Thursday, August 31, 2006

Failure, Fear, and Expectations

I remember when Iron Wil wrote this: "But with never failing, comes never growing, and a false sense of immortality that sets you up for disaster the moment you enter into a realm of things that are beyond your control."

I used to be afraid of failure. I was scared of the unknown consequences that would come if the outcome was not what I expected. But I didn't always meet my goals. Sometimes I stumbled. And maybe that happened more often than I like to admit. But what I am learning along the way is that I can manage my expectations to control my fear.

So even though I stated my IM "A" goal time to everyone in the free world, I am not afraid of missing that mark. I think it was better this way. I am usually harder on myself than everyone else. As opposed to my own dark secret, 11:43 has become an inside joke with the some of the people I train with. So if I finish with an 11:45 or even 16:45, what are the consequences? I'll just have to endure a little more good natured ribbing.

It's been mentioned by some folks here and herethat Ironman is a totally different animal. You can only do so much with that beast. While I have my "A" standard I have my B and C standards too. That is how I manage my expectations. After all I really don't know what to expect on race day. And even if you cross the line 5 minutes from midnight they will still call out your name and say you are an Ironman,

Some fear and doubt may creep into my head before September 10th, but on that day I'll give it all I've got. There is one thing I do know I am not afraid of: I am not afraid of giving my best.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


A few weeks ago, Papa Louie posted a few demotivators here. For the most part I find them funny, yet realize there are some truths behind them. I checked out a few others and this one hit home.

For the most part, I had filed my heart problems into the subbasement of my brain. I was put through a battery of tests and passed all of them. I have had no symptoms the last few months. And of course I have been swimming, biking, and running... a lot. My family physician is okay with my participation in Ironman, but my cardiologist has never given the green light for me to race; I've been training and racing under yellow all year.

So when this story about the baseball player David Ortiz came out, some doubts resurfaced in me. Here is a baseball player who swings a bat 4 or 5 times a night; he is sitting in a hospital room tonight as a precaution. I, on the other hand, will be swimming, biking, and running all day.

No one really believes that I have Brugada Syndrome. My dad thinks I'm fine, I think I'm fine, and my cardiologist probably doesn't want to tell me that he doesn't think I have it. But until I am tested, there will be a small degree of uncertainty.

I've prepared myself the best I can within certain parameters. If there are family and friends out there who are still concerned, please don't be. Just give me some positive thoughts and prayers next Sunday. The hearts of Ironmen and Ironwomen are strong physically and figuratively and I intend to hear the words: "You are an Ironman."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Statement of Intentions


That is my goal time for IM WI.

I know, I know. Don't set a time goal, especially on your first IM. Blah, blah, blah. There's a lot of good backstory to how this number came about, but let's just say it involved an intrepid past president of our tri club and my foot in my mouth. Believe it or not that was the mark I put in my brain two years ago and I'm sticking to it.

To break this down a little more,

Swim: 1:20
Bike: 6:00
Run: 4:00
Transitions: 0:20.

Yes those are razor thin margins, but that's how I need to break it down if I am going to hit my mark. And to be honest with you and myself each one of those are absolutely within reach.

If your going to set a goal, set it high. Don't make it impossible, but just past the edge of your comfort zone. This world would be so much different if all we ever did was try to meet the minimum standards. I don't think Chris Columbus ever said: "Oh, let's sail for a few days and see how far we get."

You will never know how far you can go if you never take that next step.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Last Run

I was not about to let rain dampen my last workout before taper. I was hoping for a little break in the rain, but at 12:30 I decided to just run through it. So I laced up the trail shoes and hit the Towpath. I ran for about an hour in a steady rain before it let up and eventually it stopped raining.

The plan was 20 miles at 9:00 minutes per mile. I surprised even myself as I looked at my watch during my run.

13:19.61 - I started between mile markers. The first marker was actually about a mile and a half away. Looking at my watch on the way back though, this was pretty close to 9:00 minute pace.

11:59.95 - I stopped short of the mile marker and turned back.

18:00.65 - That's one hell of a groove.

8:23.95 - This was another turnaround point. Pretty sure this mile was short.

16:58.98 - I think the last two splits threw me off my game.
8:31.39 - I tried finding the 9:00 again, but at least I held the 8:30.
8:47.99 - I purposely walked to get that pace slower.
8:41.20 - To heck with it, I'm almost done.
7:26.30 - I had only one mile marker left before my car, so why not push it.
5:58.73 - Cool down.

Total Time

The total distance was probably under 19.5, but at this point who cares? I am in taper and I declare that I am ready for Ironman. No doubts, no fears.

Let's roll.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

By the Numbers, August 26, 2006

- Ride time in hours

- Ride distance in miles

- Average miles per hour

- Max speed on the ride

- Number of awesome folks that rode with me for most of the day

- Transition run distance in miles

8:37.38 and 8:57.49
- Run splits in minutes

- High temperature in degrees Farenheit

- Humidity

- Number of water bottles of fluids consumed during the workout

- Clif bars consumed

- Gel consumed

- Endurolyte capsules consumed

- Picnic lunch consisting of Ham sandwich, PBJ sandwich, peanut butter cookies, banana, and pretzels

- Number of days till taper

- Number of days till the big show

- Doubts in my mind

Friday, August 25, 2006


Well my creative writing juices haven't been flowing recently, so I'll just give you a few random thoughts.

  1. I've gotten a few comments about my photogenic legs. I'm flattered. Two more words: Weight Room.
  2. Tuesday night I went back to Virigina Kendall for my run. These are some hilly trails with plenty of steps, roots, and rocks. But I felt compelled to run there for some inspiration. (Thanks to RootsRunner) I swear this will be my last trail run until after IM WI. Okay maybe one run on the Towpath.
  3. I've been having some problems with my race wheels. Apparently there is not enough space on the hub. So when the chain is in the smallest gear it hits the spokes. I've had these wheels for several years now and this problem just surfaced in July. I dropped the wheels off to the LBS to see what they can come up with. Hopefully I'll have them back in time for IM WI, but if not, my other wheel set ain't that shabby.
  4. It had to happen sometime. I got to the gym locker room tonight and immediately realized I did not have any goggles. The guard didn't have any in the lost & found, but I decided to swim anyways since this pool doesn't overdo it on the chlorine. Needless to say, I cut my swim down from 4800 to 2200 yds and I scrapped the 100s for 50s. It was pretty interesting swimming with your eyes mostly closed. I can do an okay job of swimming straight, I just need to line myself up in the right direction. Unfortunately my eyes are just a bit red now. I'll have to run the spellchecker a second time.
  5. I'll have some company on my long ride Saturday as a few of my Wednesday Night Ride crew will be riding too. My coach has set a date for the 2nd annual 200 mile ride. So a few folks will be ramping up for that. Just hope the weather cooperates.
  6. There was a pretty big chronological gap in my posts. I never posted my race recap from Musselman half IM. Even though the race did not go well for me, it was still an awesome trip. Hence the Frazz comic below. And this guy may remain an unsolved mystery.
  7. Okay last thing for today. I need some help filling up an iPod. So what are some tunes you folks jam to before a race? If I was really ambitious, I would compile a bunch of songs from you out there in blogland and burn a bunch of CDs for you. And the lurkers can play along too.
  8. Time for bed....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Off Center

I don't know why but I tend to do things just a hair different from conventional wisdom. Example: I signed up for an Ironman with only one Olympic distance tri and no half ironman races under my belt. Some people thought I was nuts, but I felt sound in my decision. So that's the reason for today's song selection.

Here's another example: take a look at my training schedule for this week. It estimates out to about 24 hours of workout time. This will be the largest training week for me all year. Everyone else doing IM WI seems to be in taper already. Me? not quite. Go ahead and ask: "But you're less than three weeks from your Ironman and you're not tapering? Are you crazy?" Well, yes I probably am a little crazy, but no I'm not too worried.

Almost one year ago, I swore I would take a four week taper. Even as late as early July I was planning a four week taper. But then Musselman. Ever since then it seems as though I have been seeking redemption and a validation of my training and abilities. So much happened in July that in early August I was wishing for a few more weeks to get back on track. Well my coach has given me what I want.

So yes Monday I got in about 50 miles on the bike (had to cut the ride short) before getting in 3600 yds in the water. And yes this coming Saturday I intend to ride somewhere between six and seven hours, rain or shine. And yes Sunday I intend to run about three hours or about 20 miles. If the peanut gallery needs an explanation, well let me enumerate.
  1. I want another crack at the nutrition thing
  2. I need more bonding time with my bike
  3. I need to dial in to my race pace
  4. My body seems to really like this low intensity, high volume stuff. Right now I do not feel beat up. (Although I am trying to stave off some more knee problems.)
  5. Last week was a recovery from a half IM, so I feel pretty fresh. If you take that into consideration, you could probably say my taper started last week - four weeks out.
So it's all good. No worries. I don't know much about tapering, but it sounds as though the key to a good taper is in your mental state. And maybe if I trick myself into a two week taper period, I can keep the pessimism some where other than in my brain.

You'll probably see an increase in the number of pictures and posts from me in the next few weeks as I reflect on the journey I have taken. Let's roll...

See below for the most unphotogenic athlete.
I may have the dorkiest expression on my face
but at least I don't look like the walking dead this time.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Thanks everyone for kind words about my half IM, but unfortunately I am usually my own worst critic. Don't get me wrong, I pretty much accomplished what I wanted to on Sunday. I am content with my performance, but I know I still have some things to take care of before September 10th. I won't say I have my race day nutrition down to the exact number of calories, but I will have a plan in place.

What worries me a bit now is my mental interconnections. You see I am not really wired as an endurance athlete. I began my competitive running career doing 100 and 200 meter dashes. I was actually best at distances even shorter than that. The races were pretty simple: hear gun, explode to maximum speed, lean across the line, done. My first ever cross-country race in high school, I went out at a "conservative" 3:05 for my first 1km and died as I finished the 5k in like 22:00. On the final few miles on Sunday there were stretches where my legs just stopped running. Why? Because I was blitzing through some of those miles in the middle of the race at maybe 7:30-7:40ish. If Sunday was like a dress rehearsal for Ironman, well I certainly didn't follow the script.

So it's a little ironic that I can do brain (radio)surgery but don't know how to run a race. I know I am terrible with pace and "negative splits" is not in my vocabulary. When I did my marathon two years ago, every week I would have one run when the entire time I forced myself to keep my pace right near 7:00 mile so I could get a feel for it. My dress rehearsal that year was a 30k and I was hitting every mile pretty close to that mark. What happened during the marathon? My mile splits were like a yoyo and I missed my goal time by 10 minutes. (My nutrition plan wasn't the smartest that day either.)

So fast forward to now. Immediately after the race on Sunday I knew what I had to do: GO RUN SOME SLOOOOOOWW MILES!!! I need to know how they feel. I need to hardwire that sensation into my brain and into my legs. I will have to come up with some think-slow mantra and stick with it in the face of thousands of spectators and racers cheering me on to go faster. I'll want to back off almost 1 mph on the bike too. Wow that is going to be a real challenge to keep the blinders on and sticking to my plan the whole day. But no one makes the journey to Ironman without facing some challenges.

And that is one reason why I took this Ironman journey: to take on your weaknesses and not let them hold you back from the finish line. Time for me to rewire.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Greater Cleveland Triathlon

Today's music selection of may be odd, but read my race recap to get the scoop. On with the story.

Episode 1 - Saturday Pre Race

My recap could actually start Friday, but let's just say I didn't get to bed till the middle of Saturday morning. I decided to sleep until my body wanted to wake up, which happened to be about 10:30. Rolled out of bed, munched on some food and did some high cadence spinning for about half an hour. I left to run a ton of pre-race errands about 12:30 and ended up traversing all across town. I didn't return home until about 19:30 when I threw together some tuna fish pasta for dinner.

About 21:00 I started getting the baby ready for her race debut. I was able to grab some aero bars, extra bottle cages, and a bento box. Yes I was trying a lot of new things on race day. I was going to be in a new geometry with those S-bend aerobars. I wasn't planning on using my race wheels, but that afternoon the LBS called and said my new cassette was in; they already put it on the wheel. Well here it is 21:00 Saturday night, I'm on the trainer with a brand spanking new bike that's been pimped out, and then to my surprise my shifting is just terrible as the chain is skipping or not changing gears when I shift. Well you know what? I looked down and saw that I had a 9-speed cassette to go with my 10-speed shifters. Nice job bike shop. The bike was still rideable, so I decided that I would have my buddy, who was wrenching at the race, check it out on site in the morning. But just in case, I needed a backup plan so I put on some new tires on my other set of wheels so I could run at a higher PSI. So here she is ready to go.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Now it's close to midnight when my bike was finally all ready to go and I had yet to pack any other gear or prepare my picnic. That finally all got done about 1:30. I had loads of nervous energy so probably didn't fall asleep till 2:15. ZZZZzzzzzz

Episode 2 - Race Day Morning - Pre Race

Luckily everything was laid out before I went to bed. Around 4:15, I crawled out of bed, brushed my teeth, and started munching on my pre race PBJ sandwhich. Sh!t, shower, shave and about 5:15 I was on the road. I get to the site and pulled in to the wrong side of the park. So I double back around to the proper parking lot, where I find my reserved parking space. Transition was supposed to close in 45 minutes and I needed to get my bike looked at too. I was a bit rushed but I knew what I needed to do. I was treated to some Puccini over the loudspeakers while in transition and that settled me down a little. I was probably one of a handful of athletes who recognized and appreciated hearing "Nessun Dorma," but that's way better than "Who Let the Dogs Out."

I ran into e-speed doing some body marking and got some lovely artwork from Paula.
And no I don't shave my legs.

Usually before a race I have some time to chat and catch up with friends, but it was as if the entire tri community was out there on Sunday. So I didn't catch as many people as I wanted to, especially the athletes doing the sprint.

Episode 3 - Swim

Well the race was delayed a bit as another buoy was getting placed out in the water, but no worries. So we had to swim directly east and parallel to shore for about half a mile, then make a turn and head back. It was a bit tough to actually see the buoys through the sunlight and that far out. Luckily I am a slower swimmer and was able to navigate by watching the bobbing heads of the other swimmers. No worries as I swam out. I did have to slow up a bit to let out a little stream; I apologize to the folks behind me. On the way back I was expecting to see more red buoys, but I guess they changed the colors up and we had to swim towards a few green buoys. That led me a little of course. Then towards the end the buoys went back to red, but apparently I was swimming towards to wrong buoy. That lead to a little extra distance, but no worries. So as I made the last turn and headed towards shore, I saw a lot of swimmers. I thought: "Wow there must have been a lot of swimmers just a bit faster than me." Ten seconds later I notcied the swimmers were getting closer and it was as if a school of pirranha was headed right for me, their slow moving dinner. They were the sprinters coming right at me. So a quick course correction and I avoided them. Whew. I safely climb out of the water, quickly glance at the time on my watch. Hmm, a bit slow, but I swam a little off course; no worries.

Episode 4 - T1

Nothing exciting here. Helmet on, check, sunglasses, check, picnic lunch into my jersey, check, let's roll. I had a pretty quick transition, maybe in the top ten or fifteen out of all the half IM participants. It wasn't until the run when I realized I never put on any sunscreen this morning. Luckily I did not get sunburnt again.

Episode 5 - Bike

Many folks have commented that this is one of the toughest courses they have every raced on. Since I have done a number of training rides on it, I had no worries. I actually enjoy a good climb or ten. I tried to settle in on the first mile or two, but my hamstrings were just downright tight. I believe this is a combination of the compression on them from the wetsuit, not being entirely comfortable on my bike, and just plain having weak hamstrings.

When I say not being comfortable on my bike, I mean two things specifically: 1. I am trying to spin more than mash and 2. I am trying to sit further back on the saddle. I am pretty much going from a 90 RPM kind of guy to a 100 RPMs; going 10 RPMs faster from one year to the next is tough. I believe my hamstrings are still trying to get used to being recruited. As for sitting back on the saddle that should use my hamstrings more, but it will help the knees out.

I also started munching on my ham sandwich. I cut it into little pieces the night before, so every few minutes I reached back and grabbed a bite. I wanted to consume all of this by mile 10 and I think I ate all but one or two bites. By the way I chose a maple honey ham on white bread and no condiments.

I had also packed two bottles of Accelerade, a bottle of water, and a bottle of endurance gatorade. The plan was to take a fresh bottle of gatorade or water at each stop. So I drank about 3/4 of the bottle of gatorade and replaced it with a fresh bottle at the first aid station. I nailed the handoff, but dropped it ten seconds later as I tried to put it into the cage. Bummer. By the way, I had new cages behind my saddle. They were more straight up as opposed to what I had before, which was angled down a bit. Maybe I'll tinker with that angle a bit.

Around mile 10, the fun started. Rob pulled up besides me before the killer hill. He is an extraordinarily fast swimmer and biker, so it was no surprise he caught me so soon. I cruised up the steep section of the hill, but five minutes later we were still climbing on false flats and he caught up to me. I wanted to keep riding with him, but I had to tell myself that he was doing the aquabike and that I was here to prep for IM WI, not race a half IM.

I was trying to settle in, but I wanted to keep eating too. Besides my sandwich, I packed a Little Debbie oatmeal cream pie (370 calories in this cookie!!!) and was hoping to snag some fruit somewhere to complete my picnic too. For the rest of the ride I went with Clif bars and was ripping off chunks every 10 to 15 minutes. I would chase it down with water or gatorade, but in hindsight I needed to take in larger and more sips of water. It was pretty uneventful, but it was nice to see Brooks out at an aid station and Lloyd and Eric and his SBR team at another aid station. Thanks for the encouraging "Good Nutrition" mantra Eric.

Well the hills kept on coming and I tried to get into the aero postion as often as possible. Well about mile 35 or so I realized I would need to adjust my position before my next ride. My back started to ache like crazy and I believe it was because I was reaching too far in my new aero geometry. So needless to say, I wasn't in the aero position too much between miles 40 and 58.

Episode 6 - T2

About 3 hours later I returned to the transition area. My flying dismount wasn't too fast nor too pretty but it did the job. I took my time in T2 as I wanted to settle myself down for the run. There were a bunch of the sprint racers there cheering me on which was a very welcoming sight and sound. I was really slow as the announcer was about to charge me a night's rent.

Episode 7 - Run

Well in two miles I would find out if I had learned anything over the last four weeks. The course was an out and back and out and back. The first mile was pretty slow as I was trying to find my running legs. I actually decided to take a pit stop in the bushes too. I saw a lot of tri club folks cheering or working the aid stations; kudos to you all. The third mile rolled around and turned out to be a couple of rollers, but this is where things started to fall apart for me last time. This time, it felt good. I pushed up the hill and hit the turnaround. All systems still good and functioning fine. I put it into cruise and started picking people off. For some reason I decided not to take splits at every mile, I had figured I was doing this race based on how I was feeling anyways. I wish I had. My first two miles I hit were at 16:40 which included my T2.5. The first 6.55 miles ended up around 50-51 minutes.

It was really nice seeing so many of the racers, volunteers, and spectators several times. E-speed was there again energetic as ever at the 1/2 way point. I stayed stronger for ten miles, but after I hit that last hill, I knew I was going to struggle the last 3 miles. I had built up too much lactic acid in the legs and they were feeling absolutely spent. But I had no worries. My energy level was still high, so I dragged myself through the last few miles. I certainly could have pushed through and emptied my tank, but I wasn't about to put myself in a world of hurt over a "nutritional training race."

I ran with just Carb-boom gel, water, and endurance gatorade. I think it worked okay, but I should have popped a few salt tablet either in T2 or early on the run.


Swim - 43:00
T1 - 1:17
Bike - 2:58.09
T2 - 1:17
Run - 1:51.05

Total - 5:34:46

It turns out the swim was maybe 350 yards long. And yes the bike course was listed at 58.2 miles instead of the standard 56 miles. That should be about 13 minutes? If you deduct that, I finished 70.3 in 5:21 on a tough bike course with no taper. But I will try to ignore that extrapolation and simply state that I shaved 20 minutes off of my run split. So yeah that's a pretty good improvement. I think the nutrition went well, as my energy was pretty good all day.
But as I will explore later this week, I still have some work to do. I was about to declare myself in taper, but no, not yet. A short recovery period and then I will try to get in a swim/bike brick this weekend. Time to get back to work.

I don't race with the tri club colors, but it was like a club outing on Sunday. Just check out the pictures snapped by e-speed. Thanks to everyone involved in any capacity.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Today's music selection:

So I've been in da funk ever since my half IM about a month ago. Things didn't go the way I expected. I can't go so far as to call it a failure, but the outcome of that race was tough to swallow. I did not expect to be stumbling across the finish line like this.

Anyways the last few weeks have been consumed with completing school so the training has suffered, not to mention my lack of proper sleep and nutrition. I can't say I remember the last time I slept more than six hours straight except last night. The muscles, in reality, are fine since they have not been over worked, but the brain is screaming no mas. Thankfully it will all be over by week's end.

But I can't shake this funk. I bonked and to remedy this I need to work on my race day nutrition. Well that only comes with trial and error and frankly I do not have a large enough sample size to know what works and what doesn't. Sure I have been out on the bike for many hours the last few weeks, but a 9 hour and roughly 108 mile ride isn't quite the same as 112 miles at 6 hours.

When I signed up for Ironman last September I did not fear the 140.6 miles nor did I fear the possibility of 90 degree heat nor the hills. The one thing that I feared was that my nutrition would fail me and I would have an absolutely terrible day. Well, my fear was realized during my dress rehearsal. So yes that fear is real, and I really don't know if I have solved my problems yet.

Well today I did 1:45 minute run back at some on my old high school cross country trails. I could not resist running by Kendall Lake, Octagon, the Ledges, Ice Box Cave, and nipple hill. And after my run I was greeted with a call from a good friend of mine/former college running buddy. Since she was on an 80 mile commute back home (I don't know how those Cali folks do that) we had some time to talk and it ceratinly picked me up. As we were talking about nutrition during race day we came to this conclusion: when it comes to race day anything, and I mean anything can happen. It's really all a crapshoot so do what you can and don't stress over it.

So here's the plan. Give that nutrition thing another test this Sunday at another half IM. And I think my plan my actually include a ham sandwich. The one goal for this half will be to finish feeling pretty good. Sounds simple right? But I'm sure it's easier said than done. Stress out? Well that's something I know I can control and right now, I'm not squeezing as hard as I was before. As Wil said: Trust yourself...Just let go.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Sorry, I had some problems last night with blogger and my computer, but here are a few bike pictures.

The road bike I had been riding for the last seven years.

The bike I have ridden my last 180 miles the past week.
Didn't want to change the cassette to put on the carbon wheels,
but they are similar to the ones shown here.
There's a lot of carbon on the bike already.
If anyone really wants a component list, just speak up.
Go ahead on click on the pics to get a bigger view.

Just for a quick comparison, check out the difference in the size of the two bike frames.

And finally, my first bike that I have been slowly trying restore.
Almost done just need to trim and adjust the cables.

I won't have much time to post till next week. Have a great week everyone.