Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ironman Hottanooga (2016): The Devil wears lycra

"Hey, Bobs, I have a great idea!"

"What's your great idea, Bob?"

"Let's run a marathon with at least half of it in direct sunlight in the hottest part of the day!"

"Wow, that's a great idea, Bob!"

"And let's do it on a day with record setting temperatures!"

"Oh, Bob," congratulatory backslap, "you are a genius!"

"And let's get some high humidity in there too!"

"You're such a kidder, Bob!"

"Hey, Bobs!"

"Yes, other Bob?"

"I have an even more greater idea!"

"What's your even more greater idea, Bob?"

"Let's swim 2.4 miles and bike 116 miles before we run that marathon in the hottest part of the day!"

"OH, Bob!  What a much greater idea that is!"

Hearty laughter...

Eerie music begins to play...

Scene fades to black.

Ironman Pukeanooga is another notch in the old Stupid Shit I Have Toughed Out To Prove My Worth utility belt. You have already read the reports, but it was hot. Not just un-seasonally warm.  The average high temp on this day is 80 degrees. We went right past warm, into hot, and blasted into scorching, with an unexpected record high of 97 degrees.

The humidity averaged 57% with a high of 87%.  The heat index of 97 + 87% humidity is over 150 degrees. The heat index of 97 with 57% humidity is 116 degrees.  While we did not have maximum temps or humidity the entire day, any stretch in these conditions was devastating.  There was little to no cloud cover for most of the day.

More than 25% of the starting field dropped out during the race or didn't make the time cutoffs. Simply put, it was awful.

But enough complaining. Everyone had to deal with the same conditions. At least it wasn't windy!

I was as well prepared as I could get. I stayed focused, in the moment, on top of my game, on top of my efforts, my power; my inner demons quieted by the oppressive silence of my robotic like focus on performance and execution. I was a stormtrooper of determination and well rehearsed action. I was a Jedi Master of fluid, nutrition, sodium, and putting ice in my hat like a motherf"cking Yoda.

The Sun laughed and shit down a rain of sunbeams. I melted like a cheap plastic toy under the happy assault of a curious child with a can of aerosol and a lighter. Flame on! Done!

But that was just the last few miles. I held it together well through about mile 15. So let's start at the beginning.

The swim is down river with a mild current. I swung towards the middle to avoid the crowds and gain clear water. I swam at a medium to medium fast effort and won the Roka age group swim split award for men 45-49. Yay!  Exited the swim feeling like I didn't work too hard. Perfect. Robot. Focus. Laser beams. Sunshine.  46:11.

The bike ride is 115.8 miles or so according to most GPS units. My goal was to ease into the first few miles then hold a steady effort at about 70% of my power threshold. I finished just slightly higher than that with a 72% average and 74% normalized power - variability index of 1.03.  My TSS for the ride was 292 which is just a tick on the high side of what I was shooting for.  Effort wise: completely harmless. Didn't push a thing and felt smooth throughout the ride. Had a mostly clear ride after shaking out a few drafters in the first 30 miles. Very mild winds if anything.

Bike nutrition: I took in 4,800 mgs of sodium + 1,500+ potassium and supplemental electrolytes + 2,500 calories via Gatorade endurance, Carbo Pro, 3 Power Gels, 2 bonk breakers,  1 pack of clif bloks,  9 or 10 x 20 ounce bottles of fluid, and thermolyte tablets.

The bike was the best kind of bike - completely uneventful. One slowdown due to a very cautious driver ahead of me. No mechanicals. No issues. Almost no other competitors nearby. Wonderful, steady, boring.

My mind was a computer. Check the power. Internal system check. Drink. Eat. Check the power. Internal system check. Stay aero. Eat. Drink. Repeat. Laser. Robot. Focus. 5:28.

Could feel the heat coming down for the last 12 miles. Big stretch of open highway. Heat sink. Stay focused. Want to take my helmet off. Stay focused. Laserbeams. Robots. Ice in my veins.

Onto the run. I changed into an old OSB running top I had cut short to keep as much skin aerated as possible. In hot/humid conditions I sweat like a pig and excrete a ton of minerals doing so. My achilles heel. I didn't want skintight material soaked with sweat boiling me any more than necessary.

Blah blah blah blah. I ran around 9 minute pace with 1 minute or so walk breaks at each aid station. I loaded up with ice in my hat, 2 cups of fluids, the occasional gel or clif blok. I was taking in 4-5 oz of cola or Gatorade Endurance at each stop + additional water. About 40 ounces an hour. Still not enough. I had a thermolyte salt tab every 20-30 minutes. Still not enough. ~600mg sodium/hr or more. I grabbed some base salt from the course and started to supplement with that. I had a 10 ounce bottle to sip on in between stations. Not enough. I held "steady" through mile 15 with minimal walk breaks.

My logic had been to load up on the bike with everything so that I could avoid stressing my stomach on the run with all this junk.

Not enough. :) Someone forgot to tell me the temperature would break records and the humidity would reach eighty per-bleeping-cent. Gahh!

Let me describe the course for a moment.

The first four miles of each of the two loops are on a large exposed highway.  No shade. Boiling hot. I ran through here around 2pm the first time and 4pm the second time. The second time was hotter than the first. I started to crumble. I could feel my body overheating. It was excruciating. I began to suffer from heat exhaustion. Not the mental "it's sooo hot, waaah" but the rapid pulse, dizzy, beginnings of nausea and twinges of muscle cramps. This is indicative of electrolye depletion, let alone dehydration.

So began the slow rundown to a run-walk, then a walk-run-walk, then a miserable dizzy walk. I continued to attempt to refuel at the aid stations and use the base salt as a supplement. I had run out of my thermolyte tabs. I saw my wife and son at ~mile 19. I wanted to stop and hug them and go home with them. It was still so - bloody - hot. I had six more miles. If I could run-walk I'd be done in an hour 15. I stayed focused. I started to run over the bridge. I started to puke. Loud, awful, painful retching. I threw up everything from the last 2-3 miles.  I caught my breath and started to run again.

We hit the hill. I tried to take some more salt and drink. I walked a little. I had to sit down and throw up again. My legs cramped while vomiting. I stood outside myself for a moment and saw a pathetic creature lying in the dirt, puking and grabbing his legs. I stood up and got over the hill. I sat down to drink some more water and take a short rest break.

I walked again. I threw up again. I tried to run. Total leg cramps. I wanted to cry.

Laser. Robot. Focus.

3 more miles. 20 minutes on a good day. I walked. Aid station. I got a cup of ice water and sat down. 2 miles to go. I sat and drank my ice water and watched the runners go by. I didn't throw up. I sat for 13 minutes and didn't care about my time, or my race, or what other racers might think. I thought about getting some of that fluid in my system so I could keep moving. I asked God to let me drink this one f"cking cup of ice water without throwing it up. Please God, I said, let me drink this one stupid cup of water. So I don't pass out and hit my head on the concrete. So I can go home and play with my son. Just this cup. I felt better. I started walking up the hill.

I threw up. I sat down to recover. I started walking again. Maybe some of that fluid got in me, because I felt slightly better. The sun had stopped beating us up and the temps were coming down. I felt OK again. I made it to mile 25. I sucked on two ice cubes along the pedestrian bridge. I was thinking positive. Home stretch.

I threw up. With 25.5 miles down, I had to stop and puke those two ice cubes out.

Laser. Robot. Focus.

Like many people, I found the reserves to run through the finish line, a smile plastered on my face. I slapped hands. I absorbed the moment. I stopped to kiss my wife, who had tears of concern in her eyes. I wanted her to know I was OK. I was OK. I finished.

It was my slowest marathon time and slowest Ironman, but I finished. 12:07.11.

The world kept turning.

In hindsight, if I had to do it again, I would hammer the swim and bike and sit this marathon out. It was really very difficult. I don't mean to make light of those that finish or the effort involved to get to this point, but there are too many fun things in life to spend time intentionally suffering for vanity and glory.

You. Are. An. Ironman.

What would I do differently if I had to do it again, for real, if I wanted to do another extreme temperature Ironman?

Get an actual metabolic sweat test done to see how much I really lose. It's way to the high side. More electrolytes on the bike and double or triple my electrolyte intake for the run from the get go. I don't know if my stomach could handle either, and I don't intend to run any 100+ degree, 100 mile bike - 15 mile brick workouts to test it out.

Am I happy with the race?

Yes, despite the narrative above sounding like a horror show, I was pretty happy overall. The conditions that we encountered were my absolute worst case scenario. I do not thrive in extreme conditions. I stayed positive and on task. I still finished in the top 15% of race starters!  The nausea and vomiting could be related to electrolytes, but it could also be that my internal body temperature got too high - 104 is where people start to turn into slow moving zombies. Obviously, that's not really healthy.

I signed up for Ironman Chattanooga because it was supposed to be cooler. Race to your strengths!

Addendum: The following day, the high temperature was 88 degrees with overcast skies in the afternoon. Mother Nature, once again showing her wicked sense of humor.

2017: The Year of Short Races I Don't Have to Think Too Much About.

Chattanooga itself: Awesome. Loved it. Great place to hang out, I'm sure it's a nice place to live. We may check out the 70.3 in May sometime. We stayed at a condo on the river and had a blast on the vacation side of things.


Monday, September 19, 2016

End of summer fun

While Bri did the Blue Ridge Relay, Junior Awesome and I entertained ourselves with all sort of activities.

5k + 100 yd dash

Beach time

It was a lot of fun.  Playing with a 4+ year old is a lot easier than guard dogging a 1-2 year old.

My summer is ending with a bang this season, with Ironman Chattanooga on September 25. I suppose technically speaking, we're kicking off the Fall season with a baboom.  Or something like that. Anyway, it's over Johnny.

The good news: No more long rides in 100 degree heat!  Holy smokes, this has been a warm summer. I wound up doing five 100+ rides this season, with two of them in scorching conditions. The first was a 109 mile local affair that had me spend the last 30 miles sitting upright on my bike limping home.

The second was a 128 mile ride to the coast with three equally disturbed buddies. On that one myself and another rider had to request a 'sit in the shade' break before we succumbed to heat exhaustion. Both rides got into the 105+ heat index range with massive time in direct sunlight.

For those of you who might be interested in the numbers, I managed to get my power threshold (FTP) to about 270 this season from 245 or so at the start.  More could have been done to work on this but in the grand scheme of life, I had other things to do.  For some fun, here's the complete file from the Washington sprint triathlon done the day after this boiling hot ride above.

You can see the steady effort at just about 257 watts with normalized power at 262. I felt pretty good given the long saddle time the day before.  I hopped off the bike in first and got run down by a couple guys to finish third.  It was also hot/humid at this race.

I could go on about all the power info but I spend six days a week doing that with my athletes so I'll forego it here.

The last few days have been spent tapering down to get to IM Chatt feeling rested and ready to go. I do feel good about my fitness and am looking forward to the race. The range of times I might be coming in at are:

swim: 45 minutes to 55 minutes depending on some or no flow from the river.
bike: 5:15 to 5:40 depending on who knows what
run: 3:50 to 4:30 depending on the FRIGGIN SUN.  Right now the forecast is for a high of 90 with a heat index of about 98 in the afternoon. Join me and all of North America in making a chant for some cool weather.

So at the best, I'll squeak in under 10 hours. The worst could be a stumble to the finish, but barring anything catastrophic, I'll cross the line.  Goal one: Finish, Goal two: 10:30, Goal three: sub-10 (potential Kona area).

In other news, we've been having lots of fun in Junior Awesome land. I broke out our Go Pro, which has been sitting in a box in my closet for three years, to capture some moments at the pool.

This past weekend, we had some more fun cheering on Bri and friends at the Rex Wellness Wakefield triathon.  I volunteered to watch some of our friends' kids while everyone raced as they have done the same for us.  Nobody got lost so it all worked out.

Logan capped the evening off with a 50 yard dash with his buddies and ran across in first place.   I'll add the file when I can figure out how to get files off my phone.

The end.

Monday, August 22, 2016

August 2016 update

In the midst of personal Ironman training and the height of the triathlon season, this blog has been poorly maintained. I am sorry not sorry about that. Will work to rectify with more blather after the race is complete.

So, what is new?

I did the Lake Logan Half.

It was a sunny and cloudless day,
that swept in for the Lake Logan half.
Lots of folks came out to play,
But many felt humidity's wrath.
I splished and splooshed upon the swim,
And held good pace upon the bike,
But the run was not mine to win,
Though a winning medal I do would like.
And so I finished, sweaty and tired,
Pleased in my attempt to soar,
Grasping many cups of fluid,
Onto my head these I did poar.
The race was finished; I was done,
And maybe yon I'll do another one.

We had a fun time with some baseball in Asheville that night, and a visit to the local velodrome / track the day after.

The week after we raced in the Rex Wellness Wakefield sprint tri.  Bri won and I was 4th. This was shorter and so is the poem.

A super sprint is really fun
just an hour and you're done
really sweaty and really hot
And a sprint can hurt a lot.

Yar yar yar.

A couple more long rides and another 15-16 mile long run and it's taper time.

In other news, our Lightning Squad youth triathlon team is wrapping up at the Tar Heel Youth Triathlon this Sunday, August 28.  It has been fun working with the kids and we'll run both a spring and summer/fall program next year.

Junior Awesome continues to improve his aquatic skills and has been doing great in both soccer and hockey. Bri is being super mom getting him to virtually all these practices while I either get my long training in or catch up on work.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Triangle triathlon, 3 Little Pigs, Low Country Splash, OSB Boone camp reports

When you don't blog for a few weeks, the stories can get backed up!

The picture above is from a beach near Charleston. I did the 5 Mile Low Country Splash there. 
It was long. I got tired and hungry. The end.

                                                Me flexing my very pale body after finishing

3 Little Pigs Game Faces

We'll start with the 3 Little Pigs triathlon. This is a fun event and not very far away so I try to make it every year. It's a 250 yard pool swim - 15m mostly flat bike, and 5k run on flat shaded greenways. All in all a nice summertime event. I've been 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 20-ish over the years depending on how fit I am and how hot it is.  This year my fitness was good, the weather was pretty mild, and I finished 2nd with a good race overall.  Faded on the 2nd half of the run just from being life-tired.  That should be a real noun in the English dictionary.  "Hi, how are you?" "I'm great, just a bit life-tired."  Anywhoo.  They have a nice spread for kiddos and cool Wolf and Pig trophies for the winners. Yay for me. Logan showed us he could swim in the kid pool after the race. Inspiration came in the form of a little blond girl who showed Logan how to go underwater. Now we can't get him out of the pool.

Bri won, which is always fun to see!

Boone camp was awesome as usual. Since I'm in Ironman training mode, I loaded up.  We got in a 50+ miler, a 100 miler with 2 tough long climbs - Snake Mountain and Mount Jefferson, and a 12 mile long run.  Plus a 3k swim.  I was pretty tired for a few days after this.

 Top of the Firetower at Moses Cone

 Runners at Boone

Approaching Snake Mountain

The Triangle triathlon was tough. We rode with some of our athlete buddies to and from the race to make it a longer training day.  The water was way too hot - 91 degrees. I overheated a bit and never really recovered.  The 17.5 mile ride was good but not great.  Just couldn't push the legs that well.  Power wise I was 10% off the 3 Pigs level (where I felt very good).  The run was pretty awful for me. I have trouble breathing in humid conditions and just could not stay ahead of it. At 3 Little Pigs I ran 20:20 or so. At Triangle I ran 23:40 and it hurt like the dickens - cramping, gasping, oh the pain. The last time I did this race (6-7 years ago) was similar so I'll be checking out for this one despite it being so close and convenient. Until I forget the experience and decide to do it again in a few years. Stupid is as stupid does.

Ironman training is going well. I am getting in 20-30 miles per week running, and a 80-100 mile ride every 2-3 weeks. Realistically I am giving myself a 20% chance of Kona qualifying at Ironman Chattanooga.  It would take the best day my fitness can provide to make it.  There is also execution, nutrition, and dumb luck (who shows up, who has a bad day, etc) to get there. Low 10 or even sub 10 hours is what it will take in the M45-49 AG. Having a good day on the bike and holding together on the run are the key points. While I will swim well, I'm not training very hard in the swim so won't be getting a buffer gap there like I used to be able to.  Just a time/life equation that we all have to figure out.  It has and is fun training for the race but the time commitment is tough when you have little people to worry about.  Depending on the swim current, I'll be around 50 minutes.  Bike anywhere from 5:10 to 5:30 depending on the legs, and hopefully 4 hour or a bit less on the run. That's a low 10 with transitions. The real goal is to just have a good race and not hurt too much.

Next up is the Lake Logan triathlon. I had a good day last year and my goal is to either match my time going at less effort, or beat the time.  4:45. Lots of climbing on the bike so not a fast course all in all. Looking forward to a night out and about in Asheville after.

More pictures to be added as I get inspired.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

fun things Junior Awesome says (said) - Jan - May 2016

That's disgyusting

I yub you mommy

For real life, we did!

No daddy Peep, Quack and Chirp!

Let's grow a light saber / live saver farm

You and me are funny guys daddy

Yook, mommy pretty fwowers!

Then the bad emperor got dead and the dark forest left the galaxy

Can you tell me a Star Wars story daddy? A clone trooper one!

I don't need to make a pee pee. I need to make pee pee! I don't have to wash my hands cauz I didn't get pee pee on my hands.

Don't step on the yines, watch out for the fire yaba (lava)!

I sink I'm going to be first, Mommy.

I want you for to go with me.

Did he beap you?

Mommy, you're pretty awesome, but I'm even gooder.

If ( ) and ( ) were in a fight, who would win?  Why?

In a converstaion with babysitter:
sitter: What superhero is this?
L: That's Wolverine. His real name is Logan.
sitter: Oh, are you Wolverine?
L: -pausing- Yeah. Yeah, I'm really Wolverine!
sitter: Oh my gosh!
L: I'm just joking. I'm just a little boy.

from Bri: Logan wanted me to tell him it was my lucky day (for seeing his poop) but I misunderstood and said,
It’s my yucky day!
No, mommy, you’re yucky day!
That’s what I said,
No, yucky day!

Oh!!! My lucky day!

Trying to write a few down before time moves on and we're onto newer and funn-ier things.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Triple Tsilly

There is a certain amount of silliness in endurance sports. Sprinters have it simple. You train hard for a 50 or 100 yard dash. The race is over in 5-45 seconds depending on your sport.  You strive for peak velocity and maintain it through the finish. Bam! No mas senor!

Endurance athletes have no upper limit on what they consider a race. You can do a marathon. A double marathon. An extreme endurathon 100 mile run through the desert with just 1 bottle of water. An Ironman. A double Ironman. A triple Ironman. A double dipple triple Ironman!  A tour of the winery. A three day stage race. A seven day mountain grind. A twenty-one day PED fueled blast across Europe. Go go go! King of Da Dopes!

The pinnacle of this sort of silliness is climbing a mountain. You can't make it any harder to get to the top or make the top any farther away. When you get there, the space aliens who've been testing your resolve beam you up into their interstellar banana boat and off you go.

This past weekend we did our own sort of extreme event. It's called the American Triple-T. It's really a quadruple T but that name does not alliterate quite as well. You can imagine what rhymes with 'ruple'.  It's poople.  The Quadruple Poople wouldn't draw athletic people from all across the country. Or maybe it would, but the wrong type of people. You understand?

Now that I'm finished busting on this sort of thing, we had a lot of fun. The Triple T races add up to about an Ironman over a weekend of racing. The trick is coming back for more after the previous. You've got to steel yourself to get back into a cold pond and climb up some 500 foot ascents. It requires hammer balls. If you are of a timid disposition - if don't have hammer balls - you should not go to this event. It will chew you up.

We went with two couple friends who we hung out with all weekend. Having a good group around you to share in the experience makes it all the more enjoyable, So make some buddies and knock yourselves out!

Pre race carbo loading

Our crew: NC2OH

Bri and I trained well through the spring. I didn't want to do this event without being fit. Neither did she. This would be her likely one and only attempt at an Ironman-ish distance race. My goal was to see her to the finish, keep her happy and healthy, and hopefully not feel too beat up after.

Race #1 Friday evening is a super sprint. 300m swim - 3.5 mile bike - 1m run. We went easy but even going easy on the bike I was near my threshold due to the 300 foot climb. 8:06 on the run was just cruising.

Ready to roll

Race #2 Saturday morning is an olympic-ish event ~1400yd - 24m - 6.55m. The bike had 1600 feet of elevation and the run about 500 feet total gain. 2:53. Had a fun time and stuck with Bri and our friend Carrie. We intentionally ran about 8:40 pace to save legs. Rode on the easy side of things (climbs aside).

Still smiling

Lunch and a nap then back for Race #3. A longish olympic 1400yd - 27m - 6.55m with 2200 foot gain on the bike and the same run. 3:04. Legs holding up and around the same run pace. Getting tired and mildly pissy.

Me running at some point

Our pals

Race #4. Sunday morning Half-Iron.  2800+ feet elevation on the bike, double the run to 13.1 and 1000 feet. This is the doozy.  If you went too hard on Saturday, or came into the weekend poorly trained, or are prone to cracking up mentally, today is your day to suck donkey kong.  I was both well trained and hadn't done anything terribly hard to this point so felt fine, other than that I was about to do a half-Ironman after doing two olympic distance triathlons the day before. Completely normal, right. Not utterly batshit at all. Keep telling yourself that.

And it was friggin' cold. The water temp was not higher than 62. The air was colder at 48 or so.  The people around us were colder, less happy, less chipper. I wonder why. Oh yes, we're all idiots and we're having a giant idiot party. Yay.

Penguins on the march

Bri and I were mumbling and stumbling for the first 10 miles of the bike.  After this we warmed up and got going. Talk about a slow start. I could talk about my normalized power, but your eyes would glaze over, so I'll skip it.  We had a nice ride and got it done with just a couple stops to pee, take pictures, and adjust things.

Pretending to be excited for another ride

The half

Still smiling after that bike ride!

We held up on the run and Bri was a tough cookie.  She dropped the hammer for the last 2 miles of the run and we cracked 6-hr for the half with a 1:56 or so run split.  In the end we finished as the 4th coed team. This gets you a slap on the back and a cookie. Congrats!

The half run

But seriously, they give you some nice swag. A finisher's jacket. A cool medal. A lifetime of memories. And so on.

The finale

We are happy

In the end, our combined team time was 24:53.  That's 24 hours and 53 minutes. In a weekend. Divide by two for individual glory numbers. The winning coed team did around 20:40 and the first individual was about 10 hours.

So, in summary, if you're a lunatic triathlete that likes to share horror stories with other lunatic triathletes, check it out. Otherwise, stick with your normal long distance events and tell yourself you're not missing anything.

The end.