot if I would be at the lake at 6am. I must have shamed him into showing up and it was definitely nice to have a running partner at my slow pace today. As for Roni, holy crap, she is smokin'! She and Rob didn't catch Patty and Jerone, but she did run 13 miles in just a bit longer than 2 hours.

This week (a taper week):
Swim: 11,250m (3800, 3650, 2800)
Bike: 161 miles (28, 33, 100)
Run: 33.3 (18, 5.5, 3.3, 4.5, 2)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

So this is taper?

Its been "Peak Phase" for about 8 weeks. 2 weeks to go to the big event. This past Monday started what is considered the taper down to the event but the program continues. This month included the River Cities Triathlon which I didn't even have time to blog about. Several century and big run weekends since then. Last Saturday included an open water swim (1.5 miles) followed by a 50+ mile bike ride and a half-hour run. I intended to conserve energy for Sunday's 3 hour run and didn't join Roni and Matt in the ride back to town for the extra 20 miles.

The Sunday run wasn't even 3 hours.... it turned into 3:40. Ouch, that hurt. Loop 1 with Helene and the speedsters out front at White Rock was no problem. A quick swap of the shoes and socks, say goodbye to those who get to have breakfast, some gathered and a gel pack and off we go for loop 2. The second round of runners, Rob and Gary, joined Roni and I for the last loop and they quickly ran off as I settled into a pace I thought I could hold. The Run-On water stops were a big help but for some reason I missed one and needed to stop by Mark's house for a refill of the water bottle. That pretty much saved my day and I made it to the North bridge before problems occurred. Patty wasn't there to yell at me, there was nobody to pace with.... so I walked. OK, Ed, time to get going again. I created a little game; I can only walk 100 steps and then I must run a minimum of 100 steps. And if I lose count I have to start over unless I 'm walking then I have to run. It helped but I got so loopy that I kept losing count. Finally, the last mile is here and I can run it in AND here's Gary and Roni coming back. Roni offered a Gatorade and said "you made it!", but I wasn't there yet. Just the sight of them gave me enough of a boost to run it on in and Gary paced with me to get there. Thank God taper starts tomorrow.

So, what is taper week? Uh, well, Tuesday was a 5.5 mile run and 3800 meters swimming, Wednesday was 3650 Meters swimming, 32 biking and 3.3 running, Thursday was NOTHING!!!. Friday, will be a 4.5 mile run and a 3600 meter swim and Saturday is the Hotter'n Hell Hundred. Sunday is only a 2 hour run. Man, I really glad this isn't a tough week. Geeez.

I finally called Roni's nutritionist. I was starting to feel too weak and lose too much weight. After the last 2 weeks, go figure? So, Tammy has provided a nutrition plan based on the latest results and issues I've run into. I'll put the riding nutrition plan in place this weekend at the HHH. Its only slightly different than I've been using but elimiates the fiber and other indigestables that I'd been using and returns a lot of the sodium I lose from profuse sweating. I gotta figure that Wisconsin won't be 106 degrees.

This year's HH100 will be Bob's first! I'm really, really hoping that Bob is not in the shape he was in at the MS150 because I really don't want to ride that fast. I'll ride the HHH as if it were IRONMAN, ditch the Camelback in favor of 2 refill stops and proper nutrition. And.... this is the part I'm really looking forward to.... I'll go for a 30 minute run after I'm done. Doing this after the HHH really freaks people out. The look on their face is priceless.

This week I've double checked the Madison hotel res, moved the flights up to arrive earlier since registration has to be done on Friday only, scoped out 24 hour breakfast spots in Madison, found out the bike has to get shipped out on Sept 2nd and tested out the new wetsuit. I'm ready. I'm terrified.

So, good luck Bob! And, thank God its taper time.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

"That wasn't I35W was it?"

Today's program was close to 100 miles then an hour run. Quite the crowd met in front of the house at 6:30am with a couple of routes in mind. Some were doing the airport 40 and Roni, Jason, Matt and I were linking the airport to the Bluebonnet Route for 100. This would be Matt and Roni's longest ride ever and it was going to be a hot one. For me, I needed a rebound from the bonk last week and I got it as I felt strong all the way.

Once this route gets through Grapevine and out to Bartletville it goes West through horse country on the North side of Lake Lewisville. Continuing West we went under a bridge at about mile 60ish when Matt, whom was riding really strong, exclaimed "That wasn't I35W (emphasis on the W) was it?". After awhile somebody mentioned that we ought to be near Fort Worth. So I pointed out the Fort Worth shyline over on the horizon. I think Matt was a little taken aback... maybe thinking about how far we had to go to get home.

The ride turned out to be only 92 miles and everyone rode strong, especially Roni. Wow, her riding is getting better and she now is pretty confident that she'll catch me in Wisconsin (but not on the bike ;-). That seemed to be reinforced during our 42 minute run after the ride where she also ran strong (with Patty at her slowest pace possible) and I couldn't keep my HR down to anything reasonable so I walked a lot.

Tomorrow is another day, recovery seems to be the great miracle so I'm expecting a good 2.25 hour run. We meet Roni at 5:45am at the Rock.... I'm already looking forward to breakfast.

This week's mileage (yikes! this is peak phase isn't it?):
Swim - 10,200m (3200, 3600, 3400) strong
Bike - 194 (30, 32, 30, 92) strong
Run - 34 (13, 10, 8, 3) strong

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bonk!! And then... Ba-Da-Bing!

Its only 45 days now. OMG! Saturday the confidence meter fell way left into the red arc, the red lights came on, started flashing and the stall horn was blaring. After only 65 miles in 5 hours, 2 flats and a choking experience the training ride haD hit the wall. Roni and everyone else seemed to have a great ride and dragged my sorry ass in for the run but I bailed for the couch. I blame a failed nutrition plan (implementation) and not drinking enough for a textbook BONK. There’s a long list of excuses but none worth mentioning because its crunch time and things should be going better, especially on the bike.

Sunday was a new day. We needed to get the long run in early so that the whole team could go root for Calley at her first Sprint distance triathlon in Irving. So the plan was to meet at our house at 5:30am. Roni and I had to run 2 hours per our program so we started early. I headed down the road at 5am, met up with Roni for the initial few miles then she and I met the group at our house for the rest of the run. Heading up to Brookhaven I could tell that it was, indeed, a new day. No memory in the legs of yesterdays bonk, got up on a cruise and headed for the soft-track with Roni. After she turned off for her house I ran the first 2-mile loop, then the 2nd 2-mile loop. I think it was finally then, and after seeing my friends go by the other direction on their loops offering encouraging comments for me, that I realized I’m good for the run. I kept Patty and Helene in view and completed 2 hours and 5 minutes as required. Ba-Da-Bing! Confidence meter moving back to the middle and the bells and whistles are quiet.

A quick, but large, breakfast then off to Irving for Calley’s first tri-, the Irongirl Sprint. Calley is a runner extrodinaire so we were there to see her struggle out of the water and onto the beach, wobble down the bike course…. then totally waste everyone in running shoes. She did just that. See
Where she came in at 7th of 83 in age group. OK, so the run matters…. a LOT! Congratulations Calley! Forget the swim but pull the bike up to 20 mph and you can win these things!

The weekend wasn't over for Todd yet who started at 6am our time at IM Lake Placid. Following along in the net we saw that he turned in a great swim, a phenomenal bike first loop, slowed on the 2nd then ran his first ever MARATHON.. Finishing his first Ironman triathlon in 12:38 is an inspiration to all of us Its not terribly clear but his picture at the line is to the right and you can make out the big smile. TODD!!! YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! Todd's the guy in the middle wearing the yellow top.

Onward with Peak Phase….. ed.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Triple (Single) Bypass (Freeze-out)

This one is tough to write about. We were ready, looking forward to great riding, great scenery, and fun at the end. Instead, while the climbing was no real challenge, we couldn't see for the fog and rain and never made the other end. There were rumors of 3000 lbs of wasted BBQ at the finish and hundreds of PBJ sandwiches from an aid stop going to a homeless shelter. Here's why there was a 95% attrition rate at the great Colorado ride.

The state and Team Evergreen agreed to cap the Triple Bypass at 3500 riders. They reached that limit and closed registration months ago. Riders could start at 6-7am so we chose closer to 7 so that it would warm a bit and we wouldn't need much gear (which we didn't have anyway). Very few riders were seen in long shorts and most were in short sleeves though many, like us, had arm warmers. Who knew weÂ’d need all of the above in waterproof versions.

Jane (Tokyo Jane) and David (of theLAF) and I met Jane's brother and nephew and headed to the start. It started raining when we crossed the start line and increased its intensity every 15 minutes. The climb up to Juniper Pass started immediately. Climbing 15 miles proved to be doable at a pretty good cadence but speeds were under 10mph. It felt good, we worked up a bit of heat and we could chat among our group and with the other riders. This ride is going to be wet, but will work out... we think. At the top there's a lodge and I see about 100 bikes laid over and the place is full of riders. We ride on. At the peak aid station, many riders are stopped and shivering as we decide to press onward. How bad could the descent be, right? What's a bit of wind chill to hardened riders? Combine the wet with streets slicker than owl-stuff and a downhill grade for 18 miles and it all became clear.

Going over 20 on the descent was out of the question. It was way to slick. To keep the speed down you needed constant brake pressure or get on and off them frequently. The wind chill froze our braking hands and braking was literally painful. Keeping the bike upright required so much body tension that after a few miles we had pain in the shoulders and tight muscles all over. This was a beating and it continued for almost an hour. I had to stop twice to defrost, stretch and wait on the rest of our group.

At Idaho Springs the road leading to the main intersection was covered with riders on cell phones. At the Bike/Coffee Shop, both sides of the road were stacked with bikes and riders milling around. We had apparently caught the bulk of riders and they weren't going anywhere. I got in a non-moving line for coffee and talked with another rider who was shaking uncontrollably... he said he was going to go on (uh-huh). Our group had made the decision already; we're calling our toe truck. It turned out that they were already there at the Starbucks.

Reports of snow and continued rain at Loveland Pass and Vail pass only cemented our decision. We bailed after 31 miles and almost 3 hours of riding. On the way home we talked of continuing our riding from JaneÂ’s house but it never let up. The rain just got worse.

OK, this was a 1 in 100 event, and we're in it for next year. We'll be there with the waterproof gear and it will be 80 degrees and fair weather.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled training program.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ironman 70.3 - Buffalo Springs Lake success!

Six friends and athletes packed 2 cars and headed West to Lubbock, TX with high hopes of a great half-Iron distance race. The 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile half-marathon run is now part of the Ironman 70.3 Series. Our team was Roni, Joni, Jason, Gary, Bryon and I. A bunch of other friends had also traveled separately.

At 5am on the way to the site we were greeted with lightening bolts on the horizon and winds blowing chop across the swim course. The good news was that the swim would be downwind but a surfboard could come in handy! By race time the storms had gone away and we were ready for the unusual standing beach start. In my age group there was a disabled athlete sitting in 3 feet of water asking us to please not run over him at the gun. If we could keep from stepping on him he'd be off quickly. He wasn't kidding and at the gun he was in the lead pack of swimmers. THAT is a true Ironman.

The swim course was not really visible until you swam out of the cove. Then, instead of the single buoy to round there were about 5 more to the right before you could start turning left and downwind on the course. All seemed well but its impossible to tell how you're doing in a swim group. I got encouraged as I passed white-hats and red-hats that started early but discouraged as I saw green ones go by, and sometimes on top of, me. It turned out that, of 79 in class, I was 13th in the swim! Only in the last 2 triathlons has my swim turned out better in rank than my cycling.

A quick 3 minute transition and onto the "hilly" bike course. Now here's where my friends had me all worked up. "Oh man, its really bad..." they'd say, "big hills, and its soooo hot". Well, we train at Cedar Hill. Perhaps the 2990 vertical feet in that workout every weekend dampens the 1007 feet advertised for BSLT but I didn't think this course was bad. There were the 2-3 monsters but the rest of the course was long, straight and hot. My own problem cycling was self-induced; preparing for a 6-7 hour effort I tore into my foodstuffs... I ate a gel every 30 minutes, an Enduralyte every 30 minutes and most of my dried fruits from the bento box plus the Rice Krispy bar. At mile 40 I needed to stop and puke as nothing was digesting and the stomach had no blood for processing. I started thinking oh boy what have I gotten myself into, what a wimp, I feel awful, I'll never make it and I'm only 2.5 hours into this, yaaaaaa! I've not had that bad a mental anguish in a race. I resisted the puke because I thought "I really need that stuff to process" so I backed off to a Z1 HR and cruised for awhile. It worked. I came out of it and finished strong but I didn't know what would happen on the run.

During the bike I saw Bryon whiz by. He's had a great pace and I hung on for awhile (not drafting) as we went up the spiral staircase. As we headed up, a rider coming down locked up his brakes and skidded about 50 feet. When I looked back he had done and end-o and went out of site behind the hill. The bad news is that he bounced back in site for a moment but wasn't on his bike anymore. "Rider down!" and we warned oncoming riders screaming down the hill. One of those riders was Joni; 52 years old and did a sub-6 Half-Iron and is the envy of us all - WAY TO GO JONI!

Another 3 min transition and off to the run. I've got all the stuff I need, got the sweat rag (although it was so dry I got crusty instead of sweaty), got more Gu packs. After 2 miles I'm thinking I feel good, how odd. A hill and lots of athletes walking... and I can run it! Another big hill and again I can run it. Then the long "power company" road but I feel great. This thing must have been 3 miles straight out then you turn around and come back. The miles start clicking off. The support folks were great. On the return, one lady had a dish of ice and water and said "I can dump it on your head"; Wow! That was great! What a jolt and a nice refresher. I saw Roni on her way out and she knew by my "I'm not really a runner" running style that it was me and we high-fived in the middle of the road. She looked great and was running strong. The threat of seeing friends out there keeps you smiling and keeps you going because you can't be looking like the wimp you really are or displaying how you really feel. Miles keep ticking off and the hills came back and I kept running. Go figure... running the hills is faster than walking the hills. Things felt great and I did the math in my head about being very close to the "5-hour club" I didn't know exactly how close because I didn't start my clock until the bike. I picked it up anyway and must have run close to 8:30/mile at the end. Several runners I passed stayed with me as we talked awhile but couldn't hang. I couldn't believe how long the last 2 miles were. Energy was good and pace was as good as I could scrounge but I came up short for a 6:02 finish. I wish I'd known the deficit at 6 miles out and I might have been able to do something about it. As it was, I did not leave much, if anything, out on the course and I'm tickled with 6:02. That represents 45 minutes off of my last half-Iron distance. The confidence meter to finish Iron has now moved to the right!

Every one of our group had a great race. Roni, my Wisconsin training partner, rode a phenomenal ride and had a good swim for a 6:13 total. If she works on that run, then we'll be finishing together in Wisconsin. GO RONI! Bryon, at 200 lbs and half an ounce qualified to run Clydesdale and won 1st place! Another phenomenal bike ride at over a 20 mph average. When I finished, I saw him in the Med tent with an IV in his arm and a big smile. "Dude, I won!" And I said "Dude, you're on a stretcher with an IV in your arm!" A 5:09 would put anyone on a stretcher. Jason ran a 4:56, the fastest of the bunch. I saw him coming in from the power company road and asked how he was feeling; like James Brown, he said "I feel good". Joni, was looking for a Hawaii spot and came close but was 1 place away from getting there at 3rd in her age group. Even if she had not taken the wrong turn on the bike course and gone 3 miles out of the way (after getting all disturbed about the rider down) she would not have gotten 2nd but Joni had a phenomenal swim. From Masters practice I've seen Joni get faster in the last few weeks. She'll be in Hawaii soon. And Gary, apparently having stopped for a beer, trotted in for a 6:44 having not lost a step from last year.

Results from the race are at but there's a much better form at at this link:

  • On the way out there was some road rage. Apparently, becoming upset that we're ALWAYS in front of them, the birds were flying! Obviously, a bunch of cyclists.

    If you're ever in Abilene, don't miss Harold's (World Famous) Pit BBQ! Triathletes are picky about what they eat. Sonic, Wendy's, DQ, Cracker Barrel and the like just won't do. So, we relied on the GPS... according to my wife, always a sure way to GET FREAKING LOST. It said go off the freeway about 3 miles, turn down 13th street and, Viola! Uh, oh, this looks bad, industrial, unmowed, broken down cars and nothing around here open.... except Harold's. This was the best BBQ I've ever had and it was served by Harold himself.

    Next week its the Triple Bypass in Colorado
  • TripleBypassMap
  • for a 120 mile training ride with 10,000 vertical feet of climbing. Uh, I hope some of its downhill.

    This weeks mileage (a recovery week???):
    Swim: 8920 meters (1.2 mi, 3400mt, 3600mt)
    Bike: 110 miles (56, 32, 22)
    Run: 22.6 miles (13.1, 5, 4.5)

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    The Metroplex Sprint Triathlon

    The Sprint triathlon over the weekend was a workout with the intensity of a race and a cool occasion to see a bunch of friends. Lisa Taylor did her initial tri of the Triple Challenge, Terry Bunker's 20 year old son Nathan did his first triathlon with some friends and Gary Zimny, like me, needed the workout. Lots of supporters came out; Patty, Scott, Terry and MaryAnn didn't have to wait too long for this one to be over. Starting at 7:15, everyone was pretty much done by 9am.

    Warm water was whipped a little by heavy wind chop but I worked my way treading water to the imaginary start line. Taking off for the 800m with at least a hundred swimmers of 3 or 4 age groups all in yellow hats it seemed like I was in a crowd but the first mark rounding was pretty easy. Cross-wind I was glad to be a right side breather because the chop was heavy. At the final turn I was just starting to get happy with the swim when WHAM!!!, right in the kisser. Punched hard enough, I thought the fat lip was going to cause water drag and it hurt! But it made me mad enough that I passed the guy and kept up a hot pace all the way in. That last few hundred meters might have helped get my 5th place of 43 in age group that I was really happy about.

    The ride was uneventful though short. I was able to push for 22.8 mph which I was also very satisfied with. My run, as usual, stunk the place up. An 8:46/mile average is slow by any measure. I'm taking some steps this week to try to fix this. Terry's clinic in Tyler has a staff coach specializing in running form evaluation and they're sure they can offer me some assistance. This might be just the thing I need so I'm very appreciative and taking up the offer this Friday.

    Lisa and Nathan finished the MST with 1:45 and 1:41, respectively. A good showing for both. I know that Lisa is disappointed with her swim because of her swimming history but triathlon is different... its kinda like a cross between boxing and swimming. Nathan, I can tell, just got his interest piqued. I've already heard he's looking for a new bike. You go, dude!

    Check out these athletes... (sorry Nathan, they didn't list any pics for you).

    The training program is peaking for the Buffalo Springs Lake Half-Ironman next weekend. This is a tough week with over 10K in swimming, 30 in running and 150 cycling with a slight taper next week.

    My next log should be a positive result from Lubbock. I remember my last race of this distance..... and it wasn't pleasant. I need to remember its an endurance race and I just need to finish. It'll go great this year.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    PR'd the route and PR'd the Heartrate!

    Tonight's Tuesday group run started in 99 degrees. It didn't feel that hot. The heat index was less than the temp.... must be a dry heat. The group took off for the 7.25 miles with 2 new additions, Matt's wife Lindsay (they're training for a Sprint triathlon this weekend) and Adam (a Y regular new to our running group).

    My plan was 4 pickups of 4.5 minutes at heart rate zone 4 followed by 1.5 minutes easy. All this started at 10 minutes into the route. Helene always does my pickups with me because she's training for Hood to Coast (197 mile relay, 24 hours, 12 runners... do the math!). Jason, Todd and Bryon took off at their warp speed and very soon Patty and Adam has left me with the girls. Actually, not a bad place to be ;-). Soon, Lindsay dropped us as Helene and I got separated by traffic. About halfway into the 2nd PU we caught Lindsay and Adam. Helene is usually very strong and ahead of me but tonight her foot and a host of other issues wern't going her way. It was hot and magnified problems. At the end of the run we took the car to get her. Knowing when to stop is so important; I abandoned last week with knee soreness, I understand.

    I'm not sure what I had going on but I cooked through all 4 of my pick-ups and saw Patty and Matt at the water stop. We regrouped and 4 of us left the water stop together but Matt and Patty took off again and Lindsay dropped off for her home and a shorter run. M&P were 1 minute ahead (I timed them) and in my sites. So, I shifted gears, I've got 2 miles to reel them in if I can. By 1 mile to go I had reeled in Matt and my HR was cooking in Z4... this is supposed to be a Z2 run. But, hey, I feel good and my rabbit is still out there. Closing this gap was happening but happening VERY slowly.

    Matt stayed with me and we compared HRs. He was at 185 and I was at 170 and he finally had to drop off. Matt normally leaves me and I can normally never catch Patty. But Patty's gap is closing. I shift gears again with about 3/4 miles to go. The HR hits 183 but I can hold it there and I'm making a hell of a lot of noise. She's not going to make it easy with a 1/4 to go I had to hang on to that pace for a lot longer. With 2 feet to go to the stop sign I tagged her. She was tickled because she heard me coming and knew what it was going to take for me to get her. I had to turn around and run another couple of blocks to get the HR back down to something reasonable. I was "done".

    Tonight, Jason and I both ended up with a personal record on the route. He was 44 minutes (6:07/mile) and I was 58 minutes (8/mile) and I hit the highest HR I've ever recorded at 183. No wonder I feel kinda tired right now. But I'm excited at the progress. Tomorrow morning I'm doing my Wednesday brick since I have to work tomorrow night. 32 miles riding followed by 45 minutes running. Good thing I had a lot of pasta at Avanti tonight.

    Today: Swim 3400m, bike 2 miles (to swim), run 7.25. Woooo-hooooo, onward!

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    "You're Not Finished Yet! Keep Going!"

    That's the refrain I heard at the finish line of the Cap-Tex Olympic distance triathlon from spectators yelling. I had just managed two "kills" (passing someone in my age group) in the last mile of the run after kicking up the pace from about a mile out. I saw those guys, one with 46 on his calf and the other with 45, pass me and I resolved to keep them within reach. When I got to where I thought I could sustain a push I caught them too quickly and thought "great, now I'm in their sites and they'll be gunning for me." But I held them off with a good kick and ran the finish stretch, turned the 90 degree right turn under the Finish line arch and crossed the red chip timer pad. I thought, ah, done, oh man, stop running and stretch the arms out…. Then the yells came from the crowd that I WASN'T DONE YET! Apparently, the initial chip pad lets the announcer know who's coming to the finish before you get there. I still had 40 yards to go and I immediately kicked in the longest, fastest strides I could manage and held off any overtakers. It turned out that one dude in my group was 3 seconds back, another was 10 seconds and 4 more were within 1 minute.

    My final time was 2:37, 8 minutes off of last year's time and I've never felt as good after a triathlon as at this one. The time came from 3 minutes off the swim and 5 minutes off the bike. I felt that I went real hard on the bike and that may be why I only equaled last year's run, but running is still a challenge. Even though I was faster this year, I dropped 1 place from last year at 25th of 75 in a much faster field.

    Our friends at the event did great with Jim Mosely gaining 2nd place in our age group (2 of 75) with an awesome performance. The dude in 1st must be lying about his age with a time almost 5 minutes faster than Jim. Jason Soria took 7th of 147 in class with another awesome run (and he was disappointed about it) and Gary Zimny beat 3 hours.

    This was a rather hot race and it was steamy from a pathetic attempt at rain during the bike portion. The swim in Town Lake was uneventful, although the pre-race instruction said keep all the bouys to your right and neglected to say that the last one was to be to your left. I accidentally went too far inshore and was diverted back out to mid-river for the final mark rounding but lost only 30-40 yards.

    At T1 I grabbed all my gear and was pretty quick getting out but forgot my Hammer Gel packs. I knew I needed that nutrition for the run so I turned against traffic and went back to my rack to collect 2 packs. Because of that I went hard for all 4 loops around town with rain on loop #3 that dried quickly and didn't slow me at all. By loop#4 the different class's starts were really starting to crowd the lanes and passing other riders was constant.

    Going into the run I had enough energy to pass runners taking the steps out of T2 by leaping the wall around them. I felt good and kept a solid pace up to the last mile where I found the kick. All in all, a very fun event and no injuries.

    Next up, a light workout June 11th at the Metroplex Sprint Triathlon here at Joe Pool Lake. Then, a big one, the Buffalo Springs Lake Half-Iron Triathlon in Lubbock. This race will determine where I am in my training. My friends got me all worked up about "the hills" but after seeing the profile, its half of what we do on any Saturday workout. I think it'll go well. We will have a very large group heading West, it should be fun!

    Mileage for this week:
    Swim 6.4 miles (1500+2950+3000+2800) strong
    Bike 146 (25+32+19+72) good
    Run 17 (3.1+1+3.3+4.5+5) weak, due to knee on Tuesday after race

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    Big pre-CapTex weekend

    It was a fun pre-CapTex weekend beginning with the Friday run. Needing to bump the Friday run to 1:15, Patty helped me get a 5:40 start on the 6am running group. We met Roni at the Y as she ran from home. We only put an additional 1.5 miles on top the regular 4.5 mile run and we'll need to do better next week. Roni, we'll try not to be "cheaters" next week and catch you down the road as planned.

    Knowing that we were to meet at Joe Pool lake for an open water swim we had a large group train at the pool Friday night. Jason, Kyson and Todd all put in about 2700m and I did about 2200m. I timed my mile at 29:13 so so I'd know how long to swim in the morning.

    Another morning that we see 5-something AM and we all carpooled in various configurations and met at the marina Saturday morning. Todd went for some riding miles but we had 6 swimmers in brightly colored caps (orange works best!). Parting the rows of bass boats we slid into the water and fought the chop out for 15 minutes. On the turn around it was choppier and upwind but the breathing on the downwind side was lots easier and contained more oxygen than water. We all got the mile done and headed for the bikes. We all got a kick out of Todd's "Gu Packs Attack". You gotta read about that, AND see the visual, at

    I planned to show Scott and Lisa the original 43 mile Cedar Hill route (less the Wall and Texas Plume) and they got lost but made it for the ride. Lisa was incredibly strong though she's got some learning to do on that new bike. Scott did the entire route and I was proud of him because he's got surgery in the short term future. He rallied up all the big hills and even came out on the run. Scotty, Lisa is no longer in your rearview mirror! Get well and catch her. Lisa's motivation this year is the Ironhead Triple Challenge. Good luck, Lisa. That was my goal last year and its tough.

    After the ride, Roni and I got our 30 minute run accomplished. In fact, all the team, including Scott and Lisa, got a run in of various distances. The racehorses; Kyson, Jason, Bryon and Todd dissappeard out of sight on the dam and came back awfully sweaty. The Oasis cafe on the lake almost ran out of food but came through as we all pigged-out.

    Another 5-something AM Sunday filled the car with 4 runners going for a WR loop; Roni, Calley, Patty and I. We met Jason, Todd and Helene there at 7 and found that Larry and Rich were already running. Read about Todd and Patty at as they burned a trail around the lake. Helene, Roni and I slogged out 9 miles but, lemme tell you, it was slow and hot. Helene seems to be getting stronger and Roni and I are fairly even right up to the end. That's when Roni shows me she's got more left. Even Patty, who backtracked to us, couldn't drag me back up to Helene and Roni so I settled for a close finish. Still... it was a (tail)kicking.

    This week's mileage:
    Swim: 9000m (good)
    Bike: 118 (kinda wimpy) 32+21+47+18
    Run: 28.5 (strong) 7+3.2+6+3.3+9

    So, the week before my 3rd Olympic distance ever will be somewhat lighter but CapTex should be a workout. I need to practice technique, hydration and nutrition and try to beat last year's middle-of-the-pack finish.

    IM-Moo... 110 days.

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Ironman Wisconsin - This is real.

    Its the middle of the 30 week training program and its starting to feel like "something" is happening. Perhaps the alien is looking to escape its host. 17 weeks in and no injuries, abrasions or second thoughts. I never thought I could do so much each and every week and still feel great. My training partner, Roni, and I are turning pages in the workout spreadsheet and the BeIronFit book is ruling our weeks. She seems to be gathering steam as well. I'll start frequent postings here about our progress and soon I'll post one word; IRONMAN.