Thursday, December 21, 2006

There's a lot of little things I want to get to tonight.

Beta Blogger:

First off Beta Blogger sucks donkey balls. I've still been reading other fine folks' blogs, but the ability to make comments has sucked. So I'll probably be a little sporadic with them.

Ankle Update:

I had another visit to my physical therapist last Friday. Things are progressing, slowly. The flexibility and stability are there in most directions. The strength is okay, but still a little imbalanced between the right and left legs. But the scar tissue is still there. I was assessed on the treadmill. I looked okay, but the running just did not feel right. There's some discomfort in places where discomfort should not be. We believe I may have stretched a few key ligaments in addition to my tendon strain. I may need to go back to the doctor for a more accurate diagnosis (read MRI) if things do not contiune to progress. So I'm still restricted from running. Ugh hopefully by mid January I'll be able to run. I've got to get ready to play in the big football game with my buddies on Super Bowl Sunday. (Hope my new tri team manager doesn't throw any clauses into my contract.)

Computer Names:

I received a few comments about my naming of my hard drives. Well this stems from my college days on campus. Thousands of computers were all networked together. So if my friend was in his lab on the quad, he could access my computer sitting in my dorm room and get a copy of our lab report. But it's hard to look for a computer named "03BE-F14C". Everyone had a name for their computer. Hence the tradition of naming my computer. I like traditions and so it has continued even to this day. And I think I have a name picked out for my next computer.

Speedplay Pedals:

Over the last few years I have been using Look CX7 pedals. They work well as I can make micro adjustments. I have heard Look is trying to switch over to the keo style cleats and away from the larger delta cleats. So I made the switch to Speedplays Zeros. I felt the increased degree of float would really help out the knees too. I purchased them with my new bike, but was not about to go 112 miles on brand new pedals. So I have been trying to them out on the trainer. And let me tell you I felt like I did when I first went clipless. If I was on the road, I would be on the ground at every stoplight. Also when I clip out I have to twist my foot outwards; that's not the best thing for a weak ankle. I got in my first long workout with the Speedplay pedals tonight and I've got some adjustments to make. 140 rpms is not fun, but even less fun when things are slightly out of alignment.


This Friday I finally return to my cardiologist. (It feels so weird to type that - "my cardiologist." I'm a thirty year old Ironman with a cardiologist. Wow.) Anyways, I just want a definitive resolution to any heart conidition I may or may not have. More so, I want to be able to run hard with no fear. Call me crazy but I miss Zone 5 workouts.

Up Next:

I had a chat with my coach about a week ago. I asked him flat out what he thought about this past season. He gave it B-/C+ range. Why? It wasn't performance. I performed well at IM WI, but because my training was cautious and restricted I never got the chance to really see what I could do.

So what is next? I saw one of my IM WI brothers tonight for the first time since September. We started talking a little about what's next. We both smirked when we flashed a big fat zero - as in absolutely nothing planned for 2007. He is restricted with work and family. I've got a lot of things to sort out as well. I know I can post a better IM time, but I know I'm not really made for Ironman. My coach believes I can do some serious damage in the Olympic and half-IM distances. I definitely have the speed for the OLY, but with the length of the swim between an OLY and a HIM so small, I could really make it up on the bike and run in a HIM. Honestly right now I really just want to run. And that's my resolution for the new year.


There will be some changes coming soon in my corner of blogland. Strap yourself in; it's going to be a fun ride.


Right now I don't have any deep Christmas thoughts that wouldn't sound cliche. So, give a listen to Cheech and Chong and click on the flash player above (if you haven't done so already).

Photo from AP


Thursday, December 14, 2006


I am just coming back from a stargazing session. The Geminids were expected to peak right about now. My little digital camera can't handle astronomy photography, but I did shoot the moon rising in the east. It was a decent show tonight. We were out for about an hour and saw about 30 shooting stars. It was pretty awesome. I would recommend watching a meteor shower at least once in your life.

Does stargazing have anything to do with triathlons or training? Well I guess if I really dug deep I could make some connection.

Trifrog posted this a little while ago. I haven't done many triathlon type workouts since, ohh, September. Mentally I'm not quite the same as I was in the summertime when I was hopped up on endorphins and my brain was focused 24/7 on Ironman. Sitting out in the middle of a field in December at 3 am with a few dozen whitetail deer and hundreds of points of light is far from the world of triathlon. It made me realize that I really don't want a life that consists of eating, sleeping, breathing triathlon year round. I pretty much went twelve straight months of preparing for Ironman. That's the longest span of training that I've gone without a break. And I think my brain lost interest in triathlons, at least a little bit. Heresy? Maybe. But I've never went by the book anyways. I posted a list of a few things I wanted to do after I finished Ironman. Well I've done a few of those things and I have a few that I still want to cross off that list.

So as some of you are waking up to hit the pool or go out for a quick jog, I'm about to head off to bed. I won't be dreaming of swimming, biking, or running. My brain wants to wander off into the starry night sky and I'm totally all right with that...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

RIP Achilles

Ugh, my Achilles is hosed.

He He. It's probably not what you think.

I don't have another physical ailment.

My laptop is named Achilles. Or was. Or well more accurately, Achilles was the name I dubbed the hard drive. And the hard drive is actually intact and capable of functioning. I believe somewhere on the motherboard something is physically shot and therefore rendering the whole computer comatose. I did some exploratory surgery but could not find the problem. I have deemed it a waste of money to have it professionally serviced. Although losing its usefulness a little earlier than hoped, Achilles has served me well for almost four years. It's spirit is in stasis and will be revived in the future. A new laptop was planned but not until around February/March. I will probably have to move that time frame up a bit.

So I dusted off my backup computer - an old Windows NT box named Kublai. And by old, I mean I assembled that thing in 1999; and the monitor is twelve years old. I even found a couple dust bunnies making their home inside the case. After finding some drivers and installing some other pieces of software and hardware, Kublai is set to roll again. He checks emails quite well, but the internet has morphed considerable since his heyday. I've got some blog reading to catch up on, but no more fancy schmancy video games; no more lightening fast internet browsing either.

I guess that means I need to get off my butt and train.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Foot Fetish

Thank you everyone for the the thoughts, concerns, and comments; they were very much appreciated.

I am on my way back.

I had another physical therapy appointment earlier this week. The ankle is stable and strong. Obviously there is some disparity between the strength of my left and right legs. I can visual see the difference in calf and quad girth. In addition, there is still a good deal of scar tissue around the joint. My ankle doesn't look like a cantaloupe anymore, but maybe a big red delicious.

What's next? I've got some new/old exercises (old in the sense that I've done many of the same things for previous injuries) and of course I need to build back my leg strength. I've been given free reign to pump iron with the legs. Yeah!!! Swimming and biking are allowed too. Double Yeah!!! No impact sports though, which includes running. Boo!!!

But I also have to get rid of that scar tissue. How? Massage it!!!

So if anyone out there has a thing for feet, I'll have some oils, maybe a few scented candles, some soft music, and a foot that needs a serious rub down.

And I'm not afraid of a little pain.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Here's my Haiku of the day:

Triathlete I am
Peroneal tendon strain
Void is hard to fill

It's been three weeks since my last post and five weeks since I sprained my ankle. I have been on the shelf ever since; this is one tenacious injury. I have had some discomfort around my ankle joint, and have had some soreness in my calf and the top of my foot too - the anchor points of the peroneal tendons. There is still some swelling and scar tissue, but at least it's not blue anymore. I have been to the physical therapists so often over the years, that they'll probably dedicate a new exam table in my name or something. Anyways, I have been doing some basic flexibility, balance and coordination, and some strengthening exercises. No running and no weight lifting for a few more weeks.

So with no training, no race goals, and basically a whole lot of nothing, I have not been able to overcome the high activation energy necessary to produce something to post about. I won't lie; it's been tough watching and hearing folks toe the line at a local race or anticipating their next big race in 2007, all the while being uncertain of my own future.

But slowly, I am on the road back. I am happy to report my first workout since September. This past Saturday before the epic Ohio State/Michigan football game, I pulled the bike shorts out of the drawer and went outside for a ride. The last time I was out the trees still had their full compliment of green leaves, but this time the landscape was drab and gray.

I took this picture about five years ago. I don't know why I have this shot in my bathroom, but I spied it again tonight. I could write a few cliche lines about how I am traveling down a path that I have traveled before. Or maybe how seasons change and how it applies to my situation.


The stark reality is that I need to train. I need to be active. That is central to my being. And in its absence things are not quite the same. That realization will not immediately restore order to my universe, but it cetrainly helps to hold things together in the interim.

I am an athlete.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ferrah Felt

Here's a story of a lovely lady named: Ferrah Felt.

Here was a story of her conception. She is one of a kind. She was not spotted in a store. No one said: "That's the one." Or even: "LBS guy, order this for me." She did not exist before someone started messing around, looking for components. And then like a Weird Science experiment, she came to be. For the truly geeky, keep reading and you'll evenutally hit a component list.

What about the name? This bike came about specifically for IM WI. Someone did not have the confidence that another ride would be able to withstand the rigors of a 112 mile race up and down the hills around Madison. So although she is loaded with carbon, her name had to tie into Ironman.

At the time of conception, the name was to be Ferros. Why Ferros? The chemical symbol for iron is Fe, which is derived from the Latin word Ferrum. Ferrous refers to an iron ion. In addition, Ferros also sounds like a recent Ironman winner. So Ferros ties in to Ironman not once, but twice. Nice.

But Ferros just sounded too masculine. It also sounds like the name of this guy:

After she was born, the name Ferros just did not fully exude her sexiness. So she went unnamed for a while. Then the eureka moment came. The inspiration: Charlie's Angels.

Not these three,

but the original trio.

Which included perhaps the most famous Farrah.

Then change an "a" to an "e" to stick with the Fe motif, and voila: Ferrah. It was also a coincidence that the bike was a Felt, which fits nicely with Ferrah. Good Morning, Angels!

And for the truly geeky:

Frame: Felt F1C
Fork: Ritchey Carbon Pro
Crank: Campy Chorus Carbon Fiber Crank 53/39.
Shifters: Campy Chorus Carbon Ergopower shifters.
Derailers, Brakes, and Chain: Campy Chorus group
Cassette: Wheels Manufacturing, Inc. Campy to Shimano cassette 11/23
Stem: Ritchey Pro Stem
Handlebar: Richey WCS
Seatpost: Ritchey Carbon Pro Seatpost
Saddle: Specialized Toupe
Pedals: Look Cx7 (to be replaced by Speedplay Zero Ti)
Aero bars: Profile Design T2+
Wheels: Bontrager Race X Lite
Tires: Vittoria Corsa EVO CX
Wheels: Bontrager Race X Lite Carbon Aero
Tires: Tufo CS3
Computer: Cateye Astrale 8

Is that the end of the story? Not at all. Remember the name:

Ferrah Felt

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Here are the top 10 things I will try to do now that Ironman Wisconsin has come and gone. Or you could call this the 10 things I put on the back burner while I was going after Iron.
  1. I will try to turn a screen pass into a touchdown. Then I will try to stop my friend on the other side of the ball from running past me for a touchdown.
  2. I will try to make my friend run around the raquetball court. Then I will try to hit a kill shot on the game winning point.
  3. I will try to make the tough dig on a well struck volleyball. Then I will try to hit a three ball down the line, from the weakside.
  4. I will try to head down the black diamonds under control. Then I will try to do the same at Tahoe, or Vail, or Whistler.
  5. I will try to play Mozart on the piano again. Then I will try Chopin.
  6. I will try to utilize my kitchen on a weeknight. Then I will try to cook again the next week.
  7. I will try to get my humidor in order. Then I will try not to smoke too many cigars.
  8. I will try to watch some TV. Then I will try not to watch every night.
  9. I will try to sleep in on Saturdays. Then I will try to get to sleep earlier on weeknights.
  10. I will try to enjoy my time with family and friends, new and old, near and far. Then I will smile at the thoughts of where I have been and where I am going.
I have been dying to get my endorphin fix, but I guess I'll have to wait a little longer. So yeah a few of those things on that list will not get knocked off soon. My self diagnosis on my ankle is a grade 2 ankle sprain. Unfortunately I was not too diligent with the RICE prescription so my foot looks like a smurf attached to my leg. It really does not hurt, but it looks nasty. I am walking around gingerly on it, but as soon as the edema goes down, I should be walking with a normal gait. After that, a few weeks in the weight room and hopefully I should be good to go. Time to pick up more athletic tape. Someone mentioned that they love gross pictures so here's one more. Maybe I'll post some bike porn next time. And maybe get a pedi too.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Love Hurts

Hope your weekend was an excellent one. Great job to all the racers out there this past weekend, especially to DaisyDuc and Papa Louie at the C-bus marathon and TriEric and his wife at the B-more marathon. Happy Birthday to E-Speed, too.

Me? I had to get my football fix in. Well here are some of the results.

The result of someone's cleats meeting my chest.

The result of trying to cut on an uneven patch of ground.
Then continuing to play for another hour until the adrenaline wore off.

In a game where size does matter, it doesn't bother me that I am the smallest guy out there. I'm not even the best runner. But despite the many bumps, bruises, sprains, and tears I have sustained through the years from playing football I still love being out on the field. I don't know why. I want to make that catch, or shake off the tackle for a few more yards, or break up the pass, or make the solid tackle. So my ankle will heal up and I'll probably be out there again in a few weeks. Maybe I'll tape up my ankle next time. Maybe I'll be even smarter and get an ankle brace. Maybe I'll score a couple touchdowns next time. Then Monday morning the hurt won't feel as bad.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I have been asked by several people about my coaching. Maybe I can help a few folks out by telling you why I got a coach and in the process, give some due credit to my coach. So today's musical selection and post is dedicated to my coach, Pete.

Back in his racing days, he was an exceptional cyclist and athlete. Please click here to see some of the things he has accomplished. As some of the local athletes know, he leads some serious workouts. Although he no longer races, he could probably still kick most of our butts in any race.

I met Pete at one of his coached outdoor cycling workouts in 2004. By the end of the season, the results of those once-a-week workouts were undeniable. Having built a good relationship with him, I knew I could work well with him.

A few thoughts:

Do you have a good rapport with your coach?

I think this is the first question to ask. I believe you need to have a good working relationship with your coach. If you don't, it won't work. We actually had some minor disagreements here and there, but for the most part we were on the same page. Here's a short anecdote over one disagreement.

As we were putting together the season, I told him I did not want to do any half IMs. He wanted me to do two. We discussed a bit, but he ultimately told me that if I did not do at least one, he would not coach me. So I said okay, I'll do one. Well as you may know I ended up doing two half IMs leading up to IM WI and have since told him that he was absolutely right.

Do you need someone to provide you with workouts?

Some people do, some people don't. If I had to do it on my own I could have pieced something together from a collection of free plans, my own experience, and the wisdom of other training partners. So I was looking for someone who was going to do more than give me weekly workouts. With my input, Pete developed a training plan from scratch tailored to me. We were flexible to the point that I was able to add a half IM and some long workouts at the end of the season without the fear of deviating from a plan. Through working with him, I learned a ton about planning. Everything from establishing a macrocycle for the season to modifying my workouts. We both went in to this with the same approach: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

On a side note, I actually started an analysis of my race and training. As some of you may have seen, I tend to buck conventional wisdom. So I am not surprised at some of my findings. I doubt I will publish these notes, but I will leave you with this tidbit: Number of brick workouts - 0.

What is your coach's background?

I am a novice cyclist so I wanted to work on that area. For a coach, I wanted someone who had a strong cycling background. I actually rode with Pete a few times during the summer just to focus on cycling form and technique. Pete also has a background in strength training which was also a good fit for me, as I was not afraid of the weight room. So did the results of being in the weight room four times a week pay off?

What are some other benefits you hope to get out of your coach?

Let's take a quick look back at a few seasons.

2003 - "A" race was a marathon in May. Six weeks prior to the race, my knee and ITB decided to flare up. Pulled out of the race, rehabbed all summer and did not run again till August. Probable cause of injury - poor base training.

2004 - "A" race was a marathon in October. The majority of the season went well. After an awesome 30k race, I stacked on a speed workout on Tuesday and tried to do another long run the following weekend before tapering. My legs revolted and I ended up with fasciitis in the calves. Just several days before the race, I decided to suck up the pain and race anyways. Probable cause of injury - overuse.

2005 - "A" race was a fall marathon. I never got on track. I was trying to adjust to orthotics and actually suffered through some shin splints. On top of that my immune system seemed to be overwhelmed by my allergies. I was constantly sick or dealing with minor leg discomfort. Canceled any thought of an A race and just trained and raced for the sake of it. But being fat and out of shape took all the fun out of it. Probable cause of injury - dumb luck.

2006 - "A" race was IM Wisconsin. Well we know how that went. But let's see: sprint tri a week after an IM leads to foot pain. And is it any coincidence that I am sick right now. Probable cause of injury - lack of common sense.

So you see I tend to get myself onto the DL some how and that was a big reason I wanted a coach this year. That was an underlying theme the whole year: Keep me healthy so that I could toe the line in Madison. By the way, Pete disapproved of my race the week after IM and once again he was right.

Could I have done Ironman this year without Pete? Honestly, probably not. I probably would have done too much somewhere and limped into the race, or perhaps even worse.

My coach will be going on this adventure on Saturday. I have a previous engagement or else I would join him for some of this fun.

But I will have a Foster's oil can in honor of my coach. Pete, thanks for a great season.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I will not lie.

I am tempted.

I think I want it, again.

It's all around.

It's in my system.

And I can't ignore it.

It's on TV.

It's about to happen at Kona.

It is


Registration for IM Louisville opens up in a few weeks.

IM Florida takes place next month.

Even IM Canada and IM Wisconsin have opened up a lottery for additional entries.

I caught the Radical Reels Tour this past weekend with some friends. There was most definitely some Ironman talk and it stoked the fire.

Will I IM again? I think that has already been decided.

"Can I do it?" is no longer the question.

That was asked a few hours after crossing the line at one triathlon and I found my way to another triathlon in the shadows of a capitol a year later. Along the way, I experienced highs and lows. New friends were made. Old friends became better friends. And by loosening my grip ever so slightly, I found out how far I could really go.

And the answer:

I did it.

So the new question is:

"What will I experience on the next journey?"


Friday, October 06, 2006

Still somewhere....

I have been lurking around blogland, but have been absent from my own blogging for about two weeks, somewhat on purpose. I haven't done any training since IM WI and so I don't have much to write about. I think I worked out five times in the last three weeks.

But I also want to box up this IM experience a la triteacher and move on. So just like any breakup, I needed a little time and space.

Anyways, I've got some random thoughts tonight and most aren't triathlon or training related, except the first item.

With the breaking news of 2007 IM Lube, it got me thinking a little. The Type A persona in me believes I can complete an Ironman faster than what I did at 2006 IM WI. Will I do an IM in 2007? Maybe. If I was going to do another IM, I was hoping to go back to IM WI. At some point in the near future I will need to study for a series board examinations and I purposely did not apply for the test in 2007. Just in case...

My nemesis struck again. Every year I seem to get some form of sinus infection with all sorts of symptoms to go with it. Nasal congestion, sore throat and cough. That leads to lack of sleep etc. Last year it literally caused me to give up on training for an A race. Well it decided to throw an added twist this time. Hiccups. These were some serious watch-for-whiplash like convulsions; and they stuck with me on and off all day. At least it waited till after IM. So this evening I quarantined myself, cooked, and ate. I had been watching my food intake for the last few weeks to prevent weight gain, but I believe when you are sick, you must eat. So some soup, and a lot of steamed veggies, pork, and chicken. I will be going to sleep with a full belly tonight. The only question I had was: do I wash it down with hot tea and honey or the top shelf cognac.

Last week I took a little trip to Seattle and picked up another brother-in-law. (Congrats sis.)

Seattle traffic is downright awful.

Does it rain in Seattle? Or just tease us by being cloudy? I have never opened an umbrella in that town. By the way, most of the days I spent there last week were near perfect weather - sunny with one or two clouds and about 74 degrees. If I had time and money I would have picked up something to ride from the Performance Bike Shop I passed several times every single day. Riding up and down those hills would have been soooo much fun.

Why do weddings become such big productions? If/when I make it to the altar, is there anyway I can reduce the "destructive stress"? My mom has a big family which can makes things even more exciting. We had 6 minivans and 2 cars. Oh and that's only about half of the family.

Just curious. When was the last time you got carded for an alcoholic drink? When was the last time you got carded at your sister's wedding? Being a designated driver, all I wanted was one drink. Good grief.

I love football season, so I was disappointed to miss the big college game last weekend. I watched some of the UWisc-Indiana game with my cousins in the morning, but couldn't catch the OSU-Iowa game becaue of the wedding reception. There wasn't a TV available, but at least the conciegre at the reception hall was kind enough to look up the score on the net.

By the way, I had a discussion with my brother-in-law, a UWashington grad about college football. I believe, that there is a slight bias in favor of college teams from the South and West (warm climates.) Those teams tend to have more speed and finesse that can benefit them in a bowl game. Midwest and East coast teams need to be more physical because the weather can definitely factor into the regular season games that they play. So if you take a team like USC and have them travel to Ohio for their bowl game in January, they probably would not have as much success. As a supporting statement, look at the NFL. Teams like the Colts struggle in New England come playoff time. Why? They are a finesse team whose strengths are nullified by something out of their control - weather.

Sorry to be such a snob, but I am not quite used to flying economy class. Airplanes in general are like flying cesspools. And maybe that's where I caught my sickness. Anyways, with my luck, I got stuck in front of a kid that kicked my seat the entire trip to Seattle. And all the dad did was say in a very loud voice: "Marcus, stop that. Marcus....sit still.....MARCUS." That gets old on a four hour flight. The kid on the way back home was a little more calm, but I actually traded my window seat for a middle seat on the other side of the plane just to get away from that kid.

I believe you have a better chance of having a good conversation with people in economy class, especially if you wear an M-dot t-shirt. What is more exciting: Ironman or biking around the world? I don't know, but I would love to do the latter.

Anyone watching the current season of The Amazing Race? If you haven't caught it yet, there is a duo that consists of Ironmen - one being Sarah Reinertsen. In my humble opinion, this season has been pretty lackluster.

Well, I have a few more posts in the pipeline, but I'll save them for next week. Thanks for putting up with my off topic rants.

Have a splendid weekend.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

IM WI - Photos

Monona Terrace on a gorgeous Thursday morning.
By the way the lady in the green top on the path is Andrea Fisher.

Bags Bags Bags

Ferrah all ready for a slumber party at the Monona Terrace.
Note to athlete #476, please rack your bike according to instructions.

Some of the bike transition zone. I didn't see another Felt F1C.

Mass swim start. Can you see me amongst the 2400 plus swimmers? I was just to the right of the black buoy to the right of the ski ramp to the right of the other black buoy to the right of the orange start buoy.

Nice view. Excellent product placement Ford.
(From Through th3 wall.)

Coming out of the water.

Enjoying my brunch.

One of the crazy bike spectators.
(from IronmanLive.)

Note to self: get aero.

Give me a helmet and some pads.

Not quite singin' in the rain.

If my race number looked like this, I wonder what I looked like at the finish.

'nuff said.

IM WI - Post Race and Beyond

After crossing the finish line, I was caught by Mickey. I gave him a hug and thanked him for all he had done for me on my journey. I was presented a medal and a mylar blanket was wrapped around me like I was king for a day or something. I saw Josh and we recounted how miserable it felt out there. By the tone in his voice I knew he had a rough day. But anyone who can run a sub 3:10 IM marathon, had to be doing something right. He'll be back.

My next thoughts were focused on getting out of my wet clothes. Since I wasn't running anymore, I was getting cold fast. I waited to get my picture taken and then met my Aunt and cousins. I knew if I finished any later, my cousin from Chicago would have missed my finish.

I dragged myself into the Terrace to grab my gear. I ran into Chris again and was elated to hear he had PRed today. Well done, my friend. We parted ways, but I have a feeling I'll be seeing him again.

I had my cousin take my gear back the the house and then went out to see more of the finishers. I was hoping to grab some brats and beer, but settled for some of cold pizza. I wasn't that hungry and actually felt a little bloated. As I have heard discussed, this probably had something to do with the damaged muscles retaining the water that would normally have been removed as sweat. After seeing Cassie finish, we headed back into the Terrace. I got a pretty long massage, which probably didn't do me any good. I felt bad I didn't have a couple of bucks to tip the masseur. Finally we picked up Cassie and Trina's gear and headed back to my Aunt and Uncle's.

On the drive home, I remember thinking about my finish. As is typical for me, I actually ran faster through the tape. This time maybe I ran too fast. I did not recall hearing the voice of Ironman annouce my name. Maybe I was too close to the guy in front of me. Maybe my race number was just unreadable. But on that evening it did not matter. I knew what I had done to cross that line; no extra validation needed. Grin.

Back at our bivouac, we were greeted by a sign that my Aunt and cousin's made that congratulated our accomplishment. We got online and checked out some of the results and watched some of the Ironman Live feed. I checked on almost everyone I knew that raced and was glad to see the results from everyone. I wished I could have continued watching, but we were all wiped out. For the first time in a long while, that night I slept well.

Race Total: 1:21:40/09:45/6:34:13/05:28/4:24:31 = 12:35:37


Has Ironman taught me anything? I have read some introspectives from some of my fellow racers, (here, here, here, and here) I can't really put my finger on all of it, but I have in some way changed. But this is not like some step function where everything suddenly changes once you cross some line drawn across a street. For some, Ironman was a catalyst for some amazing transformations. For me, change is usually slow and subtle. The effects stemming from Ironman on my life are still revealing themselves to me today. The process of change has been happening since I clicked "submit" last year, since I jumped in to the lake at my first triathlon, since I crossed the stage to recieve my diploma, since I came into this world.

The most striking revelation came during the last two hours of my race. I had "that feeling". The culmination of months and years of training, the positive and negative emotions coming to balance, but it wasn't until I let go of the numbers and all the distractions around me that things seemed to align. The body and mind were almost on another plane where everything felt easy and "anything was possible."

I have already played the numbers game, because that is an old habit. Goal: 11:43. Actual: 12:35. Could I have finished faster? Certainly. Would I have done things differently? Sure little things here and there like not get off my bike to urinate. Am I happy with my time? The answer in my mind is not as simple as a yes or no. For most of my running and triathlon career, numbers have driven me; they are a goal to strive for and to attain. But looking at the big picture, 12:35 is only a number.

I am proud of the fact that on a cold and rainy Sunday, I finished an Ironman; and I can not define myself by numbers. If for some reason I need a number from this race, I should pull this number out of my head: 13. That is the negative split between my first and second halves of the run. And that will hopefully spark my memory of "that feeling." We were standing in line the Monday after a race to claim a little DVD from the race. A gentleman was talking about the race, and he reaffirmed my conclusion that Ironman goes beyond the numbers. Will I attempt Ironman again? I don't know. I probably will, but at this moment I can walk away from Ironman and hold my head high.


So what's next?

Throughout my life, somehow I came up with some pretty random goals. I threw out "catching the game winning TD pass in the Super Bowl" a long time ago. But here are three that have stuck around:
  1. Complete an Ironman with a finish to be proud of.
  2. Qualify for and run in the Boston Marathon
  3. Run a sub 2 half - that is sub 2 minutes for a half mile.
Cross off #1. I know # 2 is within reach. #3, I believe the older I get, the harder it will be to achieve. I'm okay if I don't complete #3.

If you look at #2 and #3 notice that they are associated with numbers. So as I go after goal #2, I am back to chasing numbers like 26.2, 3:10, and 07:14. I know that is unavoidable. But chasing numbers had consumed me. I hope Ironman has taught me enough so that the next time I run, bike, or swim, I can find the balance between the numbers and "that feeling."

One week after an Ironman, I competed in a sprint tri. (Here's the short report.) I wanted to run the 5k under 22 minutes, but finished just seconds slower. The ankle/foot pain I felt during the early part of my Ironman run was a precursor to something more. Something hurt after the Ironman and it hurt when I pushed the pace at the sprint tri. I will take some time off and hope I just have some inflammation, not a stress fracture. Perhaps I will run a marathon in several months, maybe in December or January, but I will only do so when I am ready.

My stop in Madison was AWESOME. I'm glad I had so many people along for the ride.

Next stop Boston. Coming along?

Portage Lakes Tri

One week after an Ironman, I raced. This wasn't the smartest move. But I figured if I was going to wake my butt up to be present at the race, might as well do it. The goal was to see how easy the 5k run would be in preparation for a marathon.

The race was delayed over an hour due to fog. They actually altered the swim route to get it going as soon as possible.


I was surprised to see how many people were wearing wetsuits in a sprint tri. This was not a good sign for me as I am an anchor in the water. Half way through the swim I found myself headed towards a kayak, instead of a buoy. I even got caught between some slow swimmers as we funneled towards the swim exit. Ugh. Not a good swim. This probably cost me an age group medal too.


My T1 was slower than I expected. Once on the bike, it took me a while to get going. Like 9 miles. By the time my legs were ready to push a big gear, it was time to get off the bike. Sigh.


I was slow in T2 as I was almost out of the zone, before I realized I did not have my race number. So I ran back to get it. The first mile was okay as I settled into a pace I felt I could hold for 3 miles. The second mile was a gradual uphill, and I felt like crap. As I came back towards the finish, my foot was starting to bother me. So I just cruised as there was no need for me to sprint home.

The results are here:

Swim Time and overall rank: 11:07.65 - 116/248
T1: 01:09.24
Bike Time and overall rank: 37:09.91 - 34/248
T2: 01:12.23
Run Time and overall rank: 22:16.92 - 23/248

Total Time and overall rank: 1:12:55.94 - 30/248

The run pace was not as fast as I would want for my marathon. When I get back to it, I would want at least two months of consistent speed and tempo work before doing a marathon. So now it is time to rest.

The tri season of 2006 is now closed.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

IM WI Race Day - T2 and Run


Back in the bag room in the Terrace, I was again able to easily spot my bag and trotted through that first room. Once in the get naked room I could tell that folks were struggling in there, but I stayed focused on my own game. I found a clear spot and plopped my bag on the ground. I opted against changing into dry clothes. All I had in my transition bag was loose clothing and I would rather have tight wet clothing than loose wet clothing. I don't bike with socks, so I struggled to dry my numb feet on the carpet. I slipped on a pair of warm, dry socks. AAaaaaahhhhhh. Note for next time: throw a towel into both transition bags. Slipped the running shoes on, threw the helmet and glasses into the bag, popped a gel with some water, shoved some gels into my shorts and jersey pocket, then deposited my bag, and out the door I went.

I went into a port-o-potty and took a really long break in there. Once back in the open air, I was mentally ready to run. The thought of a 3:30 marathon crept into my head.

T2 - 05:28

My energy levels felt pretty high. But I had planned to run the first three miles at an easy effort, ignoring my time, and was going to stick to it. I had also planned to pop a gel every 30 minutes or so, and pass through the aid stations very leisurely, and probably walk them all.

Well, I started moving and my positive attitude was turning negative once again. My legs just were not cooperating as I thought they would. The muscles of my legs were incredibly tight and something that I never expected, my right ankle was throbbing. I reached the Pedestrian Path and was hoping somehow that my legs would cooperate at some point in the day; I knew that if something did not change, I would have a cold, long death march. I watched the lead runners coming back in the other direction and it felt like I was crawling compared to them.

I trudged up into the stadium. As I hit the turf, it felt like a graveyard as there were no fans, no music, and barely any signs of life, just us wannabe Ironmen marching on. I walked through the next aid station. A young volunteer offered a sponge. I grabbed it and asked if this was the first sponge she had given out. I wiped some crap off my body with the sponge then grabbed a drink and pushed on.

I'm not sure why I did not just take splits every mile, but my first three miles were just under 30 minutes. I guess I was ready to pop another gel now. Since I had already tossed my overall time goal out several hours ago, it was much easier for me to drop any run time goal I may have had. I was reduced to jogging, and walking, and walking some more. Somewhere along the Lakeshore Path I saw Chris and Rob heading the other way. I did not want to disappoint them so I tried to pick it up a bit. They offered me encouragement, but I wondered if I would see them again.

Most of the first loop of the "run" was pretty blurry. I was cold, hungry, and tired. I heard cheers of encouragement from the sidelines all along the route, "Good job!!!", "Go Alan!!!", "Keep it up!!!" But my mind was probably trying to conserve its own energy as all the faces and voices faded out like background noise. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Back on the Lakeshore Path, I wanted to stay on the crushed dirt trail to save the pounding on the legs, but it was way too muddy. I hit the tail portion of the course; it was lined with homemade signs offering encouragement. The Ford Inspiration point was there also, and if anyone entered any messages for me, well, sorry I did not look up at the display. Ironically at the "Inspiration Point" my day was quickly deteriorating.

By mile 10, I was now walking a lot. My brain seemed to be shutting itself down and the body with it. I had popped a gel a few minutes earlier, but it seemed to do nothing for me. I was getting light headed and doubts were clouding over. At the next aid station I grabbed a GU (I use Carb-Boom gel), a cup of Coke, and broth - three things I had never tried all season - and washed it down. I kept jogging and walking forward.

As I hit the Pedestrian Path again, I was sinking. The doubts were flooding in from all sides as I questioned myself. Why didn't I eat another Clif bar on the bike? When was the sun going to come out? Had I seen any medical tents along the course? What would happen if I stopped at an aid station? What if I did not finish? Or worse yet, what if I could not finish? My eyelids felt as if I had pulled three straight all-nighters as I struggled to stay awake, mentally and physically. I came off the Pedestrian Path and I walked into the tunnel.

Than at that moment, I no longer wanted to move forward. The desire and will to finish was no longer in me. I wanted it all to disappear: the rain, the cold, the hunger, the aching muscles and bones. I was defeated. The eyes closed shut.

And then...

I stopped...




I don't know how long I was in that tunnel, but the wind howled at me once again. It struck the cross I was carrying on my back and I was urged to take my next step. Standing there was colder than moving forward.

I emerged from the dank tunnel as if I was busting out of my cocoon.

One step, another step...

shuffle, shuffle...

jog, jog, jog...


I rationalized that even if I walked the next 13 miles, I probably built up enough of a time buffer to finish before midnight. But for whatever reason, I was ready to run - after a 126 mile warmup. And in an instant, gone were all the fears and doubts. I was keeping the celebration under control, but I knew I would be an Ironman that day.

On that last stretch back to downtown, I made a promise to myself that regardless of what happened over the next several hours, I would have the time of my life. No longer was I concerned about pace or how many gels I had in my pocket. No longer was I saddled with racing towards a goal time. No longer was I chasing after things beyond my control. I was in a powerful moment and I would live in it. I certainly did not know when or if I would ever be back at a time or place like this again and so I was going to savor the next 13 plus miles.

I hit the special needs bag on a high. I reloaded my pocket with gels and even threw my dry socks into my pocket. I grabbed a plastic bag and tried to slip it over my torso. A kind volunteer helped me with it. I told him I was feeling awesome and that I probably would strip the bag off later. He said no problem and wished me well. I thanked him in turn. As I turned around I saw John coming out for his first loop. I jogged along with him and we chatted a bit. After a few moments I suggested he take the broth at the aid stations, since that provided both nutrition and warmth. I offered some parting words of encouragement and pressed forward. I shed the baggie moments later and remarked to the spectator next to me that Ironmen don't wear plastic, just lycra.

I crossed through the tunnel and remembered what had happened there moments before. I was unfazed this time. As I popped onto the Pedestrian Path, I heard Pharmie yell out at me as she went the other direction. I was hoping to meet up with her again later on the run. Moments later, Mark, a fellow tri club member, caught sight of me and said hello. I ran with him for a little while and hoped to get his spirits up. He mentioned his legs were cramping quite a bit. I tried to encourage him the best I could and wished him well as I went off to try to catch Pharmie.

I knew I was blazing away now. But Pharmie must have been cruising too since it took me awhile before I caught up to her. We chatted a bit about how the day had been going for us. She was moving strong and steadily and I knew that she would be an Ironman by the end of the day. I wished her the best and ran on ahead.

Even though I was feeling awesome, I made it a point to walk through the aid stations. I tried to thank the volunteers as best I could and they deserved more appreciation than I could offer them on the course. Oh and I wasn't about to stop refueling, so I would grab a sip of Coke, some munchies, than a cup of broth at each stop. I also tried to acknowledge the spectators as best I could. I'm pretty sure I saw Zeke out there bundled up on State Street. And how could I not give out high fives to the kids cheering on the side of the street. I heard "Go Allah" several times which made me feel strangely like a god, but made me smile nonetheless. Actually the second time I heard that, I looked at my race number and noticed a few letters were truncated from my name.

Just past another aid station, I spied Dennis cheering from the streets. He mentioned that Trina was just up ahead. He encouraged me to catch her and keep her company on the run. I spotted a free port-o-potty and couldn't pass up that opportunity. I emptied the bowels and came out feeling ten pounds lighter. Aaahhh. I immediately bolted up the hill on Observatory Drive and was running even faster and easier than ever before. I flew down the other side, onto Park Street, and then onto State Street. I saw Trina coming the other way so I picked up my pace, hit the turnaround, and caught her moments later. We ran together for a bit and I knew we were both going to make it to the finish line strong. She pushes me a lot in training and racing and I am better because of her. I am proud of her race day. She had struggled to get past a lot of obstacles this whole season and it was a joy to see her have such an incredible race. Heck she was ahead of me for over 130 miles on this day, having averaged 18.0 mph on the bike.

Once onto Park Street again, I was off and running. Just over a 10k to go. I was really getting excited. I was flying down the Lakeshore Path and wished I could run like this forever. I got back to the point with all the signs and this time I looked for as many names and numbers as I could. I saw a few for my friends and a few for Iron Wil. I had hoped to see Wil on race day and was envious of those who did. She took many of us on an amazing ride this summer and for as much inspiration she has given, I wanted to return the favor. I can't wait to be inspired by her again next year.

I past the Inspiration Point once again and the thoughts I had 13 miles ago were no where to be found. I was flying back towards downtown and near the Stadium I ran into TriSaraTops. We had a pretty goofy conversation, but after 12 hours of racing in the cold and rain, how could you not be a little slap happy? We knew we were both going to be Ironmen today, but she had to point out the fact that I was going to be one just a little sooner. It was a blast for me to be a part of her IM adventure throughout the summer, but to catch her smile on race day was even an bigger thrill.

All along the way I saw many of my friends, racing and battling through the day. I could not wait to hear the stories from them. We were about to enter into a fraternity, each member with a different view, but all forged from that same cold, rainy, September Sunday.

Now I began preparing for the unexpected that waited for me ahead. I adjusted my race number and tried to straighten out my hair. In all honesty, I was on an all time high and did not want what I was feeling for the last two hours to end. But the end of my journey was near. One last turn past the Capitol...a push down toward the finish line...


Run splits: 2:18:42/2:05:49
Run total: 4:24:31

Saturday, September 16, 2006

IM WI Race Day - T1 and Bike


I jogged and walked my way up the helix. It was awesome seeing and hearing the crowds cheering us on. Wow that was fun. I heard Jeff out there telling me I had a good swim. I entered into the first transition room, yelled out my number to the volunteers, but got to my bag before they did. I thanked them anyways and moved to the get naked room.

When I got into the changing room, it was packed full of people. There wasn't as much nakedness as I expected, but that's okay. I wasn't in that room for the scenery. I decided to just plop my stuff down by the water cooler. I pulled out my towel and wiped my torso dry. I slipped on my tri jersey and slid my arm warmers over my wrists. Clipped my race belt and number around my waist. Helmet strapped on, glasses on, stuffed my sandwich, pretzels, and cookies into my jersey pocket, downed a glass of water. I bent over to strap my shoes on. Then I threw the wetsuit and towel back in my bag, and dumped it in a pile next to a volunteer. And out the door I went.

As I exited The Terrace, the misty rain and cold hit me again. I fumbled a bit trying to zip up my jersey and jog at the same time. I opted not to wear a shell nor an Under Armour base layer. So I had to roll up the arm warmers just a little higher. I was anxious to see Ferrah again, but had to run pretty much the length of the transition zone. It was nice to see that the racks were not all empty when I jogged through.

I heard the beep as I crossed the mat exiting T1. I made a quick glance of the watch that flashed something in the 9 minute range. SWEET!!! I was once again right on target. I eased down the helix and onto the streets feeling good, but little did I know that that feeling would soon fade.

T1: 09:46


I tried to ease myself into a good rhythm, but with 2000 other riders out there I couldn't get comfortable. My left foot was driving me nuts and would do so for a few miles. I was getting hungry and wanted to start eating my ham sandwich too. So I stayed out of the aero position for the first few miles while I munched on my lunch. I quickly noticed that Ferrah was not all right.

Shhooo Shhooo it couldn't be. Shhooo, Shhooo, Shhooo....Arrgh. My brake pads were rubbing against my wheel. Noooo...All right just jiggle the calipers and....easy....okay....good it stopped. Let's hope this won't be like this all day.

Once I got past the Alliant Energy Center, things changed quickly. The confidence that I had leaving the Terrace seemed to be washing away. I got frustrated early and often. When I wanted to pass, it seemed like someone was already on my left. When I finally got to the left, I would have to sprint and pass packs of bikers all at once. Damn drafting rules. So if you saw a crazy sprinter out there between downtown and Whalen Road, that was probably me. Boy was I frustrated.

I almost always race with minimal external feedback. No average speed, no heart rate monitors, no power numbers. Just keep it simple and race how you feel. About 5 miles out, I took a quick glance at the numbers from the bike computer and I heard the familiar sound of my brake pads rubbing on the wheel. I looked up at the sky raining down on me, breathed in the cold air lashing at my face, and looked down at the goosebumps on my legs. The discomfort in my foot had not subsided yet either. I knew my body was not accustomed to these kind of conditions. I am a sprinter and I wanted the sun and heat.

I sighed and made what was the toughest decision of the day: I wasn't even ten miles into this race and I threw out my goal time out the window, a goal that I had set more than a year ago.

At that point, it was as if I already been beaten by Ironman. This race was longer than anything I had ever done before. The environmental conditions were very unfavorable to me. My bike was not performing well. I remembered what happened at my first half IM race and knew that this race today would present challenges that I had never encountered before; as a matter of fact, it already had in the swim.

Spirit crushed, I continued to grind on. Over the next few miles, I knew that I could not continue on this way.

Frustrated and resigned I finally reached the loop. I wanted to open things up a little. The bike traffic was driving me insane. As I was pulling out some cookies from my back pocket, a motorcycle drives by and snaps my picture. At this point, I thought, WTF, an official? Did I just get penalized? And for what? There was no effing way I could stay behind anyone for four lengths. Arghh. When it rains it pours, huh?

Now I was totally cursing my decision to ever attempt this race. Not only was my mind betraying me, I was fighting mother nature, fighting my own bike, and now race officials? All I could remember was telling myself to just keep pedaling.

I pushed up the hills with a vengeful spirit. As I passed the second water stop, I pitched my Gatorade bottle. Little did I know that I had just made a bad trade as this stop only had water. Just another drop in on ocean of misery. I pulled up to County Hwy G and saw the penalty tent. I wheeled in and talked to the folks in the tent. They had no clue and sent me on my way. Sigh.....

As I got back on the bike, I had to reexamine my situation right then, right there. County Hwy G was a long stretch with no turns where I was able to search into my soul. I allowed myself the right to complain about the weather, but would never ever let any doubts about my ability to finish this race enter my mind. I reached back to massage my hamstring a bit and realized I had tucked a rosary into my shorts. I remembered that my mom and sister wanted to be here on race day, but I knew that they were thinking and praying for me all day. Today I would have to set a new goal: survive the day.

With the hills still ahead of me, I got back to the grind as the cyclists around me started to frustrate me again. I turned onto Route 92 and sprinted up the short climb to avoid the crowd of amateurs stuck in the wrong gear struggling to stay upright.

I continued to slug through the course, battling the wind and persistent rain. I constantly adjusted my brakes to reduce the rubbing. As much as I tried, I could not resist the urge to power up the hills. Up and out of the saddle, I pushed up the climb to Mt. Horeb as the rain-soaked spectators cheered.

The status quo remained: the hordes of riders, the cold, the rain, the rubbing brake pads. I occasionally popped my feet out of the shoes and wiggled the toes to keep the blood flowing through them. I flew down Garfoot Road and warned the folks of my presence on their left. I had taken this hill on wet roads before in June and despite my issues on the bike today, yes, I trusted my ride. A few minutes past the hill I saw a car coming the other way towards the descent I had just flew down and thought, "thank goodness I wasn't a few minutes slower." Things were still going so so as I got to the Cross Plains aid station. I remember the crowd of hockey fans cheering; this cold probably did not bother them a bit.

Next up was the climb up Old Sauk. Once again I got caught up in the crowd support and powered up the hill. That was awesome blowing by everyone like they were standing still and I hoped the second time around would be just as easy. I was expecting the UW tri team in their skivvies somewhere, but I don't blame them for fearing shrinkage. I do remember the drag queens, especially the one with a sign stating: "First come, first serve." Same thing on the climb up Midtown Road. I made sure that after these uphill sprints I brought my heart rate back in line by taking a bite or two of my Clif bars and taking in some fluids.

Next up was Verona where I flew by the crowds and heard my name shouted out in encouragement. It was hard trying to pick out faces in the crowd while going 20 mph and trying to avoid the other cyclists. I was expecting to get blared at by Dennis and his police-grade bull horn, but a simple cheer was enough as I was ready for another sandwich.

As I turned off Verona Avenue and onto Old County Hwy PB, I cycled through the numbers on my computer and saw that my average speed was 18.5. I thought: "What? No way." My mind was a mess that whole first half and yet here I was just off my goal pace. I hit the special needs stop and was greeted by an awesome volunteer while the rain poured down on us. I reached into my bag, swapped bottles of Accelerade, grabbed my PBJ sandwich, and a few Clif bars, offered the volunteer one of my oatmeal cream pie cookies, thanked him, and went on my way. I was feeling all right.

Ironman was a long day and always ebbed and flowed. Well today things seemed to be flowing more than usual. I knew I had to consume a little more food than I had practiced because my body was burning more to try to stay warm. I also knew that I was right on the edge of hypothermia. My toes were cold and I could see the goosebumps on my quads. "Just survive," I told myself. My initial plan was to take in more fluids than usual, and I succeeded. However, on my second lap I was really struggling with diuresis. I kept thinking WTF? I wanted to stay hydrated, but I didn't want to pee that often. Throughout my training, I would urinate once in three or four hours. Now I needed to pee once every half hour. I hopped off my bike found the bushes and did my business, several times...several times too many.

I knew my average speed had come waaayyy down as I was out there just trying to survive the second loop. The constant dismounting on the bike to pee, the constant frustration with my brake pads, the cold, the wind, and the rain, they all added up to a pretty miserable lap. The chain suck on Marsh View Road really tested my mental stability, but I got back on and just kept pedaling. Just survive. I remembered turning onto County Hwy J and how I almost had a mental breakdown here in June. Knowing that I was stronger today than I was in June lifted my spirits for a while. I was flying down the hills, with a bit of recklessness (my max speed was 42.2 mph), and arrogantly muscled up the hills at the urging of the wonderful crowd support.

After I flew up Midtown Road hill, I once again had to pee. I had wasted too much time off my bike and decided not to dismount anymore. So I slowed down and let it rip. I just made sure my bottle of Accelerade was off the frame at the time. A few minutes later I was finally fed up with the brake pads and directed a very audible "You Bitch" at my bike. I yanked on the brake cable and adjusted the calipers. It is never right to berate a lady, so I quickly apologized to Ferrah and the brakes never seemed to be a problem from then on.

I was relieved as I went through Verona. I had avoided the carnage and flat tires that befell many riders out there, including Cassie, Josh, and Jim, another local triathlete. (It wasn't until later that I found out he completed over 130 miles of this race with a broken clavicle.) But then the wind smacked me right in the face as I headed back to downtown. All I could do was keep pedaling. The long stretch on Whalen Road was torture. But then came the Alliant Energy Center parking lot and I knew I would be off the bike soon. I was counting down the miles, trying to avoid the potholes, and then there it was: Lake Monona, The Capitol and the Terrace. I let out a sigh of relief. I knew I was slow on the bike, but now I had to prepare my mind and body to crush the run.

Finally, I was up out of the saddle, and up the helix. I dismounted with one shoe still on. So I paused to remove my other shoe, passed it to the volunteer, handed Ferrah over to the lovely volunteer, and thanked her as I jogged in to the warmth of the Terrace....

Bike: 6:34:13

IM WI Race Day - Pre Race and Swim

Pre Race and Swim

Sunday morning, 3:30. Again, I did not sleep as much as I would have liked, maybe three and a half hours, but I was awake. I was ready.

I grabbed another sandwich for breakfast. Trina, Cassie, and I were chillin' in the kitchen. We all were getting ourselves ready in our own individual way. I had some more mellow stuff on my mp3 player like some Otis Redding, John Coltrane. Trina was getting herself amped up with some Eminem. Cassie had her quintuple espresso shot coffee. I went through my usually Shit, Shower, Shave routine, grabbed my special needs bags, and we were out the door around 4:45.

Trina's boyfriend, Dennis, was our driver and support for the day. Our first stop was to drop off the special needs bags. The place was crawling with athletes and spectators. We dumped our bags and headed over to The Terrace. I dropped off my food into my transition bags and then went to check on Ferrah. I grabbed the grocery bags off of her and got her ready to ride. I walked a bit through transition to familiarize myself with the whole zone. Ferrah would be on the far right by the last light pole.

I finally met Chris. He had been a source of inspiration for me all summer long and I knew I would be following his lead all day. We chatted a bit as we walked back towards the warmth of the Terrace. We wished each other well and parted ways for the day.

I took the two grocery bags from the bike stuffed them so they hung out of my transition bags so I would spot them immediately upon entering the room. I now realized I had forgotten a few things this morning: taking my multivitamin, taking my allergy medication, and my body glide. The first two omissions did not bother me. But no body glide...That might be a problem. So now I was separated from Cassie, Trina, and Dennis for quite some time and was hoping to find them to borrow some body glide from them. No luck. So I headed over to body marking and then down towards the water.

As I am squeezing myself into my wetsuit, I notice the guy next to me pulling on his wetsuit as well.

"Excuse me sir, mind if I get a squirt of your Chamois Butt'r?" He obliged. So I guess this sharing of another guy's chamois butt'r is becoming a habit of mine.

I saw Josh as he was preparing for his start. We wished each other well as I moved over to dump off my dry clothing bag and strolled a little bit closer to the water. I was relieved when I finally saw Trina and Cassie again. We BSed for a few moments and inched closer towards the water. Josh and the pros were off and swimming already. Trina moved into the water first while Cassie and I hung back just an extra minute. We shouted over a caught Mickey's attention and got a picture taken just a few feet before the water's edge.

"One minute.....WHO WANTS TO BE AN IRONMAN TODAY?" blared the announcer.

I doggie paddled out into the water, took a breathe, and then....


Clicked the watch, breathed in deep, dove forward, stroked, go...

Okay people, the horror stories about an Ironman swim are mostly true. At over 2400 athletes, the 2006 IM WI was the largest field to ever start a race. It was definitely a contact sport out there.

I started waaayy to the right, but I eventually merged into the mess. I was kicked and groped pretty much the entire first half mile. As I approached the first buoy, I was about 10 meters away from the buoy and came to a complete stand still. I pretty much treaded water towards the next buoy while trying to navigate through the masses.

As we made the turn at the next buoy, we were greeted by the wind and chop.

Holy Crap!!! Where's my dramamine...

So now most of my thoughts turned to survival. My plans had to be changed from swimming strong and trying to race to avoid getting the snot beat out of me or drowning under the waves.

After a few strokes I was able to synchronize my stroke and breathing to the waves. That lasted, oh, all of five seconds as I had to slow up yet again as the mass of bodies collected in front of me. About 3/4 of a mile into the swim...thump. I had gotten kicked in the face and my goggles came sliding down. Ugh. So I breaststroke kick a bit while trying to secure the goggles back on my face. Meanwhile waves kept crashing over me and the sharks were still thrashing around. Fun...

Folks just remember these two simple pieces of advice: Don't freak out in the water and breathe, normally.

So I encountered more kicking, more groping, and not enough open swimming lanes. I tried several times to "follow my lead blocker" and draft behind someone, but they seemed to want to swim in a direction that I did not want to go.

For most of the swim, I swam passively. I would take a few strokes then let up. I allowed the aggressive swimmers to pass by me while I let the blind swimmers cut in front of me. Only once did I get upset. That happened when my ankle was physically grabbed. I switched from my weak flutter kick to my mortal-kombat-fatality breaststroke kick. I grazed him with my foot as a warning shot, but then slowed up to let him go by. Have a nice day buddy!!!

The second loop was not as bad. To keep my mind from getting too frustrated about the swimming conditions, I tried to calculate the amount of extra distance I covered. Let me tell you the square root of 68 was not easy to calculate during that swim. So by the end of the swim I estimated I swam an extra 90 meters or so. That would equate to roughly an extra 2 minutes. So as I exited the water I glanced at my watch which read just over 1:21. AWESOME!!! I was pretty much right on target.

The wetsuit peeling zone was a bit slippery as I almost wiped out. Luckily I landed safely on my butt, let the strippers do their job, thanked them, asked if I could tip them, then went on my way, full of confidence...

Swim: 1:21:40

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pre IM WI - Friday/Saturday

Friday morning rolls around and we are all ready for some more fun. Josh headed out to ride the loop, while Cassie, Trina, and I headed downtown. Trina got another ART massage while Cassie and I headed over to Machinery Row to get a few minor bike adjustments - new brake pads for me and shift cable adjustments for Cassie. Cassie found out there were some bigger issues with her bike, but there was nothing she could do at this point. Afterwards we headed into The Terrace for a little IM mechandise shopping. Next we hustled away from the crowds and grabbed a quick lunch from Jimmy John's before meeting Bruce for a drive on the bike course.

The radio was playing Ironman, by Black Sabbath and it really got us going. After driving the course, Cassie and I rode for about 45 minutes to make sure our bikes were functioning well. A quick shower, another drive back to The Terrace, and we were at the dinner hall buzzing with wannabe IM athletes. A whole crowd of us from C-Town were there trying to soak it all in. I wished I could have met some of the other bloggers at dinner at Stu's abode that night. It sounded like loads of fun. But no biggie, since I would meet many of them on Sunday.

Later that evening, Trina, Cassie, Josh, and I grabbed some ice cream. As we sat outside it became apparent that we were in for some nasty weather. The wind picked up and the air started to bite. We knew that this was the inclement weather that was in the forecast. We all hoped it would blow over before Sunday, but I knew better.

When we finally got back to my aunt and uncle's, I went out to the garage to spend some quality time with Ferrah, my bike. (By the way, my Felt F1C has been named Ferrah. If anyone wants an explanation leave me a comment and I'll tell you the inspiration of that name.) I pre-glued my spares and gave my bike a good cleaning. I had a bit too much energy and did not sleep much again; I was ready for Sunday but would have one more day to wait.

Saturday morning I got up again with less sleep than I had hoped. After some breakfast, I went out to the garage to get my spare tires ready. And for the first time all week, I become frustrated. I could not find a good way to secure my two spare tires. Holy crap was I getting pissed off. And I wanted to get in a quick run in the morning as well too. Well Cassie finally told me to get a hold of myself. Breathe...okay so I decided to shove a spare with some tools into a bike bag and throw the other tire into the special needs bag. I was rolling the dice that I would not need that second tire before mile 58. But crap that did episode take me out of my game.

The damage was done as I had lost my cool; it threw me off all day. But things were about to get a bit more interesting. We rolled downtown to drop off our bikes. When we got there we felt something was just not right. I racked my bike, covered up the saddle and aerobars with some bags (forgot about TriEric's tip to bring extra swimming caps) and then regrouped with my IM sisters. We ran into a few other C-Town athletes and then we realized we had messed up - our transition bags had yet to be packed.

Oh my...shit... shit... All right, all right. Breathe...BREATHE!!!! Okay, no time for lunch. The plan...Let's get those bags packed and hustle back here. We'll be fine...Calm down....Breathe...

Luckily the three of us knew what we were doing and what we needed. We threw all our gear into the bags, double checked with each other and hopped back into the car. I was still a bit frazzled as my driving certainly wasn't the safest at that time.

I hadn't worn my racing flats in a month so I slipped my orthotics into those shoes and wore those on my way back downtown. We got back into The Terrace and scoped out the scene. We walked through the hordes of people and dropped off our bags. We also tried to figure out our route through the maze of rooms that we would need to go through during transition. Swim to bike bags here, the get naked room, enter bike to run room over there, back into the get naked room, out to the bikes. Check. I ran into Iron Wil again and we exchanged pleasantries; she was floating on air and seemed ready to go.

We headed back to the Great Dane for a really late lunch or really early dinner. Either way we were fortunate that it worked out quite well, timing wise. We wrapped up our hearty meal around 16:00. I attended Mass that evening and all the misadventures from the day seemed to ease away.

Now back at the house, it was time to get my picnic lunch ready for Sunday. Ham sandwich...check. Peanut butter jelly...check. Pretzels...check. Cookies...check. Three bottles of Accelerade...check. A couple of Clif bars...check. Eight Carb Boom gels...check. Everything else I would want would be grabbed at the aid stations. I threw a few things into my special needs bags -spare tire for the bike and socks in a Ziploc for the run - and let out a sigh of relief. Everything was pretty much prepared and ready to go.

I had never been out on the run course, so Cassie and I watched some of the podcasts from Stu. Now time to kick back and watch some football. OSU v Texas. What a game for the Buckeyes!!! I stayed up until it was over. My relatives were just getting back from dinner and so I said goodnight to them. I turned the lights out, laid my head back, and waited for the next morning to arrive...